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.
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.
No one wants to spend hours upon hours cleaning their home. The key to keeping a home cleaning regimen short and sweet is simple: maximize efficiency. By making the most of your time and efforts, your house cleaning routine will be streamlined and you’ll have plenty of time left over to do more interesting things. The following are some house cleaning tips to maximize efficiency.
Begin With a Walk-Through
Before starting to clean, take a quick lap through your home with a laundry basket and large trash bag. Gather up loose items that should be put away and deposit them in the basket. Collect trash, and empty trash containers into the trash bag.
Pay attention to what tasks need to be done, what areas might require extra attention, and what places are in good shape and therefore don’t need any sprucing up. Mentally calculate how much time you’ll need for each area, keeping in mind how much time you have overall to spend cleaning.
Starting off knowing that there’s dog hair all over the sofa in the family room and the upstairs bathroom is a disaster makes it easy to allocate enough time to these areas. This way you know from the start that you won’t have time to vacuum under beds today.
Set aside the basket of lost items that you collected on your walk-through and deal with it later. Picking up and organizing are not part of house cleaning; they are prerequisites. Clutter control should be an ongoing process. Spending an hour picking up and putting away miscellanea before you can start cleaning means you’ll potentially run out of steam before the housework is done.
Working around, or worse, having to shift and replace, clutter while cleaning eats up time as well. Clear surfaces and spaces make cleaning quick and easy. Cluttered surfaces and piles of paraphernalia collect dust and complicate cleaning.
Have What You Need On Hand
Keep your cleaning closet stocked with whatever you need. Penalize household members who make off with the vacuum cleaner or the broom and don’t return it. Having to spend twenty minutes tracking down the mop is an inefficient use of time.
Wear an Apron or Tool Belt
Keep what you need readily at hand as you work so you don’t have to repeatedly stop to fetch supplies. Wear an apron with lots of pockets, or a tool belt, or carry a caddy with you. Reducing steps reduces time and maximizes efficiency.
If chatting with a buddy while you work isn’t a distraction, clean your homes simultaneously and cheer each other on. Exchange cleaning tips. If it keeps you motivated, go for it.
Pay Attention to What You’re Doing
On a related note, don’t allow your mind to wander off while you work. Pay attention to the job at hand. An efficient cleaner cleans only what is dirty, which requires mindfulness as you work.
Anticipate what’s next as you perform each task and work in such a way as to minimize unnecessary steps.
Don’t Get Sidetracked
Stay focused. If you’re easily distracted by side jobs, keep a small notepad in your apron pocket and make a to-list as you work. If you notice that the fridge needs to be wiped out or the kids’ closets are a mess, plan to tackle these extra chores as soon as your schedule permits, but don’t stop doing what you’re doing now. Completing one job from beginning to end is satisfying and motivating. Starting three jobs and not finishing any of them is frustrating.
Work in a Straight Line
Clean either room by room or in zones, and work in straight lines. Don’t backtrack.
Don’t sit down. Keep working until the job is done. If you must take a break, time it. When your ten minutes is up, so are you.
Focus on What Shows
Clean what’s dirty, focusing on areas that stand out. When there’s time, clean the dusty bookshelf in the corner. When there isn’t time because the sofa has to be vacuumed free of dog hair, leave it. The dust will be there next time.
Treat Cleaning Your House like a Job
Cleaning your home is a job, treat it as such. Make a schedule, stick to it, see the job through to the end.
Use an Eraser-Type Sponge
Eraser sponges have many uses throughout the home. Soap scum removal, tough kitchen cleanups, scuffs on floors, and fingerprints on walls are just a few. These sponges save time and effort, both of which maximize efficiency.
Forget dusting with a cloth; the quickest means of removing dust from surfaces is to use a tool, preferably a microfiber wand with nubs, because this will grab and lock down dust. Don’t belabor the task; working from the top of the room downward, dust ceiling fans and light fixtures, wall hangings, window treatments, window sills and grates, chair rails, baseboards and baseboard heaters. Then tackle furniture and lamps. Work swiftly, don’t backtrack, and make every movement count.
Keep a Spray Bottle of Water on Hand
A damp cloth cleans a variety of surfaces, from wall smudges to water glass rings to fingerprints on switch plates and sticky doorknobs. Avoid having to hunt down a cloth and find a faucet; keep a supply of cleaning cloths and a spray bottle of water on hand as you work.
Work Out a Routine
A regular, consistent cleaning routine works to your advantage in several ways. First, repeating the same tasks over and over increases speed and efficiency (the learning curve). Second, a regular routine gives you the chance to clean everything in your home on a rotating basis. From week to week some tasks can be deferred until next time, and others can get the attention they need right now. Third, working out a system forces your focus onto efficiency; over time your routine will inevitably become more streamlined as you work out the bugs. Finally, by making home cleaning a habit and a priority, it will get done. Period.
Stay motivated by finishing what you start. Each time you successfully complete your cleaning routine, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment. Take a little time to admire your handiwork. This feeling of pride in a job well done will inspire you to take up your broom next week and clean on.
Use the Right Cleaning Supplies and Equipment
Use whatever cleaning agents and equipment make you happy. If you use scented cleaners, be sure the scents make you feel good. Likewise, cleaning agents should do the jobs for which they’re intended, leaving you feeling satisfied that you’ve accomplished something by using them. Your equipment should be easy to use, not frustrating.
Spending a little more money on good cleaning supplies that you’ll look forward to using (or at least not mind using) is well worth the investment. You cleaning tools should be easy for you to use, perform well, and make you feel glad to use them.
Eat Right, Exercise, Get Some Sleep
Cleaning is hard work! Give your body what it needs to do the job. If you feel sluggish and run down, you’re not going feel overly enthusiastic about mopping and vacuuming and making beds. When you feel good and are energized, cleaning is a breeze.
If you’re the type of person who is motivated by crossing items off your list, write up a list of chores before you start cleaning. Staying on task is very important to cleaning efficiently, so if writing it down helps achieve this goal, go for it.
Don’t be a Perfectionist
It’s a waste of time to try to remove 100% of the dirt from your home. Perfectionism will turn a three-hour job into a six-hour job. The difference between 95% efficiency and 100% isn’t worth three hours of your time.
Set Realistic Goals
There’s only so much any one person can accomplish within a few hours. Don’t set the bar too high. Set realistic goals that you’ll be able to achieve. Accomplishing goals is motivating. Failing to achieve goals is not.
Don’t Make a Big Production Out of It
House cleaning is labor intensive but not overly difficult. Don’t make it harder than it is. Don’t’ clean what isn’t dirty. Don’t perform elaborate cleaning rituals that make no sense just because your grandma did it that way. Simplify your procedures and get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible.
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 does happen.
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 you absolutely can get the house cleaned up.
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, it 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?
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.
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.
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.
After purging as much as possible, focus on grouping remaining items wherever they theoretically belong. For example, clothes in their 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.
From this point, it’s a matter of designing or refining your organizational system. If you need organizing advice, look to my post Home Organizing Guide.
After you’ve gotten clutter out of the way by tossing trash, purging, organizing, and/or packing stuff up to sort out later, you are ready to begin cleaning.
Assemble Your Cleaning Supplies and Equipment
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.
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, 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.
Clean Each Area Or Room
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.
Extreme Floor Care
Don’t try to use a lightweight floor cleaning tool on a floor that’s extremely dirty; 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 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 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 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.
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.
Extremely Dirty 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 Furniture and other Wood Surfaces
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.
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.
Cleaning an Extremely Dirty Kitchen
An extremely dirty kitchen takes a little time to bring up to code. Since it’s the room where you store and prepare food, you’ll want to do a thorough job.
Before you get too far into the project, check the oven. If it contains any baked-on messes, sprinkle baking soda generously onto the burned areas, then spritz lightly with water so a paste is formed. Let the paste sit to soften up the mess while you clean the rest of the kitchen.
Begin as in all rooms by removing rugs, window treatments, etc. as outlined above.
Do a thorough top-down dust and cobweb removal, as outlined above for all rooms, starting with the ceiling, ceiling fans, walls, light fixtures, etc. Don’t forget the tops of cupboards and the top of the refrigerator.
After you’ve removed as much dust as possible, wash woodwork, doors, cabinet doors, baseboards, window frames.
Wash the windows.
Put some water and all-purpose cleaner or dish detergent in the sink or in a pail and, using a sponge or rag, start cleaning everything that needs cleaning, inside and out. Change your water as necessary.
Clean outside thoroughly, then inside. Wipe down shelves, side walls, remove drawers and wash in your soapy water. Wipe gaskets. Clean door shelves. Also wipe out the freezer with a sponge moistened in warm water. Use a narrow dusting brush or yard stick with a rag tied securely around it to dust underneath.
Clean outside, paying special attention to fingerprints on the keypad and handle. Wipe clean the inside and remove the glass tray at the bottom to wash in the sink if it’s dirty. If there’s any kind of dried-on-gunky situation inside the microwave, heat a glass bowl or measuring cup of water to create a steam bath. This will loosen up the gunk so you can wipe it clean. You can even place a sliced-up lemon in the water if you want your steam to deodorize at the same time.
Not all kitchens have these, but for those that do: clean on top of the range hood using a degreaser. Remove the vent fan filter, if possible, and wash in hot, soapy water.
If it’s the type with drip pans, take it apart and wash the drip pans in hot, soapy water. If the drip pans are extremely dirty with cooked-on, blackened stuff, you can buy shiny new replacements. Sometimes scrubbing with steel wool pads, scouring powder, or baking soda will get them clean. Or you can try applying a baking soda and water paste onto them and letting it sit for a while to soak up the cooked-on mess.
If you’ve got a glass or ceramic cook top, remove any cooked-on messes with a plastic scraper. Apply a thick paste of baking soda and water to any residue and allow it to loosen up the mess. Wipe clean with a soft cloth and follow up with glass cook top cleanser, if necessary.
Go back to the oven and wipe up as much of the baking soda and burned-on goodness as you can remove. This may require more attention at a later date. For more info on oven cleaning, see my blog post Kitchen Cleaning Bonus Jobs.
Use specialty cleaner on granite, marble, or other surfaces that call for special treatment. Otherwise clean backsplashes and countertops with a solution of dish soap and water, all-purpose cleaner, or a stronger degreaser if necessary.
Clean countertop appliances, and shift small appliances side to side so you can clean the countertop underneath. Use a nylon scrubber or eraser-type sponge to remove any dried-on messes. Tackle stains with either an all-purpose cleaner containing chlorine bleach or an oxygen bleach and water solution.
Clean front, especially keypad and handle. If the inside is in need of attention, wipe clean whatever you can and then sprinkle a little bit of baking soda onto the bottom and allow it to set for a while. Then run the dishwasher on a hot cycle to rinse.
Wipe Out Cupboards and Drawers
Use your vacuum if there are crumbs, mouse droppings, spilled flour, oatmeal, cereal, sugar, or anything else that would vacuum up more easily than wiping with a damp sponge.
Clean with all-purpose cleaner or a little dish detergent. Scrub stains with powder cleanser.
Some additional hints in the kitchen
Degreaser is your friend in the kitchen. If you start wiping down cupboard doors or trying to clean the countertops and run into a sticky film of any kind, try using a strong solution of ammonia and water, dish detergent in water, or any all-purpose cleaner specifically labeled as a degreaser. Spray it onto the surface and wipe clean. If that doesn’t do the trick, try scrubbing with a nylon scrubber
Deodorize your garbage disposal by running a chopped-up lemon through it.
Clean the garbage can. If it’s really dirty, take it outside, spray with bathroom cleaner, let soak, then hose off later.
To clean inside the toaster oven: first unplug, then de-crumb, remove racks and wash, wipe down the inside. To clean residue on the glass door, apply a thick paste of baking soda and water and allow it to sit for half an hour, then scrub and wipe clean.
Pulling out the fridge and stove to clean under and behind is an optional job. The fridge might be on casters, the stove probably isn’t. Be careful not to hurt your floor or yourself. You can also use a long, narrow duster to get underneath or wrap a rag securely around a yardstick.
Remove the cutting wheel on an electric can opener and wash in hot, soapy water.
Clean coffee or spice grinders by grinding up a slice of plain white bread.
Cleaning An Extremely Dirty Bathroom
The toughest room in the house to clean when it hasn’t seen any recent attention is the bathroom. As in all other rooms, first de-clutter, remove rugs, textiles, window treatments, etc.
Take down the shower curtain, if applicable. If you wish, try washing it in the washing machine on gentle cycle with a couple of towels in warm water and a little bit of detergent and some vinegar. Don’t dry a plastic or vinyl shower curtain in your clothes dryer, however. Air dry only.
Dust the bathroom from the top down, including any furniture, shelves, etc. Clean woodwork, windows, light fixtures, etc. as in other rooms.
Sweep or vacuum the floor. Do this step before tackling the shower. No matter how careful you are, cleaning a shower usually results in water splashes on the floor. It’s easier to sweep dry dust and dirt.
Next, tackle the tub/shower. Make sure to ventilate the bathroom by opening a window or turning on the vent fan. Then generously spray some tub and tile cleaner on your tub or shower walls and use a nylon scrubber or eraser-type sponge to scrub the areas you sprayed. Rinse thoroughly.
Alternatively, use cleansing powder and a non-abrasive scrub brush to scrub your tub/shower.
If your shower is made of Granite or other materials, use a product specifically made for your surface.
If you have mold or mildew, use a cleanser containing chlorine bleach. Alternatively put some 3% hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle and spray onto the mildew areas. Allow to sit for an hour, scrub and rinse.
Remove rust stains with an eraser-type sponge or apply a thick paste of baking soda and water, allow to sit for an hour, then rinse.
Clean your sink with the same product you use on your tub.
Remove tough toilet stains with a pumice stone.
To remove a film on your bathroom mirror, spray with vinegar then buff clean.
Your bathroom should be in good shape at this point, with nothing left to clean but the floor. If it’s a small room, and the floor is extremely dirty, it might be easier to scrub it by hand, which allows you to reach into corners and clean the baseboards more easily.
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!
When it comes to house cleaning, the best approach is to keep it simple. Use straightforward methods and basic supplies. Think about your techniques, streamline procedures, become an efficiency expert. Aim for getting maximum results for your efforts.
No one should have to spend hours upon hours cleaning house. Integrating elementary cleaning habits into your daily routines will keep your home in great shape every day of the week. Allowing messes to build up and spills to harden into congealed globules of goo means you’ll spend your weekend scrubbing the kitchen instead of doing something a little more fun and interesting.
Clean As You Go
The simplest approach to keeping a nice home is the clean-as-you-go method. This system takes a little bit of time each day and calls for cleaning messes as they occur and doing little bits of whatever else needs to be done as the spirit moves you.
Using this technique, you clean your kitchen after cooking and wipe up the bathroom every couple of days. A broom or stick vacuum by the door makes it easy to give the entryway floor the attention it needs so that dirt doesn’t get tracked any further into the house. Dusting and vacuuming get done when you notice that it needs to be done, wherever it needs to be done.
Allowing dirt to accumulate, greasy messes to linger, and soap scum to thicken makes house cleaning difficult and time-consuming. Throw away the notion that a house needs to be cleaned top to bottom every other week. In the span of two weeks, lots of tasks that would have taken a mere five minutes to clean up at their outset compound into labor-intensive, back-breaking chores.
Cleaning as you go also makes it easy to use simple cleaning products. Basic cleaning agents like vinegar, ammonia, baking soda or scrubbing powder, and dish detergent can easily constitute your entire housekeeping arsenal if messes are never allowed to reach a point that requires tough chemical interventions.
See a Mess, Clean It
House cleaning is very simple: see a mess, clean it. Repeat. It’s a continuous process that’s never done. Life is messy every day.
The thing about dirt is that it grows roots and digs itself in when you leave it to its own devices. It’s much quicker and easier to get rid of it immediately on its appearance using straightforward methods, and then move on.
The longer dirt and grime linger, the longer it takes to eliminate them. House cleaning can be quite simple; don’t make it difficult.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A garage sale is the ultimate tool for de-cluttering your home. If you’re finding that you have more stuff than you need and need more space than you have, hosting a garage sale might be the answer. It’s a little bit of work, but so is hauling a truckload of household items to Goodwill.
A garage sale draws people to you; all you have to do is convince everyone who shows up to take something away with them. At the end of the day, if you’re successful, all your unwanted stuff will be gone. Presto!
This guide will help you to get a handle on the ins and outs of hosting your own garage sale, with the goal of eliminating unwanted possessions. Be forewarned that this assumes your primary goal is getting rid of stuff you no longer use. Don’t expect to get rich. You will not be able to recoup retail prices on your possessions.
A garage sale can net you a tidy little sum if you have lots of stuff that people want. But you’ll need to be realistic about what to charge for your old high-school clarinet and the Magic Bullet juicer that’s been used once. Garage sale buyers are bargain hunters. Most objects sell for less than a tenth of their initial price, even new or next-to-new items.
If you’re going to get rid of the stuff anyway, think of your sale as an opportunity to move along your unwanted possessions to someone else who can use them. Rather than donating your stuff to a charity where it gets passed on to faceless strangers, a garage sale gives you the chance to meet the people to whom your cherished treasures are going. Have a little fun with it.
Set a Date
To prepare for your sale, the first thing you should do is set a date. Fridays and Saturdays are prime garage sale days. If you can only do one day, that’s okay, but bear in mind that a longer duration means you’ll attract a wider clientele, which will move more merchandise.
When choosing your date, don’t pick the weekend that every school is your area is having its prom, or any other time when most people are otherwise occupied. Also think about the weather. For example, people attend garage sales in droves on the first really pleasant days of spring. If you will be setting up outside, have a rain date in mind.
Clear a Space
Next, choose your location. If you’ve got a big, empty garage, this is an ideal space. Most people don’t. After all, if you had a big, empty garage, you wouldn’t need to have a sale.
Outside is perfectly fine. Choose a large enough space in your driveway or yard to accommodate tables and shoppers, relatively flat and free from obstacles that people might trip over. A little bit of shade from the sun is also desirable.
Get Some Tables
You’ll want to set up some type of tables on which to display your wares, so think about whether you have folding tables or anything you can use to improvise tables. If you don’t have anything, see if you can borrow tables somewhere.
If you don’t have access to tables, the alternative is placing things into boxes for display. Line up boxes neatly, with items grouped according to price: for example, “all items in this box $1 each”. Neatly organize stuff into the boxes so everything is visible. Do your best to create an attractive presentation.
Whatever you do, don’t just toss all your stuff haphazardly onto the lawn. This is a huge turnoff. If people aren’t sure whether you’re having a garage sale or a domestic dispute, they’ll drive right on by.
Assemble and Price Stuff
Figure out what you’ll be selling and start pricing items. Either price things individually with stickers that will be easy to remove (don’t put a sticker on anything that’ll be damaged by its removal) or use a color-code system of dots that correspond to prices (all red-dot items are one dollar, all blue-dot items are two dollars), or place items on tables with signs marked “$10 table” or “$5 table”, or into boxes with the price on the outside.
If you’re having a large sale, plan on spending a few hours assembling and pricing your stuff. Any items that you believe to be valuable can be researched online. Go to eBay and use the advanced search feature to determine the price for which similar items sold. This method is more accurate that merely looking at asking prices. Anyone can price anything at any value they like; the true barometer is the price that was actually paid for the item.
Pricing your items too high means you’ll have a big pile of stuff left over at the end of your sale. Remember that your objective is to get rid of the stuff, so keep a level head when it comes to pricing.
It may be tempting to leave prices off altogether and wait for people to make an offer. Don’t do it. Many potential buyers are turned off by this approach, and you will lose the sale.
Do, however, be prepared to dicker with potential buyers. Many seasoned garage sale buyers will see your price as nothing more than a starting point.
A few days before your sale, start advertising. Put up signs around your neighborhood. Place ads in the local newspaper, on Craigslist, on your local Facebook garage sale groups, and tell your friends and family.
Ask a couple friends or family members to act as cashiers at your sale, at least for the first couple of hours. Or join forces and have a multi-family sale; this is always a good way to draw in more buyers. You’ll typically get a big crowd of people in the first hour or two of your sale, and having some extra sets of hands during this period will help ensure that everything flows smoothly and none of your stuff falls prey to a five-finger-discount bandit.
Put up Signs
The day before your sale, buy or make some garage sale signs to post on your street corner and mailbox so that people can easily find you. Make sure you have some small bills in cash to make change for customers. Also have on hand a few shopping bags or small boxes. If anyone buys multiple items it’ll be nice to have something for them in which to carry their treasures home.
On Sale Day
On sale day, be prepared for early birds. Whether your sale starts at 8:00 AM, 4:00 PM or anywhere in between, a few people will inevitably show up early in hopes of scoring deals before anyone else. You can specifically state “no early birds” in your ad if you object to this. My suggestion: put ‘em to work. Anyone who shows up early can help you set up your sale while also previewing your selection of goodies.
Get your tables set up at least a couple of hours before you open for business in order to give yourself plenty of time. Arrange your sale items neatly and in a way that allows customers to see what you’ve got. Make sure items are clean and in good condition. Anything that isn’t in great shape can go in a “free” pile. Putting a few free items out by the curb can draw in customers.
Items should be priced prior to set up. There will be lots to do and lots of confusion as you’re getting ready for your sale, and the process will be quicker and less stressful if you’re not deciding what to charge for items at this point.
When people start arriving for your sale, be friendly. Greet people, make eye contact, let them know you’re there to help them. If you’re ready and willing to drop prices when people ask, you’ll move more merchandise. Make a counteroffer if an initial offer is too low.
People will also be more likely to buy your stuff if you make a connection with them. Don’t be pushy, do be conversational. Giving a little history about items is an excellent sales technique.
At the end of the day, if there’s anything left over, box it up and place a “free stuff” ad on craigslist or facebook. It’ll disappear overnight if it’s anything good. If not, it’s trash.
Congratulations! You just exchanged a bunch of stuff you no longer needed for a little mad money. Plus you made a bunch of new friends and got to spend the day outside in the fresh air and sunshine. Best of all, you didn’t have to haul a truckload of stuff to Goodwill; you didn’t even have to leave your street!
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
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.
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.
Keeping your home clean can be challenging. Some folks make it seem effortless, while others struggle every day to keep even the basics under control. While it’s true that some fortunate souls have a natural ability, anyone can learn what it takes to be a cleaning whiz.
House cleaning is a very straightforward process. To stay on track, don’t undermine yourself by making cleaning unnecessarily complicated or procrastinating getting started until the job looms large. Don’t be the person who dillydallys as a mode of avoidance, so that in the time it would have taken to clean up the kitchen, the minor mess that could have been easily converted into a gleaming space becomes a minor hazmat event.
The best way to get yourself on the road to cleaning wizardry is to simply get busy. Dust off the vacuum cleaner, rustle up a few cleaning cloths, and get going. Don’t think about it. Just do it. Follow the trail of dirt, dust, and grime and erase it. When the dirt is gone, your job is done. My post House Cleaning Demystified might help.
Once you’ve mastered the basic process of cleaning, make it a habit. That’s really all there is to it; do it, and do it often.
Tips and Advice
To fine-tune your cleaning skills, here are some time-saving tips and advice:
Eliminate clutter from your home.
Organize your stuff so you know where everything goes when it’s time to pick up.
Dust with a long-handled dusting tool rather than a cloth or rag, and work swiftly, dusting everything with your tool. A tool with nubs that grab dust will work universally on all surfaces from chair rails to baseboards to lampshades to knick-knacks and books to tables and shelves. The long handle means you won’t have to bend down to reach baseboards or strain to reach up high. Don’t move any objects that you don’t have to move in order to reach dust.
Rotate tasks. Many chores shouldn’t have to be done every time you clean. You will soon get a feel for which ones you can do on a rotating basis. If it isn’t visibly dirty, you probably can put it off until next time or the time after.
Use appropriate cleaning agents. Use a cleaner that is strong enough to break down the grime you are aiming to eradicate. Don’t use a heavy-duty cleaner on a surface that isn’t particularly dirty or use more of a cleaning agent than is necessary.
Keep track of your cleaning supplies. On cleaning day, you should be able to readily lay your hands on everything you need without spending a half hour hunting down the mop.
Don’t try to rush while you’re cleaning. It’ll only cost you time in the long run if things get overlooked, or worse broken or spilled.
Do it right the first time.
Home cleaning can be as easy or as difficult as you make it. Spending a little time every day or two and a couple of hours every week keeping the situation in hand is all it takes. There are many benefits of daily cleaning. Keep it simple, don’t make work for yourself, and don’t procrastinate. Establish good habits and in no time you, too, can be a cleaning whiz.
There’s a significant percentage of the general population that doesn’t know how to clean a house. This is problematic because keeping a home clean is a basic survival skill. We should all maintain minimum standards for our own good health and well-being as well as the well-being of anyone we happen to invite over for dinner. For this reason, I will today present a basic lesson in house cleaning.
At its core, house cleaning is very simple. Eliminating dust, dirt, bacteria, and other unwanted matter from our environments is the objective. We do this so that we can breathe easily in our homes, avoid illness, and generally maintain a living environment that’s agreeable to our senses.
How is this objective achieved? House cleaning is comprised of two elements: picking up and then cleaning up. These are two distinct steps. Picking up means removing clutter from your environment. Cleaning up means removing dust and dirt from your environment. It’s much easier to clean up an area that’s picked up. Cleaning up can technically be done without picking up, but the job will be much less thorough.
Pick Up After Yourself Every Day
The easiest approach, if you haven’t a clue where to start, is to work on developing the habit of picking up after yourself as you go along. It’s actually easier than it sounds once you get into a routine. It’ll take a little dedication at first, but making the effort will pay off.
Once you get the hang of picking up and have a pretty good organizational system in place, it’s time to work on cleaning up. Cleaning up is the straightforward process of getting rid of dust and dirt. Get yourself some supplies: cleaning cloths, a vacuum cleaner, mop, bucket, glass cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, bathroom cleaner.
Then go to it. Use your cloths to remove dust from all surfaces. Use your vacuum to clean loose dirt and debris from carpeting and floors. Use your mop to wash floors. Use your glass cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, and bathroom cleaner to clean kitchen and bathroom surfaces. It’s just that simple.
This is a process that should be repeated on a regular basis. Each time you do it, it’ll get easier, assuming you to do often (every week or two).
Also work on keeping daily chores under control. Don’t let laundry and dirty dishes pile up. Don’t let clutter accumulate. Sweep or vacuum and spot-clean as needed. The more you do as you go along the easier it’ll be to maintain order.
Once you’ve mastered the basics, hone your skills. True house cleaning gurus have lots of tricks up their sleeves. Look for ideas, read up on the subject, develop your own systems and shortcuts. Practice makes perfect.
In no time you’ll be cleaning like you’ve been doing it your whole life. Your environment will be healthy and appealing, and no one will hesitate to come over to your place for dinner.
It’s spring cleaning time! This is the time of year when dedicated homemakers dive in and do a thorough home cleaning, tackling jobs that aren’t part of their regular cleaning routine. It’s also a great time to take control if you’re the type who doesn’t have a regular cleaning routine and you want to whip your home into shape.
Either way, this seven-day plan will arm you with all the information you need to deep clean your home in just seven days. Day one will start you off right by purging all of the unnecessary clutter that is eating up your valuable space. Day two will get you going in the right direction by taking a look inside your closets. Day three will be all about window washing. Days four and five will be devoted to bedrooms and bathrooms. Day six will get your living room and family room into tip-top shape. Day seven will wrap up with the kitchen.
Once you’ve gotten your home into shape, keeping it that way will be easy if you establish a regular cleaning routine. Even if your housekeeping hasn’t been so great up ‘til now, this is your fresh start, a new beginning. And isn’t that what spring is all about?
Day One: Decluttering
The first step to house cleaning of any type is de-cluttering and organizing. It’s just plain easier to clean spaces that are free of unnecessary objects. De-cluttering isn’t difficult unless you have years of clutter to clear out. In this case, you might want to check out my blog post De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Days.
Hopefully you don’t have that much clutter, so your task won’t be that big of a deal. It’s a simple process: throw things away, give things away, and put things away.
The key principle of organizing is that all items have a permanent spot where they live when they’re at rest. This allows you to put things away when you’re not using them and readily recover them when you need them again. The end result: everything you own doesn’t end up on the island in the middle of the kitchen, leaving you with nowhere to eat breakfast.
Toss Out Trash
The first step to de-cluttering is tossing out anything that’s just plain trash. Take a good look around, and I mean really look around. Often we overlook stuff that’s right in front of us because we’re so used to seeing it. Piles of old newspapers or magazines or Amazon shipping boxes that you think you’ll use sometime are trash. Toss ‘em (or recycle ‘em).
Get real, be honest, and if it’s something that you might use but probably won’t, don’t let it keep taking up valuable space that you could be using for the things that are of value to you. Be ruthless.
Once you’ve got the outright trash out of the way, take another look around for stuff that’s not trash, but that you’re not using. These are things that have value and that someone else could use. Again, be honest with yourself. If you’re never going to use it, isn’t it better to pass it along to someone who will?
Put together a donation box and pat yourself on the back for doing your part to help others while also doing yourself the favor of eliminating stuff you don’t need. Win-win.
At this point, whatever clutter you’ve got left is the stuff that you want to keep, so put it away somewhere. If you’ve already got a great system for organizing your stuff, this step should be easy.
If not, get busy. Find a logical place to store each object and put it there. It should be a place that makes sense and that you will remember so you know where to look when you want to retrieve the object for later use. Do this over and over again until everything is put away. It’s very easy once you get the hang of it.