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Tag Archive | "Merry Maids"

Stress-busting speed-cleaning tips for the holidays


(BPT) – It’s no secret the holiday season can be one of the busiest and most stressful times of the year. What is one of the biggest sources of stress? It’s cleaning on a deadline, especially while guests are on their way.

But with the right plan in place, even last-minute pre-entertainment cleaning can be efficient and stress-free, says Debra Johnson, Merry Maids home cleaning expert.

In an online survey conducted this spring by Toluna, more than half of respondents admitted that most of their cleaning takes place just before guests arrive. With a bit more focus, this preparation can be quick and effective, without stress. After all, the holidays shouldn’t be a race against the clock. They’re about spending time with loved ones.

Johnson shares the following tips to clean smarter, not harder, in the limited time you have before guests arrive.

1. Ready, set … declutter 

The important first step is to declutter rooms. Set a timer if needed to help you stay on track and avoid spending too much time in one room. Put things where they belong, or if they don’t have a home, put them in a room or under beds where no one will see. Once the holiday season passes, you can revisit and declutter those hidden storage areas. Prioritize rooms you use most, so if you run out of time, guests won’t notice an untidy area.

2. Only clean what guests will see 

Join the more than one-third of Americans who don’t bother cleaning rooms people won’t see. You have enough to stress about as the host. Don’t waste your precious time cleaning parts of the home no one will ever see. Simply shut doors to rooms that you want to keep private, signaling to guests not to enter. If you have family staying with you, give guest rooms a once-over, clean the bathrooms that will be used and, of course, the kitchen and living room.

3. Skip the sweep

Don’t spend time sweeping with a dry mop when you can vacuum instead. Vacuuming is far more efficient and faster at removing dust, dirt and other debris from the floors. Keep a portable hand-held vacuum nearby in case a big mess happens, such as a glass breaking during a party. Within seconds, the mess will be gone and you can go back to enjoying the festivities.

4. Speed-clean the bathrooms

All you need to clean your bathroom quickly is a damp microfiber cloth to give every surface a quick wipe-down and a toilet brush to clean the inside walls of the toilet. To freshen it up even more, pour a half-cup of baking soda into the toilet bowl and add white vinegar along with a few drops of your favorite essential oils. Allow the mixture to bubble for a bit and scrub with a toilet brush. Then, voila: your bathroom is clean, shiny and smelling great.

5. Tackle the microwave mess

You know people will want seconds well after the leftovers are put away, so use this quick tip to tackle microwave build-up: Combine lemon juice and water in a microwave-safe bowl and run it for about two minutes. The lemon water will loosen any gunk or food in the microwave for an easy wipe down with a microfiber cloth. Now guests can reheat their leftovers in a clean microwave.

“Hosting a holiday dinner requires prep work, but if you stay on track before anyone arrives, you can spend more time actually relaxing and enjoying their company,” said Johnson.

If you simply don’t have any time to spare this holiday season, Merry Maids has the resources and experts to help. Find a location in your area by visiting www.merrymaids.com.

With the cleaning under control, all that’s left for you to do is to light a few candles, conquer the grocery list and, of course, enjoy your special guests.

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Five organizing tips to help tame back-to-school chaos


SCH-Organizing-tips

(BPT) – From school supplies and first day outfits, to lunch boxes and carpool schedules, back-to-school stress and to-do lists can seem endless. This time of year, moms and dads are feeling the pressure to get organized, no matter their natural tendency: neat freak, hopelessly messy or anything in between.

“As the summer sun begins to fade, that back to school anxiety creeps in for parents. There is so much to do and so little time,” says Debra Johnson, a Merry Maids home cleaning expert. “We want to make sure that all moms and dads – whether they work full-time, stay at home, are frantically busy or cool and laid back – feel equipped to get back in the school year groove.”

Back-to-school time is the perfect opportunity for parents to shift gears and reorganize. It all comes down to your cleaning personality type on how you handle it. Here are some expert tips for every type:

Neat freak: Messes go against your very nature, and this time of year can put your temperament to the test, not to mention your cleaning skills. Instead of stressing over where to stash the keepsakes your kids will surely come home with this year, plan ahead and create color coded files for each child. Send glue, glitter and other mess-making supplies to school in clear baggies. Stash a stain-removal stick in the backpack of older kids to pre-treat ink stains and make laundry less stressful. Do you ever run out the door without lunches? Fix that by setting a food prep day (Sunday afternoon) where you and the kids pack lunches and place them in a desired area in the refrigerator and pantry. Make it easy to grab and go each morning and keep those hungry moments at bay.

Closet stasher: A closet stasher may look like a neat freak, but don’t be fooled—their messes are hiding in the closets and under the bed. Take time to dig into storage areas and cabinets to create an organized space for the family. Use plastic bins or baskets with labels on the front to divide the games from the books, and create a special shelf where extra pens, paper and other school supplies can be kept handy throughout the year. Kids will appreciate the independence of knowing exactly where to go to get what they need for homework and school projects. And remember, your kiddos might be following in your footsteps so be sure to check under the beds and behind the headboards for any treasures they may be hiding.

Busy bee: When you’re juggling work, homework, after-school activities and home cleaning, some days it’s tough to even find matching socks. While the back-to-school season can heighten the chaos, it’s also a perfect opportunity to take control of the time you have. For example, have the kids put in the laundry while dinner is cooking, or encourage the kids to clean the dishes as you finish preparing dinner. Create a family calendar to keep track of everyone’s schedules, and place a whiteboard by the door to remind you and your kids of important things to take with you before heading out the door. Letting the kids lend a hand will help them feel empowered to do more as they get older.

Summer straggler: As vacation time comes to a screeching halt, a summer straggler usually waits till the last minute to kick back-to-school prep into gear. For you, it’s best to prioritize a to-do list, and check things off one by one. It’s OK not to get to everything right away, but keep making progress until your entire list is complete. Overwhelmed by getting your house in order and tackling that to-do list? Don’t be. Call a professional to help with the deep cleaning, so you can focus on getting the school year off to a great start.

Team player: From preschoolers to high school students, everyone is involved in getting the home ready for the new school year. Have the kids switch it up a little and take on each other’s chores, try something new or take on more responsibility. As kids get older, they are able to take on more challenging roles, from just folding towels to actually doing the laundry, or from setting the table to loading and unloading the dishwasher. Make it fun and keep things fresh by creating a handy helpers box; fill it with slips of paper highlighting various household chores and then let your kids pull out their assignments each week. Rewards are a great way to incentivize the kids to empty the box by the end of the school week.

With the right attitude and approach, you can make back-to-school time less stressful for the whole family. For more expert tips on home cleaning, visit merrymaids.com.

 

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Get Your Kitchen Holiday-Ready


(Family Features) The kitchen is one of the busiest rooms in the house – especially around the holidays. With all the cooking, baking and celebrating going on, it can be hard to keep the kitchen clean.
To help you give your kitchen a holiday sparkle, try these time-tested techniques from the pros at Merry Maids.
Fridge
Before putting containers in the refrigerator, wipe container exterior and securely cover it to avoid spills and reduce odors.
Get rid of leftover items that have not been eaten or have expired. This allows room for new items. Save yourself this step by not refrigerating leftovers that anyone is likely to eat.
Once a month, clean each shelf and bin one at a time starting from top to bottom. Remove items and wash with warm soapy water. Wash the walls, too. Dry thoroughly.
All-purpose cleaners are safe for most surfaces in the kitchen, including stainless steel appliance exteriors. Before the big party, apply a stainless steel polish for extra shine.
Remove finger prints from stainless steel with a glass cleaner, followed by buffing with a dry cloth. Whenever a product is used on stainless steel, the surface should be rinsed with plain, warm water and then dried to prevent streaking and water marks.
Clean other refrigerator surfaces with a soap and water solution.
Sink
For stainless steel or ceramic sinks, rinse the sink after each use and wipe with a clean dry cloth. Drying the sink will prevent mineral deposits from building up on the surface.
Once a week, scour the sink with a non-abrasive cleaner, such as an all-purpose cleanser or glass and surface cleaner. Do not use steel wool, wire brushes or abrasive sponges.
If you want to make a stainless steel sink shine, use a stainless steel cleaner or a small amount of olive oil.
Small Appliances
To freshen up your disposal, fill it with ice cubes and slices of lime or lemon. Then, run cold water while the disposal is on for about 30 seconds. The ice will sharpen and clean the blades, and the citrus will release a fresh scent.
If you have stuck-on foods in the microwave, fill a two-cup glass measuring cup with a cup of water and the juice from one lemon. Microwave for about 30 seconds or until the water boils. This should create steam in the microwave that will loosen stuck-on foods, so you can wipe the microwave clean. The lemon juice will provide a fresh scent.
Wooden Cabinets
For stubborn dirt, wash around all handles and any other grease zones with hand dishwashing detergent. Then wash the entire cabinet, including the handle areas, with an oil soap solution, such as Murphy Oil Soap. Just wipe lightly with the solution and buff dry immediately with a terry cleaning cloth. Always wipe dry with any grain or pattern.
If cabinets are dull from wear or age, spray furniture polish lightly across the exterior to fill in the pores and restore the life of the wood.
Do not use acids or powdered cleansers on cabinets. Use an all-purpose cleaner to spot-clean after heavy kitchen use.
For more cleaning tips and information on Merry Maids, visit www.merrymaids.com.

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