This isn’t our usual house cleaning tips. At best it could be considered housekeeping tips. but I think this is so important I wanted to share it with you.
In our current economic situation, every little thing we buy or do affects someone else–even their job. I recently received this as an email and am sharing it with you with a few minor changes:
“My grandson likes Hershey’s candy. I noticed, though, that it is marked made in Mexico now. I do not buy it any more.
My favorite toothpaste Colgate is made in Mexico … now I have switched to Crest. You have to read the labels on everything .
This past weekend I was at Kroger. I needed 60 W light bulbs and Bounce dryer sheets . I was in the light bulb aisle, and right next to the GE brand I normally buy was an off-brand labeled, “Everyday Value .. ” I picked up both types of bulbs and compared the stats -they were the same except for the price. The GE bulbs were more money than the Everyday Value brand but the thing that surprised me was the fact that the GE bulbs were made in Mexico and the Everyday Value brand was made in–get ready for this-
a company in Cleveland , Ohio .
So throw out the myth that you cannot find products you use every day that are made right here ..
So on to another aisle – Bounce Dryer Sheets . .. . yep, you guessed it, Bounce cost more money and is made in Canada. The Everyday Value brand was less money and MADE IN THE USA! I did laundry yesterday and the dryer sheets performed just like the Bounce sheets I have been using for years and at almost half the price!
My challenge to you is to start reading the labels when you shop for everyday things and see what you can find that is made in the USA – the job you save may be your own or your neighbors!
If you accept the challenge, pass this on to others in your address book so we can all start buying American, one light bulb at a time! Stop buying from overseas companies!
(We should have awakened a decade ago .. . .. . . . )
Let’s get with the program . . . .. help our fellow Americans keep their jobs and create more jobs here in the U.S.A ..”
A high school physics teacher once told his students that one grasshopper on the track would not slow down a train, but a billion would!! Think about it..
We invite your comments.
Laundry can be overwhelming to even the best of housekeepers. You can keep a perfectly clean house and still be flummoxed by laundry. Hope some of these suggestions are helpful.
- No need to rinse the measuring cup on your liquid detergent, just throw it in the washer with the clothes and it will come out nice and clean. (I’ve even had one go through the dryer with no ill effects)!
- Try a grease cutting liquid soap like Dawn as a pre-treatment for grease spots. Rub it in well, then launder as usual. The beauty of this method is that it can stay on as long as you like before washing.
- Whenever you have a potentially stubborn spot, pre-treat it then wash it in the hottest water safe for the fabric. Hang to dry. Putting the item in the dryer will set the stain.
- Fold the laundry as soon as it comes out of the dryer. Then put it away as soon as it’s folded. It makes life so much easier.
- Whenever possible, wash one persons clothes per load. Using cold water you can put whites and colored clothes together in one load. You won’t believe how much time you will save sorting and putting clothes away. Tide makes a detergent especially formulated for cold water.
- Add a half cup or so of baking soda to each wash load and decrease your detergent by half. Your clothes will look better and smell right-off-the-clothes-line fresh because the baking soda eliminates soap residue. You can buy a large bag of baking soda–12 pounds, I think–at Costco or other warehouse stores.
In our next post, we’ll share a few more time-saving laundry tips. In the meantime, what helps you get through the laundry detail? Please share below.
You cannot call your house clean if you have grease splatter spots on the wall behind the stove. They look ugly and after awhile the accumulated grease gets rancid so that your house doesn’t smell so good. So let’s get to it.
Put a little dish soap on a Dobie’ or other “scrubby” pad safe for non-stick surfaces, and gently rub the spots. (Be sure to test it in an inconspicuous area first).
If that doesn’t work, take it up a notch and use an all-purpose cleaner such as 409 on the scrubby pad.
And if the spots are still there, don’t scrub harder, use a more powerful cleaning agent like Dow Bathroom Cleaner (with the famous scrubbing bubbles) and then rinse the area with hot water.
After the area is clean, apply a generous coat of paste wax. Subsequent spots can then be removed with a dry paper towel. Reapply paste wax as necessary.
Now, that’s pretty easy. Housekeeping doesn’t have to be hard.
Here are some slick tips for keeping your carpeting looking good and prolonging it’s life:
- The kindest thing you can do for all your floors is to install large mats at all your entryways. This will dramatically reduce the amount of dirt that enters your house each day and save you countless hours of vacuuming and mopping!
- Spray traffic areas of all your carpets with Scotchgard to help retard soil buildup.
- For fresh spots on your carpeting, pour clean water on the spot and immediately blot with a clean towel. Repeat until the spot is gone. If the carpet is wool, you need to be very careful not to put too much water on at one time.
- Occasionally there are spots that mysteriously reappear after shampooing. The usual cause is improper rinsing in the previous cleanings. If this is the case, try the above procedure.
- Sometimes the spot is coming up from the padding. You can try cutting out and replacing that patch of pad, but don’t be the rent that it will work.
- To neutralize pet odors, try white vinegar or a commercial product such at Out! Pet Odor Eliminator. If the odor persists, the problem is in the pad. Cut and patch as above.
- For a carpet brightener and deodorizer, sprinkle the area with baking soda (about one cup for a 9×12 rug). Leave it on for about an hour and then vacuum thoroughly. (This will also deodorize your vacuum bag.)
- Has heavy furniture put dents in your carpet? Often they can be brought up with a fork plastic hair pick. For stubborn areas hold a steam iron a few inches above the carpet, gently lifting as you steam.
- Vacuum your carpets thoroghly once a week so dirt is not ground in. (Carpet manufacturers recommend you go back and forth in the same path 5 times, but I won’t tell if you aren’t quite so conscientous)! A quick vacuuming of the traffic areas should suffice in between times.
Hope these are helpful. What can you add?
These days we all want to get as much for our money as possible. As owners of The Clean Sweep, a professional cleaning services company in the bay area of San Francisco, we’ve worked with professional housekeepers for nearly 30 years. We know their frustrations, the things that slow them down and what makes their job more difficult. So here’s practical help for working with cleaning professionals.
Determine Your Expectations:
Be clear in your own mind exactly what you expect. What are your priorities? What things are you really picky about? Do you or family members have allergies that determine how things should be cleaned? Do you want as much territory cleaned as possible or do you want a super-detailed cleaning (carpet edges, ceiling fans, blinds, curtain rods, woodwork, etc.)? Don’t assume everyone cleans the way you do~ask for what you want.
Write It Down
Even if you will show the housekeeper through the house the first time~and we hope you will~write a list of specific instructions. Not only will this further clarify your thinking, it will give the housekeeper something to refer to. You may want to include special instructions for locking the house, what to do with pets, your phone number if you won’t be home, extra things you’d like to have done if time permits, etc.
Clear the Clutter
Without a doubt dealing with clutter is the #1 thing that slows your housekeepers down. Remember they have no idea what to do with all those magazines, stacks of papers, underwear, clean dishes, dirty dishes, dirty clothes, clean clothes, and the 5000 jigsaw puzzle pieces.
So to maximize your cleaning dollar, be sure your house is relatively neat, ready to be cleaned~unless you really truly don’t mind paying someone $20.00 or so an hour to do it for you. And if that’s the case please be sure you tell them what you want done with the clutter. Don’t make them guess~for your sake as well as theirs. Do you want shoes and clothes put away and hung up in the closet or simply thrown on the bed? Do you have baskets or other containers to stash the stuff in? One of our clients used to put a grocery sack in each room to put the clutter in. The housekeeper would just stash a bag behind each door! Whatever works….
“Please Do Not Disturb”
If you are home on cleaning day, please let your housekeeper work without interruption! You can check the house together at the end. But don’t follow her around saying things like, “Oops, looks like there’s a little spot on the mirror,” or “Did you move the books when you dusted the shelves?” or “Are you going to clean the bathroom?” Not only will you drive the cleaner stark raving mad, but those constant interruptions will slow her down considerably.
Similarly, don’t get a housekeeper started in the living room then pull him to a project in the laundry room, only to change your mind and request that the beds be changed first. Surprisingly enough, it happens this way–it really does.
If you feel comfortable leave the house for at least part of the time your housekeeper is there. Without exception, they will be able to accomplish far more and be happier doing it!
Accentuate the Positive
Every once in a while one of our staff members will ask to be taken off an account because “I just never feel like she’s pleased with my work.”
And yet when we talk to the client she says, “Everything was fine! I never had any complaints.” No complaints? Perhaps. But she obviously never had any compliments either. Why not?
On the other hand, that same housekeeper may stay with a really difficult client because, “I know she really needs me,” or “She always notices the extra things I do.”
There is not a one of us that doesn’t like to feel successful and needed. There are few of us who do not rise to the level of confidence others have in us. A word of praise takes only a minute. It costs nothing. And it brings out the best in others and ourselves. Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good complement.”
So….if you eagerly anticipate coming home to a sparkling clean house each week….or you love the way your chrome sparkles….or appreciate your maid’s dependability, don’t keep it to yourself: tell them! There’s just three rules of praise:
- Be sincere
- Be specific
- Put it in writing whenever possible so that your words may be savored again and again.
We have a bulletin board in The Clean Sweep office covered in client compliments. It’s the first place every housekeeper looks when they first come in. They love it! Someone once said that flattery has to be pretty thick before anyone objects to it. Is that true of you?
Criticize With Care
Of course constructive criticism may be necessary from time to time~especially as you and your cleaner are getting to know one another or if you’ve been together for a long time. You are paying for a service and it should be done to your satisfaction.
The people we work with appreciate knowing if a customer is unhappy. They want to know where they stand. They want the opportunity to make things right.
Part of our job at The Clean Sweep is to relay customer comments to our housekeepers. (That’s one of the perks of working with a cleaning company). We have come up with six principles to help you criticize with care:
- Assume the person *wants* to do a good job.
- Criticize the behavior not the person. Refrain from using the word “you” whenever possible and your comments will seem less personal. “You” messages put people on the defensive.
- Be specific. If there were cookie crumbs under the cookie jar, say so. Don’t say, “You didn’t clean the kitchen counters.” Because they no doubt did!
- Avoid written criticism whenever possible. It’s really difficult to be tactful in writing. Especially when you’re in a hurry. Better to tell them in person or by phone. That way you can tell them your concerns and hear their side too. There may well be circumstances you’re not aware of. Again, call the office if you’re working with a cleaning company. Let them relay your comments.
- Remember everyone has an off day from time to time. Illness, fatigue, personal problems all may affect the quality of work.
- Try to balance your criticism with praise. Point out what was done well along with the changes you’d like to see. If there’s not a lot to praise and just a few things to complain about, you’ve either got the wrong housekeeper or you need to carefully examine your expectations.
One final comment. We always ask prospective clients if they experienced any problems with their previous housekeepers. The #1 answer goes something like this, ” They started out great but over time things just kind of went downhill.”
So I guess it’s just human nature to get a little careless over time~especially if no one’s looking. But do give your cleaners the opportunity to improve. In all probability they don’t want to lose you as a customer any more than you want to start all over with a new cleaning crew.
Back in 1980 we (Maryan and Margaret) started The Clean Sweep, a residential cleaning referral service in the San Francisco Bay Area. We started out with just two ladies; today we represent about 35 teams of housekeepers as well as people who specialize in move-in/move-out cleaning, window and carpet cleaning and so forth.
Along the way we’ve accumulated a lot of good information. We’ve learned shortcuts and tips from the housekeepers we represent, our clients and others. Now we’d like to share some of these things with you. Because housework is a fact of life even if you have professional help.
So flip through our posts. See what interests you. And by all means send us your comments and suggestions! We hope you will check back frequently.
And please think of us if you have a cleaning-related question–we’ll do our best to answer it. We’re all in this together, so let’s enjoy the ride!
If you live in Contra Costa or close-in Alameda County and would like more information about The Clean Sweep, visit us on-line at TheCleanSweep.com, and be sure to check out the frequently asked questions about our bay area cleaning services.