Monday, May 24, 2010

Moving... Making the Best of It!

Moving season 2010 is coming up fast. Most people move between Memorial Day and Labor Day and it is arguably one of life’s most stressful experiences. It’s a time when we’re buying packing supplies, canceling and setting up utilities such as phone, cable, electricity, and sending out change of address postcards. You know… the one’s with the cute little dog in the picture. We have to manage on packing breakables without breaking anything and staying sane especially when we’re looking for something that’s been packed already.

I have had the unfortunate timing of moving four times in the same year many years ago. I haven’t moved since. This year I want to share a few helpful hints on keeping your move …well moving.

  1. Kids are still in school. Use this time to organize yourself.

  2. Make a list. Sounds corny but in the end you’ll appreciate having written things down.

  3. Call and set up a time with a moving company. This could mean friends and family. Pizza and beer anyone? Food & drinks do wonders to bribe extra sets of hands.

  4. Start packing! A budget friendly idea: don’t buy brand new boxes. Head to your local grocery store or business and ask for any boxes they would like to recycle. Many companies receive daily shipments and are often happy to recycle. You’re going to need LOTS of boxes!

  5. Do Not! I must repeat, Do Not! Clean wood furniture with an oil based cleaner right before the move. Furniture becomes slippery and if you’re moving it chances are it may fall.

  6. Donate to charity. Some things are best given away and you end up feeling better about yourself. We’ve all heard the saying “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Or woman’s!!

  7. If you live within the Chicagoland area, call us to do your move-in, move-out cleaning. We can clean your home fast and efficiently without cutting corners or wasting time. There’s nothing like a completely clean home; especially, when you didn’t do the cleaning.

  8. Breath in. Breath out. It will be over soon.

If you must clean your home before or after moving, put together a kit of basic cleaning supplies and microfiber towels. A few things you’re sure to use is an all-purpose cleaner, a degreaser, dishwashing soap, & buckets. Set aside until movers (friend’s & family) have emptied your home (move-out). Do not pack away your vacuum cleaner. You’re going to need it after all is gone. A great time saver: clean inside of appliances and cabinets ahead of time. Some of the most time consuming areas to clean is inside of an oven that hasn’t been cleaned, in say a year, and inside of kitchen and bathroom cabinets.

One request, make it a goal to be a little more environmentally conscious. Recycle when possible. Dispose properly.

I wish you the best of luck throughout your move. If you’re finding yourself in a jam, give us a call. We can help!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sterling Silver, Oh My!!

Mother’s Day is fast approaching and I’m a little stressed; to say the least. Like no other Mother’s Day, this year brunch will be (you guessed it) at my house. Not only am I hosting brunch this year, I have an amazing group of women who will be there. Mom, obviously, but then there is my grandmother, my godmother, my aunt and my cousin. All of whom are all excited to see each other and talk as if young girls.

As a token of my endearing affection to these women who have raised me and given me guidance (with the exception of my cousin) throughout my lifetime, I am preparing an amazing brunch. One in which they will remember for a long time. Cross your fingers I don’t burn the muffins or forget to buy coffee. My tablescape and menu are planned. What’s the worry? Two words, sterling silver! I’m bringing out the platters and flatware in sterling silver. If any of you own sterling you already know what I’m talking about.

Work! It takes work to handle and clean. So I decided to share with you tips on how to clean sterling silver for special occasions like Mother’s Day just in case you wanted to impress. Many who own sterling silver know that to clean is to clean by hand. No dishwasher! Hollow handles on flatware may loosen with exposure to heat and detergent and any spill of dry dishwasher detergent especially on flatware can cause dark spots.

Like many of us, silver is no exception, it has enemies. One such enemy is rubber. Rubber corrodes silver. Please don’t use those handy rubber gloves to clean sterling silver. Use plastic or cotton gloves when cleaning and or polishing. If wondering what other enemies has silver sweating; salt, olives, salad dressing, eggs, vinegar and any type of fruit juice. A good idea is to serve these foods/condiments in china or glass containers. Your investment or family heirloom would appreciate it.

My favorite method of cleaning sterling flatware (albeit the lazy way) is in warm sudsy water being careful to use a soft cloth. I rinse well and always dry immediately. I never soak any of the flatware. If the silver is tarnished and it will always be, I’ll clean off the tarnish with toothpaste or a paste of baking soda and water. I’ll use the rub, rinse and dry method. It just takes longer and a little or a lot of patience depending if I’m doing this the day of the event.

I’ve got to admit one thing, when cleaned and polished, sterling silver looks amazing! Its beauty increases with use causing a patina or soft sheen. You will most certainly impress any guest dining in your home.

Good luck. Happy Mother’s Day!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Benefits of Plants in Your Home

A few months ago, my father told me about an article he read on how plants improve the quality of air we breathe. I’ve come to adopt the idea that having more live plants around me is a good thing. My sister and I set out to find whether or not there is truth behind nature. Does nature provide us a simple way to improve our emotional and physical health as we live in a high-tech, fast-paced lifestyle?

To our surprise, there have been studies (NASA Clean Air Study) showing that plants can produce oxygen as well as remove common harmful chemicals from the air improving the quality of air we breathe. These oxygen producing plants break harmful chemicals from common household items into harmless organic byproducts into the soil, which in turn they use as food. Examples of items and the chemicals they release are found in synthetic carpets (releases formaldehyde), petroleum products (release benzene), toys, chemical cleaners, paint, and furniture with synthetic components.

Top oxygen producing plants are:

Mother-In-Law’s Tongue, Areca Palm, and Sprouts (yes the food type). Specifically, sweet pea sprouts and sunflower sprouts. A really cool tidbit is that a person could live in an air sealed room if there are roughly eight Mother-In-Law’s Tongue and an Areca Palm in the room with you. If you try this, let me know how it went.

We wondered how many oxygen producing plants we needed to buy. Unfortunately, the answer wasn’t as simple. We sat down to figure how much time we spent in our home/office, the number of people in the home/office, and the number of synthetic materials and furnishings we have. Yes, all this to find out how many to buy. We thought of buying 3-5 plants and realized that the NASA clean air study recommended 15-18 good sized oxygen producing plants for an 1800 square foot home/office. Yee!

Having plants around not only improve the quality of air we breathe they also brighten up our homes and offices. Before running out to the store make sure you take in to account the amount of space and light in your home. Also you want to make sure you choose plants that are suitable for your environment.

Sweeping Dimensions – The Company…

A few days ago I was asked to talk a little about my company, Sweeping Dimensions. As I talked about who we are and what we’re all about, I realized that I have not talked about Sweeping Dimensions in such great length before. So why not share it? And, I promise, I will give you the short version.

Sweeping Dimensions Cleaning Service is a cleaning company. We have and continue to clean homes and businesses in the Chicagoland area. As of this writing, we have been in business for 5 plus years and so look forward to another 50 plus years! Cross your fingers! ;) We serve many different customers; homeowners, small business owners, property managers, realtors. And proudly use eco-friendly products and equipment. Every opportunity to encourage the use of sustainable products and lower the amount of waste in our landfills is a challenge we are always ready for.

With all of that said, Sweeping Dimensions is more than a cleaning company. We are a company that focus’ not only on the needs of our customers but also on the needs of the communities around us. We were founded with the primary mission to educate, train and provide employment for those with the desire to learn a new trade; to become a professional in that trade. We train our employees to become knowledgeable in the proper care of our customers’ investments. To understand how to use the equipment (vacuums, cloths, mops, etc.) to clean better and more efficiently, to determine the surfaces of the home or office that ensures proper care and maintenance and to smile even when the day is long, rainy, and cold.

As a family owned and operated business, we have been fortunate to be a part of a growing enterprise that encourages a high level of quality and professionalism while supporting the welfare of the people who make up our community.

What Happened to Good Customer Service?

Every so often I come across a potential customer who is skeptical on using a cleaning service to clean their home or office. It is generally a previous experience where communication between the cleaning staff and the homeowner broke. Whereby the cleaning suffers and the homeowner is almost always not happy with the outcome of their cleaning.

Sweeping Dimensions is a family business built off of quality and professionalism. Outside of proper employee training, the only way I see to accomplish great quality is to have a deep commitment to providing amazing customer service. Cleaning a home or office is not only about dusting, washing dishes, changing linens or vacuuming. Cleaning is also about understanding the needs of our customers’ home or office and tailoring their cleaning appropriately.

We go to great lengths to secure proper communication between our staff and our customers. We get to know our customers and their expectations. As an example, I enjoy providing in-home estimates (free of charge). It allows me the opportunity to personally introduce myself and our company. Once the cleaning is scheduled, we call or send an email confirming the cleaning. Here we ask if our customer has any questions or changes to the cleaning. And finally, we provide a follow-up call to see how we measured against our customers’ expectations. By the way, our teams have cell phones to call the office if there are ever any questions or concerns they cannot address on their own.

As consumers we should always expect exceptional customer service and quality cleaning. Never settling for less.