Friday, April 30, 2010

The BIZZ: Practice makes perfect!

I thought this morning I'd take the time to tell you a little bit about how I got started.  It wasn't easy!  It took almost 6 months before I had a full schedule, making enough money to survive.  There are probably easier and better ways to begin business than the way that I did, but I didn't have the things that would have helped with that.

The idea of cleaning had not entered my mind until I met an actual cleaning lady.  She had started in college and had continued on her own afterward.  As I talked to her, I realized that it was something that I might be able to do too!  To see if I had it in me, I started offering to clean friend's and family's houses for free.  There were lots of things that I learned from those experiences like what I was good at and what I needed to work on, what types of products worked and which ones I liked, and the most important thing was getting an idea of what I would charge and how I wanted to set up my business model.

This post in particular is going to highlight this period of time over others because, on the job experience IS necessary and will come with time, but the time I spent practicing made all the difference!  If you are thinking about cleaning for a living, start by doing it....a lot.  One thing people don't realize is that there is a learning curve involved in cleaning.  Sure you can clean a tub in however long it takes you but what if you are running out of time or the lighting is dim or you don't have a good product to use, knowing what to do in these situations is important!  This must sound silly, but I can promise you that learning to clean more quickly and efficiently is necessary and not always common sense!

So get out there young cleaners!  Make sure you get a lot of practice.  Make sure you know what you're doing.  Make sure you know what you are worth!  Someone asked me if I was worried about giving out all my cleaning business secrets as if reading what I've written would suddenly create a flood of cleaners to the market or would "teach" people how to clean their houses.  In truth most people who have their houses cleaned know how to clean them, they just don't have the time to do so.  And as for creating a mob of new cleaning personnel....

     The job is hard and it's not for everyone but it does have its small rewards, and I do own my own business.  I guess I'm saying I'm not worried.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

What's In The Cleaning Lady's Bucket?

This is a segment dedicated to my personal favorites from glass cleaners, to sponges, earth friendly or not, this is what's in my bucket!  The info I post here is as much for me as it is for you.  In this business it is really good to know what you're dealing with for the safety of you and the clients!

Mrs. Meyer's All Purpose Cleaner Lavender

This stuff is honestly such a great thing with which to clean!  Here are the reasons it rocks and also a recipe to make it last waaaaaaaay longer so that you get the most for your money!

        • When cleaning for a long time, it is extra nice to enjoy the smell of what you are using!  Mrs. Meyers is perfect for this reason.  I almost get excited about using these products because they smell so good!  My favorite scents from the line include lavendar, geranium, basil, and lemon verbana in that order.  

        • This product works great.  I suggest getting the all purpose cleaner and an empty spray bottle and mixing your own.  The product is kinda soapy.  Here is the recipe to not only make it last longer but to truly be able to use it on everything from mirrors to wood furniture to plastic and more.
            • Mix in a spray bottle about a 1/8 to 1/4 cup (depending on how powerful it needs to be) mrs. meyers all purpose cleaner with about a cup of vinegar.  Add water to the mixture until it reaches the top of the bottle.  DONE!

        • The only thing that I would like to see handled differently is the disclosure of product info on the label.  I am a big advocate for the consumer being able to know what they are buying and labeling is one of the best ways to help consumers maintain power in choosing what to consume.  Because the info is not on the label I have included this link to Mrs. Meyer's homepage which includes a disclosure of sorts about their environmentally safe and cruelty free methods.    

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Air Quality Knowledge B.U.G.!

I am a big fan of taking in information in small bits so this segment is dedicated to the vast array of resources on the topic of air quality paired down to a link and a couple comments at a time!

We will probably revisit this particular page quite a bit since it is so chock full of amazing links and info!

I suggest reading the intro on the page.  The first thing it will tell you is the types of pollutants and the reasons why they exist around the house.  I think the important thing to remember when reading this type of material is not to lose your head thinking you have to change immediately today.  Some indicators that you should look into your home's air quality are if you are getting sick regularly, your sinuses are in overdrive, the odor of the house is stale or bad, or if you are just curious about how much better you might feel as a result!  

Monday, April 26, 2010

Cleaning tip number 2: Top to Bottom, Room to Room

Whether its your home or whether you are cleaning someone else's, a good rule of thumb is to always work top to bottom completing one room at a time! In my own business, I always start with dusting and follow this rule to insure that I don't miss a thing! If you haven't dusted in a while, be sure to include dusting the ceiling and the walls. Cobwebs, corners, and baseboards are really easy to miss, especially in dim light so also make sure to turn on every light possible!

I've talked about dusting before, and I will again because it is very hard to keep things dust free and it is one of the most common indoor air pollutants! It is also one of the things that people are most commonly allergic too! Thus the war against dust rages on, and in our weapons stock pile, lets consider how to attack it using our new rule -top to bottom, and my favorite tool -the telescopic dusting wand!

Photo from the website

There are many types of dusting wands, but by far my favorite is the static duster with telescoping wand. There are many reason why I choose this type over other types. It is without a doubt the easiest to use, the easiest to clean after use, and the easiest to store. I am a very very sad panda if I ever forget this tool on a job!

Keeping in mind our new rule -clean top to bottom, this tool allows you to easily reach and clean ceilings (especially textured ones), the tops of door jams and window sills, walls, blinds, moulding, the brick of fire places, behind furniture, baseboards, and the crevices of wood. It is great on bookcases and in intricate or textured surfaces. The basic idea when using this tool is to grab and sweep dust off surfaces to ideally land on the floor where it can then be vacuumed up.

I've already highlighted the pros , so let's talk about the cons. It does not remove ALL the dust. Its really pretty impossible to do since the nature of dust is to float around until it settles. It probably grabs about 60% of the dust off a surface with it's "static" qualities. Using this tool, about half the dust will be thrown back into the air but that is keeping in mind that the goal here is to get it off the high places and let it settle to the low places where you can then vacuum or wipe it up.

Another con is if you have allergies, this tool is difficult to use. Since it throws dust back into the air, it will aggravate your sinuses. If you are super sensitive to dust it is best to look into vacuuming dust with an extender hose, wand and brush attachment.

Now that you know the tool, the method, and the details of its abilities, we'll return to the original message which is to always clean from the top to the bottom of a room. If you do this in each room, you will minimize dust, you will be more thorough, and you home or clients will be super happy!

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