House Cleaning 101 Introduction to Making Your Home Shiny and Clean

If you’re a total cleaning novice, you’re in the right place. This is House 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.

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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.

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, counter tops, bathroom fixtures, floors, and any other surfaces. My post entitled What Supplies Do You 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.

Make a Strategy

Next, take a few minutes to make a strategy for 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 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 counter tops 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.

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.

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

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Cleaning Gone Wild: Keeping Camp Clean

Lots of people get away from the nonstop busyness of everyday life by retiring to the woods for a few days. While going off the grid is relaxing, there’s no maid service in the wild. Keeping camp clean can be tricky; these cleaning gone wild tips will keep you on track.

Cleaning is Necessary, Even at Camp

Cleaning a camp, or even a tent, is necessary. Life is messy, no matter where we are. In the woods it’s especially important to clean up leftover food or anything that might attract insects or bears or other undesirable visitors.

Keep a Lid on Food

Store food in locking, airtight containers to keep out wildlife and insects as well as ensure the food’s freshness.

Keep Food Cool

Keep items that normally require refrigeration on ice.

Clean Up Leftovers

Never leave leftover food sitting around unattended. Seal it up in airtight containers or Ziplocs.

Don’t Leave Trash Lying Around

Corn cobs and dirty paper plates have the potential to attract unwanted attention. Keep them under wraps or in a locking trash can.

Bring Plenty of Water

If camp doesn’t have a supply of fresh water, be sure to bring plenty to use for cleaning up.

Wash Your Dishes

Dirty dishes don’t belong at camp any more than leftovers or open food. Pack a couple of plastic tubs specifically for dishwashing. If there’s no hot water, heat some up on a cookstove or over a fire (use a fire-proof pan).

Don’t Forget a Broom

Sand and dirt and pine needles are tracked inside all day long at camp. Plan to sweep at least once a day.

If There’s Power, Bring a Small Shop Vac

If camp has a power source, a small shop vac is useful for all kinds of jobs from cleaning up sand on the floor to removing cobwebs to vacuuming cushions or other furniture and cleaning up mouse leavings. Use your imagination.

About Cobwebs

The cobwebs at camp aren’t the same as the cobwebs at home. At camp, think of cobwebs as nature’s insect traps. Eliminate some, if you must, but leave a few cobwebs around to reduce the number of gnats and mosquitos.

Cleaning Wipes

This is the only time the Cleaning Pro will advocate the use of disposable cleaning wipes, with the caveat that they be disposed of properly. Nature’s call must be answered, and if the facilities lack running water, cleaning wipes may be the simplest choice to ensure a sanitary toileting experience.

It’s Camp, It’s Supposed to be (a little) Dirty

Finally, don’t try to eliminate every speck of dust at camp. This is the time to let it be. Keep up what’s necessary to promote safety and good health, and let the rest go. Relax and enjoy the peace and quiet.

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

 

House Cleaning Checklist: How a Pro Cleans

Who out there wonders what everyone else does when they clean their homes? Do you secretly worry that you’re not doing everything you should to keep your house in order? Do you want to know the process a professional house cleaner uses when cleaning a home? If so, you’re in the right place. This house cleaning checklist will explain how a pro cleans.

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To help you achieve the best results from your cleaning routines, I’ve compiled a comprehensive checklist breaking down the tasks which make up a typical house cleaning job. Completing every item on the list each time you clean isn’t necessary, so don’t be intimidated.

The trick is in establishing a rotation that’ll ensure all items are done on an as-needed basis. And “as-needed” is a pretty loose timeframe. Some things might have to be done every six months and some every week. Each home is different. Customize your cleaning routine to fit your situation and keep it as simple as possible.

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:

  • On uncarpeted stairs, use a damp cloth or small broom and, starting at the top, brush dirt and dust down each stair using a dustpan to collect the dirt as you go.
  • Dust around spindles, the spindles themselves if necessary, and any moldings.
  • Use your vacuum cleaner stair brush attachment to clean carpeted areas on stairs, and use the dusting tool or a cloth to clean and dust uncarpeted edges and any moldings.
  • When cleaning stairways, don’t forget to wipe the handrails clean.

Kitchen cleaning tasks:

  • As in any other room, dust ceilings, blinds, furniture, baseboards, etc. Don’t forget to dust off the top of the fridge 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). Look out for fingerprints and sticky areas on keypads, knobs and handles.
  • If you have an inset water or ice dispenser in your refrigerator door, don’t forget to clean this area.
  • Clean inside the microwave, if necessary.
  • Clean cook top.
  • Clean top of range hood if you have one.
  • Wipe off the countertops and backsplashes, and wash the outsides of appliances on the counters as well as any other paraphernalia and anything mounted to the underside of upper cupboards. Shift appliances from side to side so you can clean the counter underneath.
  • De-crumb the toaster or toaster oven.
  • Spot clean cupboard doors and drawer fronts.
  • Optionally, clean your 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, walls, ridges on cupboard doors, whatever areas you can reach behind your washer and dryer, baseboards.
  • Spot clean the outsides of washer, dryer and any other appliances, and clean dispensers for laundry soap, fabric softener, as well as door gasket.
  • Vacuum the dryer lint trap.
  • Spot clean cupboard doors and wipe off any countertops.
  • Clean utility sink, if applicable.
  • Clean floor. Clean behind and under laundry baskets, hampers, etc.

Bathrooms:

  • Dust the bathroom as you would in any other room. Don’t forget the 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.

Maintain a Routine

The most important element to keeping a home in the best possible shape is maintaining a regular cleaning routine. This ensures that every part of the house gets cleaned periodically, meaning that everything gets dusted, floors get cleaned, the kitchen gets a thorough wipe-down, and bathrooms get sanitized.

The Basics are Simple

While the list might seem long, the basics of cleaning are limited to dusting, vacuuming or floor cleanup, rudimentary kitchen cleanup like keeping counters clean, and bathroom maintenance. Both kitchen and bathroom cleaning is most efficient if it’s done on a daily basis, but do what you can when you can. Just know that more often is better in those two rooms, if nowhere else.

Keep it Quick and Easy

Cleaning your home every week or two doesn’t have to be a labor-intensive experience. Keeping up with the basics is quick and easy if you do it often, focusing on controlling the accumulation of dust and whatever debris gets tracked in on the feet of all who enter your home.

Add in the kitchen and bathrooms tasks that are part of good hygiene practices, and you’ve got yourself a simple routine that shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours. Then just rotate in whatever other chores need to be done as you notice the need arise. All those other chores are nothing more than gravy. At its core, house cleaning is really quite simple. The real secret is keeping it that way.

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

House Cleaning Chores You Should Be Doing Every Day

Dirt and grime come into your home every day. It’s not realistic to expect that cleaning once every six months will keep your home in tip-top shape. Keeping a clean house is all about regular maintenance. And there are some chores that should never be neglected longer than a day or two. The following are some basic house cleaning chores you should be doing every day.

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Dishes

Don’t let dirty dishes sit around. Rinse them or wash dishes immediately after using them. Don’t ever allow food to harden, congeal, or crust onto dishes. It’s unhygienic.

Dirty dishes left even overnight attract bugs and create bad odors. Take a few minutes after each meal to deal with dirty dishes of all types. If you must, leave pots and pans to soak for a few minutes using warm water and dish detergent. But don’t leave them in this state indefinitely.

Burned-on messes need to be scrubbed cleaned. No amount of soaking will eliminate the need for scrubbing tough messes.

And don’t treat the dish washer as an out-of-sight-out-of-mind depository for those pans and dishes that can only be cleaned using elbow grease. Just roll up your sleeves and deal with the mess. Today.

Kitchen Cleanup

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

Smelly Trash

Take out the trash regularly. Pay particular attention to malodorous garbage and move it out of the house ASAP.

Clutter

Toss junk mail immediately. Put away book bags and shoes right away. When you are done using the scissors, put them away. Don’t allow clutter to pile up.

Piles of clutter soon become invisible. Don’t let this happen. Clear surfaces are easy to clean. This means keeping clutter under control makes house cleaning a cinch.

Dirty Clothes

Pre-treat clothing stains as soon as possible. Smelly socks or damp towels should be washed right away. Don’t allow germs and bacteria to breed in dirty laundry.

Entryways

Sweep or quickly vacuum tracked dirt from entryways to prevent dirt and mud from being tracked all through your home. This is one of the quickest and easiest means of keeping floors clean, which means less time spent sweeping and vacuuming on cleaning day.

Regular daily cleanups not only ensure good health for your family, they keep your home looking and smelling good every day. These basic daily chores should never be left too long. So be sure to stay on track by getting into the habit of doing these basic chores every day.

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

Learning to Clean

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

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Cleaning Isn’t Complicated

Cleaning is neither complicated nor difficult. It’s a skill that improves with time and practice, so if at first it seems like cleaning is hard for you to do or you’re not doing it right, have patience. Once you get the hang of it, keeping your home clean will be a breeze.

Picking Up

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

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

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

Don’t Procrastinate

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

Dive In

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

Cleaning Gets Easier

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

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

 

House Cleaning Isn’t a Big Deal

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

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Discipline and Routine

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

Keep Clutter to a Minimum

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

Schedule House Cleaning

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

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

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

Reassess as Needed

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

A (Sort of) Clean House is Easy to Clean

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

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

Organization is Your Ally

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

Some Daily Chores are Non-Negotiable

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

Plan a Regular Schedule

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

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

Your Home is Your Sanctuary

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

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

Tips for Cleaning and Organizing Your Closets

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

assorted clothes
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Think of Closet Cleaning as an Opportunity

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

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

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

First, Make a Work Space

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

Pulls Things Out of the Closet

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

Clean Dust and Cobwebs

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

Replace Stuff

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

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

The Keys to Organization

The keys to organization are:

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

Pace Yourself

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

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

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

Commonly Overlooked Jobs When Cleaning Your Home

It can be tough to cover all the bases when it comes to house cleaning. Time is short, cleaning routines are inconsistent. Some people just don’t notice fingerprints on walls and streaks on windows. Cobwebs that are visible only when the sunlight hits them at a certain angle are easy to miss on cleaning day. There are many commonly overlooked jobs when cleaning your home.

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Professional housecleaners establish routines which ensure all areas of each home get cleaned regularly. This is why I recommend that anyone who does their own house cleaning set up similar schedules to make sure everything gets cleaned from time to time.

Areas out of Sight

Many people subscribe to the belief that if you can’t see it, it isn’t dirty. Unfortunately, areas that accumulate dust are often out of sight, and because settled dust will sooner or later get stirred up and redistributed, any large settlements of dust in your home are potential trouble spots.

For this reason it is important to dust ceiling fan blades and the top of the refrigerator and under the beds to remove these accumulations while they’re quietly resting and before they have a chance to get stirred up and re-circulated into the air. You can’t count on the “cleaning only what looks dirty” style of housekeeping to keep your home in good shape.

Cobwebs

Cobwebs are often overlooked. These nuisances form along the edge where walls and ceilings meet. They form on light fixtures. They form in corners. Cobwebs appear along the bottom edges of furniture.

The trouble with cobwebs is that they can be really hard to see, which is why it’s a good practice to periodically dust all the areas where they tend to form without regard to whether you think they’re there or not. Without fail, cobwebs will become visible the moment some VIP houseguest appears at your door.

Hidden Dust

Hidden dust has lots of hiding places. Some are tough to reach, but many are just beyond your line of sight.

Ceiling fans are a primary culprit. Think of your ceiling fan blades as dust traps. A surprising amount of dust builds up on top of these, so attend to them frequently in order to reduce the amount of dust circulating in the air in your home. A simple dusting tool or even a broom or dust mop will remove the lion’s share of buildup from your fans.

Other areas to work into your dusting rotation:

  • The top edge of window treatments and wall hangings.
  • Chair rails and baseboards.
  • Ridges on doors.
  • Lampshades.
  • Leaves on plants.
  • Under beds and other furniture.
  • On top of kitchen cupboards if they don’t meet the ceiling.
  • Sides of furniture and along any edges or ridges.
  • Back side of televisions and other electronics.
  • On top of books.
  • On light fixtures.
  • On top of medicine cabinets.
  • Along the top edge of shower enclosures.
  • Top edges of doors and door frames.

Hand Prints

Not everyone thinks to clean up dirty finger and hand prints on walls and doors . Common areas to keep an eye on:

  • Glass doors.
  • Entry doors.
  • Cabinet doors.
  • Switch plates.
  • Hand rails and banisters.
  • Appliance handles.
  • Mirrors.
  • Glass tables.

Fingerprints can easily be eradicated with a damp cloth and application of a small amount of all-purpose cleaner or glass cleaner. Sometimes they’re invisible but you’ll feel their sticky residue.

Really tough marks on walls or other areas can be removed with an eraser-type sponge but use caution as these also take the paint with the grime.

Pet Hair

Another common offense is sometimes almost completely invisible until you sit down on something covered in it wearing black pants: pet hair. If you have animals that shed, their fur is on your upholstered furniture. Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes not.

So be sure to vacuum your sofa, chairs, upholstered ottomans and cushions, pillows on your upholstered furniture and anything else that pet hair sticks to. And don’t forget to vacuum under the sofa cushions once in a while , too.

Nose Prints

While we’re on the topic of pets, dogs and cats sometimes leave nose and paw prints on glass doors and windows and window sills. If your dog likes to sit by your patio door and look outside, odds are he leaves residue on the glass. The same can be said for areas on windows next to which your cat perches to watch birds and squirrels frolicking outdoors.

Clean Regularly

Remember, just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. The best way to ensure that you’re never caught with an embarrassing mess under the dining room table in the middle of dinner is the two-pronged approach of maintaining a regular cleaning schedule that includes a rotation with attention to all areas in your home along with honing your eye for detail.

Practice makes perfect. In time you’ll be quick to spot Spot’s doggie drool on the windowsill and the smudges left on the kitchen door frame by dirty little fingers. Cleaning pros notice this stuff because we’ve seen it all time and time again and because we do it every day. You can acquire the same skills, all it takes is practice.

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

 

De-Clutter Your Home: A Guide to Hosting Your Own Garage Sale

A garage sale is the ultimate tool for de-cluttering your home. This guide to hosting your own garage sale will take you through the process step by step.

garage sale sign

Host a Garage Sale to De-clutter

If you’re finding that you have more stuff than you need and need more space than you have, hosting a garage sale might be the answer. It’s a little bit of work, but so is hauling a truckload of household items to Goodwill.

A garage sale draws people to you; all you have to do is convince everyone who shows up to take something away with them. At the end of the day, if you’re successful, all your unwanted stuff will be gone. Presto!

A Garage Sale Will Not Make You Rich

This guide will help you to get a handle on the ins and outs of hosting your own garage sale, with the goal of eliminating unwanted possessions. Be forewarned that this assumes your primary goal is getting rid of stuff you no longer use. Don’t expect to get rich. You will not be able to recoup retail prices on your possessions.

A garage sale can net you a tidy little sum if you have lots of stuff that people want. But you’ll need to be realistic about what to charge for your old high-school clarinet and the Magic Bullet juicer that’s been used once. Garage sale buyers are bargain hunters. Most objects sell for less than a tenth of their initial price, even new or next-to-new items.

Have Fun With It

If you’re going to get rid of the stuff anyway, think of your sale as an opportunity to move along your unwanted possessions to someone else who can use them. Rather than donating your stuff to a charity where it gets passed on to faceless strangers, a garage sale gives you the chance to meet the people to whom your cherished treasures are going. Have a little fun with it.

Set a Date

To prepare for your sale, the first thing you should do is pick a day. Fridays and Saturdays are prime garage sale days. If you can only do one day, that’s okay, but bear in mind that a longer duration means you’ll attract a wider clientele, which will move more merchandise.

When choosing your date, don’t pick the weekend that every school is your area is having its prom, or any other time when most people are otherwise occupied. Also think about the weather. For example, people attend garage sales in droves on the first really pleasant days of spring. If you will be setting up outside, have a rain date in mind.

Clear a Space

Next, choose your sale location. If you’ve got a big, empty garage, this is an ideal space. Most people don’t. After all, if you had a big, empty garage, you wouldn’t need to have a sale.

Outside is perfectly fine. Choose a large enough space in your driveway or yard to accommodate tables and shoppers, relatively flat and free from obstacles that people might trip over. A little bit of shade from the sun is also desirable.

Get Some Tables

You’ll want to set up some type of tables on which to display your wares, so think about whether you have folding tables or anything you can use to improvise display areas.

If you don’t have access to tables, the alternative is placing things into boxes for display. Line up boxes neatly, with items grouped according to price: for example, “all items in this box $1 each”. Organize stuff into the boxes so everything is visible. Do your best to create an attractive presentation.

Whatever you do, don’t just toss all your stuff haphazardly onto the lawn. This is a huge turnoff. If people aren’t sure whether you’re having a garage sale or a domestic dispute, they’ll drive right on by.

Assemble and Price Stuff

Figure out what you’ll be selling and start pricing items. Either price things individually with stickers that will be easy to remove (don’t put a sticker on anything that’ll be damaged by its removal) or use a color-code system of dots that correspond to prices (all red-dot items are one dollar, all blue-dot items are two dollars), or place items on tables with signs marked “$10 table” or “$5 table”, or into boxes with the price on the outside.

If you’re having a large sale, plan on spending a few hours assembling and pricing your stuff. Any items that you believe to be valuable can be researched online. Go to eBay and use the advanced search feature to determine the price for which similar items sold. This method is more accurate that merely looking at asking prices. Anyone can price anything at any value they like; the true barometer is the price that was actually paid for the item.

Pricing your items too high means you’ll have a big pile of stuff left over at the end of your sale. Remember that your objective is to get rid of the stuff, so keep a level head when it comes to pricing.

It may be tempting to leave prices off altogether and wait for people to make an offer. Don’t do it. Many potential buyers are turned off by this approach, and you will lose the sale.

Do, however, be prepared to dicker with potential buyers. Many seasoned garage sale buyers will see your price as nothing more than a starting point.

Advertise

A few days before your sale, start advertising. Put up signs around your neighborhood. Place ads in the local newspaper, on Craigslist, on your local Facebook garage sale groups, and tell your friends and family.

Enlist Assistance

Ask a couple friends or family members to act as cashiers at your sale, at least for the first couple of hours. Or join forces and have a multi-family sale; this is always a good way to draw in more buyers. You’ll typically get a big crowd of people in the first hour or two of your sale, and having some extra sets of hands during this period will help ensure that everything flows smoothly and none of your stuff falls prey to a five-finger-discount bandit.

Last Minute Details

The day before your sale, buy or make some garage sale signs to post on your street corner and mailbox so that people can easily find you. Make sure you have some small bills in cash to make change for customers. Also have on hand a few shopping bags or small boxes. If anyone buys multiple items it’ll be nice to have something for them in which to carry their treasures home.

On Sale Day

On sale day, be prepared for early birds. Whether your sale starts at 8:00 AM, 4:00 PM or anywhere in between, a few people will inevitably show up early in hopes of scoring deals before anyone else. You can specifically state “no early birds” in your ad if you object to this. My suggestion: put ‘em to work. Anyone who shows up early can help you set up your sale while also previewing your selection of goodies.

Get your tables set up at least a couple of hours before you open for business in order to give yourself plenty of time. Arrange your sale items neatly and in a way that allows customers to see what you’ve got. Make sure items are clean and in good condition.

Put out a Free Pile

Anything that isn’t in great shape can go in a “free” pile. Putting a few free items out by the curb can draw in customers.

Items should be priced prior to set up. There will be lots to do and lots of confusion as you’re getting ready for your sale, and the process will be quicker and less stressful if you’re not deciding what to charge for items at this point.

Greet Customers

When people start arriving for your sale, be friendly. Greet people, make eye contact, let them know you’re there to help them. If you’re ready and willing to drop prices when people ask, you’ll move more merchandise. Make a counteroffer if an initial offer is too low.

People will also be more likely to buy your stuff if you make a connection with them. Don’t be pushy, do be conversational. Giving a little history about items is an excellent sales technique.

When the Day is Done

At the end of the day, if there’s anything left over, box it up and place a “free stuff” ad on craigslist or facebook. It’ll disappear overnight if it’s anything good. If not, it’s trash.

Congratulations! You just exchanged a bunch of stuff you no longer needed for a little mad money. Plus you made a bunch of new friends and got to spend the day outside in the fresh air and sunshine. Best of all, you didn’t have to haul a truckload of stuff to Goodwill; you didn’t even have to leave your street!

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

 

Tips and Time Savers for the House-Cleaning Challenged

Keeping your home clean can be challenging. Some folks make it seem effortless, while others struggle every day to keep even the basics under control. While it’s true that some fortunate souls have a natural ability, anyone can learn what it takes to be a cleaning whiz. These tips and time savers for the house-cleaning challenged will get you there.

brown wooden door with green plants
Photo by Tetyana Kovyrina on Pexels.com

Keep it Simple

House cleaning is a very straightforward process. To stay on track, don’t undermine yourself by making cleaning unnecessarily complicated or procrastinating getting started until the job looms large.

Don’t be the person who dillydallys as a mode of avoidance, so the minor mess that could have been easily converted into a gleaming space deteriorates into a minor hazmat event.

Get Busy

The best way to get yourself on the road to cleaning wizardry is to simply get busy. Dust off the vacuum cleaner, rustle up a few cleaning cloths, and get going. Don’t think about it. Just do it. Follow the trail of dirt, dust, and grime and erase it. When the dirt is gone, your job is done. My post Basic Lessons in House Cleaning might help.

Once you’ve mastered the basic process of cleaning, make it a habit. That’s really all there is to it. Do it, and do it often.

To fine-tune your cleaning skills, here are some time-saving tips and advice:

Clean Frequently

Get into a routine of cleaning up once a week or every day as you go along or whatever works for you. Cleaning often ensures that dirt never gets the opportunity to build up and settle in.

Eliminate Clutter

Cleaning is easier when surfaces are free of extraneous possessions. Furthermore, dust has less opportunity to take a foothold when there are fewer nooks and crannies for it to settle into.

Organize

Organize your stuff so you know where everything goes when it’s time to pick up.

Use a Dusting Tool

Dust with a long-handled dusting tool rather than a cloth or rag, and work swiftly, dusting everything with your tool. A tool with nubs that grab dust will work universally on all surfaces from chair rails to baseboards to lampshades to knick-knacks and books to tables and shelves.

The long handle means you won’t have to bend down to reach baseboards or strain to reach up high. Don’t move any objects that you don’t have to move in order to reach dust.

Rotate Tasks

Rotate tasks. Many chores shouldn’t have to be done every time you clean. You will soon get a feel for which ones you can do on a rotating basis. If it isn’t visibly dirty, you probably can put it off until next time or the time after.

Use the Right Stuff

Use appropriate cleaning agents. Use a cleaner that is strong enough to break down the grime you are aiming to eradicate. Don’t use a heavy-duty cleaner on a surface that isn’t particularly dirty or use more of a cleaning agent than is necessary.

Buy Good Supplies

Invest in good equipment: a faulty or ill-performing vacuum cleaner or mop will cost you time in the long run. For more advice about what to use, check out my post What Supplies do You Need to Clean a House?

Keep Your Supplies Straight

Keep track of your cleaning supplies. On cleaning day, you should be able to readily lay your hands on everything you need without spending a half hour hunting down the mop.

Don’t Rush the Job

Don’t try to rush while you’re cleaning. It’ll only cost you time in the long run if things get overlooked, or worse broken or spilled.

Do a Good Job

Do it right the first time. Having to go back over what you’ve already done is a waste of time and energy.

Home cleaning can be as easy or as difficult as you make it. Spending a little time every day or two and a couple of hours every week keeping the situation in hand is all it takes. There are many benefits of daily cleaning. Keep it simple, don’t make work for yourself, and don’t procrastinate. Establish good habits and in no time you, too, can be a cleaning whiz.

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