Tips from professionals speed up housecleaning


March 19, 1995|By Susan Hipsley | Susan Hipsley,Special to The Sun

Here's one for the books. Darlene Schott, owner of the Burtonsville Merry Maids franchise cleans her own house. "Well, sometimes the ladies do it, but I live so far out and they're busy," says Ms. Schott, who was staying at home the day she was

interviewed, caring for her sick 6-year-old son.

But basically, she keeps house. And, like the rest of us, she's thinking about spring cleaning now.

Granted, many people only think about it -- or they call a service like Merry Maids or Molly Maid to get it done. "We definitely see a spike of consumer interest in spring and late fall," says Paul Wiljanen, vice president for Molly Maid at its corporate offices in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Lack of time and the increased regular use of cleaning services has curtailed the marathon our mothers and grandmothers orchestrated, but for some people, chasing winter's grit for a day or so is one of those seasonal rituals that -- no matter how loathsome -- nets supreme satisfaction and a sense of connection to all the women before us who didn't hire help.

While bonding with the past and responding to Jungian imperatives is satisfying, like most other activities today, it needs to be done quickly.

Darlene Schott and her mother, Dot Hynes, who -- along with husband Jack -- owns the Columbia Merry Maids franchise, compiled a list of their favorite cleaning tips and philosophies. They should help make the project go more quickly and smoothly if you decide to undertake it. And some of the tips will help keep work to a minimum in the future.

You can rely on their advice. Says Mrs. Hynes, "I was a homemaker for 33 years before I bought the franchise." The first year the couple owned the business, they were Rookies of the Year. Ten years later they have the highest sales volume of any Merry Maids franchise in the country.

* Use a little "space-age technology" to keep the dishwasher sparkling: Pour Tang, the powdered orange drink the astronauts took into space in the '60s, into the soap dispensers and run the dishwasher through a cycle. It will leave the machine sparkling clean.

* To get pet hair off lamp shades, wipe them down with a damp white cloth, such as an old T-shirt or diaper. The hair will just roll right off. This works on upholstery, too.

* Here's a great new use for an old product: Scrub glass shower doors with a soft abrasive cleanser. Then dampen a soft cloth with lemon oil and rub on the clean glass doors. Soap and shampoo will run off the lemon-oiled surface. Doors will stay clean longer, and the next cleaning will be much easier and faster.

* Clean acoustical tiles with a dry sponge. It works like an eraser.

* Use two buckets for scrubbing, one filled with cleaning solution, the other empty. Squeeze dirty water out of the sponge or cloth into the empty one to keep cleaning solution clean.

* Do one room at a time. When you're done, make it off-limits to messy family members. If you get overwhelmed at some point in the spring-cleaning process, go into that room and soak up some inspiration.

* Always clean on the day you can most appreciate it. For example, if you entertain a lot, clean or have the house cleaned on a Friday. If you work five days a week and have someone clean, schedule for a Monday. Then the house feels under control -- even if you don't.

These are from the Molly Maid tip file:

* Identify and buy all needed cleaning supplies before starting. This will avoid time-wasting trips to the store and possible distractions along the way.

* Prepare and freeze meals before beginning the project.

* Get the whole family involved so that everyone appreciates the effort and feels invested in keeping up the good work.


What do you do to save time, to make life easier? What have you cut down on or cut out to make more time for yourself and your family? Have you found a way to simplify your lifestyle? Call the Sundial number that follows to tell us your tips and thoughts. Future columns will feature your ideas. Be sure to leave your name, city of residence and daytime phone number when you call Sundial, The Sun's telephone information service, at (410) 783-1800. In Anne Arundel County, call (410) 268-7736; in Harford County, (410) 836-5028; in Carroll County, (410) 848-0338. Using a touch-tone phone, punch in the four-digit code 6220 after you hear the greeting.

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