The Maids Blog

The Maids Blog

Vacuuming

vacuum

At The Maids, the vacuum we use is state-of-the-art.  Ours is a specialty back-pack vacuum with HEPA filtration.  HEPA stands for “high efficiency particulate air (absorber)”.  HEPA is an industry-defined-standard by The American Society for Mechanical Engineers.  To meet the standards to qualify as HEPA, a vacuum must be able to capture 99.9% of particles measuring 0.3 microns or more.

Well then- how small is 0.3 microns?  To place it in perspective, the diameter of a human hair is about 100 microns, of a red blood cell about 7 microns, and of an E. coli bacterium about 1 micron.  Most  pollens and other allergens are larger than the 0.3 micron limit.  HEPA-filtered vacuums can capture all of these and more.

Our back-pack vacuum allows us to efficiently vacuum carpets, rugs, and hard surface floors. And by using extensions and specialty tools, it also allows us to edge carpets and reach high places including recessed lighting and ceiling fans.

We don’t move dirt and dust around.  At The Maids, we capture the dirt, dust, and allergens in your home- and remove it!

 

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Steps to Decrease the Amount of Dust in Your Home

dust

 

We all know that you can’t totally eliminate dust from your home, but you can take some steps to keep it under control:

  1. Leave shoes in the entry way after entering your home. Many of us are a little uncomfortable with this, because we feel it may offend some guests.  It’s your choice, but it will help decrease the amount of soil and pollen brought in from the outside. And don’t forget your own shoes!
  2. Minimize the amount of time that your doors and windows open. It’s nice to have fresh air brought into the home, but fresh air also carries with it dust and pollen. Screens will capture some dust, but far from all.
  3. Change bedding once a week. Bedding is a great place for dust to settle, and it is also a perfect environment for dust mites. So change your pillow cases and bedding every week.
  4. Vacuum your carpeted floors at least once a week, and more often if you have the time. Carpets are also guilty of being great resting places for dust, and also a perfect environment for dust mites.  If you are deciding between carpet and a hard surface floor, the hard surface floor wins hands-down from a dust perspective.
  5. Vacuum your upholstered furniture at least once a week.
  6. Dust at least once a week. Don’t use a feather duster or a dry standard cloth. A feather duster just moves the dust around. Instead use a damp cloth or a microfiber cloth, which will capture the dust. And dust from top to bottom.
  7. Consider air purifiers. They aren’t perfect, but they will help control the air-born dust, and they can be beneficial to those with severe allergies.  Air purifiers have a limited range, so consider one for each room that you spend a lot of time in.

 

What’s In Household Dust?

At The Maids, we consider ourselves experts on dirt and dust. It’s our job to remove them from your home.

First, let’s dispel an urban myth that claims that household dust is largely made of shed human skin cells. Not true.  Although skin cells are present, they are only a very small fraction of household dust.

Well then, what’s in it? Dust can come from only two places- from the outdoors or from indoors. Dust from the outdoors largely consists of particles of soil and pollen granules (allergies!).  On the inside, dust consists of small pieces of fiber from furniture, carpets, and bedding.  The other major component is from organic sources- dander from pets (allergies!), small particles from insects or bugs, and yes, the occasional skin cell. Human hair and pet hair can also contribute to dust, and they are often found associated with fluffy dust (aka dust bunnies).

Below are  two microscopic photos of household dust.

 

dust

 

In an accompanying blog we will provide you with some tips for minimizing the dust in your home.  You can’t eliminate dust, but you can take steps to control it.

The Maids Training

At The Maids, we take training very seriously. Of course we train our new employees in our unique system of cleaning.  But it doesn’t end there.  Every day is a training day at The Maids, even for our established employees.  As an example, our Field Managers meet with our Team Leaders every morning in a classroom setting. They review The Maids cleaning system, cleaning tips, safety issues, and much more. And when we do mess up in a customer’s home (yes, occasionally that happens), we use it as a learning and training experience, instead of an excuse for taking someone to the woodshed. Shown below are our Field Managers, Konni and Tracy, working with teams and individuals during the morning preparation period.

 

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Move-Out & Move-In Cleaning

Planning to move?  Few things are more stressful. And then when everything is moved, packed and out of the house, there is still one gigantic task left- cleaning!  Floors, cabinets, sinks, tubs, showers…they need attention. Do you really want to scrub the shower when you have all of the other moving-related activities on your list?

And when you move into your new place, you may be disappointed when you find it is not up to your standards.

At The Maids, we offer move-out and move-in cleaning by our professionally trained teams. One-time cleans, occasional cleaning, or continuing service- no commitment and no contract. We’re here to help.

 

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Choosing a House Cleaning Service: What is your risk exposure?

How do you choose a house cleaning service?  There are a lot of options out there, from one-person operations, to large independents, to the large franchise operations.  The Maids is one of the latter.

One way to look at the choice is through the lens of liability exposure that you take on when you let someone on your property or into your home. Stuff happens- people slip and fall on walkways and in homes; expensive items can be damaged.  And imagine a collision in your driveway where a service person’s vehicle backs into your car.  A $1,000 to $3,000 repair bill would not be unusual for a fender bender.  Can the service provider afford to pay you for the damage that he/she caused?   They could be a single person operation or an un-insured business without the financial ability to pay that bill.

At The Maids, we don’t take any shortcuts in our efforts to protect you and our employees.  We are licensed by Washington State Department of Revenue. We are bonded are insured.   Our employees are just that- not 1099 contractors or subcontractors.  Thus, we pay payroll taxes to comply with IRS rules; and we pay workmen’s compensation premiums through the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. If an on-the-job injury happens to our employees, they are covered by our workmen’s compensation policy. And when we hire, we conduct criminal background checks. Finally, we provide company vehicles for our employees and the insurance that goes with it. And we pay our employees for the drive time from our office to your home, between homes, and back to the office in our company insured vehicles.

Simple steps such as the above protect our employees and our customers.  When choosing a house cleaning service, make sure that you get verified answers to the following questions from any service provider that you consider:

  1. Are you licensed to conduct business in the state of Washington?
  2. Are your workers actual company employees (and thus paid through W-2) or are they 1099 contractors?
  3. Do you pay workmen’s compensation premiums to the Department of Labor and Industries?
  4. Do you have business liability insurance? And if so, do you carry at least $1,000,000 of coverage?
  5. Do you perform criminal background checks on your new hires?

If you have any doubts- verify! Ask, for example, for their UBI number that the state issues to licensed businesses. Ask for a certificate of insurance, which lists their insurance carrier, the coverage period, and the amounts of coverage.

And once you feel confident that you are dealing with a professional company, then you can begin your due diligence on the quality of service that they provide.

Our Field Managers

We are very proud of our Field Managers-Konni and Tracy!  Both started as Team Members, worked their way up to be Team Leaders, and eventually were promoted to the Field Manager position. Konni has been with The Maids for 15 years, most of that as a Field Manager. Tracy has only been with The Maids for a little over a year, but she rapidly moved through the ranks and has recently been promoted to Field Manager for her outstanding performance.

And just what do Konni and Tracy do?  Short answer: a lot.  In the mornings as the teams arrive and prepare for their day, Konni and Tracy meet with the Team Leaders and discuss their cleaning schedule and their customers.  They also huddle with the Team Leaders as a group every morning in a classroom setting where they provide technical training and leadership training.

Later, when the teams are out in client’s homes, they visit teams and provide on-site training and tips, as well as performing quality inspections. Often, they will meet with clients to discuss their homes and their cleaning needs.  And throughout the day-  stuff happens- and the Field Managers take care of it.  They may need to run a vacuum out to a team when theirs needs a repair. Or they may need to counsel a team when they run into a particularly challenging clean.

Back at the office in the later afternoon, they complete their paperwork and prepare for the next day.  They identify newer employees that may need additional training based on feedback from the Team Leaders. And they review the performance of their Team Leaders and decide the topics to discuss in their morning huddles.

There’s a lot more that they do, but we thought we would give you a summary of their primary responsibilities.

So hats off to Konni and Tracy for performing such a vital role for The Maids!

Field Managers

Field Managers Tracy (left) and Konni

Cleaning For A Reason

Cleaning for a Reason

 

The Maids is a proud partner of Cleaning for a Reason®.  Cleaning for a Reason is a nonprofit organization that gives the gift of free house cleaning to women undergoing treatment for any type of cancer. As a partner, our goal is to let these brave and strong women focus on their health treatment while we focus on, and take away the worry and the work of cleaning their homes- free of charge.

To date, Cleaning for a Reason has provided almost 30,000 free house cleanings for women with cancer, and we are proud that our office has contributed to this effort in our service area of south Snohomish County, North King County, Seattle, and the Eastside.

 

To learn more about Cleaning for a Reason, visit their website at cleaningforareason.org.

Cleaning for a reason

 

We Say “No” to Bleach and Dust Wands

At The Maids, we say “no” to bleach and “no” to dust wands.

Don’t get us wrong- bleach (aka sodium hypochlorite) is a great disinfecting, whitening, and brightening chemical. And it smells clean.  But here is our objection.  It’s too harsh.  Make a minor mistake resulting in a small spill, and you’ve got a nice white spot on your blue jeans, on your sweater, or on your carpet.  Make a major mistake, and you may be replacing a whole carpet. And for our employees, it is harsh enough that a spill on bare skin, or a droplet in the eye can cause serious health issues.  Not to mention the bleach stains on their uniforms that are almost impossible to avoid. And we don’t our employees breathing bleach fumes all day.  So at The Maids, we don’t use bleach.  Instead we use environmentally friendly cleaning products that are great cleaning agents without the risks associated with bleach.

As for dust wands- yuk!  Sure they capture some of the dust sitting on top of that china cabinet.  But try this- use a dust wand in an area where sunlight is streaming into the room.  What you will see is that the dust wand is great at moving dust around, but not very good at capturing it. At the Maids, we use micro-fiber cloths that are specifically designed to capture the dust, not just move it from here to there.

Why We Would Like A Key To Your Home

A few of you have “keyless” entry into your home, and you can skip this particular posting. The majority of homeowners still use a key to get into their homes.  This blog is for you.

As a client of The Maids, we want your house key. It makes our lives so much easier. If we have your key, we can get into your home- no ifs, ands, or buts.

Some clients are reluctant to give us a key for security reasons. They would rather hide it, for example, under the floor mat or under a flower pot.  That’s a mistake. Even the rookie thief is aware of the concealed key trick.

Others of you are home when we come to clean, and you grant us entry.  So we shouldn’t need a key, right? But what if you have to run out on a last-minute errand? What if you go out of town on vacation but still need us to clean your home?

If we have a key, we eliminate the security issue associated with hiding a key, and we eliminate the need for you to be home when the team arrives.  For us, that means we don’t send a team to your home only to find out that we can’t gain access. That causes a problem for us.

And rest assured that your key is very secure at The Maids. First, your key is stored in a secure lock box in a secured limited-access office, which only management can enter.   Second, your key is coded with a unique identifier- your name and address are not included.   Third, our office has a security system to deter any potential troublemakers.  And worst case, if your key is somehow either lost or stolen, there is no identifier on it that would lead someone to your home.

So give us a key to your home, please!  You can rest assured that your house key is in good hands.