Category Archives: Responsibility

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?

Our own Dream Team

Do you remember the USA 1992 Olympic Basketball Dream Team?  Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and a host of others.  Men considered to be the absolute best in their field.  The standard for a professional basketball player.  They were the first and, in my humble opinion, the best Dream Team ever.  And I don’t even follow professional basketball.

We here at Freedom Cleaning Services have our own Dream Team.

Dream Team

 

 

 

 

After over eight years in business we have built a team that exceeds all of our and our clients expectations each and every day.  They are a thing of beauty.

They each come to us from very different backgrounds and experiences and yet they work together seamlessly as a team.  I know, that’s how it should always work, but some times it isn’t easy finding several individuals that work together well.

Some, like the talented Rose Krause (far left in the picture above) come from other cleaning companies and bring a unique perspective to what we do, offering advice and insight on how to make our cleanings better.  She has a heart as big as the outdoors.

077Others, such as Lorene Gronskei (third from left) bring natural leadership talents.  Gently guiding the team to give their all in any situation.

Some bring a sunny disposition and an amazing work ethic, such as Miss Jenna Johnson (third from left).  Jenna has a work ethic rarely seen in a 20-year-old Biology student.

And others have several of these talents rolled into one, like Carmela Lyons (far right) who comes to us from Seattle and has an eagle eye for detail.

Each has their own hardships and challenges at home but cheerfully put them aside to work together as a team to accomplish one goal; to give our clients a home cleaning experience.  Dream team, indeed!

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.

bathroom-cleaning-191x300

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.

It’s all about the family.

Family.  It’s one of the reasons we started Freedom Cleaning Services back in 2006.  We were both laid off and needed to continue to feed and house ours.

But what we do goes way beyond our family.  It extends to the families we service and beyond.  Our goal is to touch as many families in a positive way as possible.

Family sitting on bikes on path smiling

We are in business to make money, of course, but we found early on that we can do this AND make a positive impact.  First, it was just giving families more time by taking one of the most life sucking chores in the history of chores off of their hands.  Home cleaning.

Next, in 2008, we joined Cleaning for a Reason.  Through C4R, we can give women one less thing to worry about by cleaning their homes at no charge while they are going through cancer treatment.

Starting in January of this year, we began a real push.  We created a new page on our website to be used as a Family Resource Guide.  Our hope is that a family member who needs a service or business can go to our website and find what they need.  We spotlight local businesses and individuals.

Now we want to help families struggling to feed their families.  We are talking to NACE (North Anoka County Emergency Food Shelf) about ways we can help.  One way is through donations.  During the month of July, for every dollar NACE collects in donations, Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless will proportionately match.  The more donations, the bigger the grant.  And considering the fact that NACE can turn one dollar of donations into $8.60 in buying power, that would make a huge difference for hungry families.

NACE

 

 

 

If you would like to donate and help hungry families in Anoka County, you can do so here.

We will continue to look for ways that we can help families in our community.  because it really is all about the family.

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.