Category Archives: Cleaning Tips

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A HOUSE CLEANING SERVICE

111779891If you’re seeking relief from the constant cycle of housekeeping chores, there are many options to choose from in housecleaning services. Here are some considerations to help you make a good choice for your personal needs:

How often? If you can’t afford weekly cleaning service, other options are usually available. You can get bi-weekly service, monthly cleaning, or even one-time assistance for a special occasion. If the latter is the case, don’t wait till the last minute to arrange for it. Cleaners have set schedules and they will need to work you in around their regular customers.

Do they provide their own cleaning supplies? If so, that will affect the price. If you have particular products you prefer, ask if you can supply them, and how it will affect the fee structure.

Are they bonded or insured? Residential cleaning services with offices and overhead cost more, but their employees are usually bonded and insured. On the other hand, if an independent cleaning person is referred to you from a friend or professional you trust, that might be satisfactory, and their rates will probably be more reasonable. At any rate, always ask for more than one reference, and follow up on them.

What services will be rendered for the fee? There is a difference between a maid service and a housecleaning service. A maid will often do light housework, including changing sheets and making beds, tidy up and do some laundry. Most cleaning services will not do laundry, make beds, or do windows. Some will take out the garbage and load the dishwasher—ask. The standard housecleaning package includes cleaning and sanitizing kitchen and bathrooms, vacuuming, and thorough dusting. For an extra fee, the package can accommodate laundry, polishing woodwork, cleaning light fixtures, windows and/or floor waxing.

How does payment work? Typically, prices are based on square footage of your home. Ask people around your community about going rates. Arrange payment systems up front. Will you pay each visit? Monthly? What form of payment is accepted?

Last, consider a house cleaning gift certificate for new parents or someone undergoing extensive treatment for an illness. It is a thoughtful gesture that will be greatly appreciated.

TAKING THE MISERY OUT OF MOLD ALLERGY

Unhappy young woman catched a cold and using paper handkerchief

I have learned that symptoms of a mold allergy are very similar to other allergic symptoms. Sneezing, coughing and itchy, watery eyes are common. There are many types of molds both indoors and outdoors, and not all of them cause allergic symptoms. And while mold allergy symptoms aren’t dangerous unless you also have asthma, they can certainly cause misery and reduce quality of life. While medications can help with serious cases, here are simple ways to keep mold at bay and symptoms away:

  • Mold flourishes in humid conditions. Keep the humidity levels in your home at 50% or below. An inexpensive hygrometer, available at hardware stores, can monitor home humidity levels.
  • Check basements and all pipes for leaks and dampness, and make necessary repairs. Clean areas of damage with a mild bleach solution.
  • Keep bathrooms well ventilated with windows or fans. Ideally, run a bathroom fan for 30 minutes after showering to dry the indoor air.
  • Sleep with windows closed. Night air is damp air and mold count is highest during those hours.
  • If you are particularly troubled by mold allergy symptoms, avoid going outdoors right after it rains or on particularly humid days.
  • If possible, install central air conditioning, and use a high-efficiency air particulate attachment (HEPA) filter. At the very least, use a window unit in the bedroom during warm months.
  • Change filters regularly in air conditioning units and furnaces.
  • If you have plants, avoid overwatering, and keep all woven liners such as baskets very dry.

If you work outside, mowing lawns, raking leaves, or planting a garden, wear a dust mask to prevent inhaling mold spores.

NINE WAYS TO KEEP THE MOLD OUT

Spray Bottle with spongeMold can cause serious respiratory health issues, in addition to being unsightly. Keep your home clean and healthy by following these preventative maintenance guidelines:

  • Use adehumidifier in humid climates and/or in basements.
  • Keep yourhome cool.
  • Don’t leavewater standing anywhere in the home or near the home.
  • Useventilation fans in the bathroom during and after showers and baths.
  • Use ventilation fans in thekitchen while cooking.
  • Use your nose: If you suspect a moldy odor, see if mold is hiding under carpets or behind walls.
  • Check regularly for leaksin plumbing, roofs, ceilings and walls. Correct the problem immediately.
  • Make sure yourdryer is vented to the outside.
  • Vacuum frequently, since mold spores are microscopic and can be housed in dust that forms in your home.

If you have minor mold problems on a non-porous surface like bathroom or kitchen tiles, you can easily treat it with a mild bleach solution or vinegar. Minor carpet mold can be treated with baking soda or professional cleaning. Just make sure you locate and solve the source of the mold problem, as well.

Drywall mold is another story. Since it cannot be cleaned, it must be removed and replaced.

SAFELY CLEAN UP BROKEN GLASS

glasFirst, remove children and pets from the area. Gather up the broken glass with a broom. Then remove large pieces while wearing gloves. Glass can shatter far and wide, so check the space thoroughly.

Place the pieces in at least one plastic bag before placing in trash. Vacuum thoroughly. To effectively and safely clean up any tiny remaining shards, use this tip from yesteryear: Fold a piece of white bread in half and wipe the area with the bread. Then carefully wipe up residue with layers of damp paper toweling.

“UNDER” CLEANING: HIDDEN DUST

It’s the hidden dust that can confound even the most regular cleaning routine—those hard-to-reach places like:

  • under and behind the refrigerator, stove and other large appliances
  • under beds
  • tops of cabinets
  • high woodwork
  • corners and tight spots
  • fan blades
  • computers and small electronics
  • mini-blinds

Traditional dusting methods tend to simply move the dust around these areas, if it can be reached at all. Vacuuming can be effective, but only if you have the right vacuum system and accessories. As far as versatility and cleaning power, your best bet is a central vacuum system. Check out these handy accessories that will help you conquer even the trickiest dust-collecting spots in your home:

  • The Spider Fighter is not only great for capturing those pesky insects further than an arm length away, but it also great to tackle ceilings, crown molding, baseboards, between appliance and much more.
  • You’ll appreciate the Mini-Tools Set for cleaning keyboards, computers, stereos, sewing machines and more. Each attachment connects to any central vacuum hose and includes hose connector and adapter, extension wand, curved extension wand, oval brush, round brush and crevice tool.
  • The Dust Mop Tool captures and removes dust and dirt from all hard-surface floors, especially in those hard-to-reach places. Dirt and dust trapped deep in crevices is easily lifted away by vacuuming power as the fluffy mop head gently dusts and polishes your flooring to a clean, shiny finish.
  • Nineteen height positions make the one-piece Deluxe Adjustable Wand the perfect companion for all Vacuflo central vacuum accessories. Fully extended, the wand reaches 40-1/2″ and features the Button-down Clip to easily release the wand from the hose. Makes cleaning high-up woodwork and ceiling corners a breeze. Also handy for extending your vacuuming reach into odd corners and small spaces, as well as drapery cleaning attachments.

A HOUSE CLEANING SCHEDULE FREES UP TIME AND ENERGY

As if your life isn’t already schedule to the hilt, here’s an article that proposes you create a schedule for cleaning your house.

Plan conceptBefore you run for the hills, know that the word “schedule” can be applied as tightly or loosely as you wish, and still free up time and energy while resulting in a house that looks good and feels even better to come home to.

You just need to know yourself. Do you like to finish big chunks of cleaning in one swoop? Or divide up the labor in smaller, concentrated efforts? Do you find a predictable routine easier to stick to, or the freedom to change things up depending on your mood and other life demands? Finally, how clean is clean? Everyone has different requirements for a home that feels livable and pleasant, weighed against available time and energy.

First make a list of all your routine household tasks, such as vacuuming, scrubbing toilets, weeding the garden, laundry, putting toys or hobbies away.

Second, decide how much time you can spend on the housework each day. You might want to leave a few days totally housework-free, and distribute some chores more heavily on a few days.

Third, choose how to distribute the labor throughout the week. You might approach this on a room by room basis, such as bathroom cleaning on Mondays, kitchen cleaning on Tuesdays, TV room on Wednesdays, etc. Or you could organize your time by task: you’ll vacuum on certain days, dust on a certain day, de-clutter on a certain day, change bedding on a certain day. Try to divvy up big tasks with a few smaller tasks for maximum visible results for time spent.

If you like more flexibility, create a job jar with slips of colored paper listing one job per slip. Color code the chores by difficulty and length of time required. Create an additional category for tasks that aren’t routine but need done occasionally, like weeding through old magazines, sorting through clothes for outgrown or worn items, or cleaning a file cabinet. Then on any given day, choose at random from the jar one labor intensive chore and one easy chore. Once a week, also choose at random an “occasional” task to tackle, even if you’re only willing to spend 15 minutes on it.

For even greater flexibility, simply decide that each day you will commit to so much time to cleaning the house—let’s say a half hour as an example—and choose the task of your choice to do in that half hour. If possible, put aside the same half hour every day. Set a timer, put on some good dancing music, and go to it. You’ll be amazed how good your house looks, with just this amount of investment a day.

No matter what your personal style or cleaning requirements, there’s an approach that suits you well. Set yourself up for success by allowing yourself to structure housework in a framework that you can live with, and enjoy the results!

THE FINE ART OF FLOOR CLEANING

Installing laminate flooringWood, laminate, vinyl, slate, tile, or carpet—the choices available in flooring style are dizzying. Each contributes its own brand of beauty and function to the home, but they all share something in common when it comes to keeping them looking new: frequent vacuuming with a quality system.

Did you know that one of the most important things you can do to maintain the life of your floor, no matter what it’s made of, is frequent vacuuming? It’s true. Dirt, grit, even dust break down fibers of carpets and create wear and tear on floor finishes, too. Even if you can’t see the dirt, if your vacuum cleaner has left behind a deposit of fine grit, or you don’t vacuum frequently, carpets and floor surfaces will age much faster, resulting in earlier replacement, not to mention floors that look worn or dingy. A central vacuum system picks up virtually all of the dirt on your floors and deposits it into a sealed container away from your living spaces; it’s the best choice for most effective cleaning.

Always vacuum thoroughly before cleaning any hard surface floor. This will not only allow for a cleaner floor but prevent scratching from scrubbing or buffing if dirt particles are left behind.

Consult your manufacturer for specific products and techniques when cleaning different types of hard surface floors. Use as little water as possible, and dry quickly and thoroughly, especially laminate floors. A fan is effective if hand drying with towels is difficult or impractical.

Vinyl floors are the easiest to clean and maintain—just vacuum and damp mop for routine cleaning, and use a damp sponge with dish soap for spills and messes. A nylon scouring pad will lift heel marks and scuffs. For more thorough cleaning, all-purpose cleaner applied with a sponge mop is fine for no-wax floors. If the floor looks like it has a filmy residue after cleaning, just mop with white vinegar and wipe down with clean water on a sponge to restore shine.

At the other end of the spectrum, wood floors require the most care, but some homeowners swear by their superior beauty and durability. Water should never be used on wood floors, except those treated with polyurethane. Pros say the best way to clean a wood floor is also the most time consuming. After first vacuuming, apply a small amount of liquid wood floor cleaner with a soft cloth, rubbing it into a small portion of the wood floor. Wipe away the excess, then move onto the next section. When the floor is dry, buff with a floor polisher. Use care with wood floor cleaners, and use only in well-ventilated areas, because they are combustible.