Guide to Menu Planning

We're not sure you'll be having these foods for breakfast...

We’re not sure you’ll be having these foods for breakfast…

Fall already… where did the summer go? If you’re anything like us at Budget Maids you will be wondering what on earth happened to this year as the countdown to Christmas and the holiday season begins…

We’re all about offering you quick and easy cleaning tips and advice on this blog, but one idea you might like to consider in addition is menu planning. Menu planning can free up a lot of your time, not to mention saving you money so we always recommend it.

 

 

Here’s our guide to menu planning.

  • Start with your family’s likes and dislikes. It’s no good planning to make lots of curries if your family doesn’t like spicy foods. List the favourite dishes and add in one or two from your recipe collection, just to mix things up.
  • Think about your week ahead – if you have a busy week coming up, you’ll need meals and recipes that are very quick and easy to do, ready-made burgers and buns for example, ready cooked chicken or omelettes with salad.
  • Why not involve the whole family? Ask your husband if he’d like to cook a dish (if he doesn’t already!) or your older kids, and ask for any meal requests.
  • Write down all your planned recipes and meals for the week, including breakfasts and lunches. If you want to be really geeky, you could put the meals and links to the recipes on a shared calendar so the whole family can see it.
  • Are there dishes that can be made in large quantities – such as stews and casseroles? These are great because you can make up huge batches and store them in the freezer.
  • Now list all the ingredients you need for each dish, and check this against what you already have in your store cupboards.
  • Shop for the ingredients, sticking strictly to what’s on your list as this will help you keep shopping bills to a minimum.

 

Here at Budget Maids we provide cleaning services in Arlington, a maid service in Vienna or cleaning services in Falls Church and surrounds, cleaning services in Olney and Oakton and more. Why not give us a call today and let us help you with all your household cleaning tasks so you can get on with menu planning and more?

 

The Best Bathroom De-Cluttering Ideas

clutter bathroomHands up who’s guilty of bathroom clutter?

Many of you who have put a hand up may be female, but the huge growth in popularity of male grooming in the last decade or so, means that over-proliferation of products can just as likely be attributed to the man of the house as it is to the woman. Here are our top tips for the best bathroom de-cluttering ideas.

Make Your Products Fit In

First off all, decanting products can offer a perfect solution for storage. Buy matching soap dispensers that can also double up for all your lotions and potions and give a more uniform look to your bathroom.

Employ ruthlessness when it comes to maintaining tidiness in the bathroom. Storing your best toiletries out of sight in custom-built storage helps to maintain the clean, designer look of a bathroom.

Banish “Bathroom Creep”

It’s a good idea to decide what belongs in the bathroom – and what definitely doesn’t. Many of us can admit to “bathroom creep”, where more and more products find themselves in the bathroom. Toiletries are fair enough, but should make-up be kept there? And if you don’t have lots of storage don’t keep your toiletry spares in the bathroom.

Another way to instantly de-clutter a bathroom is to look at the towels you are storing in there. Is it necessary to keep them all in there, or should you keep most of them in a cupboard outside of the bathroom?

Cleaning Products Storage

When it comes to your bathroom cleaning products – sprays for the shower and bath as well as air freshener and toilet cleaner belong in the bathroom. The hard-core cleaners though, such as drain cleaners and sink unblockers should be stored in a safe place elsewhere – out of the reach of little fingers.

One final suggestion for storage is hooks for your bath robes. It may sound simple, but being able to hang your robe up while bathing or showering feels very “hotel-like” and therefore luxurious.

Here at Budget Maids we provide cleaning services in Oakton, a maid service in Arlington or cleaning services in Columbia and surrounds, and more. Why not give us a call today and let us help you ensure that your bathroom is sparkling clean and clutter-free?

Pic – thanks to Splunkton on Flickr

 

Top Tips for Cleaning Home Appliances!

You might need to use drastic measures to clean your washing machine.

You might need to use drastic measures to clean your washing machine.

It happens to us all – one day we’re using the washing machine, the dishwasher or the refrigerator and suddenly we notice just how dirty it is…

Whether you’re a domestic homeowner, a landlord, or a tenant looking to get your home ship-shape before moving to somewhere else, the idea of cleaning home appliances can be a daunting one for anyone.

 

If you have a hectic schedule or a particular dislike of such jobs, Budget Maids®

can definitely help as we specialize in providing a professional service which will leave your home appliances spick and span. But for those of you who want to tackle the job yourselves, here are our top tips for cleaning home appliances.

Dishwasher

Dirty dishwashers can’t clean crockery and cutlery properly – and food morsels can build up inside them, leading to unpleasant odors. Replace the dishwasher salt and the rinse aid regularly (we advise you to do this once a month) and clean the filter out as that’s where those food morsels can hide. Finish up the job by cleaning around door edges to prevent rotting and buff the fitting of the door. Job done!

Fridge/Freezer Firstly, turn the appliance off, remove all the food, and take out the drawers and shelves. Leave to defrost for a few hours and then clean the interior with warm soapy water. Diluted sodium bicarbonate can also do the trick and it’s also good for removing bad odors.

Leave the door open to allow the interior to dry and scrub the shelves and drawers in the sink in warm, soapy water. Rinse well, dry and replace. Turn the fridge back on and wait for the temperature inside to drop to the appropriate point before putting your food back in.

Washing Machine Wipe the inside of the rubber band surrounding the opening to prevent water residue from settling and forming a grimy, moldy layer that could lead to rot. About once a month, clean the powder holder. Remove it from the washing machine and rinse it in the sink with warm, soapy water.

Dislodge the soap-encrusted areas and then replace. Use a sponge and a bowl of warm soapy water to wipe down the entire front of the machine once every two weeks and then polish with a micro fiber cloth for shine.

Handheld Housekeeping Devices:

Vacuum cleaner – empty the contents after every use, check the brushes aren’t obstructed by large debris, and check the cable for cracks or kinks.

Iron – after use, pour out any leftover water and apply a bespoke iron-cleaning solution to get rid of limescale and give the base a wipe with a wet cloth.

Blender – disconnect the grinder from the handle and soak the blending attachment in a bowl of hot, soapy water. Carefully remove the stray bits of food with a sponge, dry and reattach to the blender.

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 your home appliances are sparkling clean and working efficiently for you and your family? 

Horrible Cleaning Jobs Made Simple

Don't let crumbs build up in your toaster.

Don’t let crumbs build up in your toaster.

Here at Budget Maids, we love our work – no really, there is something very satisfying about cleaning and our customers always appreciate returning to a clean home.

But we do know there are certain horrible cleaning jobs that everyone hates – from cleaning the oven, to mopping up after pet ‘accidents’, some chores are truly hideous…

 

Read on to discover our suggestions for making the cleaning jobs you hate much more manageable:

Emptying the vacuum bag or bin. Once the bag is more than half full it begins to lose suction power and it needs to work harder – the risk then being that the motor will burn out. Try to empty it every month, or every two weeks if you have pets.

To empty the bag, run the vacuum for 30 seconds to get rid of any residual dirt and then unplug. If you have a disposable bag, stick duct tape over the hole where the bag connects to the vacuum to minimize the spread of dust.

For a reusable bag, take the vacuum outside and place the bag inside a garbage bag and shake out. Rinse in hot water and allow to dry out before reattaching.

De-crumbing the toaster. This job is important because the crumbs can burn and the smoke will set off your smoke alarm. Unplug the toaster and remove the crumb tray, throwing away the crumbs. Wash and dry the tray and turn the toaster upside down to remove any remaining crumbs. Try to do this every month.

Cleaning heat and air-conditioning vents and radiators. As dust builds up, your heating and cooling systems need to work harder – and your fuel bills rise. Try to clean them at least once a year – two if possible.

For the vents, turn off the heating or air conditioning and use the crevice tool of a vacuum over the floor and base vents. For ceiling vents, spread a sheet below and protect your head with a cap and use the crevice tool or a special duster to reach.

Remove the vent covers and wash with warm, soapy water. Replace when dry.

For radiators, dust between the fins with a bottle brush but don’t use water, which can cause the radiators to rust.

What’s your least favorite cleaning job? And do you have any tips that might help other people with it? Let us know!

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 the very worst cleaning jobs.

Pic thanks to John Bell.

 

 

How to Get Your Kids to Clean Up

You see? We gotta put all the sand in this bucket and that will make mom happy.

You see? We gotta put all the sand in this bucket and that will make mom happy.

We love the summer vacation here at Budget Maids, but there is no doubt that this time of year brings its own challenges.

If you’ve got the kids at home, then they are probably creating a little bit more mess than usual here and there. Hey, it’s no biggie and kids will be kids, but there are some tips and tricks you can use to avoid major fall-outs and tantrums (yours!) and keep everybody onside when it comes to a clean and tidy home.

 

 

Here’s how to get your kids to clean up…

New rules for the holidays. You probably have cleaning rules that are supposed to work all year round, but it can be worth re-establishing the rules at the start of the vacation so the whole family knows what to expect – such as putting away toys when they have finished with them, alerting you to spills and putting clothes in the laundry basket when they are dirty.

Follow through your rules. It’s all very well telling your kids what you expect, but you must all tell them what will happen if rules aren’t followed – and then do what you said you would do. For example, you might say that if clothes are left lying round more than two times then pocket money or an allowance will be docked. Decide the consequence and stick to it.

Do not clean up after your kids if they don’t do what you ask. This teaches them that they can ignore your rules, or if they whine about it or procrastinate they will get away with it. Remember – you told them the consequence and now you must carry it out.

Make cleaning up fun. This works well for younger kids – you can turn it into a competition. Who can pick up the most toys in two minutes, for example, or you can put on some music and turn it into a dance/cleaning combo!

Make yourself a good model. If you are always complaining about cleaning and tidying up, your kids will pick up on that message and think of it as a horrible chore. If you do it cheerfully, however, it will look like cleaning isn’t that bad – and make your kids more likely to want to do it. Remember too, that cleaning is a life skill. It keeps people healthy through the avoidance of germs, it gives them a sense of order and organisation and it can give them feelings of self-worth from tackling large, or difficult cleaning jobs.

Here at Budget Maids we provide cleaning services in Oakton, a maid service in Arlington or cleaning services in Columbia and surrounds, and more. Why not give us a call today and let us help you ensure that your house is kept clean all-year round?

What methods do you use to get your kids to clean up? We’d love to know. Tell us in the comments below.

 

 

Top Tips for BBQ Cleaning

A clean BBQ means better-tasting food.

A clean BBQ means better-tasting food.

Planning a barbecue for Independence Day?

Barbecues or BBQs are kinda traditional at this time of the year and here at Budget Maids we’re certainly planning a smoky feast of our own, but if there is one task we need to get out of the way fast – it’s the dreaded BBQ cleaning one!

 

Too much burnt on grease and food residue will make for a very smoky BBQ, can impair the flavor of your food and will stop your BBQ working as well as it should. Read on for our top tips for BBQ cleaning:

  • Be careful to follow the manufacturers’ instructions for your specific barbecue (and if you have lost these, remember that many manuals can be found online). Generally though, these instructions can be followed.
  • Ideally, clean the BBQ after every use by washing the cooled grill with warm soapy water. This will prevent food residue build up. A wire brush comes in very useful here.
  • Carbonizing the BBQ helps – you either turn the gas on full, or you put in charcoals, wait for them to get red-hot and then close the lid. Leave for 20 minutes, then open the BBQ and allow to cool fully before cleaning.
  • After rinsing and drying grills, rub on a light coating of neutral vegetable oil such as Canola or ground nut oil. This will help to prevent rusting.
  • One handy tip to getting rid of excess grease from grill trays is to pour it off (when it’s cooled down of course) onto cat litter if you have it, as this soaks up the grease. If not, pour out the grease into the bin or empty plastic bottles for disposal.
  • Newspaper is another ally in the BBQ grime fight. Soak old newsprint in water, place it in your BBQ as it cools down and then clean as normal. The newspaper will have steam cleaned your BBQ for you, so cleaning should be a lot easier.

Enjoy your 4th July Celebrations!

Here at Budget Maids we provide cleaning services in Reston, a maid service in Olney or cleaning services in Columbia and surrounds, and more. Why not give us a call today and let us help you ensure that your BBQ is clean and ready for summer fun?

 

 

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?

 

 

 

Top Tips for Kitchen Cleaning

Sponges can be a magnet for bacteria.

Sponges can be a magnet for bacteria.

Your kitchen is likely to be one of the most frequented rooms in your home – from working, to socializing to dining – everything gets done in the kitchen so it’s important to keep it clean.

Here we share our top tips for kitchen cleaning with you…

 

 

  1. Kitchen cleaning should end with what is likely to be the dirtiest part of the kitchen – your stove, to stop you spreading dirt and grease around the rest of your kitchen. Begin though, by soaking pans and racks in hot soapy water to make them easier to clean when you have finished.
  2. Kitchen sinks can have more bacteria in them than your toilet seat! You can create your own disinfectant for the sink by cleaning with soap and water first, then applying a spray of vinegar, followed by a spray of hydrogen peroxide and leaving it to air dry. For safety, don’t mix the vinegar and hydrogen peroxide together.
  3. A few drops of mineral oil on a soft cloth can be used to keep stainless steel sinks shiny and help prevent water build-up and mold.
  4. To get rid of smells in the disposal unit, drop in a cut-up lemon, some salt and some ice cubes.
  5. Do service washes for dish-washers and washing machines. You should do a service wash on both on a regular basis to keep the machines clean and efficient. For washing machines, this involves running an empty cycle on the highest setting, and for dishwashers you should run an empty cycle with a specialist cleaning product.
  6. If you use a sponge for cleaning, these should be disinfected every evening as they can quickly develop a build-up of bacteria. Rinse and squeeze it out, and then place in the microwave for a minute to disinfect it.
  7. Microfiber towels provide a more cost-effective cleaning solution than paper towels. Machine wash and then hang out to dry.
  8. To make life easier in general, clean up as you go. Fill your sink full of hot, soapy water when preparing dinner and fill with the cooking utensils, pans and your plates as you go.

Here at Budget Maids we provide cleaning services in Oakton, a maid service in Arlington or cleaning services in Columbia and surrounds, and more. Why not give us a call today and let us help you ensure that your kitchen is sparkling clean?

Picture thanks to Horia Varlan.

Top Tips for Washing Up the Dishes

dish washingSometimes we like to go back to basics with our blogs here at Budget Maids, so this time we are focusing on washing up!

For those of you not lucky enough to own a dish-washer, washing up is usually a daily chore. Of course, you can choose to leave dishes stacking up in the sink encrusted with food but if the hygiene aspect doesn’t get to you, how about this food for thought… there is a connection between clutter and over-eating so keeping a neat and tidy home could provide you with that little bit of extra help to lose weight.

Anyway, here are our top tips for washing up.

First of all, it is best to wash your dishes in temperatures of approximately 60 degrees C so that you are able to get rid of all the germs and bugs. Hot temperatures and soapy water can dry out your skin, so wear washing up gloves every time to protect your hands.

You may have a dishwasher, but it’s best to wash glasses by hand as well, to prevent breakages. Wash glasses first (before you start on the dinner plates or dirty pots) and wash in very hot water. You only need to apply only small amounts of foam to the rim and bottom of the glass and make sure you rinse them well in hot water, drying them afterwards with a lint-free cloth for best results.

Silver cutlery also responds better to hand-washing, although you can wash silver cutlery in the dishwasher (but make sure that you don’t put it in the same basket as stainless steel cutlery).

A good washing-up liquid will remove most dirt and grease, but for a little extra help with burnt-on food, put baking soda onto a scouring pad and rub the burnt on food with this before washing with hot water and washing up liquid.

For mugs or cups with coffee or tea stains on them, rub the mug or cup with half a lemon before washing with soap and hot water. The lemon juice should help shift stains easily.

Here at Budget Maids we provide cleaning services in Reston, a maid service in Olney or cleaning services in Columbia and surrounds, and more. Why not give us a call today and let us help you ensure washing up is problem-free?

Six Top Tips for Student Cleaning

Setting a microwave on fire can be an occasional hazard of student living!

Setting a microwave on fire can be an occasional hazard of student living!

Are you a student living in shared accommodation? You might be happy to live in squalor (well, there are essays to write and parties to go to) but if you do want to live in a clean house, we have some great, cheap student cleaning tips to help you…

  1. Reheating all those pizzas and late-night kebabs can take its toll on your microwave, which will build up food stains and smells. One way to prevent it is to use vinegar or lemon juice. Fill a bowl with water, add a couple of tablespoons of vinegar (or lemon juice) and heat the water on the high setting for four or five minutes. Leave for half an hour and all stains and smells will be easy enough to wipe away.
  2. If you’re writing out your essays, or jotting on notepads you will need to watch out for ink stains on clothing. A can of cheap hairspray sprayed on the stain can help to remove ink stains.
  3. Plugholes can get blocked easily – with hairs, food and… er, worse. But a halved tennis ball can substitute as a sink plunger and it will be free-flowing in no time. Vinegar and baking soda mixed in a solution and left in the hole for 15 minutes before clearing with boiled water will clean lingering smells.
  4. Want to make your bathroom and kitchen faucets sparkle? Here’s a neat trick for you… Take an old toothbrush and lad it up with toothpaste (especially those baking soda toothpastes) and use this to scrub them. They will gleam!
  5. Another weird trick is to use the freezer for cleaning your jeans. If you can’t stick them in the washing machine (and naturally, this is the best option), then placing the jeans in a plastic bag and putting them in the freezer overnight will make them clean and fresh.
  6. If you are hitting the midnight oil or revising for exams, you might be knocking back the Joe to help you cope. But coffee stains can be a side effect. Baby wipes will mop up the coffee and clear the stain so keep a packet handy.

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). So if you and your fellow students want to club together for cleaning services so you can get on with your studying and social activities, why not give us a call today?