Learning to Clean

Learning to clean is like learning to swim: you’ve got to get your hands wet to truly learn and understand what you’re doing. And the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it and the easier it will become. It takes a little effort but it’s worth it.

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Cleaning Isn’t Complicated

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.

Picking Up

Cleaning a home begins with picking up clutter. Get in the habit of organizing possessions on a regular basis and your house cleaning regimen will be halfway done before you begin.

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

People have been cleaning houses for generations. The process has evolved over time, the basics have not. If you don’t know how to clean something or can’t figure out where to begin, look no further than the internet. There you will find ten ways to clean anything.

Don’t Procrastinate

The self-cleaning house doesn’t yet exist. Until it does, putting the job off until tomorrow accomplishes nothing. The job only looms larger with each passing day.

Dive In

Get the laundry into the washing machines, the dishes in the dishwasher, the trash collected from all rooms, and the clutter picked up. Then keep going. One task leads to the next and next. Once you’ve got some momentum, keep going.

Cleaning Gets Easier

Over time, learning to clean evolves into something else: you become a pro. Practice makes perfect. You’ll be an expert in no time!

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

 

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House Cleaning Isn’t a Big Deal

House cleaning isn’t a big deal. It’s like brushing your teeth every day. Get into the habit of doing it and you won’t give it a second thought.

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Discipline and Routine

Maintaining a clean home can be made simple by consistently managing minor messes before they have a chance to gain a foothold. Discipline and routine are the keys to achieving this objective.

Keep Clutter to a Minimum

Make picking up part of your regular routine. This is the logical first step to house cleaning since it’s easier to dust and vacuum and sweep and mop spaces that are not littered with objects. Whether you choose to declutter immediately before cleaning your home or as part of an ongoing regimen is up to you.

Schedule House Cleaning

You’re the boss, so make a cleaning schedule that’ll fit into your lifestyle. Routine is very important, planning is very important. Following through is essential.

If you’re a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of person, it will most likely be more difficult to maintain a consistent schedule, but give it a try. Think of house cleaning as the job that it is and make a point of showing up for work.

Self discipline is extremely rewarding. You’ll feel great when it’s over. Each victory will motivate you to keep going.

Reassess as Needed

If you begin to notice that chores aren’t getting done, reassess your plan and make changes. Don’t deliberate, just do it. The longer things slide the harder it will be to get back on track.

A (Sort of) Clean House is Easy to Clean

It’s much easier to keep a house clean if it’s already in good shape. The messier and dirtier the house gets, the harder it becomes to get it back in order. Disorder can get out of control in no time and all the ground you’ve gained will be lost.

At that point it’s easy to get discouraged and give up, and then your problem becomes a motivational issue. You’ve lost your will to clean. Don’t let it get to that point. That’s my point.

Organization is Your Ally

If you have a place to put everything that comes into your space, you’ll know what to do with everything that comes into your space. If everything is put away where it belongs when you start to clean, half of your job is already done. Dusting and vacuuming will be a breeze.

Some Daily Chores are Non-Negotiable

Don’t let dirty dishes sit around. Do at least a minimal kitchen cleanup after food prep. Wipe up any food spills or crumbs and don’t let food sit around uncovered or unrefrigerated if it should be covered or refrigerated. If there’s anything that might attract bugs or start to smell, deal with it immediately. If it’s a spill that will get worse over time, deal with it. Don’t let clutter accumulate. Take out the trash regularly.

Plan a Regular Schedule

Beyond those tasks that are a matter of basic hygiene, plan on a regular cleaning schedule that will work for you. Do some every day, do it once a week or once every two weeks. If it’s just you and you’re never home, maybe once a month will work just fine. If you’ve got a house full of kids whose friends are always at your house, weekly house cleaning might be necessary with lots of day-to-day maintenance.

Continue to reassess as you go along. Do what you have to do to stay ahead of messes and grime. At the end of the day, you’ll be glad you did.

Your Home is Your Sanctuary

Your home is your sanctuary and it should be a place where you feel a sense of pride, not feel bad all the time because it’s such a mess. You should be glad when friends show up to visit, not embarrassed. So make it happen. You’ll be glad you did.

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

Tips for Cleaning and Organizing Your Closets

Most of us don’t enjoy the prospect of cleaning out closets. We often shove things we don’t use into closets to get them out of the way. The thought of pulling these objects back out means figuring out what to do with them, which seems a lot like work. These tips for cleaning and organizing your closets will make the job easier.

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Think of Closet Cleaning as an Opportunity

Cleaning closets is a great opportunity to get rid of stuff you aren’t using. Oftentimes when cleaning closets, you find stuff way in the back that you forgot you had. It’s like Christmas!

However, as a general rule, if you haven’t used something in a year or more, you don’t need it. And if you clear out space in your closets, you then have room to store the stuff you actually use which you don’t have space for anywhere else.

Plus if you can donate your unused stuff to a charity group or find some way to get the stuff to someone who can use it, the situation is a win-win.

First, Make a Work Space

The first thing you want to do when cleaning a closet is clear some space for a work area. If you are cleaning a bedroom closet, lay an old sheet over the bed so you can use the space to temporarily place things.

Pulls Things Out of the Closet

Next, pull everything out of the closet, either all at once or in sections. As you remove items, quickly decide whether each object is worth keeping. Have a box ready for things that you will be giving away, or designate a separate area if you are getting rid of a lot of things.

Clean Dust and Cobwebs

As you clear out areas of the closet, or once you’ve taken everything out, remove any cobwebs and dust off shelves, rods, racks, the tops of door frames, any ridges on the inside of closet doors, etc. Also clean the floor.

Replace Stuff

After the closet is nice and clean, replace whatever stuff you’re keeping, reorganizing and cleaning as you go. Dust off any boxes or other containers before replacing them in the closet.

Introduce new boxes, bins, baskets or whatever storage containers will help with storing things so they can easily be found again. Label boxes, make lists of contents and tape them to the outside, or use clear storage containers. Don’t waste any space. Arrange articles so that taller things are behind shorter things.

The Keys to Organization

The keys to organization are:

  1. Storing things you will use such that you can easily find them when you need them.
  2. Getting rid of things you don’t need that are using valuable space and inhibiting your ability to find the things you need when you need them.

Pace Yourself

Finally, don’t try to tackle every closet in your home at the same time unless it’s manageable. Set realistic goals that you can accomplish in order to stay motivated. What you don’t want to do is pull everything out of every closet in your home all at once and then run out of steam before everything is sorted and put back.

Routinely cleaning your closets is a great way to keep your home organized. Getting rid of things you aren’t using creates space for the things you do use that you don’t have space for. Set up a regular schedule, for example cleaning closets once a month, and stick to it. Chip away at it, keep after it, and always remember that home organization is all about maintenance.

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/author/darlenephillips.   My books include the titles De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips, Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

Tips 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. These tips for cleaning cluttered spaces will help get you there.

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 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.

Separate Important Paperwork

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.

Christmas Only Comes Once a 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).

Do Your Best to Keep it Clean

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 organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

 

Cleaning a Really Dirty House

In a perfect world, homes are regularly kept up and never get very dirty or messy. In real life, clutter and dirt sometimes gets the better of us. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t worry about it, just get busy. Cleaning a really dirty house takes time and commitment, but as long as you keep moving forward you can get the job done.

All cleaning adventures begin with picking up, otherwise known as decluttering. Advice about this step can be found in my post How to Deal with a Really Dirty House.

 After you’ve gotten clutter out of the way by tossing trash, purging, organizing, and/or packing stuff up to sort out later, it’s time to clean.

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Stuff with Which to Clean

You’ll need some stuff with which to clean. Here’s a list:

  • Vacuum cleaner and extra bags, maybe even a shop-vac if there’s significant dust or a lot of dirt.
  • A broom and dustpan might come in handy.
  • A dusting tool for cobwebs, one that’s telescoping or long-handled if you need to reach high spots.
  • Microfiber cloths or rags, sponges, eraser-type sponges.
  • Cleaning agents: all-purpose cleaner or ammonia or vinegar, degreaser for the kitchen (dish detergent is fine), glass cleaner, bathroom cleaner for tub and sink, baking soda, cleansing powder.
  • A bucket, mop, toilet brush, scrub brush, nylon scrubbers, possibly steel wool.
  • Trash bags and some boxes for temporary storage of small items that you’ll need to get out of the way (if applicable).
  • Rubber or latex gloves, face mask if there’s a lot of dust, dirt or foul odors.

To Begin

To begin, if it’s possible, open windows or doors to let the fresh air in. Don’t use any fans, including ceiling fans, to circulate air if there’s a lot of dust.

Next, if there’s substantial dust or loose dirt, you may want to make quick, crude pass through major passageways with a vacuum or a broom, both to cut down on tracking dirt back and forth and to reduce the recirculation of dust.

Plan to work either room by room or divide the house into sections.

Quick Run Down

Here’s a quick run-down of what to do. Modify as needed.

  • Remove small objects and either set aside in a box or wash (if they need it).
  • Pick up small rugs and wash or air outside. If they’re really dirty, you may have to toss them out.
  • Take down curtains and blinds that need to be washed. You can also take them down and air them outside, or vacuum them where they hang.
  • Dust from the top down: ceilings, ceiling fans, walls, light fixtures, wall sconces, chair rails, baseboards, baseboard heaters, air vent covers, all furniture, shelves.
  • If there’s lots of dust on furniture or shelves, it’s better to remove it with your vacuum cleaner than with a cloth or dusting tool. Vacuuming traps dust instead of allowing it to re-circulate.
  • Move furniture as much as possible to get into the corners and areas than you can’t reach otherwise.
  • Once the cobwebs and dust have been eliminated, begin washing woodwork as much as is necessary.
  • Wash windows and any glass doors.
  • Vacuum furniture and clean upholstery if necessary.
  • Vacuum floor/carpet.
  • Wash floor/carpet.

Extremely Dirty Floors

Don’t try to use a lightweight floor cleaning tool on extremely dirty floors; this approach will only spread the dirt around. Use a string mop and a bucket containing a cleaning agent diluted in water. The cleaning agent can be specialty floor cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, vinegar, or ammonia. (Don’t use vinegar or harsh cleaners on stone.)

When you’re mopping an extremely dirty floor, expect to change your mop water repeatedly. If the water reaches the point that it’s gray, drain it and get a fresh batch.

You can spray an all-purpose cleaner straight from the bottle onto a floor that’s extremely dirty, mopping in sections. Be sure to rinse thoroughly so there’s no cleaner residue left on the floor.

To Remove Scuff Marks

To remove scuff marks from flooring, try using a pencil eraser, eraser-type sponge, thick baking soda and water paste, toothpaste, WD-40, nail polish remover, or a nylon scrubber with a degreaser.

To Clean Grout

To clean grout that’s extremely dirty, use oxygen bleach mixed with water. Working in sections, spray or sponge your solution onto the grout and let it soak for ten or fifteen minutes, scrub with a stiff brush, then rinse the area with clear water.

Wood Floors

Wood floors need special care. If you have to wash a wood floor, use as little water as possible. If the floor is extremely dirty, resist the urge to saturate it. Keep going over it with your mop until it’s clean. As you wash the wood floor, use rags to dry it so that there’s no water left standing. This step also helps remove leftover dirt. If the rags come up dirty, keep repeating the entire process.

Carpet Stains

For tough carpet stains, call a professional carpet cleaning service. In some cases, the carpeting may be beyond redemption. If you have a carpet shampooer or steam cleaner and the rugs aren’t too dirty, you can attempt it yourself. Vacuum thoroughly first, pre-treat stains, then have at it.

Windows

If your windows are too dirty to see through, you don’t want to tackle the job with a wimpy bottle of glass cleaner and some paper towels. This method would be an excellent way to waste paper towels, glass cleaner, and a quantity of your valuable time.

If windows are extremely dirty, get a bucket of warm water, mix in some ammonia or vinegar (1/2 cup to a gallon of water), and use a cloth or a sponge to wash the window. Keep wiping the glass and rinsing your cloth until the window is clean. Then use a dry cloth to buff the window surface. Switch off your drying cloth as it gets damp; your cloth should be as dry as possible to eliminate streaking.

  • If your windows repeatedly streak or have any kind of haze, wipe with straight vinegar then buff clean.
  • To remove gummy gunk of or dried on residue from glass, use a glass scraper.

Wood 

If somebody has done really bad things to your wood furniture and you feel like it needs to be washed,  wipe it down with a very lightly dampened (not sopping wet!) cloth. Rinse and repeat until you’ve achieved the level of desired cleanliness. Don’t leave any standing water on wood surfaces.

You could also apply a thin coat of beeswax or lemon oil and then buff with a soft cloth.

These same methods apply to wood cupboard doors, wood shutters, wood paneling, shelves, or anything else made from wood.

Any kind of laminate furniture or plastics can also be wiped down with a damp cloth. Don’t use any of the wood cleaning products mentioned above on laminates.

Walls

Washing walls is not a lot of fun. It’s not a little fun. It’s the exact opposite of fun. If it needs to be done, however, here’s how:

  • Clean all dust from the walls by vacuuming or using a dust mop. Don’t skip this step unless you would like dust smeared all over your walls.
  • Use a little bit of mild cleaning agent such as ammonia, vinegar, or all-purpose cleaner in a bucket of water (a quarter cup of cleaner per gallon of water). Don’t use too much cleaner; any residue left the surface will attract dust and dirt.
  • Also use a bucket of clear water to rinse your work area as you go.
  • Start at the top (do the ceiling first if you are washing the ceiling, too). Wipe back and forth horizontally, rinsing as you go.
  • Never spray any kind of cleaner directly onto dirty walls; it will streak. You will wish you hadn’t.

Finishing Up

Once you’ve gotten everything in the house clean, replace any objects that you packed away, replace scatter rugs, re-hang curtains or other window treatments. Vow to never again allow an extreme cleaning situation to occur, because that was a lot of work. Whew!

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

How to Deal with a Really Dirty House

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What do you do when you find yourself facing a huge mess? This post will get you going in the right direction by walking you through the first steps of how to deal with a really dirty house.

Out of Control Housekeeping

From time to time, situations get out of control. This can be especially true of housekeeping. People get crazy busy, stuff starts to pile up, dust accumulates, and the cobwebs take over. Maybe the bathrooms or the kitchen haven’t been cleaned in a few months, or even years. It happens.

You Have a Huge Mess to Clean Up

Maybe you’ve been sick for a while, or maybe you leased your place to someone while you backpacked through Europe, only to come home to a pigsty like you would have never imagined. Whatever went wrong, the issue now is that you have a huge mess to clean up.

Unless there’s been some kind of plumbing disaster or someone kept livestock in the living room, the problem is fixable. It will take a commitment of time and some serious elbow grease, but the house can be cleaned up.

Suggestions Right off the Bat

Right off the bat, here are a couple suggestions:

Don’t try to tackle it all in one day. What you don’t want to do is set the bar too high, run out of steam on the first day, and get discouraged. Like any big job, this cleaning project should be broken down into smaller parts to keep it manageable and yourself motivated.

Next, prioritize. Decide what your main objective should be. Is the house just dirty but not messy? Is it just messy but not dirty? Is it both?

The Difference Between Messy and Dirty

If you’re not sure what the difference between messy and dirty is, I will explain. Messy means there’s stuff all over the place: disorganized paraphernalia that belongs in drawers or hung up in closets or filed away somewhere is piled haphazardly on counters or in corners. Messy is clothes on the floor, cracker boxes on the coffee table, shoes and socks kicked under the sofa, toys strewn all over the house. You get the picture. It isn’t pretty.

Dirty, on the other hand, means a sink overflowing with unwashed dishes that are stinking up the kitchen, a sticky film on countertops, inch-thick dust everywhere, old pizza boxes growing mold, cobwebs hanging from the ceiling, toothpaste residue all over the bathroom sink, soap scum coating the tub like a layer of paint.

Make a Game Plan

Figure out what you’re dealing with and then make a game plan.

If the house is both messy and dirty, your job has two phases: removing clutter, then cleaning the dirt. If it’s just messy, your job will be to eliminate and organize. If it’s just dirty, go straight to cleaning.

If there’s a lot of outright trash or stuff to get rid of, tackle that job first house-wide. Get as much clutter picked up and out of the way as possible. If it isn’t trash, but it’s in the way, box it up for now and store in the basement, the attic, the garage or a closet.

Get Rid of Stuff

Organizing a house full of clutter can be a daunting chore. The first thing you want to do is get rid of as much unnecessary stuff as possible. Be merciless. Toss out trash, recycle what you can, donate anything you don’t need, have a garage sale.  (For garage sale pointers, check out my post De-Clutter Your Home: A Guide to Hosting Your Own Garage Sale.)

Have a “giving-away” party: invite friends and neighbors over to help themselves to anything they can use. Place ads on Craigslist and Facebook. If you’re allowed to do so in your neighborhood, put good, usable stuff out by the curb with a “free” sign (don’t put out trash or old electronics). Get creative and do what you have to do.

Organize

After purging as much as possible, focus on grouping remaining items wherever they theoretically belong. For example, clothes in closets or dressers, food and dishes in the kitchen, toiletries in the bathroom, linens in the linen closet or bedroom, etc.

Keep moving things around until you can start to see some sort of organization taking shape. If you’ve still got more stuff than space, get rid of more stuff.

Organizing has to be under control before cleaning can begin. My post De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in Seven Simple Steps walks you through the organizing process in detail.

After you’ve gotten organizing well in hand, you can move on to cleaning. Stop back and read my post Cleaning a Really Dirty House for advice and instructions.

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

 

What Supplies Do You Need To Clean A House?

What supplies do you need to clean a house? There are dozens of types of cleaning products for doing every house cleaning task. People purchase these products 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.

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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 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.

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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.

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

Too Much Time on Your Hands? Catch Up on Housework!

One easy remedy for the cabin-fever blahs many of us are feeling lately is to get busy with projects around the house. So if you find yourself with too much time on your hands, catch up on housework!

There are lots of jobs around the house to occupy your mind and pass the time. Getting moving is bound to improve your mood, and your sense of accomplishment when the job is done will make you feel great.

Here are some suggestions for areas around the house that always need work.

Clean Under Area Rugs

Roll back areas rugs, sweeping or vacuuming the underside as you go. At the same time, sweep or vacuum the floor underneath. If necessary, damp mop and allow to dry before replacing the rug.

Shake small scatter rugs outdoors, if possible, and let them air. Run washable rugs through the washer and hang to dry.

Wash Door Mats

Rubber-backed door mats and boot trays can be easily washed outdoors. Spray them with a little all-purpose cleaner and rinse thoroughly with water from a bucket or hose. Air-dry in the sunshine.

Medicine Cabinets

Sort through medicine cabinets and other cupboards in the bathroom. Dispose of outdated medicines, first aid items, and toiletries. Sort and re-organize as items are replaced.

Linen Closet

Remove all linens and towels from the linen closet and sort through everything. Get rid of (or convert into rags) anything that isn’t in great shape. Then replace all items, neatly sorted and folded.

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Dust Book Shelves

Remove all books from books shelves, dust the shelves and books, then re-organize and replace books. Give away any books that are no longer of interest to you.

Clean Garage Windows

Grab some window cleaner and clean the garage windows, inside and out. Pick a nice day to complete this task and enjoy the fresh air while you’re outside.

Dust Lampshades

If there is any noticeable dust on lampshades, use a clean paintbrush to gently knock the dust down onto a table or other hard surface, then wipe it up with a damp cloth.

Vacuum Upholstered Furniture

Use the upholstery tool with your vacuum cleaner to thoroughly vacuum couches and chairs, rotating cushions as you go.

Vacuum mattresses, flip them over, and vacuum the other side too.

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Sweep Porches

Sweep dirt and debris off of porches and steps to freshen them up and prevent dirt from entering your home.

These are just a few ideas to get you going. Look around for chores that haven’t been done in a while. Spending time on tasks that make your home a nicer place to live is sure to lift your spirits and make you feel productive.

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

Simplify House Cleaning: 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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

The More Space You Have, the More Space You Fill

Finally, remember that we tend to fill up whatever space we have. 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. So don’t let clutter get you down; do whatever you can to tame the clutter monster.

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

Home Organizing Guide

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Getting your home organized might seem like a monumental task. Most of us have lots of stuff, and it piles up quickly. Once the closets are full and the basement is overflowing, our possessions start to take possession of countertops and corners. And it’s a proven fact that clutter of any type, left unchecked, multiplies on its own.

Designate a Spot for All Objects

Having a designated spot for all objects makes it easy to store and retrieve stuff. If you know where it goes, you know where to put it. If you know where it is, you know where to look when you need it.

Organizing, like so many things in life, becomes easier with practice. Yes, some people are just better at it. But anyone can learn.

Utilize Storage Spaces

We have closets and cupboards for a reason. These are spaces specifically designed for organizing things. So you’ve already got the framework you need to get started (assuming you have closets and cupboards). If your closets are jam-packed with stuff you’re not using, this is the root of your problem. You’re using your storage space inefficiently.

The same goes for dresser drawers and kitchen cabinets and shelves in the garage or basement. We actually use a finite number of items in our day-to-day lives. Don’t hang onto things that are no longer useful to you. These things are serving no purpose in your life other than to weigh you down.

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Get Rid of Things You Don’t Need

If your countertops and corners are harboring piles of stuff that belongs in closets, cupboards and drawers, you must make room for these objects by purging unnecessary stuff.

Any organizing project begins with the elimination of unnecessary objects. After this step has been completed, whatever you’re left with is then sorted into groups of related items. At this point, you can see what you’ve got to work with. From here, all that’s left to do is figure out logical places to keep things.

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Organize

For example, if you’re a quilter, all of your quilting supplies should be stored in the same area so you’ll know where they go and where to get them when you want them again. All your home office supplies should be stored in the same space. Tools belong in the garage. Coats and shoes belong in the coat closet, mud room, or in individual closets.

Arrange Things Logically

Think of it like this: you don’t store baking dishes in the bathtub. Likewise, don’t store your nail polish in the den. It’s ok to take it there, but put it back where it belongs when you’re done using it.

As you arrange objects, make good use of shelves, totes, baskets, bins, caddies, boxes, and racks. Label boxes with lists of the contents. Keep in mind that your goal is to easily find items when you need them again. This is not an out-of-sight-out-of-mind endeavor.

Arrange objects on shelves so that taller items are in back so you can quickly visually scan the area to find what you need. Don’t overcrowd objects. Don’t pile things up so you can’t easily access stuff on the bottom of the pile, and don’t create hazards.

Leave Room for Growth

Also leave room for growth unless you plan to never bring another object home again. Or establish a new policy: for each new item introduced into your space, another item must go.

Practice Makes Perfect

Once you get the hang of it, organizing is easy. The hard part is keeping possessions to a minimum. Think about what you bring into your living space before you bring it in. Consider if you have the space, where you will put it, and if you really need it at all. Don’t clutter up your space (and your life) with junk that you don’t need.

Organize Continuously

Staying organized is a continuous process. Put things away when you’re done using them. Find a spot for new things immediately. If you notice piles starting to accumulate, get rid of them.

Designate a basket for each household member and deposit any stray items into the appropriate basket. If the household member doesn’t deal with their basket in a timely manner, hold it for ransom.

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Maintenance Keeps you in Order

Maintenance is the name of the game, and it’s easy if you keep doing it day in and day out. Practice makes perfect and if you keep practicing, you’ll be perfectly organized.

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.