Michael De Jong
Michael De Jong: Cleaning Expert
Michael De Jong, is the author of Clean: The Humble Art of Zen-Cleansing, produced by Joost Elffers Design and published in 2007 by Sterling Publishers. He lives in Jersey City with his partner, dog and three goldfish, all of whom benefit from his natural cleaning techniques. De Jong, who cleaned apartments in New York City while working as a fine artist, began researching and inventing many of the recipes in Clean because of his own allergic reactions to commercial cleaning products, and he is continually experimenting with safe, effective, and eco-friendly alternatives. Raised in the mid-West by a family that valued the environment and recycled before it was fashionable, his quest for non-toxic solutions comes naturally to him. He is currently writing a companion series of Clean books dealing with such topics as the body, first aid, organization, and food, as well as posting a weekly blog on www.dailygreen.com.
  • Best Vacuums
    Do you live in a McMansion with open floor space the size of a football field or do you dwell in an overpriced city apartment smaller than a half-pint refrigerator? (It always comes down to size... now doesn’t it?) When it comes to purchasing a vacuum cleaner you certainly need to take unit size, cost, storage availability, special features, and the square footage of your home into consideration.

    Let’s say you live in an East Village studio apartment in New York City. You’ll need to be wondering where to put your bed let alone ever decide where a vacuum might be stashed. So a tiny canister or stick vacuum model might be a best bet for your situation.

    If you’re like the majority of folks who live in modest homes or greatly overpriced one or two bedroom apartments, canister models work best. In the average home with manageable floor space (even one with stairs connecting it all together), usually most lightweight canister models with a hose, wand, and some basic attachments to help you really get “in there” into those tight spots will do the job.

    Upright models, on the other hand, work best for miles of uninterrupted cleanable flooring and, in my opinion, not much more. Imagine cleaning a ceiling fan with an upright - goofy visual, right?

    In my opinion, regardless of the type of vacuum you purchase, the best attachments to look for are the ones that make easy work of getting around and up stairs, under beds, behind toilets, and above ceiling fans, in addition to being flexible enough for occasionally vacuuming a really dirty windowsill or dusty baseboard. (Every month, I make a point of vacuuming behind the refrigerator, but once I even vacuumed the inside of our refrigerator. Don’t ask; I was in a mood!)

    Most people seem to prefer vacuums with replaceable bags (the kind you throw away when full) because emptying a reusable dust container can be kind of messy. But if you are anything like me, and practically never leave the house to get even the most basic provisions, the thought of having to wander out into civilization just to get a bag for my vacuum seems unthinkable. And you know as luck will have it, you’ll only realize you are out of bags when you need to vacuum most. So for someone like me, the reusable bag or dust receptacle is ideal. Philosophically, I also equate “disposable” bags to landfill somewhere, and if I can avoid adding yet one more so-called disposable thing to that already growing mountain of rubbish, it’s the least I can do.

    So many things to consider, aren’t there? But wait - there’s help! In addition to the criteria listed above, you’ll just need to keep a few more things in mind when shopping for a new vacuum cleaner. The most important factors in vacuum cleaner ratings are durability, ease of use, brand name, weight, and filtration system. Almost all vacuums (bag-less or otherwise) need filters and, eventually, they all need replacing no matter what the instructions say.

    As in life, in choosing a suitable vacuum cleaner, there are exceptions to every rule I just mentioned, and only you can decide what’s right for your living situation, your wallet, and your time and energy. My suggestion: Caveat emptor! Always take a “test drive” with any potential vacuum before you buy it.

    So after personally test-driving a bunch of different dust-sucking, cheerio-gobbling, cat-litter-catching specimens, while attempting to appear “in-cog-neat-o”, the cream of the vast vacuum cleaner crop rose to the surface. Here are my findings. Drum-roll, Maestro, please!
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