Managing Allergies in Charlotte
A few years ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a comprehensive and fascinating report on allergies. This report indicated that over 17 million adults were diagnosed with hay fever in 2012 alone. Moreover, this report also indicated that 10% of the population had reported some sort of respiratory affliction due to allergies. I am not only the owner of The Organic Maids, but I am also one of those statistics. As a resident of Charlotte and an allergy sufferer, I can attest without question that allergies can be not only annoying but also debilitating.
As one of Charlotte’s best cleaning company, one of the goals of The Organic Maids is to help clients who suffer from allergies live and breathe a little easier in their homes. We have helped dozens of clients clean their homes in such a comprehensive manner that they have reported a significant reduction in asthma and allergies. Based on our experiences, we have observed and compiled a set of tips that might help you reduce your allergies in your home.
Remove Dust – Obviously, dust is a major source of allergies in any home. This removal of dust not only means vacuuming your carpet frequently, up to two times a week, and not only dusting your furniture, but also dusting hard-to-reach items such as ceiling fans, blinds, and light fixtures. Equally important is to vacuum at least once every couple of months the tops of cabinets in your kitchen if those cabinets are not flush with the ceiling. This is very important, as dust accumulates there and then gets dispersed when the HVAC system is on.
Vacuum, Vacuum, Vacuum: As indicated before, the home should be vacuumed one or two times a week during allergy season. This does not just include areas that are easily accessible, but also under the sofas and under the beds, as well as nooks and crannies behind plants and other floor items. We recommend using a vacuum cleaner that has HEPA filtering already installed. If you have a central vacuum system, this may actually work better, as the exhaust air is blown outside of your home. See our other posting on choosing the right vacuum.
Clean Bathrooms: One source of allergy is mold and mildew. Especially in Charlotte, where the humidity can be quite high, mold can develop quite easily inside the shower. In order to reduce the amount of mold, the showers do need to be cleaned at least once a week. We recommend that the showers be wiped down with a squeegee after each use. Furthermore, it may be beneficial for you to keep the exhaust fan on for several minutes after the shower and keep the shower doors open for as long as possible (be careful that no one accidentally walks into the open shower door!).
Wash Bed Sheets: Because dust mites can also form in beds, we recommend the changing of your sheets and washing in hot water one to two times a week during allergy season.
Declutter: Dust falls everywhere including on top and behind household items. The more items you have in your home, the more difficult and time consuming it is to remove dust from your home. Furthermore, clutter can lead to the presence of cockroaches, which is a further source of allergies for many sufferers. See our section on our 30-Day challenge to a decluttered household.
Should you need help cleaning your home, please do not hesitate to call us at The Organic Maids. Not only will we thoroughly clean your home, but we will use cleaning products that are organically-based and less likely to cause an allergic reaction.
9 Tips to Shorten Kitchen Cleanup
The kitchen is one of the most heavily-used rooms. It is not uncommon to spend half an hour to an hour every day just on kitchen cleanup. At The Organic Maids we have cleaned over 2000 different kitchens. Through our observations and experiences, we have some cleaning tips you can use to shorten cleanup time.
1. Cook less frequently, but in greater quantity. Instead of cooking 1 or more times a day, pick one or two days in a week and cook several meals simultaneously. Not only does that mean less cleaning but it also shortens the amount of time one spends cooking altogether.
2. Use a cover when heating food in the microwave. Sounds obvious right? More than 50% of the kitchens we clean do not use a cover. Food that splatters in the microwave quickly dries on the inner surfaces and is difficult and time consuming to clean. Simply putting a microwave cover over your food will prevent any splatter. Most covers are dishwasher-safe for quick cleaning.
3. Use microfiber cloths instead of paper towels. Microfiber cloths are far more durable and absorbent than paper towels making the scrubbing of surfaces easier. Furthermore, because they are reusable you will notice up to an 80% drop in paper towel usage saving money and reducing garbage. Amazon sells a generic brand as does Walmart, Costco and BJs. Interestingly the average American household spends $182 per year in paper towels. Microfiber towels cost about $15-$20 and are reusable for years.
4. Avoid using glass tables. Because glass tables are transparent, they require cleaning on both the top and the bottom. Cleaning the bottom side is very time-consuming because the supporting legs get in the way. Consider covering glass tables with a cloth that can be thrown into the washing machine or wiped.
5. Vacuum your floors. We find vacuuming allows a better and quicker floor cleanup. This is because the suction power of a vacuum is able to reach corners much more easily than a broom. Depending on your kitchen, a smaller vacuum may be needed as upright vacuums may be too large to do a good job.
6. Use ample cleaning solution on your counters, and let the solution soak while you do the dishes. This will help reduce the need to scrub surfaces and shortening the time to clean counters. We recommend that you purchase an empty spray bottle and a cleaning concentrate, which you can mix at home with water. This will be much less expensive than purchasing premixed bottles.
7. Consider upgrading your dishwasher. Many mid or lower-range dishwashers require dishes to be rinsed or even scrubbed before loading. Not only is this time-consuming, but it wastes water. Higher-end dishwashers are able to handle very dirty dishes, including dried egg yolk, without any pre-rinsing. This will reduce the time required to do the dishes by more than fifty percent. Always use hot water and a separate rinse aid.
8. De-clutter. During our home cleaning services, we have observed that there is a 20% difference in time when a house has few if any items on the counters versus a house that has many items on their counters. Consider carefully which items are actually used and remove any items rare used. You will be amazed how quickly you can clean your counters.
9. Cover your drip pans. For those who have electric stoves, there is usually a drip pan underneath the electric coil. Those pans get dirty and are difficult to clean. Consider covering the drip pans with aluminum foil before using. It is then a simple process of removing the foil when it gets dirty.
30 Day Challenge to a Less Cluttered Home
In the United States, the average household has close to 300,000 different items within it. To be fair, this number is a little disingenuous because it includes EVERYTHING: every fork, every spoon, every knife, every Lego piece etc. Nonetheless, this is still a very large number. Even more interesting is that since the 1950s, the average size of a home has tripled. With all that new space there should be enough room for all these items in our household, right? Well not exactly. We see across Charlotte a large volume of storage companies popping up everywhere to store excess items. As a home-cleaning company, we are very well aware of the fact that having a large number of items in a home not only makes it more difficult to clean, but also leads to other issues such as allergies because all the dust that gets trapped behind and on top of all these items.
There is a fascinating and entertaining Ted Talk by two gentlemen who call themselves the Minimalists. They talk about their own journey into owning less stuff and how it has improved their lives. Now, at The Organic Maids, we do NOT suggest that you go to their extreme. They take this concept almost to a spiritual, Zen like level. We are suggesting however that you take our 30-day challenge.
Our 30 day challenge works like this. On the first day, find one thing that does not provide you value or provide you happiness and get rid of it by donating it, selling it or throwing it out. On the second day, find two things to remove, on the third day find three things, on the fourth day, four things, etc. We of course recommend that you donate or sell items so that there is less impact to the environment.
This challenge is easy for the first 10 days or so where you will need find cumulatively 55 items to remove. However, we find that on day 11, things start to get a little bit more challenging and more difficult as one has to ask, “Does this really provide any value?” We are not trying to be philosophical but we are trying to be practical. At the end of 30 days, by doing this in a disciplined manner, you will find that 465 items have been removed.
Give it a try and let us know how it worked for you and whether you found any benefit from doing so. Many of our clients have found it to be helpful and we hope that you find it helpful too.
Perspectives on New Hardwood Floor Installation
Hardwood floors are by far one of the most beautiful upgrades that any home owner can do. In fact, many real estate agents believe that installing hardwood floors can increase the value of the home. However, most people do not realize that one of the most expensive aspects of new hardwood floor installation is the post installation cleanup. Furthermore, the choice of hardwood floors impacts how easy or difficult it is to keep your floors looking clean. Here are some tips from a Charlotte cleaning service The Organic Maids!
- Choose a “dustless” installation. Obviously, one of the most important things is to choose the right company to do the installation. However, all other things equal, we would always recommend that homeowners choose installers that use a dustless system. Although a dustless system is not perfectly dustless, it does reduce the amount of dust generated during installation. This will reduce the cost of post installation cleanup.
- Insist that all rooms and cabinets are sealed off and covered with plastic. Simply closing the door does not prevent the dusts from entering those rooms or cabinets. If those rooms are not sealed, the cleanup will take significantly longer and be significantly pricier.
- Ensure that all furniture and wall hangings are removed from the areas where new installation is going to occur. This just doesn’t mean putting them into a separate room but keeping it completely away from any of the installation. Many clients opt to put their furniture into the garage during installation when feasible.
- Understand the type of hardwoods you are purchasing. During the selection process, you may be considering many different things such as price, color and durability. Here are a couple of other items to consider from our perspective:
- Some laminate flooring and engineered hardwood tend to be more difficult to clean because items such as footprints and streaks appear quite readily.
- Dark colored wood, while gorgeous, will show any dirt/hair/imperfection very easily requiring cleanup to be much more frequent in order to get that clean look.
At The Organic Maids, post-construction cleanup and post-renovation cleanup are a pleasure to do. We have cleaned dozens of homes in the Charlotte area that were full of dust and made those homes virtually dust free. During our normal cleanings, we ensure all hardwood floors are treated with care and meticulously cleaned each and every time.
A Quick Way to Clean Barbeque Grills
If you are like many Charlotte residents, you like to spend the summers grilling in the outdoors especially during summer holidays such as the 4th of July or Labor Day. One of the biggest challenges of grilling frequently is how to clean the grill when the food from previous grilling sessions is stuck on firmly. Not being a fan of using harsh chemicals, The Organic Maids searched for an effective and nontoxic way to clean those grills.
Obviously, the best way to keep the grills clean is to brush them right after each use while the grill is still warm. However, many of us do not do that because we are tending other tasks such as serving the food we just cooked.
A simple way to clean the metal grill is to cover the grills completely with aluminum foil. Then turn on all burners and set them to high.
Leave the barbecue on for 10 to 15 minutes, and then let turn off the burners and let the barbecue cool. Carefully remove the aluminum foil, and you will see that all the residue stuck to the grills has turned to white ash that is easily wiped or blown off. It is that simple. One thing to note, be sure to use a timer to remind you to turn off the barbecue after 15 minutes otherwise you may forget and waste gas.
Choosing the right Vacuum Cleaner
For many home owners, house cleaning in Charlotte can sometimes be a daunting task given the amount of pollen that enters a home during pollen season. We are often asked, what is our recommendation for vacuum cleaners? Given the sheer number of choices on the market, in different configurations and different price points, choosing the right vacuum can be confusing. As one of Charlotte’s premier cleaning service, we are happy to offer our thoughts.
One, of the first things to consider is whether to choose a central vacuum system or an upright or canister vacuum. From our perspective, there are two major benefits of having a central vacuum system.
- The noise factor is significantly less than a standard upright or canister vacuum. This is because the vacuum engine is kept in the garage or basement. You will be amazed at how quiet it is to vacuum with a central vacuum system.
- Dust removal is better with a central vacuum system. This is because the exhaust of a central vacuum blows air outside so even if the filter does not catch the dust, the dust ends up outside your home. An upright or canister vacuum relies heavily on its filtering system to remove the dust. Even HEPA filters are not 100% effective in removing all dust.
- Central vacuum systems are very costly to repair. If the piping becomes clogged (which admittedly is rare), the cost is even more significant.
However, there are some significant drawbacks to a central vacuum system. These drawbacks lead most consumers to purchase an upright or canister vacuum.
- Depending on the size of your home, it can cost several thousands of dollars to have a central vacuum installed. This is particularly true if you are considering having a central vacuum installed after the home has been constructed.
- Another significant drawback is the suction power of a central vacuum system tends to be a lot less than an upright or canister vacuum. This is because the vacuum motor has to suck air through tens or even hundreds of feet of piping. Think of it this way. Is it easier to drink water from a glass using an eight-inch straw or an eight-foot straw? It is essentially the same thing. The lack of suction power means that you’re often going over the same area twice and not necessarily getting as deep of a cleaning as you would with some of the more powerful uprights or canister vacuums.
- Central vacuum systems are very costly to repair. If the piping becomes clogged (which admittedly is rare), the cost is ever more significant.
If you are choosing to purchase a canister or upright vacuum, please note that there is very little evidence that a vacuum that costs more than $250 does a better job. Certainly, the cheap vacuum cleaners have very low suction power and tend to fail often. Although we don’t necessarily recommend particular brands, at The Organic Maids, we use the Shark vacuum systems. They can be purchased easily between $150 to $200, are light weight, have high suction power, have multiple filtering systems, do not require bags and do a great job of vacuuming carpets and floors. If you have a smaller apartment or a lot of items, you may consider getting a canister-style vacuum. Electrolux makes an affordable canister style that is perfect for small spaces.
Generally speaking, battery-operated vacuums do not have the same suction capacity as a corded vacuum. However, battery-operated vacuums do provide the convenience of being able to navigate freely throughout the home.
If carrying vacuums up and down the stairs is one of the reasons why you prefer getting a central vacuum system, consider this. For far less cost, one can purchase two or three vacuum cleaners and keep them in various locations around the home and not spend nearly as much as one would with a central vacuum system. This is clearly a benefit for most people. Be sure to choose vacuums that are not heavy.
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