News & Articles

Get more storage space with clever home housekeeping

Storage around the home can be just as much a problem for someone living in a four bedroom house as it is for someone living in a one bedroom flat. There just never seems to be enough space to keep everything. We have some clever home housekeeping tips to help you on your way to an uncluttered home.

Paperwork can be a bit of a tricky thing to store. It’s difficult to know how long to keep your receipts, bank statements and bills for and there are no official guidelines on this. As a rule, if you have receipts for things that you have worn or used for a month or so, and these things haven’t yet fallen apart, it’s a safe bet to say that you can throw these receipts away.  With bank statements it is a safe bet to keep between three and six months of records. This way, if you need to produce them for any reason you’ll avoid having to pay the bank to re-issue them.

A great home housekeeping tip is to buy a storage file for paperwork to save your drawers bulging, and to also save time when you need to find any of this paperwork in the future. For any paperwork that you need to throw away, make sure to shred it first!
The spare room is somewhere that everyone uses as a dumping ground for clothes waiting to be ironed, the old exercise equipment and many other things you just don’t know what to do with. It never looks tidy and just recall the panic that you had last time someone wanted to come and stay with you.

A good home housekeeping rule is to treat the spare room as a show room and avoid dumping things in there at all costs. Make it look as perfect as possible for the prospect of an unexpected visitor and use clever storage techniques to hide away the junk.

If you haven’t used the exercise equipment in over a year you probably won’t. Give it away or failing that, hide it in the loft or garage. As for the piles of clothes, sort them out as you did with your wardrobe and give away any that you won’t wear again. Buy some pretty baskets with lids to store your ironing in and all of the mess should stay out of sight!

For more home housekeeping secrets, come back next week.

Cleaning company signs up its two hundredth franchisee

A cleaning business has substantiated its claim of being the UK’s largest cleaning franchise this month by signing up its two hundredth franchisee.

Time For You has been flooded with enquiries from people looking to start a franchise recently, thanks to a surge of people looking to invest their redundancy payments in a business.

The two hundredth franchisee Caroline Kirby purchased the area in Tunbridge Wells.

Time For You has experienced and maintained steady growth since gaining its first franchisee in 2002, in spite of today’s economic climate.

Founder, Freddie Rayner is excited about reaching this milestone.

He said: “Our franchisees work hard to provide the best possible service to their clients and as a result they see huge success.

“Signing up our two hundredth franchisee is fantastic and means that we can create even more job opportunities for cleaners.

“It also means that our clients get more free time to do the things that matter to them, which has been one of our goals from the start.”

Time For You franchisees are able to run their domestic cleaning business in their own exclusive area using proven ideas, methods and systems.

Freddie provides all of his franchisees with ongoing invaluable advice and support in order to give their clients a first class service.

As a result, over 87% of franchisees are able to recover their initial investment within the first six months of business.

Caroline, the two hundredth franchisee, added: “I chose Time For You because of the huge success that it has had in recent years.

“Freddie is a great mentor and I’m really looking forward to working with him for years to come.”

Freddie Rayner set up his first franchise opportunity ten years ago, and now has 200 franchisees across five different franchise opportunities.

He recently published his first ever book – “Franchise Success: How to Make It Happen”.

You can still get a free copy at www.freefranchisebook.co.uk.

Freddie’s current franchise offerings include Time For You domestic cleaning, Bone-Dry carpet cleaning and Oven Wizards, an oven cleaning franchise.

Household cleaning tips for allergy sufferers

Today, more people than ever are suffering from allergies to dust and particularly, dust mites.

Dust mites, although practically unseen, live all over your home and live on a diet of your dead skin cells. They have been found to be the most common cause of asthma and so it is vital that you keep them to a minimum in your home – especially if someone in the family suffers from allergies already.

Follow these household cleaning tips and you will get rid of these mites and their droppings.

Dust mites like to live in soft furnishings such as carpets, mattresses and even cuddly toys. Make sure that you wash fabrics such as bedding, pet bedding and soft toys regularly. Bedding should be cleaned at least once a week on a hot wash which will kill all of the mites. Duvets and pillows should also be washed at least twice a year.

For carpets, vacuuming regularly should keep dust mites to a minimum but it is worth dry cleaning your carpets occasionally to give the pile a deep clean too. It is a widely held myth that the best option would be to replace your carpets with hard flooring in order to eradicate the mites completely. This is not true however. In fact, having hard flooring gives the dust and mites nothing to cling onto and allows them to be stirred around the room and straight towards the allergy sufferer. Invest in a heap-filter vacuum and you should notice a difference.

When dusting or sweeping it is easy to spread the dust around from one place to another, further irritating your allergies and undoing all of the hard work that you have already done. Try using micro-fibre dusters which act as a magnet to dust rather than stirring it up. Also, using a mop rather than a broom on hard flooring will help to stop the dust spreading around the room.

One of the best household cleaning tips is to keep your home as free from clutter as possible. Not only will this give dust mites fewer places to hide, but it will also make your regular cleaning a much simpler task – and who wouldn’t want that?!

For more household cleaning tips, come back next week.

Redundancies fuel a further 50% rise in franchise enquiries

Redundancy payouts are giving workers the capital and incentive to try something new leading to a 50% increase in enquiries to a domestic cleaning franchisor.

Over the last three months, cleaning franchise Time For You has taken up to 90 calls a month from people enquiring if a franchise is available in their area.

That compares to the 15 calls a month taken in late 2007 and 60 calls a month this time last year.

The franchise business is booming as people realise the opportunity to work for themselves and have a sum of money that they can invest.

For those being made redundant from a well-paid job, a franchise is viewed as a good way to re-enter employment without taking a step down.

Time For You founder Freddie Rayner said, “It is often the case that people are unhappy in their job and want to try something new, but they’re scared to take the risk.”

“Redundancy gives them no choice in the matter; they have to find a new job and they have money to invest so why not become self-employed.”

“We have noticed a marked difference in the number of enquiries that we are getting and many of those enquiries come from people who are currently unemployed.”

Set up in 1997, Time For You is now approaching 200 franchisees, and with its intensive induction programme and continued support to all franchisees, 87% are able to make back their initial investment within the first six months of trading.

In spite of living in tough economic times, Time For You has achieved a growth of around 12% over the past year and this looks set to rise to at least 17% within the next six months.

By following proven ideas, methods and systems, and hiring only screened and vetted cleaners, franchisees are able to offer the best possible service to their time-poor clients.

Time For You is a member of the British Franchise Association and is committed to retaining the values and family feel of a small business.

The business currently incorporates three franchises, Time For You domestic cleaning, Bone Dry carpet cleaning and Oven Wizards oven cleaning.

Freddie has been hailed as a franchise guru because of his success and has recently written a book, ‘Franchise Success: How to Make It Happen’.

You can still get a free copy at www.freefranchisebook.co.uk.

Removing pet hair when cleaning your home

It’s been proven that we’re a nation of pet lovers and who are we to argue? Your pet dog or cat is your loyal companion and a much loved part of the family. If there was just one thing you could change about your dear pets though, it would be to reduce the amount of hair you have to pick up when you’re cleaning your home.

Firstly, the very best way to reduce the amount of pet hair you have to clean up is to ensure that you groom your pet on a regular basis. Spend ten minutes a day brushing your pet and not only will they shed less, but you will also find that they have a shinier, softer coat.

Even though you are grooming your pet on a daily basis, there is no escaping the fact that they will still leave some pesky hairs around your home – especially in warmer months. Don’t let this worry you when it comes to cleaning your home though.

Fabric sofas can be a particular nuisance when it comes to magnets for pet hair. To remove it, firstly use your vacuum attachment and run it over the sofa, paying attention to the most hairy areas. The vacuum won’t remove all of the hair but it will go a long way to help.

Next, use either a lint roller (available from pet shops and clothing stores) or a slightly damp cloth to brush over the sofa and pick up all of the more stubborn hairs.

If you find that you still have hairs that you can’t remove, try rubbing a fabric softener sheet over the area before trying to get the hairs up. This should loosen them from the fabric and make them easier to move. This method can work for removing pet hairs from most areas when cleaning your home.

Because your pets spend most of their time on the carpets though, there may be more hair to pick up here. After vacuuming if there are still stubborn hairs stuck in the pile try sticking some masking tape to the area and ripping it off. The stuck-in hairs should stick to the tape leaving your carpet clean and hair-free!

For more great help with cleaning your home, visit again next week.

Tips on cleaning with Borax

If you’re looking for tips on cleaning, look no further than Borax as a more economical way to go about your daily cleaning.

You can pick up a box of Borax from your local chemist for around £2 and it can be used to substitute countless household products.

Dishwasher tablets can be expensive and seem to disappear very quickly. Try substituting the pricey tablets with one tablespoon of Borax, one tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda and some lemon essential oil if you want a fresh lemon smell. This works as a cheaper, greener way to wash the dishes. If you want to go one step further and replace your rinse aid, refer to our earlier tips on cleaning and use some of that good old white distilled vinegar instead.

If you want a change from your all-purpose vinegar cleaner, you could try making one with Borax instead. Just mix one tablespoon of Borax with a litre of water and use the solution as a general cleaner for your work surfaces, tiles and greasy surfaces. Use a weaker version of this to clean windows and mirrors and your home will be sparkling in no time.

Borax is a great when used as a pre-wash for your white washing too. You may have been given lots of tips on cleaning your whites but by sprinkling two tablespoons of Borax into some warm water, along with your grubby white clothes you will have whiter whites than ever!

If you want whiter whites and a water softener, put two tablespoons of Borax on top of your clothes in the washing machine before washing them. You can use this method with coloured clothing too, just make sure that they are colour-fast as Borax can bleach coloured fabrics.

Now for the last of our tips on cleaning with Borax; try mixing one tablespoon of the powder with a bowl of water to rinse your glassware in. The Borax will cut through any remaining grease in the water or on the glass and make it sparkle like crystal! Just remember to use a clean towel when drying the glass or you will ruin the gleam.

For more professional tips on cleaning, check back next week!

How to clean a house: the wardrobe

Many people want to know how to clean a house but often we forget the parts that other people don’t see. We put it off and put it off until eventually we have no option but to dedicate half a day to cleaning and organising these dreaded areas.

The wardrobe is one such dreaded area that is in desperate need of organisation - you can’t find your favourite dress, let alone a matching pair of shoes. Now is the time to take charge.

Start by emptying the contents of your wardrobe onto the bed or the floor. Clean the inside of your wardrobe thoroughly. In other ‘how to clean a house’ tips, we told you about the benefits of vinegar as a household product - you can use your homemade vinegar cleaner for this as it will both clean and deodorise your wardrobe without having to use two products.

Next, work through the clothes that you have taken out of the wardrobe. Split them into piles to give to charity, throw away and keep. Place anything that you want to keep neatly on hangers and put back in the wardrobe. If you want to be super-organised you could try hanging your clothes in colour order.

Now you need to sort out your shoes. A great tip for how to clean a house and keep it clean is to make sure that your shoes are always clean. If any of your shoes could do with a polish do it now and then next time you want to wear them they will be shiny and waiting. Arrange your shoes in the bottom of the wardrobe in pairs. A shoe rack can be a good way to make sure they stay in their pairs.

A top tip when clearing out your wardrobe is to be ruthless. It’s difficult but if you have things that you haven’t worn for years, the chances are that you won’t wear them again. Give them away and let someone else enjoy them. You can enjoy your newly organised wardrobe instead!

For more tips on how to clean a house just visit the site next week.

Unbeatable tips for cleaning granite and marble

If you have granite or marble floors or worktops, you will know that while they look fantastic they can be a pain to look after.

The best tips for cleaning granite or marble are to ensure that whatever product you are using for day-to-day cleaning is suitable for use on the surface. If you don’t like to use chemicals in your home you could try mixing 500ml water, 125ml distilled vinegar 1tsp castile soap, 60ml hydrogen peroxide and 20 drops each of tea tree oil and lemon essential oil in a large spray bottle as a safe alternative.

Granite and marble can be very easily damaged due to them being so porous. If spills aren’t immediately wiped up they will soak in and many can cause stains to appear.

If you do have a stain on your floor or worktop you can create a poultice to draw out the mark. Mix together bicarbonate of soda and water to form a thick paste. Blot the stain with a clean cloth first to remove any excess liquid, then spray the mark with water. Cover the stain completely with your  mixture and wrap the area with cling film. Leave this to work for at least 24 hours. When it is time, remove the poultice and wipe clean the area with mild soap and water. The stain should have gone  but if not, you can re-apply the mixture to lift away the last of the mark.

Be careful when looking on the internet for tips for cleaning  granite and marble surfaces. Many people post tips that they haven’t tried or are not aware of the problems with granite and marble and their tips can cause more damage than good. Always ensure that you test a small patch of the surface that you are treating beforehand to test that the colour won’t be affected.

Polish your granite or marble worktops regularly to ensure that they are sealed and protected from stains.  Using a micro-fibre cloth to clean will also help to bring the worktop up to an unbeatable shine.

For more tips for cleaning your home come back next week.

A home cleaning pro’s stain busting secrets

Here’s my A-Z of stain removal tips - but don’t forget one of the most important tip of all is never rub a stain or mark. Only dab, because eventually the stain will go. I learned that tip the hard way. Here are the rest:

Ballpoint ink
Dab off with a white cloth soaked in methylated spirit.

Beetroot juice
Rinse with cold water. Soak coloureds in a borax solution for 15 minutes. For whites, sprinkle borax on the fabric and wash off with hot water. Then wash the fabric with a biological detergent.

Bird droppings
Scrape off the excess. Sponge with a borax solution or biological detergent. If the stain persists, soak whites in chlorine bleach or coloureds/synthetics but not nylon in hydrogen peroxide.

Blood
Soak stains in heavily salted water or detergent.

Blu Tac
Get more blue tac and dab it on the mark you want to remove.

Candle wax
Scrape off any excess. Place a paper kitchen towel over the remnants and press with a barely warm iron until the paper absorbs the wax.  Dab any persistent staining with methylated spirit.

Chewing gum
Get a bag of ice and freeze the gum hard, then scrape the gum away with a knife.

Coffee and tea
Flush with cold water and spot clean with a solution of detergent but not soap. If the stain persists, soak in a solution of one part white vinegar to two parts water or a borax solution.

Contact adhesive and glue
Dab with nail polish remover.

Cooking fat
Spread a paste of bicarbonate of soda and water over the stain. Leave for 30 minutes and wash in a biological detergent.

Crayon
Scrape away excess before dabbing with methylated spirits.

Dried fruit
Place the garment stain side down on a kitchen towel and dampen with lemon juice. Dab with hot water and wash.

Fresh fruit
Dip in a borax solution for 15 minutes and then wash, or cover the stain with salt and wash.

Grass
Detergent will remove most grass stains. Dab any remaining staining with methylated spirit.

Ink on coloured fabric
Soak immediately in slightly warm milk then wash

Ink and felt tip pen
Dab with an absorbent cloth dipped in methylated spirit.

Lipstick

Rub fabric against fabric with soap or a little washing up liquid then wash. Dab with methylated spirit if the fabric is not washable.

Mildew
Mildew on different materials requires differing treatments:
Dried mildew - Rub with damp salt or lemon and leave in the sun for 12 hours
Mildew on shower curtains - Sponge or soak in diluted bleach and machine wash with detergent.
Mildew on white cotton or linen - Soak in diluted bleach then thoroughly rinse and wash.
Mildew on white synthetics - Soak in one part of hydrogen peroxide to nine parts water. Rinse and wash.

Paint

Emulsion or water based - Sponge immediately with warm water.             
Dried paint can be scraped or picked off, but is difficult to wash away.
Gloss or solvent based - Dab with white spirit.

Perspiration
Dab with white vinegar or lemon juice.

Pollen
Lift away the pollen with sticky tape or a vacuum cleaner, but don’t rub.

Red wine
Dab with bicarbonate of soda or soda water and wash. Don’t pour white wine over a red wine stain; you’ll probably do more harm than good.

Shoe polish
Dab with white spirit and wash.

Turning on the waterworks

Water contains minerals depending on the geology of where your water supply originates.

Brown or black stains - your water has traces of manganese and calcium that form lime scale.
Treatments include:
Applying a paste of cream of tartar and hydrogen peroxide.
A solution of one teaspoon of water softener to a gallon of water.
Applying a paste of white vinegar and baking soda.

Green or blue stains - these stains come from copper or acid in your water. The tell tale sign is green or blue stains around your plumbing fittings.
Remove with a proprietary acid cleaner or treat with white vinegar or lemon juice.
These stains on enamel baths come from dripping taps. Change the tap washer to solve the problem, then clean the stain away.

Red or brown stains - iron in your water causes these stains, which are effectively rust. Different treatments work in different areas, depending on the proportion of iron in the water. Try:
A paste of lemon juice and borax powder left to dry on the stain then rinsed off.
Oxalic acid is a rust remover. A solution of one part oxalic acid to 10 parts water is recommended.
A paste of scouring powder, cream of tartar and hydrogen peroxide takes about 30 minutes to clear the staining.

Battling bacteria in the bathroom

Keeping the bathroom clean and fresh not only makes the room look good, but also avoids creating a breeding place for germs and bacteria.

Blitzing basins, bidets and baths

Cleaning methods for basins, bidets and baths depends on the material they are made from:

    •    Acrylic - rinse and dry with a soft cloth after your bath, especially if you relaxed with a bubble bath that leaves a film on the acrylic. If you need to give the bath a good clean, rub in a non-abrasive cream cleaner, rinse and buff. Scratches are easily removed by rubbing gently with a metal cleaner.

    •    Glass fibre - clean with a neutral detergent and take care not to scratch as the colour is often just a thin surface coating. Do not scrub with abrasive or metal cleaners, as they will eventually scour the surface away.
   
    •    Vitreous or porcelain enamel - do not use abrasives as they will dull the sheen. Try white spirit on stubborn surface marks and tidemarks. Wash the white spirit off straight away with a neutral detergent.

Assaulting mouldy sealant

Get to grips with mouldy bath sealant with bleach on an old toothbrush. Rinse when clean then treat with a fungicidal wash to deter the mould returning.

A knight on the tiles

Wipe over with a solution of one part white vinegar to four parts water, rinse and buff. Groom grout with an old toothbrush dipped in a solution of one part bleach to six parts water.

Top tips for taps

Just like baths, the cleaning method depends on what the taps are made from:

    •    Chrome taps need a wipe with a damp cloth and buffing dry. Grease comes off with a neutral detergent and more serious stains are removed with a nonabrasive liquid metal cleaner.

    •    Gold-plated taps need wiping with a soft cloth while they are still damp to stop marks.

If the tap has lime scale on the spout, fill a small container with white vinegar and tape the container to the tap, so the spout is in the vinegar to dissolve the lime scale. An hour soaking is generally long enough, but if the scale remains, try for another hour.

Going with the flow

Clean plugs and overflows with a bottlebrush. Pour some bleach down the plug and rinse after a minute or two to kill smells.

Turpentine will bring the shine back to rubber plugs.

Magic with the mirror


Rub a little liquid soap on the mirror, then dry off with kitchen roll to eliminate steaming up when you run a bath or shower.

Treating the WC gracefully

Cleaning with a lavatory cleaner weekly will keep the bowl clean.

Hold off the bleach as it damages the glaze and makes the bowl harder to keep clean.  Where lime scale stains inside the bowl, you will first need to remove the water with a small, disposable container then apply a descaler.

Don’t mix and match chemical cleaners as they may give off dangerous fumes.

Wash the lavatory brush in hot, soap water and rinse in cold water containing a few drops of disinfectant to stiffen the bristles. Wash and disinfect the holder as well.

Wipe the lavatory seat on top and underneath with a germicidal solution. Dry with kitchen paper.

Always keep any cloths for the bathroom separate from others to prevent cross contamination.

Game, set and mat

Scrub any non-slip rubber mats with a brush and neutral detergent. Rinse well so they remain non-slip

Power shower cleaning tips

Clean the shower cubicle according to the hints above for tiles, taps and baths.

Methods for descaling shower heads depends whether they are metal or plastic.

The formula for a shower head descaling solution is one part white vinegar to two parts water. Cook up the same solution for both types of shower heads - using warm on metal and cold on plastic.

If you can detach the shower head, make the solution in a small saucepan from half a litre of white vinegar to a litre of water. Bring to the boil and submerge a metal shower head for about 15 minutes.

Allow the solution to cool for plastic shower heads.

If the shower head is not removable, let the solution cool, pour in to a plastic bag, tape to the shower head and leave overnight.