Starting a House Cleaning Service

pexels-photo-1587009
Photo by Moose Photos on Pexels.com

A house cleaning service is a very simple business to start up. You don’t need a big investment or any specialized education or an enormous inventory.  To succeed, you do need to know how to clean a house, and you should have some specific qualities, outlined in my post Do You Have What It Takes To Successfully Operate Your Own House Cleaning Service?

Despite being quite simple to get up and running, a cleaning service does require that you consider a number of factors. Planning these out in advance is advisable so that once you’re ready to go, the process of launching your business will be simple and straightforward.

These factors include the following:

  • How will you advertise your business?
  • In what geographic area are you willing to work?
  • How far are you willing to travel?
  • What will you charge?
  • Will you charge by the hour or by the job?
  • Will you use the clients’ supplies or provide your own?
  • How many hours per week and per day are you willing to work?
  • What days of the week are you available to work?
  • What tasks will you perform as part of your typical cleaning regimen?
  • Are there any limitations to what you’re willing to do?
  • What are your business policies?
  • How will you keep track of client information such as names, addresses, security codes?
  • How will you keep track of your schedule?
  • How will you record your income and expenses?
  • Will you be bonded/insured?
  • Do you know some people who you can use as references?

How Will You Advertise?

Advertising is the means through which you will get clients when you’re starting out. Some ideas for connecting with potential customers include:

  • Telling friends and family that you’re starting a business.
  • Getting business cards printed up to hand out to people and leave in strategic spots.
  • Printing up flyers to post on bulletin boards.
  • Setting up a website.
  • Using local online classified ads or yellow page ads.
  • Networking on social media.
  • Placing an ad in a local newspaper or free paper.

Where Will You Work?

Figure out where, geographically, you will work. How far do you want to travel? Clearly communicating your territory when you advertise saves both you and potential clients time and trouble.

What Will You Charge?

The next thing to think about is your fee structure. Will you work by the job or by the hour? What will you charge? Do some research about the fees other cleaning services in your area charge.

When you’re starting out, the simpler approach is charging by the hour. Giving flat rate estimates requires some know-how about the time it will take for you to perform a job, which might be tricky when you don’t have a firm handle on timing. Plus, a lot of people will already have an idea what they want to spend, so charging by the hour makes it easy for them to decide if you’re offering a better deal than someone else.

Will You Provide Supplies?

Another factor to think about is whether you will provide cleaning supplies or use the clients’. Using the clients’ supplies is easier because you don’t have to carry a bunch of stuff around with you, lugging it in and out of your vehicle and people’s houses. Cleaning requires, at a minimum, a vacuum cleaner, mop, bucket, toilet brush, cleaning cloths, glass cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, bathroom cleaner, and specialty cleaners. Some clients like to have certain products used on their surfaces, as well.

I’ve always felt that it’s better to use each individual client’s vacuum cleaner, mop, cloths, etc. because this eliminates the potential of dragging germs, odors, and dirt from one person’s home to the next.

How Many Hours Per Day and Week Will You Work?

The next consideration is figuring out how many hours you want to work. Do you want to work the same number of hours each day or will it vary? Figuring this out ahead of time makes it easier to schedule jobs when the time comes.

What Days Will You Work?

Also decide what days you want to work and at what times. For example, Monday to Friday 9 to 4, or just mornings, or extending into evenings, or including weekends. Many people like to have their houses cleaned between 9:00 and 4:00 on weekdays. However, if you would prefer to work early mornings, evenings, or weekends, you’ll probably find some folks looking for someone to work during those hours.

What Tasks Will You Perform?

Clearly defining what specific tasks will be part of your cleaning routine is important. You will want to be on the same page with clients from day one.

To help you figure out what to include in your typical cleaning routine, I’ve compiled a  sample list of the chores a house cleaner might perform when doing a cleaning job for a client.

Tasks that are done in all rooms:

  • Working from high to low, eliminate cobwebs or dust along the edge where the walls and ceilings meet, on the ceiling itself, and in corners.
  • Dust ceiling fan blades, light fixtures, and anything else up high.
  • Dust the top edges of curtains and valances or other window treatments, window blinds, window sills, window grates, shutters inside windows.
  • Dust the edges of picture frames and wall-hangings.
  • Dust ridges on multi-panel doors, louvered doors, tops of door frames and doors, chair rails, air-vent covers.
  • Dust free-standing floor lamps, lampshades, finials, light bulbs, floor lamp bases.
  • Dust baseboards, baseboard heaters.
  • Spot clean fingerprints and other marks on walls, switch plates, doors and door frames.
  • Clean doorknobs, handrails, banisters.
  • Clean exterior glass doors and spot-clean insides of windows if necessary.

Tasks in the living room, family room, foyer, den, dining room, bedrooms, similar rooms:

  • Dust tables, shelves, stands, curios, dressers, chests, and other similar furniture, as well as the stuff on top, such as bric-a-brac, electronics, books, clocks, lamps, pictures.
  • Dust the sides, legs, and feet of furniture. Eliminate any cobwebs along bottom edges.
  • Spot clean glass doors on things like china cabinets.
  • Spot clean mirrors.
  • Dust (or vacuum with a dusting brush) fireplace hearths.
  • Wipe down or dust leather furniture.
  • Vacuum upholstered furniture as needed.
  • Clean the floors: vacuum, sweep or dust mop bare floors & damp mop as needed.

Cleaning interior stairways:

  • Vacuum or sweep stairs.
  • Dust around spindles, the spindles themselves if necessary, and any moldings.
  • Wash stairs and risers.

Kitchen cleaning tasks:

  • Dust ceilings, blinds, furniture, baseboards, the top of the refrigerator, and the tops of cupboards if they don’t meet the ceiling.
  • Wipe down table and chairs or stools.
  • Clean appliance fronts: microwave, dishwasher, refrigerator, trash compacter, stove, oven(s).
  • Clean inset water or ice dispenser in the refrigerator door.
  • Clean inside the microwave.
  • Clean cook top.
  • Clean top of range hood.
  • Wipe off the countertops and backsplashes.
  • Wash the outsides of appliances on the counters.
  • De-crumb the toaster or toaster oven.
  • Spot clean cupboard doors and drawer fronts.
  • Clean garbage container outside and/or inside.
  • Clean the sink
  • Sweep/vacuum/mop the floor.

Laundry room tasks:

  • Dust from the ceiling down, as in all rooms.
  • Dust all flat surfaces, ridges on cupboard doors.
  • Spot clean the outsides of washer, dryer, any other appliances, clean dispensers for laundry soap, fabric softener, clean door gaskets.
  • Vacuum the dryer lint trap.
  • Spot clean cupboard doors and wipe off any countertops.
  • Clean utility sink.
  • Clean floor.

Bathrooms:

  • Dust furniture, edges of towel racks, the lip along the top of partially tiled walls, the ridges around the top of shower walls, the top edge of shower curtains or shower doors, blinds and window grates, knick-knack shelves, and the edge along the top side of medicine cabinets or other cupboards.
  • Dust the covers on any ceiling vents.
  • Dust light fixtures.
  • If walls are tiled, clean with a damp cloth and buff dry, or spot clean.
  • Clean sink and vanity.
  • Spot clean cupboard doors.
  • Clean mirrors.
  • Clean tub/shower.
  • Clean the toilet inside and out.
  • Sweep/vacuum/mop the floor.

Also consider if you’ll do things like picking up clutter, washing windows, doing laundry, making beds, changing linens, picking up cleaning supplies for clients, taking broken vacuum cleaners to the repair shop, or running other errands. People might also ask you to water plants, let their dog outside or take him for a walk, and even watch their children “just for ten minutes while I run to the store”.

If there are any tasks that you flat out don’t want to do, make a note of these as well. For example, if you don’t want to clean windows or do any jobs that call for working outside, like sweeping off a porch.

What Are Your Policies?

The more clearly your policies are spelled out, the less room there will be for confusion later on. It can be helpful to write up a list of policies to hand to potential clients to make clear what you will and will not do.

How Will You Keep Track of Client Information?

You’ll need a system for keeping track of clients’ names, addresses, phone numbers, entry codes, and keys. Your system should safeguard clients’ personal information in the event that keys or your phone or address book are lost or stolen.

How Will You Keep Track of Your Schedule?

Plan a system for setting up and keeping track of your schedule. You might use your phone, or a spreadsheet, or a pocket organizer. If you have very many clients, you might find that it’s easier to use a calendar or table to help visualize what time slots are open on your schedule.

How Will You Keep Track of Income and Expenses?

Keeping track of income and expenses will also be part of your business record keeping. Your system can be as simple or complicated as you would like it to be. One easy option would be to keep a notebook with weekly totals written in as you go along. Or you could use a spreadsheet or ledger paper.

Will You Buy Insurance?

Another consideration when you set up your business will be whether you want to be bonded and insured. Bonding is a form of insurance that covers losses to customers if something gets broken while you’re cleaning their home. Liability insurance protects you in case someone sues you. You can also buy insurance to cover on-the-job injuries.

Do You Have References?

Finally, make a list of people who would be willing to vouch for your excellent work ethic, honesty, and integrity. New clients might ask for references, so having a list on hand will be helpful.
People you might ask could be prior supervisors, teachers, coaches, or friends. Make sure it’s ok with the people you’ve selected and let them know you’ll be giving out their information so they’re not surprised if someone calls.

Launching a business, even one as simple as a cleaning service, involves many details. Giving some thought to these details ahead of time means that when your business gets going you’ll be free to spend your time and energy doing the important work that brings in income: booking jobs and cleaning houses!

For more tips about starting or running a house cleaning service, check out my book How To Become a Cleaning Pro: The Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service, available on Amazon.

Advertisements

Do You Have What It Takes To Successfully Operate Your Own House Cleaning Service?

architectural design architecture ceiling chairs
Photo by Marc Mueller on Pexels.com

Starting a house cleaning service is pretty simple. You don’t need fancy office space or a huge bankroll or any special licenses. But cleaning houses for a living isn’t for just anyone. You need to have some specific qualifications and qualities as well as the drive to succeed and a willingness to work.

I’ve been a house cleaner for many years, and I’ve seen a lot of people jump into professional house cleaning without really understanding what the job entails. I’ve also heard from my customers about other house cleaners who didn’t know how to clean, didn’t have good customer service skills, or who just didn’t like to clean.

So if you’re toying with the idea of starting your own house cleaning service, I recommend that you spend a little time doing a self-assessment to determine if you really have what it takes to succeed. Based on my experience in the field, I offer the following tips to assist you in this endeavor.

Do You Know How to Clean a House? Are You Interested in Cleaning?

The first thing you should ask yourself is whether you really know how to clean a house. As long as you have basic house cleaning skills, you can improve upon them as you go. However, if you’re a terrible housekeeper and/or you hate cleaning, there’s no cure for that. A successful house cleaner doesn’t mind cleaning, is interested in learning more about cleaning, and is proficient at cleaning on a basic level at the very least.

Do You Have an Eye for Detail?

House cleaning is a lot more involved than just sweeping floors and cleaning toilets. A good house cleaner knows what a cobweb is and understands that dust settles on the top of the refrigerator even though you can’t see it. A good house cleaner pays attention to little details like dust on lamp finials and fingerprints on switch plates.

Cleaning a house means scrubbing dirty showers into submission and taking the time to buff ceramic floors to a brilliant shine. Cleaning professionally involves paying attention to hundreds of little specifics and making quick decisions about what details are important today and which will wait until next time. A good house cleaner makes sure freshly-cleaned areas look and smell freshly cleaned.

If you understand cleaning basics, have an eye for detail, and are willing to learn, that’s enough to get you going. Your skills will improve over time. Mine did.

Do You Have Good Communication Skills?

When I started out I had a good idea how to clean a house, so I thought I was some kind of expert. I wasn’t. Fortunately, I had good listening skills and was receptive and responsive to the instructions given to me by my new clients. I soon figured out that cleaning for other people is not the same as cleaning your own house.

Everybody has their own idea about what constitutes a clean house. Cleaning for other people requires that you ask questions and pay attention to the feedback you receive from clients. Your success as a professional house cleaner will require good communication skills so you are able to extract specific information from folks regarding their expectations of you and then find out how they think you’re doing as you go along.

You’ll also need to be thick skinned if the feedback you receive isn’t always positive, and you’ll have to be flexible in response to people’s expectations. When a client lets you know she wasn’t happy with something, you can’t take it personally because it’s the client’s satisfaction that defines a job well done.

When you’re starting out as a cleaning pro, there’s bound to be a learning curve. It’s important to maintain a good attitude and act professionally as you become familiar with the job. The only way you can figure out what the clients want is if they tell you.

Cleaning for other people tends to be very subjective. What I think is clean and what you think is clean might be different. And what the client thinks is clean is all that really matters.

Each cleaning job is different; some clients are fussier than others, all have differing expectations, and the makeup of homes one to the next varies.

Are You in Good Physical Condition?

Some homes are much more difficult to clean than others. House cleaning in general requires the stamina to stand and move for long stretches of time. Some houses have lots of stairs. Some homes have lots of low-placed objects that require bending or squatting to reach. Cleaning for a living is a physically demanding job.

A strong back and general good physical condition are non-negotiable unless you want to be in constant pain. The movements a house cleaner performs again and again all day long use muscles in the neck and the entire back, plus arms, wrists, and legs. You’ll also need to have feet strong enough to carry you through the days. If you’re starting out with any type of severe back, knee, hip, or foot injuries, your house cleaning career won’t last long.

Do You Have Business Sense and Organizational Skills?

Other key elements to successfully running a cleaning service include having at least a bit of business sense and good organizational skills. To operate a business you must be able to keep track of income and expenses and deal with customers in a professional manner.

Organizational skills are important, because you will have to be able to keep track of where you’re supposed to be each day and you’ll need a system to keep records of clients’ names, addresses, phone numbers, security information, door keys, and special instructions for each job.

Do You Have Reliable Transportation?

Reliable transportation is another essential element to operating a cleaning service. Clients will expect you to consistently arrive at the agreed-upon time. It’s up to you to make sure that’s possible. You will not be successful if you’re unable to guarantee that you will show up on time consistently.

Do You Have Integrity and a Strong Work Ethic?

Finally, integrity and a strong work ethic are absolutely necessary for you to succeed as a self-employed house cleaner. You’ve got to have the drive and determination to show up every day and do the work that you promised to do to the best of your ability. You may often work unsupervised, which means you’ll have to be self-motivated.

Successful house cleaners aren’t lazy. They don’t cancel jobs simply because they don’t feel like working that day. A strong work ethic means having the self-discipline and maturity to police yourself into showing up every day, on time, leaving personal problems at the door.

Integrity is necessary because people trust house cleaners to enter their personal space, handle their possessions, and become part of their private lives. House cleaners are privy to clients’ secrets. We see things no one else outside the family sees. House cleaners have to be honest and must be able to treat clients respectfully, which includes respecting their right to privacy.

From reading this post, you should now have a good idea of whether you have what it takes to successfully operate a house cleaning business.

In summary:

~Do you know how to clean a house?

~Do you have an eye for detail?

~Are you interested in cleaning and willing to continually work to improve your cleaning skills?

~Do you have good listening and communication skills?

~Are you in physically good shape?

~Do you have business sense and organizational skills?

~Do you have a means of reliable transportation?

~Do you possess integrity and a strong work ethic?

Cleaning houses every day is hard work, but it is also very rewarding. It’s a good way to make a decent living, and clients are grateful for a job well done. The “well done” part of that statement is the most important part. Clients aren’t interested in paying top dollar for bad or unreliable service.

If you possess the qualities outlined above and are willing to work hard and act like a mature professional, congratulations! You have what it takes to successfully operate your own house cleaning service!

For more tips about starting or running a house cleaning service, check out my book How To Become a Cleaning Pro: The Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service, available on Amazon.

Clean Your Home Often to Spend Less Time Cleaning

empty kitchen with white wooden cabinet
Photo by Milly Eaton on Pexels.com

Did you ever wonder how people keep such clean homes? You know the ones: those friends or acquaintances who never hesitate to invite you in when you show up unexpectedly at their door. Those folks whose kitchen counters are never buried in groceries that haven’t yet been put away, whose kitchen sinks are never overflowing with dirty dishes, whose floors are never desperately in need of an appointment with the dustmop.

Clean Often

The secrets to keeping an unvaryingly clean home are simple: frequency and habituation. Tidying up and wiping down on a regular basis ensures that your home never reaches a state of disaster. Plus, integrating a regular cleaning routine into your lifestyle means that in time, cleaning will become as automatic to you as showering every day.

Frequency is your friend where house cleaning is concerned. Spending twenty minutes every day or two on upkeep is an investment in your free time this weekend. And it actually saves time in the long run.

Clutter Spreads

Here’s how: unchecked clutter breeds when you’re not looking. It’s a scientific fact. One little pile of mishmash becomes an overspread mountain virtually overnight. This is why it’s quicker and easier to deal with it as you go along.

Spot Clean to Save Time

The same principle applies to cleaning up dirty messes. Spot cleaning the kitchen every day or two takes ten minutes. Leave it all until Saturday night at 9:30 and I guarantee it’ll take at least an hour and a half. Juice spills and crumbs congeal into something roughly resembling textured cement. Stovetop messes that would have taken 30 seconds to wipe clean when they first made an appearance have now dried up and cooked on, and it’ll be a fifteen minute job scrubbing them clean. And let’s not talk about whatever that is congealed on the floor.

This holds true in every room of the house. Some strange inverse reaction takes place with dirt and grime. The longer it sits, the tougher it becomes to remove. It’s like it grows roots.

The Learning Curve

Frequency also works in your favor due to the cleaning learning curve. Simply put, the repetition of any action increases your speed and ability to perform the action. So the more frequently you clean, the better you get at it, which means you can do it more quickly.

The universal truth of cleaning is that the more frequently you clean your home, the less time it takes each time you do it. Getting into the habit of cleaning regularly not only ensures that you’re never caught off guard with a messy house, it saves you time in the long run. Your home will never get to the point of being such a disaster that you have to blow your entire Saturday cleaning.

Work Out a Routine

It’ll take a little thought to work out a routine that fits into your schedule. For example, spot clean every other day and then dust, vacuum, and mop on the weekend. Or do one room every day. Or whatever what will work with your schedule. Then stick to the plan. Within a very short time, cleaning will be another routine part of your life.

Frequency and habituation. That’s all it takes. House cleaning is maintenance, like getting your hair cut or your oil changed. Take the time to establish routines, follow through, and before you know it cleaning will be just another item that gets crossed off your to-do list every day. No thought required. Then you’ll be one of those people who are never embarrassed to invite unexpected company inside your home.

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.

architectural design architecture ceiling chairs
Photo by Marc Mueller on Pexels.com

The Art of Modern Housekeeping

Has the art of keeping house truly been lost, or has it simply evolved to meet the demands of modern-day life? Those who keep house in our day and age have the same goals as homemakers of yesteryear: providing a safe and clean environment in which to live, raise families, and entertain.

irobot

The Modern World

These days, machines make house cleaning easier than ever before. The variety of available cleaning products is staggering. Appliances clean themselves. Surfaces resist stains and repel pollutants. Fabrics are wrinkle-free, food comes ready to cook, gadgets and gizmos galore assist in all phases of running a household.

The Modern Family

The modern homemaker is an entirely different animal than the homemaker of the past. The traditional male/female head-of-household pair consisting of a beleaguered female pulling double shifts every day while her wayward spouse spends his time on the golf course or in a barroom has evolved into something quite different.

Modern households are made up of diverse family units, many headed up by non-traditional couples whose genders may be registered on a spectrum rather than defined by fixed labels. This blurring of gender lines makes for a variety of interesting differences between the homemakers of today and the career women of the eighties who did double-duty as the family housekeeper or the stay-at-home housewives of the fifties.

door window

Manager versus Laborer

Today’s household members increasingly share the burden of keeping house or simply bring in outside help. The modern homemaker is often more of a manager than an actual laborer. Machines must be operated, programmed, maintained, and replaced when necessary. Hired help has to be given instructions and feedback. When homemaking is a group endeavor, someone has to set goals, make a plan, and generally lead the group.

Challenges Have Changed

The challenges faced by today’s homemaker differ vastly from those of the past. Today’s family manager has to, first and foremost, be concerned with the security of family members. The world seems much more dangerous than it used to be and is certainly more sophisticated, often in undesirable ways. Children can’t be simply sent off to walk to school on their own or left to their own devices in the afternoon. There are far too many perils and pitfalls.

House Cleaning is Still Important

House cleaning isn’t the top priority for today’s homemaker, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a priority. No one wants to live in a dirty house. People are busier than ever before living their best possible lives, trying to reach their full potential, and generally trying to accomplish everything on their bucket lists. Toilet cleaning comes in slightly lower priority-wise than soccer practice and rock climbing.

House Cleaning Is More Hit-and-Miss

House cleaning today is much more chaotic than in days of yore. It’s more hit-and-miss, with less concern about cobwebs and dust bunnies. The good-enough approach is the rule of the day. This world has so much to offer that there’s little time left to worry about whether or not there’s dust under the bed.

Homemakers Have More Choices

Modern homemakers face myriad choices with regard to products and methodology. Use-this-don’t-use-that alarmists and here-today-gone-tomorrow trends, as well as a dizzying array of products, pull consumers in all directions.

No one has to do it the way their mother did; there are so many choices and YouTube videos that any chore can be performed fifteen different ways. Cleaning a bathroom shower can be approached from so many angles that it becomes almost impossible to hone the process down to the one, perfect method that will get the job done quickly and effectively every time. There are just too many choices and it’s too tempting to keep searching for the easiest method rather than settling on one that’s good enough. It always seems like there’s a better way.

blind

Silly Details Matter Less

Modern homemakers don’t concern themselves overly much with silly little details that no one cares about. They don’t waste hours upon hours dismantling things in order to clean them, or color-coding the linen closet, or researching new ways to clean grout. Our disposable world makes it easy to throw it out and buy a new one rather than try to get it clean, whatever it may be. Whether this is right or wrong isn’t the point; it’s just how our modern world is.

The Modern Homemaker

The homemaker of the past is, indeed, dead and buried. But the role has been replaced with a much more interesting, well-rounded, satisfied homemaker whose job involves less drudgery and more spice. Housekeeping, while still important, plays a less important role in modern families. Sure, the toilet still gets cleaned, but not in a “Saturday is cleaning day above all else” kind of way.

Today’s homemaker is fluid; the role constantly evolving along with the technology in our world and the availability of better and more advanced gadgets and gizmos to make housework less work-y.

Housekeeping as an art form is alive and well. It’s just different than it used to be. And so are today’s homemakers.

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.

Make House Cleaning Easier

rectangular white and black wooden display rack beside green snake plant
Photo by Huy Phan on Pexels.com

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

Organize Your Possessions

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

Organizing is simple, really.

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

And here’s the best part:

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

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

Clean As You Go

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

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

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

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

Use the Right Equipment

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

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

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

 

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

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

Stay Focused

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

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

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

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

 

Home Cleaning Tips To Maximize Efficiency

photo of dining table on top of wooden floor
Photo by Milly Eaton on Pexels.com

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.

Minimize Clutter

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.

dusting furniture

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.

Use Minimal Supplies

Use as few cleaning agents and tools as you can; the less stuff to have to tote around and keep track of, the better.

Clean With a Buddy

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.

Think Ahead

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.

Work Continuously

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.

microwave

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.

 

Dust Your Ceiling Fans

Make it a point to regularly dust areas that accumulate dust such as ceiling fan blades, under beds, on top of the refrigerator, tops of cupboards and wardrobes, and any other places that are not part of your regular dusting regimen. Removing as much dust as possible from surfaces means there’s less dust to end up re-circulating in the air.

Use a Dusting Tool

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.

vacuum lampshade

Stay Motivated

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.

Delegate

Make house cleaning a team effort. Many sets of hands get the job done quicker. Make a chart, assign chores, do whatever gets the job done quickly and efficiently.

Make a List

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.

light fixture

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.

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.

 

Washing Dirty Vinyl or Metal Blinds

dustblindOver the years, I’ve tried a lot of different methods for cleaning dirty window blinds. In my experience, you have to really want to have spotless blinds to bother even attempting this, because blind washing isn’t a lot of fun. It takes time and elbow grease. I have found two methods that work well.

You need a bathtub for method one. If you don’t have a bathtub, skip to method two. Also remember these methods are for vinyl or metal blinds only. If you are cleaning vertical blinds, the slats can usually be removed from the headrail for cleaning.

Method 1

Put some warm water and all-purpose cleaner in a bathtub and immerse the blind in the water. Kneel beside the tub (you may want a towel under your knees) and, using a scrub brush, rag, or sponge, scrub several slats at a time until they are all clean. Reverse the slats or flip the blind over and repeat the process on the other side.

Drain the soapy water and replace with clean water to rinse the blind. Carefully wrap the blind in a towel to catch dripping water, and take it outside. Drape the blind over a railing or hang it up somewhere else to dry. You can hang it in the shower to dry if you can’t take it outside. Wherever you hang it, bear in mind that it will drip water for a while.

Method 2

Take the blind outside and find a clean place to lay it down, or place a tarp or some plastic sheeting on the ground and lay the blind on top. Spray all-purpose cleaner on the blind, then, using a long-handled brush, kneel or squat beside the blind and scrub the slats, working in sections.

When you finish one side, turn it over and repeat the procedure. Then take a hose or bucket of water and rinse the blind until all the crud and soap is gone. Hang the blind from a railing or clothesline or tree branch until it is dry.

Either procedure is time-consuming and tedious. The only consolation I can offer is that blinds always look really good afterward.

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.

 

Spring Clean Express: Deep Cleaning Shortcuts

flower

Spring is the time to refresh and rejuvenate. It’s also an excellent opportunity to do those cleaning jobs around the house that you don’t usually get around to doing. Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be a major undertaking. Just a few minutes here and there can get the job done.

 

Vacuum Upholstered Furniture

The next time you’ve got the vacuum cleaner out, tackle upholstered furniture. Vacuuming and rotating sofa and chair cushions takes just a few minutes, freshens the furniture, and prolongs its life. Use the upholstery tool or dusting brush attachments, depending on your furniture’s composition. Be gentle on delicate fabrics.

dust ceilng

Get Rid of Cobwebs

Use a telescoping dusting tool to reach cobwebs that form in high spots, like where walls and ceiling meet, on light fixtures and ceiling fans, along the tops of window and door frames, and in any recessed areas like skylights. While you’re at it, dust the tops of any cabinets or tall furniture.

Freshen Window Treatments

Dust horizontal blinds with a damp cloth or your vacuum cleaner dusting tool. Vacuum heavyweight curtains; take lightweight curtains outdoors and give them a good shaking to remove dust. Use a dusting wand to get into all the spaces on interior window shutters.

dustblind

Wash Windows

If you’ve got tip-ins, this tedious task goes quickly. Have a supply of dry rags on hand. Make a window cleaning solution by mixing a half cup of ammonia into a gallon pail of water. Use a sponge or rag to wipe clean your window surface, rinsing your sponge as necessary. When your surface is squeaky clean, buff with a dry cloth. Switch out your cloths as they become damp to avoid streaking.

Dust Your Curio Cabinet

Spend a few minutes dusting inside cabinets that aren’t routinely cleaned. This is an excellent opportunity to cut down on the free dust circulating in your air. The more dust you can eliminate from your environment, the less dust there is floating around, waiting to settle down on your grandma’s crystal.

Purge Your Pantry

Remove items from your pantry, sorting as you go. Discard expired foods or anything that looks suspect. Dust shelves and re-organize as you restock.

Wash Entry Mats

Rubber and rubber-backed mats and rugs can be sprayed with an equal vinegar/water mixture and then hosed off outside. Leave to dry in the fresh air and sunshine. They’ll look and smell like new.

These are just a few ideas to give your home a spring boost. For more quick home freshen-ups, check out my post Cleaning Secrets: Details Matter.

Look around and see what else needs to be cleaned, polished, or freshened up. Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be a big deal, but it can make a big difference in the way your home looks and smells.

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

 

Don’t Forget to Clean Under the Kitchen Sink

 

photo of a kitchen sink
Photo by KML on Pexels.com

There are lots of tasks that fall outside the scope of a typical house cleaning routine. For this reason, it’s important to watch out for any areas that are starting to look dirty or smell funky. Sometimes when we see things every day we don’t notice the gradual changes that are right in front of us.

One notoriously grungy and commonly overlooked area lies right below the epicenter of your kitchen: the sink. This space often holds things that are not food-related. Cleaning supplies are frequently stored here. Some people keep their garbage container in this space.

It’s also a spot that sometimes ends up with moisture problems due to leaks. From time to time, make it a point to take everything out, wipe up any spills or other messes, discard anything that isn’t useful, and rearrange what’s left.

Another kitchen hazard is the pantry. Food cupboards harbor spills that can easily attract insects or rodents. They also often contain outdated products that ought to be tossed out so they’re not inadvertently served to friends or family. Making it a practice to periodically remove all items, cleaning and sorting as you go, reduces the likelihood of attracting unwanted visitors or poisoning the ones you asked in for lunch.

Along similar lines, the refrigerator typically needs attention from time to time. Regularly get rid of anything that isn’t fresh. Any foul odor deserves your immediate attention. Every so often, wipe down the inside. Walls, shelves, the racks inside the door, as well as drawers, all need to be cleaned. Food spills, crumbs, and drips typically occur over time and won’t go away on their own.

Other areas of the house also need a little extra sprucing up on occasion. Light fixtures and lampshades often accumulate dust or cobwebs that we don’t notice. Dust lampshades gently with a clean paintbrush, a hair dryer, a microfiber dusting wand, or a clean, damp cloth. Alternatively, vacuum lampshades with your dusting tool attachment (use low suction). Light fixtures may be easily dusted with a dusting wand.

Glass shades that are cloudy from dust or dirt can be hand-washed with a little dish detergent in warm water. Glass prisms or shades that aren’t easily removed can be cleaned with a 50/50 mix of rubbing alcohol and water applied with a soft cloth and then buffed dry with a second, dry cloth.

Couch and chair cushions often harbor objects, crumbs, dirt, and pet hair. Periodically vacuuming this space easily remedies this situation. It sometimes pays off, too, if there are loose coins among the paraphernalia.

clean switchplate

Fingerprints and smudges on walls, switch plates, door frames, and handrails often go unnoticed. Whatever doesn’t come clean with a damp cloth or sponge will easily be removed with an eraser-type sponge. Don’t scrub too hard or you’ll remove your paint along with the dirt.

Ceiling fans are the number one dust draws in your home, and are quite commonly overlooked on cleaning day. Dusting ceiling fan blades on a regular basis is an excellent way to remove dust from your environment. Use these dust traps to your advantage.

These are just a few of the many jobs that should be done from time to time in order to keep your home at its best. More ideas can be found in my post Cobweb Patrol: What Are You Missing When You Clean Your Home?

Hone your eye for detail by paying attention to things like dusty blinds and fingerprints on windows. Whatever house cleaning routine you generally adhere to, there’s always more stuff that needs attention. A little extra time spent here and there ensures that your home stays in great shape everywhere.

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

 

House Cleaning 101 Introduction to Making Your Home Shiny and Clean

sweepIf you’re a total cleaning novice, you’re in the right place. This is Cleaning 101, the introductory course to making your home shiny and clean. Cleaning is both simple and complicated at the same time. At its core, house cleaning is quite simply the means through which dirt and other unwanted substances are removed from your living space.

There are also many nuances to cleaning which make it complicated. We won’t worry about the nuances today. Our focus today will be on some basic home cleaning fundamentals.

Cleaning is a Process

The first thing you should understand about house cleaning is that it’s a process. Done properly, cleaning isn’t something that only happens once in a while. Keeping a home shiny and clean requires commitment. Simply put: the more frequently you clean, the nicer your home will look and smell. It’s therefore necessary to establish a cleaning routine that involves cleaning your home on a regular basis.

Establish a Routine

Figure out a schedule that will easily fit into your lifestyle. Your routine could be carried out daily, weekly, every other week, or some combination thereof. Whatever the routine, the most important element is that you have one. Get into the habit of cleaning your home on a regular basis in order to ensure that it stays clean.

Doing an extensive cleaning of your home once every six months isn’t a cleaning routine; it’s damage control. When dirt and grime sit around for a long time, they begin to degrade surfaces. Furthermore, it’s much more difficult to remove long term buildups; a process that is both time consuming and potentially damaging to the surface. Refer to my blog post Cleaning Secrets: Frequency is Your Friend to expand your knowledge on the subject.

gloves

Get Some Supplies

After deciding on a cleaning schedule, you’ll need to know what supplies to have on hand. The short list: a broom or vacuum cleaner, a mop for bare floors, a bucket, a toilet brush, some rags or cloths, sponges, possibly a dusting wand (makes the job go quicker), and some basic agents for cleaning glass, appliances, countertops, bathroom fixtures, floors, and any other surfaces. My post entitled Back to Basics: What Supplies Do You Really Need To Clean A House? gives more in-depth info on this topic.

Get Busy

Once you’ve got your cleaning supplies, it’s time to get busy. First de-clutter and organize your living space as much as possible. It’s a lot easier to clean surfaces that aren’t covered in stuff. Organizing and de-cluttering are the prime prerequisites to keeping a clean home. This step might take ten minutes, or a week and a half, depending on your particular state of clutter. If need be, just work around the clutter for now and plan to organize and de-clutter incrementally.

Strategize

Next, take a few minutes to strategize your plan of attack. Decide how much time you have available to spend on cleaning. Then take a quick walk through your home, getting an idea of what needs to be done. Refer to my House Cleaning Checklist post for ideas about what specific tasks comprise the steps in cleaning a house.

Look for trouble spots as well as areas that don’t need any attention. Once you’ve got an overall picture of the job, plan how much time you’ll spend cleaning each area, keeping in mind the total overall time that you have available to spend on the job. Getting the whole house cleaned is your goal. Budgeting your time and staying on schedule will help you to make that happen.

The cleaning process itself shouldn’t be too elaborate at this point. If you’re a cleaning novice, focus on the obvious. You’ll hone your skills over time. There’s a learning curve to house cleaning.

Keep it Simple

For now, keep it simple. Dust, vacuum, sweep. Clean glass surfaces and countertops and appliance fronts. Clean your bathroom fixtures and mop your floors. Don’t concern yourself with eradicating every speck of dirt. Cleaning every single nook and cranny is time-consuming and unnecessary.

If you perform your cleaning routine on a regular schedule, everything will get cleaned eventually. For now, focus on high-traffic areas. These will need to be done every time you clean. Areas that see little or no use don’t need to be cleaned as often.

As your cleaning skills improve, you’ll get a better feel for the process. Regular cleaning  ensures that high-traffic areas are always in good shape and areas that need less attention get cleaned as needed. My post House Cleaning Demystified will give you more insight.

Maintenance

The final step of house cleaning is maintenance. Getting your home into excellent shape might take a few weeks, or months, depending on the state it’s in today. Once you’ve achieved a state of excellence, your home will stay that way if you clean regularly and keep up with the control of dirt, grime, and dust.

This sometimes calls for aggressive proactive measures and sometimes can be handled with a more laid-back style. Every situation is different. If you notice that you’re losing ground, increase your vigilance. It’s much easier to maintain a state of order than to have to reclaim it after you’ve lost control. My post Maintenance: The Cornerstone of House Cleaning  will give you more insight.

Following the steps laid out here will get you going in the right direction. House cleaning is a hands-on endeavor. Get in there, get your hands wet, learn on the job. Before you know it, you’ll be effortlessly keeping your home shiny and clean.

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.

DSCN8389