Posts

How often have you been vacuuming and you turn off the vacuum only to see stray hairs—from your own head or your pet’s body—still on your carpet? No matter how hard and often you vacuum, they’re still there. Now imagine all of the hairs you cannot see because they’ve worked their way below the surface.

Experts tell us that one human sheds from 50 to 150 hairs a day. Dogs, depending on the breed, shed many times that amount, as do cats. The mess of pet hair can be enough to drive pet owners nuts.

Cute-little-girls-having-fun-with-golden-retriever-lying-prone-on-floor-at-home-under-blanket-smiling.

What isn’t removed regularly gets stuck and eventually embedded in carpet and upholstery, becoming a kind of greasy magnet for dirt, dust, and debris. If not removed regularly it holds all of that tightly within the carpet and upholstery fibers.

Enter Shark

I met my first Shark vacuum in July 2012. That experience rocked my world. I was both amazed by the piles of debris, dirt, dust, and who-knows-what-else that thing sucked out of the carpet, and plenty embarrassed. It’s not like I never cleaned house.

In the nearly seven years since then, I’ve written about my Shark vacuums a lot. I’ve upgraded several times as new models have been introduced. Currently, I own this Shark Navigator Professional Lift-Away and love it. Given your feedback, I know that thousands of my readers now own Sharks, too. We’re quite the fans!

A New Shark in Town

Several weeks ago, the folks at Shark contacted me, asking if I would like to test their newest upright vacuum, the Shark Apex DuoClean Zero-M Vacuum. I said that I would, but made no promises to review or recommend. I was skeptical because how could they possibly improve on what I consider perfection in a vacuum?

Before this machine arrived, I did a little poking around the SharkClean website to figure out what all this means. I learned:

Read more

 

If you have hard flooring, carpet and/or flat surfaces in your home, which just about covers every possibility—there are three specific vacuum cleaners that deserve your attention: an upright, a cordless stick vac and cordless handheld. These are the three worker bees that I own, love and don’t want to live without.

Familiarize yourself with these vacuums and their specific uses and you’ll know why each one gets my designation of for Best Inexpensive™ in its specific category.

Shark Professional Navigator Lift-Away

Shark Navigator Professional

In the decade since I  met and fell in love with my first Shark upright vacuum, I’ve purchased, tested and  worked nearly to death (it’s really hard to wear out a Shark) many Shark vacuums because the company comes out with a new model or two about every week, or so it seems. I can say with confidence, there is no better basic corded, upright vacuum cleaner on earth.

Read more

My mail doesn’t arrive one message at a time. It comes in piles. Think: avalanche. While I have recently hired an assistant (yay me, and welcome Suzanne), the piles remain deep and wide. But I have big plans and high hopes.

office-worker-with-mountain-of-mail

I must have the most patient readers on earth, understanding, too, because while I read every single message, I am unable to reply personally. That’s why I look forward to Ask Me Anything day.

Today I reached in and pulled out these questions…

Barbara writes: We need a new vacuum that is lightweight and easy to carry. We have three flights of stairs in our townhouse and our current vac is super heavy and difficult to navigate—and it doesn’t do a very good job. My new vacuum needs to have attachments including a long wand to dust door frames, drapes and artwork. A bagless vacuum would be ideal. We have a dog and a cat, so cleaning pet hair is an almost daily requirement. My husband and I always read your hints for saving money and we’re confident you can point us in the right direction!

You won’t find a better vacuum than a Shark. I’ve tried just about every vacuum out there, so I say this with supreme confidence.

There are several Shark models available currently, and my recommendation for you is this Shark Navigator Upright Vacuum for Carpet and Hard Floor with Lift-Away for deep cleaning stairways and carpeted steps. But there’s more.

Read more

Everything is different when you’re a child: The trees are taller, colors are brighter, and every new day is more exciting than the last. And some things stay in our memories for a long time—in fact, sometimes they end up being with us forever.

 

Dear Mary: The sad news that Toys R Us is closing all of its US stores not only has us nostalgic for childhood memories, but it also has me wondering: what should they do with their Toys R Us gift cards? Michael

Dear Michael: This is a very sad topic in my family. My adult kids and grandsons too, are going through a kind of grief as thoughts of Toys R Us flood them with wonderful memories. 

As for Gift Cards—there’s one important thing to remember: Gift cards are not the same as cash. They represent store credit. One of the dangers of holding onto Gift Cards is that the store will file for bankruptcy or some other event that causes those Gift Cards to become virtually worthless without notice. My advice is that you use Gift Cards as soon as possible—never hold onto them for the long term. 

Get thee to the nearest Toys R Us store you can find that is still open to buy some Christmas gifts! Don’t assume you’ll be able to use those Gift Cards at ToysRUs.com as the online store has been closed. Only a sweet, tearjerker message remains with a reminder me that deep down inside, we’re all Toys R Us kids. 

Read more

As I glanced at the day’s news headlines, I flinched when I read that a prominent U.S. politician (who shall remain nameless) had 10 people show up at a recent town hall meeting. Ten! That’s what I call an empty room and the fear of every speaker—that no one shows up because no one is listening.

Before I bring up the subject of my email inbox, I need to tell you again how much I love to hear from my readers! I take every letter, note, and message as an affirmation that I’m not speaking to an empty room. I love your tips, stories, questions, corrections, and challenges.

Now about my inbox—it fills almost faster than I can read, so I create file folders for varying subjects. When a folder gets full I know it’s time to address that subject in an upcoming post. 

Once again, I’m working to clear out the folder labeled “Best Inexpensive Qs” where hundreds of messages land that go something like this: “Please tell me exactly which [fill-in-the-blank] is the Best Inexpensive™ option.”

Requests for Best Inexpensive (TM) options from dear readers depicted as file drawer in computer

 

ROOM DEHUMIDIFIER. If you live where it gets unbearably humid this time of year, the way to lower the humidity inside your home is with a good dehumidifier. My pick for the overall best inexpensive 70-pints-per-day unit is rated for up to 2,500 sq. ft. is FRIGIDAIRE Energy Star 70-Pint Dehumidifier It will keep your home comfortable and also protect it from mold, mildew and airborne particles that can make breathing difficult for some people. About $240.

More: Humidity—Not Too High, Not Too Low, But Just Right

SEWING MACHINE. Two choices here. For the beginner: Janome Mod-15 is a sweetheart of a basic mechanical machine ideal for a beginner of any age who shows great promise with sewing, but has not yet proven the need for a more advanced machine. About $150. For intermediate to advance: Janome Mod-100 is a remarkable top-of-the-line computerized model that has everything an advanced sewist would want, with a price you’d expect for a beginner machine. About $275.

HANDHELD GARMENT STEAMER.  Housmile garment steamer is a portable fabric steamer brush for clothes. Perfect for travel because it’s lightweight, comes with two styles of brush heads and produces excellent steam. I much prefer its performance over the more traditional style of garment steamer. It’s great! About $35.

Don’t Miss: Father’s Day 2018 Gift Guide

Read more

The best part of my job as your humble columnist is the mail I get from my loyal readers. I had to laugh today when the first two letters I pulled from my inbox requested help with ants and … sharks!

 

080416image

Dear Mary: Once again this summer, I am dealing with an invasion of ants in my kitchen. Please advise. Exterminators are terribly expensive. Lola

Dear Lola: You’re not the only one! I’ve been hearing from so many readers who are frantic to know how to get rid of  carpenter ants, sugar ants, fire ants, acrobat ants … big ants, tiny ants and every kind of ant imaginable—even crazy ants!

Fortunately, I have a solution for you that is inexpensive, natural and completely safe to use around  kids and pets—a very effective tactic I wrote about recently, and am happy to repeat.

Food grade diatomaceous earth (DE) will take care of this problem and continue to work as long as it stays dry. It is available in most garden centers and home improvement stores and also online at Amazon. I just checked and you can get Diatomaceous Earth Food Grade 10 Lbs from Amazon with Prime free shipping for about $22. Read more

Did you hear about the shark incident in Florida? A young woman was bitten last Sunday and rushed to the hospital with the shark still attached to her arm!

Rescuers killed the shark before transporting the victim, but still it hung on. That was one stubborn shark and a lot creepier than the stubborn Shark one of my readers has been dealing with.

051816image

DEAR MARY: We purchased the Shark vacuum you so highly recommend. I do love the suction and cleaning prowess of the machine, but it seems awkward and difficult to push around on good quality plush carpeting. Marge

DEAR MARGE: Oh dear—something is not right! I can’t be sure which model Shark you have (the one I love, recommend and use nearly every day is Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional) but for sure your Shark should not be difficult to maneuver on carpet!

With the Brush-Roll turned on, you’ll discover the Shark Pro has a self-propelling feature that pushes it forward, similar to a power lawn mower. Something tells me that perhaps you are attempting to use your Shark on carpet without this feature engaged.

Assuming we have the same model, take a look at yours. You should see a Power button and also a button for the Brush-Roll. In Power mode, you’re ready to vacuum hard surfaces like wood and tile. When you move to carpet, you need to press the Brush-Roll so it lights up green. When the Brush-Roll is engaged and you step on the foot release, you can feel the self-propelling feature kick in. Shark will nearly vacuum that carpet on its own!

If the suction is still too much for your plush carpet, you can make another adjustment. Towards the top of the handle, there is a ring you can turn to adjust the level of suction.

Once you’re set, all you need to do is follow behind and steer the thing with minimal effort. I sure hope that helps. There is nothing about a Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional that should be awkward to push around.

If yours is a different model than mine, look for adjustments for suction and an indicator that the brush roll is engaged. And don’t forget to make sure that your Shark and filter is cleanRead more

You know how much I love my Shark vacuum cleaner. And given my inbox where readers can write to me, I know that thousands of you now love your Sharkies, too.  And I love the comments you send in. They make me smile because I know the range of emotions from amazement to flat out embarrassment. Where on earth did all of this dirt and debris come from? I can’t believe what’s been lurking in our carpets!

photo credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpAR3Ibf814

photo credit: www.youtube.com

With all of the miles I’ve put on my Sharks over the years, I’ve never had one fail. And while the manufacturer boasts that Sharks never lose suction, that is predicated on regularly cleaning Sharkie’s canister, filters and rotating brush. It’s right there in the owner manual, which most of don’t think to read until we have a problem. You need to clean your Shark monthly to keep it working at top efficiency. It’s easy.

SIGNS SHARKIE NEEDS A BATH: 1) loss of suction 2) dirt being left behind 3) sounds weird like Sharkie is gasping for air 4) an unpleasant, dirty odor.

ROTATING BRUSH: First unplug the vacuum. Lay it down on the floor so you can see the rotating brush. You may want to place a bag or towel underneath to catch the debris and dirt you’re about to release. More than likely you will see strings, hair, and other material wrapped around the brush. This is normal. I use a pair of scissor to cut through whatever has wound itself around the brush. That makes it easy to release all of that stuff from the brush. You may have to pull and tug a bit, but it will come off. Read more