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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Make House Cleaning Easier

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

Organize Your Possessions

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

Organizing is simple, really.

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

And here’s the best part:

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

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

Clean As You Go

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

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

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

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

Use the Right Equipment

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

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

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

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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

vacuum ceiling fanNo 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Don’t Forget to Clean Under the Kitchen Sink

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Happy Cleaning Day! Get the Most from Your House Cleaning Routine

glovesPractice makes perfect. Experienced homemakers and house cleaners have learned from many years of trial and error how to most effectively clean a house. Getting house cleaning down to a science isn’t something that happens overnight.

The easiest way to keep your home clean is to establish regular cleaning routines. This works to your advantage in a couple of ways. First of all, doing the same things over and over again improves your skills and speed. Second, regularly cleaning your house keeps it in good shape so that each time you clean, it gets better and better.

Cleaning your home on a regular basis requires commitment. Set a schedule for yourself and follow through. Treat house cleaning like the job it is and buckle down on cleaning day. Turn off your phone, pull out your vacuum cleaner, and get going. The following tips will help you maximize your efforts and make cleaning day a happy day.

Plan

Before you begin to clean, get an overview of what areas are most in need of attention. Grab a garbage bag and laundry basket and walk through your home, collecting trash, laundry, and miscellaneous clutter while also getting the lay of the land as you go. It’s better to identify trouble spots before you start so you can plan accordingly. Set up a time “budget” for each area in your home and stick to your plan as you work.

Don’t waste your efforts

Make every step count. Work methodically, always thinking ahead to the next step. Develop a routine that flows smoothly from task to task in a logical order. Divide your home into sections and work at a steady, meaningful pace. Pay attention to what you’re doing. Don’t clean what isn’t dirty.

Follow the cardinal rules of cleaning from my post on the topic.

Live to clean another day

The beauty of cleaning regularly is that you don’t have to do every single task every time you clean. Do as much as you have time to do today and know that the dust bunnies will still be waiting patiently under the couch next week. Establishing a regular routine that you stick to means that high traffic areas always get the attention they need and the areas that get less use are cleaned periodically as well. All areas are cleaned on a regular basis.

Don’t get sidetracked

If you notice things that need to be done but which aren’t part of your regular cleaning routine (and time budget), make a mental note or write it down and then move on. Tacking on side jobs will slow you down and potentially prevent you from completing your cleaning day routine.

It’s important to stay on schedule to ensure that you’re able to complete the job. Running out of time or running out of steam before you’re finished defeats the purpose of a regular cleaning schedule.

Successfully completing the job motivates you to do it again next week. Unfinished, unsuccessful attempts at cleaning will discourage you and cause you to feel overwhelmed. House cleaning is totally manageable if you take control of the reins.

If it’s right in front of you, will only take a minute, and you have what it takes to do it in hand, just do it.

Go ahead and wipe away the hand print on the wall if it’s right in front of you and your cleaning cloth is in hand. If it’s one little thing that’ll only take a minute, just do it. House cleaning involves making a hundred little judgment calls just like this all day long. Time and practice give you a feel for what to do now and what to put off until next time.

There’s a learning curve to house cleaning. As you get more comfortable with your cleaning regimen you’ll get better at setting priorities. Knowing what’s been done, what needs to be done, and what can be put off until next time will help you with this. You’ll figure out plenty of your own shortcuts and time savers as you go along. Over time, experience will teach you what you need to know. Practice will make your cleaning day a happy day.

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon. For more info: https://www.amazon.com/author/darlenephillips

The Cardinal Rules of House Cleaning

clean a windowHouse cleaning, at its core, is very basic. The objective is the removal of dirt and grime from a home in order to promote the good health of its occupants as well as improve their quality of life. Regardless of whether you’re cleaning a two-bedroom cottage or a twenty-bedroom mansion, some basic cardinal rules will help you achieve these goals.

Clean regularly and routinely to keep your home in the best possible condition. Integrating a regular cleaning routine into your schedule serves several purposes. First, it ensures that your house gets cleaned. Second, routine cleaning quickly becomes a habit. Third, the more often you clean, the less time it takes to complete the job. Fourth, regularly cleaning your home means you won’t get stuck spending an entire weekend playing catch-up. Fifth, a clean home just makes you feel good, both because it smells and looks good and because you feel a sense of accomplishment at having completed the task.

Make house cleaning a priority; a regular schedule means that important things get done before they get out of control, and less important things get done sooner or later as time permits.

For example, if you clean your home faithfully once a week, high traffic areas will get the attention they need before dirt and grime reaches toxic levels. This means your kitchen, bathrooms, and other common areas will always be in good-enough shape. They’ll be nice and clean on the day after you clean, and by the end of the week they’ll again need attention but won’t be terrible. And some weeks the kitchen won’t demand as much of your time so you’ll get a chance to vacuum under beds or couch cushions.

A set routine gets you into the habit of cleaning regularly, which ensures that all areas get cleaned from time to time. A clean home is a healthy, happy environment. Plus, you’ll never be embarrassed when unexpected company shows up at your door.

Reduce clutter to speed up the cleaning process and enhance effectiveness. Keeping clutter at bay makes cleaning quicker and easier. Dusting minimally-cluttered surfaces not only takes less time but also cuts down on dust in general because there are fewer surfaces on which dust can settle.

Having to work around or move multiple objects when vacuuming consumes time. Mopping is a nightmare when you’ve got to shift things around from space to space to even get at the floor. Plus, clutter-free spaces just look better.

Clean from top to bottom to make sure dirt always falls into areas that haven’t yet been cleaned. The first step to cleaning any space is dusting ceiling fans, light fixtures, and anything else up high. The last step is cleaning floors.

This principle should be applied continuously throughout the cleaning process so that dirt and dust fall down into areas that haven’t yet been cleaned. For instance, don’t sweep the floor before cleaning crumbs off of the kitchen countertops.

Clean in a continuous line so dirt doesn’t get tracked back into areas which have already been cleaned. Work from room to room in a continuous line as much as possible. Plot your course in a manner that will contain dirt and grime rather than spread it around. Tracking dirt back into areas you’ve just cleaned is counterproductive.

Use tools to maximize efficiency. For example, a good dusting wand with nubs that grab dust can be used almost universally throughout the house. A string mop gets into the corners and tight spaces that a sponge mop can’t reach. And never underestimate the usefulness of your vacuum cleaner. It’s one of the most versatile cleaning tools at your command.

Use appropriate cleaning agents in the correct amount. Know when to break out the tough cleaning agents. Mold, mildew, soap-scum buildup, grease, and mineral deposits are all most quickly eliminated by using chemical cleaning agents.

Conversely, don’t use stronger cleaners than are necessary. You’ll waste time rinsing away suds you didn’t need; furthermore, any residual cleaner left on a surface attracts more dirt. Sometimes less is more.

Keep entry mats at doors to reduce the amount of dirt that gets tracked into the house. The biggest source of dirt on your floors is the feet of those who enter your home. Keep door mats at all entrances and encourage visitors to remove their shoes. Keep a towel near the door to wipe off paws, as well.

House cleaning doesn’t have to be a big deal. Taking the time to learn and understand basic tried-and-true principles will maximize outcomes while making the best use of your time and energy. Learn from those who have gone before you. Don’t reinvent the wheel.

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.

Back to Basics: What Supplies Do You Really Need To Clean A House?

Expensive disposable and chemical-laden house cleaning products are the trend right now, the result of successful marketing campaigns leading consumers to believe that their homes cannot be made clean without using them.

There are dozens of types of cleaning products for doing any imaginable job, and people purchase this stuff in droves 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 really 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.

Cleaning Agents

Natural cleaning agents like vinegar and baking soda are handy and have their uses. They are best for daily cleaning; any kind of heavy buildup of grease or grime calls for stronger cleaners. This is why daily (or very frequent) cleaning is the way to go if you’re committed to cleaning using minimal chemicals.

Chemical cleaning agents are hands-down the quickest means of eliminating soap-scum buildups, mineral deposits, baked-on greasy messes, and other similarly tough jobs. This means using commercial products specifically geared toward whatever you’re trying to clean up. Don’t blow a whole paycheck, though, moderately-priced products perform just fine.

Cleaning tough messes without strong chemicals can only be accomplished with lots of elbow grease. Should you choose to go this route, use a nylon scrubber or scrub brush. A scrub brush with a handle gives you a little more leverage than a sponge scrubber, and the bristles usually get into corners and tight spots a little better.

Hand wash dish detergent is a very good multi-purpose cleaning agent. Diluted in water, it can be used for most kitchen cleanup jobs. Mixed with baking soda (one part dish detergent to three parts baking soda), it’s a great, inexpensive bathroom scrub cleanser.

Both ammonia and rubbing alcohol are also inexpensive, multi-purpose cleaning agents. You can make sudsy disinfectant cleaner using equal parts water and rubbing alcohol plus a few drops dish detergent. Ammonia (diluted in water) is a good kitchen cleaner, floor cleaner, glass cleaner, and general multi-use cleaner.

Cleaning Tools

The stuff I’ve just mentioned is all you really need by way of cleaning agents. Necessary cleaning tools are equally simple. A dusting wand of some type is handy and saves time; a plain old rag dampened with water will also do the job. Your vacuum cleaner dusting brush also serves the purpose.

Speaking of vacuum cleaners, it’s totally unnecessary to spend a fortune on one. A decent-enough machine can be had for just a couple hundred dollars. Spending any more than that will get you more bells and whistles, but don’t feel like you have to go there. You don’t.

To wrap up floor care products, a simple broom, dustpan and mop are perfectly fine for cleaning your floors and will actually do a better job than some of the pricier products out there in the marketplace. A string mop gets into tight spots and wrings out quite well.

House cleaning supplies don’t have to be expensive or complicated. A few simple tried-and-true cleaning agents, rags and sponges, a mop, broom, and vacuum cleaner are all you really need to do the job right. No expensive, trendy, Earth-unfriendly products necessary. Just get back to basics and you’ll see how easy cleaning can actually be.

spray kitchen sink

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon. For more info: https://www.amazon.com/author/darlenephillips