Home Cleaning Tips: Time Savers

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.

Strategize

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.

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.

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 using 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. Not enough won’t do the job. 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.

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 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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Home Cleaning Tips To Maximize Efficiency

vacuum ceiling fanNo one wants to spend hours upon hours cleaning their home. The key to keeping a home cleaning regimen short and sweet is simple: maximize efficiency. By making the most of your time and efforts, your house cleaning routine will be streamlined and you’ll have plenty of time left over to do more interesting things. The following are some house cleaning tips to maximize efficiency.

Begin With a Walk-Through

Before starting to clean, take a quick lap through your home with a laundry basket and large trash bag. Gather up loose items that should be put away and deposit them in the basket. Collect trash, and empty trash containers into the trash bag.

Pay attention to what tasks need to be done, what areas might require extra attention, and what places are in good shape and therefore don’t need any sprucing up. Mentally calculate how much time you’ll need for each area, keeping in mind how much time you have overall to spend cleaning.

Starting off knowing that there’s dog hair all over the sofa in the family room and the upstairs bathroom is a disaster makes it easy to allocate enough time to these areas. This way you know from the start that you won’t have time to vacuum under beds today.

Minimize Clutter

Set aside the basket of lost items that you collected on your walk-through and deal with it later. Picking up and organizing are not part of house cleaning; they are prerequisites. Clutter control should be an ongoing process. Spending an hour picking up and putting away miscellanea before you can start cleaning means you’ll potentially run out of steam before the housework is done.

Working around, or worse, having to shift and replace, clutter while cleaning eats up time as well. Clear surfaces and spaces make cleaning quick and easy. Cluttered surfaces and piles of paraphernalia collect dust and complicate cleaning.

Have What You Need On Hand

Keep your cleaning closet stocked with whatever you need. Penalize household members who make off with the vacuum cleaner or the broom and don’t return it. Having to spend twenty minutes tracking down the mop is an inefficient use of time.

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Wear an Apron or Tool Belt

Keep what you need readily at hand as you work so you don’t have to repeatedly stop to fetch supplies. Wear an apron with lots of pockets, or a tool belt, or carry a caddy with you. Reducing steps reduces time and maximizes efficiency.

Use Minimal Supplies

Use as few cleaning agents and tools as you can; the less stuff to have to tote around and keep track of, the better.

Clean With a Buddy

If chatting with a buddy while you work isn’t a distraction, clean your homes simultaneously and cheer each other on. Exchange cleaning tips. If it keeps you motivated, go for it.

Pay Attention to What You’re Doing

On a related note, don’t allow your mind to wander off while you work. Pay attention to the job at hand. An efficient cleaner cleans only what is dirty, which requires mindfulness as you work.

Think Ahead

Anticipate what’s next as you perform each task and work in such a way as to minimize unnecessary steps.

Don’t Get Sidetracked

Stay focused. If you’re easily distracted by side jobs, keep a small notepad in your apron pocket and make a to-list as you work. If you notice that the fridge needs to be wiped out or the kids’ closets are a mess, plan to tackle these extra chores as soon as your schedule permits, but don’t stop doing what you’re doing now. Completing one job from beginning to end is satisfying and motivating. Starting three jobs and not finishing any of them is frustrating.

Work in a Straight Line

Clean either room by room or in zones, and work in straight lines. Don’t backtrack.

Work Continuously

Don’t sit down. Keep working until the job is done. If you must take a break, time it. When your ten minutes is up, so are you.

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Focus on What Shows

Clean what’s dirty, focusing on areas that stand out. When there’s time, clean the dusty bookshelf in the corner. When there isn’t time because the sofa has to be vacuumed free of dog hair, leave it. The dust will be there next time.

Treat Cleaning Your House like a Job

Cleaning your home is a job, treat it as such. Make a schedule, stick to it, see the job through to the end.

Use an Eraser-Type Sponge

Eraser sponges have many uses throughout the home. Soap scum removal, tough kitchen cleanups, scuffs on floors, and fingerprints on walls are just a few. These sponges save time and effort, both of which maximize efficiency.

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Dust Your Ceiling Fans

Make it a point to regularly dust areas that accumulate dust such as ceiling fan blades, under beds, on top of the refrigerator, tops of cupboards and wardrobes, and any other places that are not part of your regular dusting regimen. Removing as much dust as possible from surfaces means there’s less dust to end up re-circulating in the air.

Use a Dusting Tool

Forget dusting with a cloth; the quickest means of removing dust from surfaces is to use a tool, preferably a microfiber wand with nubs, because this will grab and lock down dust. Don’t belabor the task; working from the top of the room downward, dust ceiling fans and light fixtures, wall hangings, window treatments, window sills and grates, chair rails, baseboards and baseboard heaters. Then tackle furniture and lamps. Work swiftly, don’t backtrack, and make every movement count.

Keep a Spray Bottle of Water on Hand

A damp cloth cleans a variety of surfaces, from wall smudges to water glass rings to fingerprints on switch plates and sticky doorknobs. Avoid having to hunt down a cloth and find a faucet; keep a supply of cleaning cloths and a spray bottle of water on hand as you work.

Work Out a Routine

A regular, consistent cleaning routine works to your advantage in several ways. First, repeating the same tasks over and over increases speed and efficiency (the learning curve). Second, a regular routine gives you the chance to clean everything in your home on a rotating basis. From week to week some tasks can be deferred until next time, and others can get the attention they need right now. Third, working out a system forces your focus onto efficiency; over time your routine will inevitably become more streamlined as you work out the bugs. Finally, by making home cleaning a habit and a priority, it will get done. Period.

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Stay Motivated

Stay motivated by finishing what you start. Each time you successfully complete your cleaning routine, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment. Take a little time to admire your handiwork. This feeling of pride in a job well done will inspire you to take up your broom next week and clean on.

Use the Right Cleaning Supplies and Equipment

Use whatever cleaning agents and equipment make you happy. If you use scented cleaners, be sure the scents make you feel good. Likewise, cleaning agents should do the jobs for which they’re intended, leaving you feeling satisfied that you’ve accomplished something by using them. Your equipment should be easy to use, not frustrating.

Spending a little more money on good cleaning supplies that you’ll look forward to using (or at least not mind using) is well worth the investment. You cleaning tools should be easy for you to use, perform well, and make you feel glad to use them.

Eat Right, Exercise, Get Some Sleep

Cleaning is hard work! Give your body what it needs to do the job. If you feel sluggish and run down, you’re not going feel overly enthusiastic about mopping and vacuuming and making beds. When you feel good and are energized, cleaning is a breeze.

Delegate

Make house cleaning a team effort. Many sets of hands get the job done quicker. Make a chart, assign chores, do whatever gets the job done quickly and efficiently.

Make a List

If you’re the type of person who is motivated by crossing items off your list, write up a list of chores before you start cleaning. Staying on task is very important to cleaning efficiently, so if writing it down helps achieve this goal, go for it.

Don’t be a Perfectionist

It’s a waste of time to try to remove 100% of the dirt from your home. Perfectionism will turn a three-hour job into a six-hour job. The difference between 95% efficiency and 100% isn’t worth three hours of your time.

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Set Realistic Goals

There’s only so much any one person can accomplish within a few hours. Don’t set the bar too high. Set realistic goals that you’ll be able to achieve. Accomplishing goals is motivating. Failing to achieve goals is not.

Don’t Make a Big Production Out of It

House cleaning is labor intensive but not overly difficult. Don’t make it harder than it is. Don’t’ clean what isn’t dirty. Don’t perform elaborate cleaning rituals that make no sense just because your grandma did it that way. Simplify your procedures and get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible.

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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Dust Bunnies Aren’t Funny: How To Clean Up Dust in Your Home

dustfanDust bunnies are the Cleaning Pro’s prey. You know what I’m talking about: those globs of dust and debris that form under the couch and in corners. They’re the dead give-aways that their habitat hasn’t had a visit from the vacuum cleaner lately.

Dust is a funny thing. Not in the “ha-ha” way, but in the “it has unusual properties” kind of way. It’s in the air but is almost invisible. Even so, when you inhale any quantity of the stuff you know it from the stuffy sinuses it causes.

If dust is just lying around on top of your hutch, it doesn’t bother anyone. When that same perfectly innocent dust gets stirred up, it can be downright nasty. It makes you sneeze and can make you wheeze. At the end of the day, the best way to deal with dust is to get rid of it entirely.

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Dust builds up in some areas and then relocates itself to others when you’re not looking. So the best approach to eliminating dust is to track it down when it’s settled somewhere and get rid of it then and there. Not giving it the chance to re-circulate stops dust in its tracks. And the more frequently you can manage to do this, the less dust you’ll have to deal with later on.

To track it down, it’s important to understand where dust likes to live. Dust loves to settle down on ceiling fan blades. It likes the tops of cupboards in kitchens and bathrooms and the laundry room; especially the laundry room, in fact. The whole laundry room is a dust trap due to the lint trap in your dryer.

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Dust likes to cling to some electronics; computer screens for example. Dust loves the vent fan in your bathroom ceiling. It likes horizontal window blinds and the top of your refrigerator. Dust sometimes even likes to cling to your walls, if there’s enough of it in the air.

Any horizontal surface is a candidate for dust buildup: shelves and tables and the tops of books, even inside the piano, leaves on plants, both real and artificial, the top sides of picture frames, the ridges on doors, lampshades, finials, light bulbs, and under your bed.light fixture

Knowing where to look is just half the battle. The capturing of dust is equally important. Dust needs to be trapped and locked down so that is doesn’t live to fight another day.

The Cleaning Pro’s weapons of choice against dust: the vacuum cleaner and a microfiber dusting wand. One or the other will do the job. Both used in tandem will defeat the dust bunnies.

The best tactic is to work from the top of your room downward. First use your dusting wand to grab any dust you can. Use your vacuum to suck the dust off of your wand as it becomes saturated with dust. When you’re done, vacuum any leftover dust off the floor.

Knowing where to look and how to capture dust is all there is to it. Repeatedly eliminating dust where it lives will pay off over time. You’ll notice less dust in your air and in its hiding spots. As your dust bunnies begin to die off, they will cease breeding. Before you know it, the hunt will be over!

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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Cleaning Secrets: Details Matter

House cleaning is all about details. Lots of little details. Yes, you can do a quick cleaning job and it’ll be fine. Sometimes skimming off the top layer is all there’s time to do; it’s better than doing nothing at all. But a really detailed cleaning job shines bright.

Many little details comprise the finishing touches that transform your ordinary cleaning routine into one that makes your home the envy of the neighborhood. The following are some examples.

Get Rid of Cobwebs

Cobwebs hanging from your chandelier are unsightly and make your home look dirty. Look around for cobwebs on the ceiling, on light fixtures, in corners, and on the edges of furniture.

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Dust Baseboards

Take the time to use a dusting wand or your vacuum cleaner dusting tool to remove dust from baseboards, chair rails, window sills, window grates, and the ridges on louvered and paneled doors.

Spot Clean Doors and Walls

Use a damp cloth to eliminate fingerprints and smudges from door frames, doorknobs, walls, switch plates, and hand rails and banisters.

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Clean Entry Door Glass

Make an excellent first impression on visitors by having spotless glass on your entry doors. If this area looks clean, people will notice.

Fluff Throw Pillows

For optimal presentation, fluff and artfully arrange throw pillows and throws.

throw pillows

Vacuum Pet Hair from Furniture

Having pets means extra maintenance for you. Don’t allow hair to overrun your furniture. Use your vacuum upholstery tool to thoroughly remove hair from cushions, the backs that you lean against, arms, and any other areas to which you see hair clinging.

Spot Clean Cabinet Doors

Wipe away spills, spots, and fingerprints on cupboard doors in the kitchen, bathroom and anywhere else.

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Clean Appliance Fronts

If you do nothing else, cleaning fingerprints and spills from the fronts of your microwave, dishwasher, refrigerator, trash compactor, and stove give your kitchen a clean appearance.

Pick up Clutter

De-cluttering your space is one of the best ways to make it look clean. Surfaces that are covered in debris look messy and collect dust.

Eliminate Dust Bunnies

Be sure to clean up dust bunnies in corners. Noticeable globs of dust make your home look dirty, regardless of whether it actually is.

Spot Clean Insides of Windows

Clean any fingerprints and doggie nose prints on the insides of your windows. No one notices when they’re not there, but they do when they are.

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There are countless little details that can make or break your house cleaning efforts. For more ideas, see my post Don’t Forget to Clean Under the Kitchen Sink.

We often don’t notice things we see every day, so hone your skills of observation. Learning to clean is a hands-on endeavor and there’s always room for improvement. That’s what makes it interesting.

Whenever time permits, give the job the attention to detail that’ll make your home stand head and shoulders above the rest.

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.

Don’t Forget to Clean Under the Kitchen Sink

There are lots of tasks that fall outside the scope of a typical house cleaning routine. For this reason, it’s important to watch out for any areas that are starting to look dirty or smell funky. Sometimes when we see things every day we don’t notice the gradual changes that are right in front of us.

One notoriously grungy and commonly overlooked area lies right below the epicenter of your kitchen: the sink. This space often holds things that are not food-related. Cleaning supplies are frequently stored here. Some people keep their garbage container in this space.

It’s also a spot that sometimes ends up with moisture problems due to leaks. From time to time, make it a point to take everything out, wipe up any spills or other messes, discard anything that isn’t useful, and rearrange what’s left.

Another kitchen hazard is the pantry. Food cupboards harbor spills that can easily attract insects or rodents. They also often contain outdated products that ought to be tossed out so they’re not inadvertently served to friends or family. Making it a practice to periodically remove all items, cleaning and sorting as you go, reduces the likelihood of attracting unwanted visitors or poisoning the ones you asked in for lunch.

Along similar lines, the refrigerator typically needs attention from time to time. Regularly get rid of anything that isn’t fresh. Any foul odor deserves your immediate attention. Every so often, wipe down the inside. Walls, shelves, the racks inside the door, as well as drawers, all need to be cleaned. Food spills, crumbs, and drips typically occur over time and won’t go away on their own.

Other areas of the house also need a little extra sprucing up on occasion. Light fixtures and lampshades often accumulate dust or cobwebs that we don’t notice. Dust lampshades gently with a clean paintbrush, a hair dryer, a microfiber dusting wand, or a clean, damp cloth. Alternatively, vacuum lampshades with your dusting tool attachment (use low suction). Light fixtures may be easily dusted with a dusting wand.

Glass shades that are cloudy from dust or dirt can be hand-washed with a little dish detergent in warm water. Glass prisms or shades that aren’t easily removed can be cleaned with a 50/50 mix of rubbing alcohol and water applied with a soft cloth and then buffed dry with a second, dry cloth.

Couch and chair cushions often harbor objects, crumbs, dirt, and pet hair. Periodically vacuuming this space easily remedies this situation. It sometimes pays off, too, if there are loose coins among the paraphernalia.

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Fingerprints and smudges on walls, switch plates, door frames, and handrails often go unnoticed. Whatever doesn’t come clean with a damp cloth or sponge will easily be removed with an eraser-type sponge. Don’t scrub too hard or you’ll remove your paint along with the dirt.

Ceiling fans are the number one dust draws in your home, and are quite commonly overlooked on cleaning day. Dusting ceiling fan blades on a regular basis is an excellent way to remove dust from your environment. Use these dust traps to your advantage.

These are just a few of the many jobs that should be done from time to time in order to keep your home at its best. More ideas can be found in my post Cobweb Patrol: What Are You Missing When You Clean Your Home?

Hone your eye for detail by paying attention to things like dusty blinds and fingerprints on windows. Whatever house cleaning routine you generally adhere to, there’s always more stuff that needs attention. A little extra time spent here and there ensures that your home stays in great shape everywhere.

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 Dilemma: Dealing with Messy Roommates

wiping a counterYour roommates are slobs and it’s driving you crazy because you like to keep a neat and tidy home. Besides finding new living quarters, is there a solution to this dilemma? Dealing with messy roommates can be tough.

People have many different attitudes toward house cleaning. Some can’t function in anything less than a perfectly ordered environment and therefore clean continually as a normal part of daily life. At the opposite end of the spectrum are the folks who are oblivious to piles of dirty dishes and masses of cobwebs. Most people fall somewhere in between these two extremes on the cleaning continuum.

If you’re faced with having to tell your roommate that their slovenly ways are driving you nuts, there are strategies that you can use to attempt to resolve the issue. Whatever you do, don’t resort to yelling. Coercion is never the answer.

Step one is to assume that your roommate is simply unaware of their shortcomings in the housekeeping arena. Communication may quickly resolve the problem. Gently open a conversation in a non-accusatory manner and approach the situation as the mutual problem that it is. You might say something like: “I’m the type of person who functions optimally in an uncluttered environment, so I wonder if we could work out a system to keep our place a little more picked up than it has been.”

Hopefully this will start you talking about your different attitudes toward clutter, or dirty clothes on the bathroom floor, or dirty dishes in the sink. There are lots of people who never learned how to clean, and your unfortunate roommate may be one of them.

Starting this discussion should lead you directly to step two, which involves you and your roommate setting up a cleaning plan. Getting your roommate involved in the solution both empowers them and holds them accountable.

This is the time to talk about cleaning goals. Is your beef chronic clutter or a dirty bathroom or a perpetual mess in the kitchen? Be as specific as possible about what needs to be done to bring your home up to code. It may be the case that a little bit of education will go a long way toward solving the problem. After all, most people don’t want to live in slovenly homes. So give your roommate the benefit of the doubt.

You might simply write up a list of the specific tasks that need to be done and then ask your roommate which ones they want to do. For example:

  • Wipe down kitchen counters, appliances, and clean sinks.
  • Throw out food that’s no longer any good.
  • Take out the trash.
  • Wash the kitchen floor.
  • Dust and vacuum the living area.
  • Clean the bathroom sinks, countertops, mirrors, tub, and toilet.
  • Do laundry.

Specifically spelling out what needs to be done to maintain order serves several purposes. It gives your roommate ideas in case they don’t actually know what to do. It also sets very clear goals about what needs to happen to make your living area clean. It gives you both a reference point in case tasks get lost in the shuffle of daily life. And it gives you both the ability to negotiate who does what as well as establishing accountability if things don’t get done.

This takes you to step three: implementation of your plan. Once you’ve ironed out a solid contract, you and your roommate have to each carry out your parts. If you’ve both agreed to keep your individual clutter confined to particular areas and take care of certain chores, you must each follow through. Failure to do so violates your contract.

Consistently failing to respect your agreement (on either end) might signify a more serious problem with your relationship. At the end of the day, the place where you live is your respite from the world. It should be a place where you can relax and unwind, not a constant source of irritation. If you’ve made an earnest attempt to resolve your issues and are unable to do so, then it might be time to consider rethinking your choice of roommates.

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.

The Cardinal Rules of House Cleaning

clean a windowHouse cleaning, at its core, is very basic. The objective is the removal of dirt and grime from a home in order to promote the good health of its occupants as well as improve their quality of life. Regardless of whether you’re cleaning a two-bedroom cottage or a twenty-bedroom mansion, some basic cardinal rules will help you achieve these goals.

Clean regularly and routinely to keep your home in the best possible condition. Integrating a regular cleaning routine into your schedule serves several purposes. First, it ensures that your house gets cleaned. Second, routine cleaning quickly becomes a habit. Third, the more often you clean, the less time it takes to complete the job. Fourth, regularly cleaning your home means you won’t get stuck spending an entire weekend playing catch-up. Fifth, a clean home just makes you feel good, both because it smells and looks good and because you feel a sense of accomplishment at having completed the task.

Make house cleaning a priority; a regular schedule means that important things get done before they get out of control, and less important things get done sooner or later as time permits.

For example, if you clean your home faithfully once a week, high traffic areas will get the attention they need before dirt and grime reaches toxic levels. This means your kitchen, bathrooms, and other common areas will always be in good-enough shape. They’ll be nice and clean on the day after you clean, and by the end of the week they’ll again need attention but won’t be terrible. And some weeks the kitchen won’t demand as much of your time so you’ll get a chance to vacuum under beds or couch cushions.

A set routine gets you into the habit of cleaning regularly, which ensures that all areas get cleaned from time to time. A clean home is a healthy, happy environment. Plus, you’ll never be embarrassed when unexpected company shows up at your door.

Reduce clutter to speed up the cleaning process and enhance effectiveness. Keeping clutter at bay makes cleaning quicker and easier. Dusting minimally-cluttered surfaces not only takes less time but also cuts down on dust in general because there are fewer surfaces on which dust can settle.

Having to work around or move multiple objects when vacuuming consumes time. Mopping is a nightmare when you’ve got to shift things around from space to space to even get at the floor. Plus, clutter-free spaces just look better.

Clean from top to bottom to make sure dirt always falls into areas that haven’t yet been cleaned. The first step to cleaning any space is dusting ceiling fans, light fixtures, and anything else up high. The last step is cleaning floors.

This principle should be applied continuously throughout the cleaning process so that dirt and dust fall down into areas that haven’t yet been cleaned. For instance, don’t sweep the floor before cleaning crumbs off of the kitchen countertops.

Clean in a continuous line so dirt doesn’t get tracked back into areas which have already been cleaned. Work from room to room in a continuous line as much as possible. Plot your course in a manner that will contain dirt and grime rather than spread it around. Tracking dirt back into areas you’ve just cleaned is counterproductive.

Use tools to maximize efficiency. For example, a good dusting wand with nubs that grab dust can be used almost universally throughout the house. A string mop gets into the corners and tight spaces that a sponge mop can’t reach. And never underestimate the usefulness of your vacuum cleaner. It’s one of the most versatile cleaning tools at your command.

Use appropriate cleaning agents in the correct amount. Know when to break out the tough cleaning agents. Mold, mildew, soap-scum buildup, grease, and mineral deposits are all most quickly eliminated by using chemical cleaning agents.

Conversely, don’t use stronger cleaners than are necessary. You’ll waste time rinsing away suds you didn’t need; furthermore, any residual cleaner left on a surface attracts more dirt. Sometimes less is more.

Keep entry mats at doors to reduce the amount of dirt that gets tracked into the house. The biggest source of dirt on your floors is the feet of those who enter your home. Keep door mats at all entrances and encourage visitors to remove their shoes. Keep a towel near the door to wipe off paws, as well.

House cleaning doesn’t have to be a big deal. Taking the time to learn and understand basic tried-and-true principles will maximize outcomes while making the best use of your time and energy. Learn from those who have gone before you. Don’t reinvent the wheel.

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.

Cleaning Secrets: Dusting Tools Explained

dust doorEvery home has dust, to varying degrees. You may have to dust only once every couple of weeks, or twice a week, depending on how quickly dust accumulates on surfaces. The more dust you can remove from the air, the less dusting there will be to do.

A dusting tool is an optional item that makes cleaning easier. Yes, you can do without one and the sky won’t fall. A damp rag or microfiber cloth will effectively remove dust from your collection of porcelain dog figurines. In the absence of specialty equipment, you can remove dust and cobwebs from ceilings with a dust mop or a broom and under the refrigerator with a yardstick that you wrap in a rag.

Types of Dusting Tools

Dusting goes a lot quicker and is more effective with a tool that grabs and holds onto dust. Types of dusting tools include microfiber dusters, feather dusters, lambswool dusters, telescoping dusters, static dusters, and specialty hand dusters.

Microfiber dusters grab dust and lock it down so it isn’t released back into the air. Many can be washed and re-used; some are disposable.

Feather dusters are what our grandmothers used to swear by, or at when the feathers fell out all over the place. Some people still swear by them. And the feathers still shed all over the place. They don’t really grab dust as much as knock it down.

Lambswool dusters are great for getting dust off of baseboards, chair-rails, behind furniture, and for reaching cobwebs in corners and on ceilings and ceiling fans. These things last forever and come in lots of different styles. The drawback: they don’t hold onto the dust so much as knock it down.

dust ceilng

Static or microstatic dusters look similar to feather dusters but have electrostatically charged synthetic fibers that grab dust, then you shake them off outside to release the dust.

There are also specialty dusters for getting under appliances like the refrigerator or dryer, or for dusting ceiling fans, window blinds, and more.

dust ceiling wall

If you have high ceilings, you can, and should, get a duster with an extendable (telescoping) handle to reach cobwebs and dust on light fixtures, ceiling fans, etc.

Dust With Your Vacuum Cleaner

Your vacuum cleaner will often do the best job of removing dust from places like louvered doors or the grated covers over heating vents or air exchanges. Use the dusting tool attachment so the bristles grab the dust. If you have a thick layer of dust anywhere, your vacuum will do the best job of trapping it and locking it down.

Figuring out what to use for dusting depends on what surfaces and/or areas you will be dusting. Lots of flat surfaces with little clutter are easy; you could use anything up to and including an old sock that you dampened with a little water and pulled over your hand.

If you have a lot of books or knick-knacks, uneven or cluttered areas, the job will go most quickly if you use a duster with fingers or nubs that the dust will cling to without having to move every object. A microfiber mini-duster or microstatic or microfiber wand would fit the bill.

If you have a lot of baseboards, chair-rails or other molding, wall sconces or ridged areas like paneled doors, a microfiber wand or lambswool duster would probably be your best bet.

When it comes to dusting, frequency is your friend. Using an effective tool that is comfortable to use and gets the job done quickly is the most efficient way to go. The act of dusting removes dust from your environment, so there’s less dust floating around in the air waiting for the opportunity to settle down on your grandma’s china.

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.

Cleaning Secrets: The Versatile Vacuum Cleaner

House cleaning is challenging. Keeping up with the dirty footprints and the spilled cereal, the dust that never seems to stop settling onto surfaces high and low, plus the other two-million myriad tasks that are part of day-to-day housekeeping, requires tenacity and resourcefulness.

One of the most versatile tools at your disposal is your vacuum cleaner. A good vacuum cleaner is useful for a wide variety of jobs beyond removing dirt from carpeting.

Vacuum Cleaner Attachments

Most vacuum cleaners come with an assortment of tools for dusting, getting into tight spots, vacuuming upholstered furniture, and vacuuming bare floors. Most modern machines also have extendable wands that will allow you to reach high spots and get into corners.

So what can you do with all of these tools? The sky’s the limit. Well, the ceiling anyway.

If your wand will reach, use the dusting brush to tackle cobwebs up high where the wall and ceiling meet, or on light fixtures or wall-hangings. Use the dusting brush to tackle interior window shutters, window grates, window sills, curtains and valances, louvered doors, chair rails, baseboards, heating grates and vent covers, lampshades. Remove dust from the top sides of books on shelves. Dust knickknacks and picture frames and everything in between.

The dusting brush also does an excellent job of removing dirt and dust from uncarpeted stairs. Its versatility allows you to get into all the corners and in between spindles, as well as removing dust from any other surfaces in the vicinity while you’re at it.

Tackle baseboard heater dustouts with this double-duty-duo: your dusting brush for horizontal surfaces and crevice tool to get to areas inside and underneath.

Use the floor brush to remove dust accumulations from the top of ceiling fan blades. This handy, wide tool also quickly removes dust and cobwebs from walls. Use the floor brush to eliminate accumulated hair in the bathroom, and not just on the floor. As long as surfaces are dry, use it on countertops and other horizontal surfaces.

Vacuum Pet Hair

How about furniture? Pet hair on upholstered furniture is easily removed with a small rotating brush attachment, if your machine is equipped with one. Otherwise, use the upholstery tool. Don’t forget to get underneath cushions and tackle the edges, too. Use the dusting brush attachment on leather furniture.

Your vacuum cleaner is also handy for cleaning loose debris inside of cupboards and drawers, like spilled rice and the crumbs at the bottom of your bread drawer. Spilled powder and the 1001 sequins that broke free in your craft supply bin are no match for the almighty vacuum cleaner.

Got pet hair all over your suit jacket and no lint brush in sight? Use your vacuum cleaner to quickly solve the problem.

Be creative. Have fun with it. Allow your imagination to run wild thinking up new uses for the superstar of cleaning tools, the oh-so-versatile vacuum cleaner.

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. For more info: https://www.amazon.com/author/darlenephillips

House Cleaning Demystified

There’s a significant percentage of the general population that doesn’t know how to clean a house. This is problematic because keeping a home clean is a basic survival skill. We should all maintain minimum standards for our own good health and well-being as well as the well-being of anyone we happen to invite over for dinner. For this reason, I will today present a basic lesson in house cleaning.

dustmop

Why Clean?

At its core, house cleaning is very simple. Eliminating dust, dirt, bacteria, and other unwanted matter from our environments is the objective. We do this so that we can breathe easily in our homes, avoid illness, and generally maintain a living environment that’s agreeable to our senses.

How is this objective achieved? House cleaning is comprised of two elements: picking up and then cleaning up. These are two distinct steps. Picking up means removing clutter from your environment. Cleaning up means removing dust and dirt from your environment. It’s much easier to clean up an area that’s picked up. Cleaning up can technically be done without picking up, but the job will be much less thorough.

Pick Up After Yourself Every Day

The easiest approach, if you haven’t a clue where to start, is to work on developing the habit of picking up after yourself as you go along. It’s actually easier than it sounds once you get into a routine. It’ll take a little dedication at first, but making the effort will pay off.

Take it in small steps to get used to doing it. Start developing the habit of putting things away. Organize your possessions. Do it bit by bit, if necessary. If you need pointers, my blog post De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Days – Day 1: Make a Plan may help you.

Clean Up

Once you get the hang of picking up and have a pretty good organizational system in place, it’s time to work on cleaning up. Cleaning up is the straightforward process of getting rid of dust and dirt. Get yourself some supplies: cleaning cloths, a vacuum cleaner, mop, bucket, glass cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, bathroom cleaner.

Then go to it. Use your cloths to remove dust from all surfaces. Use your vacuum to clean loose dirt and debris from carpeting and floors. Use your mop to wash floors. Use your glass cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, and bathroom cleaner to clean kitchen and bathroom surfaces. It’s just that simple.

This is a process that should be repeated on a regular basis. Each time you do it, it’ll get easier, assuming you to do often (every week or two).

Daily Chores

Also work on keeping daily chores under control. Don’t let laundry and dirty dishes pile up. Don’t let clutter accumulate. Sweep or vacuum and spot-clean as needed. The more you do as you go along the easier it’ll be to maintain order.

Once you’ve mastered the basics, hone your skills. True house cleaning gurus have lots of tricks up their sleeves. Look for ideas, read up on the subject, develop your own systems and shortcuts. Practice makes perfect.

In no time you’ll be cleaning like you’ve been doing it your whole life. Your environment will be healthy and appealing, and no one will hesitate to come over to your place for dinner.

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.