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.
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.
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.
Storing things you will use such that you can easily find them when you need them.
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.
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.
It can be tough to cover all the bases when it comes to house cleaning. Time is short, cleaning routines are inconsistent. Some people just don’t notice fingerprints on walls and streaks on windows. Cobwebs that are visible only when the sunlight hits them at a certain angle are easy to miss on cleaning day. There are many commonly overlooked jobs when cleaning your home.
Professional housecleaners establish routines which ensure all areas of each home get cleaned regularly. This is why I recommend that anyone who does their own house cleaning set up similar schedules to make sure everything gets cleaned from time to time.
Areas out of Sight
Many people subscribe to the belief that if you can’t see it, it isn’t dirty. Unfortunately, areas that accumulate dust are often out of sight, and because settled dust will sooner or later get stirred up and redistributed, any large settlements of dust in your home are potential trouble spots.
For this reason it is important to dust ceiling fan blades and the top of the refrigerator and under the beds to remove these accumulations while they’re quietly resting and before they have a chance to get stirred up and re-circulated into the air. You can’t count on the “cleaning only what looks dirty” style of housekeeping to keep your home in good shape.
Cobwebs are often overlooked. These nuisances form along the edge where walls and ceilings meet. They form on light fixtures. They form in corners. Cobwebs appear along the bottom edges of furniture.
The trouble with cobwebs is that they can be really hard to see, which is why it’s a good practice to periodically dust all the areas where they tend to form without regard to whether you think they’re there or not. Without fail, cobwebs will become visible the moment some VIP houseguest appears at your door.
Hidden dust has lots of hiding places. Some are tough to reach, but many are just beyond your line of sight.
Ceiling fans are a primary culprit. Think of your ceiling fan blades as dust traps. A surprising amount of dust builds up on top of these, so attend to them frequently in order to reduce the amount of dust circulating in the air in your home. A simple dusting tool or even a broom or dust mop will remove the lion’s share of buildup from your fans.
Other areas to work into your dusting rotation:
The top edge of window treatments and wall hangings.
Chair rails and baseboards.
Ridges on doors.
Leaves on plants.
Under beds and other furniture.
On top of kitchen cupboards if they don’t meet the ceiling.
Sides of furniture and along any edges or ridges.
Back side of televisions and other electronics.
On top of books.
On light fixtures.
On top of medicine cabinets.
Along the top edge of shower enclosures.
Top edges of doors and door frames.
Not everyone thinks to clean up dirty finger and hand prints on walls and doors . Common areas to keep an eye on:
Hand rails and banisters.
Fingerprints can easily be eradicated with a damp cloth and application of a small amount of all-purpose cleaner or glass cleaner. Sometimes they’re invisible but you’ll feel their sticky residue.
Really tough marks on walls or other areas can be removed with an eraser-type sponge but use caution as these also take the paint with the grime.
Another common offense is sometimes almost completely invisible until you sit down on something covered in it wearing black pants: pet hair. If you have animals that shed, their fur is on your upholstered furniture. Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes not.
So be sure to vacuum your sofa, chairs, upholstered ottomans and cushions, pillows on your upholstered furniture and anything else that pet hair sticks to. And don’t forget to vacuum under the sofa cushions once in a while , too.
While we’re on the topic of pets, dogs and cats sometimes leave nose and paw prints on glass doors and windows and window sills. If your dog likes to sit by your patio door and look outside, odds are he leaves residue on the glass. The same can be said for areas on windows next to which your cat perches to watch birds and squirrels frolicking outdoors.
Remember, just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. The best way to ensure that you’re never caught with an embarrassing mess under the dining room table in the middle of dinner is the two-pronged approach of maintaining a regular cleaning schedule that includes a rotation with attention to all areas in your home along with honing your eye for detail.
Practice makes perfect. In time you’ll be quick to spot Spot’s doggie drool on the windowsill and the smudges left on the kitchen door frame by dirty little fingers. Cleaning pros notice this stuff because we’ve seen it all time and time again and because we do it every day. You can acquire the same skills, all it takes is practice.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Every home has dust. Getting the lowdown on dusting tools will help you understand how to clean it up easily.
Remove Dust to Reduce Dust
Depending on how quickly dust accumulates on surfaces in your home, it may have to be dusted only once in a while or every few days. The more dust that can be removed from the air, the less dusting there will be to do.
Dusting goes a lot quicker and is more effective with a tool that grabs and holds onto dust. Types of dusting tools include microfiber dusters, feather dusters, lambswool dusters, telescoping dusters, static dusters, and specialty hand dusters.
Microfiber dusters grab dust and lock it down so it isn’t released back into the air. Many can be washed and re-used; some are disposable.
Feather dusters are what our grandmothers used to swear by, or at when the feathers fell out all over the place. Some people still swear by them. And the feathers still shed all over the place. They don’t really grab dust as much as knock it down.
Lambswool dusters are great for getting dust off of baseboards, chair-rails, behind furniture, and for reaching cobwebs in corners and on ceilings and ceiling fans. These things last forever and come in lots of different styles. The drawback: they don’t hold onto the dust so much as knock it down.
Static or microstatic dusters look similar to feather dusters but have electrostatically charged synthetic fibers that grab dust then get shaken off outside.
There are also specialty dusters for getting under appliances like the refrigerator or dryer, or for dusting ceiling fans, window blinds, and more.
If you have high ceilings, you can, and should, get a duster with an extendable (telescoping) handle to reach cobwebs and dust on light fixtures, ceiling fans, etc.
Dust With Your Vacuum Cleaner
Your vacuum cleaner will often do the best job of removing dust from places like louvered doors or the grated covers over heating vents or air exchanges.
Use the dusting tool attachment so the bristles grab the dust. If you have a thick layer of dust anywhere, your vacuum will do the best job of trapping it and locking it down.
Figuring out what to use for dusting depends on what surfaces and/or areas you will be dusting. Lots of flat surfaces with little clutter are easy; use anything up to and including an old sock dampened with a little water and pulled over your hand.
For surfaces with a lot of books or knick-knacks or uneven or cluttered areas, the job will go most quickly using a duster with fingers or nubs that the dust will cling to. This way every object doesn’t have to be moved. A microfiber mini-duster or microstatic or microfiber wand would fit the bill.
Baseboards and Moldings
To dust a lot of baseboards, chair-rails or other molding, wall sconces, or ridged areas like paneled doors, a microfiber wand or lambswool duster would probably be the best bet.
When it comes to dusting, frequency is your friend. Using an effective tool that is comfortable to use and gets the job done quickly is the most efficient way to go.
The act of dusting removes dust from your environment, so there’s less dust floating around in the air waiting for the opportunity to settle down on your grandma’s china.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Spring is the perfect time of the year to tackle jobs around the house that don’t usually get much attention. It’s the season of renewal; the traditional time of year when folks who have been holed up in their homes for the long winter months are able to open windows and air out the winter mustiness. In keeping with tradition, I encourage you to take up your brooms and get busy with these spring cleaning hints and tips.
Let In Fresh Air
The solution to pollution is dilution. I didn’t make this up myself, but that doesn’t make it any less true. One of the best ways to detoxify your home is opening windows and doors on a warm spring day to allow fresh air inside and old, stale air out. Fresh air is your friend.
Freshen Window Treatments
While you’re letting the fresh air in, why not freshen window treatments? Dust settles on valances and blinds and draperies. Use your vacuum cleaner dusting tool to remove it. Or take down the drapes and shake them vigorously outside. If possible, leave them hanging outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine for a couple of hours.
Dust or vacuum window blinds, depending on their composition. Fabric blinds can be easily vacuumed with a dusting tool attachment. Vinyl or metal blinds can be dusted with a damp cloth.
Dust Ceiling Fans and Light Fixtures
Grab a long-handled dusting tool or a step ladder and tackle ceiling fan blades. These are notorious dust traps. You might be amazed at how much is up there. Just be careful not to get any in your eyes!
While you’re at it, remove dust and cobwebs from light fixtures, wall sconces, lamp shades, and other areas that are either up high or typically ignored.
Spot Clean Woodwork
One easy way to improve the appearance of your home is to spot clean woodwork, doors, and switch plates. Look for areas that have fingerprints or other stray marks. Cleaning these areas can make your home look fresher and brighter.
Dust Behind and Under Furniture
Hidden dust in your home will find its way into your air. Taking a little time to dust behind and underneath furniture keeps hidden dust from re-circulating. Use a dust mop or broom if you have bare floors, or a vacuum cleaner floor attachment if your floors are carpeted.
Air Out Duvet Covers, Pillows, Blankets, Throws
Textiles take on stale odors over time. While you’re in spring cleaning mode, air them out. Place them outside in the sun for a couple of hours or toss them into the dryer to remove dust and musty smells.
These spring cleaning tips will get you going in the right direction during the season of renewal. Don’t limit yourself. There are many other jobs around the house awaiting your attention. Check back here often for more house cleaning tips and ideas.
The thought of tackling big cleaning jobs can be intimidating, even overwhelming. Whether the project involvescleaning dirty windows, descaling bathroom showers, or dealing with out-of-control clutter, the key to getting it done is converting it into manageable pieces. This is best achieved through a basic process whereby the job is first clearly defined and then broken down.
Define the Job
The first step is to define the issue at hand. In order to find a solution, the problem must be understood. This can be in the form of a simple statement, such as “my windows are dirty” or a detailed list, for example: the kitchen appliances and floor need cleaning, the whole house needs vacuuming, the showers have to be scrubbed, and the laundry has to be washed, dried, folded, and put away.
If the job is large, write out a detailed list. This will be the basis for determining how best to break down the large job into smaller increments, so think in terms of sectioning the job into manageable portions.
Make a Plan
Next, outline a plan to deal with the issue. For example, if your windows are dirty, the plan would be to clean them. Seems simple enough, but maybe not.
If you’ve got five windows in your home and they all tip in for cleaning ease, the plan will be straightforward: clean the windows. You’ll have a little bit of planning to do, for instance figuring out what supplies to use and whether you’ve got time to clean all the windows at once. Sorting out the details shouldn’t be a big deal.
If, however, you’ve got twenty-five windows, each with additional storm windows to remove and clean as well as screens, and none of them have been cleaned in ten years, this is a big project. You would want to break it down and complete the steps over a period of time. This would require some planning.
For instance, you might plan on cleaning the windows over the course of three or four Saturdays and enlist assistance so that one person could work inside while another works outside. The procedure would be somewhat complicated, and a variety of supplies would be needed, such as a ladder and squeegees and lots of rags or paper towels and a bucket. Cleaning window screens adds an entire step to the plan. Writing out some lists or flowcharts to help break the job down into smaller steps makes a lot of sense when the job looms large.
Understand the Job
If you’re not sure how to clean this type of windows, the planning stage would be the time to research the issue to understand what’s really involved. Any specific challenges would be addressed at this time, for example windows that are immovable in their tracks, or outside surfaces that are inaccessible from outdoors. Fully understanding the scope of the job and planning for the specific issues that need attention helps the job flow smoothly because you’ll know what to expect, have the proper supplies on hand, and have good ideas about how to successfully complete the job.
Break It Down
The planning stage is the point at which a large job is converted into a series of smaller jobs, which are both mentally and physically easier to manage. Always plan such that the goals you set are attainable. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to accomplish more than you set out to do. It’s not so great to complete only half the job before you run out of steam, time, or supplies. You want to end up feeling good about your day’s work, not be left feeling like a failure because you weren’t able to meet your goals.
Complete the Project
If steps one and two were completed thoughtfully and thoroughly, the final step, actually completing the project, will be a simple matter of following through on the framework of plans that were set up. By breaking the job down into smaller, manageable pieces and taking time to understand the process, you’ve set yourself up for success. When the job is done, you’ll feel great about having mastered not only the job itself, but the equally large challenge of making a big job manageable.
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 routing. It’s also a great time to take control if you’re the type who doesn’t have a regular cleaning routine and 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 seven days. Day one will start you off right by purging of all the unnecessary clutter eating up your valuable space. Day two will get you organized by taking deep dive inside your closets. Day three will be all about window washing. Days four and five will bring bedrooms and bathrooms up to code. Day six will get your living room and family room into tip-top shape. Finally, on day seven the kitchen will be targeted.
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 1: De-cluttering
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 the event that this is your situation, this step may take longer than one day.
Hopefully you don’t have that much clutter, so the 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 and you have nowhere to eat breakfast.
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. Your storage spaces should be places that make sense to you 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.
If you’re finding that you haven’t got space for your stuff, don’t worry, because tomorrow you’ll clean out some closets. Set it aside for now and keep in mind how much room you’ll need.
Day 2: Clean Closets
Closets are often the spots where we hide things. All kinds of things. Stuff we don’t know what else to do with, stuff that we no longer want, stuff that we tell ourselves we’re going to use some day. Getting into your closets from time to time to take a good look at what you’ve got is a great way to free up space. Without fail, there’s some stuff in there that can be gotten rid of.
Your day two deep-clean challenge is to clean and re-organize closets. Bedroom closets, linen closets, entry hall closets, laundry room closets, the closet in the family room with all the board games. Make it a fun family day activity and split up the job. Whoever has the best organized closet at the end of the day wins!
Closet cleaning can be a simple process or it can be quite involved. If your closets are small and there’s not a lot of stuff inside, it shouldn’t take long. If your closets are walk-ins packed full of stuff, the job may take a while.
Either way, the basic steps are the same.
First, 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. Next, pull everything out of the closet. 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.
After you’ve got the closet cleared of its contents, dust all areas, remove cobwebs, and sweep or vacuum the floor.
Next, replace the things 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 you store things so that you can easily find them 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.
This is a great time to bring in new organizational systems. There are all kinds of shelving and racks to help you create your dream closet, so get creative. Have fun with it. You’re aiming to create well-organized spaces that will make your life easier by helping you keep track of your stuff.
At the end of your day two challenge, your closets should have nothing to hide. You will be able to immediately lay your hands on whatever you’re looking for because your closets will be free of unnecessary stuff and well organized. Pat yourself on the back and get some rest. Tomorrow will be window washing day.
Day 3: Washing Windows
No deep-cleaning project would be complete without a day devoted to windows. It’s best to avoid washing windows when the sun is shining directly on them, so the first thing to think about is what time of day is the best to tackle your project. Observe the sun’s position to make this determination.
The second thing to consider is whether your windows are really dirty or just a little dirty. This will determine what cleaning method is most appropriate in your situation.
If your windows are only slightly dirty, a spray bottle of glass cleaning solution will be the quickest way to go. Use commercial glass cleaner or mix your own using equal parts vinegar and water or three parts water to one part rubbing alcohol.
Spray the cleaner on the glass and then use dry cloths to wipe the glass clean. If you see streaks when you’re finished, repeat the process using a fresh cloth. Sometimes you can buff away streaks with a dry cloth without having to re-apply glass cleaner. If you’re doing a lot of windows, have a lot of cloths on hand because the key to avoiding leaving lint and streaks on your windows is using fresh, dry cloths for buffing.
If your windows are really dirty, the above method will take forever. Instead, mix a window washing solution in a bucket. A simple, effective window washing mixture can be made using a few drops of dish detergent in a gallon of warm water. Alternatively, use a cup of of ammonia or vinegar in the water.
Using a cloth or a sponge, wash the window with your solution, rinsing your cloth as often as needed, until all the dirt has been removed. Then buff the window dry. Switch off your drying/buffing cloth as it gets damp to avoid streaking.
Depending on the type of windows, you may be able to clean them on both sides (inside and outside) without setting foot outside your house. Tip-in windows can easily be cleaned on both sides from inside the house. That’s a no-brainer.
To clean the exterior surfaces of windows that slide or crank open, open the window and see if you can reach your arm around to the exterior side far enough to wipe the area clean. Sometimes this works, sometimes not. This method might be your only option for cleaning upstairs windows, and in this case you’ll have to do the best you can.
Cleaning window exteriors outdoors is sometimes challenging, and sometimes impossible, depending on the nature of your landscaping. Steep grades or dense foliage are typically deal breakers.
If it’s a question of distance, for example awkwardly placed windows or windows that are just beyond reach and impractical to get at with a ladder, a squeegee with a long or telescoping handle comes in handy. Use a squeegee with an attached sponge on one side. Apply your cleaning solution to the window with the sponge side and then pull the squeegee back and forth across the window surface horizontally working from the top down.
Window screens should be removed and cleaned at the same time you clean your windows. They can be vacuumed or wiped clean with a damp cloth.
Window sills and tracks can also be cleaned while you’re at it. If they’re really dirty, first vacuum up loose debris, then wash with a cloth or sponge dipped into a solution of water and all-purpose cleaner, or use your window cleaning solution. Use a toothbrush to get into the edges.
There aren’t any hard and fast rules about window cleaning, so improvise as necessary. When you’re done, take satisfaction in how nice your windows look. Window washing is hard work. Job well done!
Day 4: Bedrooms from Top to Bottom
Deep cleaning your bedrooms is a great opportunity to target accumulated dust under beds and on window treatments, as well as behind furniture.
To begin, temporarily remove any lightweight objects like lamps or knick-knacks to make it easier to move furniture around without fear of breaking anything.
Any small area rugs should be removed and washed or shaken outside and left to air.
This is a good time to wash or air textiles like bed skirts, duvet covers, bedspreads, decorative pillow shams, etc.
Start cleaning from the ceiling down, dusting away cobwebs and dust on ceiling fans, ceilings, light fixtures, and walls. Use a dusting tool or a dustmop.
Pictures, wall art, wall hangings, or anything else on the walls should be cleaned or dusted.
Vacuum or dust louvered doors, ridged doors, door frames, window frames, shutters. Work your way downward, dusting any chair rails, baseboards, and baseboard heaters. Vacuum or dust air vent covers.
Move furniture around as necessary and if possible, to get to all the walls and other surfaces that need to be dusted.
Take the opportunity to vacuum or clean areas of floors which are normally underneath furniture and not easily accessible. If furniture can’t be moved, try to get under and behind it as much as possible using a dustmop, broom, or your vacuum cleaner.
Thoroughly vacuum upholstered furniture. Vacuum your mattresses and flip them over.
Dust or vacuum lampshades and window treatments.
Dust furniture and begin re-assembling your room, dusting objects before replacing them.
Replace throw rugs and any textiles that you washed or aired.
Smell the clean air. Good job!
Day 5: Bathrooms
Deep cleaning bathrooms might take some time, depending on the state your bathrooms are in to start. If you’ve neglected them, this is a great opportunity to bring them up to snuff.
First pick up any area rugs and mats. Wash them, if you’d like. Also take down shower curtains and wash, if necessary.
This is a good time to go through the medicine cabinet and other cupboards. Move everything so that you can wipe off shelves and dust. Get rid of outdated medicine, toiletries, etc. Replace everything in an orderly fashion.
Dust ceilings, walls, baseboards, wall hangings, any furniture or shelves, and whatever else might need dusting. Clear any dust or cobwebs from your vent fan cover if you have one.
Clean woodwork, cupboard doors, sides of vanities. Wash walls if you’re so inclined. Wash any tile on walls and buff dry for a nice shine.
Clean the sink and vanity. If there’s any type of buildup, use all-purpose scrub and rinse thoroughly. Otherwise, clean with all-purpose cleaner or tub and tile spray cleaner. To clean discoloration or gunk from around drain, faucets or other areas, use all-purpose scrub cleanser and a toothbrush or other small scrubbing brush. Remove mineral deposits with vinegar, or use a specialty cleaner.
Clean the mirror, top to bottom. If your mirror has a film or residue that won’t come off, clean with straight vinegar and buff well. Dab rubbing alcohol onto stubborn spots, such as hair-spray overspray.
Clean tub/shower using tub and tile cleaner, all-purpose cleaner or scrub, or the appropriate cleaner if it’s a surface that calls for special care, such as granite.
To eliminate mildew or dark-colored discoloration on your shower walls or tub, use an all-purpose cleaner containing bleach. Be sure to follow safety instructions: never mix chlorine bleach with other products, use proper ventilation, wear gloves, rinse thoroughly.
To eliminate heavy-duty soap scum buildup in your shower, spray your cleaning agent on the shower surfaces liberally up to an hour prior to cleaning the area so it has time to break down the grime. Then use your cloth or a nylon scrubber to remove the buildup.
Using a good commercial tub and tile cleaner specifically formulated to break down soap scum is the quickest way to eliminate heavy buildups. Likewise, for any type of mineral deposits or stains, a product targeting the specific type of stain will be the quickest way to get rid of it.
Don’t forget to run your bathroom vent fan or open a window if you’re using cleaning products that produce fumes.
If you have any type of buildup or mildew but you’re averse to using strong chemicals, here are some ideas for more natural cleaning agents:
~Use an equal mixture of baking soda and Castile soap. Scrub with a nylon cleaning pad to remove soap scum buildup. Re-apply and rinse until you are satisfied with the results.
~To remove mildew from grout, spray liberally with hydrogen peroxide and allow it to sit for 20 minutes, then scrub grout with a toothbrush or scrub brush and rinse. Re-apply peroxide to areas that don’t come totally clean and repeat the process.
~Try straight vinegar on areas with mineral stains or deposits. Spray on, allow it to sit for an hour or more, and then scrub the area with a stiff brush or nylon scrubber. Rinse, and repeat the process, if necessary.
Clean the toilet. To remove toilet stains, try using two or three cups of straight vinegar; pour in and let it sit for a while.
Clean the floor. This is the time to really clean areas behind the toilet and in corners.
Reassemble your room. Take satisfaction in knowing that the toughest cleaning job in the whole house is now over and done. Excellent work!
Day 6: Living Areas
Today your deep cleaning challenge is your family room, living room, and other common areas. Because these are the spaces where we usually entertain company, they tend to be kept in pretty good shape. Your prime objective is getting to areas that aren’t usually in the line of fire when you clean, like under and behind furniture.
Start out by setting aside any objects-de-art or other bric-a-brac so they don’t get broken in the throes of your cleaning frenzy.
Remove small area rugs to wash or shake outside and left to air.
This is a good time to wash textiles like throws that you snuggle under in cold weather.
Dust ceiling fans and light fixtures, ceiling and walls. Clean or dust wall sconces, pictures, wall art, wall hangings.
Dust or vacuum louvered doors, ridged doors, door frames, window frames, shutters.
Work your way downward, dusting any chair rails and baseboards.
If you have baseboard heaters, don’t forget to clean ridges and spaces underneath, not just the top edge.
Vacuum air vent covers with a dusting brush or use your dusting tool.
Dust or wash woodwork. Spot clean walls, switch plates, door frames.
Move furniture around to get to all the walls and other surfaces that need to be dusted and washed. Be careful not to scratch the floor when moving furniture. If you can lift a piece of furniture enough to slide soft cloths under the legs, then you can shove it around on a bare floor.
Thoroughly dust any built-in shelves. Either remove objects completely or shift them so you can dust behind and under them. Dust other areas that you don’t normally clean, like inside of china closets, if necessary. If it’s not dusty inside, don’t bother. Free-standing bookshelves or other shelves that hold objects-de-art should be thoroughly dusted or vacuumed. It’s sometimes easier to vacuum the top side of books with a dusting brush attachment. If there’s a space behind books, pull them out and dust back there.
Thoroughly vacuum upholstered furniture. If cushions are removable, turn them over. You can use upholstery cleaner if you feel the need. Test the upholstery cleaner on your fabric first. Spray on, then blot with a clean, damp cloth. Keep rinsing the cloth in clear water and blotting at the upholstery until it’s clean.
Vacuum lampshades carefully, if they’re dusty. Or use a clean, damp cloth to dust them off.
Vacuum window treatments.
Clean the floor.
Reassemble your room. Replace objects that you removed earlier. Replace throw rugs and any textiles that you washed or aired.
Smell the clean air. Admire your handiwork. Well done!
Day 7: The Kitchen
This is it, day seven of your seven-day challenge. This is the home stretch. The kitchen is the one room in the house that most people tend to keep pretty clean. If this is the case in your home, deep cleaning your kitchen shouldn’t be too difficult.
Start out by getting rid of stuff that’s been sitting around for a while. Clean out closets, cupboards, and drawers. Then reorganize. This is a good time to rearrange those plastic storage containers that you can never find the lids for or to rearrange your pots and pans.
Clean out food cupboards. Take stuff out or shift it around so you can see what you have and get rid of anything with expired dates or that is obviously no good. Don’t forget cupboards up high that you never use.
If you have a drawer under your oven, clean and reorganize that too.
After all your closets, cupboards and drawers are in good shape it’s time to clean.
Temporarily remove knickknacks while you clean. If you have a collection of plates hanging on the walls or salt and pepper shakers on a shelf, this is the time to wash them.
Remove any throw rugs and wash or shake outside and leave them to air. Remove window treatments, if you are washing or airing them.
Eliminate cobwebs and dust from the ceiling, ceiling fans, light fixtures, walls, wall hangings, tops of cupboards.
Dust any furniture. Thoroughly wipe down kitchen table and chairs and any kitchen stools.
Wash or spot clean woodwork, doors, doorknobs. Kitchen doors and doorways attract dirty fingerprints, so pay special attention to these areas.
Clean cupboard doors and drawer fronts.
Clean the stove vent fan cover.
Clean appliance fronts and inside the microwave.
Clean inside the refrigerator thoroughly: wipe down walls, shelves, remove drawers, clean inside the door.
Clean under the refrigerator. If your fridge is on wheels, pull it out to clean the floor underneath, and clean any dust or cobwebs from the back of the fridge and the wall behind it.
Clean the stove top: remove drip pans, if applicable, and scrub. Clean the oven, too, if necessary.
Clean countertops, backsplash, and countertop appliances. If they haven’t been done in a while, take your time and get into all the corners.
Clean garbage container.
Clean the floor.
Reassemble the room: replace curtains, blinds, rugs, knick-knacks, etc.
That’s it! You’ve completed your seven-day deep-cleaning challenge. Your home is now clean from top to bottom and well-organized to boot. It will stay that way if you stick to a regular cleaning routine from here on out. Since you’ve gone to the trouble of whipping your home into shape, why not give it a try? Keeping a clean home is all about maintenance. Set up a regular schedule to routinely clean your home and then stick to it. Once you get going, you’ll see how easy it is.
For today, pat yourself on the back because you’ve done a lot of work and a really great job. Congratulations!