The Maids of Portland, Maine

Friday, November 21, 2014

It's almost turkey time. As Thanksgiving is a time of sharing, following are 10 helpful tips to garnish the day:

  1. Count backwards. Does the turkey need to thaw? How many pounds equal how many hours equal when do you want to serve the meal?
  2. Start a family tradition. If you don't already have one, state up front, "And in keeping with our family tradition, I'd like to..." This sets it up right there. No one (except, perhaps, an offspring), will ask, "What family tradition?"

  3. We tend to forget that Thanksgiving for the Pilgrims was a picnic. Not recommending we go quite that informal, but still...

  4. Forget the starched linen napkins. They will only get gravy stains.

  5. Put goblets above the knife, to the top right of the plate. (Note: Goblets are not the same as giblets.)

  6. Take a break at some point, relax and place your bet for "Best in Show" at The National Dog Show on NBC.

  7. Back at the table, show-off your host/hostess grace: Serve from the left. Clear from the right.

  8. Give extras points (silently) to anyone who passes the salt and pepper as a set, even if someone only asked for one.

  9. Don't go overboard on the selection of pies. Three pies are more than enough if you are having 10 guests or less. That's 24 slices of pie, people.

  10. Know the word "schmootz." It is a piece of food, e.g., a small dash of the mashed potatoes or pumpkin pie crust that went astray on the chin. Or the cheek. Or somewhere else on the face. It is perfectly polite to say, "Excuse me, but you have a schmootz." To be exquisitely helpful, point to its location on your own face.
Courtesy of: The Huffington Post
                     Bonni Brodnick

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Let Daylight Saving Time be a Reminder to Tackle Important Biannual Chores.

In a new national survey, 70% of Americans polled are avoiding cleaning tasks that are beneficial to the health of their homes. The three chores that are most likely to fall to the bottom of the biannual to-do list are rotating and cleaning of ceiling fans, cleaning vents and registers, and vacuuming and flipping the mattress.

Air quality is a hugely important part of maintaining a clean home. When there is dust build up on your register covers, in your mattress, on your blinds and your ceiling fans, your family is breathing potentially harmful airborne particles. In addition to eradicating dust, other important biannual tasks include cleaning your pantry, fridge, freezer and purging them of expired food, washing or replacing your shower curtain or liner, and wiping down baseboards and molding throughout your home.

The Maids employs professionally uniformed and trained four-member cleaning teams who arrive at customer's homes in signature yellow cars emblazoned with The Maids logo. The Maids exclusive team approach provides the most efficient, comprehensive housekeeping in the industry. The Maid's team is bonded and insured and all services are backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee. To learn more about The Maids, call 207-772-6212.



Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Cleaning Granite- The Proper Way

The consensus among stone experts is that you do not need any special cleaners to get your countertops clean and streak-free. It is important to make sure your granite countertop is sealed. While granite is a very hard surface and less porous than marble, unsealed or weakly sealed granite will soak up oils, spills, and stains. To check whether your granite is sealed, leave a few drops of water on the surface. If it beads up, you have a secure seal. If after a few minutes the water has soaked into the granite, then it's time to reseal the stone.

DON'T: Use harsh or abrasive cleaners and sponges, Windex, acidic cleaners like vinegar, lemon, lime, or anything with ammonia or bleach. Frequent use of these chemicals will dull and weaken the sealant over time. Basically, the harsher the cleaner, the quicker it will break down the sealant.

DO: Wipe up spills as soon as you notice them.

DO: Use warm water, a mild or gentle dish soap, and a nubby washcloth or microfiber cloth for daily wipe downs.

Courtesy of: House Beautiful



Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Cleaning Tips To Solve Any Cleaning Crisis

Tackle any household disaster — including stained carpets, gunky kitchen appliances, cluttered rooms, and more — with easy cleaning tips from Heloise.

Shower Curtain Scum: Put plastic shower curtains and liners in the washing machine, and add a bath towel for scrubbing action, along with your regular amount of detergent. Pop them in the dryer for several minutes or hang to dry.

Bathtub Stains: Put 1/4 cup powdered dishwasher detergent in a glass measuring cup, and add enough water to make a paste; stir with a nonmetal utensil then apply to the stain, scrub lightly, and let set for 20 minutes. Rinse well. If the glaze on the tub has worn off, you may not be able to remove the stain.

Shower Door Soap Buildup: Use a plastic scrubbie or a microfiber cloth dipped in white household vinegar to wipe down the doors, or squeeze cheap shampoo on a plastic scrubber and rub over the area to help dissolve the film. Let sit for a few minutes, then use a squeegee to clean off the residue. Keep a spray bottle filled with vinegar handy and apply when you start to see a haze.

Showerhead Buildup: Remove the showerhead and soak it in white or apple-cider vinegar. If you can't disconnect the showerhead, partially fill a plastic bag with vinegar and tape or tie the top of the bag around the showerhead so the nozzle end is submerged in liquid. Let it sit overnight. The vinegar should dissolve the mineral deposits. Use a toothpick to clear any debris from the holes so the water flows freely.

Grout Stains: Wear rubber gloves and eye protection and mix 3/4 cup household chlorine bleach with 1 gallon water. Use a soft-bristle brush to apply to one small area at a time. Don't let the liquid spatter onto surrounding surfaces. Let it sit for several minutes, then scrub and rinse.                 

Courtesy of: Good Housekeeping
                     By Heloise

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Four Smart Ways To Kill Fruit Flies

You’re not alone in your love of seasonal produce: Pesky fruit flies always seem to find their way to your farmer’s market haul before you even get a chance to fully enjoy it. Tired of them taking over? First toss anything overripe, and then try one of these effective remedies to banish them from your kitchen.
1. Unfiltered apple cider vinegar
Remove the cap from the bottle (it doesn’t have to be full — nearly empty will also work). Cover the opening in plastic wrap and secure with a rubber band. Then, poke a hole for the fruit flies to enter. They can’t resist the scent of vinegar, and they won’t be able to exit once they’re inside.

2. Vinegar and dish soap
If you find your fruit flies are impervious to the plastic wrap, try adding three drops of dish soap to a bowl of vinegar, and leave it uncovered. The soap cuts the surface tension of the vinegar so the flies will sink and drown.

3. A paper cone and a piece of fruit
Place a little vinegar and a chunk of very ripe fruit in a jar. Then, roll a piece of paper into a cone and stick it into the jar, placing the narrow opening down. The fruit flies will be drawn in, but won’t be able to get out.

4. Red wine
Like vinegar, fruit flies love the smell of wine. Try leaving out an open bottle with a little liquid — the skinny neck will keep the flies trapped.

Courtesy of: Lauren Piro            Good Housekeeping

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Cleaning for Health

Household cleaning products intended to kill germs on inanimate surfaces are typically said on their labels to disinfect, kill bacteria or sanitize. Depending on their active ingredient(s) and specific formulation, these products may kill a wide variety of microorganisms that can live on household surfaces, such as foodborne bacteria like Salmonella; the cold virus; and fungus that causes athlete's foot. Household cleaning products designed to kill germs on surfaces have been available for more than 100 years. They are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

  • Regular cleaning products do a good job of removing soil, but only disinfectants or disinfectant cleaners (also known as antibacterial cleaners) kill the germs that can cause many illnesses.
  • Surfaces like kitchen and bathroom counters, door knobs, toilet seats and children's toys may be contaminated with bacteria even when they're not visibly soiled.
  • Germs can be spread to other surfaces on dirty cleaning cloths and sponges.
  • Products that claim to kill germs must meet efficacy requirements and guidelines established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and must be registered with EPA and carry an EPA registration number on their label.
  • In order for surfaces to be effectively disinfected, the instructions on product labels need to be followed carefully.

    Courtesy of: Clean Living


    Monday, June 9, 2014

    Five Green Claims That May Be Misleading

    As smart shoppers, we’re all aware that the consumer goods industry is full of misleading marketing claims, and the eco-friendly product space is one place to be especially wary. While the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulates these statements, it can be tricky to decipher which labels are true and which don’t mean anything at all.

    Here are five common buzzwords you’ll recognize — and tips for when you should be skeptical:

    1. Eco-Friendly:
     When a product is labeled “eco-friendly,” “environmentally friendly,” or “green” without providing an explanation, chances are it’s just a marketing gimmick. These terms can be misleading because they let you assume that the product is good for the environment. Essentially every product will have some type of unwanted effect, but slapping on “eco-friendly” implies that the product has no negative environmental impacts.

    Look for super-specific details instead of broad phrases, such as “eco-friendly: product is made from 60% recycled fiber.” The more details given, the better you can understand what the environmental benefits might be.

    2. Natural:
    There is no legal definition for the word “natural” when used on consumer goods. “Natural” suggests the product comes from plants, minerals, and other things found in nature. But by the time most products reach you, the raw materials and ingredients have gone through a series of manufacturing processes and therefore have been synthetically altered.

    If you’re curious about natural food products, Whole Foods has a comprehensive list of ingredients that are not accepted at their stores. If you’re looking for natural beauty and cleaning products, they should only contain plant- and mineral-based ingredients that are minimally processed.

    3. Recycled:
    A manufacturer can claim that a product contains recycled content only if the materials would have otherwise ended up as trash (either from a manufacturing process or consumer waste). Unless the entire product and its packaging are both made from 100% recycled content, the FTC requires specification. Look out for details on labels. Is the product or the packaging (or both) made from recycled content? How much of it is recycled?

    4. Organic:
    From organic food to organic cotton and more, chances are you’re seeing this word thrown around a lot. Organic means that crops are grown without genetic modification and without synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, and antibiotics. Look out for products with legitimate certifications, such as ones that are USDA certified.

    Keep in mind — just because a product is grown organically, it does not mean it won’t have harmful environmental impacts at some point in its life.

    5. Biodegradable:
    Most consumers assume that biodegradable means, when the product is discarded, it will decompose into the earth in a reasonable amount of time. However, this is not usually true. Many products with this claim won’t actually degrade in a landfill, and it could actually take hundreds or thousands of years for the product to fully deteriorate. So what should you look for? Products that that give you a specific time frame and degrading condition, such as “biodegradable within two years in compost facility.”

    Courtesy Of: Good Housekeeping 

    Monday, April 21, 2014

    10 Places You Always Forget During Spring Cleaning

    Spring is in the air – and so is spring cleaning. There’s nothing like a thorough scrub-down to get rid of the remaining winter muck hanging around your house. However, that’s usually when you realize how many corners you’ve been cutting for the sake of watching “The Good Wife”… which in my opinion is still totally worth it, but that’s beside the point.
    Spring cleaning is the perfect opportunity to catch up on the nooks and crannies of your home. Below are 10 places you’d probably forget without a gentle reminder. (You’re welcome.)

    1. Shower curtain liners

    My shower curtain liner is always the thing I’ll get to later – but you know, never do. Next laundry day, make a mental note to run it through the wash.

    2. Blinds

    Get into the habit of vacuuming your blinds on a weekly basis to save yourself the hassle later. Trust me.

    3. Ceilings

    The ceiling is a super easy area of your home to forget. Meanwhile, there’s a lot going on up there. Check for cobwebs and dust on your ceiling fans and light fixtures, and in the corners.

    4. Plant leaves

    It’s important for your plants to have good hygiene too! Carefully wipe leaves with a damp cloth.

    5. Baseboards

    Depending on how long you’ve neglected your baseboards, spring cleaning is the perfect time to go at them with a damp cloth. Afterward, you can maintain them every few weeks with a duster.

    6. Door handles/knobs

    Considering how often we touch handles and knobs, I’m surprised at how easy it is to forget them during cleaning sessions!

    7. The front door

    It gets pretty mucky outside – especially this time of year – and when guests are waiting for you to let them in, they’re staring at your equally mucky door.

    8. Light switches

    Go and check out your light switches: Are they still their original color?

    9. Chair legs

    We’re so focused on wiping off seats that the legs end up a little worse for wear.

    10. Curtains

    Vacuum your curtains during your everyday cleaning sessions, but when spring cleaning rolls around take them down to be washed.

    Courtesy of: Organic Authority

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

    Before You Spring Clean: Clean the Four Cleaners

    Before you get started with your spring cleaning checklist, make sure your cleaning tools are actually clean themselves:

    1.) Dishwasher:

    Without a proper monthly cleanse, your “self-cleaning” dishwasher can become a cesspool of bacteria, fungi, black yeast, and even mold. Not to mention it can also emit a foul odor, thanks to leftover food particles.

    To kill germs, erase soap scum and cut through films of grease. Start by picking up debris from the bottom of the drain with a rag or paper towel. Then, pour white vinegar into a cup, place it on the top rack of an empty dishwasher, and run a full cycle on the hottest water setting.To deodorize, sprinkle a cup of baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher and run a hot cycle. If you find that the dishwasher interior often turns a rusty-brown color, the iron in your water is the culprit. Reverse the discoloration with a dishwasher cleaner.

    2.) Washing Machine:

    Like with the dishwasher, the first telling sign of a dirty machine is its smell.The odor could be from a variety of things: detergent or fabric softener buildup, bacteria from clothes, or the tendency to leave damp clothes for long periods of time.That dampness in an enclosed area can breed mold and mildew.Simply running a load of hot water won’t zap all the germs, especially strains of bacteria, like E. coli and salmonella, from underwear or kitchen cloths, which can live on washing machine walls and spread to other garments.

    3.) Vacuum Cleaner:

    Without maintenance, a vacuum is only good for moving around dirt. A vacuum can get so bogged down with dust and allergens that it becomes 20 percent less effective each time you don’t clean it properly.You can clean a vacuum without having to take it apart. For bag less vacuums, empty the canister after each use. For ones with bags, replace when it’s one-third full. Clean the filter by shaking out dust or removing buildup with fingers; or, replace it altogether every six months to a year. Finally, make sure the rotating brush is free of hair. If you can’t pull it out, use scissors to cut through the sheet of strands.

    4.) Disinfecting Your Sponges:

    You already know that a ton of bacteria live in sponges — 7 billion germs. But, you can cut down the gross factor by disinfecting your sponge every couple of days, if not every day, and replace it monthly.To disinfect, soak a sponge in water, place it in a microwavable dish, and nuke it on high for a minute.


    Courtesy of: msn living

    Tuesday, March 11, 2014

    The Most Harmful Cleaning Products for your Home

    The Environmental Working Group, a non-profit organization focused on environment and public health, recently came out with their Cleaners Hall of Shame list. With products containing carcinogens, asthma instigators, and poisons, some sparkly cleaners might come at a high price.

    According to the press release:
    Just 7 percent of cleaning products adequately disclosed their contents. To uncover what’s in common household cleaners, EWG’s staff scientists spent 14 months scouring product labels and digging through company websites and technical documents. EWG staff reviewed each ingredient against 15 U.S. and international toxicity databases and numerous scientific and medical journals.

    However, EWG does suggest some cleaners that are better for your health and the environment, such as Green Shield Organic and Whole Foods’ Green Mission brand. Don’t be fooled by "green" labels though, since other eco-friendly products can be misleading with their claims.

    In an effort to minimize the negative effects of some chemical cleaners, common household items can often be great substitutes, Real Simple Magazine suggests. Lemon, cooking oil, vinegar and baking soda are just a few multipurpose cleaning items you may find in your closet.

    If you opt to use store-bought cleaners, know your products. Below is a portion of EWG’s list of cleaners that found a place in the Cleaners Hall of Shame. Some products are potentially fatal if inhaled or swallowed, some are reportedly made with knowingly high-hazard ingredients, and others utilize materials that have actually been banned in other countries.

    Courtesy of: Huff Post Green 09/10/12

    Wednesday, February 26, 2014

    Is Eating Organic Worth The Price?

    The benefits of eating organic food go straight to the farm, where no pesticides and chemical fertilizers are used to grow the organic produce shipped to grocers. That means workers and farm neighbors aren't exposed to potentially harmful chemicals, it means less fossil fuel converted into fertilizers and it means healthier soil that should sustain crops for generations to come.

    For individuals, organic food also has benefits. Eating organic means avoiding the pesticide residue left on foods, and it may even mean more nutritious varietals, though research into that subject has yielded mixed results. While there are few if any proven health impacts from consuming trace quantities of pesticides on foods, a growing number of people take the precaution of avoiding exposure just in case, particularly in the cases of pregnant women (growing babies are exposed to most of the chemicals that mom consume) and the parents of young children.

    But organic food can cost more, meaning many families are loathe to shell out the extra cash for organic produce on every shopping trip. That's what makes the Environmental Working Group's annual list of the dirty dozen foods so useful. The group analyzes Department of Agriculture data about pesticide residue and ranks foods based on how much or little pesticide residue they have. The group has estimated that individuals can reduce their exposure by 80% if they switch to organic when buying these 12 foods...

    1.) Apples
    2.) Celery
    3.) Cherry Tomatoes
    4.) Cucumbers
    5.) Grapes
    6.) Hot Peppers
    7.) Nectarines
    8.) Peaches
    9.) Potatoes
    10.) Strawberries
    11.) Spinach
    12.) Blueberries

    The USDA and farm and food industry representatives are quick to remind consumers that the government sets allowable pesticide residue limits it deems safe, and the produce for sale in your grocery store should meet those standards. Watchdogs like Environmental Working Group see those limits as too liberal, and see the dirty dozen list as a teaching tool to educate consumers about the benefits of organic food.
    Courtesy of: Good Housekeeping

    Monday, January 13, 2014

    Understanding Disinfectants

    Just because a surface looks clean, that's no guarantee that it doesn't harbor germs, warns
    Nancy Bock, Vice President of Consumer Education at the American Cleaning Institute®. Regular cleaning products do a good job of removing soil, but only disinfectants or disinfectant cleaners (also known as antibacterial cleaners) kill the germs that can cause many illnesses.

    Household disinfectants and antibacterial household cleaning products are formulated to kill a wide variety of microorganisms that can live on inanimate surfaces, such as the bacteria Salmonella and E. coli, which cause intestinal illness, and Staphylococcus, which causes skin infections. The specific organisms a product kills depends on its active ingredients, specific formulation and use instructions.

    Products that claim to kill germs must meet efficacy requirements and guidelines established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and must be registered with EPA and carry an EPA registration number on their label. Read and follow label directions at all times. Disinfectants and disinfectant cleaners are the only products that kill germs—but they only work if the label directions are followed.

    Courtesy of: The American Cleaning Institute