All Paste – No Waste!

pukka pasteThis paste is a concentrated cleaning product made from a combination of bicarbonate of soda and 100% organic Castile Soap. 100% Pure essential oils are then be added to create our unique uplifting and natural aroma blends. For anyone that is particularly sensitive or for use around pet areas, we have a Fragrance Free option.
In my job as a self employed domestic cleaner, I keep finding new uses for this paste, but I’ll start with the main cleaning areas.

This paste works well to clean tricky things like cooker tops, ovens, cooker hoods, fridges and microwaves. I say these areas are “tricky” simply because of the proximity these areas have to food. The very reason I started making my own products was to avoid using harsh chemical cleaners in the oven, because I hate the smell and the aftertaste it leaves on food.

To use this concentrated paste, add 1 teaspoon of paste to around 1 litre of water. No need to measure it exactly, as any solution made will be powerful. Use a clean cloth to dip into the solution, wring out the excess water and simply wipe the area you want to clean. Depending on how ingrained the dirt/grease is – you may need to do this more than once. When the area is clean – buff dry.

Yes, this paste can be used to clean the oven. I find it best to cover the oven floor with the paste moistened with a little water. It spreads better, and the water itself acts as a solvent. If there is a lot of baked on food, leave this solution to work overnight. The same applies to the oven door, and trays. Take the trays out, lay them on an old towel to avoid scratching any surface, and cover with the paste.

The next day, or later, with a solution, and cloth, just wipe at the oven door/floor. If you feel that some of the marks are not lifting, you may need something to agitate the dirt. A non-scratch scourer is perfect.

The same solution & process can be applied to cleaning the bathroom – showers, taps, around the loo, tiles etc…simply clean, then buff dry for shine.

This powerful product can be used to clean a variety of surfaces including wooden worktops, granite, stainless & brushed steel. I even use it to clean the floor! (Just us an old towel as a floor cloth, wring out and use any mop/brush in your cupboard to move the cloth about the floor).

If you are looking for a cleaning product that can genuinely be used on a variety of household tasks, then the concentrated Soft Paste is the one for you. Say goodbye to having to buy lots of different products, and enjoy using this “good buy”.

The Northern Vegan Festival & Other Happenings

I can hardly believe that it’s nearly the end of October already! Where is the time going? As ever, it’s been a busy time for us at humblestuff, with our usual Fairs & Markets around Glasgow, not only that, we made it across the border to Manchester! It was a great experience, but I’ll tell you more about that shortly.  Blood Orange Spray 300x400

At the beginning of September, we were contacted by some independent shops looking to stock our cleaning products! As you can imagine, this is really exciting for us. Not only is it a great opportunity for our products to reach new markets, but a lovely feeling to think that other people are excited by our products too.

One of the first retailers to get in touch with us was Sam, who owns and runs the gorgeous Indigo Charlie home and lifestyle shop in Dunkeld. The next enquiry was from The Makers Gallery & Bistro in Alloa. As luck would have it, we were able to multi-task and make a delivery to both locations in the one day. The Makers Gallery & Bistro is a social enterprise organisation that aims to offer work experience and skills development for people struggling to find job opportunities. A brilliant thing, I’m sure you agree. The latest stockist is Gartmore Village Shop which is just outside Aberfoyle in The Trossachs..

Further to this, we are delighted to have our products somewhere a bit closer to home in Glasgow. Harvest Co-Op has recently opened its doors in the Shawlands area. This is a beautiful shop which aims to offer the means to support a healthy and sustainable lifestyle by selling high quality and ethically sourced food, home and beauty products.

In between setting up stalls at The Big Vegan Fete @ Flying Duck, The Makers Market & The Braw Wee Fair, we were producing more stock for our big adventure to Manchester. We were delighted to be part of The Northern Vegan Festival, which took place on Saturday. There were a huge variety of traders at this event, some of which I had met via Twitter, so was great to put faces to the Tweets, so thanks Little Blue Hen and Wax Witch! There was no shortage of food to be found here either, and we stuffed our faces courtesy of Mex It Up & Mr Nice Pie.

Being at The Northern Vegan Festival was our first ever large scale event. It was an incredible experience meeting so many enthusiastic and motivated people. It certainly feels that people like our unique take on traditional cleaning ingredients.

You Don’t Have To Be Mad To Be Self-Employed – But It Does Help!

I do sometimes wonder why I work all day as a domestic cleaner, then work most evenings trying to develop the humblestuff cleaning range. I must be a glutton for punishment.

This week has been particularly busy as it also coincided with the annual Scottish Album of the Year award ceremony at the old cinema venue, the ABC in Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street. I am glad to say that Cinders made it to the ball! The venue had the biggest glitterball that I had ever seen. It was huge! The night was a celebration of the incredible musical talent that is created in Scotland. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to choose only 10 albums for the final shortlist. And what a shortlist it was this year. A worthy winner was chosen, Kathryn Joseph with her gorgeous album “Bones You Have Thrown Me And Blood I’ve Spilled”. Even Paolo Nutini commented that her album was “spellbinding work”. Praise indeed. I’m just a wee bit sad that the wonderful Happy Meals band didn’t win. However, their tuneful album “Apero” is a winner on my record player.

After all the excitement of the SAY awards, today I was cleaning for one of my wee ladies, who turned 90 earlier in the year. It’s been a busy time for her too, as she has recently moved into sheltered housing. I have been involved with the move as well, helping to pack things for the removal company as well as carrying out a deep clean on the old flat to get it ready for sale. She is settling in well to her new home, especially as she now has a lift. I take it for granted that I can walk up the stairs to her flat while carrying my “bag of tricks” and a Henry Hoover.

Some people with mobility issues have the wet room/shower room instead of a full 3 piece bathroom. I was putting the Soft Paste through it’s paces today cleaning the walk in wet room. The room has lovely white tiles, on the wall that are a breeze to clean, but the textured non-slip floor can be tricky. I decided to try the paste, using it in a solution as well as neat on the more stubborn areas on the floor. I then wiped it try, and was pleased to see that it was looking pretty good.

I left that flat looking really fresh and clean and smelling of French lavender. It’s a great feeling to know that I can play my part in helping someone retain as much independence as possible. I suppose that is the reason why I clean for a living. I make products because the idea came to me while cleaning, and the job allows me the thinking time for the ideas that I can work on when I get home. If that is madness, then lock me up!

Music & Cleaning

Music and cleaning have always gone hand in hand for me. I can clean without music, but I am so much happier when I can sing along while scrubbing. It’s true that my husband heard me long before ever set eyes on me. He was based at the Chemikal Underground “office” which was located in the flat opposite mine at the time. I wish I could say that I was young and glamorous, but that would be a lie. I worked nearby in the accounts department of a well known national car repair company, and I sported a delightful red bolero style jacket that had an image of a smiling tyre and exhaust embroidered on it. Sexy…..not!

I would finish work at 5pm, walk the short walk home to the flat and that’s when I would play music and tidy up. Probably singing along too. It was some time later before I finally met the boy that was to be my husband, and he found out that I was the girl across the landing that used to vacuum and play loud music!

Some things never change. Today I was alone at work, so had my wee DAB radio in my bag. I like to change things up a bit, so today was Clyde 2, I think it may have taken over form Gold. It plays a mixed bag of music, not contemporary “indie” music like my beloved BBC Radio 6, but good “oldies”. I was using my soft cleaning paste to clean a stainless steel sink, while singing along to “Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight)” by Abba. It’s good to happy at work, and I generally am.

I find cleaning to be quite meditative, it must be the repetition of movement that allows my mind to wander and develop ideas. While cleaning today, I was thinking about all the questions people ask about the products, and it struck me that the question I am asked most about the humblestuff product range is “what can I do with the paste?”. Just about anything you want. Honestly. I cleaned a sink, microwave, cooker top & hood, oven door, bath, tiles sink today, to name but a few. Armed with the soft paste and lots of clean soft cloths, I feel that I can rise to any cleaning challenge that I am called upon to deal with.

The secret life of cleaners?

I rushed home to watch the BBC 2 documentary “The Secret Life Of Cleaners”, which was shown on BBC2 on Wednesday (27/05/15) night. I had seen this advertised, and was curious to see the angle that this programme would take. I’m not sure it reflected my experience of cleaning, but I didn’t really expect it to.

I couldn’t help but notice the amount of cleaning products that were shown throughout this 1 hour documentary, great advertising for the big companies, like they need any help. The amount of different cleaning products that one particular house had in a cupboard was incredible. In the days before I made my own products, I used to spend far too long poring over the instructions on different products, with the only thing each had in common was that you never knew exactly what they were made of.

Some of the homes shown looked huge, with smooth shiny surfaces in the bathrooms and kitchen. It was not made clear how long the cleaner spent in each home, but can only imagine it would take a while, especially if you have to change your cleaning products all the time to accommodate the variety of different surfaces.

I genuinely love cleaning. Strange, but true. The satisfaction that comes from making order from chaos is brilliant. People call me things like “my treasure”, “wonder woman” and “miracle worker” and it always makes me laugh. In some ways it’s easier to clean someone else’s home, because there are no distractions. For the immigrant cleaners shown in the documentary, it was clear that for them, cleaning was not a career or lifestyle choice, but a means to an end. Cleaning is hard work, but the thought of having to travel the length and breadth of London before work even begins is harsh. Not sure I could do it. Therefore, I have great respect for anyone that does.

My first blog

This is a bit odd. I’ve never written a blog before, not completely sure I know what I’m doing, but here goes….

I don’t consider myself to be any authority on cleaning (looking at my living room just now and it’s not looking good) but people think that because I earn my living from cleaning other people’s homes, I should know something. Well, I suppose I might be able to help on some things.

I’ve been a self employed cleaner since the 1st of June 2005. Why? The answer to that is quite simple. I have always liked cleaning – strange, but true. My first paid job was for my brother when I was about 12 years old. He was 12 years older than me (I say was, as he is sadly no longer here). I was given a token amount of pocket money to clean his room. The room wasn’t very big, but it always had that “boy smell” that I found tricky to remove, no matter how much air freshener I sprayed. He was happy, and I got enough money to buy my favourite magazines, which were Smash Hits and Just Seventeen.

My cleaning days are quite different now. Some days I get up at 05:45am (ouch) in order to clean at my brother-in-laws recording studio. I don’t have to get up at that time, but it means I avoid having to work around young beardy boys. Cleaning is hard enough without trying to circumnavigate people that think cleaning is done by magic. However, I generally spend my time cleaning for older people, the ones that used to do it all by themselves before the ravages of old age kicked in.

In my spare time, I am working alongside my husband Andrew to build up our handmade natural cleaning business. I must be mad. We have just launched our online shop and website, and we have products to make for 2 markets next weekend. Cleaning, is definitely not just for Christmas.