Invisible Things to Clean Before Houseguests Arrive

maidpro

Holiday season = houseguest season. Here’s a zone-by-zone checklist of all the invisible things you’ll want to clean so you can feel perfectly comfortable telling your guests to: “Make yourself at home!”

BATHROOMS

There’s one level of clean that’s good enough for your family. But, with guests coming, you need to go deeper than usual: attacking soap-scum buildup, neglected toilet tanks, partially clogged drains, and any signs of mold or mildew growth—all of which contribute to odors your guests are much more likely to notice than you are.

KITCHEN

Deep clean, defrost, and organize your fridge, making extra space for all the leftovers your entertaining will yield. Assuming at least one or two guests will offer to help with the washing up after meals, make sure your dishwasher is sparkling and that the insides of drawers and cupboards are spacious, well organized, and free of crumbs and other debris. Inspect ovens for burnt-on bits that could set off your smoke alarm at the worst possible times. And wow your overnight guests with great morning brews by deep cleaning and decalcifying your coffee maker.

BEDROOMS

Offering clean sheets to houseguests is a no-brainer, but, consider also cleaning heavy linens and even rugs, which may be harboring odors you don’t notice simply because you’re so used to them. Another nice touch is to declutter and clear closet and drawer space for guests to stow their possessions, thereby avoiding that unanticipated yard-sale effect that can wreck your perfect holiday décor.

LAUNDRY AREA

If you’ve got guests staying for more than a day or two, you’ll want to offer access to your laundry facilities. Sanitize your washer—newer machines have built-in cycles for this or just run an empty load with bleach followed by another water-only load to rinse thoroughly—and clean lint vents to ensure your dryer operates at max efficiency.

ALL OVER

Inviting people into your home creates many opportunities for germ transfer. Before and after entertaining guests, do everyone a favor and sanitize or disinfect all the things people touch frequently, including doorknobs, appliance handles, drawer and cabinet hardware, light switches and plates, TV clickers, and all kitchen and bathroom fixtures.

If you don’t think you’ll have time for all that cleaning, MaidPro’s got you covered! Our standard 49-Point Checklist tackles nearly everything above except for the decluttering, drain- and appliance deep-cleaning.

Take a Stand in Your Own Personal Work Style

maidpro-work

You’ve probably heard by now that ‘sitting is the new smoking’—at least according to scores of media stories referencing the catch phrase widely attributed to treadmill-desk inventor Dr. Jack Levine. Even worse news is that regular exercise might not be enough to offset the ill effects of copious sitting. If you work long hours at a desk job, you might greet this news with fear and trepidation—but there is actually quite a lot within your power to change. Standing doubles your metabolic rate, keeps core muscles strong, and is essential to both basic and dynamic anatomy and physiology. Here is a 7-step plan for transitioning to a lifestyle of less sitting at work:

  1. Go gradually. Acknowledge that your body needs time to re-learn how to stand comfortably for long periods. Start with a small daily goal and build from there.
  2. Check your posture. To avoid muscle and joint pain, cultivate a correct standing work posture, which is probably very different from how you’ve been sitting. If you struggle with this, seek the advice of an orthopedic specialist, chiropractor, physical trainer, or certified yoga instructor.
  3. Invest in equipment that enables you to stand and work comfortably. Purchase or request an adjustable/standing desk and a balancing type of chair. Less stable than regular chairs, balancing chairs force you to keep core muscles engaged, both strengthening your core and burning off calories and blood sugar to boot. If not in control of the office budget, ask for the right equipment anyway! The worst that can happen is your request will be denied.
  4. Look for any opportunities to stand and move more throughout your day. Walk around when taking calls. Drink lots of water and use the least conveniently located restroom. Park far away from your office or cubicle. Choose stairs over elevators. Get your computer reassigned to a printer at the far end of the building. Walk for at least half of every lunch hour and on breaks.
  5. Evaluate all the tasks you do each day; reserve sitting for only ones requiring the greatest concentration. You will be amazed at how many medium and low-concentration tasks you can complete more effectively and energetically while standing and moving.
  6. Preach! Think about it. If you can get enough coworkers onboard, entire meetings might be conducted either standing or walking, which is certain to make them shorter and more productive. Be prepared with examples and evidence to support what you’re doing and willing to evangelize a bit to bring others around to your way of thinking.
  7. Be patient with yourself. Keep reminding yourself that, even when you don’t feel 100% in control of your work situation, there are always opportunities to make choices and to take micro-actions that support your own good health and well-being!

Summer Cleanout: Collecting Clothes for Charity

summercloset-aug2016

Late August is the perfect time to clear out and donate old clothes, free up space, and reorganize closets and drawers. If there’s a rainy day on your horizon, here are 5 tips for getting it all done quickly and effectively:

Select a charity that picks up. To motivate yourself, go ahead and schedule a pickup date, being sure to allow time for laundering and dry cleaning of donations as needed. Plan to sort and pack by size, age, gender, and season so donations can be easily prepared for resale.

Gear up and pile up. Collect sufficient quantities of bags, boxes, and bins for packing up your donations. Then, pull every single thing out of closets, dressers, and storage bins and pile them all in the middle of a room. Be sure to include accessories: scarves, bags, belts, jewelry, and footwear, too.

Set rules. For example, resolve to donate anything that is in relatively good condition, BUT: doesn’t fit, is out of style, has not been worn recently (or often), still has the tags on six months after purchase, or fails to flatter. Toss any garments that are: torn, stained, smelly, shabby, have been used for sleeping, swimming, or as undergarments.

Purge ruthlessly (or recruit a friend to help). Instead of saving something for when you lose a few pounds, resolve to reward yourself with something new instead. If it’s too shabby to wear in public, it’s probably too shabby for working out in too. Heck, if you are going to be exercising and sweating, you deserve to look good doing it! Resist the urge to burden others with unsolicited hand-me-downs. If you know your frugal sister-in-law loves receiving your kids’ old clothes, go ahead and hand down. But never foist hand-me-downs on anyone who might be simply too polite to refuse.

Re-store your keepers mindfully. Some ideas for organizing the clothes you keep are by: color, type of garment, season, frequency of wear, or whole coordinated outfits. Before putting everything away, check out different folding techniques and other tips we have for turning over closets that not only save space but make it easy to find things and make full use of your wardrobe.

Cleaning Myths Debunked: Cleaning for Cold & Flu Season

cleaningmyths-sanitization-660.png

With cold and flu season in full swing, you might be taking a few extra cleaning precautions such as disinfecting doorknobs, kitchen and bath fixtures, handheld digital devices, TV clickers, and so forth where germ transfers are most likely to happen. Due to clever marketing tactics and media hype, however, many people don’t understand how disinfectants really work, so they end up spending time and money without gaining any additional protection from illness. Here are five common myths debunked when it comes to disinfecting for cold and flu season:

Myth #1 Cleaning surfaces and avoiding physical contact with sick people prevents illness.

Truth Most cold and flu viruses are contracted via the eyes and nose, and new victims typically inhale viruses from coughs, sneezes, or just the exhaled air of infected hosts up to six feet away. An estimated 30% of people infected with flu exhibit no symptoms, making them impossible to avoid. While cleaning surfaces can help, frequent, thorough hand washing and not touching your eyes and face are still some of the best defenses against contracting colds and flu. When water and soap are not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers are a smart second choice, as they have been proven to kill a wide range of bacteria and viruses when used properly (at least a dime-sized amount of product rubbed in for a full 30 seconds over all surfaces of the hands).

Myth #2 Sanitizers and disinfectants kill germs on contact.

Truth The solutions all require different lengths of time to kill different types of germs, but almost none work instantly. Most sanitizers and disinfections require 5 to 10 minutes to kill all germs. Those that claim for marketing purposes that they “Kill in 30 Seconds” might kill only one organism that fast, but take 5 to 10 minutes for all the remaining important germs! Spraying and immediately wiping dry with disinfecting or sanitizing cleaners kills no more germs than regular soap.

Myth #3 Sanitizing, disinfecting, and antibacterial mean the same thing.

Truth Each means extremely different levels of germ kill. Sanitizing kills 99.9% of bacteria only, while disinfectants kill 99.999% of viruses, fungi, and bacteria. It sounds like a small difference, but that 0.099% reduces exposure to germs by 100 fold! Buyer beware: so-called antibacterial soaps are only required to contain antimicrobial agents and don’t actually need to prove they kill more than their non-antibacterial counterparts.

Myth #4 Sanitizers and disinfectants kill every type of bacteria and virus.

Truth To legally state “kills 99.9% of germs,” sanitizers and disinfectants must only prove they can kill a few specific types of pathogens and may not work on the ones you really care about, such as cold and flu viruses. As a rule, if the package doesn’t list it, the solution doesn’t kill it. To find out which germs your product works on and how long it takes to kill them, you’ll need to read the fine print.

Myth #5 Sanitizers and disinfectants kills germs on any dirty surface.

Truth Sanitizers and disinfectants only need to prove they work on flat, non-porous, and already clean surfaces! Neither can penetrate dirt or into porous surfaces where germs often hide. To kill ALL germs, you first need to clean and rinse away dirt and loose germs, then apply a disinfectant to kill any germs still clinging to the surface. Sloppy cleaning with disinfecting cleaners not only leaves germs behind, it leaves food for germs to feed on and multiply, and enables them to build resistance, leading to superbugs. Long story short, clean well!

The MaidPro House Cleaning Difference Newark, DE

New Castle County’s premier home cleaners.

At MaidPro Newark, creating clean houses is our priority. We are located in Newark, and deliver personalized, precise services to Bear, Christiana, Claymont, Edgemoor, Elsmere, Greenville, Hockessin, Manor, Marshallton, New Castle, Newark, Newport, Pike Creek, Port Penn, Stanton, Talleyville, Wilmington and Yorklyn. Whether you want shiny floors in Claymont or sparkling bathrooms in Yorklyn, just call us for all your Wilmington area residential cleaning needs.

Professional maid service, with a personal touch.

We know and trust our MaidPro employees on a personal and professional level. Our cleaning PROs undergo thorough background checks prior to employment and are bonded and insured. They also receive extensive maid service training to instill the skills needed to clean to the highest standards—yours! And while we strive to help our employees work to their greatest ability, we also make sure to have fun. Because when you love what you do, it shows in your work.

Good Habits to Start the New Year

How often have you made a big New Year’s resolution (“I will lose 40 lbs; go to the gym every day; quit [bad habit].”) only to fail by January third or fourth? This year, instead of setting one giant goal, try establishing a few easy, good habits to crowd out the bad ones. Just a couple new good habits can accumulate to all the things you really want such as improved health, less stress, and more happiness. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Sleep more, sleep better. Go to bed earlier. Leave electronic devices—phones, tablets—elsewhere. Set your alarm for the time you really intend to rise and stop hitting snooze, which only trades deep sleep for a less restful variety. Also, tune into natural circadian rhythms by exposing yourself to sunlight during the day and keeping your environment dark-ish at night.

Make your bed every morning. Studies show this actually leads to more restful sleep. It also makes your bed healthier by keeping out dust and allergens, and sets a tone of productivity and accomplishment for the rest of the day.

Prep for your morning the night before. Figure out what you are going to wear. Wash, iron, and lay out clothes. Pack lunch. Anything that makes your mornings less harried and rushed will minimize the time you spend in high-adrenaline, stress mode during each day.

Do now. When you see something that needs doing—a light bulb or battery that needs changing, a picture that needs hanging—do it right then instead of adding to a list that hangs over your head like a black cloud.

Eat the rainbow. Phytonutrients give fruits and veggies their brilliant colors. Eating the rainbow—red, yellow, orange, green, purple, blue—is an easy way to ensure you get a full range of vital nutrients into your body every day.

Move a little each hour. Walk. Stretch. Squat. Shake. Jiggle. Dance. Jump rope. Exercise with hand weights. Do anything that gets your circulatory and lymphatic systems moving.

Find one tiny way to save each day. Clip coupons, skip fancy coffees, borrow vs. buying books, and so forth. Take the money you save and actually put it into an account or take advantage of programs that automatically transfer ‘loose change’ on transactions into savings or investment accounts. At year-end, you can spend it all on a luxury you really want.

Contrary to what you might have read, it often takes much longer than 21 days to establish a new habit. Research shows, however, that—even if you mess up periodically—perseverance will get you there in the end. You just need to start somewhere and keep going!

Happy New Year!

Pet-friendly Plants To Keep Your Home Healthy

pet friendly

Typical homes are chock-full of items that can be responsible—either by virtue of chemical composition or the way in which they are manufactured—for releasing harmful chemicals into the air. But fear not! Houseplants can be cultivated to filter many of those chemicals right out of the air you breath and look great doing it.

We went through a NASA Clean Air Study and crosschecked all of the houseplants with the ASPCA to provide you with a list of all of the pet-friendly ones. Enjoy the greenery and fresher air in your home!
FLOWERING PLANTS

  • Dendrobium Orchids (Dendrobium spp.) With over 1,000 varieties, these flowering beauties filter airborne xylene and toluene particles. Light, temp, and watering requirements vary by type, so careful research for specific varieties is a must.
  • Moth Orchids (Phalaenopsis spp.) Also proven to filter xylene and toluene, moth orchids can bloom for up to eight weeks and will flower repeatedly with attentiveness and care.
  • Turf Lily (Liriope spicata) Often used outdoors as a landscaping plant, turf lily works well inside to filter formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, and ammonia. While it does not require direct sun, it does need abundant watering and relatively humid air.
  • Gerber Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii) Revered for oversized, vibrantly colored blooms, Gerber daisies filter benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene. For spring through fall, Gerbers want lots of direct morning sun and regular watering plus fertilizer. In winter, less frequent watering and indirect sun are preferred.
  • Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum) One of the easiest houseplants to grow, spiders also filter formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene. Spider plants thrive in well-drained soil and bright, indirect light. Mature spider plants will produce spiderettes, which you can easily propagate into even more air-filtering plants.

PALMS AND OTHER LEAFY PLANTS

  • Dwarf Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii) For indoor use, look for pygmy date palm, but don’t be fooled by the name; mature plants can reach over six feet tall! Date palms prefer full sun and dry-ish, peat-based soil with lots of drainage. Filters: formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene.
  • Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens) Inside, areca palm grows to 6-7 feet and filters formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene. Areca prefers warm temps and moist, well-drained soil.
  • Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii) Filters formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene and will grow in low light conditions. Offer adequate drainage, high-quality potting soil, and filtered water at room temperature.
  • Broadleaf Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa) Filters formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, and ammonia, but grows tall and wide, so reserve for large indoor spaces. There are many species, each with different cultivation requirements so research carefully.
  • Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata ’Bostoniensis’) These lacy green houseplants filter formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene, but are rather finicky about their environment. They want cool temps, high humidity, indirect light, and soil kept consistently damp.

If you have a history of killing off houseplants, this additional advice might help you to mend your ways in pursuit of the best possible indoor air quality!

9 Tips to Beat Summer’s Heat!

sprinkler-680

Melting in summer’s sultry heat? Here are a few tips for surviving the dog days of summer:

Perform heat-generating activities – such as exercise, cleaning, laundry, running the dishwasher, and cooking – early in the morning when temps are at their lowest daily ebb. Prolong morning’s cooler temps by pulling window shades, closing curtains, and otherwise minimizing lighting inside the home.

Eat light and skip the alcoholic bevvies. Aside from being dehydrating, fatty foods and alcoholic beverages force your liver and other detoxifying organs to work overtime. The added energy expenditure generates heat that your body must address in order to maintain its normal temp.

Hydrate. Adequate hydration enables your body’s natural cooling mechanisms to work at top efficiency on hot days. It’s also key for replacing fluids and electrolytes lost when you perspire.

Run cold tap water or ice cubes on the insides of your wrists, the sides of your neck, your temples, and other ‘pulse points’ where blood vessels run close to the surface. This rapidly cools your blood, which transports a feeling of cool to other parts of your body.

Wear natural fabrics. Keep garments loose and make sure your head and feet can breathe. In the same way you keep your head and feet warm to preserve body heat in winter, uncovering your extremities has the opposite effect when summer temps are soaring.

Avoid heavy lotions and creams, which can clog pores and contribute to heat rash. Fragrances can also be especially cloying on hot, humid days, so either forego altogether or keep applications extremely light.

If you don’t have A/C (or prefer not to use it), place a big bowl of ice in front of a fan as an inexpensive, more environmentally friendly alternative. A misting bottle full of ice water – spritzed a few feet in front of a fan – can provide welcome refreshment too.

Take a quick, cool shower or bath right before going to bed. This will enable you to sleep more comfortably and leave you better rested and prepared to cope with the energy-sapping heat.

De-clutter and keep your home tidy! Air circulates most freely in neat, open spaces. Clean, tidy rooms virtually always feel cooler than dirty, messy ones! If living in humid climes, take a few extra moments to dry out sinks, tubs, showers, and so forth after using both to combat the feeling of humidity in your home as well as the added risk of growing molds and mildews.

Healthy Habits for Busy People

Maidpro healthy

Plenty of super-busy people find time to exercise, eat right, and otherwise take good care of their health. It’s all a matter of mindset, good habits, and effective processes. Here we share six common habits of busy – yet super healthy – people:

Make lists. Busy doesn’t necessarily translate into productive. In fact, many people are busy because they are inefficient with their time. You can reduce stress and worry if you know what tasks you need to accomplish. When making lists, though, pay attention to your own rhythms. For example, if you tend to have high physical energy in early morning, strong mental acuity and attention around midday, and low energy/focus in late afternoon, your list might go: exercise, heavy thinking tasks, light-thinking tasks and errands. With your list in the right order, you can step through it easily, crossing each item off, and moving on to the next.

Don’t even think about buying it! If it’s in the house, you will eat or drink it eventually. If it is not there, you won’t have a choice! Clean out your pantry and just stop buying the items you know you cannot resist.

Prepare ahead for the week. Nothing leads to slip-ups more than being unprepared. Take 1-2 hours on weekends to prepare healthy foods. As soon as you come home from the grocery store, make a habit of cleaning, cutting, and storing fruits and veggies so you can both see and access them easily. If there are clear containers of colorful, fresh, ready-to-eat healthy snacks at eye level when you open the fridge you will be much more likely to choose them.

Find a support group. On a day you are feeling low or weak, someone else in your group will be strong and can help you to stay motivated through low points (and vice versa). Be sure to choose people who are generous in celebrating others’ successes.

Take time for yourself. Find ways to be alone and clear your mind. Take a walk at lunch, spend time writing in a journal to rid yourself of negative self-talk, read a book, take a bath, or indulge in catnap. The only criterion is that the time, no matter how short, needs to be all about you.

Don’t let little failures derail you. The worst thing you can do is to feel guilty every time you make a mistake. Try to figure out what circumstance or thought precipitated the transgression, learn your lesson, and then hop back on track. Health is a marathon not a sprint.

 

Dan Mahoney, MaidPro Health & Wellness Chief

6 Things Trained PROs Know About Cleaning (that others may not)

whatPROsknow2

There is a very big difference between a house that looks and smells clean and a house that really is clean. Here are some things trained cleaning PROs know that can help bridge the gap:

Chemistry matters. There is a great deal of advanced science that goes into designing safe, effective cleaning solutions — ones that actually dissolve and bond with dirts and oils, suspend bonded particles in water, and lift them away from surfaces — all without leaving toxic chemical residues. Using poorly designed solutions, nonabsorbent cloths and mops, and/or improper techniques can equate to simply swishing dirt and chemicals around on surfaces rather than removing them.

Water matters too! A cleaning solution that works well in one home, may work less well in another. That’s because varying degrees of minerals in local water supplies (hard vs. soft water) can interfere with solution efficacy.

An effective formula for cleaning (based on the famous Dr. Sinner’s circle) is: chemicals + temperature + time + agitation. Add more of one and you can use less of another. For example, using an effective cleaning solution can enable you to spend less time or to expend less energy in scrubbing.

There is a huge mathematical difference between sanitizing and disinfecting. Sanitizing kills 99.9% of germs — a 1,000-fold reduction in human exposure while disinfecting kills 99.999% — a 100,000-fold reduction. Most homes don’t require true disinfecting (that’s for hospitals), but it’s good to know how to interpret highly regulated marketing lingo especially when someone in your family catches a nasty bug or flu. ‘Antibacterial’ is a very different and weaker claim than ‘kills viruses that cause common colds and flu’.

Disinfecting takes time. You might notice a PRO cleaner spraying bathroom or kitchen surfaces and then walking away to perform other tasks. They know it takes up to 10-15 minutes for (wet) disinfecting solutions to kill germs. This is why all those convenient ‘disinfecting’ wipes rarely live up to their kill claims, since most people wipe too much counter per wipe and don’t leave enough wet disinfectant on the surface for long enough to kill germs properly.

Dirt falls. The mark of a true cleaning PRO is that they start high, dusting ceiling fans, light fixtures, shelves, etc and work gradually downward, finishing a room by vacuuming or washing the floor. They also start far away from a home’s entry point and work gradually back toward the door to prevent re-depositing dust and dirt on freshly cleaned surfaces. Finally, PROs segregate their tools to avoid cross contamination — between bathrooms and kitchens, for example.