Category Archives: tips

Top 10 Cell Phone Cleaning Tips

Research studies have found cell phones to be dirtier than toilet seats, and it turns out the warm devices are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. So how can you safely sterilize them to keep those nasty germs away from your face?

Last winter as our country was swept away by a flu epidemic, I was trying to seek an answer to that seemingly simple question. Popular Mechanics provided some great advice on how to clean cell phones and other electronic devices (Check out their article How to Clean Your 7 Favorite Gadgets), but I also decided to make an inquiry with customer service at HTC, the makers of the popular Android phones. They were stumped. The best recommendation a manager could provide was to use a soft rag. When I probed if isopropyl alcohol (or “rubbing alcohol”) is safe to use on the touch screens, she said “yes, but we can not recommend using any liquids because of the possibility of it getting inside of the phone.” Let’s sort this out a bit more.

Here are Maid in Chicago’s Top 10 Cell Phone Cleaning Tips:

1. Mix your own bottle of isopropyl alcohol solution. Popular Mechanics recommends using a 60/40 mixture of water and isopropyl alcohol. You can purchase a small-sized empty spray bottle at a drug store and mix your own solution.

2. Use a soft cleaning rag or T-shirt. We recommend micro fiber cleaning cloths or flour sack towels.  (Please see our posts Everything you always wanted to know about microfiber cleaning cloths and Cleaning Cloths 101). Lightly dampen the cleaning cloth with the isopropyl alcohol solution.

3. Apply only gentle pressure with your cleaning cloth.

4. Use a Q-tip to clean those hard to reach areas such as in between buttons.

5. Do not use paper towels. They can scratch the touch screens.

6. Do not spray any cleaner directly on your phone. Apply the cleaner to the cleaning cloth instead.

7. Do not use glass cleaners such as Windex. They may contain ammonia which can damage your screen.

8. Do not use disposable disinfecting wipes. The popular brands such as Clorox and Lysol contain bleach, which is unsafe for use on screens of electronics devices.

9. If you prefer a disposable product, use alcohol swaps or alcohol wipes. These inexpensive, generic products, which contain 70% isopropyl alcohol, can be found at your local drug
pictured above: Curad Sterile Alcohol Swabs


10. Avoid using cleaning products which do not list the active ingredients. While it is probably safe to use lens cleaner, lens wipes, or cell phone wipes, the ingredients are often not listed on these products. It might be best to avoid them altogether.

    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.

Top 9 Tips for Cleaner Dishes From Your Dishwasher

It’s been two years since phosphates were phased out of dishwasher detergents. Even though manufacturers seem to have figured out how to get their formulas right, it is still more challenging than ever to get your dishes clean. Check out our tips below for cleaner dishes from your dishwasher.

1. Scrub the most heavily soiled dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.

2. Run your dishwasher with full loads, but don’t overload it.

3. Face dirtier sides of dishes toward the center of the machine. Don’t block the jets.

4. Don’t allow bowls and utensils (especially spoons) to nest.

5. Use one of the 6 best automatic dishwasher detergents rated by Housekeeping.

pictured above: Finish Quantum, rated  “best powder tab”
by Housekeeping
Photo credit:

6. Cloudy glasses? Run an empty load once a month with some vinegar in the detergent dispenser. If that doesn’t work then your water jets may be clogged with mineral build-up. Try clearing each jet with a pin or a wire.

7. Clean your dishwasher on a regular basis. See our post: How to Clean Your Dishwasher

8. Run your dishwasher with hot water. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends dishwashers with a booster heater, which increases the temperature of the water entering the dishwasher to 140°F.

9. Use a rinse aid such as Finish Jet-Dry, especially if your water is hard. This will help prevent streaking and spotting.

Now it’s your turn. Do you have any tips that we have missed? 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. As part of our cleaning service we do do dishes, including loading and unloading dishwashers.

Best Way to Store Christmas Ornaments

pictured above in foreground: “Sterilite Show Off Ornament Box Set” from Target

Christmas has passed and the New Year’s celebrations are over. It’s that sad time of year when the Christmas trees must come down. Last year we started using these “show off ornament boxes” to store our Christmas ornaments, and they really work super. Not only do they protect your precious ornaments and save you the trouble of individually wrapping them in newspaper or tissue paper, but they look great and save tons of space.

Now it’s your turn. Do you have any great storage ideas for Christmas ornaments and other holiday decorations? Please leave a comment below.

Please also check out our post Cleaning Up Christmas Tree Needles.

If you need some help cleaning up after taking down your tree, give Maid in Chicago a call to schedule an appointment: (312) 829-9600. You can also visit our website and fill out our online form for a FREE quote.

How to Monitor Moisture in Your Home

This is another post in our series about mold. (See our other posts: How to Clean Moldy Caulking, Top 5 Tips to Prevent Mold in Showers, How to Clean a Moldy Shower Curtain, and How To Clean Mold in Your Home.)

What do you do if you have cleaned away mold but it keeps coming back? You may want to check to see what your relative humidity is in your home. It may be too high.

According to the CDC “controlling moisture in your home is the most critical factor for preventing mold growth.” You can monitor the level of humidity in your home with a simple electronic device called a hygrometer. They are inexpensive (the one below costs less than $20) and can be purchased online or at home improvement stores such as Lowe’s, The Home Depot, and Menards.

pictured on the left: Acu-Rite Home Comfort Monitor

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends a relative humidity level between 30%-50%. In the summer months, when you are running an air conditioner, the relative humidity should be between 40%-50% for optimal comfort. In the winter months, when you are running your heater, the relative humidity may need to be lower  than 40% (in the 30%-40% range) to prevent condensation on windows. Lower than 30% is too dry; higher than 50% is too moist.

If you discover your humidity level is too high (such as 62% in the picture above to the left) you need to do something to get to  the root cause of the moisture. Start by checking for any leaky pipes. Also make sure there is proper ventilation in your kitchen and especially in the bathroom.  Running a dehumidifier or regulating your humidistat will take the moisture out of the air. For more information on controlling moisture in your home, check out this article by the EPA.

For more information read Protect Yourself from Mold by The Centers for Disease Control. For serious mold problems, consult a mold remediation expert.

Now it’s your turn. Do you have moisture or mold problems in your home? Have you tried monitoring relative humdity? Please leave a comment below.

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

How to Clean Lamp Shades

It won’t be long before those 24-hour marathons of the holiday classic A Christmas Story begin running on TV. If you are lucky enough to be like “Old Man” in the movie, and win a “major prize”  such as a leg lamp, (you know–the kind that are shaped like a women’s leg wearing fishnet stockings) at some point you are going to wonder how to clean your piece of art.

Lamp shades are notoriously tricky to clean. Anything wet or damp can ruin them. It is better to dry dust them regularly; maintenance is key.

Tip: Gently whisk away the dust with a clean paint brush. Reserve it for use on lamp shades only.

So there you have it, a tip to maintain your pride and joy. We triple dog dare you not to try it out. Have a safe holiday season and try not to shoot your eye out!

Bonus tip: Did you know that tickets for A Christmas Story The Musical at The Chicago Theatre are now on sale?

Now it’s your turn. Do you have any works of art that you don’t know how to clean? Or perhaps you have some tips of your own to share. Please leave a comment below.

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

Three Tips to Avoid TV Tip-overs in Your Home

The Chicago Tribune ran a good article about home safety titled TV tip-overs: Advocates call for the use of straps to prevent child deaths and injuries. Parents with small children especially should heed their advice.

Three Tips to Avoid TV Tip-overs in Your Home

  • Place TVs on sturdy furniture that is low and wide. Think media consoles (such as the one above), not tall dressers. Situate the TVs to the back of the stand, close to the wall.
  • Secure TVs to the stand or the wall with nylon straps.
  • The safest method is to use a mounting kit and bolt TVs directly to the wall.

What kinds of safety issues have you resolved in your home? Please share your tip in the comments below. We would love to hear from you.

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

Time to Rotate Your Seasonal Clothing

As part of your autumn “to do list” around your home, rotate your warm-weather clothing with your cool-weather clothing. At our condo we keep seasonal clothing we are not using inside clear plastic bins in our storage locker in the basement. Our polo shirts and other summer wear get swapped out with sweaters, gloves, mittens, and scarves.

Plastic bins are an inexpensive, smart way for city dwellers to stay organized. They save valuable closet space, which enables you to more easily access your in-season clothing. They also protect your out-of-season clothes from moisture. Plastic bins are available at Target, The Container Store, and many other retailers.

Now it’s your turn. Do you rotate your seasonal clothing? Do you have any great tips for organizing closets or your clothing? Please leave a comment below.

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

When to Change Air Conditioner Filters

While most of the country is enduring an extreme heat wave, this is a good time to point out that air filters need to be changed more often in summer in central air conditioning systems. A general rule of thumb is that they should be changed every 1-3 months. Follow these rules:

1. Inspect your air filter monthly and only change it if it looks dirty. See the photos below and compare.

1. Write down the dates when you change your filters, and you will get a better idea of what is normal for your home. You will notice that in spring and fall you can get by changing the filters less. Your filter will get dirtier if you have pets, live in a high pollution area, or like to keep the windows open. This includes your balcony window.

3. Avoid purchasing low-end filters. Instead, choose ones that have a higher MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value). These high efficiency filters will do a better job, but will need to be replaced more often.

Also see our post Change Your Furnace Filter for a Cleaner Home

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

How to Clean Your Dishwasher

No, we’re not kidding! Your dishwasher needs to be cleaned every now and then. Over a period of time soap scum, grease, and gunk from your dirty dishes gets stuck on the door, sides, bottom, and drain area. I find it really handy to grab one of those dish scrub brushes with a long handle to get into all of the nooks and crannies. Sprinkle some baking soda on the areas to be cleaned. You can also add a squirt of dishwashing liquid. Scrub with the brush, and then wipe with a wet sponge or dish rag. Also, check for and remove any debris that may be plugging the drain. This could save you a visit from the repairman.

When finished scrubbing, add a cup of vinegar to a dishwasher safe coffee cup and set it on the top rack of the dishwasher. Run the (almost) empty dishwasher through one cycle.

Hint: A little preventative maintenance goes a long way. Rinsing dishes, at least the worst offenders, will help keep the drain unclogged and the dishwasher cleaner.

Also see our post titled Quick Tip to Deodorize Dishwashers

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

Earth Day Every Day – 6 Tips

Over the past year we have been busy writing about greener cleaning methods. Most of the ideas involve using natural cleaners and producing less waste.  Incorporating these methods into your routine will make you more earth friendly, save you money, and make your home less toxic.

1.  Eco window cleaning. Did you know that there is a preferred method to clean windows without using a single sheet of paper towels or even a squirt of Windex? All you need is a squeegee, a sponge, two buckets, some vinegar, water, and a soft cleaning cloth or two. See our post: How to clean windows

2. Baking soda as an oven cleaner. Instead of reaching for oven cleaner, which is caustic, first try sprinkling some baking soda on the stovetop and clean with a damp scrub pad. See our post: Green cleaning idea #2 – mild oven cleaner

3. Use cleaning cloths more, and paper towels less. See our posts: Cleaning Cloths 101, Everything you always wanted to know about microfiber cleaning cloths

4. Don’t clean hardwood floors with disposable Swiffer pads. I’ll admit, I love Swiffer advertising as much as the next person, but let’s be honest. These are products that create more landfill waste. Instead, mop your floors with a string mop or a Bona mop, which can be laundered over and over again. See our post: How to clean hardwood floors

5. Mix your own general cleaner. One thing our cleaning company does is purchase concentrated chemicals and mix our own cleaners into refillable spray bottles. This is not only cost efficient, but the spray bottles are used over and over again. The most earth friendly general cleaner you can use is vinegar and water. You can also mix a simple solution of dishwashing liquid and water to use as a degreaser. See our post: Green cleaning idea #1 – general cleaner

6. Use a dishwasher rather than washing dishes by hand. Dishwashers use less energy, soap, and water than if you were to wash them by hand. Install an energy efficient dishwasher, and run it only when it is full. Also, avoid using the dry cycle. You can prop the door open after the final rinse cycle, and the dishes will dry by themselves.

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