15 spring-cleaning hacks for people who hate housework

Perfect for those who dread the annual deep clean, the money saving team at MaidPro have found the best tips for keeping your home neat and tidy without even breaking a sweat.

Forget expensive cleaning products and difficult organizing rituals, all of these tips are easy to achieve and won’t cost more than five pounds.

Some of the tips are unconventional, including pouring cola down the toilet but promise to have sparkling results.

The helpful pointers also include organizing tips such as keeping bed sets in a pillowcase and stacking clothes vertically not horizontally in drawers.

“These tips are great for those of us who hate cleaning as not only do they save time, they are cheaper alternatives to expensive cleaning products too.

“Saving time and money on cleaning leaves you feeling it’s a job well done and with more cash in your pocket too.”

1. Use a lemon to clean stainless steel

Annoying water stains on your tap and sink? Halve a lemon and use it to scrub stainless steel.

It will also make your kitchen smell fresh and citrusy.

Pour cola along the toilet bowl and flush for a sparkling result

2. Put a cup of vanilla extract in the oven

Sounds a bit crazy but by putting a few teaspoons of vanilla extract into a mug and baking for an hour, your whole home will smell gorgeous and inviting.

This is a trick estate agents swear by.

3. Steam clean microwave

Had a baked beans explosion? Clean your microwave the easy way by mixing two tablespoons of white vinegar and a few drops of your favorite essential oil with water and blast it for 5 minutes.

You’ll be left with a shiny clean microwave that smells amazing with zero scrubbing required.

4. Use cola to clean the toilet

You’ve probably heard about this one but never tried it, right?

It’s a miracle worker, just simply pour cola along the toilet bowl and flush for a sparkling result.

5. Use a cotton bud for cleaning keyboards

Instead of a wipe, take a damp cotton bud and use it to clean the difficult bits in between your keyboard.

6. Fold and stack clothes vertically not horizontally

Organise your t-shirt drawer by folding them and stacking vertically not horizontally.

This way you can flip through to find the one you want easily and minimize creasing which means less ironing, always good.

Use your dishwasher to clean children's toys

Use your dishwasher to clean children’s toys

7. Cover fridge shelves in cling film

Fridge spillages can be disastrous but easily cleaned up by simply covering the shelves with cling film or plastic wrap.

That way when something leaks or gets sticky, you can peel it off and start fresh, no cleaning necessary.

8. Microwave sponges

If you’ve only got one sponge to do all of the spring-cleaning with, disinfect it quickly and easily by putting it in your now spotless microwave for two minutes.

Just make sure your sponge doesn’t have any metal on it.

9. Store sheet sets in pillow cases

Finding matching bed sets can be a huge time waster but solved easily by organizing your linen.

Fold matching bed sets into the corresponding pillowcase so they are all kept together.

10. Stop your bin smelling of rubbish

Even after a bin is emptied, often a nasty lingering smell can remain.

To avoid this, sprinkle some baking soda or vinegar into the bottom of the bin to reduce the odor and lay down some clean newspaper to absorb any leftover moisture.

11. Clean toys in dishwasher

If your mucky pups’ toys are looking a bit worse for wear stick them in the dishwasher for a short cycle.

12. Make your bathroom smell constantly fresh

Add a few drops of essential oil to the inside of your toilet paper roll to keep your bathroom smelling lovely.

13. Refresh plastic containers

Get the leftover curry stains out of plastic containers by putting a solution of washing up liquid, bleach and water in them and microwaving until boiling point.

Once cooled, pour away and rinse.

14. Deep clean shower head

After having a shower, fill a sandwich bag with baking soda and vinegar and tie it around the showerhead using an elastic band.

Leave this to soak overnight then any debris will come off easily with an old toothbrush.

15. Use pastry brush to get crumbs out of toaster

Toast crumbs are notoriously difficult to get to but using a pastry brush can help sweep away the annoying trapped bits.

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!

The One-Piece Home Wellness Workout

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By Dan Mahoney, MaidPro Health and Wellness Coach

Do you ever struggle to carry groceries in from your car, haul laundry up or down stairs, carry recyclables to the curb, or lift heavy dishes into cabinets? Strength training not only makes you stronger and more toned, it can also boost your metabolism (muscles constantly burn calories), protect you from common muscle strains and injuries, guard against bone deterioration and osteoporosis, and simply help you to move more easily and happily through your daily household routines.

Perhaps you don’t have time to commit to gym membership or space to host unsightly strength-training equipment in your home. The great news is you can get it all done with a single, small pair of Russian Kettlebells.

Kettlebells were used originally for weighing crops in Russia. Farmers noticed they could use them to become stronger. Their practices eventually made it into shows and performances and have been adopted by fitness trainers worldwide. Five big advantages of Kettlebells:

  • Easily transported.
  • Require little space to use.
  • Relatively inexpensive.
  • Can be used for all basic strength training movements, including loaded carries, squats, hinges, upper body pushes and pulls.

Here are three tips for getting started with Kettlebells:

Buy authentic and don’t skimp on the weight. Authentic Kettlebells look like cannon balls with handles attached and are made of cast iron (not plastic or cloth bags filled with sand). Depending on baseline strength and experience with weight training, men should start between 16-24kg and women between 12-20kg.

Get proper instruction. Any exercise regimen can be dangerous if done incorrectly and it is very easy to miss important nuances of body positioning and proper alignment when watching videos or reading written instructions online. You might watch a few YouTube videos to see what you are getting in for, but seek out a Certified Russian Kettlebells Instructor for proper training before starting on your own.

Once you are properly trained, Begin with this great Kettlebells workout right in your home: 20 swings, 2 Turkish Get Ups, 20 Swings, 5 Push Ups, 20 Swings, 10 Goblet Squats, 20 Swings, 10 Bent Over Row, 20 Swings, 50-Yard Suitcase Carry.

Happy lifting!

9 Tips to Beat Summer’s Heat!

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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

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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

Throwing a BIG summer bash? Take these tips from the experts!

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With graduation, summer cookout, and pool-party season upon us, we asked a few people well accustomed to entertaining dozens of guests at a time to reveal their best secrets for pulling off big summer bashes with aplomb.

Plan a menu that can be prepared at least 90% ahead of time and eaten with fingers or just a single utensil. Unless you have table seating for all guests, nothing you serve should require cutting with a knife. Make comprehensive ingredient and shopping lists by store and give yourself at least a full day to gather and prepare (even if it means taking a day off from work).

Have a rain/thunder/lightning contingency plan. If your party space won’t handle a crowd (even a temporary one), consider scheduling a rain date with your invite.

If you expect your party to last for several hours, pay close attention to food safety. Serve spoilable foods in flights and replenish as needed, or use large pans or chafing dishes to make ice beds for serving bowls.

Offer games – volleyball, horseshoes, badminton, croquet, wiffle ball, cornhole, spike ball, cards, etc. These serve the dual purpose of keeping kids occupied in positive ways and providing entertainment or engagement opportunities for shyer, less sociable, or elderly guests.

Place plenty of clearly labeled receptacles around for recyclables, trash, compost, etc. This will save you big time on party cleanup.

Have supplies on hand to label serving dishes if people will be arriving with food in hand. Otherwise, you may end up with a collection dishes requiring detective work to return to the right people. If you don’t want lots of leftovers, have a supply of take-home containers handy and encourage guests to load up as they leave. Other supplies to have for guests: sunscreen for anyone who forgets to bring their own and bug repellant if your party will still be going after dusk.

Take notes. If your summer bash is a hit, it could become an annual event. Write down how much food, utensils, ice, etc. was actually consumed so you can refine your calculations for next time.