How to Quickly and Easily Clean Baseboards

Of all the items in my house, baseboards feel like a never ending battle. And, most definitely one of my biggest housecleaning challenges. It seems to be one of the areas that I tend to see my guest's eyes glance towards when they enter a room. Could they be admiring my beautiful wood floor finish? Are they glancing down to search for my beloved pets? Well, I wish those were the circumstances. But I know the truth. I own a cleaning service company, and my guests are really inspecting my team's handiwork. Truth is, I often take my house off the schedule. So that means one thing.... I am scrambling to tidy up every time I know that doorbell is going to ring. My son, Adam, has a friend coming over Saturday morning? No problem! It simply means the area six feet inside the front door needs my immediate attention. How do I get that area ready for inspection? I will let you in on one of my favorite easy DIY cleaning tips:

DRYER SHEETS. Yes, they are the best little baseboard cleaners on earth! Sure, you could grab a microfiber or treated dust cloth. But if you use Snuggle or Downy sheets, keep the used ones after you finish the laundry. Don't throw those lovely things in the trash, repurpose those babies! They make some of the greatest smelling dust clothes imaginable. Dusting baseboards is a great easy chore for kids, and they love earning the extra money if you pay for chores. Even better, incorporate it into a regular task as a part of their allowance or simple household chores. Bonus: the sweet-smelling waxy coating is a magnet for pet hair and dust and will freshen your room and make the work more enjoyable!  I just love easy cleaning tips that use what I already have on hand!

There are areas and times where you will need to wash your baseboards. I love mixing up a bucket of hot water with a bit of all-purpose cleaner and a squirt of Dawn dish soap. You can even add a small splash of lemon oil to the mix, but watch it, if you have flat paint. On occasion, I use a mixture hot water and Murphy's Oil soap. Either DIY solution will get the job done. For reference, I tend to hit each room, at least, every six months, and the rest of the year it is dryer sheets. Easy Cleaning Helpful Hint: Keep a moistened magic eraser with you as you clean to help remove scuffs from your painted walls.

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Here are the key areas that need your attention first:

1. Areas near doors into your home. Whether patio doors, garage doors, or the all important front door, keep them clean.

2. Bathroom baseboards. These are a must clean...especially around the toilet. The truth is, this zone may take a bit more love. Grab a magic eraser for the wall around the stool, please don't forget the area behind the toilet, and next to it. In fact, while you are there, wipe the base of the stool down. Trust me, it needs it!


3. Laundry room: Lint. Enough said.

And there you have it! While running around with a laundry basket to hide clutter from last minute guests, I always have a dryer sheet in hand. Now you know one of my super secrets. Welcome to the inner circle, you have virtually looked under the rug in the Bates house! #happycleaning
 


How To Make a Pet-Safe Carpet Deodorizer

My two dogs are a huge part of my family, life and cleaning regimen. There is “Louie the Wonder Beagle” and “Ziggy the Beast”. I am sure you can imagine their personalities based on their colorful names. Neither dog knows they are not human, so they love to be wherever I am in the house. They even occasionally steal a car ride when I am headed to work at my cleaning business. They seem to be everywhere in one form or another. On the couch, in the laundry room, and in the kitchen stealing snacks from my team on video shoots. Louie sheds hair like crazy, but Ziggy on the other hand is an Airedale Terrier and doesn’t share his hair nearly as much. In any case, I have become a cleaning expert at battling pet hair in my house. But I still have one area I fear: Pet smells!

  My dogs, "Ziggy the Beast" and "Louie the Wonder Beagle" like to share their cuteness, pet hair and doggie aroma in the house! I use this DIY carpet deodorizer to keep that "cuteness" at bay!


My dogs, "Ziggy the Beast" and "Louie the Wonder Beagle" like to share their cuteness, pet hair and doggie aroma in the house! I use this DIY carpet deodorizer to keep that "cuteness" at bay!

Unpleasant dog odor can come from many places. Ziggy’s coat is oilier than many other dog breeds which causes it to be stinkier during certain seasons. But a dog’s coat isn’t the only culprit - pet odor can seep into your carpets! Our house is primarily hardwood floors but the living and family rooms do have carpet rugs - which just happens to be the places my dogs like to lounge the most! These are also the areas of my home where guests tend to hangout.

One such time was when my mother-in-law was coming for a visit. Before she arrived, I was nervous there was a dog smell coming from the carpet in front of the television and around the couches. I knew my mother-in-law, or myself for that matter, would not appreciate the aroma welcoming her stay. Lighting candles wasn’t going to do it. So it was time to do a full on carpet deodorizer session in the Bates’ home!

Having pets means you need to use cleaning products that are safe and effective. Pet safe cleaning is a huge part of my cleaning regimen at home and in my cleaning business. But guess what?! You don’t have to spend a lot of money on deodorizer treatments to eliminate dog odor in your carpet! Here is my D.I.Y. cleaning tip on how to make pet-safe carpet deodorizer:

Ingredients and tools for pet-safe carpet deodorizer:

  • ½ cup borax
  • ½ cup baking soda
  • Plastic container for mixing and storage
  • 20 drops of essential oil of choice (a lavender blend is a good choice)
  • Sifter
  • Spoon

Mix the borax, baking soda and essential oil in a large bowl with spoon. You can then put it in a pretty mason jar with a lid but I never have time for that, so I leave it in a labeled plastic container. Find the carpet areas of your home where your pets hang out the most. For our home, Louie and Ziggy LOVE the carpet rug in the living room area, with direct view of my kitchen counters. They like to watch me cook as they chew on bones and snooze. Spoon the mixture through a sifter (to break up any big clots) and over the most trafficked areas. Wait 30 minutes and then vacuum up the carpet! It is completely pet friendly, natural and will leave your carpet and home smelling amazing!

Then, use these other cleaning tips between carpet deodorizer treatments to keep your home smelling great:

  1. Open the windows to let fresh air in at least once per day, for at least 10 minutes
  2. On occasion, vacuum the underside of area rugs to help minimize the dust and pet dander dogs create.
  3. Change your vacuum bag regularly
  4. Clean up pet accidents right away
  5. Use a blacklight to check for any accident spots you may have missed
  6. Keep your pets groomed
  7. Clean cages, crates and pet bedding regularly
  8. Have a lint roller and microfiber towel handy to rid furniture and lamps of pet hair in a hurry
  9. Check out these other great Clean-House Tips for Pet Owners from MarthaStewart.com

How To Clean Up Now That The Holidays Are Over - Today Show Cleaning Tips

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If you follow me online, you will know I recently was on the Today Show with Kathie Lee and Hoda! It was an amazing experience, and I absolutely loved sharing quick cleaning tricks to help viewers clean up after guests. The whole trip was a whirlwind filled with friends, laughs, a little bit of nerves, and of course...some amazing cleaning tips! 

WATCH MY SEGMENT: "HOW TO CLEAN UP NOW THAT THE HOLIDAYS ARE OVER" FROM THE TODAY SHOW

Now for the behind the scenes of my trip to the Today Show:

I definitely want to send out a mega huge THANKS to Merry Maids for the opportunity to represent them. Plus, my great friend Kim was so much fun while she dashed around New York City with me! We have been friends for many years and she was sweet enough to take off a bit of time from her job to help keep me sane (let's just say, I am not use to the hustle and bustle of NYC)!

When I arrived, we met and went for a delicious dinner of Peking Duck at a awesome little place called Decoy.  It was simply amazing, and rightfully so, because I found out later that Decoy's Perking Duck was ranked #1 out of 10 Top NYC Restaurants by GQ's Alan Richman!  I LOVE Peking duck, and so I was glad she made a reservation! 

Trying to procure all of the props and stain them for the Today Show segment was not easy. I am grateful the Merry Maid's home office team member helped shop and stain things for me!  Even the candles had to be burned down. The cooking segment before mine had Kathie Lee Gifford giving a sample of the choco-covered banana to a guest.  Right before I went live (live taped), the producer saw that he had disposed of his banana in my coffee cup and used my clean cleaning cloth to wipe his face! This all worked out perfectly, because the stained and dirty dishes actually looked like stained and dirty dishes!!

As I waited in the green room, my tummy was growling SO loudly I was terrified the microphone was going to pick up the sound! But I was a little distracted at least because I saw Carmen Elektra and Rachel Patton in the green room!

When I got on set Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda are nothing short of hilarious and sweet.  They immediately made me feel comfortable and were so fun to work with on set!  I just wished I could have completed all of the cleaning tips, as promised. I've done television segments many times in the past, and it never seems like you have enough time. But then again, I guess time flies when you are having fun! 

Traveling during this trip was a little challenging.  I never, EVER, leave anything behind...until now! I started off the night before my segment by leaving my phone in a cab! Thank goodness it was delivered back to me at the hotel! Thank you, honest cabbie! There was construction next door to my room. Thankfully the hotel staff moved me, but I left my nightgown in the room, and it was never seen again.  Then, I realized I left my beloved hair dryer in the hotel when I headed back to Tulsa! Next time, I will keep my travel packing cubes perfectly and double check the room.  

As a joke, when I travel I look for items people leave behind in hotel rooms - like socks or random shoes. No luck this time (which isn't necessarily a bad thing)! My room at the Hilton was very clean, and staff was awesome. But, they likely are laughing at me now, because I AM THE ONE WHO LEFT SO MUCH BEHIND!

Cleaning Tips For Fighting The Flu At Home

Oh my gosh! The flu season is here and after the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it is time for some cleaning tips to use after all the guests have left!

So just a little reminder about how the flu is spread (Thank you WebMD):

Basically anytime you are in large groups and someone has the flu virus, you are at major risk to get the flu yourself. Think daycare facilities, workplace, college dorms and your own home! When you inhale droplets in the air that contain the flu virus or handle something a person contaminated with the flu has touched, you could be on your way to suffering the effects. No fun. 

What to do?

WASH YOUR HANDS - like your mother or grandmother always told you - and in the event you do get sick - STAY HOME (obvious)! But while you (or a loved one) is on the mend at home, make sure to use these cleaning tips to keep the icky flu virus from spreading or accidentally recontaminating yourself:

Areas to remember to clean when you have the flu:

  • Pillows, sheets and other bedding
  • Toothbrushes
  • Fridge handles, door knobs (pretty much all door knobs)
  • Light switches
  • Cell phone screens
  • Remote control
  • Counters (especially where you cook or are performing personal hygiene)
  • The cabinets where you keep the drink ware
  • Stove top (any area where you are putting food in mouth) 

How To Quickly Remove Red Wine From Fabric

I received a bottle of wine this week as a holiday gift! It's a sleek red wine blend called "Tulsa Deco Streamline" inspired by Tulsa's art deco architecture. It will be a great compliment to the unseasonably warm December day we are having in Oklahoma today. But whether you are enjoying a glass of red wine on your outdoor patio or inside during a dinner party, accidental spills will happen! For example, I wore my Mom's wedding dress when I married and had a full glass of red wine dumped on it! But guess what?! Every single trace came out from the heavy brocade fabric! Want to know how? - Watch my cleaning tip on how to quickly remove red wine from fabric:

What you need:

  • ice water or chilled club soda
  • paper towels
  • salt or corn starch
  • rubber bands
  • large bowl
  • water pitcher or teapot
  • hot water

Mother Bear's DIY Method for Cleaning Glasses

With Thanksgiving around the corner, it is time for family and friends. So in the spirit of things I am thankful for, I introduce you to my Mom, a.k.a. "The Mother Bear". She brings joy and laughter to everyone she meets, and I can't wait for you to meet her! She has taught me loads of life skills, but cleaning tips? Well, she may have briefly touched on the subject! Judge for yourself as I share one of her many useful hints using her favorite cleaning (ahem) substance!

Reminder: For more genuinely helpful cleaning tips, "like" my page and subscribe to my YouTube channel!

- #happycleaning - Amy

How To Fix A Slow Draining, Poorly Rinsing Dishwasher

Around the holidays, I find myself double checking my dishes for dried on food before I hand them to guests. If you wonder why your dishwasher is leaving your dishes less than spotless or you have standing water in the bottom of the tub, try this tip before calling the repairman. It may save you a few dollars... and the embarrassment of stuck on food!

I hope you enjoyed this quick cleaning tip for the upcoming Thanksgiving holidays! #happycleaning - Amy Bates

P.S. Get all of my videos right away by subscribing to my YouTube Channel

How To Clean Coffee Stains and Fork Marks On Fine China

Thanksgiving will be here before you know it. My Mom, aka "The Mother Bear", carried her beloved china back in her steamer trunk after teaching a year in Germany. Since I am the trusted keeper of her dishes, I know she is inspecting it during turkey dinner at my home. How do I keep it looking fantastic? Watch my latest cleaning tip below!

Feel free to share your favorite holiday hint... or ask me questions in the comment area at the bottom!

#happycleaning, Amy Bates!

November Survival Kit From Don't Look Under The Rug

November is here and so is another survival kit! Between running a cleaning business and creating cleaning tip videos on my YouTube, sometimes I wish I had multiples of me to handle the details of life. And that is what my survival kit is about this month - those items that are multi-use and can double up on many daily needs. Enjoy!

#happycleaning, Amy Bates

1. Goe Oil - Goes on Everything!

I am always on the lookout for new multipurpose products for a couple of reasons.  I live in a home with minimal storage and tend to have an overstuffed purse that swallows things I need. I have to let you in on a couple of things here...Secret: I am an obsessive hand washer which results in really dry hands. 2nd Secret: I absolutely cannot stand the feeling of dry hands. 

Along comes the fabulous find called Goe Oil.  What makes it unique? It is made of 28 different floral, vegetable and fruit oils so it smells amazing. I stumbled upon Goe Oil while looking for a natural hand sanitizer! The only catch: The price. It is a little over $40, but when I started digging a bit deeper, I realized it was many products all rolled into one. It is a whole body moisturizing balm. It smoothes flyaway hairs (see my upcoming video starring my Mom, the "Mother Bear"). It has done the best job ever of refreshing my curls on Day 2.  It effortlessly soothes a chapped nose with a cold, and works as a cuticle cream and makeup remover! I cant wait to use it to smooth ends and add a bit of shine in the winter.  It is portable, so I keep it in my purse.  

How do you use it?  Just take a small (and I mean SMALL) amount and rub it between your hands.  Apply anywhere! The best part is the tube lasts forever because you can use such a tiny amount (i.e. half the size of a pea for hands… then quickly scrunch curls… multi-use and multi-task!) The other products made by the same company are quickly becoming favorites as well, so they may make an upcoming list! : )

2.  Evernote - Keeps My Thoughts Organized

While I am always on the lookout for ways to organize and keep my busy life on track, truth is I typically have far too many commitments and tend to run and quickly let my thoughts and ideas scatter.  Serving on various committees plus starting dontlookundertherug.com just added an extra layer of craziness.  I love google calendar and “notes’ but it just didn’t allow me to organize thoughts, lists, reminders, links, and collaborate with others.  I absolutely LOVE working within Evernote.  The web clipper add-on has sealed my fate as a sure to be longterm user.  I can keep “notebooks” by topic, committee, or project and add in new “notes’.  If I am working with an employee or committee member on one of the topics I can share the note or notebook and we can both add or “chat” on the topic at hand.  It is amazing!  Lists, worksheets, photos, etc. can all be kept within the notebook and you can add tags for easy reference.  My only issue?  As my usage has grown, I wish I could “organize” some of my notebooks a bit better, but I sure figuring that out is only a youtube search away.  If you give it a try, be sure to get the web clipper.  It is fantastic for recipes, articles, etc.  The clipper even becomes intuitive and can guess which notebook you want to ‘clip’ it to!

3.  Tea tree oil - Use For Cleaning, Skin Care and More 

This list seems to have a common theme.  Multi use and multi purpose products!  Tea tree oil definitely fits this list to a tee.  I use it for cleaning, wound care, skin care, etc.  For the skin care it is a fantastic part of any skin care regimen.  If one of the boys (or let’s face it- me) is suffering from a little breakout, it is a great natural and nondrying way to stop that zit in it’s tracks.  Yes, for the cystic variety, I still reach for my salicylic acid pimple product, but for most of the other kinds, it does the trick.  I love that it is gentle on my boys skin.  I also love it for little scrapes and cuts as it truly kills germs.  So next time your kids (or you!) have a paper cut or skinned knee, grab the natural choice.  For deeper and really dirty cuts, while it may be fine to use tea tree, I still grab for the big guns.  But for most issues, I prefer the less is more approach and we have been successful so far!  I also love it for showers and other surface care.  You can use it straight or diluted on mildew, mold, mixed with a splash of lavender and water as a surface cleaner, and countless other applications.  So grab a good quality bottle and let me know how you love to use it! I promise, there are far more uses than I am listing here.  

4.  Roasted Winter Vegetables - Thanksgiving Fav

As much as I love the traditional sweet potatoes my Mom served with the marshmallow on top, I also love to try different recipes with other root veggies as well.  Here is a great one from Barefoot Contessa that you can either serve on Thanksgiving or any day:

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound carrots, peeled

  • 1 pound parsnips, peeled

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled

  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and seeded (about 2 pounds)

  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Cut the carrots, parsnips, sweet potato, and butternut squash in 1 to 1 1/4-inch cubes. All the vegetables will shrink while baking, so don't cut them too small.
  3. Place all the cut vegetables in a single layer on 2 baking sheets. Drizzle them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss well. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender, turning once with a metal spatula.
  4. Sprinkle with parsley, season to taste, and serve hot.

How To Remove Permanent Marker From Clothes

Did your child come home from school with Sharpie permanent marker on their new shirt? Guess what? Permanent marker is not impossible to remove! To get started with this DIY cleaning tip, you will need white paper towels, a clean working surface, and rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer. I prefer to use hand sanitizer (non-fragrance) because I find it is easier to work into the fabric. The trick is to NOT wash the shirt before you do this. If you do, the stain will be set in the fabric and you will have no luck getting it out! It may take a couple of tries but eventually the color will lift right out!

#happycleaning - Amy, dontlookundertherug.com