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House Cleaning Oakton – Holiday Hygiene

house cleaning Oakton holiday adviceHave you got a vacation coming up – or even a staycation, but one where you travel out of state? The House Cleaning Oakton experts here at Budget Maids have some advice for you. The last thing you want to come back with from your vacation is an upset stomach or worse.

Read on for our tips on how to keep your holidays healthy, hygienic and happy!

Room Safety

Check out your emergency exits at your accommodation as soon as you arrive.

If you have young children, make sure that they can’t get onto the balcony unless you are with them. And check that the balcony is safe to use – is it high enough? Is it wobbly? If you’re in any doubt, ask for another room, preferably on the ground floor.

Bed bugs

Unfortunately, bed bugs are on the rise. What with so many of us travelling nowadays, the little critters have decided to travel with us. Eww… and double eww…

Here’s what the House Cleaning Oakton experts recommend you do to avoid bringing the beasties home.

  1. Don’t put your luggage or clothing on the bed.
  2. Check the bedding. Look at the mattress, headboard and pillows. You’re looking for blood stains or small black dots. The critters themselves might be hidden along mattress seams. If you see any at all, alert the staff and ask for a new room.
  3. Wrap your clothing in plastic bags – and your suitcase too.

Swimming Pool

If it’s murky – don’t go in.

If you want to use the Jacuzzi, make sure you use one in a spotless hotel. And see if there’s a board up telling you times of hygiene/cleaning checks.

Watch out for trip and slip hazards round the pool.

The Buffet

An all-you-can-eat buffet can be the highlight of many people’s holidays, but be careful. You might not mind putting on a few pounds. You probably don’t want to end up with an upset stomach because of poorly prepared food.

  1. Hot food should be hot, and cold food cold.
  2. If there are flies or birds landing on the food, don’t touch it.
  3. Watch out for recycled food. Did you see sausages or chicken last night and now here it is again chopped into salads? Avoid.

We’re sure wherever you’re going, you’ll have a great time. Happy Vacation!

Here at Budget Maids we provide cleaning services in Arlington, house cleaning Oakton or maid services in Columbia and surrounds, and more. Why not give us a call today and let us help you ensure that your home is perfectly neat and tidy before you take your vacation?

 

Top Tips for Avoiding the January Blues

Vincent_Willem_van_Gogh_002We’re now well into 2016 – but are you feeling a little blue? After all the hype of Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year, it is normal to feel a little deflated and low.

Never fear though, the Budget Maids team (house cleaning Columbia, maid service Arlington, and house cleaning Olney experts) are here to help. Here are some tips for avoiding the January blues:

Check your diet: are you eating happy foods? Many people embark on crazy diets in January, but this isn’t always helpful. January is tough enough as it is without subjecting your body to serious deprivation. Instead, fill up on lots of goodies such as fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, beans and pulses, nuts, lean meat, fish and olive oil.

Do a good deed – volunteering is good for your mental health so why not find a local charity to get involved in? You could opt for helping out at a shelter or hospice, finding a mentoring programme for young people to find a way to be an active part of your local community.

Clear out clutter – why not opt for a “one in, one out” policy for the Christmas gifts and toys your family received? Clearing out clutter is therapeutic – and if you donate it to a shelter or charity shop, you’re combining two January blues prevention tips in one!

Fake it until you make it – if you plaster a smile on your face, eventually the smile will feel natural, and you will have cheered yourself up.

Do housework – OK, bear with us on this one. Experts often stress the importance of an active lifestyle (rather than being an active sedentary person, where most of your life is spent sitting but you exercise in the gym one a day) and doing chores throughout the day keeps you active. Put on some loud music and enjoy the lift you get from being active.

Meet up with friends. Social activities keep us stimulated and happy. If you are all feeling the pinch post-Christmas, why not meet up for a walk, or take turns to host coffee mornings? There are plenty of finance-free options for socializing if you put your mind to it.

Here at Budget Maids we provide cleaning services in Arlington, a maid service in Oakton or cleaning services in Columbia and surrounds, and more. Why not give us a call today and let us help you avoid the January blues with a sparkling clean home?!

Happy Thanksgiving – Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Pumpkin_pie_with_crust_detailNext week is Thanksgiving and here at Budget Maids, we’re looking forward to joining our families and friends for an extended and joyful celebration.

Like everyone else, we’re busy tidying up in preparation (remember, we provide cleaning services in Olney, maid services in Reston and more), but we will certainly be taking the time to make some pumpkin pie. It’s traditional after all and who doesn’t crave a slice of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving?!

Enjoy our pumpkin and we hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Ingredients

  • 2 cups of pureed cooked pumpkin, or canned pumpkin puree
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, plus the yolk from a third egg
  • 2tsps ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • ¼tsp freshly ground nutmeg (measure this precisely because it’s very strong)
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2-3 pods cardamom, seeds removed and ground to a powder
  • 1 ready-made pie crust (uncooked)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 425°F.
  2. Beat the eggs in a large bowl and mix in the sugars, salt, spices, and lemon zest. Mix in the pumpkin purée. Stir in the cream. Beat everything together until it is well mixed.
  3. Pour the filling into an uncooked pie crust. Bake at the high temperature for 15 minutes and then lower the temperature to 350°F and bake for 45 to 55 minutes more, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. (About half-way through the baking, you may want to put foil around the edges or use a pie protector to keep the crust from getting too browned.)
  4. Cool the pumpkin pie on a wire rack for two hours. Pumpkin pie will come out of the oven puffed up and it will deflate as it cools.
  5. Serve with whipped cream dusted with a little ground cinnamon (or cocoa powder, if you want to be really decadent).

Thanks to Simply Recipes for the inspiration behind our pumpkin pie.

Here at Budget Maids we provide cleaning services in Olney, a maid service in Potomac or cleaning services in Columbia and surrounds (ie VA and most of Maryland). Why not give us a call today and let us help you with all your cleaning up pre AND post-Thanksgiving?

 

 

Top Tips for Tidying your Home Office

Tidying up your office will save you time in the long run.

Tidying up your office will save you time in the long run.

Do you have a home office – if the answer is yes, then it might be the case that everything in your office is immediately locatable and whenever you need to find an essential piece of paper you can put your hand on it straight away…

That’s not the case? A neat and tidy home office saves a lot of time in the long run. It might be a little tedious to tidy it up in the first place but here at Budget Maids we reckon you’ll reap the benefits long term.

Here are our tops tips for tidying your home office.

  1. If you keep all your important papers in one drawer or file, then they are impossible to find quickly. Take the time to sort out papers into relevant classes – say, tax info, receipts, utility bills, health insurance, banking etc – then give them a drawer or box file all of their own and label it clearly.
  2. A fireproof, four-drawer filing cabinet is a good investment. This will make life easier for when you are looking for those essential documents.
  3. Can you reduce paperwork? Some services (such as utilities) provide bonuses or discounts for going online. Do this wherever possible.
  4. Set up an inbox which will keep all your “to do” items – but remember that once you have dealt with that item, then it must be filed.
  5. We recommend a clean desk policy for the end of each day. When you finish working in your office, clear the desk and any other office surfaces. Coming into a clean office is more uplifting than entering chaos!
  6. Take time regularly to throw out what you don’t need or use – old pens, stray paper clips, and any unnecessary paperwork, old magazines and broken equipment. Remember, a lot of this stuff can be recycled).
  7. How long should you keep papers? Here’s a quick guide: tax returns and supporting paperwork (seven years, or forever if you have the space); pay stubs (one year); investment statements (one year, or until you get your year-end statements; bank statements (one year); medical bills (one year); and credit card statements (one month – check them for accuracy).

 

Here at Budget Maids we provide cleaning services in Arlington, a maid service in Oakton or cleaning services in Columbia and surrounds, and more. Why not give us a call today and let us help you ensure that home office is perfectly neat and tidy?

 

 

 

Pancake Day Recipe

Blueberry_pancakes_(1)We thought we’d start today with a great pancake recipe to celebrate Shrove Tuesday.

The idea of Pancake Day came about as Shrove Tuesday is the day before Lent begins in the Christian calendar. Lent is the 40-day period before Easter Sunday and it is viewed as a season of reflection and preparation. Traditionally, religious observers fasted or abstained from certain foods during Lent – hence, Shrove Tuesday was the day to use up luxuries such as milk and eggs.

The following recipe will make eight pancakes, and we have suggested some fillings for them including the traditional lemon and sugar variation.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, sieved
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 2tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2tbsp melted butter
  • Vegetable oil, for greasing
  1. Mix the flour together with the salt, sugar and baking powder in a large bowl.
  2. Mix the egg with the milk and the melted butter in a jug until well combined.
  3. Pour the milk mixture into the flour and whisk until combined (a few lumps do not matter). Allow the batter to stand for a few minutes.
  4. Wipe a griddle pan with the vegetable oil and heat. Drop in two-three tablespoons of the mix at the time and allow to cook until you can see bubbles on the top of the pancakes. Flip over and cook until brown on the underside. It will take one to two minutes to cook on each side.

Suggested toppings –

  • Sprinkle each pancake with a tablespoon of sugar and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
  • Top pancakes with chocolate sauce and chopped bananas.
  • Use blueberry compote and two tablespoons of heavy cream, whipped.
  • And of course, the classic is grilled bacon and maple syrup!

Here at Budget Maids, we provide cleaning services in, a maid service in Arlington or cleaning services in Olney, house cleaning in Reston and cleaning services in Falls Church. Why not give us a call today and let us help you with healthy home maintenance?

 

Our Guide to Post-Christmas clutter clearing (II)

And now here at Budget Maids, let us introduce the second part of our two part Post-Christmas Decluttering guide. Hopefully by now you’ve already carried out many of the suggestions in the first instalment.

Two Women Playing Video Games in Messy Living Area

 

If you have, it’s time to get started on the second set so here goes:

Sell electronic gadgets off. Many Christmas presents these days consist of gadgets – new phones, iPads, watches etc. Instead of stashing the old one away in a desk drawer somewhere why not sell it off instead? Ebay is the perfect place. That way you’ll benefit from its current value as well as avoiding more clutter.

Avoid the post-Christmas clearance sales. Yes, it’s tempting to think you’ll pick something up at 50 or even 70 per cent less than it’s original value. But think about it. You may have the money to purchase it but do you have the space to store it? It has to go somewhere. Best solution sometimes is just to avoid the sales altogether.

Get rid of anything useless.  Are there ornaments sitting on shelves that you never notice but are loathe to throw out because they were a gift? If so, get rid of them now by taking to your local charity shop. It’s all about clearing the clutter and making space. You won’t have to dust them again and can put up something you like in that precious shelf space instead

How do you decide what to throw out? There is a checklist of questions here that you can ask yourself to help determine what should go and alternatively what should remain. For instance, do you use the particular item you’re focusing on? If not, do you like it? Do you have something similar? Does looking at it trigger a lot of pleasant memories for you? Does it annoy you? Answer these questions honestly and see if you still want to keep it at the end. Write them down if it helps.

Here at Budget Maids we provide cleaning services in Olney, a maid service in Potomac or cleaning services in Columbia and surrounds (ie VA and most of Maryland). Why not give us a call today and let us help you with all that post-Christmas decluttering?

Cultivate that Post-Christmas clear-up

It’s Christmas Eve and spirits are understandably high. Enjoy the next few days and don’t let the thought of the Post-Christmas clear-up get you down. To help you cope with the depressing thought of putting away those jolly decorations and finding homes for all the additional clothes, toys and toiletries that will soon be staking a claim in your home, we’ve prepared a Budget Maids guide to sorting post-Christmas Day. It’s in two parts and here’s the first:

christmasbauble

Make mini goals. If you’re the type of person who enjoys a challenge and ‘ticking things off’ then creating achievable targets is the way to go. For instance, tell yourself that come Epiphany you’ll get the decorations put away for another year by lunchtime. This includes sorting through any broken and tired looking objects and throwing them out NOW. On achieving this reward yourself with a favourite snack.

Get charitable. It’s time to pay a visit to your local charity shop. All those toys, games and books which haven’t seen the light of day – or the touch of tiny fingers – for months now would probably be appreciated by other youngsters. Donate them. Not only will it free up extra space in your home, but it’ll also give you a warm glow for being generous.

Enrol the kids. Getting your offspring to help remove the Christmas decorations can trigger a good old family chat about the festive season and their favorite parts. It’ll also make the job get done far quicker. Just make sure they handle those delicate bulbs gently!

Appreciate the space. The house may look emptier when the Christmas decorations are down, but it also looks bigger. Isn’t it nice to have all that extra room?!

Get more tidying tips from the Budget Maids team. We offer house cleaning in Vienna, cleaning services in Reston and a maids service in Arlington.

Our tips for your Christmas clean-up

We all want our houses spic and span for the festive season and Christmas Day in particular. Apart from relatives and friends we never know who else might pop in to visit.

ChristmasTree

So, here’s our Budget Maids quick tips to getting your household looking ship shape – without having to spend too many hours on it.

Forget cleaning the whole house. When short for time it makes sense to simply concentrate on the rooms which will be seen ie the sitting room and the dining area. The bathroom is another must-do.

Recycle the kids toys before Christmas Day. You know they’re going to get a whole lot more on Dec 25 and the old ones will take second place to the new toys anyhow. Therefore to ensure you have enough storage room for the new toys take all the ones they haven’t played with for months now down to the local charity shop. Or sell them on eBay.

Arrange those food cupboards now. Get rid of all the stuff past its sell-by date and make sure you have all the essentials sitting there ready to be grabbed when needed. This includes coffee, tea bags, condiments, sugar, flour etc.

Defrost the freezer in preparation for Christmas dinner. You know things get so busy in the last run-up to Christmas Day that you’ll never have time then. You’re going to need the extra space for the additional food you’ll have to store to feast the rest of the family who are bound to drop in over the festive season.

Get your storage organised. While pulling out the Christmas decorations give the cupboard a little tidy up while you’re at it. It’ll be easier to store Christmas presents there as the days go by and the number of wrapped presents start to mount up.

And on that note, make sure you have enough bin bags with which to throw out all that unwrapped Christmas paper and boxes. No-one wants all that hanging around the house for days.

For more cleaning and tidying tips – or for a professional house cleaning service for yourself (whether a one-of for Christmas or monthly) then do get in touch with the team here at Budget Maids. We provide cleaning services in Reston, a maids service in Falls Church and house cleaning in Arlington and surrounds. In fact, we serve all areas of Maryland and VA.

Get your oven grunge-free for christmas

Oven cleaning – it’s not something the majority of us look forward to. But let’s face it, it has to be done. And now, with the prospect of lots of Christmas cooking on the horizon, is probably as good a time as any. Why? Well, an oven that isn’t clean won’t distribute heat properly meaning the quality and taste of your food could be affected.

Ovencleaning

So, roll up the sleeves and lets get cracking. Read on for the Budget Maids blog to getting a grunge-free oven:

Keep it clean on a regular basis. This makes sense of course. It’s just finding the time to do so. Making the time is worth it though. It means that, come the end of the year, cleaning your oven won’t be as intensive and therefore will take half as long (meaning you will have time to enjoy a congratulatory glass of wine afterwards).

Chemical or natural cleaners? If using chemical cleaners it’s important to protect your hands using rubber gloves. To let them work their magic allow the chemicals to remain on the oven for a few hours or even overnight. Expect to engage lots of elbow grease when scrubbing off and rinsing.

Natural cleaners include white vinegar and baking soda. Make a thick paste using water and baking soda and apply to the inside of the oven. Leave for several hours then rinse off with a mixture of white vinegar and water via a bottle spray. The paste will fizz. Leave for another few hours then remove with a damp sponge. Voila.

Now you can be assured the only thing that could potentially ruin your Christmas dinner will be your own culinary talents rather than your oven!

For more cleaning tips from the Budget Maids team do check out our regular blog. It has plenty of ideas and advice for home cleaning. Alternatively if you simply don’t have time and would like to employ our services then please get in touch. We offer a maids service in Renton, house cleaning in Potomac and cleaning services in Falls Church and surrounds in VA and Maryland.

Keep your carpets in tip-top condition

Carpets may not be as fashionable as polished floors or tiles in some quarters these days ie the sitting room or hall way. However, we all love the feel of thick pile under our feet when we get out of bed in the morning.

CarpetCleaning

There’s also nothing better than snuggling into a warm rug in front of the fire on a cold day. So now that we’ve established we’ll never let our carpets go, here at Budget Maids we’ll tell you how to keep them clean and looking their best. Not only will this ensure that your carpet will be around for longer, but it will also make your home more hygenic and make future cleaning far easier.

How often should you vacuum a carpet?

Our recommendation is once a day for high-traffic areas such as the hallway and twice a week for the bedroom or study. Remember to use the brush attachments for particular areas such as the edges of carpets.

Clean stains straight away

Failure to clean up as soon as a liquid is spilled on the carpet can lead to more difficult removal and even, in the worst scenario, pemanent staining. The best way to do so is to blot rather than wipe up the stain using a towel. This will soak up the worst of the liquid and prevent it spreading. Next, add four teaspoons of white vinegar to a litre of water and a little carpet shampoo or washing up liquid.

Why professional cleaning is essential

Even if you do comply with the above, there is still a chance dust and bed mites can nestle into your carpets. The way to permanently remove these is to have your carpets professionally cleaned on an annual basis. Here at Budget Maids we offer professional carpet cleaning as well as a number other cleaning services such as a maids service in Falls Church, house cleaning in Potomac and general cleaning services in Arlington and throughout Maryland and VA.