Skip to content

Household Cleaners, Dangerous For Children

Every parent wants to make sure their child is safe from harm at all times. One of the ways parents protect their children is by keeping cleaning products and other liquid based products (which can be harmful if ingested) out of the reach of children. A lot of people are fearful of their children undoing the cap on the bottle and drinking the contents (which are poisonous) inside, causing the child to become sick or possibly worse.

In a recent study, it was found that while the number cleaning product related injuries has decreased in children, about 40% of the injuries that did occur were actually caused by nozzled bottles (spray bottles).

In an effort to protect children from harming themselves with these nozzled bottles, scientists have developed a new spray bottle in which the trigger mechanism is automatically returned to a locked position after use. Since forgetting to close the nozzle on regular spray bottles was the cause of most of the related injuries, this new mechanism should prevent most future accidents.The designers of the new bottle are hopeful to see them in stores within the next year.

Even with new innovations to make cleaning bottles safer, your best bet is still to keep all harmful products far out of the reach of children.

Tipping For The Holidays

A common question asked when it comes to having your home cleaned is, “how much do I tip the cleaning crew?”. When it comes to tipping the cleaning crew (just like any other situation in which you would tip someone) I think it comes down to a few factor, such as; how much work was done? Were you satisfied with the job? Were they polite? Etc….. But how should you tip around the holidays? Here is an article from Market Watch which gives you tips on how to handle tipping this holiday season. 

Holiday tips are one of the first expenses to fall by the wayside when times are tough, and they’re sometimes the last to bounce back. Even though consumers say they plan to spend more on gifts, decorations and other purchases this year, experts say tipping will remain fairly flat.

Last year, 39% of consumers didn’t tip any of their service providers, up from 38% in 2010, according to the Consumer Reports National Research Center. Average tip amounts have held steady, with $20 averages for providers including garbage collectors, teachers, hairstylists, newspaper carriers and pet-care providers. “Tips are pretty uniform,” says Tobie Stanger, senior project editor for the Consumer Reports National Research Center, which tracks gifting for 10 different service providers. “We haven’t seen much of a change.”

There are some small signs that budget crunches are easing, if only slightly: 68% of people gave a cash tip or gift to their housecleaner in 2011, up from 61% the year before, according to the survey. While about the same number of people (34%) tipped a pet-care provider, more gave a check or cash, versus a gift, which could be less valuable. Some consumers are also talking about giving a little more, says Jodi R.R. Smith, founder of etiquette consulting firm Mannersmith.

Experts say tipping etiquette varies by region — states on either coast tend to focus more on cash tips, for example, while Middle America favors gifts, Stanger says. And the appropriate amount to give can vary based on local pricing. A regular stylist is typically given a gift that’s equivalent to the cost for one appointment, for instance, an amount tha may be much more or less than the median $20. Skipping the tip, however, is a bad idea no matter where you live, says Teri Rogers, the founder of real-estate guide BrickUndergound.com. You risk poor service going forward. More important, it’s rude, says Smith.

Try these tips for giving without offending:

Say thanks

Include a thank you note with any holiday tip. “Holiday giving is really a way of saying thank you,” Stanger says. A grateful note is especially important if you’re giving less than usual — or can’t afford to give at all, she says. That lets recipients know that they’re not being snubbed.

Calculate rates

The rule of thumb is to tip the cost of one session for a provider you see regularly, like a personal trainer, babysitter or lawn-care provider, says Smith. “If you’re somebody who only gets your hair cut twice a year, you can scale it down appropriately,” she says. Daily helpers like nannies, elder-care workers and dog walkers should get more: Give a week’s pay, at least. Ask neighbors what they tip for service people you don’t pay directly, such as a building superintendent or garage attendant, says Rogers. Those amounts tend to vary widely.

Consider gifts

Cash is preferable for most recipients, but in a few cases, gifts are the better choice. “In a lot of school districts, they frown upon teachers getting cash. It could be looked on as a bribe,” Stanger explains. Postal workers can’t accept cash, or any gift valued at more than $25. Consider such restrictions when deciding whether cash or a gift is more appropriate. Gift-giving etiquette means putting thought into the item you pick. A generic gift card is better than one to a specific store if you don’t know what the housekeeper likes, says Smith

 

What Are Green Cleaning Hybrids?

Here is a very informative article from Environmental Leader, on green cleaning hybrids. In the article, they explain what these hybrids are, what they consist of, and how they are used in the cleaning industry.

 

Understanding Green Cleaning ‘Hybrids’

While they have been in limited use for more than 30 years, mostly for consumer cleaning, what some call “hybrid” cleaning products — commonly known as oxygen-based, bio-based, bio-enzymatic, or bio-renewable products — are making more and more headway into the professional cleaning industry.

Before going into the reasons for this growing popularity, let’s discuss what these hybrids are, how they are used, and whether they are green. Bio-cleaners are typically derived from agricultural products such as corn, soybeans, coconuts, and citrus. Because they are made from renewable sources, they may be the ultimate in sustainable cleaning chemicals, if they have also been certified, proven safer for people and the environment.

Some bio-cleaners are bio-enzymatic cleaners. In addition to being made from agricultural products, bio-enzymatic cleaners are also formulated with specific enzymes as well as aerobic bacteria (bacteria requiring oxygen to survive) and anaerobic bacteria (bacteria that require little or no oxygen to survive) that essentially “eat” living soils.

Oxygen cleaners are another type of bio-cleaner. These contain primarily hydrogen peroxide along with surfactants and/or other ingredients.  Because of the hydrogen peroxide, some oxygen cleaners, if they have EPA (US) or Health Canada/DIN (Canada) Registration, can be used for disinfecting.

While bio-enzymatic cleaners may be used to eat soils such as bacteria that cause odors and oxygen cleaners may be used to help sanitize and disinfect surfaces where they have EPA or DIN Registration, overall, bio-cleaners can be used as alternatives to most cleaning chemicals, green or conventional.

Depending on how they are diluted, bio-cleaners can be used for such things as:

  • Cleaning and spotting carpets
  • Cleaning hard-surface floors
  • Removing grease and grime from hard surfaces
  • Cleaning restroom fixtures
  • Doing all-purpose cleaning
  • Polishing stainless steel

Some are even used for stripping floors, which serves as an indication of just how powerful bio-cleaners can be. In fact, a Massachusetts hospital tested eight different bio-cleaners used for stripping floors and found that all eight surpassed the effectiveness of the conventional floor chemical strippers that were then being used in the facility. And further evaluations found that all eight products had a reduced impact on the environment when compared to conventional floor strippers.

However, this leads us to a clarification that must be made about bio-cleaning products. While they can offer a greener and more sustainable way to clean all kinds of surfaces in a facility, they are not all green certified. Only some bio-cleaners have been proved sustainable by such organizations as Green Seal, EcoLogo, and the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Design for Environment Program. Just as with other green cleaning chemicals and products, managers must look for the eco-label on the product to ensure the bio-cleaner they are selecting is indeed proven green.*

So why are these hybrid cleaners garnering more attention today than they did, say, 25 years ago? One reason relates to what we just discussed: many have now been certified and proved sustainable. This means they may be used as part of a green cleaning program, especially in those properties seeking to be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified.

Another reason involves price and performance. As the price for these hybrid cleaners has come down, their effectiveness has improved. New technologies developed over the past few years have significantly improved these products, including developing ways to make them more cost effective.

However, the big catalyst making bio-cleaners so much more prominent in professional cleaning is the US Department of Agriculture BioPreferred program created in 2002. The program requires that a certain percentage of all cleaning products purchased for use in federal facilities be bio-cleaners registered in the Bio-Preferred Program. The program was developed to help promote the use of these products in all federal facilities around the world, create new jobs, reduce US dependence on foreign oil, promote sustainability, and help reduce cleaning’s impact on the user and the environment.

The program received a boost in 2009 when President Barack Obama issued Executive Order 13514, which encourages the purchase and use of bio-cleaners in Federal facilities wherever and whenever possible. The goal of the order is for the US government to “lead by example” by setting sustainability performance standards and selecting products that are derived from renewable resources and have less negative impact on health and the environment.

And the program is working. More and more bio-cleaners are now available for professional cleaning, and, even more important, more have been independently tested, proven sustainable, and registered in the Bio-Preferred Program.

While they will likely not entirely replace green and/or conventional cleaning products, it is expected that bio-cleaners will find their niche in professional cleaning. For instance and as expected, we are finding government facilities, school districts, and educational facilities big markets for bio-cleaners. What green-certified bio-cleaners offer facility managers is another alternative to keep their facilities clean and healthy while at the same time protecting the health of cleaning workers, building users, and the environment.

*Some bio-cleaners contain d’limonene as a key cleaning agent, which prevents them from being Green certified. D-limonene—can be a skin and respiratory irritant and cause allergic reactions for some people.

How Important Is It That Your House Cleaners Are Bonded?

What does it mean if your house cleaners are bonded? It basically means that if in the rare occasion something is stolen from your home during a cleaning service, and the employee steals, is arrested, or tried and convicted, the bonding company will cover the loss up to the amount of the bond carried by the company.

Although the hiring process is easier nowadays, with all the information you can receive about someone via online information and criminal background checks, having a company that is bonded gives some customers a sense of security. The problem is that it can be a false sense of security. Asking if a company is bonded is fine, a more important question may be, “who will be cleaning my home? How do you select, hire, and train the people who work for you?” Another important question could be about whether or not the company is properly insured, including liability and workers comp. insurance.

So, while having your cleaners bonded can be helpful in a concrete case of theft (which is very rare), it is not the most important thing you should concern yourself with when hiring a cleaning company.

Would you vacuum your dog?

More than half of U.S. households now own a pet, and they have become a big enough chore that manufacturers increasingly are introducing products and tools specially designed to clean up after them. This is from an interesting article in today’s Wall Street Journal

[image]

Pet Cleaners Promise Hair Today, Doggone Tomorrow

What Steps You Should Take If Your Cleaning Service Isn’t Up To Par

Here is an informative article from Home Cleaner Magazine, on how to handle the sometimes awkward situation of confronting a lackluster cleaning service.

What should you do when the service you are receiving from your home cleaning service is not up to par? How should you handle it; what steps should be taken?

Consumer Information for Maid Service Cleaning Complaints

Communication is key- pick up the phone let the owner/ manager know what is going on with your cleaning. They should welcome your feedback!

Let’s face it; no one likes to make those phone calls, the ones where you have to complain to someone about what they are, or in this case likely aren’t, doing.

It is human nature to not like confrontation; it would be much easier in a perfect world where everyone did what they should do, or at least what you think they should do.

However, sometimes “issues” will come up with dealing with a service oriented company. The fact is, in service businesses for now, it is people providing the service, not robots, so no matter how professional a home cleaning may be, no matter how great the recruiting, hiring, and training process may be; sometimes systems break down and items can fall between the cracks, causing lack luster results.

So, what do you do?

First, give the situation some objective thought before you immediately pick up the phone to complain. Is this an isolated event; has the cleaning been good up until now, or is it an ongoing problem that has been building?

Was the quality good; then, it began to taper off?

Second, how much does it really matter to you; is it just a small item that you “just think should be done,” or is it a serious issue with overall quality and the value you are receiving?

If it is a one time isolated mishap, or likely over sight on the cleaning team’s part, then either email or call the service owner or manager directly. Let them know what as missed or specifically what you are not happy with; bring it to their attention. Any professional service should be overwhelmingly grateful for your gift!

Yes, gift!
If you are willing to take the time to discuss the issue and if you sincerely want it to improve or be addressed because you want to keep the service, then that should be accepted as a gift. For every one client that takes the time to call and give input, there are 10 more unhappy clients who won’t bother to share, which is the only way real issues can be addressed and corrected.

If the service owner/manager  is overly defensive and challenges you on what you are telling them, then MOVE ON and find a new service.  Let them know if it is just a simple issue you are bringing to their attention that you want addressed on the next visit, or if it is a serious quality issue which the service should address immediately by sending the team back. Give the service the chance to correct what was missed and move forward; if the same issue, or other serious issues, appears, move on and find another service. On the other hand, if YOU the client is “in the wrong”, then be prepared for the service to cancel on you. Not every relationship is a fit.

All too often customers will let small issues go until those issues build up and then perhaps on a bad day all of the small issues that individually would not add up to much, all of a sudden become so much that the clients abruptly call and just cancel the service. This can be extremely frustrating to home cleaning companies that are working hard to build and run professional businesses that provide excellent service; the relationship after all must be a two way partnership if it is to be successful long term.

This information is brought to you by the Verified Home Cleaning Pro, an independent screening and verification program for professional home services. Service owners who enroll and participate in the program are required to meet stringent criteria and are screened and approved to be accepted into the program. Visit www.verifiedhomecleaningpro.org for complete information on the program and to locate a provider in your area.  If you are a professional home cleaning company, contact us about enrolling today to ensure you are in the network of service owners in your area participating in this program.

Ultrasonic Blind Cleaning

We often encounter blinds that have really been neglected during one time or move out cleanings.  In addition to  just being hand wiped, these blinds often require some extra special attention. Chris Hall from Aspen Services based in Broomfield, Colorado shared with us some details on “ultasonic blind cleaning” a service they offer along with window cleaning, gutter cleaning and window film installation.

Guest Blogger:

How do you clean blinds?  “Hang” them in the shower, vacuum them, lay them out on the driveway.  Sure all these methods do some good, but all fall short of a complete clean.  The only way to truly clean blinds (headrail, cords, slats or cells, footrail) is to have them cleaned using the ultrasonic method.

What is the ultrasonic method?  Ultrasonic blind cleaning, technically, is the use of mechanical sound waves to assist in the cleaning process.  Transducers vibrate at 40 KHz which create millions of microscopic bubbles that form then implode.  This process is known as cavitation.  The result of cavitation is a gentle and extremely through cleaning which cleans internal and other hard to reach surfaces.  Ultrasonic cleaning will not scratch, pit, or damage blinds the way conventional methods can.

This method is used by many industries from cleaning dental equipment to industrial equipment.  Blinds are immersed in a water filled chamber with a mild blind cleaning solution.  The transducers are activated for a short amount of time after which they are transferred to a rinse chamber with ultra pure water (.000-.009 total dissolved solids).  Once rinsed the blinds are hung to dry.

Aspen Services in Broomfield, CO specializes in ultrasonic blind cleaning.  You can drop your blinds off at their location or they will come to your house, take your blinds down, take them back to their shop, clean them, then return and rehang them.  For more information go to www.AspenWindow.com or call 303-818-5258.

A clean house is a best seller

Are you hoping to sell your home quickly?  When it comes to the little things that sellers do to make their homes stand out from the competition, the No. 1 step you can take, according to a recent survey of real estate agents, is cleaning the place from top to bottom.  Actually, cleaning has ranked as the top home improvement suggested by realty professionals ever since HomeGain began asking the question in 2003. In the latest survey, the agents said spending $400 on cleaning is likely to gain sellers $2,000 more at closing. That’s a 400 percent return on investment.

Here is the full story from the Chicago Tribune.

Hotel cleaning goes high-tech

Ever wonder how clean your hotel room really is? Best Western is now using black lights to detect biological matter otherwise unseen by the human eye, and ultraviolet light wands to zap it. Best Western goes high-tech to clean: CSI hotel room

 

High tech cleaning