Posts tagged #Home Cleaning

How to Organize Your Cleaning Closet

If your cleaning closet is disorganized, it’s hard to get motivated to clean the rest of the house. When you straighten your cleaning closet, you’ll know you’ll have the cleaning supplies you need, and they’ll be easy to find. It makes a natural jumping-off point for cleaning the rest of your home. Read on to learn the essentials of any good, organized cleaning closet.

Must Have House Cleaning Supplies

Start out by taking a survey of what cleaning supplies you have and what you still need to buy. This is also a great excuse to remove all the current contents of your cleaning closet so that you can then put them back in a more sensible order.

Your cleaning closet should include the following:

  • A broom, dustpan, mop and bucket (if you have hardwood or tile floors)

  • A vacuum (if you have carpet)

  • A duster

  • Gloves

  • Cleaning tools, like paper towels, rags and/or sponges

  • Cleaning substances, like all-purpose spray cleaner, glass cleaner, vinegar, baking soda, toilet bowl cleaner, oven cleaner and any others

Obviously, you can add and subtract to this list according to your personal preference. But if you have several different cleaning tools or substances that accomplish the same job, you might think about consolidating your collection. The same goes for if there are some items you never use (and not just because you’re slacking on chores!).

Everything in Its Place

From there, you have several options on how to organize your space. Your final decisions will depend on your budget, your items, the size of your closet and your needs, but here are some good places to start.

Get a Rack

Most cleaning closets will have a broom, a mop, a duster and other long, thin items. These have a tendency to fall over on top of each other and become a real mess.

To resolve this, get a hook rack from the dollar store or a container store. It should mount on the inside of your door or inside your closet. Most brooms and other long, thin cleaning implements have holes you can use to hang them up, so they’re off the floor and easy to access.

Use Your Door

Your door is valuable storage space. If you’re not hanging your rack on it, use an organizer that fits over your door. One easy way of doing this is by using a clear plastic shoe rack: Each bottle of cleaning fluid fits neatly in a different compartment.

Buy Some Bins

A big pile of cleaning supplies doesn’t help anybody. Get a few large, clear bins to keep things in. Sort them by different parts of the house or different sets of chores.

Create Labels

When a cleaner visits your house, it can be hard for them to figure out what’s where even when your house is well-organized. Once you have bins, write on them or create labels so your organization scheme is readily apparent, to both members of your household and cleaning professionals.

And always be sure that any spray bottles you fill yourself are clearly labeled with their contents to avoid poisonings and dangerous accidents. This is particularly vital if you have a house cleaner since they won’t know what’s what from its location alone.

Use Your Shelves, But …

If your closet’s built-in shelves are deep, your cleaning supplies can end up pushed back into its depths, where they’ll get lost. Get a lazy Susan to rest on the edge of the shelf, and put your cleaning supplies in it. This way, you can spin it around and easily find what you need.

Remember What You Need

You probably use some cleaning supplies daily or near-daily, while others you may use very seldom. Make sure your most essential cleaning supplies are within easy reach, preferably in their own bin near the front of your closet. This is also highly convenient for your house cleaner.

Hang a Whiteboard

Banish all disputes about whose turn it is to do chores by hanging a whiteboard inside your calendar (on the back of the door or right inside). Update it with weekly chore assignments. If you have a house cleaner, you can leave notes for them here.

Declutter

Your cleaning closet won’t catch as much junk as other spots in your house. But depending on your cleaning techniques, it can still get pretty crowded, so be sure to go through it semi-regularly. Frequent culprits are rags, which tend to multiply — cutting a few from used clothes is good, but you don’t need a ton.

The same goes for newspapers: It can be good to keep a few around for cleaning glass streak-free, especially if you don’t have a subscription. But too many gets to be a real mess, especially if they get moisture on them from your other cleaning supplies.

Consider Using Extra Storage

Once you have everything tucked away in bins and on shelves, you may have some extra room in the closet. Your cleaning closet can do double duty to hold toilet paper and other household essentials. Just be sure it doesn’t get too crowded in there and that everything’s still easy to find.

Conclusion

Your cleaning closet is the jumping-off spot for all the chores in your home. Getting it straightened up takes some thought and planning and might mean a trip to the container store. But once you get everything in its place, you’ll find that keeping your entire home neat and clean is a far simpler and more enjoyable task, and it will go far more quickly for your house cleaner as well.

How to Maintain Your Home Between House Cleaner Visits

Keeping up with your household chores is a full-time job if you let it be. That’s why you hired a housekeeper in the first place! The extra hands on deck make keeping your laundry pile low and your dust bunnies banished a whole lot easier. And while your housekeeper does a great job of maintaining the major cleaning projects, you can make their job easier (and your own life better) by doing some things in between visits. From cursory sweeping to fridge clean-up, taking just 10 minutes a day to do your own cleaning is a huge help. Here are seven things you can do in between thorough cleanings that will keep your home in tip-top shape without even breaking a sweat.

Ways to Keep Your Home Pristine Between Housekeeper Visits

There’s no better feeling than when your home has received a thorough cleaning by professionals. Here are some fast, easy strategies to maintain the pristine feeling and hold back the chaos between cleaner visits.

1. Pick Up Your Stuff

This might sound like a no-brainer, but remember to pick up your belongings on a regular basis. This includes mail, clothes, shoes and boxes. If your housekeeper has to pick up piles of stuff and either discard or organize it before they reach the carpet— you have created somewhat of a nuisance. Your helper is able to devote more time to maintaining your hardwood, tile and carpet when access is easy. Cleaner floors means fewer allergens in the air, so do your household a favor and leave less stuff laying around.

2. Sweep Daily

Speaking of floors, Swiffer or sweep your hard floors daily. With the cursory dust and dander cleaned away, your housekeeper can begin the deep clean right away. Even if you don’t get in the corners, a quick five-minute sweep in the morning keeps your floors in better shape for housekeeping day. If you spill something other than water, try to wipe it up so you don’t track it through your home and cause the need for a major deep cleaning.

3. Pile Your Laundry

Does your housekeeper have to track down all the dirty towels in the house? Depending on how big your home is, the task might be time-consuming for them or they may even miss a few crucial items. Make laundry day more efficient by keeping your dirty clothes and towels in a single pile or hamper. Have a separate pile for hand-wash or special care clothes so sorting requires less time. If you have a stain that needs special attention, make a note on a whiteboard or notepad so the instructions are clear.

4. Keep Your Fridge Fresh

Place a box of baking soda in your fridge, which helps absorb potent smells. Not only does this make your refrigerator a more friendly place to be all the time, but it also makes it easier to clean. When your housekeeper doesn’t have to scrub away bad odors, there is more time to get down to the nitty-gritty in your kitchen. You should also clean out your old food once a week. This also staves off bad smells and keeps mold at bay.

5. Clean Up Spills

If you notice jelly dripping down the side of your jar in the fridge or some ranch dressing pooling on a shelf, make sure you address it right away. When something dries and sticks to a surface, it requires more time and energy. Clean up most of the mess on the spot and your housekeeper can come behind you and take care of the details, like any extra stickiness. Cleaning up spilled food right on the spot also ensures you don’t attract bugs or other pests for your housekeeper to address.

6. Grind Orange Peels

Put orange or lemon peels down your garbage disposal with a few cubes of ice. This not only sharpens the blades but also makes the room smell better and masks the scent of the other food you’ve been disposing of. If you want to experience the fresh clean smell of cleaning day all the time, save your breakfast orange peels and drop them down the disposal as often as possible. Break the peels down into small strips before you put them down the drain— you want to freshen the room, not clog your disposal!

7. Use Netting on Drains

Asking your housekeeper to clear hair from your drains is a time-consuming task. You can prevent clogs and grime in your drains by adding a nylon mesh on top. This will catch the hair, and then all you have to do is empty the mesh. Your drains will be free of damaging clogs and both your plumber and housekeeper will thank you!

Conclusion

Your housekeeper helps keep your floors shiny and your countertops polished, but you can do everyone a favor by maintaining things on a daily basis. Split up tasks in a manageable way by dividing and conquering with your family, or creating a calendar where you designate certain tasks for each day of the week. No matter how you manage your own cleaning duties, chipping in between visits is sure to make your home a more comfortable place to be! If you need extra help, ask your housekeeper for professional tips for maintaining a pristine place all the time.

For more house cleaning advice contact Empty Mirror Cleaners in Rochester, New York.

The Problem with Indoor Air Quality

When we think about the amount of contaminants inside a home it is little wonder that asthma and allergies are on the rise. There is regular, tracked-in dirt. But there are also microscopic contaminants that make their way indoors on the bottom of our shoes as residues and particulates too small to see with the naked eye. Over the past few decades more contaminants have been introduced in the form of synthetic chemicals found not only in household products like cleaning solutions, paint and adhesive removers but also in home furnishings themselves. Mattresses, wood composite furniture, certain carpet and flooring materials, textiles and even some forms of lighting emit pollutants that linger over time. And then, there’s microorganisms like mold and bacteria.

Not only do soil and other contaminants degrade the value of your home if not addressed, they cause health risks to the inhabitants. All people have some health risk when exposed to VOC’s, pollen, dust, dust mites, pet dander, bacteria and mold. World Health Organization director general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, says air pollution is “the new tobacco.” However these pollutants “may be contributing to larger health issues or harboring contaminants that could cause serious problems for people with respiratory health conditions, autoimmune disorders or some environmental allergies,” according to the National Air Duct Cleaning Association.

What Cleaning Business Owners Can Do

You’re probably aware that our industry is trending from cleaning for appearance to cleaning for health. That objective implies both cleaning to restore the home to a sanitary condition by removing “enough bacteria to reduce the chance that germs will cause disease”[1] and cleaning to protect the indoor environment, including indoor air quality. Which is almost to say, things must be clean and they must be green. Perhaps better put, cleaning for health involves removing a reasonable amount of contaminants (beyond those one can actually see, to include microscopics) while not introducing new contaminants into the mix.

In terms of methodology, this involves cleaning with low VOC solutions that also include no toxins like carcinogens, neurotoxins, or endocrine disruptors. It also involves the use of microfiber cloths and mops to trap and contain particulate soils for thorough removal instead of cotton or paper cloth, which do a poor job of containment and often recirculate contaminants into the air. And finally, an advanced vacuum system with true HEPA filtration to contain and remove 99.97% of particulate matter that is 0.3 micrometers or larger (a thousandth of a millimeter).

Thoroughly dusting and vacuuming from top to bottom should eliminate most unwanted particulates and alleviate problems with airborne allergens but in homes where residents have allergy or asthma problems more in-depth or frequent cleaning should occur, where bedding is washed specially and upholstery and drapes are more regularly vacuumed. Maybe certain rooms or areas are deep cleaned every time. If a tailored cleaning program to address airborne particulates is not solving the issue stronger measures may be required. In extreme circumstances, you may find yourself advising homeowners to replace drapes with blinds and carpets with area rugs.

You may also find yourself coaching clients on other things they can do to help keep indoor air pollution at bay. As humans, it’s easy to agree with the practice that HVAC air filters should get changed every month. Yet many people don’t follow their own advice. With a little pre-planning cleaning business owners can incorporate filter change service in their offering once a month. And charge for it.

You may also advise your clients to have an HVAC duct inspection by a Certified Ventilation Specialist. The NADCA can help you find one in your area that you should meet and keep in your “rolodex” of cleaning-related subject matter experts. That is not to say that duct cleaning is a foregone conclusion. The CDC, EPA and NADCA agree that duct cleaning is warranted in situations where allergies or unexplained health problems exist. Interestingly, duct cleaning is not apparently viewed as a preventive measure by the experts. The EPA actually questions the practice asserting “duct cleaning has never been shown to actually prevent health problems.”

It is generally recommended that homeowners have the HVAC supply and return ducts inspected every two years and the air handling unit every year, in addition to annual cooling coil and drain pan cleaning. If there is unusual build-up of dust and other particulates a duct cleaning may be warranted. But duct cleaning done poorly can spread contaminants from the system into the rest of the home – the exact opposite result from what’s desired. The application of biocides or sealants to prevent home contamination through the ducts should be considered judiciously – they pose their own health risks. If mold is present, growing or dormant, a duct cleaning is probably in order. But if mold is present, an inspector certified in mold remediation should probably have a look to determine the health risks and whether mold is present elsewhere in the home.

The bottom line is that indoor air quality is a real concern of our business when an estimated 40 pounds of dust accumulates each year in the average six room home. Cleaning business owners who are attentive for the signs that deeper or more frequent cleaning or alternative chemistry or equipment is needed – and are equipped to provide these – to help support the health and well-being of their clients will foster more trust and loyalty from them. During the walk-through find out what health issues exist for residents and locate the areas within the home where they spend most time. Assess these for problem situations and possible cleaning customization. Review your equipment and methods to learn if individual or system-wide changes to your cleaning systems is needed. And finally, know which local subject matter experts to turn to when things are out of your scope. Having a strong “rolodex” is a great asset for any services provider.

Can your home be too clean?

NO, it can’t. Why? The definition of “clean” as it relates to your home is “the absence of unwanted matter”. If there is a desirable benefit to dirt or soil, then it is not “unwanted”.

“Unwanted matter” is empty pizza boxes, soda cans and bottles. You get the idea. There is no sound argument for them decorating your home. Sorry. It is also soil (dirt and oils) that can cause excessive wear on carpet and hard surface floors. The grit in the soil can scratch and ruin surfaces. Oil traps soil in carpet.

Then, there are germs. Yes, there are good and bad germs. Bad ones are called pathogens. They are alive. They communicate with each other. They are designed to stay alive by defending themselves against threats, including chemicals. One defense they use is their formation of biofilm. Biofilm is often made up of many types of pathogens. They can include bacteria, viruses, protozoa and fungi.

The major surfaces where you do not want germs are kitchens, bathrooms and high touch areas. Foodborne illness in the home often comes from cross-contamination while preparing a meal. Bathrooms harbor bad germs too. Mold and fungus frequently cause illness and are not easy to kill or remove completely. Most people who get sick from this source do not realize or appreciate how or why they are ill. Other germs are transmitted from people. Avoid sharing towels and cloths. If someone has been in the hospital, it is highly suggested that they have exclusive use of a bathroom for a time when recuperating at home.  

Chemical disinfectants and biocides are regulated solutions that are designed to kill germs. They do not know the difference between good and bad germs. To protect you and your home it is not always necessary to kill germs. Germs can be removed from a surface and disposed of in a sewer or trash container. Germs can be killed without chemicals that can harm you or your home. Some ways this can be done is with heat, light and ozone. Ozone generators are dangerous, highly corrosive and recommended for professional use only and should never be used when people, pets or plants are present.

Chemical solutions are appropriate in some cases to restore the “clean condition” to a home. There may be a need to remove chemical residues after killing germs or pests. Bombing a roach infested home is one example of this. No, roaches are never “wanted”! They excrete an endotoxin that can cause illness in humans.

Some chemicals are frequently confused as cleaning solutions. Bleach is one example. Bleach does not clean. It oxidizes or corrodes. It kills and is regulated as a biocide.  Which kills everything, this is not good, a too sterile environment leads to multiple allergies, and a weakened immune system and homemade solutions can be very risky. Tests using vinegar and lemons have shown these recipes do kill many germs, but not enough. There are other factors to consider when using chemicals such as “dwell time” or sit time. To do their job, chemicals must be in contact with germs. They must be kept wet and allowed to react with the germs. This can take up to 10 minutes. A great way to remember this is when you eat out and watch your table being cleaned just before you sit down. Have you ever seen anyone let the chemical solution sit for even 3 minutes? Keep your tableware on your plate or napkin!

There is a place and time to be in dirt. Dirt and rich soil of the earth has many healthful benefits. Studies show working and playing in the dirt allows you to touch and breathe positive beneficial organisms. They help protect you from negative pathogens and build your immune system. Working and playing in the dirt with bare hands or feet has been shown to benefit the electrical activity in humans.  Helping the body to be more balanced, and transition into a more relaxed state.  With all these positive effects, this does not mean it is a good idea to bring a bucket of dirt in the house and let the kids dump it on the floor.

YES. Dirt is good for you. Just not in the house!

5 ITEMS TO KNOW FOR YOUR CLEAN HOME

  1. Understand the definition of “clean” for your home. This means realizing that there are germs inside your home that are a dangerous threat to you and your loved ones. A single person who travels and never cooks at home has different needs than a family of four with a cat and a dog.

  2. Based on your needs, establish a cleaning routine. Emphasis should be placed on kitchens, bathrooms and high touch surfaces like doorknobs. Some surfaces may require cleaning daily.

  3. Do not share personal items like towels, razors or brushes.

  4. Use cleaning solutions and disinfectants (biocides) responsibly. Many dangerous germs can be removed from a surface into the sewer. When using any disinfectant always follow the label directions. Follow the dwell or sit time instructions.

  5. Spend time in the dirt. Outside. Plant something. Take a walk barefoot. Let your kids play outside in the dirt. Have some limits. Muddy shoes on the sectional sofa is not a good idea.