Introduce the Nordic Spa Tradition into your home using Iris Hantverk brushes from Sweden.

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Bring some of the Nordic Spa Tradition home this Christmas with our new Swedish Spa Brushes from Iris Hantverk.

Iris Hantverk Face Brush Front View (small file) Body Brush (small)

The Nordic Spa Tradition has its roots in wellbeing rituals first practiced in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden 700 years ago, and has evolved into a popular spa treatment around the world today. The bathing routines were originally characterised by being beaten with birch branches, rigorous exfoliation practices and the alternate use of steam and cold water or a roll in the snow. These days (thankfully) the experience has been improved upon and has become less punishing but still leaves you glowing and invigorated. The Swedish Body Brush is a part of that routine. It can be used once or twice a week, with or without soap, in the bath or shower. It will improve circulation and slough off dry skin.

You should keep the Face Brush dry and use small circular movements all over the face and neck but avoiding the delicate eye contour area.

To view the brushes in our shop click on the link.  http://www.plainuseful.com

Top Five Tips for Deterring Moths and Looking After Your Clothes

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If you’ve ever pulled out a favourite jumper or scarf at the beginning of a new season to discover it is peppered with holes you’ll know how irritating and far-reaching the damage caused by moths can be.

Whilst it is possible to repair some knitwear yourself, most requires expensive specialist treatment and in this instance, prevention is definitely better than the cure.

So what’s causing the damage?

The moths that damage your clothes aren’t the butterfly size ones you see flying round the house.  You don’t often see clothes moths – they are smaller and hide away.  It is in fact the larvae of clothes moths and carpet beetles that cause the damage to our woollens.  Both look for places to lay their eggs and the perfect habitat is nestling down in wool, down jackets, cashmere and silk.  The larvae emerge after a few weeks and start eating their way through your wardrobe.

Prevention

Clothes that are in use on a regular basis are far less likely to be attacked as larvae shun bright daylight.  They prefer clothes that have been packed away especially those with traces of food or sweat left on…  So the answer is … keep things clean.

Wardrobe

It’s a good idea to vacuum the floor of the wardrobe and any shelves or drawers.  This will remove moth eggs as well as dust.  Wash down the shelves and dry them thoroughly.

Packing Away

At the season’s end, make sure you wash or dry-clean clothes that have been worn before you store them away.  Clean clothes aren’t so inviting to moths.  Moths don’t eat clothing made from synthetic or cotton fabrics so it’s useful to pack favourite items in clean cotton zip-up bags.

If you have items in your wardrobe that are clean but you’ve not worn (why are you keeping them?) then there’s no need to pay for dry-cleaning but instead take them outside and brush them vigorously with a stiff clothes brush.  (http://www.plainuseful.com/product/turner-harper-clothes-brush-beech)  You need to brush the seams, pockets, collar and cuffs to remove any hidden eggs and larvae.

T&H Clothes Brush on Tweed (small file)

There are lots of products on the market to help you deter moths.  Some are natural and some are chemical.  I’m less keen on using chemical solutions as there may be unintended consequences of skin allergies and I don’t like the chemical smells of the pesticides.  I prefer, instead, to use Red Cedar Wood.  The natural oil of the wood kills clothes moths and their larvae.  As the scent starts to fade you can resurrect it by lightly sanding the wood.  You can get Red Cedar Hook Ups (http://www.plainuseful.com/product/red-cedar-hook-ups-pack-of-2) that hang in the wardrobe and Red Cedar Balls (http://www.plainuseful.com/product/red-cedar-balls) for use on shelves and in drawers.

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Lavender is the traditional way to protect clothing from moths.  Lavender deters moths but does not kill them so you need to be sure that the wardrobe is moth free.  There are lots of lavender sachets on the market and you can replenish this scent with lavender oil. (http://www.plainuseful.com/product/lavender-bag)

Bees on lavender CU (SMALL)

Need to know

As clothes moths are so small you probably won’t be able to see them but will only see the damage to your clothing.  Moth larvae leave silky webbing and beetle larvae shed their dry skins about the size of a grain of rice.

Vintage clothing can be a culprit.  Though your newly purchased coat may look lovely, does it harbour moth eggs?  If it does, then by hanging it in your wardrobe you are introducing the problem to the rest of your clothes.  You must ensure it is properly clean before putting it away.

Of course, the ultimate solution is to wrap yourself in synthetic fibres and burn all the wool, silk and cashmere but for most of us that’s not an option we want to consider!

Top Five Tips for Deterring Moths and Looking After Your Clothes

  1. Have a wardrobe cull – only keep what you wear – someone else can benefit from the rest.
  2. Empty your wardrobe, vacuum it and wash the shelves.
  3. Wash or dry clean all your clothes before they get packed away at the end of a season.
  4. Use zip up bags made from cotton or synthetic fibres to store your favourite woollens.
  5. Use Red Cedar Wood Hang-Ups in your wardrobe and Red Cedar Wood Balls or lavender sachets on your shelves and in drawers.  Replenish the scent from time to time.

Ostrich Feather Dusters – Ruffling a Few Feathers!

Feather duster 3 (1 of 1)Feather duster 3

Some people think that feather dusters are a waste of time and that they just scatter dust about.  This simply isn’t true.  But you do need to know how to use them properly because it’s all about static electricity.

Someone realised that as well as being soft and gentle, the feathers (if rubbed) will create static electricity, trapping the dust and holding it until it is shaken out.  It’s like a dust magnet.

The feather duster came into use in the mid 1800’s and the patent was awarded to a Susan Hibbard in 1876 after a court battle with her husband who claimed he had invented it.  A female entrepreneur in 1876 – Ms Hibbard must have been quite a character!  The earliest feather dusters were made using feathers from geese and turkeys.  These days most are made using ostrich feathers which are more durable and attractive.

As with many handmade products, feather dusters last longer if they are well cared for.  Shake out the dust before putting them away and store them hanging on a peg.  Our feather dusters are so pretty – why would you want to stuff them in the back of a cupboard anyway?!  When used properly, feather dusters are more effective than many anti-static fabric dusters on the market.

Would you consider putting flowers in YOUR toilet brush holder?!

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It’s not often that you’d consider putting flowers in a jug designed as a toilet brush holder but I think this may be the exception…

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Toilet brushes are rarely objects of great beauty but we all need them and so it’s refreshing to find a stylish example.  This one is made by Redecker in Germany.

 

 

 

 

Did you know that originally the bristles for toilet brushes used to be made from pig bristles, the hair of horses, oxen, squirrels and even badgers?  This one, however, has black bristles made from high grade nylon.

 

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If you want to make your toilet bowl sparkle but don’t want to use nasty chemicals then you could try Mangle & Wringer’s Natural Bleach Powder. Simply add one scoop to 1 litre of hot water and pour down the toilet.  Leave for 30-60 minutes or overnight and brush before flushing.  It cleans thoroughly, kills germs and doesn’t leave that lingering chemical smell.

 

 

 

Natural Bleach Powder has lots of other uses around the house too (please see the website http://www.plainuseful.com/product/mangle-wringer-natural-bleach.  The packaging on the Natural Bleach is beautifully simple and so no need to hide it away.

M&W Bleach

Spring Cleaning – Specialist Dusters

As well as everyday brushes we sometimes need specialist brushes for specific jobs.  Here are three that might be useful to add to your armoury.

REDECKER RADIATOR BRUSH

Radiator Brush (low res)Radiator Brush CU head (low res)L1020470

There are a number of radiator brushes available on the market but this remains one of the best and is suitable for ALL radiators types, and particularly useful for cleaning cast iron radiators, as it can fit through the side panel as well as through the front ones.  It’s overall length is 96cm.  It has a flexible wire handle to access difficult areas.  The brush head is 30cm long and made from very good quality, soft goat hair bristles.  This is a brush that will last many years.

REDECKER EXTENDABLE COBWEB BRUSH

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If you live in a house with very high ceilings then this is a brush you’ll use every once in a while for sweeping dusty beams or getting rid of cobwebs from the corners.  The dusting heads are enormous (24 x 29cm) and are made from the softest goat hair.  They come with a choice of two lengths of telescopic handle that screw on.  One extends to 2.4m and the other extends to an enormous 4.5 metres.  The telescopic handles are aluminium so light weight.  These are magnificent brushes that will last a lifetime.

GLASS CLEANING BRUSH

Glass brush with cotton tip in jug

This brush will bring a sparkle back to difficult-to-clean vases and jugs.  It has nylon fibres but a soft rounded cotton tip at the end.  It can either be used dry as a dusting brush or with a bit of soapy water to remove grime.  It’s 49cm long.  (Similar brushes come in all shapes and sizes for narrow necked vases and teapot spouts. Take a look on the website for more details http://www.plainuseful.com/.

Spring Cleaning – Dusting.

There are certain times in the year when we look to renew and refresh whether it’s our homes or our lives.  At the beginning of a New Year we make resolutions to live life differently or better.  September is the start of the new school year and is another time to take stock of our lives before the winter sets in.  And Spring is traditionally the time for cleaning our homes.

However, before spring cleaning can really begin, it seems to make sense to review all the ‘stuff’ with which we surround ourselves.  It’s a lot easier to keep a clutter free home clean. Every item we own takes time out of our lives: the time to earn the money to buy it, time to shop for it, time to manage it, clean it, repair it.  Most of us have far too much stuff and we all generally feel better if we can open a cupboard without everything tumbling out.  A good rule of thumb is only to have in your home things that are useful or that you love.

It’s also a great feeling to have the right tools for the job at hand.  I’d recommend the following useful (and rather lovely) pieces of equipment to set you on your way.  A bucket, scrubbing brush, everyday duster, specialist dusters where required, copper cleaners for dishes, and some natural, effective cleaning products.

Today let’s take a look at a good everyday duster.

Firstly there’s the Turner & Harper dusting brush.  This is the lightest, finest dusting brush you’ll ever hold.  Quite beautiful.  Very high quality, great ergonomic design and made by a British designer.  Perfect for dusting skirting boards, bannisters and books It starts at £22.50.

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Next is the Redecker Round Spotted Dusting brush at £23.50.  It has a pearwood handle and goat hair bristles.  Great for dusting around ornaments and in difficult to reach corners.  It’s like a very large cosmetic brush and incredibly soft to the touch.

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Ostrich feathers have a static property that attracts the dust to it and then you simply shake it outside.  They’re very light and gentle and good for all surfaces.  They cost £11.

Feather duster 3 (1 of 1)Feather duster 3

One of the main things I like about all three is that they have handles.  I’m not keen on using a yellow cloth duster as it always leaves my hands dry.  With any one of these three brushes I don’t come away feeling grubby and needing to use half a tube of hand cream!

Indoor Gardening

Spring falconware 3 (1 of 1)Spring falconware 3

I’d planned to do some gardening at the weekend but the weather had other ideas.  The poor daffodils and snowdrops that had dared show their faces were covered in another blanket of snow.  The wind howled down the chimneys and under doors and Sunday was definitely more of ‘build a fire and put the kettle on’ kind of day.  I decided to do a little bit of indoor gardening so that we could at least bring a little Spring cheer into the house.  Falcon Enamelware tumblers are the perfect size for the tiny pots of tete a tete daffodils that are in all the shops at the moment.  I’m using the Spring Green and Porcelain Blue cups around the house and have planted some hyacinth bulbs in some of the Falcon Prep Set bowls.  I think they make a rather lovely and inexpensive display.

ladybird

As a child I had a Ladybird book called Indoor Gardening which had lots of ideas for growing miniature gardens in glass fish bowls and the like or trying to grow tiny ferns in glass bottles.  I think my kind of Indoor Gardening is a tad easier.  Quick, effective and you can use the cups another day.

Bucket List

Spring buckets (1 of 1)Spring buckets

 

Two black galvanised buckets made by the Redecker family.  Yes you can buy buckets in every colour of plastic, but these are something a bit more special.  They’re functional enough to be used around the house and garden and some customers tell us they’ve bought them to plant flowers in, others to store kindling for the fire.  They’re in two sizes and the smaller one makes a good container for wooden dolly pegs.  A little too stylish to hide away in the garage …

Bucket 4

Hit the road, Jack …

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Redecker Boot Jack

Many of us have experienced snow days over the past few weeks, and if you’ve not had snow you’ve probably got rain and mud, so it’s definitely welly weather.  If that’s the case then can I introduce you to this little fella, Jack.  Boot Jack.  He’s made of solid oak, hand-crafted in Germany by the Redecker family and he will become your best friend.  No longer will you have to get your hands mucky pulling off your wellies (or anyone else’s!) as this Boot Jack fits children’s boots as well.  I’d not had one before but can honestly say its difference has been felt in our house.

We exhibited at the Country Living Magazine Christmas Fair back in November and sold out of these Boot Jacks.  Many people bought them as gifts.  We’ve since re-stocked  and received many lovely emails from the people who bought them.

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Cotton Tipped Brushes

Cotton Tipped BrushesLast November we exhibited at the Country Living Christmas Fair in London.  Some of our customers asked whether we could get hold of some tiny brushes to clean awkward items like narrow necked vases, tea pot spouts, champagne flutes and so on.  This month we have added a selection of cotton tipped brushes to the website to meet these requirements.

From left to right we have:

Glass Cleaning Brush:- this is the largest of all the brushes with a diameter of 6cm and a 49cm handle.  It is suitable for cleaning tall vases, water jugs and large flasks.

Decanter Brush:- this is the same size head as above (6cm diameter) but the handle is bent to make cleaning the bowl of a decanter easier.

Baby Bottle Brush:- designed for baby bottles but also perfect for cleaning out smaller flasks.

2cm Diameter Brush:- this is perfect for Champagne flutes, narrow vases and ornaments.  The handle is 55cm long.

Tiny Cotton Tipped Brush:- the smallest of the set at only 1cm diameter but with a 49cm handle.  This is perfect for tea pot spouts

All these brushes can be used dry as dusters or wet for washing.  All have wire handles with a hanging loop at one end.