Holiday Housekeeping Hints

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The day after Halloween, my local shopping plaza started playing Christmas tunes. This reminded me that it’s never too early to start getting ready for the holidays. They’re coming whether we like it or not, so why not be proactive and head off the anxiety that comes with hurried, last-minute preparations?

Many people dislike the holiday season because they associate it with stress. There’s a lot of pressure to make everyone else happy, usually at the expense of ourselves. The best way to avoid this situation and learn to love the season of joy and giving is planning and organizing as early as possible and getting as much done ahead of time as you can.

The following tips will help you achieve these goals.

Make a Plan

Before diving into any large-scale project (which the holiday season definitely is), it’s essential to have a blueprint of what needs to happen to make the venture successful.

Don’t procrastinate, just do it. Begin today.

Do some planning:

  • Make out menus for holiday meals. General is ok, specific is better. At least get an idea of what you’ll be serving.
  • Make meal preparation charts. Write a list or draw a diagram to visually plan the steps, including approximating a schedule. It’s easy for details to get lost in the fray when you’re trying to do ten things at once on Thanksgiving Day. Having a plan at hand will come in very handy.
  • Make a list of chores that need to be done before Thanksgiving to get your home ready. This would include things like getting your fine china dusted off, figuring out where you stashed your turkey roaster last year, and preparing guest rooms for occupancy.
  • If you don’t stick to a regular cleaning routine that keeps your home in shape every week or two, look around and write out a list of areas that need to be cleaned before the holidays officially kick off. The kitchen, bathrooms, and areas where you entertain should be spruced up, if nothing else.
  • Create a master list of people to whom you’ll play Santa Claus. Figuring out what to buy can only come after knowing who to buy for. If you already know what to buy, skip this step.
  • Make another list of chores that will need to be done before Christmas to get your home ready. This would include things like creating a space for your Christmas tree, decorating, cleaning the oven in readiness for cookie baking, etc.

Next, make three master shopping lists:

  • Food supplies to have on hand for holiday gatherings, holiday baking, feeding out-of-town guests, etc. Think about what non-perishables can be stockpiled ahead of time. Refer to the menu plans you made.
  • General supplies necessary for the comfort of out-of-town guests, parties, or decorating. Things like toilet paper, gift wrap, paper cups, napkins, etc.
  • Gift ideas for people on the master list you prepared earlier.

Shop Now

Don’t wait until stores are overrun with frantic shoppers or online traffic is wreaking havoc with website usability. Stock up while lines are short.

Hit the grocery store with list number one, then Costco for lists number two and three. Go online when you get home to finish up.

Not only does this approach save time in the long run, it’ll take some of the pressure off later on. Knowing you’ve already got a pantry full of staples is like having money in the bank during the holiday season, when the pressure in on and that last-minute stop at the grocery store leaves you frustrated and running late, late, late.

This is also the best time to shop for gifts, especially if you’re not sure what to give. Having time to browse and reflect on what would tickle the recipient’s fancy isn’t a luxury you can afford the day before gifts are exchanged.

Get Your House in Order

With the bulk of shopping out of the way, move on to the next step: getting your home into shape. Refer to the lists you made earlier and get busy doing chores and cleaning.

Give your kitchen a good going over. Make sure the fridge is clean inside, the stovetop is free of burned-on messes, and the microwave isn’t harboring splatters or spills. This saves embarrassment when cousin Fran needs to store her Jell-O mold in the fridge and Aunt Kate needs to microwave her green-bean casserole.

Clean the dining room and other areas where you’ll entertain. Dust away cobwebs on the chandelier, sweep away the dust bunnies in corners, and vacuum up the dog hair that’s accumulated on the sofa cushions in the living room (guests don’t want to have dog hair all over their clothes after visiting you, no matter how much they love your animals).

Dust and vacuum guest rooms and make up beds so they’re freshened up and ready for use.

Be sure bathrooms are clean, that there are clean hand towels at the ready, and check your inventory of soap and toilet paper. Running out of TP with a house full of guests would not be a happy moment.

Start Preparing for Christmas

Yes, you read that right. It’s wise to begin Christmas preparations before Thanksgiving, if time allows. Once that train starts rolling on the day after Turkey Day, it gains momentum rapidly.

So, with Thanksgiving preparations well in hand, start getting a jump on your Christmas to-do list.

If you’ve already purchased gifts, which is advisable (as discussed above), start wrapping them as time permits.

Begin tackling other chores.

Think about what else you can do now to get ready ahead of time.

On Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving is the day that officially kicks off the season of holiday madness. If your plans were laid out with thought and diligence, Thanksgiving Day should find you calm and well-prepared.

Before Christmas

On the day after Thanksgiving, go back to your Christmas readiness list and get going with whatever hasn’t yet been accomplished. Take satisfaction in ticking tasks off the list as they get done.

Reducing stress later is accomplished by buckling down now. Looming deadlines cause anxiety. Conversely, thoughtful preparation well in advance creates a feeling of calm.

Having the situation well in hand affords us the time to spend doing things that matter, like simply being with friends and loved ones. Take the bull by the horns now so that you can learn to love the season of joy and giving.

 

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 Lazy Person’s Guide to House Cleaning

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Having a clean home isn’t a luxury limited only to people who leap out of bed every morning brimming with energy. House cleaning can be accomplished by just about anyone, even people whose energy levels drag along on the ground behind them like dead weight.

Know in advance that there’s no way to clean a house with no effort at all. But there are lots of tips and shortcuts that can greatly reduce the amount of work involved in home cleaning. This guide will give you some ideas.

Minimize the Need to Clean

A little preventative maintenance minimizes the need to clean. For example, don’t be a slob. This means using care when pouring juice so it doesn’t spill and covering your frying pan so that nothing splatters onto the stove when you cook.

Throw garbage into the trash can, not onto the floor. Pick up dirty dishes and put them into the dishwasher after you are done with them and before any remaining food debris gets the chance to harden or congeal. Don’t make work for yourself; make the effort now to minimize the amount of work you’ll need to do later.

Take measures to prevent dirt and grime from tracking or building up. Place door mats at each entrance to contain mud or other debris on footwear. Ask family member to remove their shoes at the door. Use an old towel to wipe the dog’s paws when he comes in from a walk on rainy days.

Place trash containers strategically so that no one has an excuse for not depositing garbage into the appropriate place. Don’t allow old magazines and newspapers and junk mail to pile up. Recycle recyclables. Keep a donation box on standby and toss in any items you don’t use in order to avoid ending up with accumulations of clutter or unnecessary possessions that complicate your house cleaning endeavors.

Squegee shower walls after each use so soap scum doesn’t build up. Clean other areas of the bathroom often so that grime, toothpaste, and other materials don’t build up. While it only takes a minute or two to wipe up a little bit of mess, if it’s left to build up into a monumental mess the job becomes monumental. Apply these principles throughout the house to reduce the need to clean.

Spread it Out Over Time

Clean a little bit here and a little bit there rather than all at once. For example, clean the kitchen on Monday, bathrooms on Tuesday, shared living spaces on Wednesday, bedrooms on Thursday, and whatever’s left on Friday.

Do laundry a little bit at a time instead of all at once. Pre-treat stains immediately to avoid having to spend a lot of time fussing over them later on. Fold or hang clothes as soon as the dryer cycle is complete so clothes are wrinkle-free and wear-ready.

Sweep or vacuum entry ways every few days; it’ll only take a couple of minutes and will also reduce the tracking of dirt further into the house.

A big job broken down into smaller jobs is a great way for anyone with low energy to net the same results as people who have the stamina to whip through the whole job at once.

Lower Your Standards

If you’re not especially energetic, it might not be realistic to expect that you’ll be able to keep your home so clean that you could eat off the floors. A few dust bunnies in the corners or cobwebs on the chandelier never killed anyone.

Save your energy for areas that matter. A clean kitchen is more important than a clean dining room, because food is stored and prepared in the kitchen.

A clean dryer vent can potentially prevent your house from burning down. Dust under your bed doesn’t really matter all that much in the grand scheme of things.

While there are lots of advantages to having a spotless home, it’s not necessary to set yourself up to feel like a failure if you’re never going to be able to get there. Give yourself a break, clean the important things, and let the rest slide.

Delegate

Share tasks with roommates, kids, or any willing helpers. Make a list or chart and assign chores. It may turn out that your progeny are more domestically inclined, and more energetic, than you are.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help; housework should never be the sole responsibility for any one member of the household. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, so cut yourself some slack.

Brains Over Brawn

When you clean, make the most of every movement. Carefully plan out the job so that it can be accomplished as quickly and easily as possible. Clean from one end of the house to the other or from top to bottom so you don’t retrace your steps.

Keep cleaning supplies in the same spot so they’re ready and waiting when you need them. Twenty minutes spent searching for the mop is a waste of time and your precious energy.

Wear an apron with lots of pockets so you can keep cleaning supplies with you as you work. Develop a cleaning routine that you follow each time you clean; practice increases speed and efficiency, and saves energy.

Think smart, work less, make the best use of your brain power to reduce the need for man power.

Barter

If you’ve got a friend who hates to cook but loves to clean, and you love to cook but hate to clean, turn the situation into a win-win for both of you by trading off tasks. This may seem like an unconventional approach, but if it nets all concerned parties the results they need, why not?

Outsource

Finally, there are people ready and willing to do the heavy lifting if you’re willing to pay them for their time and trouble. Hiring a house cleaner saves your back and requires much less energy expenditure on your end. You’ll still have to keep the house picked up and load the dishwasher, but a house cleaner will do jobs like dusting, vacuuming, mopping, cleaning the kitchen, and scrubbing bathrooms.

There’s a solution to every problem, so don’t allow low energy to deter you from living in a reasonably clean home. The kitchen and bathroom are rooms that must be cleaned, no matter what, to maintain good hygiene. Floors also are non-negotiable if any amount of dirt gets tracked in from outside. Dusting should take place at least occasionally in order to ensure good air quality.

You don’t have to be a cleaning ninja to keep your home clean; anyone can keep a reasonably clean home using the simple tips outlined above.

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.

Get Your Home In Shape for the Holidays: a Week-by-Week Action Plan

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The holiday season is bearing down on us like a freight train. If your home is not quite ready for the time of year when people show up at your door and expect to be invited inside, now’s the time to get busy. This holiday-readiness action plan breaks down home holiday preparation into a simple five-week plan that’ll have your house in tip-top shape by Thanksgiving Day.

Week One: Cut Down on Clutter in Common Areas

Phase one calls for clearing out unnecessary stuff that collects dust and complicates cleaning in common areas like the living room, dining room, kitchen, and family room. The goal is uncluttered surfaces throughout: countertops, shelves, tables, and wherever else stuff has accumulated.

File or toss out stacks of bills. Recycle magazines that you’ll never read. Donate the box of baking pans that have been sitting in the corner since your mother-in-law gave them to you after she cleaned out her kitchen cupboards (and which don’t fit into yours either).

Look around your space with a critical eye and be merciless. If it’s not useful to you, get rid of it. Things that you don’t need can be used and appreciated by someone else if you donate them to a local community action center or church.

This de-cluttering phase is a fresh start. When it’s complete you’ll be able to clearly spot, and access, the dust on flat surfaces, cobwebs in corners, and dirt everywhere else. It’s infinitely easier to clean and maintain spaces that have minimal clutter, so this first step ensures that your subsequent cleaning endeavors will be successful.

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Week Two: Tackle Dust and Cobwebs in Common Areas

Phase two is the time to clean up accumulated dust and cobwebs that are clearly visible and accessible now that the clutter has gone away. Get out your long-handled, telescoping duster to first tackle cobwebs and dust up high. If you don’t have one, secure an old towel over the business end of a broom. Areas where dust settles and cobwebs form: valances and window treatments, ceiling fans, the top of wardrobes and cupboards, recessed lighting fixtures, and corners where walls meet up.

After all the dust up high has been removed, move on to areas at eye level and below. Target chair rails, lampshades and finials, picture frames and wall hangings, window sills, shelves, door ridges and louvered doors, air exchange grates and covers, baseboards and baseboard heaters.

Dust also accumulates at floor level under appliances like the refrigerator and stove, under beds and couches, and in the corners behind furniture and in closets. Tackle these areas with crevice tools, a dust mop, a broom, or your vacuum cleaner.

Remove as much dust as you can from these typically overlooked areas. Eliminating dust from your ceiling fan and on top of the fridge reduces the overall amount of dust that can be stirred up and re-distributed later on. Once the lion’s share of dust is gone, a little bit of upkeep between now and Christmas Eve will guarantee a dust-free family bash, so Aunt Gertrude will have no cause to cast a critical eye at dust bunnies in corners.

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Week Three: Deep Clean Guest Rooms

If you’re expecting out-of-town guests for the holidays, phase three of your pre-holiday cleanup involves getting guests rooms ready for occupancy. The nature and amount of work involved in this step depends on the state of the rooms: if they’ve become household catchall spaces, the task will be more complicated than if they simply need sprucing up.

Do whatever needs to be done to make them habitable. De-clutter, if necessary, dust and vacuum, freshen bed linens and window treatments. When this phase is completed, your guest rooms will be ready and waiting when Santa Clause and his compadres come to town and you won’t have to scramble at the last minute to unearth the beds.

Week Four: Thoroughly Clean the Kitchen

The kitchen typically sees a lot of action during the holiday season. For this reason, giving the kitchen a good cleanup is the goal of phase four of your holiday action plan.

This is the time to tackle tasks that don’t get done regularly: purge the pantry, re-arrange and re-organize cupboards, clean the oven and the fridge. Really take time to get into corners and underneath furniture.

When you’re done, the kitchen will be in prime condition for holiday baking as well as entertaining visitors. No cringing when Cousin Celia opens your oven door to pop in her green-bean casserole!

Week Five: Give the Whole House a Quick Cleanup

Phase five is the time to whip through the whole house: dust, vacuum, mop, clean bathrooms, and generally tidy up. Pay particular attention to the areas that will be visible to visitors. Since you’ve already de-cluttered, eliminated cobwebs and dust, plus cleaned guest rooms and the kitchen, this phase of the operation should be quick and easy.

Breaking down a big job into manageable segments is the key to successfully achieving any goal. This five-week action plan gets your home into shape just in time for the holiday season kickoff: Thanksgiving. So get busy, stay on track, and allow yourself the luxury of less stress at game time by implementing this preparation plan over the next five weeks.

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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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

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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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