The Dust Overlooked

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Household dust is a mix of many things: plant pollen, pet dander, insect waste, carpet and clothing fibers, dirt, bacteria, fungi, and, yes, even a few dead human skin cells (though not as many as some might have you believe!). An abundance of the stuff not only makes your home look drab, but also traps odors, and can pose grave health risks for people with allergies, asthma, or other respiratory illnesses.

MaidPro’s 49-Point Checklist™—which all our cleaning PROs use to guide their work—takes a thorough approach to busting household dust. On each clean, we task our PROs with addressing:

  • Baseboards
  • Windowsills
  • Floors
  • Lamps/lampshades
  • Picture frames
  • Ceiling fans
  • Upholstery
  • Furniture—tops, fronts, AND underneath!

What’s more, we train our PROs to clean in very specific ways to ensure that dust actually leaves a home with them rather than simply sending it flying all around only to resettle on surfaces after they leave.

But even if you regularly use PRO techniques and checklists for busting household dust, there are plenty of easily overlooked places that tend to trap and accumulate dust over time, demanding at least occasional attention for a truly fresh and clean home. Here’s an expanded dusting checklist for those big deep-cleaning days:

  • Blinds, window treatments, curtain rods, and brackets
  • Doorways
  • Decorative trims, lintels, mantels
  • Overhead and hanging light fixtures, sconces
  • Large and small appliances, TVs, computers, stereo equipment (especially underneath and behind)
  • Keyboards, clickers, phone keypads (dust with compressed gas, which can be purchased at most office supply stores)
  • Plants
  • Window screens/spaces between screens and glass
  • Wine racks/bottles
  • Bookshelves/books/magazines/CDs and other media
  • Candles
  • Baskets and other decorative receptacles
  • Insides of drawers and cabinets, plus food cans and jars
  • Behind toilet tanks
  • Smoke/carbon monoxide detectors and alarm sensors (which may stop functioning or even be set off accidentally by too much dust!)

If all that sounds just too daunting, ask your local MaidPro about what PRO deep-cleaning services they offer!

 

Summer Stain Guide

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Summer is almost here! But, with more party, play, and free time comes more chances for little accidents that make household stains happen. Never fear! Simply bookmark this handy guide for treating common stains on carpets and furniture upholstery.

First, a few universal guides for treating ALL stains:

  • Before using any solutions, always test in an inconspicuous spot.
  • Start gentle and escalate slowly; repeat gentler steps several times, before moving to harsher methods that could discolor or otherwise damage stained surfaces.
  • Air dry completely between treatments as some stains only reappear when dry.
  • NEVER mix stain-fighting solutions, especially chlorine bleach with ammonia as it generates highly toxic fumes.
  • Avoid using high heat until you are sure a stain is gone completely, as this can set the stain forever.
  • When in doubt (or unsuccessful), call a PRO!

For most common stains, different solutions may be recommended depending on stain chemistry, but the same 4-step treatment method applies:

  1. Promptly blot away as much of the spill as possible using paper towels or clean white cloths. If a stain has dried, use a spoon or the back of a butter knife to scrape away as much as possible, starting at the edges and working inward. Then add a little cold water to re-moisten the stained area.
  2. Using solutions recommended below, alternately spritz, sponge, or dab onto the stain, then blot dry, using a clean white cloth or paper towel. Turn the cloth or towel with each blot until you can see no more of the stain transferring to the cloth.
  3. Allow to dry and repeat previous steps several times before moving on to harsher or store bought stain-removal solutions, which carry risks of doing damage.
  4. Once a stain is gone, thoroughly rinse away any solution residues and blot to dry.

Ketchup or mustard. Start with a solution of clear dishwashing liquid in lukewarm water. If stain persists and textile is light in color, try a weak solution of either hydrogen peroxide or ammonia in water, noting that both may have bleaching effects.

Popsicles and fruit-flavored drinks containing bright dyes. Start with a small quantity of clear dishwashing liquid in lukewarm water. If stain persists, use a powdered stain remover, per directions, then vacuum.

Wine. Start by pouring small amounts of club soda or cold water onto the stain and blotting. If stain persists and textile is light in color, try a few drops of diluted ammonia or a paste made from baking soda and water. If using a paste, gently scrape to loosen and vacuum after it dries.

Beer. Start with a solution of dishwashing soap and water. If that doesn’t work, try a weak solution of white vinegar and lukewarm water.

Blood. Start with a mild dishwashing liquid or non-alkaline detergent mixed with water. If bloodstain is dried or stubborn, try a small quantity of diluted ammonia or hydrogen peroxide, or, if bleaching is a concern, white vinegar.

Dusty, orange snack foods. Start with a mild dishwashing liquid mixed with water. If stain persists, a small amount of rubbing alcohol or diluted ammonia might do the trick.

Ice cream/chocolate (basically, any greasy/non-greasy combo stain). Blot as much away as possible with plain cold water, then use a diluted grease-busting dishwashing liquid or detergent containing enzymes.

Six Unexpected Benefits of Green Cleaning

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If you’re looking to do more to protect the environment, switching to a greener way of cleaning is an excellent place to start.

We’re so serious about green cleaning here at MaidPro that we’ve dedicated a big section of our website to educating people about what it really means to clean green and how to choose solutions and tools that are simultaneously safe, environmentally friendly, and effective.

Aside from the satisfaction that comes with knowing you’re doing something tangible to protect the environment, there are other — often unexpected — benefits of going green when you clean. Here are six:

It’s really clean. If you take time to educate yourself and approach green cleaning correctly, you’ll end up with a home that is truly clean — versus one that simply looks and smells clean. Truly clean homes, in turn, look and smell clean for much longer than just a day or two.

Less stress about children and pets. Well-formulated green cleaning products contain fewer harsh chemicals and are less likely to generate dangerous fumes and chemical residues. That makes them safer for you, your kids, and your fur babies too.

More help. Because green cleaning is safer for kids, you can involve them more in helping you clean. Not only does it reduce your cleaning burden, it teaches kids important life values and skills.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T. If you hadn’t noticed, kids from preschool through college spend a great deal of time learning about environmental protection. They really care about the environment. When you demonstrate —  by action — that you care just as much, you earn their respect (which is a great thing especially if you have preteens and teenagers).

Less expensive (when you do it right). As we detail on our website, green cleaning is about much more than simply buying cleaners that are labeled green. It’s also about choosing products in concentrated forms that use less/recyclable packaging and cost less to transport and reusable (versus disposable) tools, such as washable rags. These choices generally save you money over time.

Sparks creativity. Once you get going with a green cleaning mindset — and thinking about all the ways you might apply to specific cleaning jobs   such as post-holiday or big-party cleanup —  it has a way of leading you into all sort of fun, creative activities, new personal interactions, and other changes that simply improve your quality of life.

 

Wellness Strategies for Navigating the Holidays

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The holidays are all about Peace and Joy…until they’re not. If you find your anxiety levels rising as the holidays approach, check out these 25 Ways to Fight Holiday Stress from Health.com. Here, we add a few of our own ideas for coping with four common holiday-stress triggers:

Scenario 1: Gift-Shoppers’ Nightmare. You’re on your fifth loop of a way-overheated department store, searching for that perfect something to give a person you either don’t know very well or who doesn’t need another material possession in their life. Think outside the gift box! Is there an experience you can create? A service you might provide? Some personal talent you can share? Maybe there’s a charity or cause to which you can donate in their name.

Scenario 2: Dinner Disaster. You have a glossy-food-magazine vision of perfection for your holiday feast. Now you’re thirty minutes out from mealtime and things are spinning out of control in the kitchen. Ask. For. Help. Most people would rather contribute and feel useful than stand around sipping cocktails while you struggle. Graciously accepting help creates a wonderful opportunity to connect authentically with your guests and will be far more memorable than your picture-perfect meal.

Scenario 3: Dieters’ Paradox. You’re walking into a lavish party. You’ve read all the articles and tips about how to ‘stick to your diet’ and ‘beat the holiday weight gain.’ But, oh, so much temptation! In floods the guilt, so even if  you do blow it (as you very possibly will), you don’t enjoy it at all. Accept that, no matter how disciplined you are throughout the year, there’s a very good chance you’ll indulge at least once or twice during the holiday season. Give yourself permission to truly enjoy and find solace in NEDA’s Declaration of Independence from a Weight-Obsessed World.

Scenario 4: Cranky Relative Syndrome. You’re staring down 4–6 hours in which you’ll be captive audience to Uncle Frank’s inebriated political rants. Or maybe you’re just the one person in your family with a radically differing lifestyle or viewpoint, and, for one reason or another, you don’t have an option of simply refusing to attend. First, take a moment to appreciate that you have people with whom to celebrate the holidays (many don’t). Then, arrive well prepared with a list of noncontroversial subjects and talking points to which you can redirect conversation. Or bring and encourage plenty of distracting activities such as card, board, and parlor games; a nostalgic singalong; a look through old family photo albums and yearbooks; or maybe just a long walk in nature after the meal.

Before and after the holidays, set aside at least a few hours to indulge in real self-care. That might involve exercise, physical pampering, hiring a professional team to clean your house, or maybe just a perfectly solitary afternoon with a cup of tea and a great book. Happy holidays!

Summer Cleanout: Collecting Clothes for Charity

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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

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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

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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!

Fall Chores to Ensure a Bright, Healthy, and Safe Home for Winter

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There are certain big household chores that need to be done only once a year, and fall is the perfect time. Here is a quick checklist of things you can do to ensure a bright, safe, and healthy home now that temperatures are beginning to drop and winter lies just around the corner.

Wash your windows inside and out. Now that windows will be closed more often than open, you’ll want them to allow in maximum light and to keep views crystal clear. While you are at it, remove and wash all screens and thoroughly vacuum outer sills.

Replace batteries in all smoke detectors (even hardwired devices use batteries for backup). Also, test all carbon monoxide detectors and check original paperwork so you know exactly when your CO1 devices are due to reach end of life. Typically this occurs every 10 years or so and will be indicated by some type of signal, but better to be safe than sorry.

Disconnect and thoroughly clean your clothes dryer vent. Unplug and move the machine, so you can clean both behind and underneath as well. Consider removing the back panel to clear lint trapped inside the machine. Trapped lint is a big fire hazard and also reduces the drying efficiency of your machine.

Unscrew, clean, and disinfect all airflow vents, and replace HVAC filters as needed. With less fresh air circulating throughout your home, you’ll feel good knowing your vents are free of added dust, dander, and pathogens.

Remove and clean all permanent lighting fixtures so your lights can burn more brightly. For the same reason, consider taking the time – or hiring a professional – to give your walls a good scrubbing down. Clean walls reflect light better, which is definitely what you want as the days grow shorter and darker.

Clean and inspect all fireplaces, chimneys, and flues. This is one task for which you definitely want to hire a professional who is trained to look for cracks and other damage that can pose winter home safety hazards.