How to Clean Wicker Baskets

Wicker baskets can serve a lot of practical purposes in any home. Not only can wicker baskets add a warm touch to your existing decor, but they can also be used to store just about anything in a decorative way. From living rooms and bathrooms to kitchens and bedrooms, you’d be hard-pressed to find a space where wicker baskets can’t come in handy. And because they’re made of relatively inexpensive yet durable materials, you can stock up on wicker baskets of various sizes at your local home goods store without breaking the bank.

Still, wicker baskets (just like any other storage container in your home) will need to be cleaned from time to time. By knowing how (and how often) to clean your wicker baskets, you can keep them looking great for years to come.

Reasons to Clean Your Wicker Baskets

Unlike a “traditional” plastic storage bin, a wicker basket naturally has a lot of grooves, nooks, and crannies. As beautiful as the woven design of a wicker basket can be, these small nooks can easily harbor dust, allergens, and other debris that you don’t want lying around your home. And because there are so many small crevices in the average wicker basket, a feather duster or other usual means of dusting may be ineffective.

Not only can this build-up on your wicker baskets be unsightly, but it can detract from the look and feel of your space as well. Over time, wicker baskets that aren’t cleaned will become dingy looking, which may mean you feel obligated to spend your hard-earned money on new storage solutions for your home.

Time to Clean Your Wicker Baskets?

The good news is that with proper care and cleaning, your wicker baskets can last for many more years before needing to be replaced. The key is knowing how to care for your wicker baskets with routine cleaning and when to spend the time on a deep clean.

Routine Care and Cleaning

The best way to keep your wicker baskets looking great in between deep cleanings is to simply dust and/or vacuum them often. While it won’t get rid of all debris, a quick dusting can help to remove dust from the surface. You can also use a vacuum with a hose attachment to draw out some more stubborn dust and debris. This should be done as part of your regular cleaning routine once every week or two for the best results.

Deep Cleaning Your Wicker Baskets

How often you need to deep clean your wicker baskets will depend on how dusty and grimy they get, as well as what you store in them and where they’re located within the home. Baskets used for storage of toilet paper rolls in a bathroom, for example, will likely accumulate dust/debris from the bath tissue rolls that will need to be cleaned more frequently than other baskets in your home. As a general rule, it’s good to aim for an annual deep cleaning of the wicker baskets throughout your home.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Wicker Baskets

Depending on how many wicker baskets you have to clean and how dirty they are, you can expect to spend about 30 minutes to an hour on this project.

Empty Them Out and Dust Them

Begin by completely emptying out the wicker baskets you plan on cleaning. This will make it easier to get rid of all dust and other debris. If you’re cleaning multiple baskets at once, make sure you have a way of organizing the contents of each basket so you remember where they go.

Once they’re emptied out, dust and/or vacuum them as you normally would. For smaller baskets, you may also wish to turn them upside down over a trash can to shake additional dust and debris loose from small crevices.

Create a Cleaning Mixture

Next, create a cleaning mixture for your wicker baskets by adding a couple of drops of your favorite dish-washing liquid to a bucket of warm water. From there, use a clean rag lightly dipped into the cleaning mixture to begun wiping down each basket inside and out. For the smallest crevices, you can use a toothbrush or even a bottle cleaning brush to achieve the best results.

The key here is to remember not to saturate the wicker with water, as this could cause permanent warping and other damage. Use just enough of the cleaning product to achieve the results you want.

Dry With a Microfiber Cloth

When you’re happy with the cleanliness of the basket, take some time to wipe it dry inside and out with a clean microfiber cloth. Thoroughly cleaning the basket will help protect it from moisture damage and potential mildew or mold growth. You may even want to set the baskets outside to air dry, or place them in front of a box fan to expedite the drying process before you put the contents of each basket back in place.

Keeping Your Wicker Baskets Clean

As you can see, cleaning your wicker baskets is a pretty simple job—and it doesn’t have to take much of your time. To keep the bottoms of your wicker baskets cleaner, you may also consider lining them with shelf liner that can be replaced as needed. Some people may also lay a hand towel down on the bottom of the basket that they can swap out with a fresh one every so often.

You can also cut down on the amount of dust and debris that ends up on your wicker baskets by making sure your home’s air filter is swapped out or cleaned at least once every 90 days. This can also help to improve indoor air quality and reduce the number of airborne particles in the air you breathe. As a result, you may find that you need to dust and clean your wicker baskets less often.

For More Help With Your Cleaning Tasks…

While cleaning out your wicker baskets isn’t a very difficult or time-consuming task, your household cleaning chores can quickly add up. More than likely, you have enough going on in your life to keep you busy, so now may be a good time to schedule a maid service so you can spend less time cleaning and more time doing the things you love.

Maid Sailors offers cleaning services to hard-working people. We take pride in our competitive pricing and 100% satisfaction guarantee. Give us a call today at (212) 299-5170 to schedule your cleaning appointment or find out more about our team. You can also book your appointment right now using our online booking form.

How To Have A Show-Stopping Yard

Your lawn is one of the first things that people will notice when people come to visit your home. So, you want to make sure you have a beautiful yard. Many people take a lot of pride in what their yard and you should too. If you have just bought a new house or have finally decided to take control of your lawn; here are a few tips to have a breathtaking yard.

Know Your Soil And How To Take Care Of It

Your soil is the base of having an incredible yard or nice landscaping. The first thing you will want to do is test your soil. By testing your soil you will take all of the guesswork out of taking care of your lawn. You will know exactly what your yard is lacking and what it has plenty of. These soil testing kits only cost around 20 dollars.

Once you have tested your soil, you will know the best ways to take care of it. Since all lawns are different, they will all require different treatment. The first thing you will want to do is get a high-quality fertilizer. You will want to get an organic, slow-release fertilizer to apply to the outer areas of the yard and then the middle.

Get A Good Mower And Keep It In Good Condition

Mowing your lawn is crucial to keep it looking good. You will want to have a nice mower to help you with your mowing endeavors. These mowers can cost a couple of hundred to a couple of thousand dollars, so you will want to do your research and get the best one that you can for your money.

Once you get a lawnmower, you will want to keep it in the best shape you can. Since they are such a large investment you will want to make sure you are doing the regular maintenance that it needs, like making sure to keep the blade sharpened. While the grass is growing you will want to sharpen your blade every 8 to 12 hours.

Hire Some Help

If you are someone who lives a busy life then you may consider hiring some help to take care of your yard. There are plenty of lawn care companies that will be happy to have your business, regardless of where you are located. It doesn’t matter if you are in a small town or an overpopulated suburb, there is more than likely at least one lawn care company. These companies can make your job a whole lot easier. If you are looking to take care of your yard but don’t have the time, then this is the best option. They will take care of everything from fertilizing to just regular maintenance.

Prevent Grubs And Stay On Top Of Weeds

Grubs and weeds are two of the big things that can wreak absolute havoc on your yard. You will want to whatever you can to prevent these pesky weeds and grubs. Grubs can cause a lot of problems for your lawn before you even realize they are there. They not only cause a lot of problems for your yard, but they are also a popular choice for moles to eat. The best way to take care of them is by stopping them before they even become a problem.

Weeds are something else that can cause a lot of problems for your lawn. Just like grubs, you will want to stop weeds before they become a serious problem. Normally weeds pop up after a big rainstorm, so when you see them pop up you should take care of them immediately. If you catch them before they get too big, you should be able to pull them out by hand.

Know When To Water And When To Let Your Grass Grow

Just like any other plant, you will have to water your grass. You may be tempted to water your plants daily, but the experts recommend against this. They say that instead of just giving it light water daily, you should water it deeply and less frequently. This will encourage your grass to grow deep in the soil and help in the case of a drought. Make sure to properly maintain your yard drain so there are no flooding issues.

Something else you may not be aware of in regards to proper grass care is that you should let it grow a little it. You may like your grass to be super short, but you shouldn’t keep it that short. By letting it grow it will shade the weeds and prevent them from growing. There are a few different types that can be kept short like Seashore Paspalum and Bermuda grass, but for the most part, you should let your grass grow just a little bit.

Get The Best Yard Of Your Life

Having a nice yard is just as important as having a nice home. Not everyone gets to see the inside of your house, but anyone who drives by will see your yard. If you care about appearance, then use these simple tips and tricks to get a stunning yard that will make all your neighbors jealous.

How to Make Your Own Hand Sanitizer and Fight Off Germs

As confirmed cases of coronavirus spread across the world, many people are flocking to local grocery stores and pharmacies to stock up on soap, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes. Unfortunately, this has led to a nationwide shortage of these everyday items. If you’ve visited your local grocery store or pharmacy in the last week, you’ve likely seen the bare shelves; some stores have even imposed limits on the amount of soap, hand sanitizer, and cold/flu medicines that can be purchased per customer.

If you’re low on Purell or hand sanitizer at home and are having trouble finding any at your local stores (or even online), don’t panic! It’s actually very easy (and cost-effective) to make your own hand sanitizer with just a few simple ingredients that you may already have on-hand. Below you will get a simple recipe on how to make hand sanitizer when you don’t have Purell or other hand sanitizer brands available.

When Possible, Choose Soap and Water

First and foremost, though, it’s important to understand that hand sanitizer is not a substitute for washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water. The best way to kill germs and protect yourself (not just from coronavirus, but from any bacterial illness) is to wash your hands frequently with antibacterial soap and warm water. Always wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, being sure to scrub not only your palms, but the backs of your hands, fingertips, and wrists as well.

Hand sanitizers are always good to have on-hand, of course, when you don’t have access to soap and water. This may be the case when you’re out and about, running errands, or even on public transportation.

Making Your Own Hand Sanitizer in a Pinch

If you’ve ever looked at the ingredients on a bottle of hand sanitizer, you’ve probably noticed that isopropyl alcohol, commonly know as rubbing alcohol, is the first ingredient. And actually, most bottles of hand sanitizer you’d buy at the store don’t contain a whole lot more alcohol content than that. After all, alcohol is what kills off germs.

What You’ll Need

There are plenty of variations of homemade hand sanitizer recipes online, but let’s start with the most basic. This is what you’ll need to make your own generic hand sanitizer (like the kind you used to buy at the store before it started flying off the shelves):

  • rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol)
  • aloe vera gel
  • a bottle to dispense from

If you want to get a little fancier with your sanitizer recipe, you can also add some essential oils. A lavender essential oil can help to offset the harsh smell from the rubbing alcohol, as can lemon or even cinnamon essential oil. Just to be sure not to use too much (about 10 drops should be more than enough, depending on the size of the sanitizer batch you’re mixing up). Using too much essential oil could dilute your sanitizer, which will make it less effective at killing bacteria.

It’s also important to make sure that the rubbing alcohol you’re using is at least 91% alcohol; any weaker, and it may not be as effective.

Mixing it Up

What about ratios of ingredients? For the best results, you’ll want to mix three parts rubbing alcohol with one part aloe vera gel. You can combine your ingredients directly into your bottle/pump and shake them up to make sure everything is well incorporated. Another option would be to use a blender or even a spoon to stir the ingredients together.

Bottling and Labeling

It’s a good idea to have at least one large bottle of sanitizer to keep at home, as well as a few smaller bottles to keep in your car, at your workplace, and in your purse or bag. This way, you’ll have access to sanitizer no matter where you go. You can also place the DIY hand sanitizer into a spray bottle. Having spray hand sanitizer or hand sanitizer spray is beneficial if you want to spray on surfaces.

Most people find that placing a large pump bottle of sanitizer in a central location of the home is most convenient, though smaller TSA-sized bottles are ideal for keeping in bags or in your car.

Making Sanitizing Wipes

In addition to making your own bottled hand sanitizer, you can use the same ingredients to make your own sanitizing wipes. You can do this by simply soaking individual paper towels (or even sections of paper towels) in the sanitizing mixture, and then placing them into a dispenser. If you have an empty wipe dispenser from a canister of old disinfecting wipes, this will work just fine. Otherwise, just make sure you store your homemade wipes in a relatively air-tight case so they don’t dry out.

Best Practices For Using Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer is only effective if you’re using it properly, so be sure to keep these tips in mind.

Use Enough to Cover Your Hands

It’s better to use too much hand sanitizer than not enough! Ideally, you should use enough to completely cover your hands. From there, simply rub your hands together until the sanitizer dries completely.

Follow Up With a Moisturizer

Hand sanitizer can be harsh on the skin, which is why we highly recommend adding aloe vera to your homemade concoction. Even still, it may be a good idea to apply a small amount of lotion to your hands after each time you sanitize. This can help to keep your hands from drying out and cracking, especially if you’re also washing your hands more often than normal.

Use Soap and Water if Hands Are Soiled

Hand sanitizer will only do so much if your hands are heavily soiled. That’s because unlike soap, sanitizer is not super effective at removing dirt, debris, and other grime from your hands. So if your hands are visibly dirty, using hand sanitizer probably isn’t going to do a whole lot; you’ll be better off finding a nearby bathroom so you can properly wash and disinfect your hands with soap and water.

Purell Overview

Purell is the most commonly know instant hand sanitizer made of ethyl alcohol. The manufacturer of Purell claimed Purell “[kills] more than 99.99% of most common germs that may cause illness in a healthcare setting, including MRSA & VRE.” However, amidst the 2019–20 coronavirus outbreak, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning letter to Purell’s maker, Gojo Industries, to stop its claims that the product is effective at eliminating diseases because there are no peer-reviewed, published clinical studies demonstrating the company’s claims.

“We are not aware of evidence demonstrating that the Purell Healthcare Advanced Hand Sanitizer products as formulated and labeled are generally recognized by qualified experts as safe and effective for use under the conditions suggested, recommended, or prescribed in their labeling,” the warning letter stated.

You can read the FDA warning letter here.

Other Ways to Keep Yourself Protected

In addition to washing your hands and using homemade hand sanitizer or a natural hand sanitizer, there are a few other ways you can go about protecting yourself from viruses and other illnesses.

Avoid Touching Your Face

Germs are easily transmitted from the hands to the face when you rub your eyes or bite your nails. Try to get into the habit of keeping your hands away from your face, regardless of whether you’ve recently washed your hands or not.

Wear a Surgical Face Mask

By wearing a surgical face mask, you can effectively filter out some of the airborne particles (including some viruses) that would otherwise find their way to you. In this sense, wearing a surgical mask can provide you with some additional protection and peace of mind, especially if you spend time in larger crowds regularly.

Stay Home if You’re Sick

This may be easier said than done, especially if you’re short on sick days, but you can prevent the spread of illness by simply staying home when you have symptoms like a fever, runny nose, or bad cough.

Keep a Clean Home

Keeping the surfaces of your home properly disinfected is a must. Too busy to keep your home as pristine as you’d like? Maid Sailors can help! Schedule your first professional home and apartment cleaning service with our team today.

A Simple Guide To Cleaning Your Pillows

When was the last time you cleaned your pillows? We’re talking the actual pillows themselves—not just the pillowcases. If it’s been a while or if you didn’t know you could even clean pillows, your pillows have probably seen better days. Before you run out and spend your hard-earned money on brand new pillows, however, you may want to consider washing your pillows at home. It’s easier than you think and doesn’t require much more time (or effort) than washing any other load of laundry.

By having a better understanding of why and  how  you can clean your pillows at home, you can rest your head a little easier at night.

Why Clean Your Pillows?

You already wash your pillow cases, sheets, comforters, and other bedding (think cleaning your mattress) on a regular basis—and for good reason. Over time, bacteria from sweat, along with things like dust mites, can make your bed a less-than-ideal place to sleep. However, the same bacteria and creepy-crawlies can make their way past your pillowcases and directly into the pillows themselves over time.

When you take the time to consider what comes into contact with your pillows and pillowcases, it’s easy to see why they should be cleaned regularly. Chemicals from hair products, makeup, and saliva (if you’re a drooler!) can all lead to a breeding ground of bacteria within your pillow. By taking the time to thoroughly clean your pillows on a regular basis, you can cut down on this bacteria—and of course, enjoy the scent of freshly laundered bedding when you rest your head at night.

In addition to getting rid of bacteria and creepy-crawlies, cleaning your pillows can also help to restore the “fluff” to pillows that have otherwise become dull over time. This could result in a better night’s sleep for you and fewer mornings waking up with neck or back pain.

How often should you clean your pillows? It really depends on how quickly they become soiled. In most cases, washing them once every 2-4 weeks is fine, but some may prefer to wash them just as often as the rest of their bedding. Ultimately, it’s about what makes you feel the most comfortable.

Signs Your Pillows Need To Be Cleaned

First of all, if you’ve never cleaned your pillows or if it’s been more than a few months since you’ve done so, your pillows almost definitely need to be cleaned. Some other possible signs that your pillows are in need of a good washing include:

  • lack of “fluff” or support for your head and neck
  • frequent acne breakouts or blemishes
  • waking up with a stuffy or runny nose
  • noticeable stains or spots on your pillows

If you go through the process of washing/cleaning your pillows (as described in detail below) and are still experiencing these issues, please note that it may be time to simply replace your pillows (especially if it’s been more than a few years since you bought them and you sleep on them daily).

How to Clean Your Pillows

So, where do you begin when it comes time to clean your pillows? The process is easier than you might think. Just keep in mind that different steps may need to be followed for different types of pillows. Cotton and down pillows are still among the most common, but memory foam is becoming increasingly popular as well. We have outlined the washing and drying steps for each type of pillow below, so be sure to follow the specific process for your pillow type(s).

Washing Pillow Cases

Start by removing any pillow cases that may be covering the pillows themselves. Check the tags to find out more about their specific care instructions. For common materials, such as polyester and cotton, you may be able to wash your pillowcases in the same load of laundry where you wash the pillows themselves. For more delicate materials, however, you may need to hand wash them or wash them on a delicate cycle.

Before you wash your pillow cases, give them a quick check for any stains that may require use of a stain-removing product prior to being washed. This is more common for people who may fall asleep with eye makeup on, as cosmetics like mascara and eye-liner are notoriously difficult to remove from many fabrics.

Washing Cotton and Down Pillows

Cotton and down pillows are the easiest to clean, as they can generally be tossed into your washing machine like any other laundry. The key to cleaning pillows in your washing machine is to wash at least two at a time, as this will help better balance the load and will thus reduce any additional wear and tear on your pillows. This is especially true if you have a washing machine with an agitator (as most top-loaders have).

Once you’ve added your laundry detergent, you’ll generally want to wash your pillows on a “bulky” or “heavy” cycle. Check your washing machine for any setting that is designed for heavier items. Some washing machines even have a special “bedding” option, but if yours doesn’t, you can use your standard setting.

Drying Cotton and Down Pillows

Once your pillows have completed their wash cycle, it’s time to dry them. How you dry your pillows is extremely important; for down pillows, you’ll want to make sure to avoid using any heat. Use an air-dry or fluff setting instead. For cotton and synthetic pillows, a low-heat setting will be just fine.

You can help to cut down on the drying time of your pillows by adding a couple of clean tennis balls to the dryer. This will not only help them dry faster, but will have the added benefit of fluffing your pillows as well!

You may need to run your pillows through the dryer for a couple of cycles before they’ll be completely dry. Once they are, however, all you need to do is put your clean pillow cases back on and enjoy your fresh, like-new pillows!

What About Memory Foam Pillows?

Memory foam pillows will require a little more care to clean. Specifically, they’ll need to be hand washed and air dried. The best way to do this is to fill a bucket with warm water and some of your favorite laundry detergent. From there, dunk your pillow in the water and gently massage/squeeze it to wash it. From there, you’ll want to rinse the pillow thoroughly with warm water to remove excess soap and suds.

Once your memory foam pillow is nice and clean, gently wring it to remove as much water as possible. From there, it should be set out to dry (ideally in the sun for faster drying). This process can take quite awhile, especially when you consider that memory foam is made of a sponge-like material. Still, your patience will pay off when you have a nice and clean pillow that has retained its shape and comfort.

Can a Professional Cleaning Service Help?

Taking the time to clean your pillows regularly can provide a number of health and wellness benefits, and is a lot cheaper than replacing your pillows when they become soiled. Still, washing pillows can be time-consuming, especially when you have enough laundry to worry about as it is. This is where having a professional cleaning service can make all the difference.

By having a professional cleaner handle other aspects of your household chores, such as laundry and sweeping, you can free up more time to tackle things like pillow cleaning while still having plenty of time to do more of the things you enjoy.

Maid Sailors offers a wide range of cleaning services in New York City and the surrounding areas. Contact us today to find out more about the specific services we offer and book your first cleaning with us.

Trending DIY Cleaning Hacks That Don’t Work

Nowadays, new cleaning innovations for making life easier hit the market almost every day. This constant innovation makes today’s cleaning products and tools better than they were before. However, there are also people who get enticed by numerous hacks and tips online that promise better and easier cleaning. Most of these “helpful” tips and life hacks are not based on pure science and may cause you more harm than good in doing simple cleaning tasks.

But with so many cleaning hacks out there on the Internet, it can be hard to tell if these hacks are useful or not. Fortunately, we’ve rounded up and debunked some popular do-it-yourself cleaning tips.

Combining Baking Soda and Vinegar

Contrary to popular belief, mixing baking soda with vinegar only produces a salt and water solution and not a special cleaning solution. These substances are only neutralizing each other due to vinegar being acidic and baking soda being basic. The fizz that results from the chemical reaction creates more of a mess than helping remove the dirt or grime on the surface that you want to be cleaned. It instead uses water produced from the reaction to rinse out the dirt while using the bubbles produced as an abrasive to remove some of the mess. Fortunately, baking soda and vinegar are already useful on their own.

Mixing Vinegar and Dish Soap for Pet Stain Removal

Both vinegar and dish soap are not potent enough for eliminating odor and discoloration due to pet urine, excrement or vomit. That’s why the best alternative to this mixture is an enzyme cleaner which not only breaks down protein to remove stains but also makes for an effective carpet or upholstery cleaner.

Pouring White Wine on Red Wine Stains

While this hack might have an above average success rate due to white wine having a higher alcohol level, vodka is a much better cleaning agent for removing red wine stains. Vodka has 40% more alcohol than white wine, which only has 12.5% alcohol. Experts also advise spritzing a bit of hydrogen peroxide on the stain rather than using alcohol.

Removing Ink Stains with Hairspray

In the past, this popular cleaning hack was effective due to hairspray containing 100% alcohol. But now, ink stains will only look shiny and fresh when you spritz it with modern hairspray since they contain less alcohol compared to before. If you still want to get rid of that pesky ink on your fabrics, there are two possible ways to do it. For ballpoint ink stains, just sponge rubbing alcohol on the mark. You can also soak felt-tip ink stains in water and liquid laundry detergent for 30 minutes to an hour.

Applying Hydrogen Peroxide on Carpet Stains

This rug cleaning hack is extremely popular among carpet owners. However, hydrogen peroxide can bleach your rug if it makes up over six percent of a cleaning solution or if not diluted well. But don’t fret: carpet cleaning can be done in many other ways. You can learn how to care for your rug here.

Using Soda to Clean a Toilet Bowl

One of the most common and most believed DIY cleaning hacks is pouring carbonated soda down the toilet bowl which is a quick way to remove hard water stains after letting it sit and rinsing it after an hour. In reality, these refreshments are not made to remove stains or eliminate bacteria. Carbonated sodas leave a sticky residue that can cause bacteria growth by providing these microorganisms with food. However, these beverages have small amounts of citric and phosphoric acids that can gradually eliminate rust and a few stains on other home items.

Using Vinegar to Remove Water Rings on Wood Tables

While vinegar is a useful and affordable cleaning agent, it cannot effectively remove those pesky water rings and stains on your wooden coffee table. Vinegar can damage your furniture’s protective polish when you apply it to wood since it is an acidic substance.

Everyone would ideally love and want to live in cleaner spaces. And while cleaning can be tiring and time-consuming, doing these cleaning hacks can cost you a fortune rather than saving you time and money. Fortunately, there are other reliable special cleaning services that one can avail for a cleaner home. You can get a lot of benefits from these services, especially if you’re working or fulfilling family responsibilities.

One advantage is that special cleaning services help you save time and provide you a little peace of mind. They also offer $100-$150 or less on their rates and even let you avail of discounts to help you save money. These services also treat dust mites and allergies. Constant professional cleaning keeps harmful bacteria and microbes from developing. Many professional services even use HEPA vacuum cleaners to clean your rug and other parts of your home. These devices collect high quantities of dust, dirt, and dead skin from these places.

Hiring a professional cleaning service means that all your cleaning needs will be taken care of and saves you precious energy and time. You’ll also be able to do anything that you want since the service gives you more freedom.

Everything You Need to Know About Cleaning Your Toaster (And Toaster Oven)

Toasters are a kitchen appliance that we tend to take for granted. They’re often used on a daily basis, yet when we take the time to clean our kitchens, rarely do we think to do anything with our toasters and toaster ovens. As a result, they may accumulate years’ worth of bread and bagel crumbs before we think to clean them or simply choose to replace them.

What many people don’t realize, however, is that cleaning toasters and toaster ovens is easier (and quicker) than you might think! The whole process can take less than 10 minutes, and you probably have all the tools you need to tackle this project right now. By having a better understanding of why it’s important to clean your toaster regularly and how to properly clean it, you can check this item off your “to-do” list today!

Reasons To Clean Your Toaster Regularly

Toasters are often overlooked during kitchen cleaning because from the outside, these little appliances don’t tend to look very dirty. The majority of the crumbs end up inside the toaster itself, after all. Out of sight, out of mind…right?

Not so fast. As crumbs and other food debris build up inside your toaster over time, they can dry out and become a fire hazard. At the very least, you’ll probably begin to notice an unpleasant burning odor each time you use your toaster if it hasn’t been cleaned in awhile. And if your toaster is really dirty, this could even affect the appliance’s ability to toast your food evenly. You might end up having to replace your toaster prematurely due to the additional wear.

Cleaning your toaster oven regularly is also a must and for similar reasons. Fire risks can be even higher with a toaster oven that hasn’t been maintained, especially when you use your toaster oven to cook foods with flammable greases or oils.

How To Clean A Traditional Toaster

If you haven’t cleaned your toaster in the last few months or if you can honestly say that you’ve never cleaned your toaster, make today the day! You really only need to set aside about 10 minutes of your time to end up with a clean toaster and added peace of mind.

Not sure where to begin? We’ve got you covered with this step-by-step walk-through.

Unplug and Choose a Location

The most important step in cleaning your toaster ( or any plug-in appliance, for that matter) is to make sure it’s unplugged before you get started! Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of electrical shock. Furthermore, if you’ve used your toaster recently prior to cleaning it, you’ll want to make sure that it’s cooled off completely so you don’t end up burning yourself when you come into contact with it.

Before you get started in cleaning your toaster, you may also want to relocate it to somewhere that will minimize the chances of crumbs getting everywhere. Many people prefer to clean their toasters out over their sinks for this reason, but you can also set down some newspaper on your kitchen counters before you begin to catch crumbs and food debris.

Start With the Crumb Tray

Most modern toasters are outfitted with a time-saving feature known as a crumb tray. This tray is located at the bottom of your toaster and catches the majority of the crumbs as they fall from toasted bread, bagels, and other food items. Toasters that are equipped with crumb trays usually have a simple release button for the trays themselves.

Once you remove the tray, dump its contents down your sink or into the garbage. You’ll also want to rinse and hand-wash the crumb tray to remove any food residue or caked-on debris. Once you’re done washing it, set it aside so it can dry while you clean the rest of the toaster.

Give it a Good Shake

If your toaster doesn’t have a crumb tray, you’ll need to employ the “old-fashioned” cleaning method of turning your toaster upside down and gently shaking it to dislodge any crumbs. Even if your toaster does have a crumb tray, this step can be useful in getting those stray crumbs out as well.

You can also use a pastry brush (or another small, clean brush) to get into corners and remove any lingering crumbs for a more thorough clean.

Wipe and Polish

Once the since of your toaster is clean, you’ll want to tackle the outside. You can use a disinfecting wipe on many toasters (depending on the material), but if you want to play it safe, you can always wipe down the exterior with a damp cloth and some gentle dish detergent. This will help to get rid of any grease or other residues easily. Be sure to focus some special attention on the knobs of your toaster, as these tend to be the most grimy.

If you have a stainless steel toaster, you can restore its shine by using a polishing wipe designed specifically for use on stainless steel. If you don’t have any of these wipes available, you can achieve similar results using a bit of vinegar rubbed on with a clean, non-abrasive cloth.

Once you’ll all done, simply remember to replace your toaster’s crumb tray and you’ll be back in business!

How To Clean A Toaster Oven

Toaster ovens are just as important to clean on a regular basis, though they can require a bit more time and elbow grease to clean properly.

Unplug and Choose a Location

Just as with your traditional toaster, you’ll want to begin by making sure the appliance is unplugged and cooled off. Because toaster ovens tend to contain a lot of crumbs and other food particles, you’ll probably want to clean it out over your sink or over a garbage can to reduce the need for additional clean-up!

Wash Removable Parts

Begin by washing any removable parts on your toaster oven. This includes any trays or racks. Scrubbing with warm water and dish soap will usually do the trick, but a run through the dishwasher may be required for caked-on food debris. You might also consider soaking these parts for easier cleaning.

Once all removable parts are clean, be sure to set them aside so they have time to dry while you move onto the next steps.

Wipe Down the Interior

The interior of your toaster oven is probably the dirtiest part. You can make your own cleaner out of warm water, vinegar, and a small amount of dish soap. Apply some of this mixture to a sponge and then wipe down the interior of the toaster oven to remove additional grease and debris. A scouring pad can also be used on caked-on stains, but be careful not to damage any of the internal elements of the toaster oven.

Once the interior is clean, you can wipe down and polish the exterior of your toaster oven using the same steps. Replace any parts that you removed (assuming they’re completely dry first) and you’ll be ready to use your toaster oven once again.

How a Professional Cleaner Can Help

Cleaning small kitchen appliances probably isn’t your idea of a great time, but it’s necessary. The good news is that you can always hire a professional cleaning service to handle this and many other aspects of keeping your home clean.

Maid Sailors, for example, offers a wide range of cleaning services to New York City and the surrounding areas. Whether you’re looking for general house cleaning, a deep cleaning, or anything in between, you can trust Maid Sailors to do a thorough job and free up your valuable time for other things. Contact them today to find out more about their professional cleaning services or office cleaning service to schedule your first house cleaning!

How to Make a Surgical Face Mask

Hand sanitizer and antibacterial soap aren’t the only health items that have become difficult to find since the novel coronavirus made its way to the United States; surgical face masks, such as the popular N95 mask or N95 respirator, have also been flying off the shelves.

Because coronavirus is an airborne illness, it makes sense that so many people are rushing to stock up on respirators and surgical masks. If you’re having a hard time finding any in your area, the good news is that you can make your own. Before you get started, however, there are some things you need to know.

Potential Benefits and Drawbacks of Surgical Masks

Reasons to Wear a Face Mask or Mouth Mask

There is always concern about the spread of germs when you’re in close quarters with other people. For example, if you ride a crowded subway or other public transportation to and from work each day, you might be worried about catching something from the person sitting next to you. By wearing a surgical mask or other types of respirator masks, you can effectively filter out some of the airborne particles (including some viruses) that would otherwise find their way to you. In this sense, wearing a surgical mask can provide you with some additional protection and peace of mind, especially if you spend time in larger crowds regularly.

Understanding the Limits of Surgical Face Masks

It’s important to understand that wearing a surgical mask (also commonly referred to as a mouth mask) will not automatically protect you from catching coronavirus (or any other airborne virus, for that matter). Even N95 masks, which are among the most effective facial masks available, can only block out about 95% of small particles when worn properly (hence the N95 name for the filtration efficiency). The N95 respirator is the most common of the seven types of particulate filtering facepiece respirators. This product filters at least 95% of airborne particles or N95 particulates but is not resistant to oil.

Also, you’ll want to understand your own physical limitations. Surgical masks can cut down on airflow, which can be a problem for those with respiratory problems (such as asthma). If you have any physical conditions that may make wearing a surgical mask dangerous to your health, be sure to talk to your doctor before proceeding.

How to Make Your Own Surgical Face Mask

Because N95 respirators and other types of surgical face masks or mouth masks have become difficult to come by, many people find themselves in a situation where they need to make their own. Even if you do have access to face masks or an N95 respirator mask in your area, you may want to consider DIYing your own, anyway. This will help to ensure that others who truly need those face masks (like those working in the medical field) can continue to get the protection they need.

A quick online search will yield all kinds of results for DIY surgical mask tutorials, but the one we’re outlining here is about as simple and straightforward as it gets. There is no need for any sewing experience, and there’s a good chance you already have all the supplies you need to whip up one of these masks in just a few minutes.

What You’ll Need For A DIY Face Mask or DIY N95 Mask

To get started, you’ll need:

  • paper towels (at least a few sheets per N95 mask)
  • rubber bands (shoelaces or string will also work)

If you’d prefer to make a washable mask (one that can be reused rather than replaced), you can also use a t-shirt in place of the paper towels. If you are using a t-shirt, it’s a good idea to bleach and wash it before use—especially if there is any chance it has been contaminated in any way.

Putting it Together

To create your face mask, begin by taking two or three squares of paper towel and layering them on top of each other. If you’re using a t-shirt, simply cut the shirt into several equal sections and stack them on top of each other (just be sure that the size is large enough to cover your mouth and nose).

Next, begin creating small accordion folds in the paper or t-shirt fabric until the entire mask is folded into a long, thin rectangle. At this point, you can attach your rubber bands, shoelaces, or other string. This can be done by punching a hole through the ends of the mask material and simply looping the band through, or by gluing or stapling.

From there, gently unfold the mask material until it is stretched out enough to cover your chin, mouth, and nose. You can then check and adjust the fit of the rubber bands as needed.

Getting the Most Out of Your Surgical Face Mask

Now that you know how to make or create your own surgical face mask, there are a few more tips worth following to get the most out of yours.

Ensure a Tight Fit

Ideally, your mask should fit snugly around your mouth and nose to reduce the number of foreign particles that can enter the particulate respirator, mask N95 or N95 mask.

Replace or Wash Regularly

If using paper towels for your DIY mask or homemade N95 mask, you’ll want to make enough so that you can change your mask regularly (at least once a day and possibly more, depending on how often you wear it). As soon as your mask becomes damp or wet, it needs to be changed out; that’s because a wet mask can make you even more susceptible to infection and other health problems.

If you’re making a t-shirt mask (or a mask out of another washable fabric), consider making two so that you can always have one in the wash and one readily available to wear.

Only Wear When Necessary

In reality, people who are showing symptoms are the ones who should be wearing these masks out in public. However, if you insist on wearing a mask to protect yourself, limit the amount you wear it to times when you are actually out in a large crowd. Remember that when you wear a surgical mask, you are restricting air and oxygen flow to your body—so you don’t want to wear it when it’s not really needed.

More Best Practices For Protecting Yourself

Keeping a clean home is always important—but when cold and flu season rolls around, it’s perhaps more vital than ever to the surfaces of your home disinfected for any virus. In addition to having face masks on-hand or other personal protective equipment, there are some other measures you should be taking to protect yourself against the spread of any type of virus. The best thing you can do is to wash your hands regularly and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds at a time, as well as keeping your hands away from your face.

Keeping a clean home can also go a long way in reducing the spread of germs. Too busy for everyday cleaning and disinfecting? Let our team at Maid Sailors take care of you! Contact us today to find out more about our cleaning services offered; we’d be happy to schedule your first appointment with our professional team at your convenience.

Your Guide To Getting Rid Of House Flies

Flies can be beneficial to the environment—but when they’ve invaded your home, they become more of a pest than anything. If you’re dealing with a house fly infestation, you may be wondering what to do next. Are you destined to share your living space with these insects forever? Definitely not, but there are some proactive steps you’ll need to take in order to get rid of the flies in your home and keep them from coming back.

Common Causes Of House Flies

It can be helpful to understand what often causes a house fly infestation to begin with. Most of the time, house flies are attracted to sources of foods ranging from animal food (and even animal waste) to organic matter. And while flies only have a life span of about three months, a home can quickly become infested, as female flies can easily lay up to 500 eggs. With this in mind, it’s easy to see how an infestation in your home can seemingly happen overnight.

How To Prevent and Get Rid of House Flies

The good news is that there are ways to get rid of house flies, reclaim your home, and prevent them from coming back.

Seal Off Points of Entry

Start by keeping additional flies from entering your home in the first place by locating their point of entry, if possible. Look specifically for common sourced, such as torn window screens or gaps around doors and windows. Take time to add weather-stripping around windows and doors, as well as caulking or repairing other small gaps around the exterior of your home as needed. While you’re dealing with flies in your home, it’s also a good idea to leave your doors and windows closed.

Use Natural Deterrents

Rather than bringing in chemicals to handle a fly problem inside your home, it’s a good idea to start with natural solutions. Consider, for example, fly paper or store-bought fly traps. These are designed to lure flies before trapping them, and can be easily placed both inside and outside your home as needed.

Another natural solution for house flies is to use plants such as lavender, mint, and basil—all of which cause a reaction in house flies and may be enough to keep additional flies at bay. You might consider keeping these plants in small pots around your home or even setting up an herb garden outside your home. You can also make your own fly-repellent spray by mixing water and essential oils such as lavender, mint, basil, or lemongrass. You can spray this mixture around your home about once or twice a month for best results.

Clean Up After Your Pets

Another important step you can take to prevent house flies in your home is to make sure you’re cleaning up thoroughly after your pets. House flies are attracted to both animal food and animal waste—and since pet food is often left out in the open, it’s a common source of house flies. Consider feeding your pets at scheduled times during the day and putting away any food they don’t eat until their next scheduled feeding. Take time to sweep and vacuum food crumbs from around their bowls regularly as well.

When it comes to pet waste, make sure you’re scooping your cat’s litter box at least once a day. Not only will this keep your home smelling fresh, but it will reduce the chances of house flies being attracted to your home as well. Outdoor pet messes should also be cleaned up regularly to keep flies away from your home.

Make Sure Food Is Properly Stored

One of the most common causes of house fly problems is poor food storage. All it takes is a few crumbs or dishes left out in the sink to attract a swarm of house flies. Avoid leaving any food out in the open, including drink glasses. Once you’ve finished drinking from a glass, rinse it out thoroughly with warm or hot water to remove any residue from the glass that could attract flies. Remember, it doesn’t take much.

When it comes to storing your food, you might want to consider moving some food items over from your pantry to your refrigerator, where they won’t be a temptation for house flies. This includes items like condiments and bread, both of which will stay fresher for longer in the fridge than they would on a shelf.

Scrub and Rinse Out Trash Cans

Over time, your home’s trash bins can become dirty with old food particles and drink spills. Take time to wash and thoroughly scrub them out at least once every few months, and consider using trash bin liners to keep them cleaner in between scrubbings.

When to Call An Exterminator

In most cases, a house fly problem can be resolved without the need for an exterminator or any heavy pesticides. Still, if you have followed all the tips here and are still struggling with keeping house flies at bay, then it may be time to call in an exterminator to assess the situation and come up with a game plan for getting rid of the flies in your home once and for all.

Schedule A Professional House Cleaning

Keeping a clean and tidy home is by far the best way to avoid a house fly problem. Of course, deep cleaning a home can be extremely time consuming and physically demanding. This is where it can be beneficial to hire a professional house cleaning service. With a deep house cleaning from an experienced professional, you can have your home cleaned from top to bottom. This may include:

  • cleaning of kitchen cabinets to remove food crumbs
  • thorough sweeping and mopping of floors
  • thorough vacuuming of carpeted floors
  • taking out of trash and recyclables
  • cleaning of countertops and kitchen appliances

This deep cleaning can help to get rid of crumbs and other sources that may have attracted house flies to your home in the first place. At the same time, you won’t have to lift a finger. A professional house cleaning can provide other services as an added bonus, such as making of beds and cleaning of interior glass fixtures to refresh your home.

By following these tips, you can have a home free of annoying house flies in no time. Interested in scheduling a professional house cleaning? Maid Sailors is here to help. Schedule your professional cleaning today or find out more about our specific cleaning services offered by calling our office at (212) 299-5170. We look forward to making your home sparkle!

How To Sell, Donate Or Junk Furniture In NYC

One of the worst parts of living in NYC is moving. You can’t bring your furniture on the subway, a cab will never stop, and getting a moving truck near your front door is almost impossible. That’s why many New Yorkers simply buy cheap furniture and get rid of it when they have to move. But what exactly are you supposed to do with it?

Leaving Old Furniture On The Curb

Unlike in most neighborhoods, you can’t just leave your furniture on the curb for someone to take in New York City. To begin with, it’s illegal for someone to take items left on the curb. Anything you leave out becomes city property, and no one is allowed to touch it even if you leave up a sign saying it’s free.

You also can’t just leave your furniture out for trash collection. Bulk items require a special appointment for pickup. They’re free to schedule if you can get an appointment, but getting the right time can be difficult if you don’t want to be without furniture before your moveout date.

In addition, your landlord might have something to say about you leaving furniture out. They can set rules on how you bring furniture out of the building and where you can leave it. In many cases, they’ll simply ban leaving things out on the curb. Since they’re the property owner, it’s within their rights to do so unless you managed to have furniture disposal included in your lease.

Donating Used Furniture

New York City has a wide range of donation options available. This includes big names like Goodwill and The Salvation Army, local churches and charities, and other specialized non-profits.

If you don’t already have an organization in mind, you can check out donateNYC for a complete list of organizations that accept donations in the city. Some will come to you, while others won’t help you much because they require you to bring your furniture to them. More on that later.

Selling Used Furniture

You can also sell your used furniture on websites like Craigslist and Facebook, in traditional classified ads, to consignment shops, or directly to other people. The trouble here isn’t so much where to list your furniture but how hard it will be to actually sell.

Most consignment shops and other middlemen won’t come to you unless you have something very valuable. Even then, the pickup costs will reduce what you receive for your furniture.

If you go the private route, you could find a steady stream of lowballers, flakes, and just plain crazy people before you find a reasonable buyer. Remember, these are the same people you ride the subway with.

In most cases, you’ll be disappointed with how much you got for your furniture especially when you add up the hours it took to sell it all.

Why Is No One Willing to Pay for Used Furniture?

Remember how you took the ferry down to Ikea or just had everything mailed to you off of Amazon, Overstock, Walmart, or Wayfair? Everyone else had the same idea.

Assemble-it-yourself disposable furniture that comes in a nice little box right to your door is one of the most popular furniture buying options for renters precisely because of how cheap and easy it is. For just a few dollars more than buying used, you get brand new items with delivery included. There’s no hassle of dealing with strangers, trying to lug the furniture back to your apartment, or hoping someone’s Ikea handiwork doesn’t fall apart in the process. This type of furniture is so cheap now that it has almost no resale value.

Trying to get rid of furniture that’s a little higher end — maybe something you got from a relative? Nobody wants that, either. Traditional furniture, that’s heavier, more difficult to move, old, and brown, is out. Disposable furniture is in. Sure, some people might want your old, brown furniture but the demand is far less than the supply created by aging generations downsizing and finding out their kids don’t want their stuff. Unless your furniture is a truly high-quality antique or a top of the market piece, you’ll be lucky if you can get even pennies on its original purchase price.

Why Don’t Charities Want Your Furniture?

Charities don’t want your old furniture, either. In many cases, donations are sold through thrift shops to the same people that you’d be trying to sell to. If your furniture doesn’t sell, the charity has to spend time and money disposing of it. They also have to make enough money to cover the costs of picking it up from you — which is why many charities are now very picky about what furniture they’ll pick up for free.

For charities that directly use the furniture, they usually have better options than hoping someone’s old Ikea furniture doesn’t fall apart. This includes bulk buying new, cheap furniture or working with large estate sellers.

Simply put, charities are trying to further their own mission not provide you with a free way to dispose of your stuff. Many furniture donations would end up losing their money, so donations to charity don’t work out.

The Bed Bug Scare

Bed bugs are also another big reason why no one wants used furniture anymore. They can be almost impossible to detect within a cushion or pillow, but getting just a few into your home can mean almost literally burning it and all of your clothes and furniture to the ground. This makes it much harder to get rid of soft furniture, like sofas, and hard furniture, like wood tables, already falls into the rule of no one wants old, brown furniture.

The Risk of Damage When Selling Furniture
Whether you sell, donate, or give away your furniture, there’s the risk of damage to your apartment or the building’s common areas when someone comes to move it. Even if you didn’t directly cause the damage yourself, you’re still on the hook for it as the person who let them into your building.

When you’re dealing with a reputable furniture reseller, junk removal company, or charity, they should have insurance to cover potential damage. You should ask to see proof of insurance, and your building may require you to give management a certificate of insurance before any move or any move out cleaning.

If you’re dealing with an individual you met online, you may not have enough contact information to get them to pay up for any damage. Even if you do, it could take a small claims court case before you can get them to pay up.

If you do choose to roll the dice and hope nothing happens, you could still end up with a nosy super who is worried about damage trying to put a stop to your move — or ratting you out to management if there’s an “illegal” moving fee in your lease.

How to Stay Safe When Selling Furniture

If you do decide to sell your furniture, here are a few tips that can keep you safe.

  1. Try to deal with people you know — coworkers, friends of friends, etc. If you sell to strangers, use a third-party app that verifies the identities of people who sign up. Even if you don’t have their personal information, the police can retrieve it from the app if needed.
  2. Using a marketplace that has payment processing, like PayPal or an escrow system, can help alleviate concerns over handling large amounts of cash or getting a bad check.
  3. Never meet a stranger alone except in a public place such as a well-trafficked street or lobby. Don’t meet in a quiet side street, a lobby with everyone gone for the day, or your own apartment.
  4. Have the right number of people to lift the furniture plus at least one extra to hold doors. Don’t hurt yourself trying to lift too much.
  5. If the person taking your furniture is coming to you, have a helper so you can bring the furniture down to their truck rather than them coming up to your apartment. If they need to come up to your apartment, let your doorman or a neighbor know what’s going on ahead of time so they can keep an eye on things and check in on you if you don’t swing by to tell them everything went smoothly.
  6. If you’re dealing with a business or charity and aren’t sure if they’re legitimate, you can call 3-1-1 for assistance. You can also call 3-1-1 if you feel you’ve been ripped off or overcharged.
  7. When possible, schedule furniture removal after you’ve moved your valuables to your new home. This reduces the risk of theft during the move or if you meet with someone who decides to burglarize you.

Get Help Cleaning Out Your Apartment

If you need help getting furniture out of your apartment or just getting a final clean to make sure you get your full security deposit back, Maid Sailors is here to help. We provide a full range of home cleaning services by bonded and insured cleaning professionals. Call, text, or chat now for a quote.

Mistakes to Avoid When Decorating or Landscaping in the Front Yard

Your front yard is the gateway to your home. It should be inviting, welcoming, and inhabited by plants that are native to your region. In order to achieve this, you should be decorating or landscaping your front yard appropriately.

Sure it’s your yard, it is your space and you can do with it what you wish. To a certain extent that is. Did you know there are many cities and communities that enforce what you can and can’t do with your front yard? This includes landscaping, decorating, and even something as innocent as building a greenhouse.

Here are some things you should avoid when decorating or landscaping in the front yard:

Skipping Yard Work

Your property and a neighboring property can be affected due to skipping out on your yard work. Not maintaining your yard can affect the property value for your house as well as your neighbors. And an overgrown landscape only makes more work for you when you finally get the time to do it. Not to mention all the weeds and unwanted plants that have the potential to inhabit your yard. Do yourself a favor and schedule a designated time to complete your yard work accordingly.

Clutter

For many people, outside clutter is a huge problem. Letting things pile up can cause an array of legal problems for you and your neighbors. No one wants to look at a messy yard filled with junk.

Allowing your yard to be filled with clutter can actually get your arrested. And the city can take your home away if you fail to clean it up. For more information on this subject check out our post about hoarding.

Leaving Seasonal Decorations 

Everyone knows that one house in the neighborhood that never takes their Halloween or Christmas lights down. Don’t be that person. It’s not a good look. In fact, if you live in a mobile home/manufactured home community, an apartment/townhouse, or a homeowners association you may be prohibited to do so. You want to take as much pride in the outside of your house just as you do the inside.

Porch Couches

Nothing says lazy like an old couch on the porch. Or a couch in the yard. Indoor couches and sofas should stay indoors. If you want it outside, put it in the garage. There’s a reason outdoor furniture exists. Do yourself a favor and invest in some.

Too Many Characters

We all love yard gnomes, plants, and flamingos. But one thing you don’t want to do is overdo it with a huge collection of decor. Consider choosing a theme for your yard and stick with it. That way everything flows together nicely and you don’t have to worry about having too many yard characters.