Monthly Archives: October 2012

How to Clean a Drip Coffee Maker

Hard water stains on your coffee pot are not attractive, and the deposited coffee oils and gunk can make your cup of joe taste bad too. To clean a drip coffee maker follow these steps:

1.) Fill the coffee carafe with a 1:2 ratio of white vinegar to water. Pour it into the reservoir of the coffee maker.

2.) Put a filter in the coffee maker as usual.

3.) Run the coffee maker, letting it go through its normal cycle.

4.) Turn the coffee maker off. Allow the liquid to cool 15 minutes.

5.) Discard the vinegar water and hand wash the carafe and filter basket.

6.) Repeat a second time.

We can clean coffee makers as part of our general cleanings of homes. To schedule a cleaning or for a FREE quote, give us a call at (312) 829-9600. You can also visit Maid in Chicago’s website and fill out our online form.

How to hire a maid service

So you are shopping around for a cleaning company. There are a number of things to consider.

Hiring a person vs. hiring a company
First, are you hiring an individual or a company? The “little old lady” down the street will obviously cost less, probably less than half. However, she is not going to come with insurance.  Companies will charge more because they need to pay for an office space, customer service staff, general liability and workman’s compensation insurance, social security taxes, advertising, benefits, etc. Of course many people have friends or family who clean for them, which is fine, but it is usually not a legal business arrangement.

Where do you look?

Most people nowadays start shopping around for maid services on search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo.  You may also want to check out the Better Business Bureau for complaints, and review sites such as Angie’s List and Yelp. One caveat about Yelp is that they are known for erasing positive reviews from companies who don’t advertise with them. Better than seeking advice from strangers though is to ask your friends for recommendations. Social media sites like Facebook make it easy.

One person or a team?
Next, do you prefer to have one person in your home or would you rather have a  team cleaning? If you are looking for a company to be in and out in an hour or two, team cleanings may be for you. The down side is that you will have a bunch of strangers in your home, and the team will likely change each visit. Our company sends the same employee each visit rather than a team. We think it is a more personal approach. It also provides our staff the opportunity to get to know our clients better, and allows us time to do laundry too because they are in the home for a minimum of four hours.

Your supplies or theirs?
Fourth, do they supply the cleaning supplies or are you expected to provide them? Do they charge more for bringing supplies? Companies who do team cleanings will likely bring supplies too. Some companies will offer to bring a vacuum cleaner for an extra charge.

In Chicago, where our company is located, many of our clients live in areas with limited parking, and this impedes our ability to provide supplies cheaply. For this reason we usually require our clients to provide their own cleaning supplies for general cleanings.

There are pluses and minuses to that approach. As a customer you can exert control over your own supplies. Most people tend to have their own brand preferences and more and more consumers are using green products. The down side is that it is up to you to keep your supply cupboard stocked with supplies.

There is a “yuck” factor to consider too when companies use feather dusters, rags, and sponges that were used in another person’s home in your home, even if they are properly laundered or sanitized. We have personally witnessed cleaning companies reusing dirty mops in customers’ homes.

See our post: Why we use your cleaning supplies

So how much is it going to cost? Maid in Chicago has flat rates for an employee for a certain number of hours. For example, our current minimum rate for a general cleaning is $98 per employee up to 4.0 hours using our client’s supplies. As mentioned above, some companies send a team of employees. If you are comparing companies and want to get an idea of how much your cleaning is costing per hour, find out how many people they send out, and for how many hours, and multiply the two together. Divide the estimated cost by the total number of cleaning hours. Then you can compare apples to apples. Let’s say you are quoted $100 for a team of two for two hours (or four hours). That would be $25/hour ($100/2 persons x 2 hours= $25 per person per hour). Ask if they charge extra for doing things like laundry or kitchen appliances. We don’t but some companies do.

If you choose to hire a company to clean your home, allow 1-2 days to request and receive proof of insurance.  Why? Unfortunately there are many maid services who say they are insured, but are actually not.  If you are a home owner, it is especially important that your investment is protected. Even if you are only a renter, you still may be liable for damage caused by an uninsured worker.  Properly insured maid services will carry both general liability and workman’s compensation insurance.

See our post: How to verify that your cleaning company is actually insured

Scheduling is another concern. Most of our customers who call for maid service need their homes cleaned sooner rather than later. I was surprised to hear of some companies not having availability for a month out.

Also, companies who do team cleaning are notorious for scheduling appointments for large windows of time (e.g. “from 12:00 noon – 3:00 pm”). For our clients, many who are busy professionals, this would never work. All of our appointments are scheduled to start at an exact time and date in the morning or afternoon. For morning cleanings this means we can arrive before clients go off to work as early as 7:00 am.

Manager on Duty?
Finally, is their office staffed? I can’t tell you many people are pleasantly surprised to find someone who actually answers a phone and returns calls. Problems come up and it nice to be able to reach someone should the need arise.

Hopefully this helps to demystify the process of how to choose a cleaning company.

Now it’s your turn. Do you have any tips for choosing a maid service? Have we left anything out? Please leave a comment below.

To schedule a home cleaning with Maid in Chicago or for a FREE quote, give us a call at (312) 829-9600, or visit our website and fill out our online form.

13 Fall Cleaning Ideas

Those lazy days of summer have passed us by, and many of us are thinking of doing a deep cleaning of our homes before winter arrives. For those of us who are completely overwhelmed and don’t even know where to begin, try to be realistic. A home that has not been cleaned in awhile is going to require much more time to get back into shape than a home that is cleaned on a regular basis. You may want to focus exclusively on only one project.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

1.) Move couches, chairs, and other furniture from those hard to reach areas.  Wipe down your baseboards and vacuum where the furniture was.

2.) Clean the ceiling fans. (See our post Keep ceiling fans clean)

3.) Wash your windows.  (See our post How to clean windows)

4.) Clean the blinds. If you have a lot of blinds, you may want to hire a blind cleaning service to take care of this task.

5.) Clean the inside and outside of your refrigerator. Pull out your refrigerator and clean the coils. You can vacuum them using a crevice tool, or dust them with an extension duster.  Clean underneath your refrigerator too.

6.) Clean the stovetop, oven, and backsplash. Move the oven out from the wall and clean underneath.

7.) Declutter your home. Check out this great article by professional organizer Pooja Gugnani: We Are What We Live In: Get Organized, Get Happy!

8.) Clean the grout in between your shower tiles. (See our post How to Clean Marble Grout)

9.) Clean out your medicine cabinet and dispose of all expired pharmaceuticals.

10.) Clean out your pantry and throw away any expired food.

11.) Wipe down the inside and outside of kitchen cabinets.

12.) Clean the inside of your closets including the shelving.

13.) Clean door frames, and doors on both sides.

Have we missed any fall cleaning projects? Let us know. Not feeling motivated to do your own cleaning? We can handle it. To schedule a cleaning or for a FREE quote, give us a call at (312) 829-9600. You can also visit Maid in Chicago’s website and fill out our online form.