Clean House

By Mary Beth Schwartz

“I will clean house when Sears comes out with a riding vacuum cleaner.” —Roseanne Barr

“I hate housework. You make the beds, you wash the dishes, and six months later you have to start all over again.”—Joan Rivers

“Housework can kill you if done right.”–Erma Bombeck

Call on some of these Lehigh Valley cleaning professionals to ease your spring cleaning jitters.

For years, women have joked about the dreaded task of housecleaning. And come spring, it’s time once again for—you guessed it—spring cleaning. But having a sparkling clean, ship-shape house does not have to be a chore. Simply lessen the workload with the help of some of the following Lehigh Valley cleaning contractors, and of course, advice from homekeeping guru Martha Stewart.

If you have a lovely home, you want to keep it clean and tidy. A clean house is good for the health of your family. (Keeping away germs is the best defense against unwanted doctor visits.) A tidy house has little clutter, which creates a more organized and relaxed environment. Daily touch-ups, weekly cleanings, and most of all, the important annual spring cleaning, all contribute to this goal.

Safety First

According to Owner David Bridges of Maid Brigade of the Lehigh Valley, safety is important to consider when cleaning. Household cleaning products often contain ingredients which can be harmful to humans and pets. Since deep spring cleaning may require you to spend a concentrated period of time with many chemicals, it is safest to choose the mildest options under the kitchen sink. Always wear rubber gloves when handling cleaning chemicals, even dishwashing liquid. Be careful when cleaning with different chemicals. Mixing them together can cause dangerous fumes. And do not rely on smells to tell you that the house is clean. Fragrances can trigger asthma/allergy attacks, headaches, and disorientation. Look for unscented products.

It’s Easy Being Green

Of course the best cleaning methods rely on green products. Maid Brigade of the Lehigh Valley offers Green Clean Certified service, which is based on the high health and environmental standards established by Green Seal for green cleaning. There are many ways to clean green at home, according to Bridges. Lemons come in handy for scrubbing pots, and diluted lemon juice can help whiten linens or clothing hung to dry in the sun. Vinegar can be effective as a glass cleaner, or at cleaning shower tile. Baking soda and a bit of water together clean soap scum from the tub. And for a green oven cleaner, try 5 cups of warm water, 2 teaspoons of Borax, and 2 tablespoons of Castile soap combined in a spray bottle. Spray and wait for 20 minutes, then wipe clean and rinse with water.

Outdoing Martha

Martha Stewart offers great ideas on making your own safer cleaners. For cleaning storm windows, she uses a solution of 1 part white vinegar and 1 part hot water. Window screens, outdoor furniture, metal and vinyl blinds, even computer casings can be cleaned with a bit of mild dishwashing liquid and warm water. To treat mildew spots on decks and patios, Stewart uses a solution of 1 part oxygen bleach to 3 parts water. And to freshen up the freezer once emptied and defrosted, simply wipe the interior with a solution of 2 tablespoons baking soda per 1 quart hot water.

For a truly spotless house that would make even Stewart jealous, consumers can call on The Spotless Company, a cleaning company servicing Easton and the surrounding area. According to Co-owner Kathleen Lacey, there is not really any surface that Co-owner Wayne Lacey cannot clean. He has numerous certifications from the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration. In addition, he is certified for window cleaning by the International Window Cleaning Association, and power washing by Power Washers of North America.

The Spotless Company’s staff can perform a list of services for spring cleaning—and almost all of their products are green. Popular requests in spring include carpet cleaning, Oriental rug cleaning, window cleaning, power washing, ceramic tile and grout cleaning, and cleaning of drapery and upholstery. Additional services include whole house deodorization, fabric protection, whole house anti-allergen procedures, mattress cleaning, and mold and mildew remediation. The company also offers residential cleaning plans and special event cleaning.

Kathleen Lacey offers a few tips to help homeowners with their cleaning routines. “People tend to use too much product when cleaning. Cleaners are very concentrated. Pour half of the solution into another bottle and add half water. When solution builds up, it is hard to get off. Vacuum once a week to pick up dirt and dust mites. It is healthy for your family, as well as the carpet. A quick vacuuming of the carpet also can freshen up the room’s appearance.”

Decluttering is another effective way of making the house neater. David Bridges offers some suggestions: “Use a 360-degree approach. Start at one point in the room and work in one direction until you have made your way around the room. Save time and steps by putting items that need to be returned to another area of the home in a box or large tote, using one per level of your home. When purging and cleaning closets, make the job manageable—tackle one closet a weekend. Set all donation items aside and make one trip to each charity location for your donations. For attics, basements, and larger areas, break the project into smaller projects.”

Although homes can get clogged up with visible clutter, many homeowners do not realize there is matter secretly accumulating. ServiceMaster of Allentown offers an exclusive service—duct cleaning. Residential duct cleaning takes care of dust, debris, even rodents or insects clogged in a home’s heating and cooling system’s air ducts. HEPA vacuuming equipment is used to further prevent the spread of unwanted particles throughout the house.

According to Office Manager Shelley Lavoie, ServiceMaster also offers an extensive list of residential cleaning services. These include cleaning of carpets, floors, and upholstery, power washing, and tile and grout cleaning. Disaster restoration services also are available, such as odor control, and cleanup from water, fire, and smoke damage. “The biggest trend today, however, is our line of green product. These cleaners are developed exclusively by ServiceMaster, and are more environmentally friendly,” Lavoie says.

Now that you have met the local experts that can assist you in the spring cleaning process, here are some personal tips for room touchups, as well as thorough cleaning ideas from Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook.

The Family/Living Room

Details, Details: Do a complete dusting of the room—start at ceiling fans and work towards the floor. Vacuum well, including under furniture and seat cushions. Hire a professional to clean upholstered furniture, carpets, and Oriental rugs.

The Quick Fix: Fluff pillows and fold throws on the couch. Get out the handy Swiffer 360° Duster to pick up spotty dust. Wipe away surface fingerprints. Straighten up toys, magazines and books, DVDs, and CDs. Stomp out spots and stains on the carpet with Bissell’s Stomp ‘N Go stain lifting pads. Use the handheld vacuum to pick up crumbs, lint, and dirt specs. Top off the room with some Febreze on the upholstery furniture and drapes.

The Kitchen

Details, Details: Have a contractor professionally clean your tile floor and grout to remove set-in dirt, grime, and salt. Spray down the walls with Simple Green to remove grease and grime from holiday cooking. Check smoke detector batteries. Clean the inside of the microwave and oven. Vacuum well behind the refrigerator. Wipe down the exterior of all kitchen appliances.

The Quick Fix: Broom the floor well, followed by a good mopping with the Swiffer WetJet. Place dirty dishes in the dishwasher and get rid of clutter on countertops. Wipe down the countertops and sink area well. The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser works well on tougher stains.

The Bathroom

Details, Details: After the pro has cleaned your kitchen tiles, have him address the bathroom. Go through the vanity and discard any expired medications or beauty products. Update the first aid kit. Do a good scrubbing on the tub/shower area, and replace any worn grout.

The Quick Fix: Use the Swiffer WetJet on the floor to do a quick cleaning. Touch up the mirror, sink area, and the edges of the tub. Freshen up the toilet seat, and if needed, inside the bowl. Spray down the shower curtain or shower doors to remove recent residue.

The Bedroom

Details, Details: Do a complete dusting of the room—start at ceiling fans and work towards the floor. Hire a professional to clean carpets. Vacuum well, including under the bed. Rotate the mattress to distribute wear. Change the bedding for cooler temperatures. Clean pillows—most can be machine washed to rid them of mold, bacteria, and odors.

The Quick Fix: Make the bed. Put folded laundry away. Straighten up clutter. Do a once-over with the handheld vacuum. Use the Swiffer duster to catch dust bunnies. Freshen up the room with Febreze.

Maid Brigade of the Lehigh Valley

1609 Lehigh Street
Allentown, PA 18103

ServiceMaster of Allentown
933 Chestnut Street
Emmaus, PA 18049

The Spotless Company
627 West Lincoln Street
Easton, PA 18042

Follow @LehighValleyMarketplace on Instagram