Category Archives: green

green

Selling Your Home?

Fantastic!  According to Donna Wheeler from Edina Realty we are in the middle of a Sellers Market.

And, as it happens, with the exception of chiropractor, we happen to know a LOT of Real Estate agents.

There’s Donna, Jon, Carla, Sara, Tim and Teresa, just to name a few.  Don’t make us get out the Rolodex.

Now that you have a Realtor your next step should be to call a professional cleaning service.  Why, you ask?  Because every day your home sits on the market is costing you money and one of the surest ways to get it sold faster is to get it cleaned.

As homeowners, we tend to take our homes and our regular cleanings for granted.  Everybody does the basics; clean the bathroom, clean the kitchen, dust, vacuum, etc. but there are areas that tend to get neglected.  Try this: go to your bathroom and pull out any vanity drawer and move everything inside of that drawer out.  See what I mean?  You can also try this with your refrigerator drawers.

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Once you have your home on the market you will most likely do some de-cluttering and once that happens, areas that were neglected tend to pop out.  And let’s not kid ourselves.  The folks checking to see if your home is their next home will be looking in every nook and cranny.

That’s where a professional cleaner can come in handy.  We know where to look and what to do to help your soon-to-be-ex- home shine for the upcoming showings.  Cobweb swinging from the chandelier?  Not when we’re done.  Cotton swab behind the toilet?  Nope!  Toothpaste in the sink?  What toothpaste in the sink?

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So, when you’re ready to put your home on the market, just remember; a good cleaning service can actually pay for itself when it comes to getting your home sold.

What a tangled web.

Spiders.  While our logical side realizes that they are beneficial for controlling indoor insects such as mites and flies and such, our subconscious shudders at the mere thought of them, not to mention the ick factor of running into a cobweb.  We know quite a few people who would just as soon squash one as look at it.

spider

Surely there must be some happy medium between the above picture and allowing spiders to completely take over your home.  Until we find it we have a few tips for controlling spiders in your home.

  • Vacuum on a regular basis to remove the spiders, the webs and their egg sacs.
  • Remove any clutter that provides hiding spaces for the spiders and their prey such as unneeded stacked papers, boxes and paper grocery bags.
  • Store items off the floor and away from walls.
  • Dry out and ventilate damp areas of your home to make them less desirable for spiders.

Maybe these tips could be used just for the most inhabited areas of your home and leave areas like the garage, crawl spaces, etc. to the spiders.  We think spiders are beneficial but would hate to see this happen.

indiana jones

It’s not the heat..ok it is.

Remember last winter?  Remember ‘Polar Vortex’?  Yeah, me either.

Right now all I can think about is how hot it is starting to feel.  I don’t even think it has broken 90º yet and I am feeling crabby.  Maybe it’s the humidity.  Maybe it’s just the fact that I am getting to that age where everything makes me crabby.

crabby

The fact is, that there is an evil conspiracy in the world.  A conspiracy to make people like myself and my employees, well, uncomfortable.

See, here’s the thing.  On the one hand, people like to save money.  I totally get that.  I do too.  And one way you can save money in the summer, apparently, is to set your thermostat at 85º when you aren’t home.  Like, if you’re going to be at work all day.

hot-humid

The problem with this comes when you have people working in your home when you are at work.  Like a maid service, for example.

According to several sources (here, for example) there is evidence to suggest that workers are much more productive when their work environment is a comfortable 67º to 74º.  There’s even a formula for those math whizzes out there.  Anything above or below that range and productivity starts to drop off along with quality.

So, how do we resolve this?  We don’t want our cleaning crews dropping from heat exhaustion in your home and you want to save money.  Both are important.  Here are a few solutions.

  1. If you have a programmable thermostat and know when your cleaning service is coming, simply program it to turn down the A/C before your cleaners arrive and have it go back up a few hours later.
  2. You don’t have a programmable thermostat or, (if you’re like me, can’t figure out how to program it to go up and down at a given time).  On the days you are scheduled for a cleaning simply turn the temp down to a comfortable 71º.  It’s one or two days a month.
  3. Contact your cleaning service and give them permission for the Team Lead to adjust the temperature for the time that they are in your home.

Hopefully these simple tips can lead to a mutual agreement.  You still get to save money and we don’t have to worry about an employee having heat stress.

 

Drawing the Line

When we first started our company, Freedom Cleaning Services, way back in January of 2006, we were only vaguely aware of the “green” movement as it applied to home cleaning.  We purchased the traditional cleaners and scrubbed away.

cough

 

By mid-June of that same year, we were hacking and coughing our way through Google searches of green alternatives to traditional cleaners.  It took us a couple of more years to find the right one for us.

 

 

Are we as green as I would like us to be?  No.  I know there are all natural or Eco-friendly alternatives to bleach, but for the life of me I have not found one that I trust to completely sanitize our towels so that we do not cross-contaminate our families homes.

That said, I am proud of the choices we have made as a company.  We have a responsibility to clean healthier for our families, those we refer to as clients and those that we refer to as employees.  They are both family to us.

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I believe that in 2006 we were one of the first Maid Services in Minnesota to go completely green.  We did not even offer it just as an alternative.  One day we weren’t green at all and the next BOOM!

Some clients worried about the effectiveness of the cleaners.  I am sure we may have lost one or two because of our decision.  Now green or Eco-friendly cleaning is the norm, even though there are those that charge a premium for the service.  That’s someone else’s business decision.

This month marks the 8th Anniversary of our decision to go “all-in” on green cleaning.

Would I do it again?  In a heartbeat.

Bleach Alternatives

Ok, so you know that chlorine bleach is bad for you, your family and the environment but you want to really kill mold, mildew and really disinfect your bathroom (or kitchen or whatever).  What to do?

We’ve got you covered.  Below are some safer, yet equally effective, alternatives to chlorine bleach that you can use without having to deal with the guilt associated with using a known carcinogen in your home.

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Oxygen Bleach

What is itOxygen Bleach is Sodium percarbonate a chemical, an adduct of sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide, with formula 2Na2CO3 · 3H2O2.  You may know it most commonly as the product OxiClean.

Just as effective at killing mold and mildew as it’s chlorine cousin, but with none of the toxic fumes that come with the other bleach, Oxygen Bleach is a perfectly acceptable alternative to your standard chlorine bleach

Vinegar

What is it? Vinegar is a liquid consisting mainly of acetic acid and water. The acetic acid is produced by the fermentation of ethanol by acetic acid bacteria.

A mild disinfectant, vinegar has become a ‘go-to’ for DIY home cleaners.  Please make sure to read our blog about what NOT to clean with vinegar.

Borax

borax

What is it?  Borax, also known as sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate, is an important boron compound, a mineral, and a salt of boric acid. Powdered borax is white, consisting of soft colorless crystals that dissolve easily in water.

A word of warning on this one; borax, if ingested, is still a dangerous chemical.  That said, it does not give off harmful fumes and when used responsibly is an effective disinfectant and MUCH safer than chlorine bleach.

Tea Tree Oil

tea tree oil

What is it?   Tea tree oil, or melaleuca oil, is a pale yellow color to nearly colorless and clear essential oil with a fresh camphoraceous odor. It is taken from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia, which is native to Southeast Queensland and the Northeast coast of New South Wales, Australia.

According to one source this essential oil is a powerful disinfecting agent.

Cleaning for Your Four-Legged Family Members

As any dog, cat, ferret, bunny or goldfish owner will tell you, our pets are our family just as much as our children or spouse are.

Dog giving woman high five.When we’re cleaning our homes we need to be sensitive to not only using things that could harm the rest of the family but also our four-legged family members.  This mean knowing what is in our cleaning chemicals and avoiding those ingredients that could be harmful to our pets.

ACHOO!

Did you know that your pet can have allergies, just like you can?  It’s true!  besides the usual suspects in allergies such as dust, dust mites and pollen your pet can have allergies to things like cigarette smoke, and fragrances and dyes in cleaning products and air fresheners.  Symptoms that your pet is allergic to something in your home may not be the same as your red, watery eyes and runny nose.  Usually a pet allergy will manifest itself as scratching, chewing and licking, sometimes to the point of creating open sores, which has its’ own nasty implications.  An open sore on a pet can open it up to infection.

Poison!

There are some chemicals that are just downright dangerous to your pet and oftentimes they are in the same products that we use to clean the areas our pets use the most.

According to the website eartheasy.com “Cleaning products with ingredients such as bleach, ammonia, chlorine, glycol ethers or formaldehyde can put pets at risk for cancer, anemia, liver and kidney damage.”

For example, chlorine is heavier than air, so even though your might be spraying your counter tops with a chlorine cleaning product, thinking that your dog won’t get up there, the chlorine will land on the floor.  the same area your dog loves to lay on and, from time to time, lick.

?????????????????????????????Ammonia, found in oven cleaners and window cleaning formulations is an irritant to the mucous membranes.

There are a number of cleaning products on the market that are natural or eco-friendly.  Choose your products wisely.  ALL of your families’ health depends on it.

 

 

 

The “smell” of clean.

When I was young clean had a very distinct smell to it.  It smelled like bleach or a certain “pine” product.  It also smelled like my sheets when Mom hung them out on the clothesline.  To this day I still love the scent of clothes that have been hung out on the line.  That said, I have yet to smell a cleaning product labeled “fresh linen” that replicates that scent.

sheets

As I got older, I developed my own idea of what clean smelled like.  This was a good example.  The older I got the more I began to realize the truth.  Clean does not have a smell.

Manufacturers of cleaning products spend billions of dollars every year to come up with scents that will make you believe your home is clean.  There is a lot of research that goes into creating not just a pleasant scent, but an olfactory experience  as described in this excellent WSJ piece.

smelling

Ok, so we’re all being conditioned to accept what the manufactures tell us is a clean scent.  Are those smells hurting us, though?  There is growing concern that fragrances added to pour cleaning products and air fresheners can trigger allergies and worse.  Also, most fragrances include phthalates which are used in fragrances to stabilize synthetic perfumes.  There is an excellent article on the Norwex site, here.

So, with all of this information, what are we the cleaning service supposed to do when asked by a client if we can use something to make their home smell clean (even though they admit they can see it is clean)?

Our primary responsibility is to the homeowner and the list of things that we would not do to keep a client happy is short.  In a recent case, we had some Caldrea All Purpose cleaner with a Ginger Pomelo scent that we used in certain rooms.

There are a number of demonstratively green or Eco-friendly cleaners out there that produce products with wonderful scents; Mrs. Meyers and Method come to mind, but to a small cleaner who can’t buy in quantity the cost may be prohibitive.

All we can do is try to educate the public that the smell of clean is…nothing.