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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to cleaning a house. Everyone’s home is different. Everyone’s lifestyle is different. Everyone’s standards are different. There are, however, some basic steps anyone can take to simplify house cleaning.
Organize Your Possessions
Keeping your stuff organized is well worth the effort. Piles of clutter collect dust and waste time. Would you rather spend your time looking for lost items or doing things you enjoy? Establishing a system to keep stuff organized improves the quality of your life.
Organizing is simple, really.
Every object you posses gets assigned a specific place to live. Objects that are not in use live in their designated spots, so when you need them you know where to look to find them. When you’re done using them, they get returned to their designated spots. Taking thirty second to put the scissors back in their drawer, the hammer back in the toolbox, the keys on their hook, saves countless lost minutes trying to locate said objects.
And here’s the best part:
Cleaning a house is easier if there’s no clutter. Dusting and vacuuming go more quickly without having to work around a bunch of stuff. And the less clutter you have, the less dust.
The same goes for kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, etc. Any surface that can potentially accumulate clutter should be kept as clear as possible. It’s easier to clean counters that have minimal objects on their surfaces.
Clean As You Go
Another method of simplifying your house cleaning routine is cleaning up as you go along. Spending a little time cleaning every day saves your weekends and keeps your home in tip-top shape every day of the week.
Clean as you go is a method that chunks up cleaning chores into smallish tasks that can be accomplished every day. It ensures that housework never gets so out of control crazy that you would rather burn the house down than have to clean it.
Plus, the more frequently you clean, the less time it takes because less grime accumulates. Taking a minute to wipe up messes as they occur prevents them from becoming hardened, congealed blobs of immovable goo.
A prime example is the microwave: cleaning up spills as they occur prevents them from turning into cement-like masses that require a chisel to remove later on. This same principle can be applied throughout the house, from messy footprints on floors to soap scum in the bathroom and everything in between.
Use the Right Equipment
House cleaning is easier when the equipment you’re using is suitable for the task at hand. Using the appropriate vacuum cleaner, dusting tool, mop, and cleaning cloths can significantly speed up the cleaning process.
While an upright vacuum cleaner is great on carpeting, a canister vacuum with a floor brush attachment will more quickly clean bare floors, spaces with combinations of bare floors and area rugs, and stairs. A canister is also the tool of choice for removing pet hair from furniture and cleaning underneath beds.
Once floors are vacuumed free of loose debris, an appropriate mop makes the removal of remaining grime easier. Often, a simple microfiber string mop and bucket of water is the quickest means of eliminating dirt. Wood floors that aren’t especially dirty can quickly and effectively be cleaned with a soft, flat-head spray mop. Likewise, any floors that are only lightly soiled can be quickly mopped up with a damp flat-head microfiber mop.
Along similar lines, using a good dusting tool, rather than a cloth, makes dusting simpler. Use a tool that will reach ceiling fans, baseboards and all areas in between. A versatile wand with a telescoping handle allows you to flow easily through dusting your home.
The right cleaning cloth, sponge, or scrub brush in the kitchen and bathroom makes cleaning countertops and bathtubs easier. Densely woven microfiber cloths are excellent for loosening dried-on spills in the kitchen as well as removing soap scum in the bathroom. Nylon scrubber sponges or scrub brushes are handy items for removing hardened, congealed messes, cleaning grout, and other tough jobs.
It’s easy to get sidetracked when you’re cleaning your house. Do whatever you have to do to stay on track so that you’re able to accomplish whatever needs to be done today. There will always be more to do than there’s time for, and the dust bunnies will still be under the bed next week. Prioritize, put on blinders, shut off your phone; do whatever it takes to complete the job.
If you’re prone to noticing side jobs and getting distracted, keep a pad of paper in your pocket and make a list as you work. If you need to take a break, time it, then get right back to work. If you’re easily derailed, establish regular routines to keep on track.
Cleaning isn’t a whole lot of fun, but it can be made easier. Whether your home is a cottage, a mansion, or something in between, the simple steps outlined above can minimize the effort you’ll have to put into cleaning and leave you with time to do the things you’d rather be doing.
House cleaning requires some type of supplies, including cleaning agents. These are substances that help with the removal of grime or bacteria or bad smells. Things like dirty fingerprints on walls, grease on the stove, or mildew in the shower call for the use of detergents to help remove them. And using cleaning agents correctly maximizes their effectiveness.
Here are some hints for making the most of your cleaning agents.
Use the Right Amount
You may be tempted to use more than the recommended amount of a cleaning agent, or try to get by with less. The quickest and easiest means of achieving your desired results is to use the cleaning agent as it is meant to be used.
Using too much of a cleaner can result in unnecessary rinsing or residue left on the surface, which will attract dirt. Too little cleaner may not do the job.
Apply It Correctly
Follow the application instructions. If it’s supposed to be sprayed on and allowed to sit for fifteen minutes and rinsed, use this method. Don’t reinvent the wheel; the maker of the product already figured out how it should be used.
Use the Right Stuff
Use products appropriate for the surface that’s being cleaned. The wrong product may be ineffective or might damage whatever you’re trying to clean. For example use a degreaser to eliminate grease or a mildew remover to remove mildew and not vice-versa.
Let it Soak to Loosen Grime
Sometimes time is on your side. Letting a cleaning agent penetrate grime for a few minutes can mean less scrubbing.
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:
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 kitchen appliances with glass cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, or specialty cleaner.
Clean kitchen sinks with multipurpose scrub, baking soda, or all-purpose cleaner.
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.
Clean your toilets using bathroom cleaner, toilet cleaner, vinegar, or all-purpose cleaner.
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 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.
Today’s homes are pretty easy to clean in comparison to those of days gone by. Most modern surfaces hold up well to wear and tear and many actually repel grime. Clean heating sources mean that homes have fewer indoor pollutants than in days past. Plus, new homes are airtight, so dust, pollen, smoke, and airborne pathogens remain outside as long as windows remain shut.
Why Do We Need Hundreds of Cleaning Products?
Given these facts, it seems a little strange that we use more cleaning agents and gadgets than ever before. Hundreds of products are available for every conceivable use, from cleaning ceilings to floors and everything in between. Do we really need all this stuff?
The Motivation to Buy Cleaning Products? Everyone Hates to Clean
Everyone dislikes house cleaning and is in search of the magic elixir that will take the sting out of the job. The makers of cleaning products, from small-time inventors to multi-national corporations, bank on this.
Smoke and Mirrors
Television infomercials make amazing claims that consumers happily buy into. Internet ads lead people to believe this is better than that or vice-versa, when in fact this and that are equally useless. Companies peddle cleaning tools that require endless accessories and refills, thereby guaranteeing future profits. It’s all smoke and mirrors.
Today’s homes don’t require the amount of upkeep that older homes did. Floors wash easily. Windows tip in for cleaning-ease. Showers can be kept clean with minimal regular maintenance. A simple roster of cleaning agents and tools will easily get the job done. Besides, using simpler products with gentler means is better for us and for our environment.
Cleaning Agents Pollute Our Homes
Ironically, because modern construction is so airtight, the fumes from harsh chemical cleaning agents used in homes become trapped, contributing to indoor air pollution. To boot, some of these cleaning products are known carcinogens.
Cleaning Agents Pollute the Earth
Furthermore, the residue from these chemicals finds its way back into the Earth, contributing to the pollution already plaguing the planet. Equally problematic, disposable cleaning products add to the trash overflow also afflicting our society. And many of those wonder gadgets that we buy, use once, and relegate to a corner in the garage, likewise end up in landfills.
Make a Difference
Be a smart consumer. Know what you’re buying and don’t buy what you don’t need. House cleaning doesn’t require a closet full of chemicals. Know that you vote with your dollars, and by avoiding buying products that are harmful you can make a difference. Be aware, do your part, don’t contribute to the commercialization of house cleaning.
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.
Define the Job
The first step is to define the issue at hand. In order to find a solution, the problem must be understood. This can be in the form of a simple statement, such as “my windows are dirty” or a detailed list, for example: the kitchen appliances and floor need cleaning, the whole house needs vacuuming, the showers have to be scrubbed, and the laundry has to be washed, dried, folded, and put away.
If the job is large, write out a detailed list. This will be the basis for determining how best to break down the large job into smaller increments, so think in terms of sectioning the job into manageable portions.
Make a Plan
Next, outline a plan to deal with the issue. For example, if your windows are dirty, the plan would be to clean them. Seems simple enough, but maybe not.
If you’ve got five windows in your home and they all tip in for cleaning ease, the plan will be straightforward: clean the windows. You’ll have a little bit of planning to do, for instance figuring out what supplies to use and whether you’ve got time to clean all the windows at once. Sorting out the details shouldn’t be a big deal.
If, however, you’ve got twenty-five windows, each with additional storm windows to remove and clean as well as screens, and none of them have been cleaned in ten years, this is a big project. You would want to break it down and complete the steps over a period of time. This would require some planning.
For instance, you might plan on cleaning the windows over the course of three or four Saturdays and enlist assistance so that one person could work inside while another works outside. The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
No one wants to spend hours upon hours cleaning their home. The key to keeping a home cleaning regimen short and sweet is simple: maximize efficiency. By making the most of your time and efforts, your house cleaning routine will be streamlined and you’ll have plenty of time left over to do more interesting things. The following are some house cleaning tips to maximize efficiency.
Begin With a Walk-Through
Before starting to clean, take a quick lap through your home with a laundry basket and large trash bag. Gather up loose items that should be put away and deposit them in the basket. Collect trash, and empty trash containers into the trash bag.
Pay attention to what tasks need to be done, what areas might require extra attention, and what places are in good shape and therefore don’t need any sprucing up. Mentally calculate how much time you’ll need for each area, keeping in mind how much time you have overall to spend cleaning.
Starting off knowing that there’s dog hair all over the sofa in the family room and the upstairs bathroom is a disaster makes it easy to allocate enough time to these areas. This way you know from the start that you won’t have time to vacuum under beds today.
Set aside the basket of lost items that you collected on your walk-through and deal with it later. Picking up and organizing are not part of house cleaning; they are prerequisites. Clutter control should be an ongoing process. Spending an hour picking up and putting away miscellanea before you can start cleaning means you’ll potentially run out of steam before the housework is done.
Working around, or worse, having to shift and replace, clutter while cleaning eats up time as well. Clear surfaces and spaces make cleaning quick and easy. Cluttered surfaces and piles of paraphernalia collect dust and complicate cleaning.
Have What You Need On Hand
Keep your cleaning closet stocked with whatever you need. Penalize household members who make off with the vacuum cleaner or the broom and don’t return it. Having to spend twenty minutes tracking down the mop is an inefficient use of time.
Wear an Apron or Tool Belt
Keep what you need readily at hand as you work so you don’t have to repeatedly stop to fetch supplies. Wear an apron with lots of pockets, or a tool belt, or carry a caddy with you. Reducing steps reduces time and maximizes efficiency.
If chatting with a buddy while you work isn’t a distraction, clean your homes simultaneously and cheer each other on. Exchange cleaning tips. If it keeps you motivated, go for it.
Pay Attention to What You’re Doing
On a related note, don’t allow your mind to wander off while you work. Pay attention to the job at hand. An efficient cleaner cleans only what is dirty, which requires mindfulness as you work.
Anticipate what’s next as you perform each task and work in such a way as to minimize unnecessary steps.
Don’t Get Sidetracked
Stay focused. If you’re easily distracted by side jobs, keep a small notepad in your apron pocket and make a to-list as you work. If you notice that the fridge needs to be wiped out or the kids’ closets are a mess, plan to tackle these extra chores as soon as your schedule permits, but don’t stop doing what you’re doing now. Completing one job from beginning to end is satisfying and motivating. Starting three jobs and not finishing any of them is frustrating.
Work in a Straight Line
Clean either room by room or in zones, and work in straight lines. Don’t backtrack.
Don’t sit down. Keep working until the job is done. If you must take a break, time it. When your ten minutes is up, so are you.
Focus on What Shows
Clean what’s dirty, focusing on areas that stand out. When there’s time, clean the dusty bookshelf in the corner. When there isn’t time because the sofa has to be vacuumed free of dog hair, leave it. The dust will be there next time.
Treat Cleaning Your House like a Job
Cleaning your home is a job, treat it as such. Make a schedule, stick to it, see the job through to the end.
Use an Eraser-Type Sponge
Eraser sponges have many uses throughout the home. Soap scum removal, tough kitchen cleanups, scuffs on floors, and fingerprints on walls are just a few. These sponges save time and effort, both of which maximize efficiency.
Forget dusting with a cloth; the quickest means of removing dust from surfaces is to use a tool, preferably a microfiber wand with nubs, because this will grab and lock down dust. Don’t belabor the task; working from the top of the room downward, dust ceiling fans and light fixtures, wall hangings, window treatments, window sills and grates, chair rails, baseboards and baseboard heaters. Then tackle furniture and lamps. Work swiftly, don’t backtrack, and make every movement count.
Keep a Spray Bottle of Water on Hand
A damp cloth cleans a variety of surfaces, from wall smudges to water glass rings to fingerprints on switch plates and sticky doorknobs. Avoid having to hunt down a cloth and find a faucet; keep a supply of cleaning cloths and a spray bottle of water on hand as you work.
Work Out a Routine
A regular, consistent cleaning routine works to your advantage in several ways. First, repeating the same tasks over and over increases speed and efficiency (the learning curve). Second, a regular routine gives you the chance to clean everything in your home on a rotating basis. From week to week some tasks can be deferred until next time, and others can get the attention they need right now. Third, working out a system forces your focus onto efficiency; over time your routine will inevitably become more streamlined as you work out the bugs. Finally, by making home cleaning a habit and a priority, it will get done. Period.
Stay motivated by finishing what you start. Each time you successfully complete your cleaning routine, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment. Take a little time to admire your handiwork. This feeling of pride in a job well done will inspire you to take up your broom next week and clean on.
Use the Right Cleaning Supplies and Equipment
Use whatever cleaning agents and equipment make you happy. If you use scented cleaners, be sure the scents make you feel good. Likewise, cleaning agents should do the jobs for which they’re intended, leaving you feeling satisfied that you’ve accomplished something by using them. Your equipment should be easy to use, not frustrating.
Spending a little more money on good cleaning supplies that you’ll look forward to using (or at least not mind using) is well worth the investment. You cleaning tools should be easy for you to use, perform well, and make you feel glad to use them.
Eat Right, Exercise, Get Some Sleep
Cleaning is hard work! Give your body what it needs to do the job. If you feel sluggish and run down, you’re not going feel overly enthusiastic about mopping and vacuuming and making beds. When you feel good and are energized, cleaning is a breeze.
If you’re the type of person who is motivated by crossing items off your list, write up a list of chores before you start cleaning. Staying on task is very important to cleaning efficiently, so if writing it down helps achieve this goal, go for it.
Don’t be a Perfectionist
It’s a waste of time to try to remove 100% of the dirt from your home. Perfectionism will turn a three-hour job into a six-hour job. The difference between 95% efficiency and 100% isn’t worth three hours of your time.
Set Realistic Goals
There’s only so much any one person can accomplish within a few hours. Don’t set the bar too high. Set realistic goals that you’ll be able to achieve. Accomplishing goals is motivating. Failing to achieve goals is not.
Don’t Make a Big Production Out of It
House cleaning is labor intensive but not overly difficult. Don’t make it harder than it is. Don’t’ clean what isn’t dirty. Don’t perform elaborate cleaning rituals that make no sense just because your grandma did it that way. Simplify your procedures and get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Over the years, I’ve tried a lot of different methods for cleaning dirty window blinds. In my experience, you have to really want to have spotless blinds to bother even attempting this, because blind washing isn’t a lot of fun. It takes time and elbow grease. I have found two methods that work well.
You need a bathtub for method one. If you don’t have a bathtub, skip to method two. Also remember these methods are for vinyl or metal blinds only. If you are cleaning vertical blinds, the slats can usually be removed from the headrail for cleaning.
Put some warm water and all-purpose cleaner in a bathtub and immerse the blind in the water. Kneel beside the tub (you may want a towel under your knees) and, using a scrub brush, rag, or sponge, scrub several slats at a time until they are all clean. Reverse the slats or flip the blind over and repeat the process on the other side.
Drain the soapy water and replace with clean water to rinse the blind. Carefully wrap the blind in a towel to catch dripping water, and take it outside. Drape the blind over a railing or hang it up somewhere else to dry. You can hang it in the shower to dry if you can’t take it outside. Wherever you hang it, bear in mind that it will drip water for a while.
Take the blind outside and find a clean place to lay it down, or place a tarp or some plastic sheeting on the ground and lay the blind on top. Spray all-purpose cleaner on the blind, then, using a long-handled brush, kneel or squat beside the blind and scrub the slats, working in sections.
When you finish one side, turn it over and repeat the procedure. Then take a hose or bucket of water and rinse the blind until all the crud and soap is gone. Hang the blind from a railing or clothesline or tree branch until it is dry.
Either procedure is time-consuming and tedious. The only consolation I can offer is that blinds always look really good afterward.