Watch MaidPro’s instructional video below on how to clean your whirlpool or jetted tub in order to keep your family safe from germs and bacteria.
In Part 2 of our series, we looked at our pros’ favorite cleaning solutions; in Part 3 we look at the specific tools our cleaning Pros prefer for generating top-quality, long – lasting cleans.
If you don’t clean homes for a living, you might think there is little difference from one sponge or cleaning rag to the next, but you would be WRONG! Here are just a few of the considerations that MaidPro takes into account when choosing tools for our service providers to use:
Cross contamination. Perhaps the most important consideration for cleaning tools is their potential to port dirt, grime and germs from one surface to the next. How yucky is it to think someone might clean your kitchen with the same sponge they use to clean your bathroom? Unlike many non-professional cleaners (and more than a few supposedly professional ones), MaidPro is obsessed with avoiding cross contamination as our service providers move from room to room and from house to house. Our specialized tools, such as shoe-covering booties, changeable mop (‘Schmop’) covers and color-coded cleaning rags – green for kitchen, blue for bathroom and yellow for living and bedrooms – help us to accomplish this.
Effectiveness. For example, different sponges and rags offer different levels of absorption, which, along with the right cleaning solutions, can make all the difference between removing dirt and simply moving it around. At MaidPro, we choose cellulose sponges and microfiber rags for their superior absorbency.
Potential for damage. Balancing efficiency and effectiveness is the issue of protecting property. While a highly abrasive sponge will make quick work of removing crud and scum, it can also scratch or etch surfaces invisibly. Those scratches cause the surface to reflect light unevenly, making it appear dull rather than shiny. As dirt and oils settle into the scratches over time, the surface reverts more quickly to looking grungy and eventually becomes un-cleanable. Our Pros are well trained to know which surfaces can take which abrasives and always well equipped with an array of sponges and soft rags for any surface they encounter.
Job fit. If you have ever tried vacuuming a flight of stairs with an upright machine, or upholstery with the wrong attachment, you will likely agree that it’s better to have multiple machines for different vacuuming and dusting tasks. Our cleaning Pros carry two sizes of professional Sanitaire vacuum cleaners plus an assortment of specialized attachments for maximum cleaning efficiency and effectiveness. Meanwhile, our preferred lamb’s wool duster is a best fit tool for removing cobwebs from ceilings and dusting irregular items such as chandeliers, light fixtures, figurines, plants and other uneven surfaces.
Extensibility. Tools that help cleaning pros reach into oddly shaped crannies or up high without back or other muscle strain means more surfaces get cleaned more regularly and thoroughly, which keeps homes looking cleaner for much longer. Cleaning Pros, for example, carry extension poles with attachable ceiling dusters, enabling them to easily reach and dust ceiling fans, light fixtures and so forth.
Safety. Some special cleaning jobs, older ovens for instance, require harsh chemicals to get the job done right. All MaidPro cleaning Pros are trained and equipped to protect their own health by wearing breathing masks and rubber globes as specific jobs require.
So, now that you know all our secrets for cleaning solutions and tools, be sure to tune in for Part 4 of our ‘Clean Like a Pro’ series in which we look at how and why MaidPro’s cleaning Pros sequence cleaning jobs both within and among the various rooms in a home
Part 2 of MaidPro’s ‘Clean Like a Pro’ series looks at choosing the best solutions and tools and matching them to the right tasks
Any manufacturer can make strong cleaning chemicals usually at the expense of their workers, the people who use the chemicals and the environment. A disturbing proportion of the professional cleaning chemical industry comprises poorly designed chemicals that can burn people using them, emit dangerous vapors and damage the surfaces they are intended to clean. Here are some key considerations for choosing the right cleaning solutions:
Power to REMOVE dirt. The surfactants in well-designed cleaners will bond with and suspend large quantities of dirt and oils in relatively small quantities of water. This ensures that grime gets picked up and removed from surfaces whereas cheap, poorly designed solutions can leave you essentially smearing dirt around with water.
Power to DISINFECT. Many nonprofessional cleaners (and even a few professional outfits) use only glass cleaner and furniture polish, which do not disinfect. Surfaces may appear clean, but they can still spread illness from one family member to the next. Wherever touching happens (counters, tables, light switches, phones, remote controls, door handles and so forth), it’s a good idea to disinfect every so often to prevent spread of illness.
Power to AVOID leaving residues. Another factor to consider when it comes to cleaning formulations is the potential for chemicals to ‘fall out’ of solution and be left behind on surfaces. Again, thoroughly researched and designed cleaners hold their chemicals in solution, while poorly made cleaners can leave dangerous chemicals lurking on surfaces.
PH and other chemical properties. Depending on the kind of dirt or stain you are attacking, a cleaning solution’s acidity or basicity makes a huge difference. The fact of the matter is that getting something truly clean relies on a combination of time, temperature, effort and chemicals. Use the right chemicals and you can significantly decrease the time and effort factors.
With these and many other factors in mind, MaidPro extensively and continuously tests different lines of cleaning solutions. We continue to favor the Proctor & Gamble Professional line. (And no, P&G is not paying us to say that!). While P&G’s line is among the most expensive, we believe it is an excellent investment because P&G invests heavily in scientific research. The company has more PhDs working in its research department than its three closest competitors combined. They make carefully balanced and formulated cleaners that thoroughly disinfect without posing health risks to our service providers, customers and their pets. Here is a quick rundown on the specific P&G solutions we use for different tasks:
Spic & Span Disinfecting All Purpose Spray and Glass Cleaner. We use this for the majority of home surfaces. It is an incredible cleaner that tackles almost any task and contains a hospital-grade disinfectant, meaning we can disinfect surfaces and help to stop family illness cycles by ensuring the germs on wood, stainless steel and glass surfaces (not just your toilet) are killed and removed.
Mr. Clean Finished Floor Cleaner. This cleaner is safe to use on wood and all nonporous surfaces, including walls and baseboards. It can also be sprayed on a rag and used for dusting and leaves a nice shine after scrubbing a tub or sink.
Comet Disinfecting Bathroom Cleaner. For soap scum (which requires a specific chemistry to treat) and other bathroom needs, this cleaner has a mild abrasive that won’t scratch. It also contains no bleach, so poses no danger to fabrics. We use this cleaner on all porcelain, ceramic, tile, fiberglass, acrylic bathroom surfaces. When cleaning high-germ areas, we spray on and leave cleaner wet for the specified amount of time required for proper germ-kill (a step that many non-professional neglect to do).
Febreze. We use this for removing odors – smoke, mildew, mold – from fabrics. A light spray leaves fabrics smelling fresh and clean. It is safe to use around pets and has been approved by the ASPCA.
n Part 1 of MaidPro’s ‘Clean Like a Pro’ series, we explain why professional cleaners typically get better results in less time
Depending on service frequency, MaidPro’s professional service providers spend anywhere from 35-45* minutes each cleaning typical kitchens and master bathrooms. Full baths: 20-30* minutes. Remaining rooms: anywhere from 10-25* minutes each. Non-pros cleaning the same rooms can spend up to 33% longer and still fail to achieve the same levels of lasting clean!
Big reasons for the time and effectiveness gaps between cleaning pros and non-pros:
• Professionals don’t get distracted. They don’t stop to answer the phone, catch a weather report on TV, or put something away in another room. Losing track of where you leave off adds time and often causes cleaning to be less thorough.
• Professionals use the right solutions and tools. Cleaning solutions vary dramatically in terms of things like disinfecting/sanitizing power, surfactancy (ability to suspend soils in water) and PH. The wrong solutions can be at the least ineffective and, at the worst, damaging if you don’t know your stuff (more details on why pros pick certain cleaning solutions and tools will come in Parts 2 and 3 of our series).
• Professionals clean systematically. Specific sequencing of cleaning activities – within both houses and rooms – ensures thorough, efficient work with no cross contamination. Proper sequencing ensures a safer, healthier and longer-lasting clean (more pro sequencing details to come in Part 4 of our series)..
• Pros benefit from cleaning consistency. When rooms get cleaned the same way on a weekly or biweekly basis – including the parts that don’t yet look dirty – they take significantly less time and effort to clean than rooms or room areas that get neglected. More details to come in Part 5 of our series on what to clean – or have cleaned – frequently if you want your home to look and smell fresh for a week or longer rather than just the first day or two after a clean.
*Time guides based on typical home size of 1K-2K sq ft, assume no pets, moderate quantities of knickknacks and typical flooring.
Keeping your home tidy is one thing, maintaining it to a consistently high level of clean is something else altogether. Start the New Year off right with this five-part plan:
Wrap your brain around the WHY of clean. Plain and simple: clean looks, smells and feels good. It’s healthy. And it’s also a sound long-term financial decision; clean better and more often to preserve – even increase – the value of your home and possessions.
Get introspective. Take a brutally honest look at where your home typically falls on the clean-o-meter – and why. Love cleaning? Hate it? Don’t mind it, but have too little time? Once you’re committed to cleaner habits, your strategy needs a strong dose of personality reality.
Get up to code! If – despite plenty of time and effort cleaning – your home never really feels, smells or stays clean for very long – you may be overdue for some deep cleaning. Think walls, floors, ceilings, carpets, furniture, fixtures and places you can’t see such as inside vents, cabinets and appliances. If you’re WAY overdue for this kind of work, consider gifting yourself the services of a professional cleaning crew that can bring your home rapidly to a better starting point for weekly and daily cleaning chores.
Educate yourself. Using ineffective – or just the wrong – cleaning tools and solutions can be another reason your home is falling a little shy on the clean-o-meter. Coupons can be a big culprit here, so do some research to understand what works best, where and why so you can make great buying decisions around cleaning supplies.
Build a budget. There is just no getting around the fact that proper cleaning takes time. Figure out what it takes each week clean your home well, and make sure you budget either the time to do it yourself, or the funds to have someone do it for you.
Pinterest, one of the newer sites to explode on the social media scene, offers lots of great content around home organizing and cleaning. Here are nine quick tips for getting the most out of it.
Commit to the concept. The whole idea of Pinterest is to replace the mess of notes you write yourself or magazine pages you tear out whenever you see ideas you love. Try to get in the habit of using Pinterest instead of all those life-cluttering activities.
Be a pinner, not a follower. There are so many great ideas on Pinterest, it’s easy to get stuck there, simply following and repinning other people’s content. Be sure to add the ‘Pin It’ button to your web browser so you can be ready to pin great cleaning, home organizing and decorating ideas from all over the web whenever you encounter them.
Plan out and create your boards. It’s annoying to have to stop mid-pin and create a new board, so spend some time thinking about the kinds of ideas you are most likely to pin and get a bunch of boards ready ahead of time. Good ideas for home-related boards include: decorating, organizing, cleaning, DIY, holidays and seasons.
Research your repins. Before repinning an idea on Pinterest, be sure to click through to ensure the link connects to the original content source. Some don’t and it can be a huge disappointment to revisit a pin weeks or months later only to find a photo with no info behind it.
Lemons make pretty pictures. Keep in mind that Pinterest is both a visual and social medium. That means it favors popular trends such as sustainable living and features lots of lovely pictures of lemons floating in mason jars and attractively presented ‘green’ cleaning and other homemade concoctions. But, while some do-it-yourself solutions may be effective, others can be downright dangerous or damaging to your home. Best advice: Take an interest in the ideas you find on Pinterest, but arm yourself with authoritative follow up information such as Green Cleaning Myths Debunked.
Beware of spam. It has not taken long for spammers to get a hold of Pinterest and, unfortunately, they seem to have identified the word ‘cleaning’ as a great keyword for attracting people to bogus content. If you see comments or a message noting that a pin links to spam or inappropriate content, take heed and do not click through. Also avoid following anonymous boards with titles like ‘cleaning, cleaning, cleaning’ and stop spam from spreading by never repinning items without first verifying the links.
Be wary of product-driven boards. While many savvy product marketers will take the time to create useful and authoritative content for their customers and prospects, others just want to sell you something via Pinterest, so keep a wary eye when following product company boards.
Go with the pros. A great strategy is to find and follow boards from trusted publications such as Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living and Better Homes and Gardens that focus on cleaning, organizing and decorating for the home. A fast way to find publications’ official boards is to search the publication names in Pinterest and click on the People link under the search results.
Follow judiciously. Another good way to leapfrog spam on Pinterest is to find and follow boards from individual Pinners with good reputations for validating and pinning only authoritative content. A fast way to find reputable Pinners is to check out who your favorite publications follow and go from there.
Six months to one year in advance:
1. Budget and start saving. Organizing your garage properly (and any other long-term storage space for that matter) requires investment in solutions that will help you to optimize the space. Think: hooks, racks, shelves, peg boards, tool benches, sturdy containers and bins, cabinets, and so forth. Don’t purchase anything yet, but research your storage options, costs and set a budget and/or savings goal.
Two to three months in advance:
2. Plan for removal. Before you start ripping your garage apart, put a plan and budget into place for removing the things you no longer want. Consider hiring a dumpster, scheduling charity pickups, or planning a garage sale to recoup part of the cost. Arrange to borrow or rent a pickup truck or van and research the places that might accept your junk; find out what hours they operate, what they charge, and who can take hazardous items such old paints, solvents, pesticides, batteries, etc. Find out also if you have opportunities to convert junk to cash, salvaging scrap metals such as copper, aluminum and steel or selling off any surplus building or home improvement materials you may have on hand. Note that some towns and cities will allow you to schedule and pay low rates for extra-large trash pickups, so it’s worth checking in with your local DPW as well.
3. Select and reserve a whole nice-weather weekend (plus a backup weekend in case of rain). If extra work will be needed (such as painting the garage’s floor or interior walls), consider adding a third day to your plan. Recruit all able family members to help. If you have teens, consider offering to pay one or two (but not too many) of their friends to join your work crew.
One week in advance:
4. Check the long-term weather forecast. You need two unequivocally sunny days; warm but not stiflingly hot or humid. Adjust your plan as needed.
A few days in advance
5. Purchase plenty of healthy ready-to-eat foods, snacks, drinks and water. Ice down drinks in a cooler and make a great music playlist. Also, gather supplies you might need – hoses, sponges, buckets, cleaners, rags, etc. – that you can use to clean items before returning them to your garage; a clipboard, pencil and paper for taking notes; and any tools you may need to install new storage solutions.
6. Get an early start. Take everything out of the garage. As you go along, sort into large designated areas such as: keep ‘as is’, clean, fix, donate, sell, and junk. Be ruthless in deciding what you will keep and make detailed notes about how frequently you expect to use each saved item, how easily accessible it needs to be and what type of storage solution would work best.
7. Divide up your work team into crews with designated tasks such as sorting, loading, hauling, cleaning things you intend to keep, sweeping, hosing down, painting and otherwise cleaning the interior of the garage.
8. Take your frequency/accessibility notes and make a storage and organization plan. Head out to purchase the hooks, racks, shelves, installation hardware and any other storage solutions needed to execute your plan.
9. Install and place storage solutions according to your plan.
10. Move cleaned, sorted items into their new designated storage spaces. And remember to reward your crew and celebrate your own hard work and ‘new’ spiffy garage.
Heavy-duty grill cleaning is a once-a-year job best done at the start of each new grilling season. For gas grills, ensure all knobs are set to off and disconnect propane. When cleaning the main grill apparatus, focus on getting the outside shiny and appealing, but don’t put too much effort into cleaning the inside; remove loose debris and ash but refrain from scrubbing away all that great cooked-on ‘seasoning’ that helps to control the grill’s cooking heat, ultimately producing better food.
When it comes to cleaning grill grates, there are two schools of thought.
If you have loads of time on your hands and are into burning extra calories, go the cold-cleaning route. Use your sink, bathtub or a plastic tub large enough to accommodate your grill grates. Soak them for several hours in warm, soapy water. Then apply serious elbow grease to scrubbing, scraping, rinsing, and drying your grates and more effort to removing greasy particles and residues left behind in your sink or tub. Never use toxic cleaning solutions, rinse all solutions thoroughly and allow extra time for grates to heat on their first outing to ensure all residues burn off before cooking. A tip for cold cleaning without harsh chemicals is to soak grates in brewed coffee for an hour or longer before scrubbing.
Depending on your propensity to grill with sugary marinades, cheeses and other substances that ossify with intense heat over time, even the most assiduous cold cleaning may not produce pristine grates. If you are more interested in speed and efficiency, your mantra for cleaning and maintaining grill grates should be: heat and treat. If you are lucky enough to have a self-cleaning oven, simply stick your grates and other removable metal parts into the oven and run the self-cleaning cycle. The extreme high heat will burn away grill grime and muck, leaving you with clean grates and a clean oven for the summer.
If you do not have a self-cleaning oven, invest in a high-quality wire grill brush and pair of high-heat-safe gloves or mitts. When the grill is hot, brush the grates firmly with as much pressure as you can apply safely without toppling the grill. After grilling, either brush grates while still hot and, when cooled, treat lightly with cooking spray, vegetable or olive oil to protect; or, simply leave the grates dirty as protection against the elements until the next time you grill. If you do not have a grill brush, a scrunched up piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil or half an onion used with extreme care (and high-heat-safe gloves) will also work to remove most stuck-on grime when the grill is hot.
For charcoal grills, be sure to remove cooled, spent ash after every use (and especially before it gets rained on). Gas grill briquettes should be periodically removed, shaken or brushed and gas jets cleared of grease and food debris, which can prohibit even distribution of heat. Flipping gas-grill briquettes periodically takes advantage of the grill’s high interior heat to clean them with virtually zero effort.
Finally, when not in use, remember to always cover your grill. Good eating!
There are plenty of investments that will increase the value of your home. But, unless you are actively preparing your home for market, it’s important — when figuring return on investment — to consider the longer-term maintenance implications associated with your choices. Learn the key cleaning considerations for five popular home-improvement investments;
Kitchen and bath remodel. Kitchen and bath remodels typically add the greatest value to homes, but often bring increased (or at least different) maintenance requirements in order to preserve investment value. Click here for more.
Carpet to hard wood. No matter how much regular vacuuming, steam cleaning and shampooing you do, carpets will always be sanctuaries for dust, dander, and odors. Click here for more.
Paint. Outside or in, nothing improves a home’s appearance — and value — faster than a fresh coat of tastefully colored paint. But when it comes to routine cleaning and longer-term maintenance, paint finishes are definitely not created equal. Click here for more.
Windows. Whether replacing old windows, adding entirely new ones, or going from smaller panes to large, the intention, aside from energy efficiency, is to let in more light and improve views. These latter benefits only materialize, however, when windows are cleaned properly, inside and out, at least twice per year, preferably following the big spring and fall pollen seasons. Click here for more.
Make more space. Home value is clearly tied to square footage. Click here for more.
First step: Get your head in the game. The good news about spring cleaning is that it’s usually inspired by a combination of three things: stir craziness from being inside for much of the winter, that whole ‘new-growth’ feeling that spring brings, plus a desire to get a bunch of needed tasks out of the way before the high heat – and big fun – of summer come rolling along. You can add to the feeling of inspiration by focusing on the facts that: annual deep cleaning protects the value of your home and health of your family, is a great way to burn extra calories in advance of bathing-suit season, and yields a crisp palette for freshening up your home décor.
What to clean
- Anything involving textiles – think curtains, drapes, rugs, carpets, bedding, mattresses, pillows, and furniture upholstery – which play host to tons of human and pet dander, dust and dust mites. When possible, expose textiles to fresh air, sunlight and wind.
- Inside, under and behind all furniture and major appliances, including your refrigerator, oven, dishwasher (decalcify), washing machine (sanitize by running empty with super hot water and plenty of bleach) and clothes-dryer (clean lint venting system thoroughly to remove fire hazard).
- Clean or replace filters on air conditioning units, water taps and/or inside refrigerators that dispense water and ice.
- Closets, drawers, kitchen and bathroom cabinets – remove everything; purge unwanted and expired items; clean drawers, floors and shelves before replacing items.
- Long-term storage areas – basement, attic, garage (take advantage of the numerous donation opportunities that arise in spring).
- Windows – inside and out.
- Floors – deep clean and protect or wax (if needed).
- If you have young kids, spring is also the best time to clean and sanitize their toys.
Whew! That’s a long list, but with good planning and preparation, it can be managed quite easily.
Sequencing your spring clean
Start by making a list of the tasks you know you will never tackle yourself. Schedule appointments with contractors and service providers – for example, carpet and upholstery cleaners, gutter cleaners, landscapers – early before their schedules fill up. Tip: Schedule some of your own big cleaning jobs to coincide with times you know you will be home to host various cleaning contractors.
Purge. Purge. Purge. It’s a lot easier to clean when you’re not inundated with stuff. Figure out ahead of time when opportunities will arise for you to donate unwanted items. Collect boxes and make sure your junk is packed, labeled and ready to go well in advance of donation dates.
Unless you live in a climate that is warm year round, start with less-intensive inside cleaning jobs – closets, drawers, cabinets – that do not require extra ventilation for cleaning solutions.
Schedule the remaining fresh-air-and-sunshine jobs for those first blissful – throw-open-your-windows -weeks of real spring weather. Plan to work in half-day segments so you don’t squander all the good weather on cleaning. And set manageable goals for what you will accomplish in each segment so you don’t fall into the common trap of enthusiastically ripping everything apart, then running out of time or energy before you can get it put back together. Pay particular attention to long-term weather forecasts so you can match tasks to expected conditions. For example, warm, sunny and windy days are perfect for quickly drying damp upholstery, heavy bedding and area rugs outside.
Recruit a help crew
Unless you crave solitude after a winter spent cooped up inside with your family, be sure to enlist plenty of help for big spring cleaning jobs. Adult partners and teenagers should be recruited to haul junk, add extra elbow grease to extra grimy areas and push around larger pieces of furniture and moveable appliances. Younger children can be put to work with organizing and sorting (for example, re-uniting their game pieces, boards, cards, dice, etc.) and moving around lighter items such as pillows, curtains and bedding.
Make a detailed spring-cleaning plan and stick to it using the following MaidPro Spring Cleaning Survival Guide. Come summer you will be absolutely delighted that you did.