Cleaning for a Reason and Immaculate Clean give practical help to cancer patients
Since I first wrote this blog post last year, I’ve had a dear friend get diagnosed with cancer. Thanks to what I learned by writing this blog, I was able to set her up with a cleaning session from Immaculate Clean, which she appreciated so much. I think it is worth reminding people of this amazing service offered by Immaculate Clean, so please share this info!
It’s Pinktober®, aka Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Founded in 1985, this campaign to raise awareness about breast cancer has been tremendously successful, at least from the standpoint of making the color pink synonymous with breast cancer. Think about it— these days, we all immediately recognize the meaning behind a pink ribbon, a pink 5K t-shirt, and even pink football cleats worn by an NFL player. Well-played, Pinktober marketing people, well-played. Hopefully, all the awareness spread over the past 34 years has saved many lives by encouraging women to get mammograms and leading folks to donate money toward finding a cure. All of that is important, truly good stuff.
But, having known some amazing women who have battled breast cancer and other kinds of cancer, I think I can safely say this: Awareness is cool—but action is cooler. A woman in the midst of undergoing cancer treatment is already WELL aware of it, thank-you-very-much. All of the pink balloons and pink socks in the world are not going to solve her immediate concerns that come from being thrust into an unfamiliar world full of doctors and pharmacists and life-or-death decisions, overwhelming fears about the future, and stresses about day-to-day issues that healthy people take for granted. Her thoughts at this time may look something like this:
What is going to happen to me? How is this treatment going to affect me? Is my insurance going to cover all of this? What if treatment doesn’t work?? What if the cancer comes back? I’m sick and the treatment is making me feel even worse; how am I going to continue to work and take care of my kids? How am I going to find the energy to cook meals for my family? How am I going to clean my house?
That is a lot to deal with, but, honestly, some of it should not fall onto the cancer patient’s shoulders at all. These women have to focus so hard on kicking cancer’s a$$ that they shouldn’t be burdened by concerns about things like cooking meals for their families or cleaning their house. My personal view is, if you really want to support a friend or family member who is facing a cancer battle, you should think about ways you can ease the burdens of daily life so they can concentrate completely on the one thing that matters: getting well.
This may mean offering to bring them a meal, buy groceries for them, walk their dog, or drive their kids to soccer. Anything that seems “routine” to you is probably something that they could really use some help with. Another thing you can do—and this won’t cost you a thing—is tell them about a fabulous program called “Cleaning for a Reason.”
The Cleaning for a Reason Foundation provides free house cleaning for women who are going through cancer treatments. Immaculate Clean is a proud and active partner of the Cleaning for a Reason Foundation, committed to helping women in the local community during their time of need by providing free cleaning services. The way it works is rather simple: A patient who is undergoing cancer treatments can register via the website at cleaningforareason.org. Based on a participating cleaning company’s availability, they will receive a total of two free general cleanings.
It may sound like such a simple thing, but in reality, to be able to give a cancer patient the gift of a clean home does much more than just ease a little of her workload. The peace that comes with a clean, uncluttered, fresh-smelling environment can do wonders for a patient’s spirit! It’s better for her health, too!
So, whether or not you’re wearing pink, I’m going to encourage you to spread some awareness about this important free service this Pinktober®, and take some action to help a cancer patient you may know in a meaningful way!
Lose the Guilt: We ALL Deserve a Professional Cleaning ServiceFor many of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s—I think they call us Generation X—the idea of paying someone to clean our house is something that takes some getting used to. Many of us saw our parents and grandparents fulfill traditional roles, with the dads working full-time outside of the home, while the moms stayed home and kept house. Hired help of any kind was usually seen as a luxury reserved for the wealthy, or for large, blended TV families like the Bradys who required a full-time Alice. Well, times have changed. The way families spend their spare time has changed. Our focus and priorities have changed. If your perception is still that you can’t afford or don’t deserve to hire a cleaning service, it’s time for that mindset to change as well!
Full Time Workers Deserve a Cleaning ServiceIf you work full time outside of the home, especially if you’re a parent, you already know how limited your spare time is. Evenings and weekends are filled with kids’ activities, and you barely have time for your own personal life. The last thing you need to worry about is fitting in time to scrub the floors and dust the light fixtures. If you can outsource the cleaning to someone else on a regular basis, you’ll get more sleep and you’ll have more time to spend on your family and on yourself. Please don’t fear that you are setting a bad example for your kids, either. There will always remain plenty of household chores that you can enlist their help with.
Full Time Parents Deserve a Cleaning ServiceIf you are a stay-at-home parent or work-at-home parent, you might be especially hesitant about whether you should outsource your housecleaning. Please: don’t feel guilty. Unless you are one of those rare people who loves to clean and who is extremely organized, sometimes living in the midst of the messes all day long makes it even more difficult to stay on top of them. It’s overwhelming enough to try to keep up with today’s parenting duties. Think about it: June Cleaver did not have to run the Beaver to play dates, soccer practice, Cub Scouts, piano lessons, and karate, and she wasn’t trying to run a business out of her home or be the PTO volunteer of the year. She had plenty of spare time to set her hair, scrub toilets in her apron and kitten heels, and shake up a martini to hand to her husband at the end of his long, hard day at the office, all while Wally and the Beav were outside messing around with that rascally Eddie Haskell. Now, I don’t know that the world of the Cleaver family was really an accurate depiction of life in the 1950s, but for many people and for many years, it represented an ideal for housewives to aspire to. It’s long past time to let that ideal go.
Elderly People Deserve a Cleaning ServiceIf you have elderly parents, they may be of the generation that has an even harder time accepting paid help to clean their home. But they are the ones who may need it the most. I have a 93-year-old mother-in-law who is still living independently. She is in amazingly good health for her age, but pushing a vacuum cleaner or scrubbing a bathtub could be dangerous for her. A regular cleaning service keeps her place sanitary and germ-free and helps to keep her floor space cleared of objects she could trip over. It’s not a luxury; it’s truly an important safety consideration.
Who Can Afford a Cleaning Service?Most of us can’t afford to hire an Alice to live with us and cook and clean for our family each day. But fortunately, there are options that can make housecleaning fit into even the tightest budget. Immaculate Clean offers many different levels of service, and are flexible enough to consider your budget and your individual cleaning needs. They offer one-time cleanings and recurring service options ranging from weekly, biweekly, or monthly. So, what are you waiting for? Lose the guilt and call Immaculate Clean today: 410-549-0727. To paraphrase Oprah, “YOU deserve a professional cleaner! And YOU deserve a professional cleaner! You ALL deserve a professional cleaner!”
Our New Blogger, Karen WalkerNow introducing the new writer for our blog—Karen Walker! Karen Walker is a freelance writer, wife, mother, and admitted “serial clutterer” on a mission to perfect the art of juggling a work-at-home career with parenting and maintaining a household. She blogs about first world problems and more here: www.lifeinanutshell.blog. She will be writing blogs for us moving forward, in fact here is her first post. Be sure to stay tuned and continue the conversation with her blog posts on our Facebook page.
Show The Master Some LoveIf you could peek inside my master bedroom right now, you would understand the stark irony surrounding the idea of ME being a writer for a blog about cleaning. In fact, when I told my mom I was going to be doing this, she laughed for about 10 minutes straight. The truth is, I am not a neat person by nature. When I was a teenager, I had a big poster hanging on my bedroom door that said, “My Room: Love It or Leave It,” depicting a cartoon rendering of a typical, messy teenage girl’s bedroom: books, banana peels, and record albums (the vinyl kind; that’s how old I am) littering the floor, unmade bed, clothes draped on furniture, open dresser drawers, etc. I just have always been a little bit “clutter-blind.” Fast forward 30-something years, and I’ve certainly matured a bit in that regard. Living in constant fear of “drop-in” company, I have learned to keep the common areas of my house fairly neat and clutter-free, most of the time. Unfortunately, though, based on the belief that pretty much no one besides my husband and me is ever going to step foot into the master bedroom, that tends to be the room where the clutter collects, and it tends to be the room that I neglect the most when it comes to cleaning, organizing, or even decorating. Based on conversations with friends, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. When you think about it, it makes sense. As a woman and a mom, I know that we often focus our energy on others’ well-being above our own. It is sometimes hard for us to think of ourselves as deserving or important enough to take the time to care for ourselves, and by extension, to care for the one room in the house where we spend the most time. But it also makes sense that spending some time focusing on our bedrooms could lead to less stress and more productivity in all areas of our lives. I’m not a big believer in feng shui, but I do believe that even if our eyes are closed for most of the hours we spend in our bedroom, if we are spending that time surrounded by chaos and clutter, we will start each day with brains full of chaos and clutter. So, I’ve decided it’s time to take some action. But how does someone like me, a serial clutterer, go about making our bedroom a clean, lovely haven where we can start and end each day feeling calm and maybe even a little bit pampered?
Hire a Cleaning ServiceThe first step for me is having an Eldersburg, MD cleaning service like Immaculate Clean come in on a regular basis. In my case, this means that every other Thursday I am forced to put away clothes and clear surfaces of clutter—you know, the “clean before the cleaning crew” ritual. It also means that every other Thursday, I know my bed is going to be made up crisp and neat, the floor is going to be freshly swept, and the room is going to smell clean and dust-free.
Purge the WardrobeThe next step, which I am in the process of working on right now, involves cleaning out drawers and closets and sending old clothes to Goodwill. It dawned on me recently that one of the things I was spending a lot of time doing in my every-other-Thursday pre-cleaning ritual was putting away the clean clothes that had been sitting in laundry baskets in my room for days at a time. I finally figured out that the reason I kept procrastinating on putting the clothes away was because it was always a struggle to find room to put them! My drawers were overflowing with outfits I never wore, and it was hard to find room—not to mention empty hangers—to hang clothes in my closet. So I’ve started to purge, with the goal of clearing out one drawer each day. That approach keeps it manageable, yet still rewards me with a feeling of accomplishment.
AccessorizeThe final step: It’s time to make our room look and feel like a luxurious resort. I’ve been gathering ideas on Pinterest, ordering resort-quality sheets, and am planning a date with Pier One and HomeGoods this weekend to shop for new wall-hangings and accessories. For the price of one weekend in a nice hotel, I should be able to do enough redecorating to make it feel like we’re on vacation every single night. And don’t we all deserve that feeling? If we just take some time to show the master bedroom a little love, it can love us right back.
The Madness and Messiness of FamilyMy son comes home tomorrow. The end of his freshman year in college. His twin sister returned a few weeks ago. Our home will finally feel whole again. It may also feel like complete chaos. Family is messy, and not just in the literal sense of the expression. Yes, there will be more dishes in the sink and more laundry to do. I will need to go to the grocery store more often, cook more, and, in general, spend more money. Somehow, more bodies around will not equal more helpers in the house. Just more stuff. It will also mean more disarray and turmoil for all of us. My youngest and I have gotten used to the calm and quiet of just two of us in the house. It seemed strange at first. We were once a family of five in a large home with two dogs. All of a sudden we were two, in a small house, with one little dog. It took some adjusting, but we have our routines now and we have gotten quite comfortable in our new norm. Life seems far simpler than it did. With the return of her siblings, rivalries start stirring again for my youngest. Arguments over who is meaner to whom, which child is, in fact, the golden child, and whose turn it is to walk the dog will start permeating our days. The twins, being twins, have always had their sidekick, so there’s a constant two against one mentality among the three. And, I will repeatedly be trying to bring peace without demonstrating any favoritism. If I scold one this time, it must be another the next. Adding divorce into the equation makes things even more complicated. My youngest follows a specific schedule for where she stays and when. Her brother has agreed to generally go along with that. His twin, on the other hand, is far more interested in convenience. “Where do I want to sleep tonight and for what reason?” seems to be her mantra. Considering she’s almost 20 (OMG!), it’s a bit nonsensical to demand she follow a specific schedule, but it definitely creates more confusion as to who is coming and going. There will undoubtedly be moments when I am holding my breath, counting the weeks until college starts again. I’m sure the same can be said for my oldest two as well. And, I know my youngest will announce at least once a day that she can’t wait until her brother…or her sister…or both, go back to school. But, there will also be moments when I never want the time to end. I will look around at the messy house and thank God that I still have all three kids coming home. I will hopefully ignore the arguing and sibling rivalries, and remember to savor the time we have together. I will count my blessings and remember that not everyone is so lucky to have the madness, and messiness, of family.
Wash, Dry, Fold and Repeat (and Repeat, and Repeat…)The never ending cycle of household chores. You put the clothes in the wash, then the dryer. You fold the clothes, and put them away. Next, you turn around, and the laundry basket is full and ready to be washed again. Same goes for the dishes, and the groceries. You make your bed just so you can sleep in it. You sweep and the kids track dirt in as your putting the broom away. The counters need to be wiped down every time the sun shines in, and the shower door has a never-ending film of soap scum. Let’s not even talk about closets. Or, junk drawers. You take everything out, buy the necessary organizational tools, put everything neatly away, and it all looks great. Fast forward a few months…or weeks…or days, and it looks the same as it did before you spent all of the time organizing. There are those few, rare individuals who never seem to have anything out of place. They’re the really smart ones who put something away as soon as they’re done with it. And, even better, they put it back in the same place they found it. I may have used the word ‘anal’ to describe someone like this at one time or another. Truth be told, I’m just jealous. I wish I had that trait. Instead, I inherited the “Oh good God, do I really have to clean again?” gene. Not sure from where I got it. Certainly, not my mother. She’s one of those enviable, everything-is-always-clean types. I’m not like her. In fact, the only time my house looks even close to how hers always does is when my mother is coming to visit. It also looks good when she leaves, but that’s only because she keeps it that way. Truly, I’m not sure how people do it. Then again, I can’t stand the opposite either. It drives me nuts when my house is a mess. I see every crumb on the floor, every hair on the bathroom sink. I hate dirty dishes in the sink and the clothes all over the floor in my daughter’s room. And, the non-dated leftovers in the refrigerator drive me batty. I just wish I wasn’t the one who had to do something about it all. I always loved the book, The Cat in the Hat. You know, the part where the cleaning thingamajig comes in and cleans up the house. It’s like a dream come true. If only someone could create such a thing. In the meantime, I’ll have to stick to doing things the old-fashioned way. I’ve got to get off my butt and do what needs to be done. Of course, having a cleaning service can make things a lot easier. Even if you can’t have service on a regular basis, a one-time cleaning will certainly help. Call Immaculate Clean for more information, (410) 549-0727.
Remembering the Crazy Days of MotherhoodThe amazing, Dawn Fiscella, Owner of Immaculate Clean, recently suggested I write about how crazy life can be for us moms. She’s right. I know that. I remember it well. The thing is, it’s not my life anymore so I was struggling with how to write about it. Then it occurred to me, that’s the point. My life is different now. But, how, and why, did it change? The answer is rather simple. I stopped. I stopped running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I stopped saying yes to everything that was asked of me. I stopped feeling guilty about saying no. I stopped caring if I was everyone’s image of the perfect mother. And, I stopped beating myself up for my failures. Yes, the answer is simple. But, how I got to it was a lot more complicated. It’s not like I set out to change the craziness of life. I wasn’t searching for the answer to slow it all down. And, in all honesty, I’m not sure I’d want to go through it all again. Yet, I am absolutely thrilled to be where I am today. There was a time when I was a married, business-owner, mother of three who got the kids off to school in the morning, went to the gym, and spent the next five hours in her store. The second half of my day started when the kids got home from school. I somehow fed them and then spent the rest of the afternoon and evening running them around town. Bedtime came after they were all asleep and the house was at least livable. Of course, there were also the dogs to take care of, and so on, and so on. I’m sure this describes most of you. Especially those of you with younger children, and the energy to keep it all going. It’s definitely become the norm of parenting. Of course, it doesn’t really get any easier when the kids get older. Their activities get more intense, issues more significant and your worry level skyrockets. The overall craziness seems to intensify. That was my life until other things started to get in the way. First of all, I got divorced. Divorce changes things. As a parent, it changes how much time you have with your kids and who is responsible for what. It forces you to let go of some things. You’re pushed to allow your ex to handle things that you would have otherwise. When you’re going through divorce, you’re also an emotional mess. It gets easy to say no to things because you know you’d be worthless at getting it done anyway. Besides, you really don’t want to have to force your miserable self on anyone so it’s easier to just stay away. And, since your kids are now the product of a broken family, how bad is it if you forget to send their lunch to school? Seriously, most people expect it. “You’ll have to excuse them…Their parents are going through a divorce.” The comments seem harsh at first, but after a while you learn to just go with it. It makes things easier. Of course, shortly after getting divorced, I developed a major hip problem. When you can’t walk very well, it’s difficult to do much. Again, it makes it very easy to say no. And, when you have a full brace and crutches after surgery, people don’t even bother to ask. The pressure to work out every day also diminishes when walking is a challenge. That gave me at least an extra hour or so each day to do whatever else I needed to do. Over the next few months, I moved, stopped working, and two of my kids went off to college. All of these things brought more challenges and stress, but they also put things in perspective. Life is complicated. There is no doubt about it. And, it is oftentimes overwhelming and seemingly out-of-control. But, if we stop, if we take a deep breath and figure out what’s really important, life can be even better. Yesterday, I took my daughter to soccer practice, in her cleats. Of course, it was an indoor practice on a gym floor where cleats are not allowed. A few years ago this would have totally stressed me out. I would have been yelling at my daughter, flying down the highway to pick up her sneakers and rushing back just so she could join the group for the last twenty minutes of practice. This time, I looked at her, said, “oops,” and asked her if she was staying or coming home with me. I have learned that the kids will survive despite my failures. In fact, they might learn from my mistakes. And, I’ve realized that whatever activity they are involved in now, may not be their passion in a few more years. To get all upset over a missed practice, is really pointless. I understand now that if I say no to something, someone else will say yes, and it will get done. And, I’ve learned that I may not be a perfect mother, but I love my children with all of my heart and I’m doing my best. So, yes, parenting can be crazy. And, there are probably a million ways to slow it down. (Hiring a cleaning service is certainly one way!!) Hopefully, all of you can find easier ways to do so then I did. But, whatever it takes, try. It’s far more enjoyable.
Spring Cleaning…Already?I swear I was just writing about preparing your home for the winter. How is it the middle of February already? And, the weather is just adding to the confusion with temps in the 60s. Personally, I love the nice weather, but it really does draw attention to all of the dirt I’ve been avoiding. After a weekend of extraordinary temperatures, I noticed a few things I need to get to as soon as possible. A deep cleaning will come eventually, but for now, here are a few things to kick-off the process:
The WindowsIt really is a bummer when the sun is shining in and all I can see are the spots all over the windows. Not to mention, when I go to open them, I notice the cobwebs and dead bugs caught between the windows and screens. It’s definitely time to give them a good cleaning. Use a good window cleaner and a lint-free cloth on the glass. Spray the cleaner on the window and give it a minute to set before wiping it clean. Make sure you wipe the outside of the windows too. If your windows are difficult to reach, it’s worth calling a window cleaning company for best results. After wiping the glass, give the frames and sills a wipe down. A vacuum hose works great for this task.
The FloorsThe mud season is rapidly approaching so now is the time to get rid of the winter residue. Start with the area rugs. If washable, throw them in the machine to get them clean. Otherwise, take them outside and give them a good shake. While the rugs are getting some fresh air, tend to the hard surfaces and carpeted areas. For hard surfaces, make sure to get rid of dust and debris before mopping. The professionals at Immaculate Clean suggest using a handheld vacuum rather than sweeping. When mopping, vinegar diluted in water is sufficient for wood floors, but Mr. Clean Professional Floor Cleaner is highly recommended for the best clean. Wipe down the baseboards for a complete cleaning. As for the carpeted rooms, start with a good vacuuming and edging around the baseboards. However, they’re probably also due for a professional cleaning. As we learned in What’s Hiding in Your Carpet?, professional cleaning on a quarterly basis is recommended to best maintain your carpets.
The GarageBetween the car tires and kids’ boots, the garage floor is a disaster by this time of year. Of course, I’ve also dumped a bunch of stuff that I didn’t want to deal with in the cold weather like cardboard boxes to be recycled and exterior holiday decorations that I didn’t get around to putting away. Take advantage of the nice weather by pulling everything outside and really cleaning the floor. As with the other hard surfaces, sweep first, then mop. Mildly soapy water is perfect for the concrete surface. Don’t forget to clean any windows and wipe down the corners where spider webs might be hiding. Once the floor dries, you can start organizing what needs to go back in and what you can get rid of. I’m thinking a blog on organizing the garage is on the horizon.
The ExteriorNow that the snow is gone, I can see all of the trash and debris that has collected on my yard. Having just gone through a renovation project, I’m finding all kinds of construction scraps, too. Personally, I’m not a yard-work type person. I generally leave it to the professionals, but there are some basic things needed to be done to ensure a minimum level of curb appeal. Start by getting rid of any leftover holiday decorations and dried out planters. Next, pick up the trash and any large branches that may have fallen. Finally, sweep off the walkways and porches. It may not be worthy of a landscaper’s stamp of approval, but it’s a start. Spring hasn’t totally sprung yet, but it’s not too early to get started. You want to get going before the mud of the upcoming season makes its way in the house. If you’re too overwhelmed with everything else going on in life, leave it to the professionals at Immaculate Clean. Give them a call at 410-549-0727. Voted the “Best of Carroll County” for the past 7 years!!
How Often Should You Clean Your Home?So your sister stops by to drop off a box of your painting supplies she borrowed a few weeks ago to paint her new apartment. She asks you where to put them and you point her to the basement. She returns horrified at the amount of dust and spider webs in your unfinished basement. You call her a “neat freak” and you laugh about it. But deep inside you start to question your cleanliness standards. Should you clean that basement even if you only use it for storage? Do you vacuum often enough? These are some good questions and our Maryland home cleaning experts are here to help you find the answers.
Why Cleaning is ImportantTo determine how often you should clean, let’s first determine what cleaning does and why it’s important. CLEANING:
- Makes your home look, smell and feel nice
- Eliminates dust and other allergens
- Reduces spreading of germs
Cleaning in an Average HouseholdHow often you clean will largely depend on how fast your place becomes messy and dirty. Generally, the more you use a room, the more frequently you should clean it. Consider cleaning the following rooms on a daily or weekly basis:
- Living Room
- Entrance hallway
- Break up clutter and put items where they belong
- Wipe kitchen countertops and stove top after cooking
- Wipe spills as they happen
- Collect dirty laundry in baskets
- Wash dishes as they get used
- Clean toothpaste residue inside sinks and wipe bathroom countertops
- Sweep/vacuum the floors
- Empty and clean kitchen sinks
- Do the laundry
- Wipe dust and fingerprints off the furniture
- Polish wooden furniture
- Empty trash cans and recycling
- Scrub the toilet, shower and/or bath as needed
- Clean the cat’s litter box and the space around it
- Throw away spoiled foods from the fridge
Extra Cleaning DutiesWe’ve covered the basics above, but there are plenty more places left around the house that may need cleaning. Some people choose to embark on massive annual cleaning sprees, also known as “spring cleaning.” But some of these things may have to be done on a more frequent basis, which will depend on your lifestyle and personal habits. Consider tackling the following list on the quarterly, bi-annual or annual basis, or as you see fit:
- Wash all windows and glass doors inside and out
- Wash window treatments or wipe the dust off blinds
- Wash removable cushion covers from couches
- Steam-clean upholstery and carpets
- Wash baseboards and wipe dust from crown molding
- Clean door handles, light switches and cabinet knobs
- Clean lighting fixtures and ceiling fans
- Wash inside of trashcans
- Clean underneath movable furniture and appliances
- Wipe the inside and outside of the bathroom and kitchen cabinets
- Clean inside appliances: fridge, oven, dishwasher and washer
- Wash the kitchen backsplash
- Clean remote controls, cellphone and computer keyboard.
- Wash pillows, blankets, throws and comforters