Category Archives: Home

Cleaning Your Home With a Team

Ok, so here you are.  The woman who has been cleaning your home has finally given her notice.  She has been with you for the last 15 years, basically since she graduated high school, and here she is expecting her second child.

It’s been nice having one person clean your home.  She was fairly reliable, showing up every week and taking about four to five hours to clean your home the same way you would.  Sure, it took some training to get her to do it your way, but it was worth it.

Woman Cleaning Toilet

What are your options for replacing her (like you could ever replace her)?  Angieslist has a good comparison of your options, here.

You could search for another woman; maybe on craigslist or in the local news paper, but that seems so last century.  Besides, the world is a much different place since you last hired a home cleaner.

The other option is to hire a service.  The nice part of this option is you know that they are most likely insured and there is a certain amount of security involved with inviting them into your home.

A reputable cleaning service will background check their employees, have liability insurance and can be dependable and reliable.  Some will send the same people each time (usually two or three), so you have a sense of continuity on each cleaning.

The down side to this is that where it took your previous woman four to five hours to clean your home, the cleaning company can usually have it done in an hour to an hour and a half.  This may lead you to believe that they did an inferior job or skipped some things you wanted done, but in reality, two or three people naturally can do the same job your previous cleaner did in 1/3 or 1/2 the time.

Team

It may also be disconcerting to have a group of people in your home versus one person.  Whereas your previous cleaner was pretty silent in her work, save for the vacuum, a team will normally communicate during the cleaning (“Don’t forget the stainless polish.”, “Did you do these stairs, yet?”).

The decision is a personal preference and one you most likely will lose some sleep over.  It is your home, after all.  Best of luck to you!

Advertisements

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.

5  24

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?

14  15

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.

The Cost of Hiring Cheap Home Cleaners

I saw this story on a friends Facebook news feed and cringed.  I always cringe when I see stories about home cleaners gone bad.  It reflects poorly on the industry that I have chosen and, yes, I take it personally.  My issue I guess.

Whenever our kids would do something unwise growing up after we wiped the tears away and the kids were over whatever hurt them, we would ask them, “Did you learn anything?”.  I would like to ask this homeowner the same thing.  Not to be mean or insensitive.  I am sure that when he hired the woman he had no idea she would use the key he gave her to get into his home and steal checks.  Still there are things that you can do to protect yourself.

Of course the most obvious answer is to hire a reputable cleaning service.  Large National chains such as Merry Maids and The Cleaning Authority have a reputation and systems in place to weed out those with criminal backgrounds that may pose a threat to your security.  The downside to hiring a franchise business like the ones I named above is that you may have to sacrifice price and a personal touch to get that security.  These companies tend to be slightly more expensive and you may or may not get the same cleaners in your home each time, something that contributes to trust.

Likewise, smaller local, even family owned cleaning services who are professional and insured will also have those systems in place and you may be able to get a better price.  They may be more flexible with regards to putting the same cleaners in  your home each time and accommodating your needs with regards to scheduling.  The key is in making sure they are professional.

We recently signed up a client that we had given a bid to nearly a year ago.  Initially this client went with a Mother and Daughter team because they were less expensive.  She called us back and signed up after they cancelled her cleanings three time in a row due to personal issues.

Finally, if you just want the lowest possible price and think that a single cleaner can give you a little more personal service, insist on doing a background check on them.  Any cleaning person worth their salt, even if they don’t have insurance, would be willing to submit to this.  You have every right in the world to know who is in your home and whether they have a criminal history.

The events described in the story at the beginning of this blog had a happy outcome because the woman was caught.  Hopefully some type of insurance (we’re pretty sure it’s not hers) will kick in to cover this gentleman.  But the fact is that a little checking on this person could have saved this man a lot of trouble in the long run.

A Maid Service is Not for You

I should probably preface this post with an apology because I believe I am going to offend some people with it.  I am sorry.

Now that that is over; a maid service is not for you.  We know your type.  You have never had a maid service or you have had many and it was always the same result; they could never do it right.  And by right, we mean the way you think it should be done.

Those people who say you should teach your children responsibility by giving them chores to do around the house?  Are they NUTS?  Your kids have the attention span of a puppy in a pet store.  And don’t even get you started on your spouse.  They wouldn’t know a hospital corner if it bit them in the, well you know.

bed

There is a right and a wrong way to clean the house and nobody but you knows the right way.  And that’s OK as long as you don’t hire someone to do it.

We once stopped an in home estimate about five minutes in.  We had never done that before.  Ever.  We heard about how the homeowner expected the toaster to be shined each time, whether it was dirty or not.  The blankets on the back of the couch needed to be folded just so and each of the Snow Baby figurines (about a dozen) each needed to be pulled down from a high shelf, dusted and put back exactly as they were before.

We were on the second room of a 15 room home and we knew.  One of two things would happen; either the price that we would ask the homeowner to pay to spend the amount of time in her house to do it the way they wanted would be so high that they might faint or we would get the job and we would never, ever hit this homeowner’s mark.  Ever.  So we stopped the bid and informed the potential client, ever so gently, that we knew for a fact that our company was not a good fit for them.

toaster

You see, hiring a Maid or Cleaning Service requires you to trust that service and accept that they may or may not do things exactly the way you want them done.  It may also require you to accept that the service may or may not do some things you DO want done.

In the above story, for example, we were unwilling to take the risk of removing, dusting and then replacing the figurines for a couple of reasons.  The first reason was that these were obviously precious to the homeowner and, depending on which of our cleaning team did the dusting at this home, would have required getting a small step-ladder and removing each piece one by one.  This increases the liability to us in the form of a potential fall, and the risk of breaking what may have been an heirloom.

The second reason had to do with pricing.  When you are being careful you take extra time and, as they say, time is money.  Some people are price-conscious when it comes to a cleaning service.  We can sanitize a kitchen counter, making sure to polish the chrome on the sink faucet, clean the inside of a microwave and get fingerprints  and grime off of the outside of the other major appliances in a reasonable amount of time and we build tasks like that into our bids.  But when you start throwing in items like polishing a chrome toaster even if it doesn’t need it, folding blankets on the couch just so and dusting figurines, this is going to take extra time and we need to reflect that time in our bid.  Most clients are not willing to pay that price.

So there you have it.  Is a Cleaning or Maid Service for you?

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.

 

Dust Like a Pro

Dust.  The word sounds so innocuous but the mere composition is enough to make a person squirm.  Primarily dead skin cells, dust is also made up of (in no particular order) decomposing insects, hair, pet dander, pollen and even mite excrement.

Dust and the mites that feed on it can cause allergic reactions in up to 20 million Americans.  While it may seem like a chore to dust your home, it can help improve your indoor air quality immensely.

Below, we have put together a few tips on how to get rid of dust like the pros.

1)  What needs to be dusted?  Anything in your home that has a surface (yes, the top of the picture frames are considered a surface).  And don’t forget curtains, dust ruffles, pillows, bedspreads and comforters as well as your mattress occasionally.

2)  Set aside your embarrassment.  Dust is a fact of life.  Just because your home is dusty doesn’t make it dirty.  Some homes, older ones primarily, are dustier than others.  You can help yourself by sealing doors and windows with sealing caulk to keep them airtight and by making sure your furnace and A/C are properly cleaned.  Also, change your filter regularly.

3)  Cleaning is not a chore everyone likes, but it is necessary for a healthy home.  To make it easier on yourself, keep a microfiber cloth in those rooms you dust more frequently and use it dampened.

4)  Here’s something you don’t often hear in life; start at the top.  Nothing is more demoralizing than vacuuming or cleaning the floor and then dusting a bookshelf or ceiling fan only to have a pile of dust drop onto your clean floor.  Top to bottom should be your mantra when dusting.

5)  And speaking of the floor; invest in a vacuum with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Absorption) filter.  Also, a HEPA air purifier with allergen reducers will reduce dust.

6)  Did you know that eighty percent of the dirt in our homes comes from what we track in on our shoes?  Get a mat for the entrance to your home and periodically clean it, letting it dry before replacing it.

7)  Some folks need to schedule things.  You should dust furniture and electronics weekly and ceilings, ceiling fans, windows sills, baseboards and window treatments monthly.  Scheduled.  BOOM!

8)  Don’t forget the places you don’t see.  This is where dust oftentimes flourishes.  Under the couch, bed or any other furniture is a breeding ground for dust bunnies; those oh, so NOT cute clumps of dust that roam the dark areas of your home.

9)  Finally, take it slow.  Dust flies when whipped up by a flurry of activity.  You may be removing it from one spot and depositing it on another.  And when the dusting cloth is full, remember to shake it out outside.

There you go.  A few tips on how you can improve the air quality in your home by dusting like a pro.  What are your favorite dusting tips?