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
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.
STEP 1: DOORS
Remove all bottles and jars either to countertop or cooler. Remove door shelves (if possible) and place in sink to soak while you clean and dry the insides of your refrigerator doors (working as quickly as possible to keep the fridge open for a minimum amount of time). Be sure to clean around the sides of doors and also in the grooves of the sealing gasket. Close doors and scrub shelves. If shelves are too large for your sink, rotate them so each part gets a good soaking before trying to remove dried and ‘chilled on’ gunk. As you dry door shelves, inspect for spots you missed and re-clean as needed. Return dried shelves to doors. Wipe and dry bottoms of all jars and bottles, checking expiry dates and sorting by like items before returning to fridge doors.
STEP 2: SHELVES
Food crumbs and debris will fall down as you remove shelves for cleaning, so start at the top and work downward, following the same basic sequence of steps as for doors.
STEP 3: DRAWERS
The same basic cleaning sequence applies for drawers, but they have more moving parts that can harbor grime, so pay attention for opportunities to dismantle and clean parts separately. Also, before soaking, use your vacuum cleaner to remove larger food particles and other debris. You may also encounter hardened liquid spills hiding underneath drawers; soak with a hot cloth to soften and gently scrape as needed.
STEP 4: FREEZER
Remove food to cooler. Remove and soak any baskets and/or shelves. Remove ice trays/buckets and discard old ice but do not soak ice trays in soapy water; defrost and clean with hot water only. Brush any debris to floor and vacuum. Before returning to freezer, check dates on frozen foods and discard items that have gone past their recommended safe freezing timeframes.
STEP 5: VENTS AND COOLING ELEMENTS
If your refrigerator is NOT hooked up to water filtration or automatic ice making system, pull out from wall, unplug and vacuum cooling coils and back and don’t forget to clean the top. If the fridge is hooked up to water, you may need professional assistance to complete this final important step for ensuring cooling efficiency.
For a comprehensive list of what you’ll need to give your fridge a deep clean, click here.
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.
KITCHEN. Back-to-school means food shopping less frequently, buying more on each excursion, cooking more often and struggling to serve nutritious, healthy meals in less time. Get ready by,
Cleaning out your cabinets, discarding all food items that have gone past their freshness dates and moving older items to the front to ensure they get used first.
Deep cleaning your refrigerator and freezer. This is actually recommended six to 12 times per year; pre back-to-school should definitely be one of those times.
Organizing food storage solutions – sort and neatly stack food containers and lids, discard stained and orphaned items and stock up on freezer, sandwich and snack bags.
Giving your recipe book/box a good purge and sort. The process will inspire meal and snack diversity by reminding you of recipes you haven’t made in a while and making space for new easy and nutritious meal ideas.
BATHROOMS. Bathroom wars are a hallmark of back-to-school as everyone wants to sleep as late as possible and timeframes for morning ablutions become extremely short and inflexible. Promote efficiency by,
Purging, organizing and stocking vanity drawers and cabinets,
Checking expiry dates on all items in your medicine cabinet, and
Taking an annual foray through your linens closet; inspecting and either discarding worn or rarely used items or converting for other uses such as storage padding and cleaning.
OFFICE SPACE. Back-to-school is guaranteed to bring an influx of physical and digital media – forms, notices, artwork, handbooks, emails and so forth – into your home. Get ready by,
Clearing bulletin/note boards of dated content,
Conducting an annual purge of filed papers,
Organizing frequently used phone numbers, email addresses and documents such as birth certificates, physical/vaccination records and emergency contact data,
Deleting or archiving old computer files and emails, and
Setting up folders for keeping new content organized and easy to locate.
OTHER LIVING SPACES. Back-to-school typically means more regular use and churn of more items that can cause a daily clutter explosion in your home. Get ready by,
Making space in storage spaces, including bureaus, under beds, closets, and junk drawers,
Assigning specific places where frequently used items will be considered ‘put away’.
Educating family members about where those places are, so they can be effective when asked to help tidy up.
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.
by Libby Kane
Spring is in the air.
Ok, fine. It’s just the unseasonably warm winter.
But we’re looking ahead to one of our favorite seasons, and nothing will make us better prepared to enjoy it than some serious spring cleaning.
Looking around and seeing your sparkling living room, free of dust bunnies at last, is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. And as we all know, happier people are less stressed and more productive, not to mention good for the economy. Besides, a clean house frees your mind to focus on more important things.
But, because no one wants to spend hours scrubbing when the sun is finally starting to show its face, and the whole family just wants to be outside, we want to maximize your spring cleaning—with expert tips that will save you time, toil and money.
So we spoke with Melissa Homer, Chief Cleaning Officer at MaidPro for an efficient, organized, and–dare we say–fun start to a much fresher spring.
1. Get Great Deals
The best part about keeping your eye out ahead of time is that you’ll have a chance to get the best deals on staples like soap and sponges. Create a spring cleaning envelope to hold coupons for products you’ll need, and leave the envelope in your purse or the glove compartment of your car so it travels with you wherever you go. Go ahead and set up a filter or folder in your email to keep track of electronic offers and coupons, too.
2. Build a Toolkit
Homer recommends that you assemble your supplies using a shower caddy or other container with a handle. This will help you to move quickly from task to task and room to room without wasting steps or risking distractions. To really take advantage of cost savings and multitasking, use the one currently in your shower (you can always put it back when you’re done)—or snap one up for as little as $6.
3. Get Colorful
Assign a color-coded microfiber rag for each room and surface in the home. “After all, you don’t want to use the same rag for the kitchen counter that you would use for the bathroom. You’ll also cut back on paper waste and streamline your cleaning process by knowing which rag to grab for where.”
4. Spring Clean Your Sponge
“In order to ensure that you’re cleaning with a germ-free sponge, steam the sponge in the microwave for two minutes to kill all of the bacteria,” Homer told us. “Alternately, run the sponge through the dishwasher to kill the germs. Be sure to do this at least twice a week, not just during spring cleaning.”
5. Invite a Whole Crew
Recruit your family to help you by creating a cleaning calendar so everyone knows when they need to help you and how. “That way, they can’t ‘accidentally’ make plans on the day you set aside to scrub down the bathrooms,” says Homer. And it’s a classic case of many hands making less work for just you alone.
6. Crank Up the Tunes!
Make sure everyone in your cleaning crew gets to work to some tunes they like, which will make it more fun for everyone. We’re not saying you have to clean to The Wiggles, but upbeat music will help keep you motivated. To find an awesome online music service, check out our chart of the best sites for your buck.
7. Schedule Short Breaks
“Once you’re rolling on a major cleaning task, it’s easy to get caught up in the job and forget to replenish your energy,” warns Homer. “Use a timer to schedule and signal snack, meal and hydration breaks … but don’t break for so long that you lose your momentum!” 15 to 30 minutes should provide a nice rest, without time to get lost in Facebook or different tasks. Looking for an affordable, nutritious snack? Make sure to keep superfoods on hand.
8. Reward Yourself
“Good things come to those who … clean!” Homer jokes. “It can be as simple as an ice cream cone, an On-Demand flick or favorite family meal.” Remember to congratulate yourself, and any helpers who may have helped you along the way. Another reward to remember? All the calories you’ll be burning: Find out exactly how many with this neat chart.
9. Make It Last
To keep the sparkle of your big clean going long after spring, stay on top of little messes before they turn into big ones. ”Keep a few tubs of disinfecting wipes stashed around the house in places your kids tend to make a mess–the bathroom, playroom, kitchen, etc,” Homer says. “Green cleaning product companies like Seventh Generation have recently entered the disinfecting wipe market, so now busy moms can kill germs, save time and save the environment!” (For our picks in green cleaning products, check out this chart.)
By Sandra Gordon
How much time do you spend cleaning your house or apartment each week? According to a study by MaidPro, the Boston-based residential cleaning company that has over 130-individually owned and operated locations across in the U.S., housecleaning takes a three-hour chunk of time out of every weekend, on average. I like that fact that housecleaning is a workout. Still, I don’t know about you, but I’d rather use some of that time working out at the actual gym, going outside or even heading to the mall (again) with my tween daughters.
Here’s the dirt on how to streamline house cleaning from Melissa Homer, MaidPro’s chief cleaning officer, so you’ll have more of your weekend for fun stuff.
Invest in storage bins. “The best way to keep a house clean is to keep an organized home,” Homer says. “The less that’s in your way, the more you can see the dust and dirt and the easier it is to clean.” Storage bins can give everything a home so you and your family can easily put things away before they pile up. “Cleaning goes much faster when you don’t have make decisions about where to put things,” Homer says. To decide where a bin should go or where an item’s place should be, think about how often you handle it. “The more it gets used, the closer it belongs to the primary living areas in your home,” Homer says, such as the living room or kitchen.
Use multi-surface cleaners. Why carry around four or five cleaning supplies when just one will do? You want a good multifaceted cleaner that can handle degreasing, soil, dust and disinfect, too. “If a cleaner can do all that, you can fly through almost every surface in your house, from kitchen counters and windows to furniture and bathroom surfaces,” Homer says. To avoid cross contamination, use different rags for your kitchen, living room and bathroom. Homer favors microfiber rags. “They scrub harder, doing more of the work for you. And they don’t leave lint on mirrors or glass coffee table tops,” she says.
And our advice when using all-purpose cleaners, is to let the cleaner sit for 5 minutes, or as the label directs, before wiping. Two products that aced our tough mess tests (including getting up grease and caked-on soap scum) are Nature’s Source and Seventh Generation, which also happen to be greener cleaners. And don’t bother with antibacterial cleaners. Regular ones work just fine.
Do one extra—small—organizing or cleaning task per day. Today, maybe it’s 10 minutes purging the junk drawer in your kitchen. Tomorrow maybe it’s 2 minutes organizing the cabinet where you keep your food storage containers. The next day, perhaps it’s 5 minutes tackling your unmatched socks bin. Just a few minutes here and there can buy you time on the weekends. Need more motivation? “Imagine the cumulative impact of 365 similar tiny tasks on your home’s overall feeling of cleanliness,” Homer says.
Here are five tips you may not have heard before about cleaning your home for cold and flu season:
Clean before disinfecting. Dirt and grime prevent disinfectants from doing their work by shielding microorganisms from contact with active disinfecting agents. Some types of dirt actually consume or impair the active ingredients in disinfectants and – because no germ kill is 100% – dirt can also help germs to regenerate after disinfecting is complete. To ensure dirt and oily soils are removed completely before disinfecting, be sure to choose a cleaning solution that is designed to bond with dirt and oils and suspend them in water. Also, be sure your cleaning rags have the absorbency needed to remove dirty water from the surface you are cleaning.
Understand that there is a huge difference between sanitizing and disinfecting. Sanitizing implies 99.9% germ kill during hard surface cleaning while disinfecting implies germ kill of 99.999%. The difference: proper sanitizing results in a 1,000-fold reduction in human exposure to germs while disinfecting results in a 100,000-fold reduction. While disinfecting all the time in your home would be far too extreme, you should try to use a disinfectant on commonly touch surfaces – such as door handles, faucets, and light switches – during local flu outbreaks or when someone in your family is actively suffering from the flu in order to kill living germs that may be lurking on hard surfaces. Outside of cold and flu season, sanitizing should suffice.
Pay close attention to the language in cleaning solutions’ claims. For example, “prevents or eliminates mold and mildew” is very different from “kills viruses that cause common colds and flu.” The EPA registers and tests products sold as disinfectants and sanitizers, so if a cleaning solution claims to be a disinfectant, it MUST kill cold and flu viruses.
Read and follow instructions. Cleaning solutions sold for use in homes often double as sanitizers and disinfectants. The difference comes in the way that you use them. Instructions on a canister of common disinfecting wipes state that to sanitize a hard surface, you need to ensure the surface stays wet with cleaning solution for a minimum of 10 seconds. To disinfect the surface, it has to stay wet with cleaning solution for a full 10 minutes and be allowed to air dry (rather than being wiped).
Choose the right tools. Pre-moistened disinfecting wipes may not be the most economical or effective choice as they don’t necessarily deliver enough cleaning solution to ensure sanitizing or disinfecting levels of germ kill on hard surfaces. (Again, the fine-print instructions actually state that multiple wipes are needed to deliver sufficient quantities of solution for disinfecting). Meanwhile, if you opt to use disinfecting sprays or liquids with reusable rags, be sure to avoid cross contaminating your surfaces by using one colored rag exclusively in your bathroom, another exclusively in your kitchen, and so forth.
Bottom line: Clean first, disinfect second – and only at times and in places where it is really necessary. When you do decide to disinfect, follow procedural instructions exactly. Otherwise, you will just be wasting your time and money without reaping the intended health benefits.