Saturday, 19 October 2013

The Rise Of Household Help

Have you ever noticed that we seem to be getting more and more of our regular work around the house done by outside services? 

Did it ever occur to you that maybe this was nothing new?

It seems to me that 150 years ago it was common for people - especially the middle & upper classes - to have servants who did all the daily chores - like cleaning, cooking, washing, serving, driving, car cleaning etc. In fact I have been surprised when looking at our family who migrated to NZ, Australia & US in the mid to late 1800s at how many traveled with one or two servants.  And most of those families would not have been considered wealthy.

With the changes that went on around and after the first world war the use of servants dropped off for many and it became normal since then for most families (apart from the wealthy) to do most of those day to day chores themselves.  Maybe that was what drove the development of the automatic washing machine!

However, if you look at what has happened in most large cities over the last 30 years you will note the growth of businesses that are offering the services that were once provided by servants - home cleaning, lawn mowing, window cleaning, oven cleaning, car cleaning etc etc.

Have a look around the people you know and count how many are now using a service that would once have been provided by a servant -  I think you will be surprised by the number who are.  The shear growth in these businesses gives testament to the call for these services.

We may have all the "mod cons' but the one thing we are still short of is time. So rather than having a servant who "lives in" we have people coming in regularly to do the work.  We have a lawn mowing guy who mows the lawn every 2 - 3 weeks, we have a cleaner who cleans our house every 2 weeks, we take our cars to a car valet service every month for full detailing, we have the house washed once a year and so forth....

So maybe the day of the servant has not gone....just transformed.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Winter cleaning

With the dropping temperatures and rain over most of the country we are starting to see winter closing in. This means more time inside and darker days.

There are a few things you can look at now that will brighten up the house for winter and also spread some of the deep cleaning you need to do each year out a bit.

  • Give all your lights a good clean - there will be a build up of dust on some of them so now is a good time to clean this up and let the light shine. If you can take shades off them soak them in warm soapy water before wiping down and drying thoroughly. If you cannot take the shades off the use a damp microfibre cloth dipped in warm soapy water to clean the fittings. Be sure to not use too much water and make sure the lights are do not want to get any water around the electrical fittings. If you have intricate chandeliers or such then you may need to call in an expert - talk to the guys at the shop you purchased the light from.
  • Wash all your inside windows and frames. Winter is when you can get a build up of mold and gunk. Getting rid of any build up at the beginning of winter can help keep the build up down.  A good tool for the frames is a denture brush - these are often bigger and stiffer than a toothbrush and have an angled head on the top. They are great for getting right into the corners.
  • Have  alook at all the high places in the kitchen inclusing the ceiling. In winter you are more likely to be cooking with the windows shut so you are going to get more residues on the ceiling and top of cupboards etc.  This stuff needs to be cleaned of 2 or 3 times a year and winter is a great time to do one of these cleans. Keep on top of this and you will have an easier job.
Of course if you have a home cleaning service now is a good time to get them to give you a price to do all of this. They will have all the right equipment and will get the job done quickly and efficiently.

Remember also that you should be talking to your cleaner regularly - if you think they are not doing the right things tell them.  I do not come across too many cleaner who do not want to please the customer. So make sure you are talking to them regularly.  If your cleaner will not listen then you have the wrong cleaner and you should either talk to the cleaning company and ask for a replacement or seek a new cleaning company.

Your relationship with the person cleaning your home is really important. be prepared to work on this but also realise that if you cannot get this running smoothly within the first 6 - 8 cleans then you won't be able to and you should look for alternatives.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Autume home cleaning

As we head into Autumn now is a good time to be looking at a few extra things you can do in your home to set the house up for winter.  We have had a great summer so why not take advantage of the good weather to get some of theses extra chores done?

Here are a few extra things to might want to think about (assuming that your home is being cleaned regularly):

  • Move heavy furniture and clean under and behind (don't forget the cobwebs on the back of the chest of drawers!)
  • Turn all the mattresses in the house - end to end and front to back. This will help to even out wear.
  • Wash all the bed coverings - duvets, blankets, pillows etc
  • Get the carpet cleaned while the weather is still fine and the carpet will dry quickly. You should think about doing this twice a year - it will help to make the carpet last longer.
  • Clean all light fittings - if the coverings will come off take them down and wash them in warm soapy water.
  • Clean out kitchen cupboards - move everything out and wash down the shelves.  If you have some sort of shelf protector replace the worn ones.
  • Move the stove and fridge out and clean behind & under them.
  • Clean out the lint etc from the dryer (if you use one)
  • De-clutter - get rid of the "stuff" you are not using. Either put it in storage or get rid of it altogether.  You will be amazed at how much you can get rid of and how much easier the normal cleaning of your home will be.
  • Clean out the pantry - through out all old food.
Okay - too much! Sure but remember - it's all about planning. Don't try to do it all at once. Work out a plan on what you will do over the next two or three weeks then break it down into daily tasks. I would suggest no more than 1 hour at a time.  You will be surprised how much you can get through in small spurts.

Have fun....

Of course the other option is to prepare a plan with your cleaner and get them to do it....maybe a whole lot less stress this way!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Some simple cleaning ideas

We are always looking at the best ways to clean a house. Over the years we have found a few simple things make all the difference.  Whether you are doing you cleaning yourself or using a service like ours I think the following ideas may be useful:

  1. Always work from top to bottom and left to right - start in the same place in each room and try to only go round once and then do everything in the middle.  A systematic approach to cleaning means you can do it quicker and still not miss anything.
  2. Think carefully about using wet cloths.  If you find this easier then you must go over a cleaned area with a dry cloth to make sure no water marks are left.  Better, I think, to use a slightly damp cloth and only go over the area once....saves time!
  3. Glass (showers & mirrors etc) are really hard to get right. When you have finished make sure you look at the surfaces from different angles so you can see anything you might have missed.
  4. Use your eyes to work our whether a surface is dirty - only clean what is dirty. There is no point in wiping a door if there are only marks around the handle.  BUT this takes practice.  You must get this right otherwise it is just an excuse to cut corners
  5. Make sure you take everything with you that you need to clean a room. Use your cleaning apron and have plenty of spare cloths as well as white pads etc.  Again, not having to return to your cleaning bucket saves you time.
  6. Try to look at the job from the point of view of someone who has come in to check the job (E.G. The Customer!). What do they see when they first enter the room?  What will the lady of the house see when she is sitting on the toilet?  The "visuals" are really important.
  7. When you have finished the job walk around the house in the opposite direction that you cleaned in looking for anything that does not look right. Take a cloth with you.  Clean anything that is missed. Pick up any bits of fluff etc that stand out on the floors.
Have a go and see what time you can save by following the above - you might be surprised.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Getting along with your cleaner

They come, they clean and then they how should you be dealing with your cleaner? Over the years we have found that home cleaning customers sometimes struggle to get the relationship running smoothly so here are  a few ideas to think about

I guess the first thing to remember is that the cleaner is there to do a job for you so be prepared to give them feedback regularly....and then think about the following:
  1. Be professional - your relationship should be similar to one you would have with an employee. Treat the cleaner with the same respect you would someone in your work place. Try not to get too chatty or personal as this can get in the way of the cleaning work. Try not to be too bossy.
  2. Call them by their names - this is a normal courtesy.
  3. Try not to watch every move they make - a watched kettle never boils!  You know how things always go wrong when someone is watching.  Show them around your home when they start then try to keep out of their way.  If you are at home when the cleaners come(most people like to go out), try to keep out of their way and let them get on with it.
  4. Cleaning issues - if you think your cleaner is not doing the job properly or not to your liking tell them as quickly as possible - the longer you leave it the harder it becomes to resolve the issue.  If you are a SelectCleaning customer leave a friendly note in the communication book explaining how you would like things done. If you feel up to it see the cleaners before a clean and show them what you mean. This can be hard but it is worth trying - in my experience most cleaners we see now are migrants and they rely on your feedback. Equally, if they are doing a great job - let them know.  If you get to the stage where you do not think you can get them to do what you want then the advantage of using  a system like SelectCleaning is that you can always contact head office and ask for their help.
  5. Serious problems - never accuse your cleaner of a serious crime unless you have solid proof. I have seen many times in various businesses where a contractor has been blamed for stealing something only to find that someone else has moved the item.
  6. Recognise good service - if your cleaner is doing  a great job it is okay to give them a small gift or a bonus at Christmas. If your cleaner does something out of the ordinary thank them.
The key, I believe, to building a good working relationship with your cleaner is to be specific about what you want, be prepared to talk to the cleaner about any issues and to treat them with respect and courtesy.  Get this right and you will have every chance of having a long term cleaner dedicated to your service who understands what you want.

Good luck