If you’re a total cleaning novice, you’re in the right place. This is Cleaning 101, the introductory course to making your home shiny and clean. Cleaning is both simple and complicated at the same time. At its core, house cleaning is quite simply the means through which dirt and other unwanted substances are removed from your living space.
There are also many nuances to cleaning which make it complicated. We won’t worry about the nuances today. Our focus today will be on some basic home cleaning fundamentals.
The first thing you should understand about house cleaning is that it’s a process. Done properly, cleaning isn’t something that only happens once in a while. Keeping a home shiny and clean requires commitment. Simply put: the more frequently you clean, the nicer your home will look and smell. It’s therefore necessary to establish a cleaning routine that involves cleaning your home on a regular basis.
Figure out a schedule that will easily fit into your lifestyle. Your routine could be carried out daily, weekly, every other week, or some combination thereof. Whatever the routine, the most important element is that you have one. Get into the habit of cleaning your home on a regular basis in order to ensure that it stays clean.
Doing an extensive cleaning of your home once every six months isn’t a cleaning routine; it’s damage control. When dirt and grime sit around for a long time, they begin to degrade surfaces. Furthermore, it’s much more difficult to remove long term buildups; a process that is both time consuming and potentially damaging to the surface. Refer to my blog post Cleaning Secrets: Frequency is Your Friend to expand your knowledge on the subject.
After deciding on a cleaning schedule, you’ll need to know what supplies to have on hand. The short list: a broom or vacuum cleaner, a mop for bare floors, a bucket, a toilet brush, some rags or cloths, sponges, possibly a dusting wand (makes the job go quicker), and some basic agents for cleaning glass, appliances, countertops, bathroom fixtures, floors, and any other surfaces. My post entitled Back to Basics: What Supplies Do You Really Need To Clean A House? gives more in-depth info on this topic.
Once you’ve got your cleaning supplies, it’s time to get busy. First de-clutter and organize your living space as much as possible. It’s a lot easier to clean surfaces that aren’t covered in stuff. Organizing and de-cluttering are the prime prerequisites to keeping a clean home. This step might take ten minutes, or a week and a half, depending on your particular state of clutter. If need be, just work around the clutter for now and plan to organize and de-clutter incrementally.
Next, take a few minutes to strategize your plan of attack. Decide how much time you have available to spend on cleaning. Then take a quick walk through your home, getting an idea of what needs to be done. Refer to my House Cleaning Checklist post for ideas about what specific tasks comprise the steps in cleaning a house.
Look for trouble spots as well as areas that don’t need any attention. Once you’ve got an overall picture of the job, plan how much time you’ll spend cleaning each area, keeping in mind the total overall time that you have available to spend on the job. Getting the whole house cleaned is your goal. Budgeting your time and staying on schedule will help you to make that happen.
The cleaning process itself shouldn’t be too elaborate at this point. If you’re a cleaning novice, focus on the obvious. You’ll hone your skills over time. There’s a learning curve to house cleaning.
For now, keep it simple. Dust, vacuum, sweep. Clean glass surfaces and countertops and appliance fronts. Clean your bathroom fixtures and mop your floors. Don’t concern yourself with eradicating every speck of dirt. Cleaning every single nook and cranny is time-consuming and unnecessary.
If you perform your cleaning routine on a regular schedule, everything will get cleaned eventually. For now, focus on high-traffic areas. These will need to be done every time you clean. Areas that see little or no use don’t need to be cleaned as often.
As your cleaning skills improve, you’ll get a better feel for the process. Regular cleaning ensures that high-traffic areas are always in good shape and areas that need less attention get cleaned as needed. My post House Cleaning Demystified will give you more insight.
The final step of house cleaning is maintenance. Getting your home into excellent shape might take a few weeks, or months, depending on the state it’s in today. Once you’ve achieved a state of excellence, your home will stay that way if you clean regularly and keep up with the control of dirt, grime, and dust.
This sometimes calls for aggressive proactive measures and sometimes can be handled with a more laid-back style. Every situation is different. If you notice that you’re losing ground, increase your vigilance. It’s much easier to maintain a state of order than to have to reclaim it after you’ve lost control. My post Maintenance: The Cornerstone of House Cleaning will give you more insight.
Following the steps laid out here will get you going in the right direction. House cleaning is a hands-on endeavor. Get in there, get your hands wet, learn on the job. Before you know it, you’ll be effortlessly keeping your home shiny and clean.
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.