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.

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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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.

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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.

Cleaning Agents Explained: What to Use Where

Cleaning agents are substances that assist in removing dirt, grime, odors, and germs. When used correctly, they can make house cleaning easier. Knowing what to use where is the trick. Here are some pointers:

Kitchen Counters

The easiest way to clean most kitchen counters is to wipe with a damp cloth or a cloth dipped in dish detergent and hot water. Alternatively, use multipurpose cleaner or sudsy disinfectant spray cleaner.

Remove countertop stains by applying a thick paste of baking soda and water and covering with plastic wrap overnight so it remains damp. The paste will draw the stain out of your countertop. The next morning, wipe the paste clean. If any staining remains, repeat the process.

clean stainless steelKitchen Appliances

Clean kitchen appliances with glass cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, or specialty cleaner.

Kitchen Sinks

Clean kitchen sinks with multipurpose scrub, baking soda, or all-purpose cleaner.

Wood Furniture

Wood furniture can be dusted with a slightly damped cloth, a specialty tool that grabs dust, beeswax, or furniture polish.

Showers and Tubs

Most showers and tubs, unless especially dirty, can be cleaned using any of the following: tub and tile cleaner, sudsy multipurpose disinfectant cleaner, multipurpose scrub, beeswax or shower wax, or with (daily) use of a squeegee and/or daily shower spray.

To eliminate a buildup of soap scum from bathroom fixtures use a tub and tile cleaner specifically labeled as soap scum remover. Alternatively, use multipurpose scrub made with a 50/50 mixture of baking soda and dish detergent or castile soap and scrub with a nylon scrubber. Rinse and repeat until all film has been eradicated.

To remove mineral deposits or stains from bathroom fixtures, use a specialty product targeting the specific type of mineral deposit type, or try an application of straight vinegar. On hard surfaces that won’t scratch, a pumice stone might also remove stains.

To most easily remove mold or mildew stains, spray with all-purpose cleaner containing chlorine bleach, allow the solution to work for a couple minutes, then rinse. Alternatively, spray with hydrogen peroxide, allow the peroxide to work for twenty minutes or more, then scrub with a toothbrush or stiff brush.

Granite showers or other natural stone should be cleaned with a specialty cleaner or multipurpose scrub.

Clean glass shower doors or walls with glass cleaner, beeswax or shower wax, or use bathroom cleaner and rinse well, then buff dry.

Toilets

Clean your toilets using bathroom cleaner, toilet cleaner, vinegar, or all-purpose cleaner.

Floors

Clean vinyl floors with a little bit of all-purpose cleaner or vinegar in water.

Wood floors can be cleaned with a mop very lightly dampened in plain water or a mild vinegar and water solution, or a specialty floor cleaner for wood floors.

Marble or tile floors should be cleaned with plain water or a small amount of ammonia in water.

Windows

Windows can be cleaned by spraying with glass cleaner and wiping clean with rags or paper towels. Alternatively, mix a little bit of dish detergent or vinegar or ammonia into a couple gallons of warm water and use a squeegee, or wash with a rag or sponge and buff dry. If windows are especially dirty, use the second method for best results.

Maximizing the helpfulness of cleaning agents is all about knowing when and how to use them. The wrong detergent or cleanser can slow down your cleaning efforts or even damage a surface. Using the right cleaner at the right time on the right surface speeds up cleaning and maximizes efficiency. Knowing what to use where is the trick. Knowledge is power.

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

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.

dust door

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.

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.

clean switchplate

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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