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?

 

Removing Red Wine Stains and More…

red-wine-spillAccidents happen – and red wine stains certainly fall into this category. Whilst reality TV stars may make the scenario of spilt wine non-accidental (see The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills season 5 for example), for most of us the wine stain is a little accident – albeit perhaps more likely when our co-ordination skills are compromised!

But red wine spillage needn’t be a disaster for you or your flawless white linen. Here are easy ways to remove it and other nasty offenders:

Removing red wine with club soda. Apply club soda to the stain, covering the whole mark with the soda. Keep applying the soda until the stain has started to disappear. If the stain is on clothing, you should leave it for half an hour and then put it through a cool wash.

Removing red wine with salt and club soda. Again, apply the soda and then a spoonful of salt, covering the stain completely. Allow to soak in – you should be able to see the stain colouring the salt pink. Leave for half an hour, scrape the salt away and wash the garment on a cool wash.

Removing red wine with milk. Pour milk onto the stain, covering it and leave for an hour. Blot away the excess milk and put the garment on a cool wash.

Tomato sauce stains. Many of our favourite dishes contain tomato sauce, but it can leave nasty orange stains behind. If you spill tomato sauce on a garment, sponge the stain with cold water as soon as possible and then rub with a lemon slice or sponge on lemon juice. Rinse well and allow to dry. Alternatively, pre-soak your garment in a solution of warm water, dishwashing liquid and white wine vinegar (one quart water, 1/2 teaspoon and 1tbsp) for 15 minutes. Rinse then launder.

Curry sauce stains. Curry sauces often feature the bright yellow spice turmeric, which will stain anything and everything! If you spill sauce on your clothing, dab on a little biological laundry detergent and leave for 15 minutes before washing. You can also try lemon juice on the stain. If you spill it on surfaces, apply anti-bacterial spray and leave for a few minutes before wiping off. A mix of bicarbonate of soda and water can also work.

 

Here at Budget Maids we provide cleaning services in Oakton, a maid service in Arlington or cleaning services in Potomac and surrounds, and more. Why not give us a call today and let us help you ensure your house is stain-free?

 

Top 10 Shower Cleaning Tips

ShowerheadOne of the treats of staying in a hotel is the scrupulously clean shower and bathroom (well, unless you have a predilection for dodgy hotels…), so why not extend this treat to your own home with a sparkling clean shower cubicle?

Here are Budget Maid’s top 10 tips for shower cleaning, ensuring that your shower is a pleasure to use:

  1. First of all, invest in a cheap squeegee. This can be used every day to remove excess water from glass screens and it will prevent hard water stains. This only takes a minute or so, but it makes a real difference to the look of your screen.
  2. Another option is micro-fibre towel. Wipe down the screen after every shower, squeezing out the excess water as you go.
  3. Shower mats prevent the transfer of dirt from feet to shower (which can be an issue if you spend a lot of time barefoot in the house) or you can ask everyone who uses the shower to stand on a wash cloth. This will help to keep the surface clean.
  4. Soap scum builds up quickly if you use bars of soap rather than liquid soap in the shower. If you do use bars of soap, then use a wash cloth to wipe the ledge under the soap every time you shower.
  5. If you use a detachable shower head, detach it from the ceiling and insert it in a plastic bag filled with a mix of cider vinegar and water and secure it with a rubber band. Leave overnight and this will leave you with a clean shower head in the morning.
  6. If you have shower curtains you can wash these in the washing machine, along with a couple of old towels (which will act as scrubbers on the curtains) with normal detergent.
  7. The door or window to the bathroom/shower room should be left open for at least an hour a day to prevent the build-up of humidity and development of mold.
  8. Dip a grout brush in bleach or specialist anti-mold cleaner and use this to clean discoloured grout. Grout should be re-sealed or replaced every six months.
  9. You can use an old toothbrush to clean tiles.
  10. A large crochet hook can be very useful for fishing out hairs from the shower plug hole, and it is a good idea to do this job regularly to prevent drain blockage.

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 get hotel-clean showers throughout your house?

 

Pets and Home Hygiene

cat in kitchenMany of the clients we work with have pets – a welcome addition to the home, but they do bring their own challenges to household cleaning and hygiene.

Pets are very popular in the US. It is thought that 37-47 percent of households have a dog, and 30-37 percent of households have a cat (this translates as roughly 70-80 million dogs and 74-96 million cats according to the American Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).

The risks with animal ownership are issues such as ringworm which can be passed from animal to human; and the more serious toxoplasmosis, a parasite found in cat feces which is dangerous to pregnant women, and toxocariasis, an infection in dog feces caused by worms which can lead to blindness.

If you own a little or large bundle of fluff, here are some tips for how to juggle pets and home hygiene.

Simple hygiene is the first goal – washing hands and ensuring your children do after handling and feeding pets is good practice.

Cleaning out pet litter trays should be done by adults (unless a woman is pregnant). Feces should be scooped out on a daily basis, and the litter changed three or four times a week – daily, if there is more than one cat using it.

Keep cats off kitchen surfaces and dining tables if at all possible. It’s best to deter this behaviour from the beginning, but if you put foil on the tops of your surfaces this can discourage cats as they don’t like the feel and noise of it.

Never leave food out in the kitchen and on surfaces, as this will encourage your cat to jump up, looking for food he can steal!

Cat and dog hair is a real issue in homes so regular vacuuming is a must, but there are also other ways to pick up stubborn hairs. Running a balloon over a carpet or rub will help pick up hairs because of the static electricity, as can sprinkling the surface with a light coating of baking soda and then vacuuming. Grooming your pet regularly also helps reduce hair shedding.

If you cat or dog has a little accident in the house, make sure you clean it up as soon as possible. It is also important to use a product which contains ingredients that will get rid of the ammonia in urine because pets will return to the same place to pee if they can smell it. (Remember, their sense of smell is much more powerful than ours.)

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 house hygiene needs?

How to Clean your Fridge

fridgeThere are some cleaning jobs that are regular – washing up the dishes, for example – and other jobs that are more occasional.

Cleaning the refrigerator comes under the category of occasional, but how often is occasional – particularly when it comes to a domestic item that has a key role in your family’s health and safety?

Of course, that is a subjective question. In a busy household where family members are opening and closing the refrigerator all the time then cleaning requirements are greater than in a bachelor household where the fridge is used solely for the storage of beers (we hope we are not stereotyping bachelors here!).

In general though, it is a good idea to aim for cleaning the fridge once a week. Here’s how to do it:

  • Remove all the food from the fridge, take out the shelves and wash them in warm soapy water.
  • Use warm, soapy water to clean the interior of the fridge. Bicarbonate of soda will help shift stains (mix with water to make a paste). Remember to rinse well and dry everything.
  • If your fridge smells, soak a cotton wool ball or sponge in lemon juice and store in the fridge for several hours.
  • Use a white wine or cider vinegar solution to clean the stainless steel elements of your fridge.
  • Clean the door seals, as they can harbour germs, dirt and food debris. Clean with a sponge or cloth and soapy water and dry thoroughly.
  • DO NOT use bleach or household disinfectants inside your fridge, as traces will end up in your food.
  • Make sure all of your leftovers and food are stored in airtight, clean containers as this is the best way to maintain fridge hygiene.

In general, you should keep an eye on everything in the fridge – throwing out items that have gone past their use-by date or have turned moldy. It’s easy to forget opened jars of sauces and condiments, but keep a regular check on them.

Clean spills as soon as they happen because they will contaminate other things in the food and result in bad smells.

Here at Budget Maids we provide cleaning services in Columbia, a maid service in Arlington or cleaning services in Oakton, Reston, Vienna and a host of other places. Why not give us a call today and let us help you with all your cleaning needs?

Pic thanks to Flickr.

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?

 

Spring-cleaning your love life

Valentines_CandyDoes your romance need a spring clean? As Valentine’s Day will soon be upon us, here at Budget Maids we thought we would take the opportunity of sharing our top tips for spring-cleaning your love life!

Spring cleaning is thought of as a way of refreshing and rejuvenating your home – and the same advice can be applied to relationships. Just as our homes need regular clear-outs of clutter, so does the way we interact with our nearest and dearest.

Firstly, let’s look at relationship clutter. Just as many of us are guilty of holding onto too many things that are neither useful nor beautiful, the same hoarding tendencies can happen in a marriage or relationship.

Are you holding on to past resentments? Are they clouding the way you feel about your partner? It’s time to get them out in the open and clear the air. Remember, any discussion should be neutral – use lots of ‘I’ words and ‘I feel’, rather than ‘your mother always criticizes me, why don’t you stand up for me?’.

Instead try, ‘I feel that your mother criticizes me a lot, what do you think – or could you stand up for me?’

Past resentments can fester, which is why it is important to talk about your feelings. This is two-way traffic, and you need to be open to your spouse or partner also wanting to raise issues.

A beautiful house needs regular housework – small tasks carried out on a regular basis are much easier than having to do a huge clean every few months or so, and much less daunting.

The same can be said of intimacy. Small, regular gestures of intimacy create closeness – gestures as simple as cuddling up next to your partner when watching TV, or kissing goodbye and hello every day, and holding hands when out walking are gestures you should adopt.

When small gestures are part of your daily life, it makes the bigger intimacy gestures and talks easier.

Many couples fall into the trap of losing sight of each other’s thoughts, wishes and desires because conversations can become limited to domesticity – with people reduced to exchanging details about housework, their whereabouts or the kids.

Recall your early dating days and ask all the questions you used to ask then – questions about your partner’s hobbies and interests, ask them what they think of a TV program, ask them what they haven’t done in a long time and what they would love to do.

Finally, cleanliness in the home is wonderfully conducive to romance. Without the distraction of mess and clutter, you are free to focus on the man or woman in front of you.

Have a fun Valentine’s Day folks!

 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 create a clean and tidy home for you and your loved ones?