Spring Cleaning Checklist 2017

Spring Cleaning Checklist

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It’s that time of year! The sun is finally awarding us with warmth, the days are getting longer, and Spring is officially here! Now that we have all this beautiful light shining into our homes, it’s time to do some deep cleaning. Todays blog is going to be a comprehensive Spring Cleaning Checklist that you can use to help ensure that you clean everything necessary. We are going to break it into manageable chunks, so that you don’t end up slaving for full days trying to get everything done in one go. So without further ado, let’s get cleaning!

Spring Cleaning Checklist

Day 1 – Dusting High Surfaces

It’s day one, and we definitely do not want to get burned out quickly. Therefore, we are going to keep things easy today. Grab your duster, preferably one with an extendable handle so you can reach higher areas, and a step stool (or ladder). We are going to clear all the dust and dirt from the highest surfaces in your home (which follows our working top down principle). Begin by dusting surfaces such as ceiling fans, chandeliers, light fixtures above mirrors in bathrooms, the top of all door frames, and all other various high surfaces in your home. Today is also going to be the optimal time to dust and clean all your blinds, assuming you have them in front of any windows. Blinds sit in the sun all day, resulting in “baked on” dust that is much harder to remove that other dusting tasks. I often will utilize a little cleaning product, such as Murphys Oil, to help clean tougher blinds. If you have any questions about using a wood cleaner in addition to your dusting, check out our guide here. Obviously, it is up to you to make sure you find all the nooks and crannies, just focus all your effort today on dusting the hardest to reach areas. When you are done just call it a day! We have plenty to do later this week, so go relax for the rest of the evening.

Day 2 – Organizing and Garbage Collection

Now we are going to get some heavy lifting done. Todays mission is to consolidate household items, knickknacks, and gadgets in an effort to re-organize our living space. The idea is to reduce clutter, creating a more beautiful and effectively managed space, which in turn becomes instantly more comfortable. In addition, it will also help expedite the cleaning process that will occur on the coming days.

So let’s get it started by finding anything that needs to be trashed. If you have items that are worthy of donating we encourage you to do so! Once you have eliminated unnecessary clutter, it’s time to begin reorganizing things. Try to find a “home” for items in your home that make sense. An example of this idea would be having a box for random electronic cables, which is next to a box for old unused electronic gadgets. We have created a electronics category, where we sub-sectioned items appropriately. The more you are able to effectively organize, the easier it will be to create an aesthetically pleasing yet functional living space. Depending on how creative you are, and how much work you have to be done, you might want to split this into 2 days instead of 1.

Day 3 – Mirrors, Glass, and Spot Treating Walls

Yesterday was a little tough, so let’s dial back today just a bit. If you don’t have much experience cleaning glass, or just want a little recommendation, check out our Ultimate Glass Cleaning Product Review and find your favorite glass cleaner. Today we are going to clean and shine all the mirrors, interior glass windows, and any other glass surfaces such as tables or decorations. Honestly, this is going to be the easy part of today. So keep the music playing and relax while you get all that glass crystal clear.

Next, we are going to spot treat any stains or discoloration on our walls. This step requires a little finesse, and might even require some small re-touching with paint. Grab a clean sponge, get it nice and wet with warm water, and apply a small amount of soap. Using the soapy sponge, we are going to buff out any stains on the walls. It is important to apply only a small to medium amount of pressuring when buffing out stains on the wall. In addition, it is important that our sponge only be slightly wet, and not dripping with soap and water. If you notice that a spot is not getting clean, it may require color correction by repainting the surface. Use your best judgement and try to get the easy and obvious spots clear.

Day 4 – Toilets, Showers, Tubs, and Sinks

Alright, this is the day we all dread, but we are going to get it out of the way now and just forget about it! Go grab some gloves, you know the ones, the long gloves that go to your elbow, and make sure you read all about how to safely clean porcelain fixtures here. Nine times out of ten, your toilets, showers, tubs, and sinks will be porcelain or porcelain laminated. The longer your spend doing detailed cleaning on these fixtures, the more you will get out of this Spring Cleaning Checklist. If I had to pick a day to really give 110% effort, this would definitely be my choice! My last bit of advice about today, is going to be do the sinks last. You will find yourself coming back to the sinks time and again through the cleaning process. So just save them for last.

Day 5 – Dusting and Polishing

Now it is time to start finalizing our spring cleaning! We are getting so close guys, just stick with me now! Today is all about detailing, polishing, and dusting general surfaces and items in your home. Every picture frame, table, counter-space, shelf, all of them! There will be a ton of moving things to the side of the table, wiping it down, and moving items back in to place. This is why I tried to stress the de-clutter process of day 2. The more you organized things effectively on day 2, the easier todays work will be. Really focus on making things shine today. Try to get every little nook. Places like behind the mounted wall television, the side of a dresser that is not visible, and baseboards are often overlooked. I provided a link to our dusting cleaning product review before, but here it is again in case you need it.

One important place that you will tackle today is in the kitchen. If you have any stainless steel finished appliances, I recommend grabbing a cleaning product meant for these surfaces (Wieman/Sprayway/Etc). Just make sure you get the one meant for stainless steel! Also in the kitchen, make sure you clean your stove top and oven today. If you have any questions about cleaning these items, please check out our ultimate stove top cleaning guide here.

Day 6 – Floors

Congratulations! You have made it to the last day, and you have almost officially finished this years spring cleaning! The last item on the checklist is to clean, vacuum, and sanitize our floors. Go ahead and begin by sweeping any hard floors you have, such as kitchen/bathroom floors, or any wood floors. Next, move on to mopping or steam cleaning all your hard floors. Obviously it is up to you, but I highly recommend steam cleaning your hard floors. Steam cleaning brings the temperature of the floor up to approximately 212 degrees (F) which ensures complete sanitation of one of your homes most dirty surfaces. I have had personal success with the $50 steam cleaners you can buy from your local Walmart or Target (Shark brand and Dirt Devil have both worked great).

To really wrap things up, we are going to finish by vacuuming all carpeted floors. There isn’t too much to say about this last step, just get in there and do a good job! That is it! We have officially completed spring cleaning!

Follow us on Social Media:

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About the Author:

Alexander Skinner is the owner of Smart Maid Service LLC, a Richmond Virginia House Cleaning Service.

Alexander Skinner is the owner and operator of Smart Maid Service LLC, a house cleaning company that services Richmond Virginia and the surrounding area.

To contact Alexander for professional reasons please email: AlexanderSkinner@SmartMaidService.com or visit the Smart Maid Service website.

The ultimate wood furniture cleaning product review!

Ultimate Wood Furniture Cleaning Product Review

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Chances are that you have wood furniture in your home. Between the kitchen table, cabinet faces, dressers, end tables, and other obvious pieces of furniture, we have plenty to care for. In addition, depending on where your wood furniture is (cabinet faces above a stove for instance) will dictate slight changes in the way we clean. It is also important to note that this guide is going to focus more on cleaning wood furniture than maintaining it, and thus we will not cover things like re-polishing in much detail. Todays guide is going to feature three wood cleaners that I have a ton of experience with: Murphys Oil, Method Wood Cleaner, and Pledge.

Wood Furniture Cleaner Product Summary

  • Murphys Oil
    Price: $12.94 (1 Gallon on Amazon)
    Price/Ounce: $0.30
    Form Factor: Gallon bucket to be mixed with warm water
    Where to buy: Murphys Oil on Amazon


  • Pledge
    Price: $16.67
    Price/Ounce:  $0.40
    Form Factor: Pressurized Misting Spray Bottle
    Where to buy: Pledge on Amazon


  • Method Wood Cleaner
    Price: $11.48
    Price/Ounce: $0.41
    Form Factor: Spray Bottle
    Where to buy: Method Wood Cleaner on Amazon


Judging Criteria

If you have read our ultimate glass cleaner product review then you know that we will define a few metrics to help us better critique the three cleaning products for todays review. Some of you will have slight changes in what you value in a wood furniture cleaner, while others will totally disagree. I hope that if you find any differences in your opinions that you will talk about it in the comments section below! We would love to hear what you prefer, use, and recommend!

  • Cost per unit (Worth 5 points)
  • Ease of use (Worth 5 points)
  • Quality of cleaning (Worth 10 points)
  • Smell (Worth 3 points)
  • Safeness around children and pets (Worth 5 points)

Note: Based on this, a perfect score would be 28 out of 28 points.

 

Murphys Oil Wood Furniture Cleaner

Cost per Unit – Murphys Oil is quite cheap considering that you will be mixing it with a warm water solution, which of course will extend the products life span. On top of this, I found an entire gallon on Amazon for a great price. 5 out of 5

Ease of Use – I will break this down into two parts. First, you do indeed need to mix the oil with water before using. I will knock 2 points off for this reason alone. Other than that, this products is incredibly easy to use. I often find that one small pass is plenty effective. 3 out of 5

Quality of Cleaning – This is where Murphys Oil shines (no pun intended lol). This stuff does a fantastic job. As a house cleaning business owner, I find that not only does Murphys Oil work great, but it also is the safest product to use on almost any piece of wooden furniture. 10 out of 10

Smell – The smell is not nearly as strong as the other two products on todays list, which I personally find to be a good thing. 2 out of 3

Safeness around Children and Pets – Once again, Murphys is the safest product on the list. Not only are there way less chemical ingredients, but because it will be diluted, further helps to negate the risk of accidental consumption. 4 out of 5

Total Score – 4.29 Stars / 5

 

Pledge Wood Furniture Cleaner

Cost per Unit – Pledge can be found for a variety of prices, but with a little research, I found it priced quite well on Amazon. 4 out of 5

Ease of Use – This stuff is very easy to use. Simply spray it directly onto your wooden furniture and then buff out with a towel. 5 out of 5

Quality of Cleaning – I have found that on certain wood finishes (the wax or polish finish) Pledge has some issues. Often I find the towel “sticking” as I buff out the pledge. This leaves an undesirable streaking effect on the wood. This is only a small case that effects certain wood finishes though. 5 out of 10

Smell – I love lemons, but I hate the smell of Pledge. Sorry if you like it, I can’t give it anything other than a 1 out of 3 with good conscience.  1 out of 3

Safeness around Children and Pets – Due to it’s form factor (pressurized canister), and the harsh chemical ingredient list, I find Pledge to be fairly dangerous around children and pets. 2 out of 5

Total Score – 3.04 Stars / 5

 

Method Wood Furniture Cleaner

Cost per Unit – Although I did not find a great price for Method on Amazon, I do know for a fact that it is very cheap at your local grocer/walmart/target/etc. 4 out of 5

Ease of Use – This stuff is very easy to use. Simply spray it directly onto your wooden furniture and then buff out with a towel. Just like the Pledge, but without an pressurized can. 5 out of 5

Quality of Cleaning – This cleaner works fantastic. I highly recommend it, just like Murphys, as the final product is always quality. If anything, I find that it might take an extra pass to clean compared to the Murphys Oil, but overall, this stuff really does compare. 9 out of 10

Smell – Method smells very much like almonds. Personally, I find it to be an incredibly fresh smell that you will not find with any other cleaning product out there.  3 out of 3

Safeness around Children and Pets – Method is quite safe around children and pets. You just want to avoid anyone consuming it directly from the bottle of course, but that goes without saying. 4 out of 5

Total Score – 4.46 Stars / 5


Final Ranking

  1. Method Wood Cleaner – 4.46 out of 5 stars
  2. Murphys Oil – 4.29 out of 5 stars
  3. Pledge – 3.04 out of 5 stars

Conclusion

Let us know what you think about our review! Do you have experience with all three of these wood furniture cleaners? Do you agree or disagree? We want to hear all about it in the comments, directly below! Make sure to give us some love on social media as well if you have been enjoying our blog!

Follow us on Social Media:

Twitter – @SmartMaidRVA

Facebook – Smart Maid Service

Instagram – Smart Maid Service

About the Author:

Alexander Skinner is the owner of Smart Maid Service LLC, a Richmond Virginia House Cleaning Service.

Alexander Skinner is the owner and operator of Smart Maid Service LLC, a house cleaning company that services Richmond Virginia and the surrounding area.

To contact Alexander for professional reasons please email: AlexanderSkinner@SmartMaidService.com or visit the Smart Maid Service website.

Clean a microwave with just a lemon and water!

How to Clean a Microwave

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Let’s talk about the real hero of the kitchen, the appliance that does some quick heavy lifting and always seems to come through for you in a pinch. We are talking about the microwave. It is definitely one of the most versatile machines in most peoples kitchens, and is often the most neglected when it comes to cleaning. Don’t just be one of those people who wipes down the outside and calls it good, let’s keep the inside shining and sanitized!

Today we are going to cover two basic methods. The first is a natural alternative method, while the second is a more traditional approach. The method you choose is going to be based on what you personally value. For example, while the natural alternative method might not work quite as good as the traditional approach, you may still find that you prefer it, as it eliminates chemicals from your home. Bottom line, it’s all up to you!

Natural Alternative Method to Clean a Microwave

  • 1 Lemon, Sliced into Wedges
  • 1 Glass Measuring Cup (At least 2 cups large)
  • A Microfiber Towel or Non-Abrasive Sponge

Step 1

Slice lemon into wedges, place lemon wedges in a glass measuring cup, and fill with hot water.

Step 2

Place lemon water glass measuring cup into your microwave, microwave the mixture on high for 5 minutes. This should cause the water to boil for a couple minutes, which will release steam into your microwave. When the 5 minutes has elapsed, do not open your microwave door! Let it sit for another 5 minutes first! This allows the steam that was created to do its job, and soak into all the grime and gunk that is currently stuck to the inside of your microwave.

Step 3

Carefully remove the glass measuring cup, remove the inner plate and holding spin tray from the bottom of the inside of your microwave, and begin to wipe out all the inner surfaces of your microwave. You should notice that it is quite easy to wipe away all the grime now. If it is still tough, go back and re-do step 2. That’s it!

Traditional Method to Clean a Microwave

  • A Kitchen Multipurpose Cleaner (Wieman, Zep, Goo Gone, Etc)
  • A Microfiber Towel or Non-Abrasive Sponge

Step 1

Spray your kitchen cleaning solution liberally inside of the inner surfaces of your microwave. Allow the solution to sit for a couple of minutes, which will allow the product to break up all the caked on grime.

Step 2

Wipe away all the grease and grime with a clean microfiber towel or non-abrasive sponge. Repeat step 1 if needed until completely clean and sanitized.

Step 3

Apply water to a second towel, and use the gently wet towel to rinse the inner surfaces of your microwave. This ensures that you don’t leave any cleaning product inside of your microwave by accident. That’s it!

Final Thoughts

Like I noted at the beginning, the method you choose is going to be based on whatever is convenient and makes sense for you. I love the natural alternative method, but I do notice that when I use a commercial cleaning product instead the results are noticeable.  I hope that I have armed you with the knowledge necessary to keep your microwave totally clean now!

Follow us on Social Media:

Twitter – @SmartMaidRVA

Facebook – Smart Maid Service

Instagram – Smart Maid Service

About the Author:

Alexander Skinner is the owner of Smart Maid Service LLC, a Richmond Virginia House Cleaning Service.

Alexander Skinner is the owner and operator of Smart Maid Service LLC, a house cleaning company that services Richmond Virginia and the surrounding area.

To contact Alexander for professional reasons please email: AlexanderSkinner@SmartMaidService.com or visit the Smart Maid Service website.

 

 

The ultimate glass cleaning product review!

Ultimate Glass Cleaning Product Review

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One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to cleaning is leaving any kind of streaking on reflective surfaces. While this includes everything from stainless steel appliances to ceramic fixtures, no other surface is going to show streaks so obvious like glass. That’s why today we are going to focus on reviewing cleaning products that are specifically manufactured to clean glass. Before we dive into the product review, let’s take a quick moment to familiarize ourselves with glass.

Simply put, glass is made from heating up sand into a liquid (as the sand is mostly made up of silicon dioxide). But don’t just go to the beach and try to make glass over an open fire, sand has a melting point of 3090 Fahrenheit. (Source)  Saying this, glass can be constructed into a variety of types. Your house contains see-through glass in the windows, and your mirrors are completely reflective. Luckily for us, as far as cleaning is concerned, we can treat them the same.

Quick Glass Cleaning Tips

One last thing I feel is necessary to cover before we dive into the product review is a short glass cleaning technique guide. Here is a very simplified version of how you should be cleaning your glass at home:

  • Use clean microfiber towels every time (They are non-abrasive are will not scratch surfaces)
  • Do a dry wipe with the microfiber towel before apply any product to the glass surface (This helps us not rub in tiny particles into the surface of the glass while cleaning, causing tiny scratches)
  • Apply cleaning product of your choice to the glass, working from the top down, and begin to lightly buff the glass until clean and streak free.

Glass Cleaning Product Summary

Today we are going to be reviewing four glass cleaning products. Each of them is considered to be an industry leader, but we are going to test them for ourselves and try to decide which is truly superior. So without further ado, here are the products we are reviewing today:

  1.  Sprayway Glass Cleaner
    Cost: $7.54 (Amazon 4 Pack)
    Cost per Ounce: $0.10 / Ounce
    Form Factor: Pressure Can Foam Spray
    Where to buy: Amazon (US only)


  2.  Windex
    Cost: $12.49 (Amazon 2 Pack)
    Cost per Ounce: $0.24 / Ounce
    Form Factor: Liquid Bottle Spray
    Where to buy: Amazon


  3.  Invisible Glass Premium Glass Cleaner
    Cost: $9.20 (Amazon 1 Pack)
    Cost per Ounce: $0.29 / Ounce
    Form Factor: Liquid Bottle Spray
    Where to buy: Amazon (US only)


  4.  Frosch Natural Bio Spirit Glass & Multi Surface Cleaner
    Cost: $12.34 (Amazon 2 Pack)
    Cost per Ounce: $0.36 / Ounce
    Form Factor: Liquid Bottle Spray
    Where to buy: Amazon (US only)

Judging Criteria

The ultimate glass cleaning product is going to be different for certain people. Perhaps you value the fiscal aspect of the product much more than a minor decrease in quality. Maybe you value knowing that your product is eco-friendly more than the price. For today, I am going to make my decisions based on the following criteria:

  • Cost per unit (Worth 5 points)
  • Ease of use (Worth 5 points)
  • Quality of cleaning (Worth 10 points)
  • Smell (Worth 3 points)
  • Safeness around children and pets (Worth 5 points)

Note: Based on this, a perfect score would be 28 out of 28 points.


SprayWay Glass Cleaner

Cost per Unit – Sprayway glass cleaner is the cheapest product on todays list, available for purchase on Amazon for only 10 cents per ounce. That is an incredible deal! 5 out of 5

Ease of Use – Sprayway is the most unique glass cleaner on our list today, as it shoots out of a pressurized canister as a foam. I love this application, as the foam sticks to the vertical glass surfaces and does not immediately drip down. Additionally, I find that only one or two passes are needed to get a streak free finish. 5 out of 5

Quality of Cleaning – Sprayway does a fantastic job of getting out streaks and stains from glass. I have found that the glass even seems to stay clean a little longer than other products I have used after. 9 out of 10

Smell – The smell of Sprayway is not my favorite, but it isn’t necessarily bad. It is a unique smell, something hard to describe. 2 out of 3

Safeness – As with any cleaning product, you do not want to leave it in reach of your children or animals. Saying this, Sprayway does not contain ammonia. Also, the fact that it is not a drinkable liquid adds a bit the the safeness. Obviously, it is in a pressurized can though, so you do not ever want to allow the can to sit near a flame. 3 out of 5

Total Score – 4.28 out of 5 stars!


Windex

Cost per Unit – Windex is our second cheapest option today. It is available for purchase on Amazon at 24 cents per ounce. Not too bad. 4 out of 5

Ease of Use – I find that Windex often requires a second or third pass to get a good streak free finish. Sometimes I think I am done, the glass is streak free, only to let the light shine against it at an angle revealing nasty streaking. You can tell this stuff isn’t my favorite? 2 out of 5

Quality of Cleaning – I find that Windex suffers in quality compared to other major industry leaders. You can definitely do a good job cleaning glass with Windex, it just takes a little more time and effort. 6 out of 10

Smell – We all know what Windex smells like. It’s alright, I suppose. 2 out of 3

Safeness – Windex contains very harmful chemicals that are dangerous for anyone, especially children and pets. It contains ammonia, and cannot be ingested for any reason at all. 2 out of 5

Total Score – 2.86 out of 5 stars!


Invisible Glass Premium Glass Cleaner

Cost per Unit – Invisible Glass is a little more costly. They market this stuff to people who want to clean the glass on their cars, but it is an equally fantastic house glass cleaner. 3 out of 5

Ease of Use – This product is quite easy to use, simply spray and buff out. I like that it takes minimal buffing to get a streak free shine. I would compare the ease of use to be fairly equal to Sprayway. 4 out of 5

Quality of Cleaning – Invisible Glass truly makes your glass nearly invisible. There is not too much to say about this, it really does the job. 10 out of 10

Smell – I am personally fond of the smell, but I have heard others talk against it. 2 out of 3

Safeness – Invisible Glass does not contain ammonia, but is certainly harmful if swallowed or ingested in any form. 3 out of 5

Total Score – 3.92 out of 5 stars!


Frosch Natural Bio Spirit Glass & Multipurpose Cleaner

Cost per Unit – Frosch Natural Bio Spirit is the most expensive glass cleaner on our list. It isn’t priced egregiously but it is definitely a bit more than the rest. 2 out of 5

Ease of Use – Frosch Natural Bio Spirit, as the name implies, is an eco-friendly alternative to the standard industry leading glass cleaners. In my own experience, natural alternatives often are just not as good as the standard equivalent. Frosch is an exception to this rule. It only requires one or two passes to do a fantastic job.  4 out of 5

Quality of Cleaning – As just noted, this stuff works quite well. It is right on par with Sprayway and Invisible Glass. 9 out of 10

Smell – The smell is very fresh, and definitely the nicest on our list today. 3 out of 3

Safeness – This is a completely green and eco-friendly glass cleaner. It is vegetable mineral based, and totally safe for skin contact and minor accidental ingestion (Please do not drink it on purpose though). 5 out of 5

Total Score – 4.10 out of 5 stars!


Final Rankings

  1. Sprayway Glass Cleaner

  2. Frosch Natural Bio Spirit Glass & Multipurpose Cleaner

  3. Invisible Glass Premium Glass Cleaner

  4. Windex

Conclusion

Although I have defined strict judging criteria, and rated each product accordingly, I want to remind you that this is my personal opinion. Saying this, I do have quite a bit of experience cleaning a variety of glass types with each of the four reviewed products. If you have any additional thoughts, or want to challenge my opinions on the best glass cleaning products, make sure you leave a comment below!

Follow us on Social Media:

Twitter – @SmartMaidRVA

Facebook – Smart Maid Service

Instagram – Smart Maid Service

About the Author:

Alexander Skinner is the owner of Smart Maid Service LLC, a Richmond Virginia House Cleaning Service.

Alexander Skinner is the owner and operator of Smart Maid Service LLC, a house cleaning company that services Richmond Virginia and the surrounding area.

To contact Alexander for professional reasons please email: AlexanderSkinner@SmartMaidService.com or visit the Smart Maid Service website.

 

Shocking things that people have found while cleaning their homes!

Shocking Things People Found Cleaning Their House

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If you are a homeowner, you probably know all ins and outs of your home. Knowing exactly where to step so the floor doesn’t creek at night, and where all the nooks and crannies are to store the never-ending things we collect. Most of us clean fairly regularly too, but are we paying close enough attention when we do? Here’s a fun list of eight shocking things that people have found in their home while cleaning! Perhaps it will inspire you to do some detailed cleaning in search of a buried treasure!

1. Home Owner Finds a Multi-Million Dollar Painting

Norman Rockwell painting is found in two brothers new house!

Two brothers were cleaning out the Vermont home of their deceased father when they found something interesting. They stumbled upon a wall, and upon inspection, figured out that it was a false wall. What was their father hiding behind the wall? Well, only a classic Normal Rockwell painting, valued at over $15,000,000! Yes, you read that correct! The painting was found among other various masterpieces. Why was dad hiding such treasures?! Maybe you can help solve this one for us in the comments! (Source)

2. Missing Since 1982, Family Finds Pet Tortoise Alive

Missing for 30 years, Family finds pet tortoise while cleaning their house!

You might be familiar with the fact that a tortoise has a very long life span, something around 100 years. They are also incredibly resilient animals, able to live is some of the most inhospitable places on the planet! I guess it’s not that shocking that one tortoise, Manuela, was able to survive for thirty without any interaction or care-taking from her owners. But was was definitely shocking the Manuela’s owners, was the day they cleaned up a very messy upstairs room. Unfortunately, they had developed a bit of a hoarding habit. This habit created an environment of infinite nooks and crannies, in which Manuela remained hidden amongst. What a reunion that must have been! (Source)

3. Basement Contains Underground Railroad Hide-Away

Underground Railroad tunnel is found in one home owner's basement!

A Pennsylvania home owner was completely speechless when she discovered a hidden tunnel inside of her basement. Upon inspection by city officials, it was discovered to be an authentic tunnel operating for the Underground Railroad. What a piece of incredible history! We aren’t sure if she has to register her home as a local landmark now, but we do hope that historians are able to fully study and analyze exactly when and how this particular tunnel was utilized! (Source)

4. Love Letters Written By a Soldier in World War 1

Home owner finds love letters written by a soldier in world war 1

A woman was cleaning out her attic and happened to notice a pile of dusty old letters. When she took a closer look she found that the letters appeared to be from a soldier at war, and not just any war, but World War 1. This soldier had written 31 love letters to his beloved back at home. Talk about a touching story, people write books and make movies about this kind of stuff. I’m sure that the home owner treasures this classic tale of American love. (Source)

5. Monopoly Floor

A weird monopoly floor was found underneath the current floor of one home owner's living room.

This one is kind of creepy, but more weird than anything. The original homeowner had installed a unique blown up “Monopoly” game-board as the floor in his living room. I assume his agent strongly suggested covering it with carpet before he sold, because the new owners were totally unaware of what was lying beneath the carpet. Eventually the new home owners replaced the carpet, found the strange monopoly floor, and I imagine tried to avoid thinking about what else the old owner did in this residence. (Source)

6. 400 Year Old Severed Head

Severed 400 year old head is found in someone's attic.

Jacques Bellanger is a forgetful man. So forgetful, that he managed to stow away the 400 year old skull of  King Henry IV in his attic, and never thought about it again. Can you imagine?! What kind of person could possibly forget about owning such a timeless piece of history? Well lucky for Jacques, a TV production assistant was tasked with searching his attic for props. The production assistant, Stephane Gabet, promptly found the skull, and asked Jacques about it. Apparently, the casual tone in Jacques voice dumbfounded Ms. Gabet, and she talked Jacques into having scientists verify the authenticity of the skull. Lo and behold, the skull is actually from King Henry IV. (Source)

7. Couple Finds $50k in Kitchen Walls

A couple finds $50k inside their kitchen walls!

Here’s another great lottery type of story. A young couple purchased their first home together, a monumental moment for any young couple. They settled into the home, and decided to do a little renovation in the kitchen that involved knocking down a non-structural wall. What did they find? Well here’s the quote we found, “…a 50-year-old safe hidden in their kitchen wall. What was inside? $51,080, mostly in $100 notes, and a bottle of bourbon from 1960, and a book titled “A Guide for the Perplexed” by E.F. Schumacher”. That bottle of bourbon went great with a big night of celebration for the couple! (Source)

8. Gold Nugget Found

Man finds a gold nugget worth over $500k in his house!

To wrap it up today, I leave you with the man who found gold in his backyard. Yeah, he wasn’t cleaning his house, but he was maintaining his property, so I’ll let it slide. The man, a California native, found an 8.2 pound solid lump of gold while using a metal detector in his backyard. The giant gold nugget, worth over $460k, sold at an auction anonymously. Apparently the man’s property location is kept secret, as the odds of more gold being buried in his backyard is nearly 100%. I guess real-estate really is about location, location, location! (Source)

Conclusion

I hope that I have inspired you to do some detailed cleaning now! You might find your lottery ticket, a long lost friend, or even a piece of national history! If you have found something interesting in your own home, please talk about it in the comments. We would love to hear your stories!

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About the Author:

Alexander Skinner is the owner of Smart Maid Service LLC, a Richmond Virginia House Cleaning Service.

Alexander Skinner is the owner and operator of Smart Maid Service LLC, a house cleaning company that services Richmond Virginia and the surrounding area.

To contact Alexander for professional reasons please email: AlexanderSkinner@SmartMaidService.com or visit the Smart Maid Service website.

 

how to clean and maintain cast iron skillets

How to Clean Cast Iron Pans

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I really love cooking with cast iron, something about the weight of the pan as I move it from the stove to the oven, it makes food just taste better somehow. I know that in reality, it tastes better because of the even heat distribution that cast iron delivers, it’s ability to retain a constant temperature, and the amazing non-stick seasoning layer that is developed over time as we cook more with it. Unfortunately, many people buy a cast iron pan, not fully understanding how to clean and maintain it, and do not get to really experience this magical cooking tool. Today we are going to learn the smartest way to clean a cast iron pan, and also how to properly re-season it!

The Basics of Cleaning Cast Iron

Important Note: We are going to be cleaning with water alone, and not even hot water. How can we be truly cleaning and sanitizing without hot water and soap? Well stay with me! I am going to cover that right after the basics!

We just noted that one of the unique properties of cast iron pans is that they develop a seasoning layer, imparting extra flavor into all the dishes you cook. This is why grandma’s dinners were just on another level, she had more time to develop an immaculate seasoning layer! That’s our goal too, which leads us to our first rule: Never use soap products when cleaning cast iron! This is mandatory if you want to utilize the full capabilities of your pan. Soap products will wipe away all the hard work that went into this pan, so instead, we are going to clean with only lukewarm water. Notice that we are not using hot water, which can expand the metal of your pan causing water to soak in, resulting in rust. You should err on the side of caution, it’s perfectly fine if the water is slightly cool. The last basic to cover are the products that we can use safely in cast iron. You do not want to use the traditional scrubbing sponges, as they will remove our seasoning layer just like soap. I highly recommend that you purchase a pack of cast iron safe scrubbing tools from your local grocery store, or if nothing else, only use your fingers to clean under water. The cast iron safe scrubbers actually do prevent you from removing the seasoning layer, and you will be surprised how much grime comes off the pan.

The Official Smart Way To Clean Cast Iron

First step, we are going to simply run the pan under lukewarm water in the sink. Use your fingers to gently remove any fond or other food build-up. Our goal is to make the pan look clean to the eye, and feel smooth to the touch. If you have a cast iron safe scrubber, now’s the time to use it. Scrape the tool along the inner surfaces of your pan, and follow any instructions that came with it.

The second step is easy, give the pan a quick wipe with a clean towel. I don’t recommend paper towels for this job, as they will leave little microscopic paper bits in the pan. Get the pan as dry as possible, and you are ready for next step.

The third step is where the sanitation happens. We are going to put the freshly dried pan on the stove, and turn up the heat. Let the pan come up to a nice medium-low heat, and let it sit for a minute or two. Why is this necessary? Because we cannot utilize hot water to properly sanitize cast iron, so instead, we must use a dry heating method to kill all bacteria without developing any rust. I can’t lie to you, this means that cleaning your cast iron pans is a bit more involved than just rinsing and throwing them in the dishwasher. But I can promise you that your efforts will not go unrewarded! Don’t skip on this step, as it not only sanitizes your pans so you can safely cook in them, but also aids the fight against rust.

The fourth, and final step, is the re-seasoning application. You are going to need to buy some cast iron seasoning oil if you do not already have it on hand. While the pan is still hot (a nice medium low heat works great) apply a conservative amount of seasoning oil to a fresh towel. Gently apply an even thin coat of oil the the entire pan, being careful not to burn yourself! Make sure you wipe the outside of the pan, the sides, and the handle as well. Once done, your cast iron should be deep black in color and glistening. Let the pan sit on the heat for another minute, and then remove it from the heat allowing it to cool down naturally.

Conclusion

There is some give in take in regards to cast iron cooking. We get to take advantage of all the wonderful benefits of cooking tasty dishes, but we also have to give a little extra time to clean and maintain them. I hope that now, you are able to build seasoning layers in your cast iron, resulting in mouthwatering flavors again and again. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and learn about cast iron maintenance with me today!

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Alexander Skinner is the owner of Smart Maid Service LLC, a Richmond Virginia House Cleaning Service.

Alexander Skinner is the owner and operator of Smart Maid Service LLC, a house cleaning company that services Richmond Virginia and the surrounding area.

To contact Alexander for professional reasons please email: AlexanderSkinner@SmartMaidService.com or visit the Smart Maid Service website.

 

Things You Should Know: When Choosing a Cleaning Service

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Let’s talk about things you should know when choosing a house cleaning service. There are some important factors to consider, some not so obvious, and I want you to be able to make an informed decision when it comes time to clean. If you are anything like me, the first place you start is with a quick Google search. Displayed on screen is a long list of local companies, most seemingly more or less the same. From my experience as a cleaning business owner, they all have some important differences that will be key in deciding which to choose. I am going to talk about some of the less obvious factors you should be evaluating when researching your local companies today. Alright, let’s get started!

Business License and Insurance

This is the most important factor on today’s list, and for good reason. Due to the nature of the business, the likelihood that an accident happens is quite realistic. This includes things like: knocking an heirloom off a shelf while dusting, damaging an expensive home appliance, or even scratching your beautiful wood floors. What happens when something in your home is damaged and the cleaning company has no insurance? In the short-term, you will be out whatever the costs of damages were. You will likely need to pursue a lawyer to gain compensation, and who really wants to get in to all that over hiring a cleaning service? Definitely not me, which is why you should verify that the cleaning service you choose has a valid business license in the applicable state, has general liability insurance (covering the vast majority of damages you might potentially need to recoup), and bonus points to those that include umbrella insurance policies to their plan. The umbrella policy will cover extreme costs that might potentially occur, such as ruining a multi-million dollar structure (imagine the horror of this happening to those using an uninsured business). Finally, the company you choose needs to have surety bonds for their employees. These bonds protect you from a maid stealing anything in your home. Most companies have this, but many do not and are allowing you to be potentially unprotected from theft.

Bottom line here, do a little research. Give the companies that you are considering a quick call, and just ask them about their insurance policies. Most cleaning companies will have this information listed on their website as well, eliminating the need to ask this in the phone call.

Cleaning Regimen and Products

There are many cleaning products that could damage your home. Make sure your cleaners use safe cleaning products in your home!

Now we are about results, quality of service, and the whole reason you want to order in the first place. At my company, Smart Maid Service LLC, we have a 50 point checklist that is crafted to guarantee we clean and sanitize your home from top to bottom. We clearly list what is included on our website, and how you can add some luxury upgrades (such as closet organization for instance). Make sure that whatever company you choose has all the benefits of their packages clearly displayed and laid out for you to review. What if you need your house clean, but you also want someone to restore the inside of your oven? Not all cleaning services can accommodate this request, and it’s important to ensure that your cleaning service of choice includes everything you personally need.

Often overlooked, are the actual cleaning products that are utilized in your home’s sanitation. Some cleaning products contain chemicals that are harmful to your furniture, and even your pets or children. You should verify if your cleaners are using anything that contains a harmful chemical such as bleach, or ammonia. These chemicals are quite dangerous if used incorrectly, and often are not even necessary to completely clean your home’s toughest areas.

One final note about cleaning products that I feel you should know is that you can request that they use your personal cleaning products of choice. Do you have a wood furniture polish that you prefer? Or perhaps you have a floor cleaning solution you prefer. Your cleaning service should be able to accommodate this request. An important side note about this: it may be written into the terms of service that utilizing a customers requested cleaning products of choice nullifies certain liabilities they previously were responsible for.

Conclusion

Now you are armed with an insider’s perspective, one that will help you make an informed decision next time you need to purchase cleaning. Remember, it’s not all about who comes up first in the search engine. Do a little background research, the leg work you invest into making a better decision before ordering is going to pay dividends in the quality of service you receive. Make sure that you are getting an experience that is tailored to your individual needs, and if you keep all this in mind, it should be a breeze deciding who to use!

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About the Author:

Alexander Skinner is the owner of Smart Maid Service LLC, a Richmond Virginia House Cleaning Service.

Alexander Skinner is the owner and operator of Smart Maid Service LLC, a house cleaning company that services Richmond Virginia and the surrounding area.

To contact Alexander for professional reasons please email: AlexanderSkinner@SmartMaidService.com or visit the Smart Maid Service website.

How to Clean a Messy Cluttered Room Fast

How to Clean a Room Fast!

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No matter how strict you are in your efforts to organize your living space you will often find a room attracting more and more clutter. Before you know it, an entire host of household knickknacks, entertainment products, and other articles have taken complete control of your (once free from the reign of mess) relaxing room.  It’s something we all have battled, perhaps it’s a defining element of what makes us human! Let’s not waste too much time, you’ve got a room to get cleaned, and fast, after all!

Our Battle Strategy

Take a good look at your messy room, don’t touch anything just yet. Give it a quick study, and try to create categories of all the items that need to be removed from the room. What I mean by this is creating quick categories like “kitchen goods”, “kid’s toys”, “garbage”, “recyclables”, and what ever other categories are applicable to the clutter in your room. What this accomplishes is the streamlining of our actions when we physically go to clean and organize our room. Instead of picking up an item, pondering for 15 seconds where you want to put said item, and wasting your time, you will know exactly where this item is going when you pick it up. Don’t worry too much about creating detailed categories, instead, keep them broad for now. Don’t try to make a “kitchen bowls” category and a “kitchen plates” category, just make a “kitchen goods” category for now. We want to focus our efforts on getting the room in question clean as quickly and efficiently as possible.

After we have constructed our categories, it’s time to plan our execution (Is this starting to feel more like a James Bond mission as we go?). As a general rule of thumb, you always want to work top down when cleaning. It’s fairly obvious why, we don’t want to clean something, only to dirty it up, and have to go back over it again later. Let’s get together whatever cleaning tools and products you wish to use, an example list might look like:

  • Vacuum
  • Broom and Handle
  • Mop
  • Duster
  • Microfiber Towel
  • Furniture and Floor Cleaning Solutions
  • A Trash Bag

Time to Clean

Now that we have our strategy set in place,  our supplies at our side, and perhaps a little upbeat music to really energize you for that which is right before you (80’s music works fantastically, but what ever gets you in the mood), it is time to get this clutter out! I recommend taking a trash bag in hand, and knocking out the “garbage” category first. Go ahead and finish the recyclables while you are at it! Good, the room looks ten times better already. If you are dusting, now’s a great time to start. Remember to work top down, starting at the ceiling corners if you can, and moving straight to any ceiling fan you might have. If you have extended clutter on some of your furniture it might be necessary to get some other categories that you created earlier done with first before continuing dusting. For instance, sometimes I collect way too many knickknacks on my bedroom dresser, now’s the time to remove all of them from the room that need to go (we will organize those later, again, we are focusing our time on getting this room clean first and foremost). Finish the dusting and any furniture polishing you wish to do now. The finish line is in sight, stay with me here! Now that we have removed all clutter, dusted and polished, it is time to do any vacuuming you wish to do. Once finished, the room should look polar opposite of it’s state just minutes ago. The key to the entire process is organizing our plan of attack, just as we did earlier. You can apply this strategy to cleaning and organizing any room in your house effectively. Now enjoy the comfort of that beautiful room you just cleaned!

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About the Author:

Alexander Skinner is the owner and operator of Smart Maid Service LLC, a house cleaning company that services Richmond Virginia and the surrounding area.  To contact Alexander for professional reasons please email: AlexanderSkinner@SmartMaidService.com or visit the Smart Maid Service website.

Clean Your Electronics Safely

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Technology is a beautiful thing, and with it our standard of living has dramatically rose. One thing that I have noticed is the piling amount of electronics I have gathered over the years, and the “dust-producing” ability that comes with them. Don’t worry, as always, we are here to make sure you know the most professional tips and tricks to keep them pristine!

Supplies to Clean Electronics

  • Microfiber Cloth
  • Alcohol Wipes
  • Any safe for electronic cleaning wipes or sprays

We are going to need a microfiber cloth, an item we all should have in our home, alcohol wipes, and if you would prefer the additional “safe-for-electronics” cleaning wipe or spray. That’s it!

Dry Clean First

To start, we are going to take our dry microfiber cloth and gently wipe all electronic surfaces in our home. Make sure to get all the nooks and crannies that electronics like televisions can hide! Don’t worry yourself about making it look perfect just now, we are going to come back next with a little cleaning product.

Sanitizing Electronics

Now that we have dry wiped all the surfaces it is time to get out our alcohol wipes, or cleaning product of your choice. Here’s the crucial part: if using the alcohol wipes, apply very gentle pressure to the surface of your electronics and follow all swipes with a microfiber cloth to dry immediately. If using a “safe-for-electronics” cleaning spray, do not spray solution directly onto electronics! Instead, spray the solution on your microfiber cloth (making sure not to over dampen your cloth) and make gentle swipes on the surfaces of your electronics, followed immediately by swipes from the dry side of your microfiber cloth.

Conclusion

So there we have it, a nice simple method to keep your home electronic devices clean and sparkling! Make sure to check out our other blog entries for more great information about keeping your entire home in tip top shape! Don’t forget to give us a follow on your favorite social media platforms!

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Alexander Skinner is the owner and operator of Smart Maid Service LLC, a house cleaning company that services Richmond Virginia and the surrounding area.  To contact Alexander for professional reasons please email: AlexanderSkinner@SmartMaidService.com or visit the Smart Maid Service website.

 

Learn how to safely clean and maintain your stove cook top!

How to Clean a Stove Cook Top

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One of the constant battles that most of us struggle with is a messy stove cook top. It’s inevitable no matter how hard you try to keep things clean while cooking, oil is going to splatter, and sauces are going to drip. Instead of stressing trying to avoid the mess you should learn how to properly clean and maintain your cook top! I promise that it isn’t very difficult, and requires virtually no time commitment. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be doing these things, so let’s jump right in.

Types of Stove Cook Tops

Stovetops actually come in a variety of types including: Electric Coiled, Electric Smoothtop, Induction Smoothtop, Downdraft Cooktops, and Gas Cooktops. Don’t bother yourself too much knowing the differences between them all, instead let’s break these into three categories.

  • Coiled
  • Smoothtop
  • Gas

Coiled Cooktops

Coiled electric stove tops are a classic in American homes, and in fact date back to 1859 when George B. Simpson filed a patent for his “electro-heater”. I’m sure you are familiar with the design, and probably have them in your kitchen today. The coiled stove top is the Honda Civic of the cook top world, it gets the job done reliably at a cheap price. There are a few disadvantages that come with this design though, king among them being that coiled cooktops are the hardest to clean. That’s fine, we can still clean these badboys with ease if properly prepared. Let’s get our supplies ready:

  • A Non-Abrasive Sponge
  • Dish Soap
  • Cooktop Cleaner (must use product safe for electric coiled stoves)
  • Microfiber Towel or Paper Towels
  • Optional: Gloves

Start off by putting those gloves on, removing the coiled elements from your stovetop, and removing the metal drip bowls that house the coiled elements. Once you have set these items aside it is time to sanitize the cooktop itself. To begin apply a liberal amount of dish soap to a non-abrasive sponge. Next, scrub the cooktop until completely clean and shiny. If there are problem spots that are not coming off, such as caked on grease or grime, you are going to need to use a cooktop cleaner that is safe for coiled cooktops. Check your local grocery store, home improvement store, or even online for applicable options. I recommend following the directions listed on whichever product your purchase, but essentially you will spray the product on the problem spots and scrub with a non-abrasive sponge until clean. Not too bad! Make sure to get inside of the rim of each empty element as dirt and grime tends to build up in those areas. Once this process is completed simply rinse the entire cooktop with water and dry immediately with a mircofiber towel or paper towels.

Once the stove top itself has been sanitized and is sparkling to your satisfaction it is time to move on to the coiled elements and the metal housing units. Again we are going to repeat the steps from the previous paragraph to clean both the elements and housing units. Make sure to start with the dish soap method and move onto more heavy duty cleaning products as needed. This is a general rule of thumb that can applied to almost anything you clean in your house. Assuming everything is cleaned and dry, reattach the coiled elements to the housing units and place them back on your stove top. That’s it!

Smooth Cooktops

This is a gorgeous smooth stove cook top!

Smooth top stoves started to appear in the 1970’s, and today are the most popular choice for stove tops in new homes. While the technology that powers the variety of smooth top stoves differs, our cleaning methods stay consistent. All smooth top stoves contain a glass-ceramic surface that allows infrared radiation to pass through and heat your pots and pans. If you have read our blog about safely cleaning your toilet, found <a href=”how-to-clean-toilet.html” target=”_blank”>here</a>, you know that cleaning ceramic or glass requires extra precautions. I’ll avoid talking your ear off too much about the subject, but let me assure you, you do not want to scratch ceramic surfaces. To get started cleaning we are going to need a few supplies:

  • A Non-Abrasive Sponge, don’t use Steel Wool Pads!
  • Dish Soap
  • Cooktop Cleaner (must use product safe for smooth top stoves)
  • Microfiber Towel or Paper Towels
  • Optional: Gloves

To begin apply dish soap and a little water to your non-abrasive sponge. Next begin lightly scrubbing the surface of your cooktop. It is important not to apply too much pressure, let the soap and sponge do the work for you. If you have burnt on food that is not coming up it is time to move onto the cooktop cleaner. As always, I recommend following the directions of whichever cooktop cleaner you purchase. Almost all cooktop cleaners available for purchase will come with a scrubbing tool to use with the cleaning paste. If for some reason your product does not come with a scrubbing tool please default to using a non-abrasive material. Once you completely cleaned the stove top simply rinse with water and dry immediately with a microfiber towel!

Gas Ranges

Learn how to clean your gas stove cook top the correct way.
Restore your gas stove cook top to immaculate condition!

The final category of stove tops is my personal favorite, the gas range. Gas ranges are the highest quality stoves, at least in terms of cooking, and are preferred among chefs and cooking enthusiasts. Luckily for us, cleaning your gas range is fairly easy. We can accomplish this task largely the same way we clean coiled electric cooktops, except this time we don’t have extra hard to reach crevices that most coiled cooktops have. Once again, we are going to need a few supplies:

  • A Non-Abrasive Sponge
  • Dish Soap
  • Cooktop Cleaner (must use product safe for gas top stoves)
  • Microfiber Towel or Paper Towels
  • Optional: Gloves

Just like with coiled elements, we are going to start by removing the stove grates and setting them aside. Grab your non-abrasive sponge and put some dish soap and water on it. You guessed it! Scrub the stove top completely until clean then rinse with water to dry. Repeat the same steps with the stove grates that you set aside previously. If you have problem spots, burnt on stains, etc, move onto the cooktop cleaner. Follow the directions as stated on your purchased cleaner. Once everything is back to perfect shape reassemble your stove top and Voila!

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About the Author:

Alexander Skinner is the owner and operator of Smart Maid Service LLC, a house cleaning company that services Richmond Virginia and the surrounding area.  To contact Alexander for professional reasons please email: AlexanderSkinner@SmartMaidService.com or visit the Smart Maid Service website.