Holiday Traditions: Start One or Keep It Going


12 Books of Christmas
Buy and wrap 12 short stories or children’s books. Start opening them and read them at bedtime each night leading up to Christmas.

Elf on a Shelf
If you haven’t already heard of this Christmas tradition that has taken the world by storm, you can check out some of these very creative Christmas characters in action by clicking here.

Decorate
from the tree to the stockings, someone has to do it! So, involve the whole family in transforming your home into a Winter Wonderland! Popsugar suggests having a family camp out under the tree after you get it set up.

Volunteering
Whether it is at a local homeless shelter or ringing the bell at a local store, the spirit of giving is what the holidays are all about. Encourage your family to participate in a selfless activity like serving food, collecting clothing or cans, or hanging Christmas lights for someone.

Lights
You can drive around town and check out the light displays, or make an annual visit to an awesome light show. Lights are some of the most magical parts of Christmas. Make it a moment each year that your family can look forward to.

Movie Night
Pick a Christmas classic that your family can watch every year. Extra bonus if you all have matching pj’s or fuzzy holiday themed socks!

Christmas Crafts
From ornaments to Gingerbread houses, there are plenty of Christmas crafts to choose from. Here are some awesome ideas to get you started on this family tradition.

Sing
Whether you are caroling, doing Christmas karaoke, or driving around looking at lights with some of the seasonal hits playing, traditional Christmas songs are must have part of the holiday season.

Giving
If you are in the financial place to help others, adopt a Christmas Angel, fill a shoe box to send overseas, or find a local family in need of extra help during this time. There are many opportunities to give to others.

Santa Claus
You can visit him at the mall, write him a letter, or call his phone number, there are many ways you can get in touch with the Big Guy this Christmas season. Make it a holiday tradition that everyone can look back on with joy.

Everyone celebrates the holidays a little differently, we encourage you to check out holiday traditions from all around the world at this awesome Holiday Traditions website! Let us know your favorite holiday traditions in the comments below!

Virtual Cookie Exchange



As the holidays approach, you’re probably looking for a creative party theme. If you’ve never attended a cookie exchange, it is a great twist to the traditional holiday party. Here is how it works:

  1. Each guest brings enough cookies and copies of the recipe to share with the entire group.
  2. As they come in, their cookies are displayed along with the recipe.
  3. The host supplies goodie bags so that each guest can create their own personal assortment of cookies and recipes to take home and try for themselves!

To get you started, let’s have a virtual cookie exchange! We’re going to share some of our favorite cookie recipes below. Then, you share your favorite cookie recipes in the comments.

Delish.com has a list of 50+ Easy Christmas Cookies. Some of our favorites include…
…Santa’s Trash…They take less than 30 minutes total!
…The 15 Days of Christmas Cookie Countdown…Such a cute idea!
…3 Ingredient Sugar Cookies…I mean, who doesn’t like simple?
…Best Sugar Cookie Icing…Only 5 minutes to create an icing that will wow your guests!

I AM BAKER’s list includes cute recipe cards and general baking tips like…
…sifting dry ingredients because it helps add air which makes your cookies fluffier.
…creaming the butter and the sugar instead of mixing. Again, this creates air pockets which help make your cookies soft and fluffy.
…adding eggs at room temperature so that your cookies are more moist.
We love their Sugar Cookie Wreaths and Christmas Tree Cookie Stacks! Don’t they look adorable?

And of course, Food Network’s collection of Christmas cookies is to die for. Here is our absolute favorite recipe:

Quick & Easy Peppermint Fudge

You’ll need: cooking spray, 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips, 1 can sweetened condensed milk, red peppermint candies (crushed)

Prep. Melt. Pour. Cool. Cut. That’s pretty quick and easy if you ask me!

We hope you’ll try some of the recipes we’ve shared, and we’d love to try some of yours! Share them in the comments below.

Q & A: Winterizing Your Home


Why is it important to winterize my home?

You invest money and time into making your home the perfect place for you and your family. If you don’t take the time to properly winterize your home, you are risking damage to one of your most valuable assets.

How does winterizing my home help me?

Winterizing your home can help you in several ways. It can help keep your plumbing from bursting or your fireplace from creating a disaster. Winterizing your home can also save you money by increasing the energy efficiency when cold air comes blowing through.

What are the most important things to winterize?

Inside your home, it is important to winterize your fireplace, plumbing, heating unit, windows, and doors. Outside, you should take a careful look at your plumbing, valuable outdoor equipment, pools, plants, and animals.

What are easy, simple winterizing solutions I can implement right now?

Inside, you can start by putting a draft guard on your door and weatherstripping on the windows to keep cool air from sneaking in through cracks. In addition, make it a habit of changing your air filter and switching the direction of your ceiling fans every season change.

When it comes to the outdoors, we suggest that you cover your outdoor spigots and other important outdoor equipment like grills and lawnmowers. Cover your plants or bring them in, and provide a warm place for your outdoor pets to seek shelter during the cold winter nights.

What are helpful investments I can make to make winterizing easier?

Getting a programmable thermostat can help keep your house energy efficient all year long. In addition, extra insulation and re-caulking all of your doors and windows can really help minimize draftiness.

When should I call in the professionals?

Your fireplace should always be cleaned and inspected by a professional to ensure it is safe to use. If you haven’t used yours recently, we suggest you find someone to help get it in working order. Also, calling in the professionals to winterize your pool will save you a lot of hard work in the spring. Finally, cleaning out gutters so that they drain properly is also another job you might could use some help with. You can call our specialists today at 541-601-6236 for a quote.

Help Wanted: History of the Housekeeper


To some, hiring a regular housekeeper might seem like a frivolity. However, the housekeeper has been around for centuries.

Originally, a housekeeper was known as a maiden, or maid. This was due to the fact that they lived in the home of their employer and rarely ever got married. During the Victorian Era, more well-to-do families had entire staffs of housekeepers, cooks, butlers, and drivers. The housekeeper was typically at the top of the housekeeping staff hierarchy. She was in charge of the Lady’s Maid, parlor maids, laundry maids, etc.

All throughout history up until the 19th century, having housekeepers and maids was a common practice for most middle or upper class citizens. According to History Matters, women left house cleaning jobs during World War I when they were needed in factories and other war-time occupations. Since then, domestic help has been on a decline until recently.

Currently, live-in staff and/or regular housekeepers are making a comeback due to the rise of women who have joined the work force to create a professional career. Our lives are all so busy now that it is increasingly difficult to find time to keep up with household chores.

Thus, the housekeeping revolution! According to Encyclopedia.com, the hiring out of household chores to professional cleaning services has increased in the past several years. We’re living proof.

The Cleaning Crew, LLC., has been providing quality housekeeping services (and more) for almost 30 years. We send out our hard-working, professional cleaners to your homes so that you have time to focus on the things that are important to you.

 

Summer Treats: Recipes and Stain Removal


Start your summer off with some amazing refreshments, and know the tips and tricks to cleaning up any messes that might happen along the way!

Summer Iced Tea Drink Recipe
Refreshing Summer drink Iced Tea Recipe

via Cherished Bliss

The first place to start would be a southern summer classic: iced tea. You can update this traditional recipe with some lemonade ice cubes! For recipe, Click Here!

How To Remove Iced Tea Stains

Luckily, iced tea stains won’t set as quickly as hot tea. Take an ice cube and rub it over the stain, and pat the area with dry paper napkins. Since these beverages are acidic, when you get home, you’ll want to pre-treat them with an acidic remedy, like lemon juice or white vinegar and wash as usual, adding a little bleach if appropriate for the fabric.

For more summer drinks, check out our extended list by clicking here.

Take a look in our blog archive for more tasty summer treats.

What are your favorite summer snacks and sips? Share with us in the comments!

Clean Sweep: Choose the Right Broom and Bristle


The broom is the most traditional of floor-cleaning tools, but are you certain you have the right broom for the job at hand? Here we’ll take an in depth look at different types of brooms and the purpose for each.

Large Brooms

Let’s begin with simple descriptions of each type of broom. There are many options when it comes to this tool.

  • Lobby Brooms. This is the type of broom we are most familiar with. There are several versions of this product, but typically it has plastic bristles. They can be cut flat or shaped at an angle to reach into corners.
  • Soft Brooms. They are typically made in a fan shape and have soft bristles for use indoors. The purpose of these is to push dust and dirt into a pile to be swept up or vacuumed. They differ from an angled broom because they are made with natural-plant based material.
  • Hard Brooms. With much stiffer bristles, a hard broom is made to use outdoors. The primary purpose of this broom is to get dirt and dust out of cracks.
  • Push Brooms. This wide broom is perfect for pushing large debris and cleaning large areas. Primarily, push brooms are used in areas like garages, driveways, and other areas outside the home.
  • Electric Brooms. Very similar to a vacuum, this broom uses electricity to suck up dirt rather than push it into a pile. It is smaller and easier to maneuver than a typical vacuum. If this is something you’d be interested in getting then you can compare electric brooms available here.

Small Brooms

If you are looking for a smaller option, there are hand-held brooms that are miniature versions of angled brushes. Typically, they have plastic bristles and come with a small dust pan. On the more natural side, a wisk broom is a small, hand-held broom made of plant-based materials that is perfect for dusting small areas like shelves and table tops.

Bristles

Besides the length of a handle, the bristles are just about the only other identifying feature of a broom. The type of bristles on your broom do make a difference.

Bristle Materials

  • Natural & Soft. According to the experts at Kleen Floor, soft bristles are made “from a variety of sources, which include corn husks and grass. Corn brooms are not as soft as grass brooms produced in other countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Corn brooms are usually used in areas outside the house such as garages, driveways, and patios. But their softer grass counterparts can be used to clean indoors.” Tampico is another popular soft and natural fiber used in broom bristles.
  • Natural & Hard. Hard bristled brushes are made from a more rough material like Palmyra or coconut sticks and used for outdoor purposes.
  • Plastic. There are several different choices when it comes to plastic bristles. Polypropylene and Nylon are the two most popular. Both can be used wet or dry and are resistant to most chemicals and oils. You can read more about these products here.

Types of Bristles

  • Flagged. These bristles are frayed at the ends which allows it to be more effective in picking up small debris and dust particles.
  • Unflagged. These bristles tend to last longer than flagged bristles and are better at moving larger debris, dirt, and dust in open areas.

One of the biggest benefits to hiring a professional cleaner like us is we can save time and money because know the right tools for the job. Call us today to get your hassle-free quote.

Clean Like a Pro: The Secrets Revealed


If you’ve had us into your home, you know that a professional cleaner’s work can seem like magic. That would be fun, but it’s not very accurate. The pristine and time-efficient clean is a result of proper training and practice. Here are a few tricks of the trade to let you in on our cleaning secrets…We’ve even thrown in a few Speed Hacks from Organized Home!

Organization Is Everything

You’ve got to prepare the area that needs to be cleaned. De-clutter first by picking up and putting away anything that has been left out. This will save you a lot of time instead of picking up things as you go. This is a trick that hotel maids use. They start the cleaning off by emptying the trash and taking all dirty towels and linens into the hallway.  (Speed Hack: Professional Cleaners make every movement count. They stand in place and tackle everything in one spot before they move on to another area.)

Next, you’ve got to set aside a block of time. If you commit an afternoon to cleaning, you will get more accomplished than if you try to clean a little bit here and there. Plus, according to Rebecca at Charming Imperfections, “it is easier to keep kids, pets, and husbands out of the way.”

Make sure you have all of your supplies. Microfiber cleaning cloths, cleaning solutions, gloves, etc. Whatever you need, put it in a portable caddy that you can carry from room to room with you as you go. (Speed Hack: Simplify! You only need 4 products. Click here to check out the list.)

Lastly, you need to have a plan. Simple tricks like dusting and vacuuming before getting anything wet makes cleaning so much easier. Wet particles are not as easy to pick up as dry ones. Professional cleaners are also trained to clean from the top to the bottom of a room. That way things like dust from the ceiling fan will either be caught in your duster or fall to the floor which is cleaned last. Plus, it helps to eliminate germs. What would you rather clean first, the toilet seat or the toilet handle? (Pro Tip: Close the toilet seat on top of the toilet handle and let the brush drip-dry before placing it back into the holder.)

 

Get Focused

Cleaning is not a job that allows for multi-tasking. If you just get focused and stay focused on the task, it can be completed in no time. The difference between a professional cleaner and someone cleaning their own home is the fact that it is the professional cleaners paid job. They are not being interrupted by emails and phone calls or television program. Turn off your phone, put on some music, and conquer the task at hand.

Team Up

Cleaning done in a team of two or three is much more quick and easy. Professional cleaners often clean in partners or teams. This makes tasks like making the bed much easier. Knowing how to put on the sheets also gets the job done more efficiently. (Speed Hack: Tags on sheets go to the bottom of the bed. Use a fabric marker to mark left and right corners.) Even if you’re not a professional, make cleaning a family affair and get it done more quickly.

Or, you can skip all this and just call in the professional cleaning magicians. Give us a call today at 541-601-6236 to schedule a risk-free quote!

7 Tips for Outdoor Spring Maintenance


Spring is the perfect time to freshen up your entire house. Most people do a traditional indoor Spring Cleaning, but it is also important to spruce up the exterior of your home. It adds value and curb appeal that both you and your neighbors will appreciate. And, if you’re one of the many people who attempt to sell their home in the spring, your realtor will thank you as well.

  1. Invest in one big weekend of yard work. If you spend one weekend dedicated to checking off your outdoor to do list, you will thank yourself. Not only will the bulk of the work be done for the rest of the season, but you’ll also see a major improvement in just a few days.

  2. Clean the gutters. Cleaning gutters is a continuous job. We recommend cleaning them both before and after winter. In the fall, you should mainly be concerned with clearing out all the leaves and sticks that may be clogging them. In the spring, however, you may want to do a cleaning of both the inside and outside of the gutters. The amount of rain in the spring can really make a mess, and your gutters need to be draining properly. Here is “how-to” from Chaotically Creative. Lesley admits that while her DIY results were the impressive, hiring a professional can save time and energy.
  3. Inspect the exterior. From top to bottom, your house needs some TLC after the harsh winter weather and before the spring storms. DIY.com recommends several important areas to look at as you make your rounds. Check your roof and gutters for damage and look to get roofing contractors maryland in if there is gamage. Repaint or seal any areas that are chipping. Inspect your foundation and ensure the ground slopes away from your home to ensure proper drainage. These routine tasks are essential to the maintenance and upkeep of your home. Another thing to mention, is that you could have a look into getting some hd wireless security camera systems to show that the property has been looked after.

  4. Give your house a wash. According to Bobvila.com, “Vinyl siding is pretty low maintenance…to keep your siding free of grime and dirt, wash with a solution of 70 percent water and 30 percent vinegar, then rinse clean.” If you do not have vinyl siding or the proper equipment, it may be easier to leave this to the professionals.
  5. Organize your storage space. Whether you have a garage or shed or both, cleaning out and reorganizing your storage space is a great way to start off the season. Here are 12 Organizing Tips for Your Garage Shelves.

  6. Check yard toys. If you’ve got forts, playhouses, swing-sets, or other yard toys, make sure to do a quick safety check. Clean off rust and debris, and tighten any loose screws. If needed, replace old parts so that toys are safe for everyday use after a long winter. Some of these toys can be difficult to clean, so here is a step-by-step guide from Carrie at Carrie This Home.
  7. Improve the curb appeal. Particularly if you are putting your house on the market this spring, adding curb appeal is a must. You can do things like get your old Garage doors Charlotte replaced or getting your roof cleaned.

Lucky for you, we can help you with just about everything on this list. Call us today to schedule your indoor and outdoor cleaning projects. If you schedule a five-hour or more cleaning before April 6th, you’ll receive 10% off of your service.

Have a Happy New Year (Even in Your Older Home)


Every January is the same. It is a time for list after list of resolutions and tips on how to be and have the newest and the best during this new year. Creating change be a challenge if you find yourself in the same old surroundings. Most of us probably didn’t move over the holidays, so many of us find ourselves in the exact same place we ended 2016. Doesn’t seem like much of a new beginning, does it?

Because we want you to have a successful start on your resolutions, we thought we’d compile some tips to help you create an environment conducive to a fresh start. Even if you’ve lived where you are for a while, here are three easy ways to create newness in your well loved, not-so-new home.

Rearrange Furniture or Redecorate

Start the new year off by changing your home design. This will give your house a new feel even if you’ve lived there for decades. Move the furniture around to create more space or a different feel. Purchase new draperies or change out some of the décor. These small changes will make a huge visual impact.

Plus, moving the furniture can allow for a thorough floor cleaning and the ability to reach areas that may have gone ignored for months.  Even if you don’t change out the drapes, now is a great time to wash all of those things that get neglected throughout the year. Launder area rugs and shower curtains along with your window treatments and any other specialty fabrics.

Reorganize

We’ve talked about decluttering in previous blogs. During the new year it is nice to take some time to get rid of things and reorganize the things you have accumulated throughout the year.

If necessary, purchase an organizational system of some sort and put it to use. In this article, Abby at Just a Girl and Her Blog walks you through the step-by-step process of totally reorganizing a room. Her first suggestion is to remove everything from the space. That’s a great time to call us in for a top-to-bottom scrub before you start putting things back into place.

 

Deep Clean

If you haven’t already guessed it, the biggest part of having a fresh new start for the new year is the word FRESH. While you’re rearranging and reorganizing, it is the perfect time to clean out all of those nooks and crannies that haven’t seen a scrub brush in a while and give them a good cleaning.

From vaulted ceilings to baseboards, we can help your house look it’s best–maybe even brand new–for the New Year! When your home is spick and span, it is a clean slate for you to begin whatever adventures await you this coming year.

Let us know in the comments ways you create a fresh start every New Year.

Start 2017 off well. We’d love to help you tackle your New Year to-do list and start conquering those resolutions!

Call us today: 541-601-6236. Or, shoot us an email: info@thecleaningcrewonline.com

5 Easy Ways to Make Your Entryway Fall Friendly


As summer draws to a close, it’s a great idea to change things up around the house with the seasons. You can start off with a seasonal deep cleaning by one of our cleaning specialists. Then, make a few changes in decor. One place that is easy to redecorate but can make a huge impact is your entryway. The curb appeal of a well kept front stoop and the warmth of a clean, welcoming entryway will be sure to wow your guests upon arrival.

 

Color

What helps you identify with a season more than color? A neutral paint color in your entry way allows the area to easily transition from season to season. Use seasonal décor to bring in the warmer fall color pallet. Plants, candles, art work, or a wreath are excellent ways to add pops of color. You can find some great unexpected fall color palettes here.

Just be careful not to decorate with too many knick-knacks. It makes it difficult to dust properly, and makes your house seem cluttered rather than clean.

wreaths

Plants

Many plants are seasonal, so they are a great way to bring in a natural element to your décor. Here is a fun idea to transition your summer plants into a fabulous fall planter. Whether inside or outside, plants can help to naturally clean the air.

Mums are great fall plants that are also at the top of the list of natural air purifiers. Add some to your porch to add some color to the curbside view. Make sure to sweep your walkway several times a week to keep the falling leaves from dirtying your walkway.

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Seating

Whether you’ve got a rocking chair on the porch or a bench in the foyer, your seating solutions can easily transition from summer to fall by choosing accent pillows, throws, or seat cushions that feature warmer colors and fabrics with seasonal patterns. Solution dyed acrylics withstand harsh outdoor conditions and don’t stain easily, but are soft enough to use indoors as well.

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Storage

Entry way storage will change with the weather. As the leaves change, we will all break out our coats and jackets. These bulky articles of clothing can easily crowd and clutter your entryway.

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If you don’t have an entry closet, a traditional coat rack accompanied by an umbrella stand and shoe tray can add a storage solution with vintage flair. If you are going for a more modern look, a “drop zone” is a trendy storage solution. This Downright Simple blog entry explains how you can turn even the smallest of areas into a stylish storage solution.

Lighting

As time changes it will begin to get darker earlier. Lighting will be important both indoors and out. Inside, opt for a lower light from lamps. This will provide your guests with a sense of comfort and warmth as the weather begins to cool.

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Make sure that the outdoor area has sufficient lighting along any pathways. Better Homes & Gardens recommends motion sensitive lights for security and to cut down on electricity use.

 

Finishing Touches

We’d love to help you get started with your entryway revamp. Call us at 541-601-6236 to schedule a seasonal deep cleaning. We’d love to help your redesign shine!

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