Posts

The 12 Cleans of Christmas (Part Two)

Twelve things around the house that you probably aren’t cleaning regularly, but you should be.

Following Part One of our 12 Cleans of Christmas last week, we’re bringing you the final six items to be cleaning regularly this Christmas and New Year. If you missed the first six items, you can find last week’s blog detailing them here.

  1. Sink P Traps

‘A what?’ I hear you exclaim. Fear not, it’s actually rather simple. A p trap is that curved portion of pipe that sits beneath the drain of your kitchen or bathroom sink – named for its ‘P’-shaped curve. If you’ve ever noticed an unpleasant smell coming from a sink in your home – this is probably the cause.

To clean it, clear some space under or around the sink to work with, and then all you’re going to need is a wrench, and a bucket to catch any runoff trapped water and mess inside the trap. Loosen the bolts connecting the trap to the main pipe and then remove it. Flush and/or clean out the trap with some water, a brush or wire and viola – a clean sink p trap. After you’ve reattached the trap, you’ll want to make sure you’ve screwed it back on tightly and then run some water through it for about 30 seconds to check it for leaks.

  1. Bathroom fans and Shower Holders

Staying in the bathroom for this one, another thing on your Christmas cleaning checklist should be the bathroom fan. This can have a number of benefits, such as ridding your bathroom of smells and odours, removes airborne contaminants from cleaning products, and reducing moisture in the air. As well as this, a clogged up and dirty fan is less efficient and not as effective at protecting your bathroom from the build-up and mould and damp.

To clean it, first remove the vent cover by gently pulling it down and exposing the fan. Some fans may have screws or spring clips that you’ll need to undo first. To clean the cover, fill your sink with warm, soapy water and let it soak for a bit – then give it a good scrubbing down. You can then let it air dry whilst you get on with cleaning the exhaust fan. To be safe, unplug the fan or turn of the power to the bathroom at the mains. Once this is done, you can give it a good vacuum or dusting and wipe it down with warm soapy water or anti-bacterial wipes. When you’re done and everything is dry, replace the cover and you’re all done!

If your shower has been humid because of an ineffective fan, you are likely more susceptible to a dirty shower storage container/caddy. You should be cleaning any containers in your shower, at a minimum, once a month. For a DIY solution to a dirty caddy, you can soak them in water and 1½ cups of vinegar for 20 minutes, then scrub and rinse it with fresh water. Mix some baking soda with water to form a paste and scrub the container with this and pour on another cup of vinegar. The reaction from the baking soda and vinegar will bubble and fizz – but this is good, it means the solution is breaking down any dirt and scum. Then rinse with clean water and dry with a clean towel to stop any spots developing.

  1. Lampshades, Lightbulbs and Light Switches

Lampshades are another thing in the home that we all have, but don’t necessarily clean that often, as it’s often easy to forget they’re up there. Well, consider this your reminder. Lampshades can accumulate quite large amounts of cobwebs and dust throughout the year, so cleaning them is important. For fabric lampshades, you can easily clean them with duster or brush attachment on your vacuum – just use a gentle touch and make sure the lights are off. For glass lampshades, you can use the dishwasher; simply unscrew the shade, put it on the top rack and pop a cycle on.

 

You probably haven’t ever given much thought to cleaning your lightbulbs either – we don’t blame you. But these can also attract dust, making them potentially hazardous when hot, and also dimmer! Just give them a wipe down with a cloth when they’re switched off to make sure they’re dust and grime free.

 

Something you may have considered more recently is, however, light switches. These are definitely considered high touch point areas, and can be a hotbed of germs and other bacteria transferred from hands – so it’s good to get into the habit of disinfecting them regularly (if you’re not already doing so). You can easily do this by giving them a quick wipe down with some anti-bacterial wipes.

 

  1. Pillows, Duvets and Mattresses

If you have company coming to stay for Christmas, children returning from university, whatever it is: you might want to give some thought to cleaning your bedding. And we don’t just mean the sheets either – we mean what’s underneath. Now, it’s worth checking the specifics of your bedding, as most of it can be machine washed, but some of it may need dry cleaning due to size or product specific specifications. You obviously can’t machine wash a mattress – but it is still worth giving it a hoover and spot-cleaning it with stain remover regularly to rid it of any bed bugs, dust, and grime. You can also try bringing out the baking soda again to absorb and break down odours and moisture – though this will need a light sprinkling left overnight and hoovered up again. Be sure to also flip the mattress and clean both sides thoroughly.

  1. TV remotes

Whether you call it by its name, or whatever amalgamation of random syllables comes to mind when you ask someone to pass it to you, you can’t have Christmas telly without the remote. Research performed to study the cleanliness of a hotel room found that remote controls were the most germ-infested item in the room. And they get a lot of use over the holidays – making them another high touch point item to disinfect regularly this Christmas. Fortunately, rubbing alcohol can sanitise your remote quickly and easily. Pour a bit on a paper towel, or use an antibacterial wipe, and scrub every inch of the remote to ensure it is thoroughly disinfected.

  1. Houseplants

You might not think it, but houseplants need cleaning too. A surprising amount of dust can settle and accumulate on the leaves of houseplants – real or fake. You can also place smaller ones in the sink before watering and give the leaves a rinse to get rid of pests. Then let them drip-dry out of any sunlight.

Well, that’s all folks! With that, we have reached the end of our 12 Cleans of Christmas. Be sure to stay on top of cleaning these 12 items over Christmas and into the New Year, for a lovely clean home. But that’s not all, keep your eyes on the Merry Maids blog throughout the holiday season for more festive cleaning content, including some top tips on cleaning in winter.

And if you want to leave your winter cleaning to the professionals, why not get in touch with us? You can give us a call and speak to our cleaning experts on 0800 021 3072, or find your local Merry Maids UK here.

The 12 cleans of Christmas Part 1

With December now upon us, we’ve put together a list of twelve things around the house that you probably aren’t cleaning regularly, that you should be ahead of the festive season.

You might not have a partridge and pear tree or five gold rings, but there are still quite a number of things around the house that need a good clean this Christmas. Several of which, most of us don’t actually ever really touch.

We’re going to share the first six of twelve items that you should be cleaning (but aren’t), so you can get ahead before company descends on you for Christmas:

  1. The Dishwasher

Dishwashers can have strainers that can become blocked by being clogged with food and other debris which can create a smell, spread bacteria and fungus, or end up on your dishes. You can clean out your dishwasher quickly and regularly with a dishcloth on the interior, and use a dishwasher cleaner on a self-clean setting. Or if you want to do it yourself, scrub with baking soda or use a cup of distilled vinegar in a cycle. This can dispel the odour and break down any mineral deposits from hard water.

  1. Washing Machine

In the washing machine, you need to be careful of mould and mildew deposits forming in the door and leftover detergent etc. becoming stuck in the filters, which can leave behind marks and stains on your clothes. Deep cleaning your machine once a month can avoid this. Similar to a dishwasher, many washing machines now come with settings that allow you to run a self-cleaning cycle with added bleach.

If you don’t have this option, you can add half a cup of liquid chlorine bleach to the dispenser and run a cycle with hot water. However, bleach alone won’t dissolve some residues in the machine so a machine cleaner is probably your best option. When your cleaning cycle is done, rinse and add another spin to ensure that any bleach has washed away, then clean the dispenser drawer by running them under hot water and scrubbing it down with a toothbrush.

  1. Dryer

Emptying the lint tray of your dryer will also use it more efficiently, but cleaning the venting duct is also a good idea. Dryer vent fires are very common and if the outside vent is clogged, this means that any moist air can’t escape and cause mould or odours. This can be avoided by making sure to remove lint deposits from the dryer duct outside the vent with a long-handled brush. If the worst does happen, and a dryer fire causes damage to your home, one of the other ServiceMaster brands offer disaster restoration services, ServiceMaster Restore.

  1. Reusable Shopping Bags

Reusable shopping bags are great for the environment by keeping plastic out of landfill sites. However, because you’re reusing them they can become a hotspot for bacteria from food, meat, and other raw produce. If you’re repeatedly using the same bags for all of your shopping, you might also have cross-contamination between food and cleaning products. The good news is that most of these bags can be machine washed provided you put it on a gentle cycle and remove the bottoms and turn them inside out. Then just let them dry and they should be good to go again in no time.

  1. Toothbrushes and Toothbrush Holders

Considering we put them in our mouths multiple times a day, giving your toothbrush clean is surprisingly not a very common practice. Researchers at the University of Manchester found that toothbrushes can be breeding grounds for staphylococci bacteria and E. coli.

Reports also show that toothbrushes contain at least 200,000 bacteria per square inch. All this simply means is that, instead of making your pearly whites whiter, you could be contaminating your body with life-threatening bacteria. Now that your dishwasher is nice and clean, you can pop it in there once a week (just the head if it’s electric), or rinse it in antibacterial mouthwash to get rid of germs and other bacteria. Your toothbrush can also be easily cleaned by hand by pouring 3% hydrogen peroxide into a small cup and letting it soak for about 15 minutes.

Be sure not to let it sit any longer than this as it could damage the bristles. Then rinse your toothbrush thoroughly with warm water before use.

The holders we use for them can also be a breeding ground for germs and bacteria from the water and toothbrush running down the handles. It’s likely that if you’ve ever looked in the bottom of a toothbrush holder after some frequent use, you’ve not been greeted with a pretty sight. The best thing to do is to put the cup or holder in the dishwasher once a week, or soak it in boiling water and soap and give it a good rinse.

  1. Vacuums, Mops, Brooms & Toilet Brushes

Similarly, washing your cleaning utensils is another good habit to get into.

You should wash or replace any vacuum filters, then check hoses and rollers for blockages from dust or tangled hair. You can wash mop heads with hot water and detergent and the broom in a bucket of hot, soapy water. Then with the broom, be sure to rinse and air dry it. Cleaning a toilet brush may be a little off-putting, but doing so will avoid spreading germs from the toilet around your bathroom.

To clean the holder, we recommend disinfectant spray or soaking it in a bleach solution. To clean the brush, fill a bucket with hot water and bleach, and leave it to soak for an hour. Then, rinse it and put it back in your lovely clean holder.

For some extra top tips on cleaning this winter, check out our blog from last week here, then be sure to come back next week for the final six items. And if you want to leave your winter cleaning to the professionals, why not get in touch with us? You can give us a call and speak to our cleaning experts on 0800 021 3072, or find your local Merry Maids UK here.

5 Top tips for cleaning in winter

When you think about cleaning, your mind might immediately jump to the spring. But the warmer months aren’t the only time you should be focused on cleaning. Winter is fast approaching, and with it are a host of season-specific cleaning considerations.

If this seems a little daunting, don’t worry. We’ve compiled a list of five things that you can do to get a head start on the housework this winter.

  1. Give your radiators a good seeing to

One of the most important things in the home during the winter is, of course, the radiators. We depend on them for warmth when the temperature starts to drop. So why not make sure you’re giving them the best treatment possible? During the year, dust will have accumulated around, and possibly even in your radiators, which will mean that they won’t be working to their full potential.

To combat this, there are a few things you can do:

  • Use your everyday cotton cleaning cloth and give the radiators a good wipe down. Make sure you get all around the radiator, including the top and bottom areas.
  • Take a long-distance brush, like a duster (if it’s extendable, that’s even better). Then move it in and out of the top vent to be sure that you’re getting as much of that pesky dust as you can. 
  1. Clean off that computer

Due to the COVID19 pandemic, something we are all more aware of is the process of cleaning and disinfecting our personal items like laptops and computers. With many still working from home, they have become more crucial in our day to day lives than ever before. But even when not working over the festive period, it’s important to remember to keep up the practice of thoroughly cleaning your devices – even if all you’re doing is snuggling up with a hot drink and a Netflix series.

Beyond wiping down your screen and keyboard, here are a couple of other things you can do to give your laptop/computer a good clear out:

  • Vacuum all of the visible air vents.
  • Spray a can of compressed air into your keyboard slots and vents to get rid of any dust and grime. As well as keeping it clean, this may also alleviate the stress on your computer’s fan and help stop the system from overheating.
  1. Shield your floors from mud

We’re all familiar with the fickle winter weather in the UK. The last thing you want is to get caught out by a surprise turn and end up trekking mud, or even snow, throughout the house. If you don’t already have them, we recommend investing in a few doormats in order to avoid bringing any germs, mud, and other debris into the home and onto your floors.

If you already have some, great! Another thing you can do is make sure you have somewhere off of the floor to store your shoes like a box or shoe rack. Or you could put down an old bit of carpet, some sheeting, or a shoe rug, and place them on there to create a barrier between any muddy soles and the floor.

  1. Clean out that ‘Chim Cher-ee’

When you think of a festive scene, one of the first things that comes to mind might be chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Whilst keeping your home nice and cosy this winter is a top priority for most, if you plan on doing this with an open fire, we recommend clearing your chimney – if you have one. This is because the dirt and chemicals that will have built up over the past year could turn into a fire hazard and potentially cause an influx of smoke into your home.

And no, don’t worry, it won’t be Dick Van Dyke coming round with his peaked cap and long brush to do it. The methods have improved since the Victorian era! Nowadays, technology and equipment are far more efficient.

  1. Keep your supplies clean

After all your winter cleaning, your house is likely looking spotless. But remember, to keep getting the same results every time, it’s important to make sure that you’re keeping your cleaning supplies in good nick too.

To do this, here are a few things you can do:

  • Fill your sink with hot, soapy water and put any sponges and cloths you might have used in for a good soak. Be sure to properly disinfect them too!
  • Vacuum any debris from your brooms or sweeping brushes, and disinfect your mop.
  • When this is done, give your vacuum a wipe down and empty it out or change the bag if you need to.
  • If your duster is detachable, you might want to pop it in the wash along with your cleaning cloths.

And if this all seems like a lot of work, but you still want to keep your home looking clean and pristine this Christmas, why not get in touch with us? Find your local Merry Maids UK here and get that same spotless shine every single time!

Age appropriate chores for children

It’s important to teach children to pitch in and help with the housekeeping at an early age. After all, they have to start learning responsibility to succeed in life, but how do you know which chores young kids will be capable of handling? If only you had an age-appropriate chore list to check…

Waves a magic wand…abracadabra…

We’ve produced one just for you! Use the following chart to assign chores for kids by age, whether you’re a parent, grandparent, teacher or babysitter. We’ll also give you a few tips on how to keep your children motivated and chores fun.

Children Age 2 – 3

  • Pick up toys
  • Help set the table
  • Throw trash away when instructed
  • Place their clothes in a laundry basket
  • Wipe lower cabinet doors

Tip: Kids this age love to use their imagination, so think of ways to turn chores into fun imaginative games.

Children Age 4 – 5

  • Put toys and books away
  • Set and clear the table
  • Pick out clothes for the next day
  • Sweep small areas with a handheld broom
  • Fold towels

Tip: Children aged four to five can get overwhelmed with too many instructions. Be certain to only assign one task at a time and consider singing silly songs as you work.

Tip: With a tiled kitchen you can use a bit of masking tape to make a square, then get your child to sweep everything into this small square.

Children Age 6 – 7

  • Put away clean silverware
  • Help clean the bedroom
  • Wipe down bathroom surfaces
  • Unload the dishwasher
  • Load and unload the washing machine and tumble dryer

Tip: Give six- and seven-year-olds plenty of recognition for how well they’re doing, as their sense of confidence starts to develop around this time. You can make chores more enjoyable by turning them into games.

Children Age 8 – 9

  • Help prepare meals with supervision
  • Dust and vacuum
  • Feed, brush and walk pets
  • Empty trash cans
  • Fold towels and put clothes away

Tip: Consider buying kids this age their own brightly coloured child-friendly kitchen utensils and get them to wash these up after every meal. This will ramp up the fun factor and will also make them feel more independent.

Children Age 10 – 12

  • Laundry and ironing
  • Gardening jobs
  • Cook simple meals
  • Wash dishes by hand or load the dishwasher
  • Clean the kitchen

Tip: This is a good time to start incentivising kids. Set up a routine list of chores for kids by age, and reward them with weekly pocket money, extra screen time, a trip to get ice cream or see a movie.

Children Age 13 and up

  • Make full meals
  • Clean the shower, tub, sink, and toilet
  • Clean out the refrigerator
  • Babysit for younger siblings

Tip: Rewards and incentives still work well. Make sure you continue to recognise the additional responsibilities your children are able to take on, so they know they’re appreciated.

Keep in mind that there may be a little trial and error involved when it comes to different age groups. Every child’s development is different, so give kids a new task if they have difficulty completing the original assignment.

Also remember that when dealing with children and chores, there’s no such thing as too much praise. Let kids know you’re proud of their efforts. It will make them feel good and they’ll want to keep helping so they can get more positive feedback.

Looking for more insights on children and chores? Check out our post on fun cleaning games with kids. And if you’re finding that life has you too busy to even think about cleaning your home, contact your local Merry Maids! We’re happy to lend a hand so you can free up more time to do the things you love with the people you care for the most.

5 Tips On Keeping Your House Clean With Kids

5 Tips on keeping your house clean with kids

Most parents sit down after a long day and remember how easy it was keeping your house clean before you had those precious little pains in the backside. However much you love your kids, cleaning up after them really is a chore in itself!

Child Playing

There are a few quick little tips that you can teach your kids to do that will really cut down the workload of picking up all of their toys yourself. Now I’ve got your attention! Here goes:

Make a daily chore checklist

This is one for you all to take away and implement straight away. You may not think so, but children like structure just as much as us adults do and implementing a daily chore checklist can really help.

Implementing a daily store checklist needs to have quick and easy jobs at the start and then more jobs can be added once your child gets older and used to the current chores.

For example:

Chores for young kids:

  • Put toys back in the toybox
  • Place dirty clothes in the washing basket
  • Get shoes on the shoe rack

Chores for older kids:

  • Make bed
  • Set the table for dinner
  • Get lunchbox and homework out of school bag

These small chores will make your lives that little bit easier and give you more time for a snuggle with your little one, and of course, that bit of time to yourself when the kids have been put to bed.

Reward your kids

One of the best ways for your children to get used the idea of doing their daily chores is to implement some kind of reward scheme.

For example:

Rewards for young kids:

  • A sticker chart with stars or smiley faces
  • Make them promises to take them to the park (always keep those promises)

Rewards for older kids:

  • Give them 15 minutes of time on their technology
  • Play with them in the garden for half an hour

The best reward for the older kids in the world we live in today is to change the password for the Wi-Fi every day, once their chores have been completed, give them the password to have a small amount of time on the internet.

Make cleaning fun

Yes, cleaning can be fun! Here are a quick few ways of making cleaning fun for your children:

For the younger children:

  • Put on a song like the Tidy Up Rhumba which your kids really will love and dance along to while cleaning!
  • If you have more than one child, let them compete to see who can tidy up first!
  • Let them organise their toys by colour or type

For the older children:

  • Put on their favourite songs, like a Little Mix track or something along those lines. (The Tidy Up Rhumba does work on older kids sometimes as well)!
  • Let the older ones compete as well, it may be a bit more competitive, but it will eventually get done!

Don’t let chores be a punishment

If you tell your child to do a chore as a punishment, this will turn a chore into a negative and not a positive. Instead of making them do a chore, put them on the naughty step and then encourage them to do their chores after you have let them play for a bit and take their mind off being naughty.

Make it a habit

Make sure your children get used to doing your selected chores every single day to ensure they stick in their minds. They will eventually do this on their own, without you having to tell them and also not expect a reward every time as well.

 

After all of this you don’t have time to keep the other parts of your house clean, then give your local Merry Maids a call. Find your local Merry Maids here.

If you have a quick 2 minutes – One of our franchises, Kingston Merry Maids has just celebrated receiving an award for their staff, read the full story here.