Acrylic Flooring Part Deux, Why Do We Do This Again?

Dear Home Ec 101,

I like your suggestion of using an acrylic polish, but the PLEDGE web site I saw said:
“Pledge® FloorCare Multi Surface Finish should be removed from your floor every 6 to 8 applications, or annually, with a solution of 1 cup ammonia and 1/4 cup Pledge® FloorCare Multi Surface Concentrated Cleaner in 1/2 gallon cool water. Then rinse floor with clean water.”

I do not look forward to washing a whole floor with ammonia.

Any suggestions?
Don’t Wanna in Wando

PS All together, I love your site. It’s like talking with my sister and mother around the kitchen table.
Heather says:

Your mom and sister sound like my kind of people, provided they like to play Cards Against Humanity around that table.

No one looks forward to cleaning an entire floor with ammonia. If they do, they should probably get their head examined because you’re right, ammonia isn’t pleasant.

Heck, I don’t know anyone that looks forward to cleaning any floor at any time, much less the giant task of stripping and reapplying acrylic polish. That’s why you only use the acrylic polish when you can no longer bear the look of the floor any longer, thus increasing the length of time between applications.

Sweep or vacuum often, use door mats and kitchen mats, and spot mop most of the time and you can probably stretch out the time between the applications of acrylic polish and only strip the floor when you have to -after that 8th application has started to dull.

That is, unless you have a large dog. Why? Claws are the bane of your floor. Those claws will leave little nicks and dings that will wear off that polish faster than anything other than not sweeping regularly.

Remember the acrylic polish protects the flooring itself from damage, so pay attention to the high traffic areas to make sure you aren’t pushing too long between applications.

Remember regular cleaning and maintenance speaks to the investment and value of an item. Flooring is a giant pain in the butt to purchase and install, so it makes sense to take good care of it. If your flooring is actual linoleum and not just vinyl, it has an expected lifespan of 20 – 40 years -this is also why it is significantly more expensive than vinyl flooring. If the flooring is vinyl, it’s only expected to last half as long as linoleum AND the design is only on the surface. The design may wear off long before the flooring needs to be replaced.

So I agree, playing with ammonia isn’t fun, but you don’t really need to do it more than once a year, maybe even less often than that. And if you truly loathe the idea of it, consider hiring a maid type service for that one job. Get a referral. If I had to guess, it’d probably be about the same as a nice dinner out -this will of course depend on where you live and is under the assumption that Taco Bell is not considered a nice dinner out.

Submit your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.

Dealing With Too Much Stuff

Dear Home Ec 101
The article I read about a mother with 3 children with a baby on the way felt her house. Work was not getting done as she would like. You said your life has changed and yet you still do you regular cleaning. What is your regular cleaning routine? I once tried FLY LADY.

My situation is there are three adults here. Our son works full time. He helps in the evenings and on weekends but not consistently.

I am a senior adult college student Studying music, flute and piano. I took a brief hiatus, but I’ll be starting back in August

My husband is disabled with the right side of his body limp. He requires lots of care and is unsteady on his feet as he sits in a wheel chair all day.  He can help himself, but isn’t mobile.

I care for him and the house in the day time and our son does the evening before bed time. There are many chores I want to accomplish in the day, during the week, and before school starts in August.

Our home is full of stuff that needs to go.  It is 25 years of what ever, it’s neatly stored and organized. The house is telling me do not bring anything else home. There isn’t any place to put it.

1. Here is what is bothering me. I have a major Piano (beginner level) exam. I need to practice but it has not fit into what has to be done in the day to keep the house running each day.

2. Window washing have not been done in two years, refrigerator, cleaning the back and on the floor, blowing out the compressor vent for dust bunnies.

3. Reclaiming the living room for Christmas where hubby sleeps and put him in a spare room full of stuff. There are lots of old files, clothing, computer stuff…

4. When you come into the house from the outside the house has an odor! From where? I don’t know. An unclean smell /where do I begin to locate the source? I empty the trash from the kitchen every night. Bleach the garbage tote every week that the city takes to prevent maggots.

5. Learning to keep up with shopping, bill paying, dishes, (no dishwasher) laundry, bed making, DUSTING, meal planning,baking, washing floors, hubby’s doctor appointments, cooking, Oh yes, yard work and other tasks to crop up. Learning to declutter the house, closets, lighten the load of  unusable items.

Where do you begin?

I did complete the hallway linen closet last week with four drawers loaded. I rearranged, sorted and got a lot of extra space. YEH!

An agency comes here to help with the hubby for two hours two days a week. What is the schedule she was talking about in your book? Would you be willing to help me as well??

Awaiting your generous reply,
Living in Michigan

Heather says:

The busy seasons happen throughout our lives, it’s not just when the kids are little, although for many people this is the first time we encounter that complete sense of overwhelm. The how did I get into this and how do I undo it. Your situation is unique and yet, it isn’t. You really aren’t alone. You are a caregiver, but also a college student. It’s good to see that you haven’t lost your identity in the care of your family. I’m certainly not an expert, but I see time and again that’s where the danger of depression often lurks.

Your house took a long time to get into the overloaded shape it is in and it’s going to take time and energy to undo it. Too much stuff means you have to spend too much time caring for it. Ignore the sunk costs and work on getting rid of things.

To address you main concerns, let’s call it the

Let’s Make Life More Livable Project:

1. Move the piano practice to first thing in the morning. I’ve had to move my exercise to first thing in the morning or it simply isn’t going to happen. If I don’t, there’s always a reason to put it off. If you’re practicing on an electronic piano, there is no reason you can’t use headphones to not disturb others. Don’t turn on the tv or the computer until after you’ve gotten your practice done. Maybe use a post-it note reminder to break the habit of tuning out. Fifteen minutes is not going to ruin the rest of the day.

2. From reading your email, window washing is not a real priority at the moment, getting rid of the extra stuff in your household is. Set up a savings jar, throw in your change and small bills when you can, as you work to declutter the rest of the house add to this jar and when the house has been reclaimed from the twenty-five years of stuff accumulation, celebrate by hiring someone to wash the windows and let the light shine in.

Use the Saturday project day to accomplish the other deep cleaning projects.

3. Every time you walk through the room, pick up something that needs to be go. Put a bin or a bag near the front door and fill it. Get used to loading your trunk with items that need to be donated or taken to the swap shed at the landfill. Every time you find yourself in a box store like Target or Walmart, make sure you have your discipline with you. Do not buy anything you absolutely do not need until the house is clear of all the things.  Find the recycling drop-off points in your community and use them. Books, give to the library or senior centers, check before dropping off items.

4. That odor is most likely part of having too much stuff. Cooking odors get trapped in floating, greasy dust particles that adhere to surfaces. It’s also the smell of people and there is a specific odor associated with illness. Over the years that odor is absorbed by everything in the home, the carpeting, the padding, the walls. Like the windows, this isn’t an immediate project. Open the windows as often as is possible. And as the house is cleared of the stuff that’s in the way, steam clean the carpet and furniture,  and dry clean / launder the window coverings. Get rid of old pillows and make sure blankets / duvet covers get laundered.

Change the air filter frequently and clean the filter in the vent hood. – You may also find this post on Musty Odors in a Home useful

5.  Institute the chore schedule, it addresses these issues.

The weekly chore schedule consists of one big chore and one little chore each day. FLYLady has a great system, too, but be aware -unless things have changed in the last few years, the system comes with a fair amount of email. This works for people who need a lot of reminders and hand-holding. It all depends on your preferences which one will work for you.

If you have a smart phone use it to set reminders and then. . . this is the hard part… get up and do the chore when the phone reminds you.

There is no quick and easy answer to fix twenty-five years. It’s going to take, time, energy, and cooperation. This will be accomplished one day, one drawer, one corner at a time.

Get your son involved with the recycling and donating. There’s no reason he can’t also make the Let’s Make Life More Livable Project a priority, if he’s in the home, he’s part of the team. Maybe give Dividing the Chores Fairly a look.

I wish you the best of luck. Would you mind checking in to let us know how things are going as you work through this project?

Submit your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.

How to Fry an Egg

Heather says:

Today we’re covering fried eggs -as new projects to procrastinate develop- I’ll also address: scrambled eggs, omelets, frittatas, quiche, and my as yet unnamed hybrid of the three techniques that feeds my family on a busy evening when I have no interest in effort.

So what is a fried egg? Well there are five ways to have them, in this tutorial:

The Great Fried Egg TutorialGot that?

If you do not have a nonstick pan before you even pull the eggs out of the fridge, you have a little prep work. Grab a bottle of vegetable oil, a paper towel, salt, and your pan. Wipe the pan with a thin coat of vegetable oil. Heat the pan over medium high heat until it is very hot, but not smoking. Turn off the burner and let it cool completely. Your pan is now conditioned and primed for use.

You must do this if you are using a stainless steel pan or the eggs will stick in the tiny scratches and pits on your pan’s surface. The vegetable oil seals these cracks and lets the eggs fry without making a horrific stuck on mess. If some bits of egg do stick to your pan, scrub with a little bit of salt and a paper towel between batches. If you use soap and water, you’ll have to recondition your pan before cooking more eggs.

Now we’re ready to fry some eggs.

Whether the eggs are basted, sunny side up, over light (easy), over medium, or over hard they all start the same:

Gather your conditioned or nonstick pan, your fat -butter, bacon grease, coconut oil, or vegetable oil,- and a spatula. Flipping eggs without a spatula will be covered in a future post. Just hang tight if that’s your goal.

The amount of fat you’ll use depends completely on the size of your pan. You want 1/8″ of fat / oil, less than that and the eggs may stick with more, they may be greasy.

Turn your burner to medium or your griddle to 325F. Allow the pan and fat to heat. To check and see if the pan is ready sprinkle a TINY -you read that right? TINY- amount of water. It should sizzle. If it pops, turn the heat DOWN.

Oil that is too hot causes brown, crispy edges.

Oil that is too cool lets the eggs spread too far which makes them harder to flip.

Reduce the heat to low, unless you’re using a griddle, in that case just leave it alone, but know you’ll have to flip sooner.

Now here’s where the methods diverge.

Baste with a lidFor basted eggs, sprinkle a few drops of water over the eggs and cover. Cook just until the whites are set. The steam will create a thin film of cooked white over the yolk.

For sunny side up eggs cook slowly until the whites are set, then use a spatula to remove from the pan. This is boring, but effective.

To fry eggs over light, medium, or hard they must be turned.

Egg Flip Slide the tip of your spatula all the way around the edge of the white, to ensure the egg is not sticking the pan. Then, slide the spatula halfway under the eggs, in one motion lift up and turn over toward the side of the egg that does not have the spatula under it. That edge (marked in my ever so spiffy illustration with a blue arrow) should never lose contact with the pan.

Remember! Flip gently or suffer the consequence of broken yolks. Remember you will probably break a few before you get the hang of the turn.

Ready to flipFor over light / easy eggs leave them alone until the edge of the white is set, there will still be a pool of unset white surrounding the yolk. Let the egg cook for only a few seconds to set the rest of the white and transfer it to a plate to serve.

Over medium eggs should cook until the white is mostly set, then turned and allowed to cook for 15 – 20 seconds. The yolk should be thick and partially, but not fully cooked. If you break it with a fork, it should still flow, but not be super runny.

Break YolksFor over hard eggs, break the yolk with a fork, then flip and allow to cook until the yolk is completely set.

Enjoy!

Related Post:

How to Hard Boil an Egg

Laundry and the Great Diaper Blowout

Dear Home-Ec 101,

I’m a brand new mom and I need to know if it is okay to wash clothes that have suffered through a diaper leak with the rest of the baby clothes. How do I make sure that poop (sorry!) doesn’t get all over the washer and the rest of our stuff without resorting to throwing away the outfit?

Thanks,
Pooped in Pooler

 

Heather says:

Babies. Sometimes it’s a really good thing we are designed to find them cute, because they can cause us as caregivers to deal with things that we would normally cause us to lose our lunch over.

This won’t be the last poopy outfit you deal with.

I guarantee at some point during the next two years, you will throw at least one outfit away, maybe even something of yours, due to a diaper blowout.

One of my kids’  first real explosion was on the way to the photographer’s for baby pics. So I changed the baby, bagged everything up to deal with at home, and congratulated myself for being so prepared.

Guess who exploded again, but this time in the waiting room?

Yup.

So guess who has first baby pics in a clean diaper and not much else? That kid. Guess who was a hot mess of I’m never going to get this right? This mom.

Airports, car seats, man oh man all the car seats, the crib, the carrier, the carpet… there isn’t really a baby safe surface that hasn’t had this contamination. You sort of become immune to it at some point.

Anyhow, enough story time.

Baby clothes are tiny and unless you overload your washer they can agitate freely in the wash tub. Rinse as much of the solid matter as possible out of the clothing. If you aren’t running the load immediately go ahead and soak the item with a tiny bit of mild dish detergent (or liquid laundry detergent) applied directly to the stain in cold water.  Give it a good swish, wash your hands and wash it with the next load of laundry.

Rules for running the load of laundry with the casualties of a diaper blowout:

  1. RINSE the items involved thoroughly
  2. SOAK the item if time allows in COLD water
  3. Do not overload your clothes washer
  4. Use the largest load possible for your machine
  5. Inspect the item after washing for residual stain. Spot treat with additional detergent and rewash if stain lingers.

Why?

1. This removes as much solid particulate matter as possible. Detergent works by surrounding particles and bringing them into solution (the water in your washing machine.) Pre-removing what can simply be rinsed away reduces the amount of particulates that have to be suspended in the water by a limited number of detergent molecules

2. This gives the detergent time to work into the stain and surround those remaining particles.  Cold water prevents any proteins from denaturing -changing into a structure that may be impossible or exceptionally difficult to remove.

3. The clothing articles needs to be able to move freely so the water and detergent molecules can move around and between the fabric’s fibers.

4. The more water the more movement opportunity for the clothing items AND the more particles that can be brought into solution and not left on the clothing. Think about stirring salt into water. There comes a point where the solution is saturated and no more salt can be dissolved. This is the same with detergent and the particles it is trying to bring into solution. The issue is trickier than the salt in water solubility as detergent molecules are sticky and will cling to your fabric and yes, the inside of your washer if there is not enough solvent to keep it in solution.

5. This circles back to item 2. and 4. You don’t want any leftover protein molecules to denature -change structure – in the heat of the dryer. There may not have been enough detergent available to completely remove the stain, it could have been so deeply embedded in the fibers that it needs another run through the wash.

Unless someone in the house is ill, the clothes washer and dryer are enough “disinfecting” for the average home. Obviously wash your hands well after handling soiled clothing.

Enjoy the new minion.

Submit your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.

A Call for Your Questions

Heather says:

The questions answered here at Home Ec 101 come from a variety of sources:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • IRL friends
  • email to helpme@home-ec101.com
  • my weirdo imagination

I know the past couple of years have been a little different around here. I’m glad the bulk of you stuck around through it.  I thought I had it all together, but *snort* yeah, you just don’t know what you don’t know.

Anyhow, I want to toss out there a call for questions today. Feel free to just toss them in the comments or send them right to me (if you’re getting the newsletter) by hitting reply. Thank you, in advance. As always, I’ll never reveal who you are, unless you want me to. If you’re anything like me, growing up a latchkey kid and never actually taking Home Ec there’s bound to be something. There’s no judging.

Here’s a confession:

I switched hosting providers back in December and with that something about the email changed -where my app picks it up. And. . . I forgot to make that switch until about a month ago. Brilliant move, Heather, brilliant.

I think I was able to download everything that had been sitting in the queue and I think I answered everything people had sent to Helpme that was not a pitch or a link request. If I  missed your question, I am sorry.

I have a backlog of cookbooks to review including Joy of Kosher. I’ve been cooking again for a few months -some of it experimental and some of it really dang good, but the camera has been sitting neglected. It’s time to take the next step and get back to doing some of the want-tos in addition to the have-tos and should-dos.

I joked on Twitter the other day that it took a year, but now I’m eating kale (I moved to a very hipster part of town), the truth behind that is that I’m getting back to eating healthier and finally exercising. Kale just happened to be on special (and always is, maybe it’s waning as the best food ever, whatever, I’ll buy your cheap unloved produce).

Enough rambling, Heather.

Have at it, Home Eccers, what do you want to know?

Submit your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.

What Are These Tiny Bugs in My Puzzle Box?

Dear Home Ec 101,

I was putting a puzzle together with one of my kids the other day and noticed, while looking for a corner piece, some tiny little bugs moving around.

I didn’t freak out, I just want to know what they are and if there is a way I can get rid of them?

Signed,
Slightly Skeeved in Slidell

Heather says

Those tiny bugs you found are insects, but they aren’t bugs. I have to clarify because some people out there like to get super picky about how we describe the creepy-crawlies we run into. Bugs are a specific order of insects. (Think back to Biology, do you remember: Did King Philip Cry Out,  “For Goodness Sakes!”) The little, hard-to-see colorless or gray insects you found are commonly known as booklice and belong to the order Psocoptera.

First of all, I want to assure you, that while a little on the icky side, pscoids like your new friends the booklice are harmless. They aren’t going to bite you, your kid, or your destroy your library. Psocids show up when the humidity is high and dine on the resulting mold.

Most commercially available insecticides won’t work on your barely visible pests, so it’s better to make your environment less hospitable to psocids in general. Who, by the way, may have non-traditional families -and I don’t mean of the taxonomic kind. Psocids can reproduce through a process called  parthenogenesis, which is a bit different than asexual reproduction. Animals that can reproduce via parthenogenesis have different sexes, but the females can reproduce without the presence of a male. I find this fascinating, which is probably just another reason why my favorite place is the nerd table.

So, I guess the question is what to do if you find psocids in your books or puzzles?

Option 1: Take off your glasses and pretend you never saw them in the first place.

Option 2: Freak out and hire an exterminator and pay a lot of money to get rid of a harmless cohabitant.

Option 3: Invest in a dehumidifier and make the living conditions less hospitable to your little squatters. The best thing about this option is that it also makes your home less of a haven for the much more bothersome dust mites.

The choice is up to you.

Send your questions to Helpme@Home-ec101.com.

Soap News: Microbeads and the Environment

Heather says

We spend a lot of time on here talking about cleaning things. Today those things will include you. A few years ago I mentioned the Voluntary Ban on Phosphorous in Automatic Dishwasher Detergent. While I don’t think this particular bill that will ban the use of microbeads in personal care products by 2018 will have quite the same effect, I thought I should mention it.

Apparently the beads in cleansing products with microbeads are made of plastic -I don’t know what I thought they were, I just assumed something that would break down with a pH change. It turns out those microbeads are getting into the water supply where they end up in the belly of fish and other aquatic life.

I don’t recall the last time I purchased anything with microbeads in it, but I thought the Home-Ec 101 Community should be aware of this.

So, if you love all the little fishies -stop buying and using shower wash with microbeads and if you hate the little fishies, be aware you won’t be able to wreak that particular environmental havoc in this way after 2018. (Since when did 2018 become something even on the radar? I ask as I am writing updates on a plane somewhere over Texas. Living in “the future” is pretty awesome sometimes)

H/T to The Consumerist

Staying on top of Everything?

Dear Home-Ec 101,

I came across your site from checking your book out on Amazon.  I love how you give every day a certain task or chore or area to clean.  I did not grow up in a home where I had regular chores.  Both my parents worked so daily cleaning and upkeep was mostly pushed to the weekends.

I am doing things differently!  I am a stay at home wife/mom.  I have a husband who works, and 3 kids, ages 5, 3, 1 and a baby due in October.  We are homeschooling our kids so my home is busy with kids all day long versus any of them going to preschool or public school settings.

My question to you is do you have any advice on how to keep up with these daily housecleaning tasks while having the constant needs and demands of 3 young children all day?  I am not happy with the state of my house and home and desire for there to be changes!  I have attempted to follow your weekly chore schedule.  I just can’t seem to do the tasks to their entirety.

I saw you have a husband, 3 kids and a dog (I have one of those too!) and wonder how you manage to get it all done amidst the care of the people in your home.

Thank you for your website for your time to read this email and for any ideas you can pass on.

Signed,
In the Trenches

Heather says:

I sent an answer privately, a week ago. I was going to leave it as that, just a private reply, but it has been on my mind since. Life has changed a lot for me since I wrote that book. My husband and I are no longer together, I work full-time, the kids are now 10, 8, and 6, and the dog passed away. I was open about my sisters’ passing last year, but I didn’t call much attention to the reason for the move, as it felt like a failure.

The funny thing is, even with all of those changes, I still run on the same chore schedule and when I don’t, I fall behind. Life doesn’t care, but my sanity does.

As far as advice, all I can say is in these next few years, give yourself grace. I really wish I had. There are going to be times where everything looks like it is falling apart, but you feel okay. Just don’t let there be times where everything looks okay and you’re quietly dying inside, nothing is worth that.

There will be seasons where the house is messy.  It is okay to ask for help from your spouse. Being a stay at home parent does not give the other adult a pass on all domestic chores. Raising young children is a tough gig, but you’re in it together.

Pregnant with a whole crew of little ones is absolutely one of those messy seasons, take the nap you need, the laundry pile will still need folding when you wake up. It’s okay.

It’ll probably get a little worse before it gets better. You’re going to have a newborn and three very young children.

Feeling Desperate is the post I reference whenever I am feeling overwhelmed. There are days where the have tos are the only things that happen. Those days will eventually be outnumbered by the good ones. There is a lot of good advice from the wonderful Home Ec 101 community in the comments. Unlike many comment sections out there on the interwebs, we’ve got a good thing here with kind, intelligent, and genuinely caring people. Some of those commenters are the reason I’m still standing  thriving¹ after the last year. I’ll never fully be able to express my gratitude.

I promise, over time,you’ll get beyond the have-tos and more into the should-dos and eventually you’ll even have time and energy for the want-tos.

Keeping on top of the dishes, the trash, and the laundry probably go the farthest in making the house feel more put together than any other chores.

The kids are more able to help, now that they are a bit older, but I absolutely remember what it was like when they were the ages of yours. I started this site when I was pregnant with my youngest and now she’ll soon turn seven.

Hang in there and congratulations on your newest little one.

Submit your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com

¹I took off a few hours on Friday and took my minions and their sitter to the beach. I took a long walk and reflected on many things – shoes, and ships, and ceiling wax- and it hit me, just how content and happy I am. Right here, right now. I’m no longer waiting for some change, milestone, or event to make it easier to be happy; I simply am. It’s not the life I planned, it’s the one I have and that’s all that matters.

Why Won’t My Gas Grill Get Hot?

Dear Home-Ec 101,

The other night I decided to grill burgers, but I couldn’t get my gas grill to get hot. It was extremely frustrating and I ended up cooking my burgers under the broiler (with a lot of spite and bitterness, I might add). There was plenty of liquid propane, I just couldn’t get the flames high even with the burners wide open.

Do you have any idea why my gas grill wouldn’t heat?

Signed,
Flummoxed in Florida

Heather says:

Actually I’m quite familiar with your problem and have had several frustrating evenings cursing my gas grill, too. (Hush you charcoal grill owners, I want one of those, too -not instead of).

A gas grill -in this case I’m solely referring to liquid propane-  has a safety feature built into the gas regulator that is on the tube connecting your bottle of liquid propane to the grill itself. This safety valve will not open fully until the gas pressure has equalized between the bottle and the grill. If the burners are in the on position, gas is leaving the lines in the grill and this pressure cannot equalize.

Thankfully there is a very simple fix.

Completely shut the valve on the bottle of propane.

Turn off all of the burners. Check to make sure none of your minions have turned on the rotisserie you never use or any other accessories.  Double check to make sure they are all shut.

Ensure the lid of the grill is open.

Open the valve on the bottle of liquid propane fully.

Wait a few seconds.

Do a little dance, hum a little tune. Something. Anything, except turn on a burner. If the hose from your bottle of liquid propane is short, you really only need 10 seconds or so unless you are trying to grill when it is VERY cold. If you have several feet of hose, you need to wait a couple of minutes.

Now turn on the burner and light the grill.

It’s like magic, no?

No?

Ok, now we move up to phase two. It’s time to check for a gas leak. -You should perform this check fairly frequently to comply with safety standards.

Turn off all burners and the valve to the propane tank, too.

Get a spray bottle and partially fill it with very soapy water. (1/3 soap dish, 2/3 water -almost like you were going to blow bubbles)

Now spray the hose connections with your soapy water.

Open the valve on the tank of liquid propane and then carefully inspect each connection. If any bubbles are forming turn off the gas and reconnect and tighten the fittings.

That should fix most problems.

Good luck!

How Do I Keep Long Hair from Clogging the Vacuum?

Dear Home-Ec 101,

Okay so the long hair isn’t exactly clogging the vacuum, it’s all over the brush thingy and doesn’t work as well. What can I do to stop this from happening, it’s a pain in the butt.

Signed,
Lovin’ my Locks

Heather says

I feel your long-haired pain. It’s obnoxious and if you have more than one long-haired person in a home it adds up very quickly.

There are a couple of routes you can take prevention and regular maintenance of the vacuum itself. Please realize that prevention doesn’t negate the need for regular maintenance, it simply reduces how often you’ll have to take those steps.

Prevention:

1. Brush / comb your hair often and thoroughly, but only in one area of the house that is preferably not carpeted. Yes, you’ll need to sweep / Swiffer this  floor after each time. If you don’t, the strands of hair that are now on the floor will get tracked onto the carpet.

2. Invest in a rubber rake (like this) of course you’ll actually have to use it for there to be any effect. Pre-raking the floor can only be described as a which chore do I hate more option. Would I rather rake the floor before vacuuming or take the vacuum apart?

3. Ponytails and braids are your friend, they keep shedding hair more or less in place until you’re performing option #1.

I know, none of these are ideal, it’s just part of the “Responsibility of having long hair” <—that should be read in the  most disapproving maternal tone your imagination can provide.

Regular maintenance of your vacuum:

If the beater bar / brush bar of your vacuum is clogged with long hair it can’t perform its job. The brush’s job is to separate and agitate the carpet strands and throw the bits of dirt / debris toward the suction power of the vacuum. If two-thirds of the bristles are clogged with hair, it’s not going to do a very good job and you’re mostly wasting your time and energy running the appliance over the carpeting.

Depending on your vacuum you’ll probably need a screwdriver and a box cutter or seam ripper. (I’ve seen the seam ripper suggested, but I have really thick hair that would probably reply, “Stop it, that tickles,” if I attempted to use a one, your mileage may vary.

Unplug your vacuum and get comfortable with it on the floor. You may want to do this over an old sheet or section of newspaper.

If possible, use the screw driver to remove the bottom plate from the vacuum and then use the box cutter or seam ripper to carefully cut the hair off of the roller. You will want to cut away from yourself. (Please grip the roller bar below the box cutter, I am not responsible for your stitches and / or emergency room bill.) Try not to cut the bristles off of the bar, either. You should be able to slide the blade between the rows of bristles to get rid of the hair. The same goes for the belt holding the bar in place, please do not cut toward the belt, it won’t end well.

Reassemble the vacuum, throw away the hair, and marvel at the renewed efficiency of your vacuum.

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