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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

Living Guilt Free

So there I was; trying to come up with another ad to post for the company.  What to write to grab someone’s attention?

My go-to theme had been (for way too long) “busy families”.  Were people getting tired of hearing about how busy they are?  What other reason would make someone think twice about hiring a maid service?  (I was going on the assumption that money wasn’t the issue because if it was, they wouldn’t be looking for a maid service.)

And then it hit me.  Guilt.  Most people (women, especially) see cleaning house as something they should be able to do and hiring a maid service to do it seems either A) Like a waste of money, B) Lazy, C) Self-indulgent or D) All of the above.

Think about it, though.  Do you feel guilty having someone cook you a meal in a restaurant or having someone grow the produce you buy at the farmer’s market?  You can cook and you can grow vegetables.  

Perhaps you feel bad about asking someone else to do what you are physically able to do.  Nonsense.  While it may not have been what they dreamed of when someone asked what they waned to be when they grew up, the people you hire to clean your home depend on the money they get from cleaning for you.  It feeds their family and it frees you up to do other things (I know.  I’m back to busy lives, again).

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Perhaps you feel guilty asking someone to do what some might call “degrading” work.  I can tell you without a doubt that those of us who do this type of work do not feel “degraded”.  We know that what we are doing is important.  You and your family have a cleaner and healthier home and this frees you up to do those things that are truly important to you.  Both of those have real value.

So the next time you feel as though you need some real help around the house, stuff that guilt and pick up the phone and call a maid service.  Trust me, everyone involved will be glad you did! 

 

 

 

 

Who Invented Spring Cleaning?

Ahh, Spring.   A time of renewal, of re-birth.  A time of discovering all the things that were hidden beneath the snow, like that shoe that I threw to get the dog’s attention when she wouldn’t come inside sometime in January.  In her defense, she’s old and can’t hear very well.

But there is also this practice known as Spring Cleaning.  A time of clearing away the clutter and deep cleaning the house.  As a child you may have been drafted to help in some way.  You may have thought this was a punishment of sorts.  Guess what?  Your mom did not invent Spring cleaning.

 

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Spring Cleaning is much, much older than you think.  

The practice is thought to date back to the Iranian Norouz , pronounced No-Rooz, which falls on the first day of spring.  Norouz is the Persian New Year and has been celebrated for over 3,000 years.  Even in Iran today, they practice “khooneh tekouni”, literally translated as “shaking the house”.  Prior to Norouz, the entire house is cleaned from top to bottom.  From draperies to carpets to furniture, everything gets a good cleaning.

Another possibility for the practice of spring cleaning is thought to date back to the Jewish celebration of Passover.  For 3,500 years it has been the practice, just prior to Passover, to clean the entire house.  This is done partly to get rid of any unleavened bread, called chametz, which are forbidden foods during this period.  Typically Jewish families will hunt for any possible leftover chametz crumbs the night before Passover.

Later in history many Eastern Orthodox Churches devoted a week of cleaning either right before or during the week of Lent.  In fact, the entire first week of Lent in the Eastern Orthodox Church is referred to as Clean Week and, although this refers to making oneself more pure by the leaving behind of sinful attitudes, it also is accompanied by a thorough cleaning of the home as well.

Is it just me, or is there a theme here?  It would appear that the act of spring cleaning has its roots very deeply set in most of the major world religions.  Spring Cleaning is based on an act of faith.  A tradition that goes back thousands of years, going hand in hand with purifying oneself and one’s surroundings.

Personally I am fond of the phrase, “khooneh tekouni” (although I confess, I was unable to find a pronunciation for this).  Shaking the house.  Who couldn’t use a good house shaking?

“There’s a way to do it better. Find it.”

We have always been all about making families’ lives easier, here at Freedom Cleaning Services.  

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Why do we think this way?  Because we are a family-owned business.  We know what it’s like to deal with the demands of family life.  The kids have school (and all that that implies like, homework, activities, sports, etc.), you have work; both the kind that pays and the kind that comes with owning a home.  Sometimes the demands on your time seem endless.

Originally it was all about the cleaning.  We were proud that we could take a chore that might take someone several hours to do over a weekend and give that back to them, to their family.  Several hours that could be spent reading bed-time stories or going to the park or having a date night.

And then it became about the health.  We spent a LOT of time trying different cleaners that claimed to be green.  We felt it was necessary to provide not only time and a clean home, but a healthy home as well.  We finally landed on Restore Naturals as our cleaner of choice.  We know them to be green PLUS they are made right here in our neighborhood.  Since we can pick them up, we aren’t wasting resources by having them shipped to us across the country. 

A couple of months ago, we were thinking about the process everyone had to go through to get a price quote from us.  You had to go to our website, and fill out a form.  This would be emailed to us and then we had to figure out what it would cost.  This could take upwards of 24 hours.  At that point we would email you back with a price range.  If you felt that the price was within the range you were expecting to pay, you would invite us out to your home and we would walk through with you and listen to your needs and wants.  At the end, we would give you a firm price and if you liked it, we could put you on the calendar.  *whew*!  That process could take several days.  We decided that if a family is busy, why would they want to take several days to get a price and schedule and book a cleaning?  

So, we built our new page and we are very proud of it!  Here our potential clients can do in a few minutes what used to take days to do.  Get a price, schedule and book a cleaning and pay for it.

I keep thinking about a quote from Thomas Edison.  “There’s a way to do it better.  Find it.”  

We will always be looking for ways to “do it better”.  Be more helpful to busy families.  Give them more time.  Clean better, more healthy, more efficiently.

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?

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What Should You Expect When Hiring a Maid or Cleaning Service Part One

The first in a four part series describing what you, as the consumer should expect when you hire a cleaning or maid service. The first episode focuses on price.