Ask The Experts
How to run your household more efficiently, from top to bottom
Household Help & Cleaning Tips
QThey say mobile phones are dirtier than a toilet seat. What’s the best way to clean them?
It’s possible since we hold our mobile phones all the time and our hands can harbor all kinds of germs. Some people buy a special phone cleaning spray to sterilize their mobile phones, but you can actually make your own cleaning solution. Mix equal parts distilled water and white vinegar (or rubbing alcohol) inside a small spray bottle. It is important to use distilled water and not tap water because the minerals in the latter may leave some residue on your phone’s screen. Spray a little bit of this solution on a microfiber cloth and gently wipe your phone with the cloth. Never spray directly on the phone or screen. I would recommend using only microfiber cloth as anything else may scratch your phone’s screen. —Marivic Arambulo
QHow should I clean cleaning implements like sponges, rags, and mops?
For floor mops, it is best to wash them in a pail filled with water and 1 cup of distilled white vinegar (DWV), especially after use in the kitchen. The kitchen harbors all kinds of bacteria, so it is not enough to merely clean mops used in this part of the house— they must be disinfected as well. And DWV is a good natural disinfectant. After disinfecting, place the mop in an area where it can dry completely. A wet mop breeds bacteria so always make sure to keep it in an upright position, with its head on top, when you store it.
Kitchen sponges, meanwhile, must be soaked in a bowl of water mixed with lemon juice, then placed in a microwave set to high for 1 minute to dry. (Never microwave a dry sponge.) The heat from the microwave will kill all kinds of nasty bacteria in the sponge. Wipe the insides of the microwave after use.
Lastly, to clean rags, just hand- or machine-wash them like you would your regular clothes, using detergent. —Marivic Arambulo
QI find it too expensive to have drapes custom-made. Though blinds are more affordable, they sometimes fail to add character to a space. What else can I do to spruce up my windows?
If you want to get the advantage of both drapes and blinds, you might want to look into vertical fabric blinds. They are as easy to maintain as regular blinds, but can provide almost as much drama for your space as drapes can. You can visit a window blinds shop at any home and building depot to see the curtain blinds yourself. Keep in mind, though, that blinds are machine-made with prefabricated parts. You will need to work within the boundaries of a store’s catalog when selecting colors or patterns. I hope your windows get the treatment they deserve!
—Jovy Rabelas MAID MATTERS
QI’ve noticed that my maid always waits for me to tell her what to do, even for the smallest things. How can I train her to take more initiative?
The best way to train your household staff is to give them a checklist of their chores (daily, weekly, monthly) and actually show them what it means. If you have to bring your maid around your home to actually show her, this will be most effective. Some maids come into our homes without knowing what is expected of them. The checklist helps them do their job well and makes expectations from both parties clearer. —Christine Araneta-ferreira
QI caught the yaya of one of my son’s classmates bullying him when I went to fetch him from school one afternoon. What’s the best way to handle this?
It would be best to first ask your son about the circumstances that could have caused this yaya to bully him. Remember that there will always be two sides to a story. Then talk to the yaya’s employer as soon as possible. By providing as many facts about the situation, the employer will be able to handle it and talk to the yaya better. Also, empower your son and teach him how to handle similar bullying situations on his own. Give him the right words, so he will know how to react. —Christine Araneta-ferreira
QMy daughter’s yaya is very good at her job. My only concern is that she never owns up to her mistakes or speaks up when something goes wrong. How can I encourage her to show more accountability?
Most Filipino employees, whether in our homes or companies, are very tentative about speaking their minds to their bosses. It’s ingrained in our culture. What usually helps is if you don’t reprimand her when she makes a mistake. Ask her questions that will allow her to speak up. Sometimes you need to help her find the right words to express herself. She may not say sorry but instead, “pasensya” (a word that is so overused in our country), and so, it is important to educate her about the value of owning up and apologizing for her mistakes. Alternately, let her know when she does a good job as this will build up her confidence. —Christine Araneta-ferreira
Clean your pho whenever you can. It potentially harbors lots of germs—think about where it’s b e
Vertical fabric blinds are a great alternative to custom drapes.