Housekeeping 101: A Dozen Time-Savers for Your Home

Here are a few of our favorite time-saving tips. Because we know that even if you have professional housekeeping help there’s still plenty of things to do in between visits.

  • Once every six months or so give your wood cutting boards a good oil-down with vegetable oil. Let it stand overnight and wipe off the residue in the morning, the oil keeps the board from staining.
  • Do you have lint on your dark colored clothes?  Remove it by adding a cup of white vinegar to the wash, and stop putting towels in with black shirts! Also your black clothes will not fade as fast if you wash them inside out
  • Cleaning silk flowers is easy: just put them in a paper bag with some salt and shake, shake, shake. The salt with absorb the dust and leave your flowers looking like new.
  • Spray your Tupperware with Pam before pouring in a tomato-based sauce and there won’t be any stains!
  • To remove stuck-on food in your casserole dish, fill it with boiling water and add a few tablespoons of salt or baking soda. Let it stand overnight if necessary.
  • To remove rust from baking pans, scour them with a cut potato dipped in powdered cleanser.
  • Brown grease marks on your pots, chrome burner rings, etc.? You can soak them in ammonia overnight to get rid of the stains.
  • To remove a water stain from a glass vase, simply fill with water and drop in a couple of Alka Seltzer tablets.
  • Get rid of the smell of garlic on your hands by rubbing them on stainless steel- you would have never guessed.
  • Boiling a cup of water in your microwave oven will loosen the particles and all you have to do is give it a quick wipe.
  • Use liquid body wash in the shower instead of soap and never deal with soap build-up again. How easy is that?
  • Make quick work of getting out a blood stain by using hydrogen peroxide available at any drug store.

Okay, that’s the dozen for the day. What housekeeping tips can you add?

Bathroom Cleaning Made Simple

Bathroom cleaning is essential part of maintaining a clean house, everyone can agree with that. But it doesn’t have to be such a big chore, if you take it little by little.

  • Keep wipes on the vanity in each bathroom. There are tons of different wipes out there, pick the one that suits your family’s needs and keep them in a place where they are easily accessible.
  • Do a wipe down every morning. After the morning routines, do a quick wipe down of the sink, faucet, and vanity area. Wipe off any spots from the mirror.
  • Keep the counter clean. When your vanity or counter doesn’t have clutter, the bathroom won’t feel as cluttered, but rather clean and organized.
  • Use liquid body wash and say goodbye to soap scum.
  • Keep a towel bin. Keep a bin to put wet towels in as soon as family members get out of their shower.

All of these things can easily be done in just a couple of minutes each day. They’re simple and easy to do and will leave your bathroom looking fresh and clean!

Speed Cleaning Tips: Faster and Easier House Cleaning

The following tips are primarily for those of us who do not have professional housekeeping help. If you do have outside help, we recommend that you refer to our post – “Speed Cleaning Tips: Cleaning in Between Housekeeper Visits

Our housekeepers recommend that you commit these principals to memory, practice them. Once mastered, you will be amazed at your proficiency and efficiency. You are sure to dazzle and amaze your friends and your family.

Anyone, yes, anyone can master these fundamentals. Try them. Adapt them. You’ll see a difference.

  • Work in orderly manner. You’ll accomplish far more in less time if you train yourself to work from left to right and top to bottom all the way around the room.
  • Keep your supplies close. Take out the ones that you will need for a particular room, and put them in a caddy to take with you – this will be a major time saver.
  • “If it ain’t dirty, don’t clean it” Unless you’re a real cleaning fanatic, or have lots of extra time on your hands. You don’t need to clean everything, every week.
  • Keep cleaning products to a bare minimum. Look for products that can be used on a variety of surfaces such as multi-surface cleaner that can be used virtually everything – including glass. In addition, dish soap and warm water can clean everything from counters to floors. And lastly, good microfiber cleaning cloths can clean most anything with just a little water.
  • Don’t Scrub. Let your cleaning products work for you – spray and let it set up, then wipe it down. The dirtier the surface, the longer you need to let your cleaning product sit. So, spray the tub clean the rest of the bathroom and then go back and clean the tub.
  • Read and follow the directions. Every time.

Sometimes, even the smallest changes will pay off Remember, every step pays off in greater speed and less fatigue.

But always remember – a super clean “you-can-eat-off-the-floor” house is NOT the most important thing in life.

 

When English is your Housekeepers Second Language

Over the years, it has been our pleasure to represent housekeepers from nearly 20 different countries. Often times, they have been well-educated: doctors, lawyers, bank administrators, teachers, and so forth. However, their English speaking skills were not good enough to pursue their former careers. Without exception, we have found them to be conscientious, dedicated, and willing workers!

When dealing with housekeepers who do not speak English it can be a little frustrating. So here are some tips to make communications a little bit easier:

  • Speak slowly and clearly. Avoid the temptation to raise your voice or talk to them as though they are a child.
  • Ensure that you are understood. Most of us feel a little embarrassed when we don’t understand what someone is saying. So, you should just ask if they understand in order to avoid confusion.
  • Provide written instructions. That way, they can have a place to double check that they are doing the right thing.
  • Avoid Slang or Idioms. One of the most difficult things about learning English – aside from the crazy spelling – is that English slang has words that are unable to be translated.

Overall, although the communications gap can be difficult to over come, treat your housekeeper with kindness and understanding, as they truly are doing their best to please you and meet all your needs.

Enemy in the Fridge, Part 2

If you read our previous post, I’m pretty sure you don’t think mold is a good thing (except in a few select cheeses such as Brie and Gorgonzola.  Yum.)  But how do we keep mold from growing on food?

You may think refrigerating fresh produce is the best way to deter mold, but that’s actually the opposite of what you should do in many cases.  If you  the berries you bought at the supermarket were in the refrigerator case, pop them in the refrigerator as soon as you get home. If you bought tomatoes at room temperature, keep them out on the counter.

Exposing foods to different temperatures and changing levels of humidity can encourage mold growth. 

Remember the old adage, “One bad apple spoils the whole bunch”?  Well, it happens to be true, but as I write this it seems pretty stupid, because  apples don’t come in bunches, do they?  But I digress.  If you are given to buying produce by the box or bag–think Costco size–it’s best to bring it home and spread it all out and inspect each one for discoloration or mushy places.  Throw any offenders into the trash, because they really will contaminate the whole bunch.

It is not a good idea to buy berries of any kind in bulk unless you’re going to use them right away.  Their soft skin and high moisture content make them especially susceptible to mold.  Buy only as much as you can use in the next few days.  And inspect the whole container before you use them.

Check the rubber door seal of your refrigerator.  If you see any telltale grey, wash the seal with a 50:50 vinegar and water solution.  Rinse thoroughly.  Also pay particular attention to any drawers or containers that have had moldy food in them.

Okay, so these last two posts have been kind of, well, yucky.  I’m not having any fun writing them either, if truth be told.  But this is all a part of housekeeping.  So we hope it’s been helpful.  If you’re just not “into” cleaning out your refrigerator, call a good housecleaning service and have them do it.  All the housekeeping tips in the world won’t substitute for getting the job done.

Enemy in the Fridge, Part 1

It seems like every time we turn around someone is telling us how very afraid we must be.  Or is it just me…?

But if you or another in your house suffers from asthma, sinusitis  or allergies; or has a compromised immune system due to chronic illness (especially of the lungs), chemotherapy, etc. you do need to be very  afraid of a danger that lurks in your refrigerator.  Namely, mold.  You know, those greenish or blackish spots on top of the sour cream, the nasty grey fuzzy on your tomato.

Mold can also be growing without the telltale spots.  Yogurt, for instance, with a swelled container or slightly mildewy or fermented smell or off taste may well be moldy and can be particularly dangerous.  And it can literally grow overnight.

Some mold species even produce poisonous substances called mycotoxins.  The most dangerous of these is aflatoxin which is principally found in peanuts and grain in developing countries.  But if you buy a bag of peanuts and notice a moldy smell or blackened areas on any of the nuts or a foul taste, throw them away!  Aflatoxins are nothing to fool around with.

Now, no one likes to throw away food if they don’t have to.  It’s tempting to just remove the offending spots and eat what’s left.  And sometimes you can do that.  For instance, it’s safe to trim off mold on hard foods such as cheddar cheese, just cut off at least one inch all around the spot; but be sure to keep the knife away from the mold so it doesn’t contaminate the rest of the food.  The rest of the cheese is fine to eat.

But molds are filamentous organisms, which means they can have long thread-like filaments which can grow under the surface that you can’t see.  These threads grow rapidly in foods that have a high liquid content.  So it’s better to throw out the whole container rather than taking a chance.  The same is true for bread.  If one piece has mold on it (and just why is it always just one piece?) throw out the entire loaf.

Housekeeping entails so many things.  Keeping the refrigerator clean and organized is just one small facet.  And when we’re super busy it’s easy to neglect those things behind closed doors.  But dealing with mold is more than just good house cleaning.  It can be a matter of health.

Our next post will talk about preventing mold in the first place.  It’s worth a read.

Please, as always, weigh in on your experiences, suggestions or–God forbid–criticism.

(Almost) Instant Bedroom Cleaning Tips

The one overarching, guiding principle in making quick work of housekeeping is this:  Neatness Counts! Neat and not-so-clean beats clean and not-so-neat every time. Even our housekeepers have been fooled by a neat house that looks clean even though layers of dirt may be hiding most everywhere! So pick up. Hang up. Straighten. De-clutter. You’ll be well on your way to a great looking house.

  • Make your bed. Always. Every day.  It’ll only take a minute (literally) and makes you feel so much better about your house and yourself.
  • Put dirty clothes in the hamper. Don’t even think about throwing them on the floor! Ever.
  • Spend 30 seconds hanging up anything you’ve worn that day that’s good for another wearing. Your bedroom will look better and your clothes won’t be so wrinkled.
  • Empty the wastebasket. Fold a bunch of fresth trash liners and place them in the bottom of the receptacle to make quick work of this task next time.  By the way, an open top wastebasket is said to be bad feng shui.  If you can’t hide the wastebasket, check out one of those cute bullet shaped ones from Umbra on www.Amazon.com. They have a swing top and come in several fun colors.
  • Clear the top of your dresser. Use a basket or designate the top dresser drawer to stash clutter.

Each of these tasks take a minute or less, but oh, what a difference they make. Try it.