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.

Advertisements

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.

Cleaning Secrets: The Benefits of Daily House Cleaning

Keeping a clean house is all about maintenance. Dirt and grime come into your home every day. It’s not realistic to expect that cleaning once every six months will keep your home in tip-top shape.

dusting furniture

Establish Routines

Establishing a regular cleaning routine is the easiest way to keep your house clean and fresh. “Regular” is a subjective term; it might mean every day, or once a week, or once every two weeks, or even once a month. Some people do a little bit of cleaning every day and then a full sweep once every week or two. Your schedule and circumstances will determine what works best for you. Whatever you decide should be a routine that will fit into your lifestyle so that you’re able to follow through consistently.

One option is doing a little bit of cleaning every day. This approach has many benefits. The first two should be quite obvious: cleaning every day means your home will always be in great shape and it means that you’ll never lose hours at a time cleaning on a Sunday afternoon.

If it’s important to you that your home always be in prime condition to receive company, or if you’re a very fastidious type who can’t tolerate disorder, daily cleaning may be the way to go. If you’ve never got a large enough block of time to clean your whole house at once, breaking it down into smaller increments is a good alternative.

Clean Daily to Keep Your Home In Tip-Top Shape

Beyond these basic advantages, daily housekeeping will prevent deterioration to your home. For instance, when dirt and grime aren’t allowed to sit around, grit never gets the chance to erode floor surfaces. Soap scum won’t build up, which means you’ll never have to use damaging chemical cleaning agents to facilitate its removal, or scrub it away with erosive cleansers or scrubbers. Mold and mildew will never get the opportunity to cause permanent discoloration. Spills won’t harden into congealed messes that become nearly impossible to remove without leaving scars behind.

Clean Daily to Save Time in the Long Run

Daily cleaning also saves time in the long run. It’s quicker to take half an hour every day to spot clean and touch up than to spend five hours on the weekend. By quickly cleaning the kitchen after meal prep and sprucing up bathrooms every couple of days, you eliminate some of the more time-consuming jobs in a house cleaning regimen.

As an example, scrubbing a shower clean can take fifteen minutes or more. It’s much quicker to squeegee the shower walls clean after each use and then apply a mist made from a vinegar and water mixture. This approach means it’ll only need a quick five-minute cleanup with a sponge periodically. No big deal.

Keeping entryway floors continually clean means that dirt doesn’t get tracked further into the house, which saves having to vacuum, sweep, or mop as frequently or as comprehensively. The same principle applies to spilled milk on the kitchen floor: a quick clean-up immediately after the occurrence prevents it from being tracked anywhere else.

Daily Cleaning Reduces the Need to Use Chemicals

Cleaning every day means you’ll never have to use smelly, toxic chemicals to remove tough grime because it’ll never get the chance to build up. It means you’ll never get a sore back from scrubbing your shower or floors on hands and knees. It keeps dust from building up, which in turn means you’ll have significantly less dust in your air and on surfaces. Never having crumbs or spills on countertops or floors significantly reduces the likelihood of attracting the attention of unwanted guests like ants.

Daily cleaning isn’t for everyone. It’s one of many possible approaches to house cleaning. Any effective house cleaning regimen is based on simple diligence and regularity. However, daily cleaning is one of the easiest methods if you’ve got the time. Repetition and frequency work to your advantage to quickly offset the daily intrusion of dirt and grime and the damage they can cause over time to your home. For this reason, daily cleaning is the ultimate form of cleaning maintenance, ensuring that your home is always in tip-top shape.

clean bathroom sink

 

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.

 

 

 

Get Up Off the Floor: Tips for Finding Your Best Mop

Floor care is one of the most time-consuming aspects of a home cleaning regimen. Removing dirt from bare floors is one of the biggest challenges in this area. Finding the perfect mop helps you meet this challenge.

Why Cleaning Your Floors Is So Important

It’s important to keep your bare floors clean for several reasons. First of all, floors last longer if they’re well-maintained. Second, dirt on floors doesn’t stay put; it transfers onto the feet of anyone passing through and gets tracked all around. Third, food spills have the potential to attract bugs or other unwanted visitors. Finally, clean floors feel great on your bare feet (and keep your bare feet clean).

Getting your decks clean doesn’t require scrubbing on your hands and knees, so get up off the floor. There’s no need for you to use the same method your Grandma did.

Types of Mops

Mops these days are much more effective, and easier to use, than the mops of yesteryear. In fact there are many excellent choices available, including sponge mops, string mops, flat head mops, steam mops, and robot mops. The trick is selecting the best type for your situation.

A sponge mop has a sponge head with some kind of ringer to squeeze out excess water. The problem is, these don’t always wring out fully, which can leave excess water on the floor. Another drawback is that they aren’t very maneuverable so it’s hard to get into corners and under the edges of things.

String mops or strip mops come in lots of different types and are typically made from cotton, rayon or microfiber. The ends of the strings or strips may be cut or looped, and the heads wring out in various ways such as hand wringing, or using a twister to pull the head up, which forces the water out. Some come with a wringer that attaches to your mop bucket.

moppA good string mop will wring out well so you don’t end up with a lot of water on your floor. String mops are also very maneuverable, so you can get into corners and under the edges of things with them. Many also have washable heads that will last and last.

Flat head mops usually have a microfiber pad or head that can be removed and washed then re-used. Some types use disposable pads instead. Some types have a reservoir tank that holds cleaning solution and a sprayer that attaches to the handle so you can spray your cleaning solution into the path of the mop as you work. With others you use a hand-held spray bottle to spray solution into the path of the mop as you work. Some flat head mops are both a dry dust mop and a wet mop and some have exchangeable heads that serve different functions.

Steam mops use steam to clean the floor along with a pad of some type that attaches to the base. Some types of floors should not be cleaned with a steam mop, so make sure it’s safe to use on your flooring if you go that route.

Robot mops wash and dry the floor while you do something more interesting. You’ll spend some dough for the convenience, these aren’t cheap.

What type of mop is best for you?

If you’ve got wood floors, a flat head microfiber mop is your best friend. Get one with changeable wet and dry heads. It can be used for spot cleaning as well as total-floor cleaning, if necessary. These are good to use on wood floors because they don’t leave much water behind and they are very soft.

If your floors see a lot of use and need frequent mopping, a good microfiber string mop will be a sure bet. Microfiber wrings out excess water more efficiently than other materials and picks up most common floor messes effectively. A string mop is versatile, durable, and washable, so you can use it over and over and over again.

Steam mops are handy for cleaning small areas, for disinfecting, and for cleaning grouted floors. If these situations apply to you, a steam mop will fit the bill. However, if your floors tend to be very dirty, you’ll need to change the cleaning pad several times as you work. In this case it might be easier to use a string mop and bucket of water instead.

If you want to splurge, try a robot mop. It works on the same principles as a robot vacuum cleaner. You might want to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t try anything funny, though.

Sponge mops are okay in a pinch but are handier for jobs like washing walls or cleaning showers. As floor care tools, they come in low on the list because they’re not very maneuverable. They have their applications, just not on floors.

Keeping floors clean can be pretty simple if you keep up with it as often as necessary. Your situation will dictate how often your floors need cleaning. By not allowing dirt and grime to build up on floors, you make cleaning easy and protect the life of your flooring.

Get a decent mop and be sure to use it often enough that dirt never gets a chance to take root. That’s all you have to do to make sure you never have to scrub a floor on your hands and knees.

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

Is It Possible To Clean Your Home Without Using Chemicals?

clean a keypadCan you actually keep your home clean without using any types of chemicals? That’s a tricky question. The health conscious among us are rightly concerned about the effects of chemicals on our planet and our bodies. But strictly speaking, there’s no way to eliminate dirt, grease, and germs without using any chemicals whatsoever. However, it is possible to minimize their use.

Let’s break it down. Look at dish washing. You can’t clean a greasy pot without using a de-greaser. Dish detergent is a chemical. What about laundry? It’s not possible to remove the typical dirt from laundry without using laundry detergent, which is a chemical. How about bathrooms? Again, you’ll need some kind of chemical to get rid of soap scum, mold, and mildew. Are you beginning to see a trend here?

The good news: it’s absolutely possible to minimize the use of chemicals for cleaning. Dialing it way back is easy with a few simple tricks:

  • Clean frequently.
  • Reduce the messes that require chemical intervention.
  • Use the right tools for cleaning.
  • Use chemical products sparingly.

Clean Frequently

Cleaning frequently is the best way to reduce the need for strong cleaning agents. By controlling the buildup of dirt and grime on hard surfaces, you eliminate the likelihood of having to break out tough degreasers or lime-scale removers and other noxious chemicals. Simply wiping up the kitchen after each use and regularly cleaning your stove, oven, microwave, and other kitchen appliances will keep the accumulation of grime to a practically non-existent level.

Tip: Keep a small spray bottle with a 50/50 mix of water and rubbing alcohol plus a few drops of dish soap by the kitchen sink. Mist surfaces with the mixture and wipe clean for quick and easy cleanup.

Reduce the Messes that Require Chemical Intervention

Spot-clean your bathroom every day or two to hold soap scum or mineral deposit buildups at bay. Keep a squeegee in your shower and pass it over the shower walls after every use. This will make bathroom cleanup much easier. Make your own daily shower mist spray by mixing a 3:1 ratio of water to vinegar.

In the kitchen, get into the habit of covering things that might splatter when they’re cooking and don’t let pots boil over. If you’re baking a casserole that might bubble over, place a cookie sheet underneath so you don’t end up with a mess on the oven floor.

Apply these principles throughout the house to prevent and reduce messes and thus avoid having to use chemical cleaning agents.

Use the Right Tools for Cleaning

There’s a vast arsenal of scrubbers and sponges and cloths at your disposal these days. Rather than resorting to using chemical cleaning agents on bathroom or kitchen surfaces, use a nylon scrubber sponge or a scrub brush to apply a home-brewed cleanser  mixed from baking soda and dish detergent to cut through soap scum or remove dried-on debris.

A scrub brush with a handle that you can grip firmly gives you added leverage for removal of really tough messes. Microfiber cloths are handy for eradicating a variety of messes from hard surfaces and are more effective than traditional rags because they’re more tightly woven. Just a little bit of elbow grease easily replaces chemicals if you use the right tools.

Use Chemical Products Sparingly

Finally, when you have to use chemical products, don’t use any more than is necessary. Plus, by cutting back on the application of cleaning agents to hard surfaces, you reduce the need to clean because cleaning agent residue that wasn’t thoroughly rinsed from any surface actually attracts dirt. So resist the urge to apply excessive amounts of any type of cleaner. Less is more.

Additionally, don’t use any products that are more powerful than what you need. Simple, basic products such as vinegar, ammonia, baking soda, and dish detergent can be used for cleaning 95% of the surfaces in your home.

You shouldn’t have to wear a gas mask when you’re doing routine cleaning chores. Keep it simple, clean often, use tools. These are the secrets to house cleaning using minimal chemicals.

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

Back to Basics: What Supplies Do You Really Need To Clean A House?

Expensive disposable and chemical-laden house cleaning products are the trend right now, the result of successful marketing campaigns leading consumers to believe that their homes cannot be made clean without using them.

There are dozens of types of cleaning products for doing any imaginable job, and people purchase this stuff in droves because no one likes to clean and everyone wants to find the magic bullet that’ll get the job done more quickly and easily. Unfortunately, as often as not, it turns out that these products aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. The truth is, there aren’t many shortcuts where house cleaning is concerned.

The quickest way to get the job done is to use the right tools and products efficiently, and you don’t need pricey products to do it.

Essential Cleaning Supplies

So, what do you need? The following is an overview of the essential supplies that will get your home clean (with your help):

  • Basic cleaning agents that will break down dirt and grime on glass, bathroom fixtures, kitchen appliances, countertops, floors, and other hard surfaces.
  • Cloths, sponges, and brushes for cleaning kitchen counters and appliances, sinks, bathroom fixtures, and everything else that you need to wash or scrub. Using the correct tool speeds up the job and reduces the need for harsh chemical cleaning agents.
  • A dusting tool or cloth. The right dusting tool can save a lot of time.
  • For bare floors, something that will first pick up loose dirt and, second, something that will clean dried-on dirt and spills. Think broom and mop, or the equivalent.
  • For carpeting, a vacuum cleaner. Also handy for removing loose dirt and debris from bare floors and pet hair from upholstered furniture.

What you use for cleaning really depends on what you need specific to the characteristics of your home. By streamlining your tools and supplies as much as is practical without compromising efficiency, you’ll simplify your cleaning procedures. Most importantly, you want products that you won’t dread using.

Cleaning Agents

Natural cleaning agents like vinegar and baking soda are handy and have their uses. They are best for daily cleaning; any kind of heavy buildup of grease or grime calls for stronger cleaners. This is why daily (or very frequent) cleaning is the way to go if you’re committed to cleaning using minimal chemicals.

Chemical cleaning agents are hands-down the quickest means of eliminating soap-scum buildups, mineral deposits, baked-on greasy messes, and other similarly tough jobs. This means using commercial products specifically geared toward whatever you’re trying to clean up. Don’t blow a whole paycheck, though, moderately-priced products perform just fine.

Cleaning tough messes without strong chemicals can only be accomplished with lots of elbow grease. Should you choose to go this route, use a nylon scrubber or scrub brush. A scrub brush with a handle gives you a little more leverage than a sponge scrubber, and the bristles usually get into corners and tight spots a little better.

Hand wash dish detergent is a very good multi-purpose cleaning agent. Diluted in water, it can be used for most kitchen cleanup jobs. Mixed with baking soda (one part dish detergent to three parts baking soda), it’s a great, inexpensive bathroom scrub cleanser.

Both ammonia and rubbing alcohol are also inexpensive, multi-purpose cleaning agents. You can make sudsy disinfectant cleaner using equal parts water and rubbing alcohol plus a few drops dish detergent. Ammonia (diluted in water) is a good kitchen cleaner, floor cleaner, glass cleaner, and general multi-use cleaner.

Cleaning Tools

The stuff I’ve just mentioned is all you really need by way of cleaning agents. Necessary cleaning tools are equally simple. A dusting wand of some type is handy and saves time; a plain old rag dampened with water will also do the job. Your vacuum cleaner dusting brush also serves the purpose.

Speaking of vacuum cleaners, it’s totally unnecessary to spend a fortune on one. A decent-enough machine can be had for just a couple hundred dollars. Spending any more than that will get you more bells and whistles, but don’t feel like you have to go there. You don’t.

To wrap up floor care products, a simple broom, dustpan and mop are perfectly fine for cleaning your floors and will actually do a better job than some of the pricier products out there in the marketplace. A string mop gets into tight spots and wrings out quite well.

House cleaning supplies don’t have to be expensive or complicated. A few simple tried-and-true cleaning agents, rags and sponges, a mop, broom, and vacuum cleaner are all you really need to do the job right. No expensive, trendy, Earth-unfriendly products necessary. Just get back to basics and you’ll see how easy cleaning can actually be.

spray kitchen sink

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

Vacuum Cleaner Types and How to Choose the Best Machine for You

A vacuum cleaner is one of the most versatile tools at your disposal in the cleaning game. It can be used for pet hair removal and removing cobwebs. It’s the best choice for pickup of any type of dry goods. And it’s an excellent means of trapping and locking down dust. But how do you know what kind of vacuum cleaner is best?

Types of Vacuum Cleaners

Vacuum cleaners come in literally hundreds of different shapes and sizes. Types include uprights, canisters, central vacuums, handheld, stick vacuums, robotic, and electric floor sweepers. Varieties of these are available in models that are either bagless, in which the captured dirt is stored in a collection chamber, or bagged, which uses a paper or cloth bag to contain debris.

Upright Vacuum Cleaners

Upright vacuum cleaners are self-contained, best suited for cleaning large areas of carpeting, and not always ideal on bare floors. Most uprights these days have onboard attachments for cleaning furniture, stairs, etc. Uprights tend to be the heaviest type of vacuum cleaner, loudest, and least versatile.

Canister Vacuum Cleaners

Canister vacuums are more versatile than uprights. They have a main unit on wheels that you pull around by a hose that attaches to the various cleaning tools. Canisters are great for areas with a mix of bare floors and carpets or area rugs, and also handle carpeted stairs better than uprights. If you have pets that leave hair on furniture, a canister may be your best bet. Canisters tend to be quieter and more lightweight than uprights.

Central Vacuums

Central vacuums have a stationary central unit located somewhere in the home, often in the basement, which connects to all the rooms via tubes in the walls. The user plugs a hose into receptacles (inlets) located throughout the home and changes attachments as needed. With a central vacuum, there’s nothing to move around other than the hose, but the downside is that the hose is usually kind of long and can be cumbersome to move around. The user has to be careful to make sure the hose doesn’t rub against walls or furniture, which can cause damage. Central vacuum units are one of the best options for anyone with dust allergies because the dirt is channeled away to an area that’s remote from your living space.

Robot Vacuum Cleaners

Robot vacuum cleaners are cute little gizmos that do the work for you. The unit parks on a dock somewhere in your living space, and the user only needs to program the machine as to when to do its job and then empty the dust bin periodically. Sensors help the unit navigate so it doesn’t run into everything in its path. It can be operated remotely, it can recharge itself, and it learns. Cons: You will pay for the convenience; models with great reviews aren’t cheap. Also, the collection chambers are small, so they need to be emptied frequently.

Small Vacuums

Stick vacuums, floor sweepers, and hand-held vacuums are smaller, lightweight versions of upright or canister vacuums. Some of the newest models have been designed for use throughout the house on carpet, rugs, and floors. Some stick vacuums convert into handheld vacuums. These vacuums are either corded or rechargeable and are handy to have for quick jobs, floors, stairs, and furniture, and are easier to use than larger, heavier machines.

Bagged Versus Bagless

Most of the stick vacuums and smaller machines are usually bagless, as are robotic vacuums. Other types vary by make and model as to the availability of bagged versus bagless as an option.

There are three primary disadvantages to using bagless vacuums, in my experience. One: they have filters which need to be kept clean or the unit loses suction. Two: emptying the collection chamber is messy because dust tends to fly around rather than just falling neatly into the trash, and if you happen to set the chamber down somewhere on your way back to re-inserting it into the vacuum it’ll leave a ring of dust that you have to then clean up. Disadvantage number three: the user has to reach into the collection chamber with their hand to get all the debris out, especially any kind of pet hair.

The obvious advantage to bagless vacuum cleaners is that you never need to buy bags, which is better on the wallet and better for Mother Earth. So hopefully in time their design will be improved upon.

What Type Do You Need?

So what type of vacuum cleaner is best for you?

An upright vacuum cleaner would be fine if you have mostly carpeted floors. Upright vacuum cleaners tend to be hit-or-miss on bare floors; some models pick up dirt well while others blow dirt around more than they pick it up. If you have back problems, a traditional upright might be too heavy for you to use comfortably.

For Pets

If you have pets, a mix of carpets and bare floors, or lots of stairs, a canister vacuum would probably be your best bet.

Bare Floors

For mainly bare floors with only area rugs or small areas of carpeting, you might be able to get by with a good stick vacuum that has a rotating brush for carpets. This wouldn’t be a good choice if you have a lot of dirt, because the collection chamber on these units tends to be small.

Dust Removal

Central vacuum systems are probably about the best vacuum for removing dust from the air. Central vacuums are pricey and have to be installed, which involves running tubes from the main unit to the inlets in various rooms in your home. If you’re having a new home built, you might consider installing a central vacuum system.

Be sure the vacuum cleaner you choose can get into all the areas where dust settles, including under beds and behind furniture. Many uprights will not lie flat enough and are not versatile enough to do this. You’d be amazed how much dust can accumulate under furniture if you never clean there.

Dust Allergies and Vacuum Cleaners

Another consideration when it comes to vacuum cleaners is whether you or anyone in your home has dust allergies. If so, a vacuum cleaner with HEPA filters and/or that uses cloth bags might be your best option.

You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a decent vacuum. Somewhere between $200 and $300 will get you a good machine that should last quite a few years. You can definitely spend more than that and get a machine with more features that would be nice to have, but it’s not absolutely necessary.

I recommend researching product reviews before buying a vacuum cleaner because there are hundreds of models available, and, in my experience, some are really, really bad. Most are fine. Some are not worth their high price tag. And a few are excellent products that will undoubtedly outlive us all.

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