Mary Moppins

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I previously used a basic cotton deck mop, which is the best of the conventional choices, as far as I’m concerned. Most of the grocery store alternatives to the cotton deck mop are flimsy and don’t work very well. This mop is superior to others in several respects. First is that it is solid and sturdy. It is a real tool rather than a flimsy piece of junk. Second is that it works so much better. It takes less water and cleaner and less effort but picks up dirt better and faster. I use mine with vinegar and water or other environmentally preferable cleaning solutions. Third is that you don’t have the problem of storing a wet, dirty mop.

This mop is basically a cylinder at its base, with Velcro-like hook fasteners that hold onto a typical terry cloth towel. The towel or rag you use comes off the mop head when you are done and goes into the wash. Nothing hangs around wet in your cleaning closet getting funky. It’s similar in design to the Cuban Mop previously reviewed on Cool Tools, but with a better means of keeping the towel on the mop head.

-- Katie Bretsch  

Mary Moppins Best Home Mop
$29

Available from Mary Moppins

Mary Moppins - Mop in Action from AO.Creative - Ryan Welch on Vimeo.



Neti Pot

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My brother-in-law introduced me to the neti pot, for nasal irrigation, about three years ago. He had had chronic sinus infections that have largely stopped since he started using it. Since I began using it, I’ve had fewer illnesses and just breathe easier. I used to take decongestants regularly in order to sleep soundly (due to mild allergies), but haven’t in the past three years, since the neti pot became part of my daily routine. My sinuses don’t dry out as much during winter anymore, and my wife says my snoring has decreased.

The neti pot flushes your sinuses of pollutants, allergens, pollen and dust that build up during the day. By flushing your sinuses you allow your nose to do its secondary job more effectively — keep the bad stuff out. It also has the added benefit of relieving sinus headaches and congestion. The interesting thing is, it’s been around for a long time (several thousand years) and is used by many yoga practitioners to ease breathing during meditation. Eight ounces of warm tap water and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (with no iodine) is all it takes to wash the grime away, and that’s a lot cheaper than over-the-counter decongestants.

I recommend getting a neti pot with a pot belly look, like the Himalayan Institute one available from Amazon. I’ve tried two other brands/styles and they don’t provide as consistent water pressure through the nose. Currently I use my neti pot once a day, in the evenings, to wash the day’s grime away and help with sleeping.

Try it once or twice and you’ll agree your sinuses have rarely felt better or clearer. As a side note, if it burns a little, stop and add a tad more salt. Too little salt and the water won’t flow well through the nasal cavity. If you’ve had a broken nose, please check with your doctor to make sure your nasal cavity is still properly aligned for nasal irrigation.

-- Jeff Young  

Neti Pot
$11

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by the Himalayan Institute

I'm sure the video will turn some people off, but you've got to know how it works. How else did you expect to irrigate your nasal passages?



Lenspen

One way to keep fingerprints off of a quality lens is to keep a filter on the lens at all times. If you prefer not to, or get a print on a lens while changing filters, this small tool will come in handy. The Lenspen offers two cleaning options. On one end, there’s a retractable dust brush. I just extend the brush, and sweep away any visible dust particles. I also use the brush every time I replace the lens. Dust particles almost always appear around the area where the lens and camera body meet. I make sure to clean up this area before removing and changing lenses, thus reducing the chance of getting dust on the sensor.

The Lenspen’s other end, has “a special non-liquid cleaning element” that can be used for more aggressive cleaning. Wipe it over the lens and magically watch fingerprints disappear. The manufacturer explains that there’s a carbon compound under the cap that cleans lenses much like the ink in newspaper works to clean glass. It does work. It can be used many times over, as long as every time you put the cap back on and rotate it, to clean and recharge the pad.

This has become my most used cleaning tool, second only to the Giottos Rocket Blaster. And the two complement each other: while the Lenspen works to clean the glass surfaces of the lens and the camera’s lens mount, I use the Rocket to remove dust from the sensor.

-- Anthony Marty  

[Some users may be more familiar with Nikon’s Lens Pen, which is the same product under a different name. Note the difference in Amazon customer reviews between the Lenspen and Nikon’s rebadged identical twin. –es]

LensPen
$8

Available from Amazon



The Masters Brush and Hand Soap

I used to use dish soap to clean oil paint from my brushes and my hands, but it didn’t do a great job. My brushes didn’t get perfectly clean and didn’t last long. My hands were raw because I had to use a wire scrub brush with the dish soap, removing not only the paint but the top layer of my skin, too. A friend told me about The Masters brush cleaner and hand soap, both of which work better than anything else I’ve seen.

This soap’s not cheap. I paint a lot, and therefore go through tubs quickly. Still, the brush soap’s a great product, and it has allowed me to continue to use the same $.99 brush for the past year, if not longer.

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The pumice-like brush soap has a little grit to it, and I’ve found it leaves a bit of residue on the towel I use to dry my brush. I can wipe my hands on the towel afterward, and get them mostly clean. I keep The Masters hand soap bar around for the finishing touches.

-- Ian Holman  

The Masters Brush Cleaner 24oz Tub $28 Available from Amazon The Masters Hand Soap $4(5oz. bar) Available from Amazon



Giottos Rocket Blaster

This rubber rocket doesn’t provide as much pressure as Dust-Off, but it exhales a forceful-enough blast for dusting photo/electronic gear, and standing upright on its base sidelines as playful desk dressing/stress-relief toy. I squeeze the oblong bladder (the rocket’s body) and a burst of air entering through a hole at the bottom exits the narrow hard plastic red nozzle. I can’t compare their relative dusting power, but unlike the ReAir Duster, the Rocket Blaster doesn’t require refilling. Mine’s been in regular use in the office and on location for a couple of years without any noticeable wear.

The general consensus is that products like Dust-Off should be kept away from digital camera sensors, either because the pressure can be too high around delicate internal mechanisms or the potential for harmful residue. Giottos Rocket Blaster is the best alternative I’ve seen — an inexpensive low-tech tool for maintaining expensive high-tech tools.

-- Elon Schoenholz  

Giottos AA1900 Large Rocket Blaster
$12 (2.4 x 2.4 x 7.5 in.)

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Giottos



GooGone

GooGone is a liquid that helps remove adhesive residues. I’ve been using it for years to clean off the adhesive residue left from stickers, labels, tape, etc.

Let’s say you just bought a picture frame and removed the label from the glass. In order to remove that irritating, gummy adhesive residue left by the label, you just rub a bit of GooGone over it with a cloth and the goo is gone! No need to use a razor blade, acetone or other nasty solutions.

Not much of an odor, and an 8oz. bottle lasts for years since you use just a small dab each time!

-- Dale Burgham  

GooGone
$5, 8 oz.

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Homax



Tersano Lotus Sanitizing System

I originally got the Tersano Lotus Sanitizing System to clean fruits and vegetables…but it does so much more. The pitch sounds like a cross between snake oil and science fiction, but this device works. What it does is infuse water with extra oxygen molecules, which turns it into something of a miracle cleaner.

The system comes with two attachments – a spray bottle and a bowl. The spray bottle lets you use the oxygenized water to clean just about anything – tough stains in laundry or carpet, mildew in the shower, counter-top surfaces like granite or tile – with simple tap water and no dangerous chemicals. The bowl lets you clean fruit or vegetables with treated water, resulting in killing bacteria and breaking down and dissolving pesticides.

The system does all this with tap water, and it couldn’t be much easier to use. To use the spray bottle attachment simply fill the bottle with water, set it on the base, and press a button. The machine whirs away for a few minutes, and beeps when it’s ready. Once the water has been oxygenated, it is charged up for about fifteen minutes…after which time the oxygen has been depleted harmlessly in the air.

To use the bowl attachment, pre-rinse your food to get the “big pieces” washed away, then dump it in the bowl and fill it with tap water until the food is covered. Place the bowl on the base and press the button, and when the machine is done, leave the food in the charged water for a couple of minutes. The base will beep when the time is up, and your food is ultra-clean!

There are other available attachments for the system, including cleaners for toothbrushes and baby bottles, or a floor mop similar to a Swiffer.

The ozone in the water doesn’t chap your hands. In fact, I have soaked infected cuts in it on occasion and it seems to help. The only warning they give is not to swallow it… I suspect this is because it would kill the beneficial bacteria in your gut, which would be very bad for you indeed!

It hasn’t bleached anything I’ve tried it on, and that includes a lot of different fruits and vegetables.

I notice that I left out that it’s also an effective room deodorizer. Just spray a fine mist of the treated water in the air, and it draws out whatever’s floating around making it smell.

All in all, the system sounds like a bunch of malarkey but it really does work!

-- Steve Coallier  

[Ozone's snake-oil reputation comes from ozone "air cleansers" -- the EPA warns against breathing ozone. But ozone within water quickly kills bacteria, then vanishes. Detergent, by contrast, leaves edible films of soap behind. -- Bruce Sterling]

Tersano Lotus LBU 100 Sanitizing System
$150
Manufactured by Tersano

Available from Amazon

Enjoy this alarmingly comprehensive, 10-minute Tersano infomercial.



Alpine Innovations Spudz

If you wear glasses or use a good camera, the Ultra Spudz is a boon. A square of microfiber cloth just-big-enough for an eyeglass lens is attached to a neoprene pod about the size of a grown man’s thumb. Pop the cloth out to clean your lenses, push it back into its pocket when not in use. The Spudz locks to a key ring, camera or bag strap, or a zipper so you won’t lose it. My Spudz lives attached to the zipper pull of my wallet’s change compartment. Since the Spudz is on a quick-release connector, it snaps on and off instantly. There’s nothing special about the cloth itself – it’s just always clean and always handy when you need it.

-- Jonathan Coupe  

Alpine Innovations Spudz
$4
Manufactured by Alpine Innovations

Available from Amazon



Proxabrush

A “proxabrush” is the offspring of a menage a trois twixt a toothbrush and toothpick [with floss acting perhaps as a voyeur]. I am 63, getting long in the tooth, with increasing gaps between teeth and receding gums. Recently I thought I was headed for four-figure dental work. Instead, my experienced and honest dentist suggested this minibrush. It is marvelous for a thorough cleansing twixt those teeth and wherever it can gain entry. I had spent a lot of time behind the wheel with a toothbrush in my hand and mouth; what I needed to do more of is floss the spaces a typical toothbrush cannot get to. This brush allows me to get deep into crevices and is much easier to use than floss (it’s also used by folks with braces). The good dentist recommended dipping the mini-brush into hydrogen peroxide to really go after Mr. Toothdecay.

Since I started using one, some health has returned to my troubled tooth. I find I’m able to keep my teeth and gums much cleaner that with just brushing or flossing. I can also see these little teeeeny brushes coming in handy for cleaning out some other small spaces.

I have been trying several brands since becoming aware of the genus. Oral B has one with a long handle and another with a two part sliding handle that allows the user to pivot the brush by altering the two part handle — facilitating guiding the tip of the little guy to the proper orifice. When I am on the go in the car I’ve been using the little ones from Dentek that have a cap that slips over the handle end like an old fountain pen, making the implement longer and easier to handle. The cap also keeps it clean when I put it in my pocket or set it down in the car. I’ve noticed there are different sizes with tapered, untapered and cylindrical ones, too. I have not yet tried all the brands or types and am not ready to declare an overall favorite, but am delighted with the search.

-- Marc Levine  

Proxabrush – Dentex Easy Brush
$4 (four-pack)
Available from Dentek



BabyBjörn Bib

The humble bib, a highly functional item that (usually) keeps a baby’s clothes from getting splattered with food, has been around a long time without too many major improvements. Until now. Bibs made of non-porous, moldable, resilient silicone are a real step forward. The key features of the one we have from BabyBjörn are its shape and washability. The bib projects outward and terminates in an upward scoop, which not only covers more of the lap, but also catches and collects most dropped food that would miss an ordinary bib. So food that falls in it needn’t be wasted; it’s easy to spoon food out of it and back into the baby’s mouth. We used to have several cloth bibs in regular use, which we rinsed out after each use and hung to dry. We had one oilcloth bib that was better than the others in that it rinses off fairly easily and dries quickly. But the silicone bib has replaced them all, because it rinses off with supreme ease, has no seams to catch crud, and is dry almost immediately. Although a quick rinse is sufficient, clean freaks can also put it in the dishwasher. It attaches around the baby’s neck easily and securely, with a fastener integral to the bib, of the same material. There’s an ocean of cuteness in the world of baby gear, but dealing with an infant or a toddler is made more manageable by functionality, not gear decorated with adorable pink butterflies. This bib really makes life easier.

-- Michael Wilmeth  

BabyBjörn Bib
$12
Manufactured by BabyBjörn

Available from Amazon