Holiday Housekeeping Hints

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The day after Halloween, my local shopping plaza started playing Christmas tunes. This reminded me that it’s never too early to start getting ready for the holidays. They’re coming whether we like it or not, so why not be proactive and head off the anxiety that comes with hurried, last-minute preparations?

Many people dislike the holiday season because they associate it with stress. There’s a lot of pressure to make everyone else happy, usually at the expense of ourselves. The best way to avoid this situation and learn to love the season of joy and giving is planning and organizing as early as possible and getting as much done ahead of time as you can.

The following tips will help you achieve these goals.

Make a Plan

Before diving into any large-scale project (which the holiday season definitely is), it’s essential to have a blueprint of what needs to happen to make the venture successful.

Don’t procrastinate, just do it. Begin today.

Do some planning:

  • Make out menus for holiday meals. General is ok, specific is better. At least get an idea of what you’ll be serving.
  • Make meal preparation charts. Write a list or draw a diagram to visually plan the steps, including approximating a schedule. It’s easy for details to get lost in the fray when you’re trying to do ten things at once on Thanksgiving Day. Having a plan at hand will come in very handy.
  • Make a list of chores that need to be done before Thanksgiving to get your home ready. This would include things like getting your fine china dusted off, figuring out where you stashed your turkey roaster last year, and preparing guest rooms for occupancy.
  • If you don’t stick to a regular cleaning routine that keeps your home in shape every week or two, look around and write out a list of areas that need to be cleaned before the holidays officially kick off. The kitchen, bathrooms, and areas where you entertain should be spruced up, if nothing else.
  • Create a master list of people to whom you’ll play Santa Claus. Figuring out what to buy can only come after knowing who to buy for. If you already know what to buy, skip this step.
  • Make another list of chores that will need to be done before Christmas to get your home ready. This would include things like creating a space for your Christmas tree, decorating, cleaning the oven in readiness for cookie baking, etc.

Next, make three master shopping lists:

  • Food supplies to have on hand for holiday gatherings, holiday baking, feeding out-of-town guests, etc. Think about what non-perishables can be stockpiled ahead of time. Refer to the menu plans you made.
  • General supplies necessary for the comfort of out-of-town guests, parties, or decorating. Things like toilet paper, gift wrap, paper cups, napkins, etc.
  • Gift ideas for people on the master list you prepared earlier.

Shop Now

Don’t wait until stores are overrun with frantic shoppers or online traffic is wreaking havoc with website usability. Stock up while lines are short.

Hit the grocery store with list number one, then Costco for lists number two and three. Go online when you get home to finish up.

Not only does this approach save time in the long run, it’ll take some of the pressure off later on. Knowing you’ve already got a pantry full of staples is like having money in the bank during the holiday season, when the pressure in on and that last-minute stop at the grocery store leaves you frustrated and running late, late, late.

This is also the best time to shop for gifts, especially if you’re not sure what to give. Having time to browse and reflect on what would tickle the recipient’s fancy isn’t a luxury you can afford the day before gifts are exchanged.

Get Your House in Order

With the bulk of shopping out of the way, move on to the next step: getting your home into shape. Refer to the lists you made earlier and get busy doing chores and cleaning.

Give your kitchen a good going over. Make sure the fridge is clean inside, the stovetop is free of burned-on messes, and the microwave isn’t harboring splatters or spills. This saves embarrassment when cousin Fran needs to store her Jell-O mold in the fridge and Aunt Kate needs to microwave her green-bean casserole.

Clean the dining room and other areas where you’ll entertain. Dust away cobwebs on the chandelier, sweep away the dust bunnies in corners, and vacuum up the dog hair that’s accumulated on the sofa cushions in the living room (guests don’t want to have dog hair all over their clothes after visiting you, no matter how much they love your animals).

Dust and vacuum guest rooms and make up beds so they’re freshened up and ready for use.

Be sure bathrooms are clean, that there are clean hand towels at the ready, and check your inventory of soap and toilet paper. Running out of TP with a house full of guests would not be a happy moment.

Start Preparing for Christmas

Yes, you read that right. It’s wise to begin Christmas preparations before Thanksgiving, if time allows. Once that train starts rolling on the day after Turkey Day, it gains momentum rapidly.

So, with Thanksgiving preparations well in hand, start getting a jump on your Christmas to-do list.

If you’ve already purchased gifts, which is advisable (as discussed above), start wrapping them as time permits.

Begin tackling other chores.

Think about what else you can do now to get ready ahead of time.

On Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving is the day that officially kicks off the season of holiday madness. If your plans were laid out with thought and diligence, Thanksgiving Day should find you calm and well-prepared.

Before Christmas

On the day after Thanksgiving, go back to your Christmas readiness list and get going with whatever hasn’t yet been accomplished. Take satisfaction in ticking tasks off the list as they get done.

Reducing stress later is accomplished by buckling down now. Looming deadlines cause anxiety. Conversely, thoughtful preparation well in advance creates a feeling of calm.

Having the situation well in hand affords us the time to spend doing things that matter, like simply being with friends and loved ones. Take the bull by the horns now so that you can learn to love the season of joy and giving.

 

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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The Lazy Person’s Guide to House Cleaning

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Having a clean home isn’t a luxury limited only to people who leap out of bed every morning brimming with energy. House cleaning can be accomplished by just about anyone, even people whose energy levels drag along on the ground behind them like dead weight.

Know in advance that there’s no way to clean a house with no effort at all. But there are lots of tips and shortcuts that can greatly reduce the amount of work involved in home cleaning. This guide will give you some ideas.

Minimize the Need to Clean

A little preventative maintenance minimizes the need to clean. For example, don’t be a slob. This means using care when pouring juice so it doesn’t spill and covering your frying pan so that nothing splatters onto the stove when you cook.

Throw garbage into the trash can, not onto the floor. Pick up dirty dishes and put them into the dishwasher after you are done with them and before any remaining food debris gets the chance to harden or congeal. Don’t make work for yourself; make the effort now to minimize the amount of work you’ll need to do later.

Take measures to prevent dirt and grime from tracking or building up. Place door mats at each entrance to contain mud or other debris on footwear. Ask family member to remove their shoes at the door. Use an old towel to wipe the dog’s paws when he comes in from a walk on rainy days.

Place trash containers strategically so that no one has an excuse for not depositing garbage into the appropriate place. Don’t allow old magazines and newspapers and junk mail to pile up. Recycle recyclables. Keep a donation box on standby and toss in any items you don’t use in order to avoid ending up with accumulations of clutter or unnecessary possessions that complicate your house cleaning endeavors.

Squegee shower walls after each use so soap scum doesn’t build up. Clean other areas of the bathroom often so that grime, toothpaste, and other materials don’t build up. While it only takes a minute or two to wipe up a little bit of mess, if it’s left to build up into a monumental mess the job becomes monumental. Apply these principles throughout the house to reduce the need to clean.

Spread it Out Over Time

Clean a little bit here and a little bit there rather than all at once. For example, clean the kitchen on Monday, bathrooms on Tuesday, shared living spaces on Wednesday, bedrooms on Thursday, and whatever’s left on Friday.

Do laundry a little bit at a time instead of all at once. Pre-treat stains immediately to avoid having to spend a lot of time fussing over them later on. Fold or hang clothes as soon as the dryer cycle is complete so clothes are wrinkle-free and wear-ready.

Sweep or vacuum entry ways every few days; it’ll only take a couple of minutes and will also reduce the tracking of dirt further into the house.

A big job broken down into smaller jobs is a great way for anyone with low energy to net the same results as people who have the stamina to whip through the whole job at once.

Lower Your Standards

If you’re not especially energetic, it might not be realistic to expect that you’ll be able to keep your home so clean that you could eat off the floors. A few dust bunnies in the corners or cobwebs on the chandelier never killed anyone.

Save your energy for areas that matter. A clean kitchen is more important than a clean dining room, because food is stored and prepared in the kitchen.

A clean dryer vent can potentially prevent your house from burning down. Dust under your bed doesn’t really matter all that much in the grand scheme of things.

While there are lots of advantages to having a spotless home, it’s not necessary to set yourself up to feel like a failure if you’re never going to be able to get there. Give yourself a break, clean the important things, and let the rest slide.

Delegate

Share tasks with roommates, kids, or any willing helpers. Make a list or chart and assign chores. It may turn out that your progeny are more domestically inclined, and more energetic, than you are.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help; housework should never be the sole responsibility for any one member of the household. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, so cut yourself some slack.

Brains Over Brawn

When you clean, make the most of every movement. Carefully plan out the job so that it can be accomplished as quickly and easily as possible. Clean from one end of the house to the other or from top to bottom so you don’t retrace your steps.

Keep cleaning supplies in the same spot so they’re ready and waiting when you need them. Twenty minutes spent searching for the mop is a waste of time and your precious energy.

Wear an apron with lots of pockets so you can keep cleaning supplies with you as you work. Develop a cleaning routine that you follow each time you clean; practice increases speed and efficiency, and saves energy.

Think smart, work less, make the best use of your brain power to reduce the need for man power.

Barter

If you’ve got a friend who hates to cook but loves to clean, and you love to cook but hate to clean, turn the situation into a win-win for both of you by trading off tasks. This may seem like an unconventional approach, but if it nets all concerned parties the results they need, why not?

Outsource

Finally, there are people ready and willing to do the heavy lifting if you’re willing to pay them for their time and trouble. Hiring a house cleaner saves your back and requires much less energy expenditure on your end. You’ll still have to keep the house picked up and load the dishwasher, but a house cleaner will do jobs like dusting, vacuuming, mopping, cleaning the kitchen, and scrubbing bathrooms.

There’s a solution to every problem, so don’t allow low energy to deter you from living in a reasonably clean home. The kitchen and bathroom are rooms that must be cleaned, no matter what, to maintain good hygiene. Floors also are non-negotiable if any amount of dirt gets tracked in from outside. Dusting should take place at least occasionally in order to ensure good air quality.

You don’t have to be a cleaning ninja to keep your home clean; anyone can keep a reasonably clean home using the simple tips outlined above.

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

House Cleaning Express: The Quickest Route to a Clean House

rugWho has time to clean?

Everyone wants a clean house, but who has time to do the job? Getting your home clean without spending a lot of time isn’t difficult; it just takes a little dedication. This guide will explain how to keep a clean house when your time is limited.

Keep It Picked Up

When your home is free of unnecessary clutter, cleaning is ten times easier. Clutter makes it look messy, breeds dust, and impedes the cleaning process.

Some simple steps to accomplish neatness:

  • Assign every object in your home a space to call its own.
  • Make “putting things away” a habit. When you’re done using the scissors, put them away. When you bring groceries home, put them away. When you get undressed, put your clothes in the dirty clothes hamper. In no time at all, you’ll be putting things away without giving it a second thought.
  • Make each household member take responsibility for their own stuff. Assign each person a basket and place stray items into the basket. If baskets are overflowing, hold the contents ransom until the errant party agrees to deal with their mess.
  • Purge unnecessary items on a regular basis. Keep a donation box in a prominent spot and make use of it.
  • Use baskets, bins, totes, shelves, or whatever tickles your fancy to keep your stuff organized and put away.

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Clean as You Go

Housecleaning is most effective when it’s done on a regular basis. The quickest method by far is cleaning up every day. This doesn’t mean cleaning the entire house every day. This means doing various tasks as necessary so that areas never really get dirty. Daily tasks include the following:

  • Kitchen cleanup: as soon as food preparation is done, areas that were used should be wiped clean. Constantly be alert to the state of your kitchen appliances. If the stovetop is dirty, wipe it clean. If the inside of the microwave has food splatters, wipe it clean. When you begin to notice fingerprints on keypads or handles, it’s time to clean them. None of these tasks, taken individually, requires much time. Spending ten or fifteen minutes each day sprucing up the kitchen means you’ll never have to spend an hour or more at one time cleaning everything.
  • Bathroom patrol: clean bathroom sinks, vanities, and the toilet when you notice that it needs to be done. If there’s toothpaste on the mirror, take a minute to wipe it clean. Squeegee shower walls clean every day so that soap scum doesn’t get the opportunity to build up. Keep rags, sponges, paper towels, and bathroom cleaner under the sink and make use of them as necessary so the bathroom never really gets dirty.
  • Laundry: do it as often a necessary to avoid a huge accumulation.
  • Sweep or vacuum entryways as soon as dirt is tracked inside. This prevents dirt from getting tracked further into the house.
  • Clean pet areas often. Mats under water dishes, pet beds, and other pet-related paraphernalia should be cleaned whenever you notice they’re dirty.
  • Floors: spot clean as needed. If something gets spilled, clean it up before it gets tracked anywhere else.

Commit to a Regimen

On a regular basis, preferably weekly or every other week, make a point of completing whatever other housekeeping chores need doing. When the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry, and pet areas are kept clean on a daily basis, there’s not much left to do. Change bedding, dust, vacuum or sweep, and mop (if necessary). Don’t clean anything that isn’t dirty. An hour or two at most, and your home will be spic-and-span.

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

Tried-and-true cleaning methods and tips are everywhere. The internet and magazines are loaded with cleaning advice. Put it to good use. House cleaning has been around for a long time. Cash in on the experience of others to save yourself time and trouble. A clean house doesn’t have to be a huge hassle, don’t turn it into one.

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

House Cleaning Secrets: Quick Cleanup Tips

It can happen to the best of us: the house is a disaster and your mother-in-law just called to say she’s on her way over. You’ve got thirty minutes to get the mess under control (at least enough to pass this surprise inspection). Get busy and make the best use of your time with the following tips.

 

Pick Up Clutter

Grab a laundry basket and quickly pick up clutter on countertops, tables, and wherever else it’s accumulated. Don’t worry about sorting things or putting anything away. Fill your basket and stash it in a closet. Just be sure to go back and deal with it later on.

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Focus on Areas that Visitors Will See First

Focus your attention on whatever spaces visitors will see first on entering your home. Clean window glass on the front door to immediately give the impression that you keep an orderly home. Clear clutter from entryways and make sure the floor is free of mud and footprints.

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Use Your Vacuum Cleaner

Quickly vacuum floors, furniture, and whatever else is dirty. Your vacuum cleaner is a versatile tool that not only cleans floors but will quickly remove pet hair from furniture and baseboards, suck up dust bunnies and loose debris, and eliminate cobwebs.

Wash the Floor Fast with an Old Towel

Use a dampened towel to quickly clean hard floor surfaces. Swish it around with a mop, then toss it into the washing machine.

Close Doors

If bedrooms are a mess, shut the doors. Put up a “Do Not Disturb” sign to ward off curious wandering guests.

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Dim the Lights

Use your dimmer switch to make it tougher to see cobwebs, dust bunnies, and other telltale signs of less-than-fastidious housekeeping.

Light a Candle

Use aromatherapy to create the impression of a clean home. Scents like tropical fruit, vanilla, or lemon make your home smell fresh.

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Spot Clean the Kitchen

Clean fingerprints off of appliance fronts, wipe up countertops, load the dishwasher with dirty dishes, and look around for any other areas that might benefit from a quick wipe down.

Eliminate the Source of Bad Smells

Take out smelly garbage. Grind up lemons in the garbage disposal. Check the potato drawer and fruit bowl for less-than-fresh foodstuffs that might be emitting bad smells.

Tidy Up the Guest Bath

Clean the sink, countertop, and toilet in the guest bath. Put out fresh hand towels and soap.

Establish Good Habits

Finally, prevent this situation from happening again by getting into the habit of keeping your home clean. Minimize clutter and maintain a regular cleaning routine that fits into your lifestyle. It’s a little bit of effort, but the payoff is enormous. And you’ll never be embarrassed when unexpected company arrives at your door.

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 Made Quicker: Ten Cleaners Worth Buying

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As a professional house cleaner, the number one question I am asked is “what products do you like to use for cleaning?” It seems everyone wants to know the magic bullet that will take the sting out of house cleaning. The truth is there are very few products that have made my heart sing, and I’ve used a lot of them over the years.

When I start a new job, the client usually has on hand an impressive stockpile of cleaning supplies. This is a testament to good advertising; people buy product after product, each of which claims it will make house cleaning a breeze. Inevitably each fails to deliver and subsequently gets relegated to the back of the cleaning closet with the rest of the stuff.

As a result, I’ve had the chance to sample a wide variety of cleaners. My overall impression: most cleaning agents are unremarkable. They vary by smell, consistency, color. Some are easier to apply than others. Generally, I’ve been unimpressed. Often, plain water and a good cleaning cloth do the job just as effectively, and without the fumes.

There are, however, some select products that have proven their value. These cleaners work well, smell good (or not at all), and generally improve the cleaning experience, i.e. make it easier. So here they are: my top ten favorite cleaners.

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Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaner

Stainless steel surfaces are very popular, and when they’re clean they look great. But stainless also tends to show every fingerprint and smudge, so in my quest to restore its natural shine, I’ve tried many cleaners.

What I’ve found is that most stainless steel cleaners are not all they’re cracked up to be. They tend to be oily, which makes for a lot of buffing, and this makes my elbows sore. And even after all that buffing, there are usually streaks left behind.

The one that I’ve found to be very effective and easy to use is Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaner. Weiman is not greasy or oily, applies easily, and wipes away cleanly, leaving the surface shiny and free of fingerprints and steaks. It’s neutral smelling, reasonably priced, and performs as expected.

Weiman Glass Cooktop Cleaner

Weiman also makes a really good glass cooktop cleaner. Glass cooktops should always be cleaned with an appropriate cleaning agent. Unfortunately, many of the products I’ve sampled over the years simply don’t clean tough grime.

A cooktop, by its nature, often ends up with burned-on messes. So a cooktop cleaner needs to have the power to cut through tough jobs.

Weiman Heavy Duty Glass Cooktop Cleaner and Polish does the job with ease. It removes burned-on messes as well as day-to-day grease and grime, rinses easily, and buffs clean, leaving a beautiful, shiny surface. Like Weiman’s stainless cleaner, it’s neutral smelling, reasonably priced, and performs as expected.

Glass Plus

Everyone seems to have their own idea about the best way to clean glass. Some swear by alcohol-based cleaners, others prefer ammonia or vinegar or glass wax or plain old water. Many glass cleaners have the tendency to leave behind residue and streaks, others smell bad, and some both smell bad and leave streaks.

I’ve found Glass Plus to be quite effective. It sprays on easily, smells good, and it cuts through all types of grime and residue, including toothpaste on mirrors, hair spray overspray, fingerprints, nose prints, doggy drool, and whatever else you throw at it.

Glass Plus also cleans appliances, countertops, ceramic tile, and a variety of other surfaces. I’ve even used it to remove fingerprints on walls.

Best of all, Glass Plus buffs dry without leaving streaks behind. It’s an excellent value and performs just as expected. It’s my first choice glass cleaner.

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Sponge

Ordinary sponges are fine for daily clean-ups, but for tough jobs, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Sponge is my go-to. It’s a great heavy-duty weapon against stubborn grime of all varieties.

Magic Eraser Sponge removes scuffs on floors and baseboards, soap scum in the bathroom, cooked-on messes in the kitchen, and fingerprints on walls. It works so well it’ll take the paint right off the wall, so be careful!

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Sponge has tons of uses both inside and outside the house. It’s reasonably priced, doesn’t have any offensive scent, and perform as advertised.

Comet Cleansing Powder with Bleach

To remove soap scum, dried-on grime, or other really tough messes, the combination of Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Sponge and Comet Cleansing Powder can’t be beat. This is mechanical cleaning action at its best. A little bit of elbow grease is all it takes. Plus, Comet Powder contains bleach, so it will remove light stains as well.

Comet Powder easily cleans stainless steel sinks, porcelain surfaces, and can even be used on fiberglass.

An advantage of Comet Powder in the bathroom: it doesn’t emit toxic fumes. It has a neutral odor, is an excellent value, and performs just like it says it will.

Scrubbing Bubbles Bathroom Cleaner

Scrubbing Bubbles Bathroom Cleaner is a powerful soap-scum fighter that makes bathroom cleaning easier. There are a variety of products that claim to cut through soap scum, Scrubbing Bubbles delivers the goods.

This isn’t to say that a little elbow grease won’t still be necessary. But Scrubbing Bubbles’ chemical formula does a good job of breaking down soap scum so that it wipes clean with minimal effort.

Its foamy consistency allows Scrubbing Bubbles to adhere to the surface of shower walls better than typical liquid cleaning agents. Letting it work for a few minutes gives it a chance to cut through grime. For really tough buildups, repeated applications will eventually do the job.

Scrubbing Bubbles is reasonably priced and does what it claims to do. Its scent is somewhat overpowering, so be sure to use a vent fan when using this chemical cleaning agent. If what you’re looking for is an easier way to eliminate soap scum, Scrubbing Bubbles will do the job.

Tilex Mold and Mildew Remover

For mildew and mold or any tough stains on hard surfaces, Tilex Mold and Mildew Remover is very effective. Be advised, this is a strong chemical cleaner and not for everyday use. This product should be used sparingly and only in a well-ventilated area. Follow directions to the letter.

Tilex Mold and Mildew Remover contains bleach, which quickly removes mold, mildew and stains from grout and tile. It also kills germs. Simply spray onto the surface, allow it to work for a few minutes, then rinse thoroughly.

Tilex Mold and Mildew Remover has a very strong odor, but it’ll save hours of hard scrubbing and is a good value. It absolutely does what it claims to do.

Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Tub and Tile Cleaner

Routine bathroom cleaning is easily accomplished with Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Tub and Tile Cleaner. This isn’t great on really tough soap scum buildups (Scrubbing Bubbles or Comet Cleanser are more appropriate in this situation), but for regular removal of mild bathroom grime, Mrs. Meyers Tub and Tile Cleaner does the job nicely.

This cleaning agent is available in a couple of different scents, which are mild and fairly non-offensive. Spray it on, allow it to do its job for a few minutes, wipe the surface clean, and rinse. Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Tub and Tile Cleaner is a bit pricey, but a little goes a long way, and it performs the job of routine bathroom cleaning adequately.

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The Original Beeswax Multipurpose Cleaner

The one multipurpose cleaner that I really like is The Original Beeswax spray. It can be used on glass, granite, marble, wood, fiberglass, and a variety of other surfaces. Spray it on, then buff the surface clean.

The Original Beeswax leaves no film. Glass doesn’t streak. Wood is left with a nice sheen. Fiberglass looks brand new.

This product is a bit pricey, but a little goes a long way. It smells good, is mild, and performs better than expected. This stuff is awesome!

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Method Floor Cleaner

Floor care is one of the most challenging aspects of house cleaning, especially caring for wood floors. Method Squirt and Mop Floor Cleaner does a really good job when used with a soft microfiber flat-head mop. It leaves wood floors clean and shiny.

The almond-scented blend leaves behind a fresh, clean odor. This product is a good value because a little bit goes a long way. It’s easy to use and does a great job.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to cleaning a house. Everyone has different preferences about scents and consistencies, so the products that I like may not be the ones you will like.

These are products that I’ve found to consistently perform as advertised. While there’s no magic bullet when it comes to cleaning, products that deliver on their promises give you your money’s worth and take some of the sting out of the job.

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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Cleaning Agents Explained: What to Use Where

Cleaning agents are substances that assist in removing dirt, grime, odors, and germs. When used correctly, they can make house cleaning easier. Knowing what to use where is the trick. Here are some pointers:

Kitchen Counters

The easiest way to clean most kitchen counters is to wipe with a damp cloth or a cloth dipped in dish detergent and hot water. Alternatively, use multipurpose cleaner or sudsy disinfectant spray cleaner.

Remove countertop stains by applying a thick paste of baking soda and water and covering with plastic wrap overnight so it remains damp. The paste will draw the stain out of your countertop. The next morning, wipe the paste clean. If any staining remains, repeat the process.

clean stainless steelKitchen Appliances

Clean kitchen appliances with glass cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, or specialty cleaner.

Kitchen Sinks

Clean kitchen sinks with multipurpose scrub, baking soda, or all-purpose cleaner.

Wood Furniture

Wood furniture can be dusted with a slightly damped cloth, a specialty tool that grabs dust, beeswax, or furniture polish.

Showers and Tubs

Most showers and tubs, unless especially dirty, can be cleaned using any of the following: tub and tile cleaner, sudsy multipurpose disinfectant cleaner, multipurpose scrub, beeswax or shower wax, or with (daily) use of a squeegee and/or daily shower spray.

To eliminate a buildup of soap scum from bathroom fixtures use a tub and tile cleaner specifically labeled as soap scum remover. Alternatively, use multipurpose scrub made with a 50/50 mixture of baking soda and dish detergent or castile soap and scrub with a nylon scrubber. Rinse and repeat until all film has been eradicated.

To remove mineral deposits or stains from bathroom fixtures, use a specialty product targeting the specific type of mineral deposit type, or try an application of straight vinegar. On hard surfaces that won’t scratch, a pumice stone might also remove stains.

To most easily remove mold or mildew stains, spray with all-purpose cleaner containing chlorine bleach, allow the solution to work for a couple minutes, then rinse. Alternatively, spray with hydrogen peroxide, allow the peroxide to work for twenty minutes or more, then scrub with a toothbrush or stiff brush.

Granite showers or other natural stone should be cleaned with a specialty cleaner or multipurpose scrub.

Clean glass shower doors or walls with glass cleaner, beeswax or shower wax, or use bathroom cleaner and rinse well, then buff dry.

Toilets

Clean your toilets using bathroom cleaner, toilet cleaner, vinegar, or all-purpose cleaner.

Floors

Clean vinyl floors with a little bit of all-purpose cleaner or vinegar in water.

Wood floors can be cleaned with a mop very lightly dampened in plain water or a mild vinegar and water solution, or a specialty floor cleaner for wood floors.

Marble or tile floors should be cleaned with plain water or a small amount of ammonia in water.

Windows

Windows can be cleaned by spraying with glass cleaner and wiping clean with rags or paper towels. Alternatively, mix a little bit of dish detergent or vinegar or ammonia into a couple gallons of warm water and use a squeegee, or wash with a rag or sponge and buff dry. If windows are especially dirty, use the second method for best results.

Maximizing the helpfulness of cleaning agents is all about knowing when and how to use them. The wrong detergent or cleanser can slow down your cleaning efforts or even damage a surface. Using the right cleaner at the right time on the right surface speeds up cleaning and maximizes efficiency. Knowing what to use where is the trick. Knowledge is power.

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

Hints for Cleaning Cluttered Spaces

If you’ve read any of my posts heretofore, you’ll know that The Cleaning Pro frowns upon clutter. Clutter makes cleaning difficult, breeds dust, and conceals necessary items. However, the reality is that some people are simply not organizers, and cluttered spaces still need to be dusted and vacuumed and generally spruced up.

So if you’re a member of the clutter club, here are some hints for getting your space to a place that will make cleanups possible.

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Put Dirty Clothes in a Hamper

Don’t throw your clothes on the floor. Put them in a laundry basket or put them away if they’re not dirty. As a last resort, pile them up somewhere, and don’t let the pile get so high that it topples over. It’s impossible to vacuum or sweep floors that are buried in clothes.

Don’t Pile Things Haphazardly

Make your clutter as orderly as you can. Put papers that belong with other papers into piles: bills with bills, junk mail to sort later with other junk mail to sort later, newspapers with newspapers, magazines with magazines. If it’s all in a big pile of nonsense, you can’t find anything, and bills will go unpaid, your car registration will expire, important papers will be forever lost in the abyss.

On a related note, get a basket for the important paperwork that you need to sort through. When the basket is full you have reached your deadline. Deal with it.

Don’t Save Junk

Stop saving clippings, newspapers, magazines, etc. that you will never look at again. If you can’t find anything anyway, isn’t it easier to toss it out now rather than allow dust to settle onto it for the next fifteen years?

Don’t let stuff that’s just plain trash pile up. Move your recycling to the curb or the dump. Old newspapers, magazines, food wrappers, and similar items have no residual value.

Keep Fishing Gear Out of the Living Room

Tools, gardening equipment,  parts for the car belong in the garage or the tool shed or the basement. You can’t pile all your fishing gear in the middle of the living room and expect to be able to clean around it (or live there). I’m sorry, but this is where a line has to be drawn.

Don’t Have Christmas Every Day of the Year

Take your Christmas tree down by the end of January at the latest. Especially if it was a live tree.

Keep the Kitchen Clean

Keep the countertops in your kitchen as free of clutter as possible so they can be wiped off periodically.

Throw out food containers. Don’t save leftovers indefinitely. Go through the fridge once a week and toss out food that’s no good.

Pay attention to your nose and if you smell a funky odor, you need to root out its source. Now.

Bathroom Clutter is a Big No-No

In the bathroom, don’t let stuff pile up on the counters. Put toiletries into drawers or cabinets. If your drawers and cabinets are full, set aside an hour to go through everything and throw out what’s no good. Or put all that clutter into a basket when it’s time to clean. You can’t clean countertops that are covered in stuff, and all that clutter collects dust which, in humid bathrooms, turns into a crusty mess.

Minimize Clutter As Much As Possible

While some clutter is tolerable, don’t let it get out of control. Bear in mind that clutter accumulates dust and there’s no way to vacuum or sweep cluttered areas. Unchecked clutter spreads from corners outward until entire rooms disappear. So do your best to keep it to a minimum so you can move freely enough through your living space to clean (and live).

On cleaning day, do what you can with what you’ve got. Dust ceilings and walls for cobwebs. Dust all flat surfaces and dust over and around any piles of stuff. Clean the kitchen and bathrooms. Follow the advice presented here and do your best. It’s not easy, but it is possible (and necessary) to clean cluttered spaces.

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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Cleaning Secrets: Make a Big Job Simple by Breaking It Down

The thought of tackling big cleaning jobs can be intimidating, even overwhelming. Whether the project involves cleaning dirty windows, de-scaling bathroom showers, or dealing with out-of-control clutter, the key to getting it done is converting it into manageable pieces. This is best achieved through a basic process whereby the job is first defined and then broken down.

spray a window

Define the Job

The first step is to define the issue at hand. In order to find a solution, the problem must be understood. This can be in the form of a simple statement, such as “my windows are dirty” or a detailed list, for example: the kitchen appliances and floor need cleaning, the whole house needs vacuuming, the showers have to be scrubbed, and the laundry has to be washed, dried, folded, and put away.

If the job is large, write out a detailed list. This will be the basis for determining how best to break down the large job into smaller increments, so think in terms of sectioning the job into manageable portions.

window and curtain

Make a Plan

Next, outline a plan to deal with the issue. For example, if your windows are dirty, the plan would be to clean them. Seems simple enough, but maybe not.

If you’ve got five windows in your home and they all tip in for cleaning ease, the plan will be straightforward: clean the windows. You’ll have a little bit of planning to do, for instance figuring out what supplies to use and whether you’ve got time to clean all the windows at once. Sorting out the details shouldn’t be a big deal.

If, however, you’ve got twenty-five windows, each with additional storm windows to remove and clean as well as screens, and none of them have been cleaned in ten years, this is a big project. You would want to break it down and complete the steps over a period of time. This would require some planning.

For instance, you might plan on cleaning the windows over the course of three or four Saturdays and enlist assistance so that one person could work inside while another works outside. The procedures involved would be somewhat complicated, and a variety of supplies would be needed, such as a ladder and squeegees and lots of rags or paper towels and a bucket. Cleaning window screens adds an entire step to the plan. Writing out some lists or flowcharts to help break the job down into smaller steps makes a lot of sense when the job looms large.

Understand the Job

If you’re not sure how to clean this type of windows, the planning stage would be the time to research the issue to understand what’s really involved. Any specific challenges would be addressed at this time, for example windows that are immovable in their tracks, or outside surfaces that are inaccessible from outdoors. Fully understanding the scope of the job and planning for the specific issues that need attention helps the job flow smoothly because you’ll know what to expect, have the proper supplies on hand, and have good ideas about how to successfully complete the job.

lampshade

Break It Down

The planning stage is the point at which a large job is converted into a series of smaller jobs, which are both mentally and physically easier to manage. Always plan such that the goals you set are attainable. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to accomplish more than you set out to do. It’s not so great to complete only half the job before you run out of steam, time, or supplies. You want to end up feeling good about your day’s work, not be left feeling like a failure because you weren’t able to meet your goals.

Complete the Project

If steps one and two were completed thoughtfully and thoroughly, the final step, actually completing the project, will be a simple matter of following through on the framework of plans that were set up. By breaking the job down into smaller, manageable pieces and taking time to understand the process, you’ve set yourself up for success. When the job is done, you’ll feel great about having mastered not only the job itself, but the equally large challenge of making a big job manageable.

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.

canalref

Home Cleaning Tips: Time Savers

House cleaning isn’t fun or easy, but there are lots of ways to streamline the process in order to improve efficiency. The following are some basic time-saving tips to help minimize the hassle on cleaning day.

Strategize

Before you begin cleaning, make a plan. Figure out your goals and the best path to reaching them. For instance, you may want to focus on the areas that are dirtiest or clean whatever areas need sprucing up for a dinner with friends. Map out a cleaning strategy that makes the best use of every step you take. Set realistic goals that can be realized within the time frame you’ve allotted to cleaning.

Make a list, draw a chart, keep in mind a picture of what you hope to achieve. However you go about it, knowing what you hope to accomplish and how you plan to accomplish it is half the battle.

Develop Cleaning Flow

Cleaning on a regular schedule, for example spot cleaning as you go supplemented with a bi-weekly once-over, helps you to develop a routine that flows smoothly. Easy and logical transitions from task to task increase cleaning speed and efficiency. Vacuuming furniture would logically transition to vacuuming floors, for instance. Repeating the same process over and over again allows for refinements, so over time your routine will be streamlined to perfection.

Vacuum Everything to Eliminate Dust or Pet Hair

The best way to eliminate copious quantities of dust or pet hair is to vacuum them up. This method traps debris and locks it down so it doesn’t end up re-circulating back into the air. Many modern vacuum cleaners have long enough hoses to reach most areas high and low. Vacuum ceiling fans, window treatments, wall hangings, baseboards, baseboard heaters, grates, door sills, furniture of all types, and anything else that’s coated in dust or hair.

The more dust and debris that’s eliminated from surfaces is that much less to potentially be stirred up into the air later on, only to resettle somewhere else.

Use Eraser-Type Sponges

Eraser-type sponges are time savers for cleaning all kinds of stubborn messes, from bathroom gunk to cooked-on debris in the kitchen, streaks on floors, marks on walls, and many other tough jobs. Use in conjunction with cleansing powder to remove tough soap scum. Or use with an all-purpose cleaner containing bleach to eradicate mold and mildew. The only caveat: be cautious using eraser sponges on painted surfaces or they’ll take the paint right off along with the grime.

dust door

Use a Dusting Tool

Use a microfiber or microstatic dusting tool instead of a cloth to quickly dust furniture, baseboards, blinds, lampshades, and everything else. Don’t pick up every item; pass the tool over and around objects carefully. This method is ideal for areas that aren’t loaded with dust. It’ll take half the time as it would using a damp cloth.

Clean with Intent

Work purposefully, constantly thinking one or two steps ahead. Strive to minimize steps and maximize each movement to get the most bang for your buck. Don’t simply plod along, move steadily and as quickly as possible without compromising the quality of the job.

Don’t Clean What isn’t Dirty

If it doesn’t look dirty, doesn’t smell dirty, and hasn’t been used lately, don’t waste your time cleaning it.

Use Good Equipment

Sturdy, well-designed cleaning tools and equipment get the job done quickly. Invest in a decent vacuum cleaner, mop, bucket, brushes, sponges, and cleaning cloths.

Use Appropriate Cleaning Agents

Use cleaning agents formulated for whatever you’re cleaning, and in the correct concentration. Not enough won’t do the job. Too much is just as bad; you’ll waste time rinsing, or worse leave behind a residue that will attract more dirt. Using the wrong detergent can damage the surface you’re attempting to clean and/or fail to do the job.

Remember, the purpose of a cleaning agent is to assist in breaking down dirt and grime so it can be more easily removed from surfaces. Use them to your advantage by understanding their benefits as well as their limitations.

Don’t Rush the Job

Frenzied, rushed cleaning sessions cause accidents that cost time. Work steadily and purposefully, not manically.

Clean Continuously

Know that from the minute your house cleaning routine is wrapped up for the week, the creation of new messes begins. House cleaning is never really done. The number one time-saving cleaning tip is to clean frequently.

Not only does this approach break a big job down into manageable parts, but it reduces the overall time you’ll actually spend cleaning. Attacking spills seconds after they occur makes cleanup a two-minute job instead of a twenty-minute job two weeks later, after the spill has congealed into a nasty, sticky mess.

However you choose to approach house cleaning, a little bit of knowledge can go a long way toward streamlining your processes so that cleaning day is as hassle-free 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.

House Cleaning Made Difficult

cleaning applianceWhen it comes to house cleaning, the best approach is to keep it simple. Use straightforward methods and basic supplies. Think about your techniques, streamline procedures, become an efficiency expert. Aim for getting maximum results for your efforts.

Clean Habitually

No one should have to spend hours upon hours cleaning house. Integrating elementary cleaning habits into your daily routines will keep your home in great shape every day of the week. Allowing messes to build up and spills to harden into congealed globules of goo means you’ll spend your weekend scrubbing the kitchen instead of doing something a little more fun and interesting.

Clean As You Go

The simplest approach to keeping a nice home is the clean-as-you-go method. This system takes a little bit of time each day and calls for cleaning messes as they occur and doing little bits of whatever else needs to be done as the spirit moves you.

Using this technique, you clean your kitchen after cooking and wipe up the bathroom every couple of days. A broom or stick vacuum by the door makes it easy to give the entryway floor the attention it needs so that dirt doesn’t get tracked any further into the house. Dusting and vacuuming get done when you notice that it needs to be done, wherever it needs to be done.

Allowing dirt to accumulate, greasy messes to linger, and soap scum to thicken makes house cleaning difficult and time-consuming. Throw away the notion that a house needs to be cleaned top to bottom every other week. In the span of two weeks, lots of tasks that would have taken a mere five minutes to clean up at their outset compound into labor-intensive, back-breaking chores.

Cleaning as you go also makes it easy to use simple cleaning products. Basic cleaning agents like vinegar, ammonia, baking soda or scrubbing powder, and dish detergent can easily constitute your entire housekeeping arsenal if messes are never allowed to reach a point that requires tough chemical interventions.

See a Mess, Clean It

House cleaning is very simple: see a mess, clean it. Repeat. It’s a continuous process that’s never done. Life is messy every day.

The thing about dirt is that it grows roots and digs itself in when you leave it to its own devices. It’s much quicker and easier to get rid of it immediately on its appearance using straightforward methods, and then move on.

The longer dirt and grime linger, the longer it takes to eliminate them. House cleaning can be quite simple; don’t make it difficult.

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.