Spring Cleaning Hints and Tips

Spring is the perfect time of the year to tackle jobs around the house that don’t usually get much attention. It’s the season of renewal; the traditional time of year when folks who have been holed up in their homes for the long winter months are able to open windows and air out the winter mustiness. In keeping with tradition, I encourage you to take up your brooms and get busy with these spring cleaning hints and tips.

Let In Fresh Air

The solution to pollution is dilution. I didn’t make this up myself, but that doesn’t make it any less true. One of the best ways to detoxify your home is opening windows and doors on a warm spring day to allow fresh air inside and old, stale air out. Fresh air is your friend.

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Freshen Window Treatments

While you’re letting the fresh air in, why not freshen window treatments? Dust settles on valances and blinds and draperies. Use your vacuum cleaner dusting tool to remove it. Or take down the drapes and shake them vigorously outside. If possible, leave them hanging outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine for a couple of hours.

Dust or vacuum window blinds, depending on their composition. Fabric blinds can be easily vacuumed with a dusting tool attachment. Vinyl or metal blinds can be dusted with a damp cloth.

Dust Ceiling Fans and Light Fixtures

Grab a long-handled dusting tool or a step ladder and tackle ceiling fan blades. These are notorious dust traps. You might be amazed at how much is up there. Just be careful not to get any in your eyes!

While you’re at it, remove dust and cobwebs from light fixtures, wall sconces, lamp shades, and other areas that are either up high or typically ignored.

Spot Clean Woodwork

One easy way to improve the appearance of your home is to spot clean woodwork, doors, and switch plates. Look for areas that have fingerprints or other stray marks. Cleaning these areas can make your home look fresher and brighter.

Dust Behind and Under Furniture

Hidden dust in your home will find its way into your air. Taking a little time to dust behind and underneath furniture keeps hidden dust from re-circulating.  Use a dust mop or broom if you have bare floors, or a vacuum cleaner floor attachment if your floors are carpeted.

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Air Out Duvet Covers, Pillows, Blankets, Throws

Textiles take on stale odors over time. While you’re in spring cleaning mode, air them out. Place them outside in the sun for a couple of hours or toss them into the dryer to remove dust and musty smells.

These spring cleaning tips will get you going in the right direction during the season of renewal. Don’t limit yourself. There are many other jobs around the house awaiting your attention. Check back here often for more house cleaning tips and ideas.

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

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Anyone Can Clean Using This Guide to Housekeeping

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The 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, take heart; anyone can clean using this guide to housekeeping.

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.

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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.

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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 organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

Tips to Keep Your Home Clean

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Did you ever wonder how people keep such clean homes? You know the ones: those friends who never hesitate to invite you in when you show up unexpectedly at their door. Those folks whose kitchen counters are never buried in groceries that haven’t been put away, whose kitchen sinks are never overflowing with dirty dishes, whose floors are never desperately in need of an appointment with the dust mop. These tips to keep your home clean will solve the puzzle.

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Clean Often

The secrets to keeping an unvaryingly clean home are simple: frequency and habituation. Tidying up and wiping down on a regular basis ensures that your home never reaches a disaster state. Plus, integrating a regular cleaning routine into your lifestyle means that in time, cleaning will become so automatic that you won’t give it a second thought.

Frequency is your friend where house cleaning is concerned. Spending twenty minutes every day or two on upkeep is an investment in your free time this weekend. And it actually saves time in the long run because clutter and spills are tough to clean up after they’ve been ignored.

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Clutter Spreads

Unchecked clutter breeds when you’re not looking. It’s a scientific fact. One little pile of mishmash becomes an overspread mountain virtually overnight. For this reason, it’s quicker and easier to deal with it as you go along. Toss out junk mail immediately, file paperwork, and put things away.

Spot Clean to Save Time

The same principle applies to cleaning up dirty messes. Spot cleaning the kitchen every day or two takes ten minutes. Leaving it all until Saturday night at 9:30 guarantees it’ll take at least an hour and a half. Juice spills and crumbs congeal into something roughly resembling textured cement.

Stovetop messes that would have taken 30 seconds to wipe clean when they first made an appearance dry up and cook on, meaning it will be a fifteen minute job scrubbing them clean.

This holds true in every room of the house. A strange inverse reaction takes place with dirt and grime. The longer it sits, the tougher it becomes to remove. It’s like it grows roots.

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The Learning Curve

Frequency also works in your favor due to the cleaning learning curve. Simply put, the repetition of any action increases your speed and ability to perform the action. So the more frequently you clean, the better you get at it, which means your speed increases.

The universal truth of cleaning is that the more frequently you clean your home, the less time it takes each time you do it. Getting into the habit of cleaning regularly not only ensures that you’re never caught off guard with a messy house, it saves you time in the long run. Your home will never get to the point of being such a disaster that you have to blow your entire Saturday cleaning.

Work Out a Routine

It’ll take a little thought to work out a routine that fits into your schedule. For example, spot clean every other day and then dust, vacuum, and mop on the weekend. Or do one room every day. Or whatever what will work with your schedule. Then stick to the plan. Within a very short time, cleaning will be another routine part of your life.

Frequency and habituation. That’s all it takes. House cleaning is maintenance, like getting your hair cut or your oil changed. Take the time to establish routines, follow through, and before you know it cleaning will be just another item that gets crossed off your to-do list every day. No thought required. Then you’ll be one of those people who are never embarrassed to invite unexpected company inside your home.

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

Tips for Cleaning a Home with Toddlers

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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 into their mouths, your house cleaning routine should include steps above and beyond the typical basics. The following are tips for cleaning a home with toddlers.

Tackle Everything Down Low

When cleaning a home with toddlers 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.

Don’t skimp on this step. Look into corners and under the edges of furniture. Toddlers can venture into tiny spaces, so take care to cover all the bases.

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Do a Germ Patrol

Pay special attention to surfaces that could potentially harbor germs and use your due diligence to reduce the spread of these 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.

Scope Out Fingerprints

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.

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Cleaning Agents

Use appropriate cleaning agents when cleaning surfaces with which toddlers will come in contact. Read labels to 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 Cleaners Close at Hand

Keep track of your supplies when using cleaning agents around toddlers. 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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Wash Floors Often

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

Pick Up Toys

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. 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 organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page on Amazon.   My books include the titles De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

How to Get Everyone in Your Home to Help With House Cleaning

Keeping a home clean is a big job which gets bigger based on many factors, including the number of occupants in a household as well as the cleaning habits of each member. It’s only fair that all inhabitants participate in cleaning at least to the degree that they contribute to the mess. This post will give advice about how to get everyone in your home to help with house cleaning.

The willing and able-ness of all occupants weighs heavily into their level of participation. Some people are natural-born cleaners, some not so much. Some may be too young or physically unable. And sometimes it’s just easier to take on the job without the group for any number of reasons.

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Create a Team

Cajoling those who are able but not overly enthusiastic about cleaning can sometimes be accomplished through shame or bribery. Offering a reward (beyond the intrinsic satisfaction that comes from a job well done) or encouraging participation through praise might spur the loafers to action.

Alternatively, educate them: home care is the duty of all household members and the failure to participate indicates a lack of respect for others as well as self. As a last resort, present a bill for your time to anyone who willfully subjugates you to the role of live-in maid. The going rate for professional house cleaners ranges between $25 and $45 per hour.

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Team Cleaning Plan

If you’ve managed to corral a willing and able team, the next step is formulating a plan. Creating an effective team cleaning plan promotes a successful cleaning experience for all team members. Breaking the job down by tasks or by areas in your home is one means of accomplishing this. Refer to this house cleaning checklist for a comprehensive list of common house cleaning tasks. Additional assignable jobs include dish washing and laundry as well as changing bed linens and bathroom towels.

Decide whether your team will clean all at once or as time permits. This decision will be based as much on the availability of various team members as the preferred cleaning methods of the household. Some break the job down over time, some tackle a portion every day, and some complete the entire job in one fell swoop every week or two.

Make Lists or Charts

Lists or charts outlining who is responsible for what are excellent organizational tools that serve several purposes. They make it clear to all parties what their jobs are. They also make it easy to identify who is pulling their weight and who isn’t. They give all team members a good idea of the overall makeup of a house cleaning regimen, which is valuable knowledge for young people to have exposure to. Lists also help the group facilitator keep track of what’s been done and what hasn’t.

Assign a Leader

Which brings us to the next point: your team needs a leader. This can be a fixed individual or team members can take turns as leader. Either way, someone has to assign tasks and make sure each team member is completing their chores. Taking turns at being the team leader is a great way to expose all team members to the overall picture. Cleaning a home is a big job that’s comprised of many smaller tasks. Everyone on your team should understand its wide-reaching importance.

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A clean home is a happy, healthy home. It’s the responsibility of all occupants to keep their environment in shape. House cleaning chores are basic life skills that all children need to learn, and all adults should practice. Cleaning as a team might take a little time and practice to master, but in the long run this approach will pay off, both as a shared experience and as a valuable tool for teaching and productivity. Best of all, team cleaning makes the big job of cleaning a house manageable for all household members.

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

House Cleaning Tips to Save Time

House cleaning isn’t fun or easy, but there are lots of ways to streamline the process in order to improve efficiency. The following are some basic time-saving tips to help minimize the hassle on cleaning day.

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Make a Strategy

Before you begin cleaning, make a plan. Figure out your goals and the best path to reaching them. For instance, you may want to focus on the areas that are dirtiest or clean whatever areas need sprucing up for a dinner with friends. Map out a cleaning strategy that makes the best use of every step you take. Set realistic goals that can be realized within the time frame you’ve allotted to cleaning.

Make a list, draw a chart, keep in mind a picture of what you hope to achieve. However you go about it, knowing what you hope to accomplish and how you plan to accomplish it is half the battle.

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Develop Cleaning Flow

Cleaning on a regular schedule, for example spot cleaning as you go supplemented with a bi-weekly once-over, helps you to develop a routine that flows smoothly. Easy and logical transitions from task to task increase cleaning speed and efficiency. Vacuuming furniture would logically transition to vacuuming floors, for instance. Repeating the same process over and over again allows for refinements, so over time your routine will be streamlined to perfection.

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Vacuum Everything to Eliminate Dust or Pet Hair

The best way to eliminate copious quantities of dust or pet hair is to vacuum them up. This method traps debris and locks it down so it doesn’t end up re-circulating back into the air. Many modern vacuum cleaners have long enough hoses to reach most areas high and low. Vacuum ceiling fans, window treatments, wall hangings, baseboards, baseboard heaters, grates, door sills, furniture of all types, and anything else that’s coated in dust or hair.

The more dust and debris that’s eliminated from surfaces is that much less to potentially be stirred up into the air later on, only to resettle somewhere else.

Use Eraser-Type Sponges

Eraser-type sponges are time savers for cleaning all kinds of stubborn messes, from bathroom gunk to cooked-on debris in the kitchen, streaks on floors, marks on walls, and many other tough jobs. Use in conjunction with cleansing powder to remove tough soap scum. Or use with an all-purpose cleaner containing bleach to eradicate mold and mildew. The only caveat: be cautious using eraser sponges on painted surfaces or they’ll take the paint right off along with the grime.

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Use a Dusting Tool

Use a microfiber or microstatic dusting tool instead of a cloth to quickly dust furniture, baseboards, blinds, lampshades, and everything else. Don’t pick up every item; pass the tool over and around objects carefully. This method is ideal for areas that aren’t loaded with dust. It’ll take half the time as it would to do the job with a damp cloth.

Clean with Intent

Work purposefully, constantly thinking one or two steps ahead. Strive to minimize steps and maximize each movement to get the most bang for your buck. Don’t simply plod along, move steadily and as quickly as possible without compromising the quality of the job.

Don’t Clean What isn’t Dirty

If it doesn’t look dirty, doesn’t smell dirty, and hasn’t been used lately, don’t waste your time cleaning it.

Use Good Equipment

Sturdy, well-designed cleaning tools and equipment get the job done quickly. Invest in a decent vacuum cleaner, mop, bucket, brushes, sponges, and cleaning cloths.

Use Appropriate Cleaning Agents

Use cleaning agents formulated for whatever you’re cleaning and in the correct concentration. Using less than enough won’t do the job and too much is just as bad; you’ll waste time rinsing, or worse leave behind a residue that will attract more dirt. Using the wrong detergent can damage the surface you’re attempting to clean and/or fail to do the job.

Remember, the purpose of a cleaning agent is to assist in breaking down dirt and grime so it can be more easily removed from surfaces. Use them to your advantage by understanding their benefits as well as their limitations.

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Don’t Rush the Job

Frenzied, rushed cleaning sessions cause accidents that cost time. Work steadily and purposefully, not manically.

Clean Continuously

Know that from the minute your house cleaning routine is wrapped up for the week, the creation of new messes begins. House cleaning is never really done. The number one time-saving cleaning tip is to clean frequently.

Not only does this approach break a big job down into manageable parts, but it reduces the overall time you’ll actually spend cleaning. Attacking spills seconds after they occur makes cleanup a two-minute job instead of a twenty-minute job two weeks later, after the spill has congealed into a nasty, sticky mess.

However you choose to approach house cleaning, a little bit of knowledge can go a long way toward streamlining your processes so that cleaning day is as hassle-free as possible.

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

How to Have the Cleanest House on the Block

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Do 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.

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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 in but stand right 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.

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 organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

Shortcuts to Spring Cleaning

Spring is the time to refresh and rejuvenate. It’s also an excellent opportunity to do those cleaning jobs around the house that you don’t usually get around to doing. Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be a major undertaking. Using these shortcuts to spring cleaning can get the job done.

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Vacuum Upholstered Furniture

The next time you’ve got the vacuum cleaner out, tackle upholstered furniture. Vacuuming and rotating sofa and chair cushions takes just a few minutes, freshens the furniture, and prolongs its life. Use the upholstery tool or dusting brush attachments, depending on your furniture’s composition. Be gentle on delicate fabrics.

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Get Rid of Cobwebs

Use a telescoping dusting tool to reach cobwebs that form in high spots, like where walls and ceiling meet, on light fixtures and ceiling fans, along the tops of window and door frames, and in any recessed areas like skylights. While you’re at it, dust the tops of any cabinets or tall furniture.

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Freshen Window Treatments

Dust horizontal blinds with a damp cloth or your vacuum cleaner dusting tool. Vacuum heavyweight curtains; take lightweight curtains outdoors and give them a good shaking to remove dust. Use a dusting wand to get into all the spaces on interior window shutters.

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Wash Windows

If you’ve got tip-ins, this tedious task goes quickly. Have a supply of dry rags on hand. Make a window cleaning solution by mixing a half cup of ammonia into a gallon pail of water. Use a sponge or rag to wipe clean your window surface, rinsing your sponge as necessary. When your surface is squeaky clean, buff with a dry cloth. Switch out your cloths as they become damp to avoid streaking.

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Dust Your Curio Cabinet

Spend a few minutes dusting inside cabinets that aren’t routinely cleaned. This is an excellent opportunity to cut down on the free dust circulating in your air. The more dust you can eliminate from your environment, the less dust there is floating around, waiting to settle down on your grandma’s crystal.

Purge Your Pantry

Remove items from your pantry, sorting as you go. Discard expired foods or anything that looks suspect. Dust shelves and re-organize as you restock.

Wash Entry Mats

Rubber and rubber-backed mats and rugs can be sprayed with an equal vinegar/water mixture and then hosed off outside. Leave to dry in the fresh air and sunshine. They’ll look and smell like new.

These are just a few ideas to give your home a spring boost. Look around and see what else needs to be cleaned, polished, or freshened up. Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be a big deal, but it can make a big difference in the way your home looks and smells.

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

The Seven-Day Spring Cleaning Challenge to Get Your Home in Shape

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It’s spring cleaning time! This is the time of year when dedicated homemakers dive in and do a thorough home cleaning, tackling jobs that aren’t part of their regular cleaning routing. It’s also a great time to take control if you’re the type who doesn’t have a regular cleaning routine and want to whip your home into shape.

Either way, this seven-day plan will arm you with all the information you need to deep clean your home in seven days. Day one will start you off right by purging of all the unnecessary clutter eating up your valuable space. Day two will get you organized by taking deep dive inside your closets. Day three will be all about window washing. Days four and five will bring bedrooms and bathrooms up to code. Day six will get your living room and family room into tip-top shape. Finally, on day seven the kitchen will be targeted.

Once you’ve gotten your home into shape, keeping it that way will be easy if you establish a regular cleaning routine. Even if your housekeeping hasn’t been so great up ‘til now, this is your fresh start, a new beginning. And isn’t that what spring is all about?

Day 1: De-cluttering

The first step to house cleaning of any type is de-cluttering and organizing. It’s just plain easier to clean spaces that are free of unnecessary objects. De-cluttering isn’t difficult unless you have years of clutter to clear out. In the event that this is your situation, this step may take longer than one day.

Hopefully you don’t have that much clutter, so the task won’t be that big of a deal. It’s a simple process: throw things away, give things away, and put things away.

The key principle of organizing is that all items have a permanent spot where they live when they’re at rest. This allows you to put things away when you’re not using them and readily recover them when you need them again. The end result: everything you own doesn’t end up on the island in the middle of the kitchen and you have nowhere to eat breakfast.

The first step to de-cluttering is tossing out anything that’s just plain trash. Take a good look around, and I mean really look around. Often we overlook stuff that’s right in front of us because we’re so used to seeing it. Piles of old newspapers or magazines or Amazon shipping boxes that you think you’ll use sometime are trash. Toss ‘em (or recycle ‘em).

Get real, be honest, and if it’s something that you might use but probably won’t, don’t let it keep taking up valuable space that you could be using for the things that are of value to you. Be ruthless.

Once you’ve got the outright trash out of the way, take another look around for stuff that’s not trash, but that you’re not using. These are things that have value, and that someone else could use. Again, be honest with yourself. If you’re never going to use it, isn’t it better to pass it along to someone who will?

Put together a donation box and pat yourself on the back for doing your part to help others while also doing yourself the favor of eliminating stuff you don’t need. Win-win.

At this point, whatever clutter you’ve got left is the stuff that you want to keep, so put it away somewhere. If you’ve already got a great system for organizing your stuff, this step should be easy.

If not, get busy. Find a logical place to store each object and put it there. Your storage spaces should be places that make sense to you and that you will remember so you know where to look when you want to retrieve the object for later use. Do this over and over again until everything is put away. It’s very easy once you get the hang of it.

If you’re finding that you haven’t got space for your stuff, don’t worry, because tomorrow you’ll clean out some closets. Set it aside for now and keep in mind how much room you’ll need.

Day 2: Clean Closets

Closets are often the spots where we hide things. All kinds of things. Stuff we don’t know what else to do with, stuff that we no longer want, stuff that we tell ourselves we’re going to use some day. Getting into your closets from time to time to take a good look at what you’ve got is a great way to free up space. Without fail, there’s some stuff in there that can be gotten rid of.

Your day two deep-clean challenge is to clean and re-organize closets. Bedroom closets, linen closets, entry hall closets, laundry room closets, the closet in the family room with all the board games. Make it a fun family day activity and split up the job. Whoever has the best organized closet at the end of the day wins!

Closet cleaning can be a simple process or it can be quite involved. If your closets are small and there’s not a lot of stuff inside, it shouldn’t take long. If your closets are walk-ins packed full of stuff, the job may take a while.

Either way, the basic steps are the same.

First, clear some space for a work area. If you are cleaning a bedroom closet, lay an old sheet over the bed so you can use the space to temporarily place things. Next, pull everything out of the closet. As you remove items, quickly decide whether each object is worth keeping. Have a box ready for things that you will be giving away, or designate a separate area if you are getting rid of a lot of things.

After you’ve got the closet cleared of its contents, dust all areas, remove cobwebs, and sweep or vacuum the floor.

Next, replace the things you’re keeping, reorganizing and cleaning as you go. Dust off any boxes or other containers before replacing them in the closet. Introduce new boxes, bins, baskets or whatever storage containers will help you store things so that you can easily find them again. Label boxes, make lists of contents and tape them to the outside, or use clear storage containers. Don’t waste any space. Arrange articles so that taller things are behind shorter things.

This is a great time to bring in new organizational systems. There are all kinds of shelving and racks to help you create your dream closet, so get creative. Have fun with it. You’re aiming to create well-organized spaces that will make your life easier by helping you keep track of your stuff.

At the end of your day two challenge, your closets should have nothing to hide. You will be able to immediately lay your hands on whatever you’re looking for because your closets will be free of unnecessary stuff and well organized. Pat yourself on the back and get some rest. Tomorrow will be window washing day.

Day 3: Washing Windows

No deep-cleaning project would be complete without a day devoted to windows. It’s best to avoid washing windows when the sun is shining directly on them, so the first thing to think about is what time of day is the best to tackle your project. Observe the sun’s position to make this determination.

The second thing to consider is whether your windows are really dirty or just a little dirty. This will determine what cleaning method is most appropriate in your situation.

If your windows are only slightly dirty, a spray bottle of glass cleaning solution will be the quickest way to go.  Use commercial glass cleaner or mix your own using equal parts vinegar and water or three parts water to one part rubbing alcohol.

Spray the cleaner on the glass and then use dry cloths to wipe the glass clean. If you see streaks when you’re finished, repeat the process using a fresh cloth. Sometimes you can buff away streaks with a dry cloth without having to re-apply glass cleaner. If you’re doing a lot of windows, have a lot of cloths on hand because the key to avoiding leaving lint and streaks on your windows is using fresh, dry cloths for buffing.

If your windows are really dirty, the above method will take forever. Instead, mix a window washing solution in a bucket. A simple, effective window washing mixture can be made using a few drops of dish detergent in a gallon of warm water. Alternatively, use a cup of of ammonia or vinegar in the water.

Using a cloth or a sponge, wash the window with your solution, rinsing your cloth as often as needed, until all the dirt has been removed. Then buff the window dry. Switch off your drying/buffing cloth as it gets damp to avoid streaking.

Depending on the type of windows, you may be able to clean them on both sides (inside and outside) without setting foot outside your house. Tip-in windows can easily be cleaned on both sides from inside the house. That’s a no-brainer.

To clean the exterior surfaces of windows that slide or crank open, open the window and see if you can reach your arm around to the exterior side far enough to wipe the area clean. Sometimes this works, sometimes not. This method might be your only option for cleaning upstairs windows, and in this case you’ll have to do the best you can.

Cleaning window exteriors outdoors is sometimes challenging, and sometimes impossible, depending on the nature of your landscaping.  Steep grades or dense foliage are typically deal breakers.

If it’s a question of distance, for example awkwardly placed windows or windows that are just beyond reach and impractical to get at with a ladder, a squeegee with a long or telescoping handle comes in handy. Use a squeegee with an attached sponge on one side. Apply your cleaning solution to the window with the sponge side and then pull the squeegee back and forth across the window surface horizontally working from the top down.

Window screens should be removed and cleaned at the same time you clean your windows. They can be vacuumed or wiped clean with a damp cloth.

Window sills and tracks can also be cleaned while you’re at it. If they’re really dirty, first vacuum up loose debris, then wash with a cloth or sponge dipped into a solution of water and all-purpose cleaner, or use your window cleaning solution. Use a toothbrush to get into the edges.

There aren’t any hard and fast rules about window cleaning, so improvise as necessary. When you’re done, take satisfaction in how nice your windows look. Window washing is hard work. Job well done!

Day 4: Bedrooms from Top to Bottom

Deep cleaning your bedrooms is a great opportunity to target accumulated dust under beds and on window treatments, as well as behind furniture.

To begin, temporarily remove any lightweight objects like lamps or knick-knacks to make it easier to move furniture around without fear of breaking anything.

Any small area rugs should be removed and washed or shaken outside and left to air.

This is a good time to wash or air textiles like bed skirts, duvet covers, bedspreads, decorative pillow shams, etc.

Start cleaning from the ceiling down, dusting away cobwebs and dust on ceiling fans, ceilings, light fixtures, and walls. Use a dusting tool or a dustmop.

Pictures, wall art, wall hangings, or anything else on the walls should be cleaned or dusted.

Vacuum or dust louvered doors, ridged doors, door frames, window frames, shutters. Work your way downward, dusting any chair rails, baseboards, and baseboard heaters. Vacuum or dust air vent covers.

Move furniture around as necessary and if possible, to get to all the walls and other surfaces that need to be dusted.

Take the opportunity to vacuum or clean areas of floors which are normally underneath furniture and not easily accessible. If furniture can’t be moved, try to get under and behind it as much as possible using a dustmop, broom, or your vacuum cleaner.

Thoroughly vacuum upholstered furniture. Vacuum your mattresses and flip them over.

Dust or vacuum lampshades and window treatments.

Dust furniture and begin re-assembling your room, dusting objects before replacing them.

Replace throw rugs and any textiles that you washed or aired.

Smell the clean air. Good job!

Day 5: Bathrooms

Deep cleaning bathrooms might take some time, depending on the state your bathrooms are in to start. If you’ve neglected them, this is a great opportunity to bring them up to snuff.

First pick up any area rugs and mats. Wash them, if you’d like. Also take down shower curtains and wash, if necessary.

This is a good time to go through the medicine cabinet and other cupboards. Move everything so that you can wipe off shelves and dust. Get rid of outdated medicine, toiletries, etc. Replace everything in an orderly fashion.

Dust ceilings, walls, baseboards, wall hangings, any furniture or shelves, and whatever else might need dusting. Clear any dust or cobwebs from your vent fan cover if you have one.

Clean woodwork, cupboard doors, sides of vanities. Wash walls if you’re so inclined. Wash any tile on walls and buff dry for a nice shine.

Clean the sink and vanity. If there’s any type of buildup, use all-purpose scrub and rinse thoroughly. Otherwise, clean with all-purpose cleaner or tub and tile spray cleaner. To clean discoloration or gunk from around drain, faucets or other areas, use all-purpose scrub cleanser and a toothbrush or other small scrubbing brush. Remove mineral deposits with vinegar, or use a specialty cleaner.

Clean the mirror, top to bottom. If your mirror has a film or residue that won’t come off, clean with straight vinegar and buff well. Dab rubbing alcohol onto stubborn spots, such as hair-spray overspray.

Clean tub/shower using tub and tile cleaner, all-purpose cleaner or scrub, or the appropriate cleaner if it’s a surface that calls for special care, such as granite.

To eliminate mildew or dark-colored discoloration on your shower walls or tub, use an all-purpose cleaner containing bleach. Be sure to follow safety instructions: never mix chlorine bleach with other products, use proper ventilation, wear gloves, rinse thoroughly.

To eliminate heavy-duty soap scum buildup in your shower, spray your cleaning agent on the shower surfaces liberally up to an hour prior to cleaning the area so it has time to break down the grime. Then use your cloth or a nylon scrubber to remove the buildup.

Using a good commercial tub and tile cleaner specifically formulated to break down soap scum is the quickest way to eliminate heavy buildups. Likewise, for any type of mineral deposits or stains, a product targeting the specific type of stain will be the quickest way to get rid of it.

Don’t forget to run your bathroom vent fan or open a window if you’re using cleaning products that produce fumes.

If you have any type of buildup or mildew but you’re averse to using strong chemicals, here are some ideas for more natural cleaning agents:

~Use an equal mixture of baking soda and Castile soap. Scrub with a nylon cleaning pad to remove soap scum buildup. Re-apply and rinse until you are satisfied with the results.

~To remove mildew from grout, spray liberally with hydrogen peroxide and allow it to sit for 20 minutes, then scrub grout with a toothbrush or scrub brush and rinse. Re-apply peroxide to areas that don’t come totally clean and repeat the process.

~Try straight vinegar on areas with mineral stains or deposits. Spray on, allow it to sit for an hour or more, and then scrub the area with a stiff brush or nylon scrubber. Rinse, and repeat the process, if necessary.

Clean the toilet. To remove toilet stains, try using two or three cups of straight vinegar; pour in and let it sit for a while.

Clean the floor. This is the time to really clean areas behind the toilet and in corners.

Reassemble your room. Take satisfaction in knowing that the toughest cleaning job in the whole house is now over and done. Excellent work!

white wooden table and chairs seen from oval mirror
Photo by Thomas on Pexels.com

Day 6: Living Areas

Today your deep cleaning challenge is your family room, living room, and other common areas. Because these are the spaces where we usually entertain company, they tend to be kept in pretty good shape. Your prime objective is getting to areas that aren’t usually in the line of fire when you clean, like under and behind furniture.

Start out by setting aside any objects-de-art or other bric-a-brac so they don’t get broken in the throes of your cleaning frenzy.

Remove small area rugs to wash or shake outside and left to air.

This is a good time to wash textiles like throws that you snuggle under in cold weather.

Dust ceiling fans and light fixtures, ceiling and walls. Clean or dust wall sconces, pictures, wall art, wall hangings.

Dust or vacuum louvered doors, ridged doors, door frames, window frames, shutters.

Work your way downward, dusting any chair rails and baseboards.

If you have baseboard heaters, don’t forget to clean ridges and spaces underneath, not just the top edge.

Vacuum air vent covers with a dusting brush or use your dusting tool.

Dust or wash woodwork. Spot clean walls, switch plates, door frames.

Move furniture around to get to all the walls and other surfaces that need to be dusted and washed. Be careful not to scratch the floor when moving furniture. If you can lift a piece of furniture enough to slide soft cloths under the legs, then you can shove it around on a bare floor.

Thoroughly dust any built-in shelves. Either remove objects completely or shift them so you can dust behind and under them. Dust other areas that you don’t normally clean, like inside of china closets, if necessary. If it’s not dusty inside, don’t bother. Free-standing bookshelves or other shelves that hold objects-de-art should be thoroughly dusted or vacuumed. It’s sometimes easier to vacuum the top side of books with a dusting brush attachment. If there’s a space behind books, pull them out and dust back there.

Thoroughly vacuum upholstered furniture. If cushions are removable, turn them over. You can use upholstery cleaner if you feel the need. Test the upholstery cleaner on your fabric first. Spray on, then blot with a clean, damp cloth. Keep rinsing the cloth in clear water and blotting at the upholstery until it’s clean.

Vacuum lampshades carefully, if they’re dusty. Or use a clean, damp cloth to dust them off.

Vacuum window treatments.

Clean the floor.

Reassemble your room. Replace objects that you removed earlier. Replace throw rugs and any textiles that you washed or aired.

Smell the clean air. Admire your handiwork. Well done!

Day 7: The Kitchen

This is it, day seven of your seven-day challenge. This is the home stretch. The kitchen is the one room in the house that most people tend to keep pretty clean. If this is the case in your home, deep cleaning your kitchen shouldn’t be too difficult.

Start out by getting rid of stuff that’s been sitting around for a while. Clean out closets, cupboards, and drawers. Then reorganize. This is a good time to rearrange those plastic storage containers that you can never find the lids for or to rearrange your pots and pans.

Clean out food cupboards. Take stuff out or shift it around so you can see what you have and get rid of anything with expired dates or that is obviously no good. Don’t forget cupboards up high that you never use.

If you have a drawer under your oven, clean and reorganize that too.

After all your closets, cupboards and drawers are in good shape it’s time to clean.

Temporarily remove knickknacks while you clean. If you have a collection of plates hanging on the walls or salt and pepper shakers on a shelf, this is the time to wash them.

Remove any throw rugs and wash or shake outside and leave them to air. Remove window treatments, if you are washing or airing them.

Eliminate cobwebs and dust from the ceiling, ceiling fans, light fixtures, walls, wall hangings, tops of cupboards.

Dust any furniture. Thoroughly wipe down kitchen table and chairs and any kitchen stools.

Wash or spot clean woodwork, doors, doorknobs. Kitchen doors and doorways attract dirty fingerprints, so pay special attention to these areas.

Clean cupboard doors and drawer fronts.

Clean the stove vent fan cover.

Clean appliance fronts and inside the microwave.

Clean inside the refrigerator thoroughly: wipe down walls, shelves, remove drawers, clean inside the door.

Clean under the refrigerator. If your fridge is on wheels, pull it out to clean the floor underneath, and clean any dust or cobwebs from the back of the fridge and the wall behind it.

Clean the stove top: remove drip pans, if applicable, and scrub. Clean the oven, too, if necessary.

Clean countertops, backsplash, and countertop appliances. If they haven’t been done in a while, take your time and get into all the corners.

Clean garbage container.

Clean the floor.

Reassemble the room: replace curtains, blinds, rugs, knick-knacks, etc.

That’s it! You’ve completed your seven-day deep-cleaning challenge. Your home is now clean from top to bottom and well-organized to boot. It will stay that way if you stick to a regular cleaning routine from here on out. Since you’ve gone to the trouble of whipping your home into shape, why not give it a try? Keeping a clean home is all about maintenance. Set up a regular schedule to routinely clean your home and then stick to it. Once you get going, you’ll see how easy it is.

For today, pat yourself on the back because you’ve done a lot of work and a really great job. Congratulations!

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page on Amazon.   My books include the titles De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

 

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

 

close up of two flute glasses filled with sparkling wine wuth ribbons and christmas decor
Photo by VisionPic .net on Pexels.com

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.

 

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.

leather chair

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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