Time for spring cleaning

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 15, 1999

DEBORAH CORRAO / L’Observateur / May 15, 1999

If you haven’t done it already, it’s time to get out bucket and bandana and tackle spring cleaning around the house.

So you’re a little less than enthusiastic about that idea? One local expert says it may not be as hard as you think if you can get organized and stick to a few simple housekeeping tips.

Iris Terrio of LaPlace knows what she’s talking about. Terrio, owner ofCleaning Wizards in LaPlace, has been cleaning her house and other peoples’ homes and offices for about 15 years. She and her three full-timeemployees clean between 45 and 50 houses a week as well as many small offices on the east bank of the three River Parishes.

Terrio, 48, worked as a bookkeeper in a bank and held a few other jobs before making the decision to stay home and take care of her children.

Before long she had a few requests from friends and family members to pay her to clean their houses.

“One day I told my husband I thought I could make a living at housecleaning,” she says. “He loaned me the money to get started, and Iwas able to pay him back within two months.”Now Terrio has about 150 active clients who pay for her services weekly, bi-monthly or monthly.

The mother of two grown children and grandmother of one wakes up at 4 a.m. most mornings and picks up her three employees in her Toyota Camry,which is packed with all the supplies they will need to clean 11 houses and offices.

By 5:30 the women are cleaning offices to have them done before employees arrive at work.

Then they tackle the list of homes on their agenda for any given day.

Usually the team is finished its day’s work by the middle of the afternoon in time for those with small children to go home.

“It’s team work,” says Terrio. “One of the ladies cleans the kitchen,another dusts and vacuums, another cleans the bathrooms.”Terrios serves mainly in a supervisory capacity but lends a hand with vacuuming and other jobs when the need arises.

Her own house is as spotless as the houses she cleans for other people.

What’s her secret? “The number one secret to keeping a clean house is to get rid of clutter,” she says. “If you’re not using something, get rid of it. If it’s something youreally can’t part with, box it up and put it in the attic.”Terrio says the next most important step is to enlist the aid of all family members in weekly housekeeping chores.At her house she cleans housebetween Wednesday and Thursday evenings with the help of her husband and grown son, who lives at home.

“My son takes care of the upstairs and my husband dusts and vacuums,” she says. “I do everything else.”That frees her up on weekends when she can do the things she enjoys like working in her gardening. On Sunday afternoons she cooks huge batches offood to freeze for meals later on in the week.

Another tip, she says, is to differentiate between daily, weekly and semi- annual housecleaning chores.

Daily tasks include such things as washing dishes, doing laundry and picking up. On the list of weekly chores are dusting, vacuuming, moppingand cleaning bathrooms.

Larger projects like washing windows and baseboards are done twice a year. Terrio likes to tackle those things in January and July when not toomuch else is going on.

Terrio says when you begin a task such as cleaning the kitchen or bathroom it’s important to keep all the supplies you will need in a caddy or a special apron. She and her employees wear aprons with hooks forfurniture polish and glass cleaner. Towels for each of these products arekept in separate pockets in the apron.

The first thing you should do as you begin to clean the room is to pick up everything that doesn’t belong in that room, put it in a big laundry basket and go through the house putting those items away.

“Then you start cleaning from one end of the room to the other,” she says.

“and don’t backtrack.”Timing is of the essence, Terrio says. It takes her team of professionalhousecleaners from 45 minutes to an hour to for a general cleaning a typical three-bedroom home. One person would take about four hours to dothe same job.

If you don’t have time to give your house a thorough cleaning but want it to look clean, Terrio says to put everything in its place and de-clutter.

Those simple steps, she says, will make a house look cleaner than it is.

The biggest timesaving device she has come upon recently is a cordless phone with a headset.

“In the evenings I can cook, iron, do laundry and talk on the phone all at the same time,” she says.

As for cleaning products, Terrio says she has found Mr. Clean or 409degreasing cleaners to be most effective at tough jobs like soap scum and a new product called Clean Shower to keep showers and tubs clean.

For many tasks around the house, she relies on common household white vinegar. She says vinegar is excellent for cleaning windows, as a laundryadditive and as a herbicide to kill unwanted grass and weeds in her garden.

She even uses a vinegar and water solution to rinse carpets after they have been cleaned with another product.Back to Top

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