Get Your Home Ready for the Holidays: Fall House Cleaning Tips

 

orangetreeThe change of seasons is the perfect time to tackle chores around the house that don’t get done as part of your regular cleaning regimen. Getting your home ready for winter isn’t difficult, and it’s worth investing a little time now to start preparing your home for the busy holiday season. The following are some common tasks that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Dust Baseboard Heaters

If your home has baseboard heaters, this is the time to really get them clean. Use your vacuum cleaner dusting brush and crevice tools to remove dust, cobwebs, and other debris that collects inside and underneath.

Dust Vent Covers

Use your vacuum cleaner dusting brush to thoroughly remove accumulations of dust or cobwebs on heating vent covers and grates.

Freshen Cozy Throw Blankets

Wash or air out throws that you snuggle underneath during cold winter months. Anything too bulky to put in your washing machine can be taken to a Laundromat.

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Clean the Oven

This is the perfect time of year to clean the oven. Before holiday entertaining season begins, get your oven in tip-top shape so it’ll be performing optimally to bake pies and cookies.

Wash Fine China

Dust or hand wash the fine china and crystal that doesn’t get used in the summer, when picnics and grilling outside are the norm. You’ll be glad you did when it comes time to set your Thanksgiving Day table. More done now means less stress later.

Deep Clean the Dining Room

Take time to thoroughly clean the least-used room in the house: the dining room. Holiday entertaining is right around the corner, so get your home in shape now. Eliminate cobwebs in corners and on light fixtures. Dust the tops of hutches, and tackle baseboards. Get into all the areas that don’t receive regular attention.

Freshen Guest Rooms

This is also the perfect time to give guest bedrooms a good once-over. Freshen window treatments by vacuuming, or air them outside. Organize the closets, sort out miscellanea in wardrobes or dressers, and get rid of things you don’t use that are wasting space.

Vacuum Mattresses

While you’re cleaning the bedrooms, vacuum and flip mattresses. Also freshen bedding, by airing outside or laundering, if necessary.

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Clean Glass Doors

Before cold weather sets in, clean glass entry doors. Gleaming glass makes a great first impression on holiday guests. Plus, it’s tough to clean outside glass when the temperature drops below freezing.

Wash Entry Mats

Start off fresh when messy winter weather hits. Wash entry mats, boot trays, and runners so they’ll be ready for the workout ahead.

Winter is on its way, and with it, the holiday season. Give yourself time to enjoy fun and family by getting your home ready now. Why put off ‘til tomorrow what you can do today?

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon.

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House Cleaning Express: The Quickest Route to a Clean House

rugWho has time to clean?

Everyone wants a clean house, but who has time to do the job? Getting your home clean without spending a lot of time isn’t difficult; it just takes a little dedication. This guide will explain how to keep a clean house when your time is limited.

Keep It Picked Up

When your home is free of unnecessary clutter, cleaning is ten times easier. Clutter makes it look messy, breeds dust, and impedes the cleaning process.

Some simple steps to accomplish neatness:

  • Assign every object in your home a space to call its own.
  • Make “putting things away” a habit. When you’re done using the scissors, put them away. When you bring groceries home, put them away. When you get undressed, put your clothes in the dirty clothes hamper. In no time at all, you’ll be putting things away without giving it a second thought.
  • Make each household member take responsibility for their own stuff. Assign each person a basket and place stray items into the basket. If baskets are overflowing, hold the contents ransom until the errant party agrees to deal with their mess.
  • Purge unnecessary items on a regular basis. Keep a donation box in a prominent spot and make use of it.
  • Use baskets, bins, totes, shelves, or whatever tickles your fancy to keep your stuff organized and put away.

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Clean as You Go

Housecleaning is most effective when it’s done on a regular basis. The quickest method by far is cleaning up every day. This doesn’t mean cleaning the entire house every day. This means doing various tasks as necessary so that areas never really get dirty. Daily tasks include the following:

  • Kitchen cleanup: as soon as food preparation is done, areas that were used should be wiped clean. Constantly be alert to the state of your kitchen appliances. If the stovetop is dirty, wipe it clean. If the inside of the microwave has food splatters, wipe it clean. When you begin to notice fingerprints on keypads or handles, it’s time to clean them. None of these tasks, taken individually, requires much time. Spending ten or fifteen minutes each day sprucing up the kitchen means you’ll never have to spend an hour or more at one time cleaning everything.
  • Bathroom patrol: clean bathroom sinks, vanities, and the toilet when you notice that it needs to be done. If there’s toothpaste on the mirror, take a minute to wipe it clean. Squeegee shower walls clean every day so that soap scum doesn’t get the opportunity to build up. Keep rags, sponges, paper towels, and bathroom cleaner under the sink and make use of them as necessary so the bathroom never really gets dirty.
  • Laundry: do it as often a necessary to avoid a huge accumulation.
  • Sweep or vacuum entryways as soon as dirt is tracked inside. This prevents dirt from getting tracked further into the house.
  • Clean pet areas often. Mats under water dishes, pet beds, and other pet-related paraphernalia should be cleaned whenever you notice they’re dirty.
  • Floors: spot clean as needed. If something gets spilled, clean it up before it gets tracked anywhere else.

Commit to a Regimen

On a regular basis, preferably weekly or every other week, make a point of completing whatever other housekeeping chores need doing. When the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry, and pet areas are kept clean on a daily basis, there’s not much left to do. Change bedding, dust, vacuum or sweep, and mop (if necessary). Don’t clean anything that isn’t dirty. An hour or two at most, and your home will be spic-and-span.

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

Tried-and-true cleaning methods and tips are everywhere. The internet and magazines are loaded with cleaning advice. Put it to good use. House cleaning has been around for a long time. Cash in on the experience of others to save yourself time and trouble. A clean house doesn’t have to be a huge hassle, don’t turn it into one.

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon.

Special Challenges of Cleaning a Home Where Toddlers Live

When you live with small children who are on the move, house cleaning has special challenges. Since toddlers put their hands on everything, and put everything in their mouths, your house cleaning routine should include steps above and beyond the typical basics.dustmop

Down Low

When cleaning a home with toddlers, think like a toddler. Look at everything from their perspective: floor level. Think about which objects might be handled or touched by tiny hands and potentially be a source of germs or bacteria.

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Reduce the Spread of Germs

Pay special attention to surfaces that could potentially harbor germs and use your due diligence to reduce the spread of pathogens. Use common sense; every surface doesn’t need to be disinfected. But if little Henry’s nose is running from a cold and he’s wiping it with his hands, pay attention to areas that he subsequently touches.

Fingerprint Patrol

It shouldn’t be difficult to deduce which surfaces your toddler favors for tactile stimulation: the fingerprint trail will tell the tale. Keeping this evidence cleaned up reduces the spread of germs and keeps areas looking fresh and clean.

Cleaning Agents

When cleaning surfaces with which toddlers will come in contact, use cleaning agents that are appropriate for the task. Read labels and be sure whatever you’re using is safe for your toddler, safe for the surface being cleaned, and doesn’t pollute your indoor air quality.

Keep Cleaning Agents Close at Hand

When using cleaning agents around toddlers, always keep track of your supplies. Accidents take only seconds. Wear an apron with pockets or clean at naptime and don’t allow yourself to become distracted so something toxic gets left where it shouldn’t be.

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Keep Floors Clean

Toddlers need space in which to explore. Keep carpets vacuumed and floors mopped. Spot-clean soiled areas ASAP.

Keep Toys off the Floor

Don’t allow toys to accumulate on the floor. When not in use, keep them picked up, both to make floor cleaning easier and to reduce the transfer of dirt and pathogens to the objects with which your child plays.

Cleaning homes with small children is challenging, but it’s important to make the effort. The issue goes beyond just having a home that looks clean; small children need a safe, clean environment in which to live and grow. You owe it to them to do all you can to provide them with one.

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon.

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How to Clean Your Refrigerator

glovesWhile we typically clean the sticky handprints off of the outside of the fridge as part of a regular cleaning routine, the inside often gets neglected. Food drips, spills, and crumbs accumulate on surfaces inside the refrigerator and need to be cleaned up periodically.

Equally important, if you find that foodstuffs are passing their expiration dates before you get a chance to use them, clean them out as often as need be. Don’t let old food sit around stinking up the fridge, because bad smells are tough to remove from a refrigerator.

Start with the Door

When cleaning your fridge, start by cleaning shelves or racks on the inside of the door. Working from the top down, check for any food that needs to be tossed. Shift items from side to side so that you can wipe all surfaces clean. If areas are jam-packed, remove the contents and set aside temporarily, wipe the area clean, then replace items. Be sure to wipe clean any containers that are sticky on the outside prior to replacing.

Any tough or sticky messes on trays or racks might need special treatment. If trays are removable, wash them in warm water with dish detergent. Let them soak for a bit, if necessary. Scrubbing with a non-abrasive nylon scrubber sponge might help loosen the mess. After they’re clean, rinse, dry, and replace.

Don’t forget to clean the door gasket before moving on. Wipe gently with mild soap, getting into the ridges carefully to avoid causing damage. Rinse well and dry with a soft cloth.

Shelves and Drawers

After the door is clean and re-organized, move to the shelves inside. Work from the top down so that any falling debris lands in areas that haven’t yet been cleaned. Use the same method as for the door: either shift items from side to side to clean surfaces, or remove items, wipe the area clean, then replace the items. Again be sure to clean the outsides of containers if they are sticky and toss out anything that’s no good.

Also clean inner walls (sides and back) as you work.

If they’re very dirty or sticky, remove drawers and other removable parts and clean with warm water and dish detergent, then rinse well.

The Freezer

The freezer can be cleaned using the same methods as for the fridge. Use a cloth dampened with very hot water to remove drips or spills in the freezer.

But Wait, There’s More

After the interior of the fridge is clean and organized, there’s still work to do. Dust builds up underneath and behind the fridge. Small objects also tend to find their way under the refrigerator. This is the time to unearth the bottle caps, toys, popsicle sticks, and dried-up green peas that accumulate in this space.

How to Clean Underneath

Many refrigerators have a grill on the front toward the floor and underneath the door. These are generally held in place on each side with clips. Give it a little pull and it’ll usually pop right off.

Next, wrap a rag or old towel around a yard stick and use this “tool” to remove any objects under the fridge, such as those mentioned above.

Finally, use a long, narrow attachment tool to vacuum the area clear of any remaining dust. If you don’t have such an attachment on hand, improvise by using a cardboard wrapping paper tube.

Removing larger objects prior to vacuuming prevents you from ending up with bottle caps or similar objects lodged in the vacuum cleaner hose.

Pull It Out (If It Rolls)

Some refrigerators have wheels underneath so that they can be pulled out away from the wall for cleaning ease. In this case, carefully pull the fridge forward and clean the floor area under the fridge as well as the wall behind it.

Since the refrigerator is a food storage space, it’s important to keep it clean. Plan on wiping up spills and crumbs at least once every month or so. Keep a close eye on expiring food as well, and clean it out as often as necessary. These simple maintenance procedures ensure that your fridge will always be clean and hygienic.

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon.

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Look Ma I’m Cleaning: The “Anyone Can Clean” Guide to Housekeeping

valanceThe ability to clean a house is a basic skill that everyone should have, yet there are many who don’t know where to begin. If you’re a member of this unlucky group, this guide will get you going in the right direction.

Cleaning is neither complicated nor difficult. It’s a skill that improves with time and practice, so if at first it seems like cleaning is hard for you to do or you’re not doing it right, have patience. Once you get the hang of it, keeping your home clean will be a breeze.

Step One: Clutter Control

House cleaning begins by putting away clutter, also known as organizing. Getting organized is a simple process of finding a home for all objects and then making sure to put each object away when it’s not in use.

In order to minimize clutter, it’s also important to purge objects that are no longer needed. Every so often, closets and cupboards should be reorganized in order to make room for new objects in need of a home.

Organizing and putting stuff away is the first step in cleaning because it’s easier to vacuum, dust, and wipe down areas that are as clear as possible. Dust also has fewer places to settle in environments that aren’t littered with clutter.

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Start Cleaning From the Top Down

After getting organized, the next step in the cleaning process is getting rid of cobwebs and dust. Anything up high is done first, including ceiling fans, wall hangings, tops of cabinets and cupboards, etc.

Continuing to work from the top of the room downward, dust window treatments, window sills, chair rails, ridges on doors, lamp shades, furniture, baseboards, and baseboard heaters.

In the living room, den, family room, etc. vacuum upholstered furniture. Flip cushions and fluff pillows.

In bedrooms, change bedding as needed and periodically flip mattresses and sweep or vacuum under beds.

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The Kitchen

In the kitchen, wipe down countertops and backsplashes, stovetop, and inside the microwave. Spot clean table and chairs and cabinet fronts. Clean keypads and fronts of appliances like the dishwasher and refrigerator. Scour the sink.

The Bathroom

In the bathroom, clean mirrors, sink and vanity, tub and/or shower, and the toilet. Tiled walls should also periodically be cleaned. Clean the bathroom often so that soap scum and other grime doesn’t build up.

Finally, in all rooms, vacuum, dust mop or sweep floors and damp mop, if necessary.

Laundry

Laundry can be a big job that’s often easier by spreading it out over time. Rather than letting it accumulate, doing laundry as soon as you’ve got a full load makes it more manageable than facing the daunting task of doing six loads in one day. Plus, you never run out of clean towels using this method.

Cleaning Styles

Different lifestyles call for different cleaning styles. House cleaning can be done every day, once every week or two, or whenever you have time. The key element is doing it. A house that’s never cleaned isn’t a pleasant place to live.

This is a basic overview of house cleaning. The process is made up of many more details, which you can learn about from other blog posts here. Don’t let cleaning intimidate you, it’s not difficult. Just get up, start doing it, and before you know it, you’ll be a cleaning master.

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon.

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The Cleanest House on the Block: How to be the Envy of the Neighborhood

chair backDo you want to know the secret to keeping your home so clean that all the neighbors are envious? It’s quite simple: consistency. Keeping the cleanest possible home isn’t accomplished by spending an entire day cleaning every week. The surprising secret is that the easiest means of achieving cleaning excellence is putting in a little time each and every day.

There are several reasons for this. First of all, it’s easier to clean a clutter-free home. Next, cleanups are quicker when there’s less to clean up. Third, spills and grime are more easily removed before they’ve gotten the chance to dry or soak in. Fourth, regular routines become easier each time they are practiced. Finally, routines are habit-forming. Plus, cleaning a little bit every day ensures that your home will be in tip-top shape every day of the week.

It’s Easier to Clean an Already Clean Home

A house that’s free of clutter is a whole lot easier to clean than one that harbors piles of this and that along with a mishmash of assorted items here, there, and everywhere. Keeping things picked up and put away makes dusting, vacuuming, and cleaning kitchen counters a breeze. Besides, a clutter-free space looks cleaner, giving the impression of excellent housekeeping and attention to detail regardless of the status quo of your cobwebs.

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Cleanups are Quicker When There’s Less to Clean Up

It’s a lot easier to clean up a little bit of dirt than it is to clean up a lot of dirt. Wiping down kitchen counters, sprucing up bathrooms, and quickly sweeping the floor each day only takes a few minutes. Dirt that has been allowed to build up can take hours to eradicate.

A home that’s regularly maintained is easier to keep clean. Why? Removing grime from surfaces prevents erosion and/or deterioration, protecting the ability of the surface to repel dirt. So a regularly cleaned home actually stays cleaner because dirt is less likely to stick.

It’s also easier to spot dirt and disarray in a clean environment. Fingerprints on a glass surface already peppered with fingerprints blend right in but stand out on a surface that’s clean.

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Spills Clean Up Easily When Tackled Immediately

Cleaning up spills, drips, and similar messes as they happen is quicker than leaving them for later, after substances have congealed, hardened, or soaked in. A few minutes spent wiping off kitchen surfaces after meal prep saves time in the long run. Immediately blotting spills on carpeting or upholstery prevents stains and other permanent damage. Mopping up spilled milk right away prevents an ugly mess later on.

Practice Makes Perfect

Performing the same task over and over again leads you to become better at it. Each time you clean inside the microwave, vacuum the foyer, or clean the bathroom, you gain proficiency. Repetition enables you to learn the best means of achieving desired results. Over time, you’ll become a master cleaner.

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Cleaning Becomes Habit-Forming

After a while, cleaning every day will become a habit. You’ll feel uncomfortable if you haven’t wiped up kitchen surfaces after dinner or spot-cleaned the bathroom in the morning. At this point, cleaning will no longer feel like a chore. It will simply be another part of your daily routine, like showering or brushing your teeth. These types of habits are formed through consistency.

By consistently working at keeping your home clean each day, you will have the cleanest house on the block and be the envy of the neighborhood. Best of all, your home will always be in its best possible shape so you’ll always be glad to walk in the door at the end of a long day, soak in the clean, and feel like your home is truly your sanctuary.

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon.

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The Art of Modern Housekeeping

Has the art of keeping house truly been lost, or has it simply evolved to meet the demands of modern-day life? Those who keep house in our day and age have the same goals as homemakers of yesteryear: providing a safe and clean environment in which to live, raise families, and entertain.

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The Modern World

These days, machines make house cleaning easier than ever before. The variety of available cleaning products is staggering. Appliances clean themselves. Surfaces resist stains and repel pollutants. Fabrics are wrinkle-free, food comes ready to cook, gadgets and gizmos galore assist in all phases of running a household.

The Modern Family

The modern homemaker is an entirely different animal than the homemaker of the past. The traditional male/female head-of-household pair consisting of a beleaguered female pulling double shifts every day while her wayward spouse spends his time on the golf course or in a barroom has evolved into something quite different.

Modern households are made up of diverse family units, many headed up by non-traditional couples whose genders may be registered on a spectrum rather than defined by fixed labels. This blurring of gender lines makes for a variety of interesting differences between the homemakers of today and the career women of the eighties who did double-duty as the family housekeeper or the stay-at-home housewives of the fifties.

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Manager versus Laborer

Today’s household members increasingly share the burden of keeping house or simply bring in outside help. The modern homemaker is often more of a manager than an actual laborer. Machines must be operated, programmed, maintained, and replaced when necessary. Hired help has to be given instructions and feedback. When homemaking is a group endeavor, someone has to set goals, make a plan, and generally lead the group.

Challenges Have Changed

The challenges faced by today’s homemaker differ vastly from those of the past. Today’s family manager has to, first and foremost, be concerned with the security of family members. The world seems much more dangerous than it used to be and is certainly more sophisticated, often in undesirable ways. Children can’t be simply sent off to walk to school on their own or left to their own devices in the afternoon. There are far too many perils and pitfalls.

House Cleaning is Still Important

House cleaning isn’t the top priority for today’s homemaker, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a priority. No one wants to live in a dirty house. People are busier than ever before living their best possible lives, trying to reach their full potential, and generally trying to accomplish everything on their bucket lists. Toilet cleaning comes in slightly lower priority-wise than soccer practice and rock climbing.

House Cleaning Is More Hit-and-Miss

House cleaning today is much more chaotic than in days of yore. It’s more hit-and-miss, with less concern about cobwebs and dust bunnies. The good-enough approach is the rule of the day. This world has so much to offer that there’s little time left to worry about whether or not there’s dust under the bed.

Homemakers Have More Choices

Modern homemakers face myriad choices with regard to products and methodology. Use-this-don’t-use-that alarmists and here-today-gone-tomorrow trends, as well as a dizzying array of products, pull consumers in all directions.

No one has to do it the way their mother did; there are so many choices and YouTube videos that any chore can be performed fifteen different ways. Cleaning a bathroom shower can be approached from so many angles that it becomes almost impossible to hone the process down to the one, perfect method that will get the job done quickly and effectively every time. There are just too many choices and it’s too tempting to keep searching for the easiest method rather than settling on one that’s good enough. It always seems like there’s a better way.

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Silly Details Matter Less

Modern homemakers don’t concern themselves overly much with silly little details that no one cares about. They don’t waste hours upon hours dismantling things in order to clean them, or color-coding the linen closet, or researching new ways to clean grout. Our disposable world makes it easy to throw it out and buy a new one rather than try to get it clean, whatever it may be. Whether this is right or wrong isn’t the point; it’s just how our modern world is.

The Modern Homemaker

The homemaker of the past is, indeed, dead and buried. But the role has been replaced with a much more interesting, well-rounded, satisfied homemaker whose job involves less drudgery and more spice. Housekeeping, while still important, plays a less important role in modern families. Sure, the toilet still gets cleaned, but not in a “Saturday is cleaning day above all else” kind of way.

Today’s homemaker is fluid; the role constantly evolving along with the technology in our world and the availability of better and more advanced gadgets and gizmos to make housework less work-y.

Housekeeping as an art form is alive and well. It’s just different than it used to be. And so are today’s homemakers.

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon.

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Clean Your Way Happy

Feeling blah, agitated, unsettled, or just plain sad? Everyone has an off day from time to time. The fix might be as simple as getting up and cleaning your house. Here are some reasons why.

Cleaning is Exercise

Simply getting active improves mood. Exercise stimulates blood flow, combats the blahs, and creates a happy feeling. And house cleaning definitely counts as exercise.

Use the vacuum cleaner to get a strength and cardio two-for-one workout, bend down to dust baseboards for a stretching routine, do a little yoga while you’re on the floor cleaning under beds.

Cleaning not only helps you strengthen and tone, it burns calories. That’ll make you happy, too.

Cleaning Makes You Feel Proud

Not only can exercise improve your mood, but it also gives you a reason to feel proud of yourself for improving your health. Feeling proud makes you happy. Therefore, cleaning makes you feel happy.

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Orderliness Leads to Happiness

Putting away clutter, cleaning closets, and organizing in general tends to make you feel like you’re gaining control over disorder, which leads to happiness. Orderliness also means you can find what you’re looking for when you need it, reducing frustration and increasing your sense of mastery over your environment.

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Cleaning Is a Fresh Start

Cleaning out the cobwebs and dust bunnies can be a fresh start on the day, the week, the month, or the rest of your life. Wash the floor and vow to keep it clean. Tidy up the kitchen and toss out old food, then buy fresh, healthy stuff to replace it. Start over as often as you feel the need, and keep your home clean in the process.

Cleaning Focuses Your Attention

Cleaning your home gives you something to focus on instead of ruminating about why you were passed over for a promotion at work. Distract yourself by thinking about how to re-organize your kitchen to improve flow and efficiency at dinnertime. Tidy up the pantry, checking expiration dates and planning menus with the stuff you have on hand before it spoils.

Clean out closets, planning a garage sale as you go. There’s always more to do around the house, so get busy and distract yourself from whatever is bothering you. Before you know it, you’ll be humming a happy tune.

Cleaning Burns Energy

When you’re feeling restless or angry, pick up a dusting wand and start attacking cobwebs up high and down low. Clean behind the sofa and under the fridge. Work up a sweat and you’ll be feeling better in no time. Burning off the negative energy and replacing it with positive, productive activity improves your mood. Keep going until you feel better.

Cleaning Gives You a Sense of Accomplishment

The sense of accomplishment that comes from completing a job never fails to make people feel good. Admire your handiwork when you finish cleaning your home. Bask in the glow of gleaming countertops. Take a moment to appreciate the fruits of your labor and pat yourself on the back. Cleaning is hard work! Congratulate yourself for a job well done.

A Clean Home Makes People Happy

Finally, doesn’t a clean house just make you happy? There’s nothing quite like that feeling of renewal that comes with a freshly cleaned house. It smells good and looks nice, creating a sense of calm and well-being.

So get up, get going, and clean your way happy.

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon.

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House Cleaning Secrets: Quick Cleanup Tips

It can happen to the best of us: the house is a disaster and your mother-in-law just called to say she’s on her way over. You’ve got thirty minutes to get the mess under control (at least enough to pass this surprise inspection). Get busy and make the best use of your time with the following tips.

 

Pick Up Clutter

Grab a laundry basket and quickly pick up clutter on countertops, tables, and wherever else it’s accumulated. Don’t worry about sorting things or putting anything away. Fill your basket and stash it in a closet. Just be sure to go back and deal with it later on.

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Focus on Areas that Visitors Will See First

Focus your attention on whatever spaces visitors will see first on entering your home. Clean window glass on the front door to immediately give the impression that you keep an orderly home. Clear clutter from entryways and make sure the floor is free of mud and footprints.

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Use Your Vacuum Cleaner

Quickly vacuum floors, furniture, and whatever else is dirty. Your vacuum cleaner is a versatile tool that not only cleans floors but will quickly remove pet hair from furniture and baseboards, suck up dust bunnies and loose debris, and eliminate cobwebs.

Wash the Floor Fast with an Old Towel

Use a dampened towel to quickly clean hard floor surfaces. Swish it around with a mop, then toss it into the washing machine.

Close Doors

If bedrooms are a mess, shut the doors. Put up a “Do Not Disturb” sign to ward off curious wandering guests.

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Dim the Lights

Use your dimmer switch to make it tougher to see cobwebs, dust bunnies, and other telltale signs of less-than-fastidious housekeeping.

Light a Candle

Use aromatherapy to create the impression of a clean home. Scents like tropical fruit, vanilla, or lemon make your home smell fresh.

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Spot Clean the Kitchen

Clean fingerprints off of appliance fronts, wipe up countertops, load the dishwasher with dirty dishes, and look around for any other areas that might benefit from a quick wipe down.

Eliminate the Source of Bad Smells

Take out smelly garbage. Grind up lemons in the garbage disposal. Check the potato drawer and fruit bowl for less-than-fresh foodstuffs that might be emitting bad smells.

Tidy Up the Guest Bath

Clean the sink, countertop, and toilet in the guest bath. Put out fresh hand towels and soap.

Establish Good Habits

Finally, prevent this situation from happening again by getting into the habit of keeping your home clean. Minimize clutter and maintain a regular cleaning routine that fits into your lifestyle. It’s a little bit of effort, but the payoff is enormous. And you’ll never be embarrassed when unexpected company arrives at your door.

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon.

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Hints for Hiring a House Cleaner

cleaning range hood (2)Everyone likes to have a clean house, but not everyone has the time, the ability, or the ambition to tackle the arduous task of house cleaning. Hiring someone else to do the job is the simple solution to this problem.

Hiring a house cleaner is a process that should be approached systematically. It’s important to find a good fit; the right person can make your life much easier, but the wrong person can spell disaster. Your home is your castle, safeguard it by making a thoughtful search for your cleaning person.

What to Look For in a House Cleaner

A professional house cleaner needs to have some very specific traits: honesty, a strong work ethic, excellent listening skills, maturity, and the ability to get along with lots of different types of people. Most importantly, a house cleaner should actually know how to clean. The process of screening candidates should include an assessment of these traits.

Finding Candidates

But first, you’ve got to find a prospect or two. Simply asking friends if they know of anyone who fits the bill might lead to finding the right person. If none of your friends can recommend anyone, local online or print classifieds often have a “services provided” section that house cleaners typically use for advertising. Craigslist, bulletin boards, and local free papers are other places to look.

Arrange a Meeting

Once you’ve got a line on someone,  contact them to ask about their availability and what they typically charge. These are the first issues that can make or break the deal. If their availability doesn’t mesh with what you need, or if they charge more than you’re willing to pay, there’s no deal to be made.

If you come to acceptable terms on these points, a face-to-face meeting is the next step. Set up a time for the candidate to visit your home in order to give you a chance to discuss your needs as well as their qualifications.

Spend a little time preparing for this meeting. Think of a few carefully-worded questions that will help you to get a sense of the potential cleaner’s abilities and attitude. Your questions should be simple and respectful; an interrogation is not necessary and will scare the person off.

Appropriate things to ask include how many years experience the person has, their typical routine on a job, their attitude toward and responsiveness to feedback from clients, and whether the person considers him/her self to be a hard worker. Asking for two or three references (preferably other long-term clients) is a good idea as well.

Also think about what results you expect from a house-cleaning routine so you will be ready to explain to the candidate what you would like them to do.

Get to Know Them (a Little)

When the cleaner arrives for your meeting, show them through the house and discuss what specific tasks you consider important. Each person has a different idea of what constitutes a clean house. The cleaner should be able to break down a roster of possible tasks that clients typically like to have done, and the two of you would at this time hammer out the details of a cleaning regimen that will make you happy.

Ask the questions you’ve prepared either as you go along or at the end of the tour. Try to get a feel for the person’s character and temperament. Trust your instincts. If you get a bad feeling about the person, it’s perfectly ok to simply tell them you’ll have to think about it and show them to the door.

The meeting should take about fifteen to twenty minutes. By the end of that time, if you’ve asked good questions and had a well-prepared discussion about your expectations, you ought to know whether this is your house cleaner or if you need to keep looking.

The final details to consider, if you decide to hire the prospect, are things such as:

What day and time will they begin?

House cleaning jobs are usually done on a regular basis, such as weekly or every other week, and on the same day of the week each time. For example, you might agree that the cleaner will come over every other Tuesday morning at 9:00 and work until 1:00.

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Do you provide supplies or do they?

If you provide supplies, ask if they have preferences with regard to products. If you have specific requirements about which products you prefer to be used on your surfaces, now is the time to talk about them.

What form of payment do they prefer?

Cash, check, Paypal? Better to know beforehand.

What’s their cancellation policy?

This works both ways. If you need to cancel for some reason, how much notice does the cleaner expect? What happens if the cleaner gets sick or can’t make it for some reason? This is also the time to discuss the best method of contact for each of you, for example texting or calling or e-mail.

Miscellaneous Details

Other things to consider might include whether the cleaner takes breaks (and if so, are they paid or unpaid), whether the cleaner will bring a lunch or if you’ll be expected to provide it, what method of entry the cleaner will use to get into your house if you’re not home, and whether your pets are allowed outside unsupervised.

If you’d prefer the cleaner not go into certain areas of the house, this is the time to say so. Iron out as many details as you can think of so the job will go as smoothly as possible on day one and each time thereafter.

If you’ve never before faced the prospect of hiring a house cleaner, these tips will lead you in the right direction. Your cleaning person should be someone you trust and can have a good relationship with (hopefully a lasting one). It takes time for a cleaner to become familiar with your home and your specific needs. Ultimately a long-term employee will do the best possible job.

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Don’t hire anyone you’re not comfortable having in your home. Once you’ve settled on someone, be polite and respectful, but don’t be afraid to speak up if you’re not happy with the job they perform. A good house cleaner wants to know what will satisfy each and every client. Bear in mind, it might take a little time to establish a routine and get things into shape.

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When you’ve hired someone else to do the heavy lifting, cleaning day should be your favorite day of the week. Taking the time to carefully search for the right person will net you this result. So take your time, conduct a well-thought-out search, and know that time spent searching for the best person to suit your needs will pay off in peace of mind, as well as a clean home.

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon.

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