Archive for General News

How To Clean and Care For Your Grout.

Keeping your tile looking its best doesn’t just mean cleaning and caring for the tile itself, the grout in between needs some love too – and not just for aesthetic reasons. Sure, you want to prevent stains and discoloration, but there are some practical concerns that affect the longevity of your tile as well. Mildew and bacterial build-up are another major concern, along with liquids seeping beneath your tile.

A lot of people don’t realize, but grout is an incredibly porous material that can and will soak up liquid, grease and grime. That goes for cooking spills in the kitchen, mud being tracked on the front door and mildew in the bathroom.

But don’t worry, it’s all preventable! On top of that, it’s pretty easy as long as you keep up on it and follow the guidelines below.

We see so many recommendations floating around the web and by word of mouth recommending vinegar or other acidic solutions for cleaning grout and tile, but this should really be avoided. Acidic chemicals will break down and weaken the grout structure, causing premature failure. Plus, acidic cleaning solutions can etch and damage the stone around it as well.

What you should be using instead is a pH balanced cleaner that is tough on dirt and grime to get your grout back to its original color while still maintaining structural integrity. Granite Gold Grout Cleaner® is specifically formulated for use on grout while still being safe for natural-stone, ceramic, porcelain and even colored grout. Being non-acidic, this is a cleaning solution that is tough to beat.

As an added bonus, a nylon scrub brush is included in the kit to help agitate and remove any grime build-up. This is important because too harsh of a scrubbing material can also damage and wear down your grout. That means no steel wool or harsh scouring pads, as they will not only damage the grout, but will strip the protective seal on the grout and the tile around it.

SEAL YOUR GROUT:

That’s right, just like your natural stone, your grout should be treated with a proper sealant as well. This will give the surfaces a protective coating to help prevent liquids and mildew from making its way below the surface, as well as help to prevent stains and make your clean-up job just that much easier.

In general, it’s recommended that you seal your grout and natural-stone every 6-12 months, but high-trafficked areas and spots that have been through a deep cleaning might need it sooner than that. If you’re not sure on when and how to seal your grout, please be sure to check out our guide on the topic here.

Water seeping beneath the surface can not only provide a breeding ground for bacteria, but can lead to the breakdown of the grout as well as the adhesives holding the tile down to the floor.

HOW TO DEAL WITH TOUGH STAINS:

If a stain does set in, you have a few options available to you if a grout cleaning solution isn’t enough to get the job done. Steam used in conjunction with a stone-safe cleaner can make quick work of this build-up. For instance, for bathroom tile, you can spray your stone-safe cleaner on the grout and then crank up the hot water in the shower for 5 minutes with the door closed. You might be surprised at how easily soap scum and grime comes up this way.

It’s also important to not discolor your grout – especially with darker shades. Overly alkaline solutions like bleach can absorb into the grout and oxidize, causing a chalky white appearance. With that being said however, for really tough grime and mildew, bleach can be used if diluted to a 50/50 mix with water.

Always make sure to rinse this solution away completely, and be sure to keep this mixture off of metal fixtures, wood surfaces and porcelain. After a cleaning as thorough as this, it’s highly recommended that you seal the surface again, as this process is assured to damage that protective barrier.

ALWAYS WIPE AWAY AND SOAK UP SPILLS:

Like outlined above, even leaving standing water on your tile and grout can lead to some serious headaches by creating a breeding ground for mildew and compromising the structural integrity of the tile as a whole. Cooking grease can lead to similar issues while also being harder to clear out once it has seeped into the surface. Soap scum is another common offender, with the added risk of discoloring your grout where it is left to sit.

For stone tile showers, it’s recommended to give the wet surfaces a quick once over with a squeegee to prevent standing water from doing any damage, or becoming a small scale primordial soup science project. A lint-free microfiber cloth can work well for smaller spills.

It’s also important to maintain proper ventilation to prevent these issues on bathroom tile. It’s not a bad idea to open a window or run the bathroom exhaust fan for 10-15 minutes following a shower. This should allow for fast evaporation of water on the tile, limiting the time bacteria has to grow and take hold.

As you can tell by now, a major theme of this guide is that small amounts of regular maintenance over time is really key to freeing you up for more labor-intensive work in the future. If let go for too long, it can be quite a costly venture to bring in a professional to fix damaged grout and stone. Diligence is key!

Credit for this work goes to Granite Gold, original article can be found here

Royal Mail WISMO crisis as service overwhelmed

Along with many other small business retailers, we are being inundated with “Where is my order?” messages. This is so common in normal times that ‘Where is my order’ has an industry acronym – WISMO, and this year you’re likely to get more WISMO messages than ever before.

The problem is of course that despite taking on 33,000 Christmas workers to bolster their 110,000 permanent staff, Royal Mail have been working at Christmas levels since March and the deluge of online shopping hasn’t stopped for nine months. Now with Christmas coming, the normal Christmas rush is hitting on top of the pandemic online shopping and WISMO is inevitable due to delays.

We’ve already seen marketplaces extend delivery estimations with eBay telling buyers that their Royal Mail 48 could take up to five days to arrive instead of 2 days. Setting buyer’s expectations is the first way to cut down on WISMO and the second, if you use tracked services, is to make sure that your customers receive tracking information and can self serve by checking the status of their parcel themselves.

If you are a buyer and waiting to receive a parcel, our advice is to be patient and try to resist the temptation to deluge retailers, Royal Mail and other couriers with WISMO enquiries. Everyone in the ecommerce and delivery industry are working flat out and sadly all your enquiry is likely to do is take someone away from getting things moving rather than get you an immediate answer.

It’s time to accept that, for some, this Christmas there will be a missing present under the tree that’s not delivered on time. We’ve known for a long time that this would not be a normal Christmas so get yourself in the mindset of making do and accepting the inevitable. Royal Mail and other carriers are doing their utmost to deliver Christmas, and you can give yourself the best possible chance of receiving every delivery you want by shopping early – if you’ve not already done your Christmas shopping count this as a warning that now’s the time to do it, not four days before Christmas!

“Despite our best efforts, exhaustive planning and significant investment in extra resource, some customers may experience slightly longer delivery timescales than our usual service standards.

This is due to the exceptionally high volumes we are seeing, exacerbated by the coronavirus-related measures we have put in place in local mail centres and delivery offices.

In such cases, we always work hard to get back to providing our usual level of service as quickly as we can.”
– Royal Mail

Credit to Chris Dawson at Tamebay for the above article. original article HERE

One less stain to worry about.

Well, summer has well and truly arrived if the recent thermometer readings are anything to go by and the kids have broken up for their summer holidays.

Peoples thoughts turn toward that well earned rest by the beach for a few days, cocktails and suntans, palm trees and sea breezes and factor 50 sun cream because after all we are not a nation known for its sunshine and mean temperatures and if you are anything like me, puts a freshly cooked lobster to shame in skin colour after a couple of hours in the sun.

While the bottle of sunscreen is great for protecting your skin whilst out in the sun and even stays on your skin when you go to the pool so you don’t leave that rainbow coloured slick in your wake as you swim, it unfortunately is not so good for your clothes if you don’t get it all off before putting on your best Hawaiian cocktail shirt and hitting the Taverna or the hotel bar for a glass of vino or a pint.

Once that sun oil impregnates the fibers of your favorite top or shorts, it will leave an ugly yellowish stain (unless your shirt is an ugly yellowish shirt, in which case you’re good to go.) that is all but impossible to remove with normal detergents and stain removers.

Well fear not, those wizards over at HG have developed the answer to the prayers of all holiday tops everywhere.

HG Suntan Lotion Stain Remover is THE effective pre-treatment for removing such stains and is suitable for white and coloured fabrics.

When you get sun tan lotion stains on your clothes and can’t shift them, no matter how often you wash it, most people give up and just bin the article of clothing and go an buy another to replace it, well now you don’t need to.

Moisten the stains with warm water and then spray a liberal amount of liquid onto the stains from a distance of maximum 5 cm.
Leave the product to absorb at least 1 hour without drying out.
During the absorbing time, put the fabric in a clean plastic bucket and avoid contact with other materials/surfaces.

Put the treated fabric in the washing machine and wash it as usual with the recommended amount of main detergent at max 60°C.
Always comply with the care label.

After washing do not tumble-dry the treated garment, but hang it on the washing line.

Repeat the treatment if necessary.

One of the great sadness’s of finishing a holiday is when you get back home and unpack the case, now you don’t have to throw away that lotion stained top you were wearing that night in the Taverna when the waiter slipped on that cucumber slice you knocked on the floor from your Mojito glass and dumped the tray of Strawberry Daiquiri into the lap of the loudmouth that had been rude and annoying all night to the waiting staff, because memories like that are too precious to forget.

it’s hanging in the wardrobe. Thanks HG.

Little Blue Pellets Banned!

Back in December last year, DEFRA – Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, announced a blanket ban on all pest control products that contain the chemical Metaldehyde.

Metaldehyde is the principle chemical in Slug and Snail killer products especially the little blue pellet products. Anyone who grows leaf vegetables like lettuce and cabbage knows the horrors that the slimy little gastropods can wreak on your prized veg and the little blue pellets were the go to product to rid the garden of the messy little mucus producers.

While they were great for ridding you of the slugs and snails, they did not harm the plants. Trouble is they did harm other wildlife in the garden, Birds were drawn to the pellets probably due to their similarities to popular bird food suet pellets in size and shape, they also proved to be attractive to dogs.

The ban on the sale of these products came into force on the 1st of July with the blanket ban on outdoor use coming into force in Spring 2020.

With Metaldehyde pellets now legally unavailable to buy from reputable retailers and garden centers, you may now be wondering how to get rid of slugs and snails from your lettuces and so forth. After all, the big attraction of the pellets is they are very much a use and forget product and did not require much in the way of monitoring or re application.

There is an alternative little blue pellet that does not contain Metaldehyde and is also much less a problem for pets and birds

Doff Super Slug Killer does not contain Metaldehyde, instead its principle ingredient is Hydrated Ferric Phosphate. It works in exactly the same way as the other pellet product just without the nasty chemical side effects.

As more information is uncovered over the lasting impact these types of products have had on the environment, you will find more and more of these types of pest control items will become more and more restricted and will force companies into developing products that make less of an impact on both the environment and wildlife we all depend on.

How To – Cooker Hood Filters

Welcome to another of our “How To” series. This time around we are tackling an often overlooked part of your kitchen health and hygiene, your Cooker Hood Filter.

Cooker Hood Filters have one job and that is to collect grease, so if it is doing its job properly, it is going to look and feel, well, greasy! Over time the filters will become clogged with grease and when that happens your filter will loose its effectiveness and in really bad cases stop working all together.

It is important therefore to periodically clean or replace the filters in the range hood.

Cleaning the Hood is the first step, no point in replacing the filter if you are putting it back into a dirty hood. There are a couple of dedicated products you can use to make that job quick and easy.

The first is by Oven Mate and is a trigger spray that is especially useful if you have a mesh variety range hood. The Oven Mesh Cooker Hood Filter Cleaner clears out the sticky residues that collect in the metal filters of your cooker hood extractor. This will help remove food odours and improve the performance of your cooker hood.

The second is for all other types of hood and is quite at home keeping the rest of the range and hob area clean too. Unifit Professional Cooker Hood Cleaner and Degreaser, removes dirt and grease and is suitable for cooker hoods, filters, hobs, splashbacks and ovens.

Most Cooker Hood Extractors will use one of two types of filter. They will either have a Foam type filter or a Paper type filter. It is not practical to even attempt to try and clean these, there are designed as used and dispose.

The filter is the most overlooked item in the cleaning of the kitchen, it is tucked away, often above head height and is normally out of sight as well.

If you have a mesh type extractor the whole filter unit can be cleaned simply and easily. Firstly remove the filter assembly from the hood (you will need to refer to the manufacturers instructions for your model). We would recommend using the Oven Mate Mesh Cooker Hood Filter Cleaner

Spray Oven Mate Mesh Cooker Hood Filter Cleaner evenly over both sides of the metal mesh and leave for approximately 15 minutes to allow grease and dirt to be broken down.

If the filters are very dirty, they may need to be left longer for Oven Mate Mesh Cooker Hood Filter Cleaner to penetrate.

Rinse under a hot tap to wash out residue and dry thoroughly before replacing filters in extractor fan.

For the non mesh type hoods and extractors, The filter assembly is normally fixed and just the filter can be removed. Just a general cleaning is all that will be needed before replacing the filter itself, Unifit Professional Cooker Hood Cleaner And Degreaser will work very nicely here, it is just a simple spray and wipe, just make sure all the surfaces are cool before beginning.

There is a third type of filter that is not so common and that is Carbon Cassette. These are sealed units of activated carbon that trap the grease particles over time. These units while uncommon, are the easiest to replace as the whole unit is contained and easy to handle. These by their nature cannot be cleaned so once it starts to loose its effectiveness, just replace it.

While the filters will stop working over time and need replacing, you can almost extend their life with a little preventative measure of simply just cleaning the fan and hood after every use.

How To – Prepare your Home For Winter

The Summer sun has faded and the year grows old and darker days are drawing near.

That is a line from a favourite song of mine and it is surprisingly apt. It is early November and the nights are drawing in and getting decidedly chillier.

Before winter takes hold in its frosty fingers, here are a couple of things you might want to do to get your home prepared for the colder season.

Check the Guttering.

bocked-guttering

Making sure all those Autumn leaves and old birds nests are cleared out and there is no foliage or moss that could potentially block the down pipe. If the water can’t escape properly, it could overflow into the roof space or down the exterior walls and cause damage.

Sweep the chimney.

chimney-sweep

This ensures that the smoke and gasses from the coal fire escape properly into the atmosphere and not into your living room with potentially lethal consequences. Also this will ensure there is virtually no risk of a flue or chimney fire. (For detailed information on cleaning the chimney, check out a previous blog here.)

Have the Boiler Checked. This is something you want to do now rather than later, it is no fun trying to do without heating in 0°C weather and it will also ensure you are not having any issues with carbon monoxide leakage. Having heat and hot water when the thermometer bottoms out will also ensure your pipes won’t freeze, which brings me to.

Check the insulation on your pipes, and while you are at it, check the insulation in the loft too. With over 25% of your heat is lost through the roof, having good loft insulation is a must if you want to keep warm this winter and save some pennies on the energy bills as well. Checking the pipe insulation for holes or general deterioration will ensure your pipes don’t freeze up if it gets really cold.

If you have a wood burning stove, give it a really good clean to ensure there is no creosote build up and the exhaust pipe is clear of tar, give the front glass a really good clean too as this will aid in the distribution of the heat more efficiently.

Check your insurance coverage. Check out your home insurance policy to make sure you have adequate cover for winter related damages. The last thing you want or need is to have something unfortunate happen only to find you are not covered for it. Home repairs are costly, especially if it structural so don’t skimp on the cover.

 

Hopefully, these few hints and tips will go some way to helping you stay warm and toasty and give you peace of mind this winter.

Summer Sunday’s, Don’t forget the marinade.

It’s only a few days before the Kids are home for the summer holidays, the weather is getting more like the summers we all remember when we were their age. Now is the time to bring out the old BBQ that has been winter vacationing in the shed.

bbq

For me, nothing says a lazy summer Sunday than the smell of the neighbour’s BBQ, steak, and burgers, wafting over the fence. So why not see if that old BBQ is up to the job and have an outdoor cook up this weekend, No? the old smoker a rusty, spider infested, cobweb covered mess?

Why not get a new one. We have an extensive range of BBQ’s and accessories for sale. 

And when all is said and done and you have eaten your fill of Steak and Burgers, give the BBQ a proper clean down when it is cold by using these specially made Landmann BBQ brushes and Landmann Barbecue Cleaning Wipes.

So why not set your summer off with a bang, grab yourself a BBQ, get those steaks sizzling, cold beer in hand and imagine yourself as James Martin.

You deserve it!

Sleeping Alone? Think Again!

It is the stuff of nightmares and disturbed horror film makers, that when you turn out the light and get comfortable in bed, you are about to be assaulted by hundreds of tiny little vampiric parasites and microscopic invaders that would not look out of place in a Ridley Scott film.

Bed bugs and dust mites.

Bed bugs are often confused for dust mites and the allergic reaction caused by dust mite poop is regularly mistaken for the reaction caused by bed bug bites.

Dust mites are microscopic spiders, barely visible to the naked eye. They have translucent bodies, eight legs and are less than half a millimetre long, whereas bed bugs are nocturnal parasitic bugs with six legs, have flat bodies and are a brown-reddish colour. Thankfully they can’t jump or fly, but crawl across surfaces.

Although they are tiny and very hard to see, bed bugs are visible to the naked eye however you are more likely to notice the little brown stain left behind by their waste or a small red dot from where you crushed one in your sleep than a live bug itself.

Dust mites are found in all areas of the home, but particularly in areas of the home that are used frequently like bedrooms and kitchens. Dust mites live on dead skins cells shed from humans and their pets – they love damp areas, so thrive in pillows and bedding, which absorb moisture from the skin while you sleep.

90% of household dust is dead skin cells so you can imagine the dust mite will be dining out constantly.

Bed bugs, like their name suggests, are mainly found in the bedroom, they survive in small crevices around your bed, including bedding, headboards, wooden bed frames, mattresses and carpets. Mostly active at night, bed bugs are attracted to the carbon dioxide and warmth you produce, biting your exposed skin to feed on your blood. Bed bug infestations can spread very quickly with females producing hundreds of eggs.

There is some good news however, bed bugs and dust mites do not transmit diseases that can affect humans but both do cause skin reactions.

The simple rule is bed bugs bite, dust mites don’t.

Bed bug bites tend to occur on areas which are exposed while you sleep such as ankles, wrists and neck. Bites tend to be red and normally occur in clusters or lines. They can be itchy and painful and often resemble mosquito bites, not everyone is sensitive to bed bug bites and a bite can take anywhere from a couple of minutes to 14 days before the bite is noticeable which is why they often get mistaken for other insect bites.

Dust mites, although they do not bite, will cause an allergic reaction in most people because of the waste and secretions they leave behind, including,

  • eczema and skin rashes
  • asthma
  • sneezing and runny nose
  • itchy, red or watery eyes

Bed bugs and dust mites are fortunately quite easy to get rid of and control.

Dust mites can be stopped with liberal use of inhibitor sprays such as:

Ecozone Dust Mite Stopper Spray 500ml

Problem Solved Dust Mite Inhibitor Spray 500ml

Inspired Dust Mite Stopper Inhibitor Spray 500ml

All of the above work by making the food they require inedible and they starve to death very quickly.

Bed bugs can be controlled in a similar way by using

Zero In Bed Bug Killer Spray 300ml

Another option for a more severe infestation is to use a fogger

Strikeback Insect Killing Fogger Twin Pack

Insecto Midi Smoke Bomb

These will require you to be outside the room when used but will offer a much larger kill zone than a hand held spray.

All the products above offer lasting protection from infestation reoccurring, also using mattress and bedding protectors will help as well.

As the time for the annual spring cleaning draws closer, by making sure you take the time to thoroughly clean and air your bedding and mattress and to deep clean around your bed, you can ensure that you are only sharing your bed with invited guests.

Who Sent Me This??

So, you have had a parcel delivered, but, something is amiss. The invoice or paperwork with the order is from someone you do not recognize and maybe the item received is not quite right. The chances are you have just had the experience of being dropshipped.

Let me explain what I mean by dropshipped.

A dropshipper is a person who buys an item from an online retailer like Amazon or eBay for a 3rd party and has the seller they are purchasing from, deliver the item direct to the 3rd party.

“Whats wrong with that? I have stuff delivered to my wife at work all the time.” You ask.

Absolutely nothing, while that is still dropshipping, that is a perfectly acceptable method.

The type of dropshipping that is not acceptable is this type.

Andrew buys an item from Bobs Shop on eBay.

Bobs Shop then purchases the same item from Davids Store on Amazon for less than he has sold it for on eBay. Bobs Shop then gives the delivery details of his customer, Andrew to Davids Store who send the item Bobs Shop purchased directly to Andrew.

” Hang on, isn’t that the same though?”

Not exactly, let me explain further.

 

Amazon have a couple of rules regarding dropshipping that are being ignored by Bobs Shop who bought the item from Davids Store using his own Amazon account.

The rules are:

  • Be the seller of record of your products
  • Identify yourself as the seller of your products on all packing slips and other information included or provided in connection with them.

Meaning all Andrew will see is Davids Store details on the paperwork for the order he received not Bobs Shop. The big rule that must not be broken is:

  • Purchasing products from another online retailer and having that retailer ship directly to customers.

Meaning, if it is purchased from you, you are expected to handle all aspects of the transaction. Amazon seem to turn a blind eye to this one.

Dropshipping is “Marmite” to Amazon sellers, some let it go and some refuse to have anything to do with it. The problem is the myriad of accounts set up on amazon as buyers purely to service a dropshipping business, a lot of whom take advantage of shortfalls in Amazons systems to make unlawful claims.

Amazon seem turn a blind eye to it simply because they get paid either way.

 

The morale of the story is simply this;

Shop around, don’t just take the first price you see, the same item can vary in price between sellers and platforms.

Know who you are dealing with, check a sellers business information, if they are not based in the same country as you, move on to one who is. You are not going to get much help if any, if you have a problem with an item and the seller you bought it from is based outside your country.

Check they have a valid email address and phone number. Both Amazon and eBay have the ability for you to contact the seller of your item as well but is more limited than picking up the phone and talking to someone.

Dog Owners Rejoice. Say Hello To The Barkbath

While we are still waiting for our new website to be completed, our blogging schedule has curtailed mainly because we cannot add any new products to show to you. While I was trawling our usual websites to find an interesting item to blog to you about, I came across this and thought I had to share it with you all.

Bissell, the company that make carpet cleaners and steam cleaners have come up with, quite frankly such a brilliant idea, I am surprised it has not been thought of before.

It is called The Barkbath

It is a portable gadget that falls somewhere between a shower and a carpet shampooer and is used to clean your dog, I kid you not! Take a look at the video below.

 

Anyone who has had to tackle a reluctant pooch into a bathtub or tried to stop a wet and soapy hound from shaking himself all over the bathroom can attest to the probable joy this invention will bring, We have a Bernese Mountain Dog and when he gets wet, we all get wet.

Despite being around for years and being very well established, Bissell have crowdfunded the development of the Barkbath, presumably to see if enough interest was out there, It is their first crowdfunded project, and has already made more than double its $50k (about £40,000) goal.

Unfortunately at the moment it is only available to to Indiegogo backers in the US and has about a month left to run and is expected to go into production around June this year. Doubtless it will quickly find it’s way onto our shores soon afterward and I for one will definitely be buying a Barkbath.