Tame the Clutter Monster

Clutter is one of the biggest obstacles to keeping a house clean. Spaces that are overflowing with objects are difficult to dust, vacuum, and wipe up. Floors can’t be thoroughly swept or mopped when piles of miscellanea clog up open spaces. In a nutshell, it’s almost impossible to eliminate all dirt and dust from areas that are overloaded with stuff.

Habitual tidiness doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but the good news is that tidying up isn’t difficult. The following are some simple steps anyone can take to wrestle the clutter monster into submission.

Practice Every Day

Practice makes perfect. Making an everyday practice of keeping things in order will, over time, become a habit that requires little to no thought.

Minimal clutter is no big deal. The trouble with minimal clutter is that it often spreads, and quickly becomes more than a minimal issue. The best and easiest way to avoid this problem is to keep things picked up and organized every day.

Keeping possessions organized has many benefits. It not only makes it easier to clean house, but saves time, energy, and frustration searching for lost objects.

Put Things Away Immediately After Using Them

Done cutting through the packing tape on your Amazon box? Put the scissors back where they belong before they get lost. Done scratching your back? Replace the back scratcher into its permanent home. Putting things away right away means it gets done. Do it now and there’s no need to worry about doing it later.

Find a Spot for Everything You Own

Taming the clutter monster is all about putting your stuff somewhere. Every object should have a space of its very own. Some things can live on countertops, everything can’t.

Every single object you own should have a designated spot where it permanently belongs when it’s not being used. This way, you’ll always know where to put things when you’re done using them and where to look when you need them again.

Find a Spot for Each New Possession as it Enters your Home

Your new Cuisinart Air Fryer is really cool, but where will you put it? Make a space for it immediately on its entry into your home. If it’s sitting in the box in a corner for six months, not only do you not get to use it, but it’s creating a clutter hazard.

If Space is Short, Purge

If you’re finding that there’s nowhere to put stuff, you’ve got too much stuff for your space. Either move to a bigger space or get rid of stuff you don’t need.

Look at it this way: no one can realistically keep track of 40 pairs of shoes, 30 pairs of jeans, or 20 handbags. Weed out what you’re not using and make a donation to a local charity. Someone else can use it and will appreciate it more than you do.

Don’t Hang on to Things You’re Not Using

Don’t keep stuff because you think you might use it some day or you got a really good deal on it or you just like it for no good reason. Things are objects, no more, no less. Objects don’t have personalities, bring good luck, or do much of anything other than sit around waiting for you to do something with them. If it’s not useful and you need the space, get rid of it.

Use Storage Space Effectively

Make maximal use of closets, dressers, cupboards, and space under beds. Leave no space un-utilized when you need it. Don’t leave stuff on top of a dresser when its drawers are empty. Don’t pile stuff on top of the bed in the spare bedroom when you could store it in a tote under the bed.

Arrange things neatly, not haphazardly. You should be able to open a drawer or cupboard door and quickly find what you’re looking for.

Label boxes, if need be. Use clear totes. Store things on shelves according to height so the taller items are in back. Don’t over-crowd things so much that you can’t see everything at a glance. Leave a little room for growth.

basket with papers

Use Storage Aids

Use baskets, bins, stacking tubs, boxes, or whatever will help you logically store your stuff. Baskets are handy for storing paperwork that’s in transition. Storage tubs come in all shapes and sizes for all types of situations. Collapsible fabric storage cubes are versatile, low-cost, low-space organizing tools.

Be creative and use whatever makes you happy and makes it easy to store and retrieve your things. Your system of organization should be customized to suit you.

Assign a Basket to Each Family Member

Hold all household members accountable for keeping track of their own stuff. Assign each member of the household a basket. If clutter starts to accumulate in common areas around the house, simply deposit items into the appropriate basket. If a basket gets too full, penalize the offender.

Remember that the More Space You Have, the More Space You Fill Up

Finally, remember that we tend to fill up whatever space we have. Don’t go there; become a minimalist. Be realistic about what you actually need. Don’t hang on to unimportant things.

Clutter makes it difficult to distinguish between the important things you need and the irrelevant things that are just in the way. Clutter makes house cleaning difficult. Clutter weighs you down. Don’t let clutter get you down; do whatever you can to tame the clutter monster.

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

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Make House Cleaning Easier

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

Organize Your Possessions

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

Organizing is simple, really.

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

And here’s the best part:

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

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

Clean As You Go

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

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

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

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

Use the Right Equipment

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

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

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

dust ceiling wall

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

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

Stay Focused

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

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

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

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

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

Hints for Cleaning Cluttered Spaces

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

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

laundry basket

Put Dirty Clothes in a Hamper

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

Don’t Pile Things Haphazardly

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

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

Don’t Save Junk

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

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

Keep Fishing Gear Out of the Living Room

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

Don’t Have Christmas Every Day of the Year

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

Keep the Kitchen Clean

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

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

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

Bathroom Clutter is a Big No-No

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

Minimize Clutter As Much As Possible

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

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

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

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Never Underestimate the Importance of House Cleaning

Why Clean?

A clean home may not seem like a big deal. It’s something that many of us take for granted every day. And we shouldn’t. Every so often we should take time to appreciate the significance of the many little details in life that contribute to our overall well-being. A clean home is one of those details. Here are some great reasons to never underestimate the importance of house cleaning.

A Clean Home is a Healthy Environment

A clean home contributes to the good health of its occupants. Breathing clean air is infinitely better for you than breathing polluted air. Homes filled with dust, mold, or sources of bad smells are polluted. Your home should be your sanctuary, not make you sick.

A Clean Home is a Safe Environment

A clean home is a safe environment for children. In a clean environment, you can feel secure that kids will be safe doing kid things like playing on the floor and exploring.

Clean Equals Happy

A clean home makes people happy. Who doesn’t like their home better right after it’s been cleaned? It smells good, looks good, and makes you feel good.

Cleaning Saves Wear and Tear

Cleaning away dirt reduces wear and tear on a home and the objects it contains. Dirt on any surface is potentially damaging. For example grit on hard floors causes friction. Keeping rugs clean extends their life. Removing dust from under the refrigerator keeps it running efficiently.

basket with papers

Organization Pays Off

A clean home makes it easy to find what you’re looking for. Uncluttered, well-organized spaces help us keep track of things so we can find them when we need them. Having a hook or bowl for car keys right by the door saves time searching for them. Keeping a basket or bin for important pending paperwork means never having to scramble to find the car registration renewal that came in the mail last month.

Clean Homes are Never Embarrassing

Clean homes are never embarrassing when unexpected company arrives. Don’t be caught off guard. Keeping a neat and tidy domicile means always feeling comfortable inviting friends and family inside when they turn up at the door.

A Clean Home is Uplifting, Especially When You Can’t Do It Yourself

Not everyone is able to clean their home. If you are able, appreciate that fact. For every one of us who finds house cleaning manageable (if a bit challenging at times) there is someone else who simply can’t keep up. Some are physically unable, some are overwhelmed, some simply don’t know how.

If you want to make someone’s day, help out an elderly or invalid friend or relative with house cleaning. Watch how happy it makes them to have things freshened up. For people who can’t do it themselves, having their home cleaned is beyond uplifting. So count your blessings, and never underestimate the importance of house cleaning.

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.

Special Challenges of House Cleaning with Pets as Roommates

Pets enrich our lives with unconditional love and companionship. They capture our hearts, so we bring them into our homes without a thought about the additional work they’ll create. It’s only later on, as we’re scrubbing the carpet stains, that the reality of living with pets hits us smack in the face.

Pets are animals. Their standards of cleanliness differ from ours. They don’t care about clean floors. We, however, do care about the mud that Fido tracks in each time he comes inside after digging in the flower beds. In fact, it gets pretty darn annoying.

Pets create a lot of extra work when it comes to house cleaning. The messes can be minimized to some degree by following good practices to reduce the tracking in of dirt, shedding of hair, and other culprits. Here are some strategies:

tile floor

Wipe Fido’s Feet

Keep old towels by the door to clean Fido’s muddy paws before he gets the chance to track mud all over the clean floors. Also use towels to dry him off on rainy days so he doesn’t leave wet puddles behind.

Brush Dogs and Cats to Minimize Shedding

Regularly brushing dogs and cats, especially the long-haired breeds, reduces the quantity of hair that ends up on your clothes, furniture, carpeting, and in the air.

Buy Pet Beds

Giving dogs and cats their own beds makes us feel less guilty about insisting they stay off ours. Isn’t it enough that we provide them with a roof and meal plan? There’s absolutely no need for dogs and cats to nap wherever they please. Teach them to use their own beds in order to avoid shedding (and leaving that doggy smell) on furniture.

Train Your Dogs

Diligence at house-breaking time pays off exponentially later on. Train Fido not to makes messes on the floor, and always make sure he has ample opportunity to do his business outdoors. He can’t hold it indefinitely!

Keep Litter Boxes Clean

Cats prefer a clean environment in which to conduct their business. If their litter boxes become offensively dirty, cats may seek out alternative areas. Encourage and reinforce desirable behavior by keeping litter boxes clean.

Maintain Good Pet Health

If your dog or cat suddenly starts urinating in areas they shouldn’t be, have them evaluated by your vet for health issues. This can be a sign of a health problem.

Keep Messes at Bay

Pets almost inevitably shed fur on furniture and leave drool on windows. Keep messes at bay by frequently cleaning up after them so little messes don’t become big ones.

  • Vacuum pet hair off upholstered furniture often.
  • Sweep up litter box areas daily to avoid having litter tracked all through the house.
  • Regularly clean nose prints, saliva, or other deposits from window surfaces.
  • Spot clean walls, ledges, corners, or edges that pets rub against or jump on. Use vinegar, all-purpose cleaner, or ammonia.
  • Use an enzyme spot cleaner specifically targeting urine stains to remove accidents on carpeting. All traces have to be eradicated in order to ward off repeat offenses.
  • Vacuum or sweep floors regularly to remove dirt tracked in from outside as well as pet hair.

Reduce the hassle of cleaning up after pets so that the benefits of having Fido or FiFi as a roommate outweigh the drawbacks. And don’t we owe them a clean environment in return for their unwavering affection?

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.

Team Clean: Get Everyone in Your Home Involved in Cleaning

Keeping a home clean is a big job which gets bigger based on many factors, including the number of occupants in a household as well as the cleaning habits of each member. It’s only fair that all inhabitants participate in cleaning at least to the degree that they contribute to the mess.

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

Create a Team

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

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

Team Cleaning Plan

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

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

Make Lists or Charts

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

Assign a Leader

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

door window

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

Want more 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 Importance of Setting Goals

To get to where you want to be you need to know where you want to be. This statement seems obvious, but when it comes to house cleaning, we often fail to start out with any particular direction in mind. This is remedied by setting goals.

wiping a counter

Plan Your Job

A successful house cleaning regimen begins with planning. Setting goals ensures that your efforts are used for maximum gain. Approaching the job systematically, breaking it down, and understanding what you’re hoping to accomplish all increase the likelihood that every important task on your to-do list gets completed. Diving in without any clear plan makes for a haphazard result that may or may not get you where you want to be.

Spontaneous Cleaning

Here’s an example: suppose you wake up bright and early on Saturday morning, look around at your messy home, and decide this would be a wonderful day to clean it up. You dive right in, starting in the kitchen, but are quickly sidetracked by the mountain of laundry awaiting your attention in the adjoining laundry room.

While starting a load of wash you see that the laundry room cupboards are a disaster, so you start pulling things out to reorganize. Partway through this process, however, you take a load of trash to the garage and, on your return trip, are again sidetracked by a mess of backpacks, shoes, and other misplaced paraphernalia creating a hazard in the middle of the mud room floor.

After gathering the pile into a basket, you begin distributing items into their respective homes. In the course of this activity, you collect a large variety of dirty dishes that need to be transported to the kitchen. You return to the kitchen, where you unload the clean dishes from the dishwasher and reload it with dirty dishes.

By this point you’re feeling somewhat frazzled and can’t recall where you left off or what your original intention was. A neighbor calls and asks you if you want to go for a walk. With great relief, you accept the invitation and give up on the house cleaning job that’s become confusing and overwhelming.

Spontaneity is not your friend when it comes to house cleaning. Having a clear set of goals in mind along with a solid plan outlining how to achieve them keeps you focused.

Planned Cleaning

Adding clear goals and solid planning to the above scenario leads to a very different outcome. On Friday evening, you make a plan to clean your home the next day. With this in mind, you do some prep work by washing, drying, and folding the dirty laundry that’s piled up in the laundry room. You also put away the clean dishes in the dishwasher and restart it with the dirty dishes that you gathered up from around the house while tidying up the clutter lying around. With these side jobs out of the way, tomorrow you can get right to cleaning without distractions.

You write out a list of the tasks you hope to accomplish: clean the kitchen countertops and appliances; clean the kitchen and mud room floors; dust and vacuum the living room, dining room, and den; clean the bathrooms. You budget three hours overall to achieve these goals and break this down further by assigning time values to individual rooms to help keep yourself on schedule.

First thing the next morning, you silence your phone and get busy. Having completed the kitchen cleaning from beginning to end, you move right on to the dusting and vacuuming and finish up with the bathrooms. You complete the job on time and feel great that you’ve spent your morning productively and met your goals.

Goals Keep You On Track

Goals keep you on track. They force you to devise a strategy to get to where you want to be, and they narrow your focus to where it needs to be in order to get there. Goals motivate you to follow a job through to completion. Furthermore, the act of repeatedly achieving your goals motivates you to set new goals and follow them through to completion as well.

To get to where you want to be, you need to know where you want to be. Whether it’s cleaning a house or constructing one, the job is best achieved by setting goals and then formulating a plan to reach them. Treat house cleaning like the job it is and you’ll be on your way to knowing what you want as well as how to get it.

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: Make a Big Job Simple by Breaking It Down

The thought of tackling big cleaning jobs can be intimidating, even overwhelming. Whether the project involves cleaning dirty windows, de-scaling bathroom showers, or dealing with out-of-control clutter, the key to getting it done is converting it into manageable pieces. This is best achieved through a basic process whereby the job is first defined and then broken down.

spray a window

Define the Job

The first step is to define the issue at hand. In order to find a solution, the problem must be understood. This can be in the form of a simple statement, such as “my windows are dirty” or a detailed list, for example: the kitchen appliances and floor need cleaning, the whole house needs vacuuming, the showers have to be scrubbed, and the laundry has to be washed, dried, folded, and put away.

If the job is large, write out a detailed list. This will be the basis for determining how best to break down the large job into smaller increments, so think in terms of sectioning the job into manageable portions.

Make a Plan

Next, outline a plan to deal with the issue. For example, if your windows are dirty, the plan would be to clean them. Seems simple enough, but maybe not.

If you’ve got five windows in your home and they all tip in for cleaning ease, the plan will be straightforward: clean the windows. You’ll have a little bit of planning to do, for instance figuring out what supplies to use and whether you’ve got time to clean all the windows at once. Sorting out the details shouldn’t be a big deal.

If, however, you’ve got twenty-five windows, each with additional storm windows to remove and clean as well as screens, and none of them have been cleaned in ten years, this is a big project. You would want to break it down and complete the steps over a period of time. This would require some planning.

For instance, you might plan on cleaning the windows over the course of three or four Saturdays and enlist assistance so that one person could work inside while another works outside. The procedures involved would be somewhat complicated, and a variety of supplies would be needed, such as a ladder and squeegees and lots of rags or paper towels and a bucket. Cleaning window screens adds an entire step to the plan. Writing out some lists or flowcharts to help break the job down into smaller steps makes a lot of sense when the job looms large.

Understand the Job

If you’re not sure how to clean this type of windows, the planning stage would be the time to research the issue to understand what’s really involved. Any specific challenges would be addressed at this time, for example windows that are immovable in their tracks, or outside surfaces that are inaccessible from outdoors. Fully understanding the scope of the job and planning for the specific issues that need attention helps the job flow smoothly because you’ll know what to expect, have the proper supplies on hand, and have good ideas about how to successfully complete the job.

Break It Down

The planning stage is the point at which a large job is converted into a series of smaller jobs, which are both mentally and physically easier to manage. Always plan such that the goals you set are attainable. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to accomplish more than you set out to do. It’s not so great to complete only half the job before you run out of steam, time, or supplies. You want to end up feeling good about your day’s work, not be left feeling like a failure because you weren’t able to meet your goals.

Complete the Project

If steps one and two were completed thoughtfully and thoroughly, the final step, actually completing the project, will be a simple matter of following through on the framework of plans that were set up. By breaking the job down into smaller, manageable pieces and taking time to understand the process, you’ve set yourself up for success. When the job is done, you’ll feel great about having mastered not only the job itself, but the equally large challenge of making a big job manageable.

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.