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.

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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.

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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Clean Your Way Happy

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

Cleaning is Exercise

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

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

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

Cleaning Makes You Feel Proud

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

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Orderliness Leads to Happiness

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

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Cleaning Is a Fresh Start

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

Cleaning Focuses Your Attention

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

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

Cleaning Burns Energy

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

Cleaning Gives You a Sense of Accomplishment

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

A Clean Home Makes People Happy

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

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

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

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House Cleaning Secrets: Quick Cleanup Tips

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

 

Pick Up Clutter

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

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Focus on Areas that Visitors Will See First

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

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Use Your Vacuum Cleaner

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

Wash the Floor Fast with an Old Towel

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

Close Doors

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

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Dim the Lights

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

Light a Candle

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

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Spot Clean the Kitchen

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

Eliminate the Source of Bad Smells

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

Tidy Up the Guest Bath

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

Establish Good Habits

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

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

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Make House Cleaning Easier

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to cleaning a house. Everyone’s home is different. Everyone’s lifestyle is different. Everyone’s standards are different. There are, however, some basic steps anyone can take to simplify house cleaning.

Organize Your Possessions

Keeping your stuff organized is well worth the effort. Piles of clutter collect dust and waste time. Would you rather spend your time looking for lost items or doing things you enjoy? Establishing a system to keep stuff organized improves the quality of your life.

Organizing is simple, really.

Every object you posses gets assigned a specific place to live. Objects that are not in use live in their designated spots, so when you need them you know where to look to find them. When you’re done using them, they get returned to their designated spots. Taking thirty second to put the scissors back in their drawer, the hammer back in the toolbox, the keys on their hook, saves countless lost minutes trying to locate said objects.

And here’s the best part:

Cleaning a house is easier if there’s no clutter. Dusting and vacuuming go more quickly without having to work around a bunch of stuff. And the less clutter you have, the less dust.

The same goes for kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, etc. Any surface that can potentially accumulate clutter should be kept as clear as possible. It’s easier to clean counters that have minimal objects on their surfaces.

Clean As You Go

Another method of simplifying your house cleaning routine is cleaning up as you go along. Spending a little time cleaning every day saves your weekends and keeps your home in tip-top shape every day of the week.

Clean as you go is a method that chunks up cleaning chores into smallish tasks that can be accomplished every day. It ensures that housework never gets so out of control crazy that you would rather burn the house down than have to clean it.

Plus, the more frequently you clean, the less time it takes because less grime accumulates. Taking a minute to wipe up messes as they occur prevents them from becoming hardened, congealed blobs of immovable goo.

A prime example is the microwave: cleaning up spills as they occur prevents them from turning into cement-like masses that require a chisel to remove later on. This same principle can be applied throughout the house, from messy footprints on floors to soap scum in the bathroom and everything in between.

Use the Right Equipment

House cleaning is easier when the equipment you’re using is suitable for the task at hand. Using the appropriate vacuum cleaner, dusting tool, mop, and cleaning cloths can significantly speed up the cleaning process.

While an upright vacuum cleaner is great on carpeting, a canister vacuum with a floor brush attachment will more quickly clean bare floors, spaces with combinations of bare floors and area rugs, and stairs. A canister is also the tool of choice for removing pet hair from furniture and cleaning underneath beds.

Once floors are vacuumed free of loose debris, an appropriate mop makes the removal of remaining grime easier. Often, a simple microfiber string mop and bucket of water is the quickest means of eliminating dirt. Wood floors that aren’t especially dirty can quickly and effectively be cleaned with a soft, flat-head spray mop. Likewise, any floors that are only lightly soiled can be quickly mopped up with a damp flat-head microfiber mop.

dust ceiling wall

Along similar lines, using a good dusting tool, rather than a cloth, makes dusting simpler. Use a tool that will reach ceiling fans, baseboards and all areas in between. A versatile wand with a telescoping handle allows you to flow easily through dusting your home.

The right cleaning cloth, sponge, or scrub brush in the kitchen and bathroom makes cleaning countertops and bathtubs easier. Densely woven microfiber cloths are excellent for loosening dried-on spills in the kitchen as well as removing soap scum in the bathroom. Nylon scrubber sponges or scrub brushes are handy items for removing hardened, congealed messes, cleaning grout, and other tough jobs.

Stay Focused

It’s easy to get sidetracked when you’re cleaning your house. Do whatever you have to do to stay on track so that you’re able to accomplish whatever needs to be done today. There will always be more to do than there’s time for, and the dust bunnies will still be under the bed next week. Prioritize, put on blinders, shut off your phone; do whatever it takes to complete the job.

If you’re prone to noticing side jobs and getting distracted, keep a pad of paper in your pocket and make a list as you work. If you need to take a break, time it, then get right back to work. If you’re easily derailed, establish regular routines to keep on track.

Cleaning isn’t a whole lot of fun, but it can be made easier. Whether your home is a cottage, a mansion, or something in between, the simple steps outlined above can minimize the effort you’ll have to put into cleaning and leave you with time to do the things you’d rather be doing.

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.

Hints for Cleaning Cluttered Spaces

If you’ve read any of my posts heretofore, you’ll know that The Cleaning Pro frowns upon clutter. Clutter makes cleaning difficult, breeds dust, and conceals necessary items. However, the reality is that some people are simply not organizers, and cluttered spaces still need to be dusted and vacuumed and generally spruced up.

So if you’re a member of the clutter club, here are some hints for getting your space to a place that will make cleanups possible.

laundry basket

Put Dirty Clothes in a Hamper

Don’t throw your clothes on the floor. Put them in a laundry basket or put them away if they’re not dirty. As a last resort, pile them up somewhere, and don’t let the pile get so high that it topples over. It’s impossible to vacuum or sweep floors that are buried in clothes.

Don’t Pile Things Haphazardly

Make your clutter as orderly as you can. Put papers that belong with other papers into piles: bills with bills, junk mail to sort later with other junk mail to sort later, newspapers with newspapers, magazines with magazines. If it’s all in a big pile of nonsense, you can’t find anything, and bills will go unpaid, your car registration will expire, important papers will be forever lost in the abyss.

On a related note, get a basket for the important paperwork that you need to sort through. When the basket is full you have reached your deadline. Deal with it.

Don’t Save Junk

Stop saving clippings, newspapers, magazines, etc. that you will never look at again. If you can’t find anything anyway, isn’t it easier to toss it out now rather than allow dust to settle onto it for the next fifteen years?

Don’t let stuff that’s just plain trash pile up. Move your recycling to the curb or the dump. Old newspapers, magazines, food wrappers, and similar items have no residual value.

Keep Fishing Gear Out of the Living Room

Tools, gardening equipment,  parts for the car belong in the garage or the tool shed or the basement. You can’t pile all your fishing gear in the middle of the living room and expect to be able to clean around it (or live there). I’m sorry, but this is where a line has to be drawn.

Don’t Have Christmas Every Day of the Year

Take your Christmas tree down by the end of January at the latest. Especially if it was a live tree.

Keep the Kitchen Clean

Keep the countertops in your kitchen as free of clutter as possible so they can be wiped off periodically.

Throw out food containers. Don’t save leftovers indefinitely. Go through the fridge once a week and toss out food that’s no good.

Pay attention to your nose and if you smell a funky odor, you need to root out its source. Now.

Bathroom Clutter is a Big No-No

In the bathroom, don’t let stuff pile up on the counters. Put toiletries into drawers or cabinets. If your drawers and cabinets are full, set aside an hour to go through everything and throw out what’s no good. Or put all that clutter into a basket when it’s time to clean. You can’t clean countertops that are covered in stuff, and all that clutter collects dust which, in humid bathrooms, turns into a crusty mess.

Minimize Clutter As Much As Possible

While some clutter is tolerable, don’t let it get out of control. Bear in mind that clutter accumulates dust and there’s no way to vacuum or sweep cluttered areas. Unchecked clutter spreads from corners outward until entire rooms disappear. So do your best to keep it to a minimum so you can move freely enough through your living space to clean (and live).

On cleaning day, do what you can with what you’ve got. Dust ceilings and walls for cobwebs. Dust all flat surfaces and dust over and around any piles of stuff. Clean the kitchen and bathrooms. Follow the advice presented here and do your best. It’s not easy, but it is possible (and necessary) to clean cluttered spaces.

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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