Get Your Home Ready for the Holidays: Fall House Cleaning Tips

 

orangetreeThe change of seasons is the perfect time to tackle chores around the house that don’t get done as part of your regular cleaning regimen. Getting your home ready for winter isn’t difficult, and it’s worth investing a little time now to start preparing your home for the busy holiday season. The following are some common tasks that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Dust Baseboard Heaters

If your home has baseboard heaters, this is the time to really get them clean. Use your vacuum cleaner dusting brush and crevice tools to remove dust, cobwebs, and other debris that collects inside and underneath.

Dust Vent Covers

Use your vacuum cleaner dusting brush to thoroughly remove accumulations of dust or cobwebs on heating vent covers and grates.

Freshen Cozy Throw Blankets

Wash or air out throws that you snuggle underneath during cold winter months. Anything too bulky to put in your washing machine can be taken to a Laundromat.

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Clean the Oven

This is the perfect time of year to clean the oven. Before holiday entertaining season begins, get your oven in tip-top shape so it’ll be performing optimally to bake pies and cookies.

Wash Fine China

Dust or hand wash the fine china and crystal that doesn’t get used in the summer, when picnics and grilling outside are the norm. You’ll be glad you did when it comes time to set your Thanksgiving Day table. More done now means less stress later.

Deep Clean the Dining Room

Take time to thoroughly clean the least-used room in the house: the dining room. Holiday entertaining is right around the corner, so get your home in shape now. Eliminate cobwebs in corners and on light fixtures. Dust the tops of hutches, and tackle baseboards. Get into all the areas that don’t receive regular attention.

Freshen Guest Rooms

This is also the perfect time to give guest bedrooms a good once-over. Freshen window treatments by vacuuming, or air them outside. Organize the closets, sort out miscellanea in wardrobes or dressers, and get rid of things you don’t use that are wasting space.

Vacuum Mattresses

While you’re cleaning the bedrooms, vacuum and flip mattresses. Also freshen bedding, by airing outside or laundering, if necessary.

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Clean Glass Doors

Before cold weather sets in, clean glass entry doors. Gleaming glass makes a great first impression on holiday guests. Plus, it’s tough to clean outside glass when the temperature drops below freezing.

Wash Entry Mats

Start off fresh when messy winter weather hits. Wash entry mats, boot trays, and runners so they’ll be ready for the workout ahead.

Winter is on its way, and with it, the holiday season. Give yourself time to enjoy fun and family by getting your home ready now. Why put off ‘til tomorrow what you can do today?

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 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.

Special Challenges of Cleaning a Home Where Toddlers Live

When you live with small children who are on the move, house cleaning has special challenges. Since toddlers put their hands on everything, and put everything in their mouths, your house cleaning routine should include steps above and beyond the typical basics.dustmop

Down Low

When cleaning a home with toddlers, think like a toddler. Look at everything from their perspective: floor level. Think about which objects might be handled or touched by tiny hands and potentially be a source of germs or bacteria.

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Reduce the Spread of Germs

Pay special attention to surfaces that could potentially harbor germs and use your due diligence to reduce the spread of pathogens. Use common sense; every surface doesn’t need to be disinfected. But if little Henry’s nose is running from a cold and he’s wiping it with his hands, pay attention to areas that he subsequently touches.

Fingerprint Patrol

It shouldn’t be difficult to deduce which surfaces your toddler favors for tactile stimulation: the fingerprint trail will tell the tale. Keeping this evidence cleaned up reduces the spread of germs and keeps areas looking fresh and clean.

Cleaning Agents

When cleaning surfaces with which toddlers will come in contact, use cleaning agents that are appropriate for the task. Read labels and be sure whatever you’re using is safe for your toddler, safe for the surface being cleaned, and doesn’t pollute your indoor air quality.

Keep Cleaning Agents Close at Hand

When using cleaning agents around toddlers, always keep track of your supplies. Accidents take only seconds. Wear an apron with pockets or clean at naptime and don’t allow yourself to become distracted so something toxic gets left where it shouldn’t be.

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Keep Floors Clean

Toddlers need space in which to explore. Keep carpets vacuumed and floors mopped. Spot-clean soiled areas ASAP.

Keep Toys off the Floor

Don’t allow toys to accumulate on the floor. When not in use, keep them picked up, both to make floor cleaning easier and to reduce the transfer of dirt and pathogens to the objects with which your child plays.

Cleaning homes with small children is challenging, but it’s important to make the effort. The issue goes beyond just having a home that looks clean; small children need a safe, clean environment in which to live and grow. You owe it to them to do all you can to provide them with 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.

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How to Clean Your Refrigerator

glovesWhile we typically clean the sticky handprints off of the outside of the fridge as part of a regular cleaning routine, the inside often gets neglected. Food drips, spills, and crumbs accumulate on surfaces inside the refrigerator and need to be cleaned up periodically.

Equally important, if you find that foodstuffs are passing their expiration dates before you get a chance to use them, clean them out as often as need be. Don’t let old food sit around stinking up the fridge, because bad smells are tough to remove from a refrigerator.

Start with the Door

When cleaning your fridge, start by cleaning shelves or racks on the inside of the door. Working from the top down, check for any food that needs to be tossed. Shift items from side to side so that you can wipe all surfaces clean. If areas are jam-packed, remove the contents and set aside temporarily, wipe the area clean, then replace items. Be sure to wipe clean any containers that are sticky on the outside prior to replacing.

Any tough or sticky messes on trays or racks might need special treatment. If trays are removable, wash them in warm water with dish detergent. Let them soak for a bit, if necessary. Scrubbing with a non-abrasive nylon scrubber sponge might help loosen the mess. After they’re clean, rinse, dry, and replace.

Don’t forget to clean the door gasket before moving on. Wipe gently with mild soap, getting into the ridges carefully to avoid causing damage. Rinse well and dry with a soft cloth.

Shelves and Drawers

After the door is clean and re-organized, move to the shelves inside. Work from the top down so that any falling debris lands in areas that haven’t yet been cleaned. Use the same method as for the door: either shift items from side to side to clean surfaces, or remove items, wipe the area clean, then replace the items. Again be sure to clean the outsides of containers if they are sticky and toss out anything that’s no good.

Also clean inner walls (sides and back) as you work.

If they’re very dirty or sticky, remove drawers and other removable parts and clean with warm water and dish detergent, then rinse well.

The Freezer

The freezer can be cleaned using the same methods as for the fridge. Use a cloth dampened with very hot water to remove drips or spills in the freezer.

But Wait, There’s More

After the interior of the fridge is clean and organized, there’s still work to do. Dust builds up underneath and behind the fridge. Small objects also tend to find their way under the refrigerator. This is the time to unearth the bottle caps, toys, popsicle sticks, and dried-up green peas that accumulate in this space.

How to Clean Underneath

Many refrigerators have a grill on the front toward the floor and underneath the door. These are generally held in place on each side with clips. Give it a little pull and it’ll usually pop right off.

Next, wrap a rag or old towel around a yard stick and use this “tool” to remove any objects under the fridge, such as those mentioned above.

Finally, use a long, narrow attachment tool to vacuum the area clear of any remaining dust. If you don’t have such an attachment on hand, improvise by using a cardboard wrapping paper tube.

Removing larger objects prior to vacuuming prevents you from ending up with bottle caps or similar objects lodged in the vacuum cleaner hose.

Pull It Out (If It Rolls)

Some refrigerators have wheels underneath so that they can be pulled out away from the wall for cleaning ease. In this case, carefully pull the fridge forward and clean the floor area under the fridge as well as the wall behind it.

Since the refrigerator is a food storage space, it’s important to keep it clean. Plan on wiping up spills and crumbs at least once every month or so. Keep a close eye on expiring food as well, and clean it out as often as necessary. These simple maintenance procedures ensure that your fridge will always be clean and hygienic.

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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Look Ma I’m Cleaning: The “Anyone Can Clean” Guide to Housekeeping

valanceThe ability to clean a house is a basic skill that everyone should have, yet there are many who don’t know where to begin. If you’re a member of this unlucky group, this guide will get you going in the right direction.

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

Step One: Clutter Control

House cleaning begins by putting away clutter, also known as organizing. Getting organized is a simple process of finding a home for all objects and then making sure to put each object away when it’s not in use.

In order to minimize clutter, it’s also important to purge objects that are no longer needed. Every so often, closets and cupboards should be reorganized in order to make room for new objects in need of a home.

Organizing and putting stuff away is the first step in cleaning because it’s easier to vacuum, dust, and wipe down areas that are as clear as possible. Dust also has fewer places to settle in environments that aren’t littered with clutter.

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Start Cleaning From the Top Down

After getting organized, the next step in the cleaning process is getting rid of cobwebs and dust. Anything up high is done first, including ceiling fans, wall hangings, tops of cabinets and cupboards, etc.

Continuing to work from the top of the room downward, dust window treatments, window sills, chair rails, ridges on doors, lamp shades, furniture, baseboards, and baseboard heaters.

In the living room, den, family room, etc. vacuum upholstered furniture. Flip cushions and fluff pillows.

In bedrooms, change bedding as needed and periodically flip mattresses and sweep or vacuum under beds.

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The Kitchen

In the kitchen, wipe down countertops and backsplashes, stovetop, and inside the microwave. Spot clean table and chairs and cabinet fronts. Clean keypads and fronts of appliances like the dishwasher and refrigerator. Scour the sink.

The Bathroom

In the bathroom, clean mirrors, sink and vanity, tub and/or shower, and the toilet. Tiled walls should also periodically be cleaned. Clean the bathroom often so that soap scum and other grime doesn’t build up.

Finally, in all rooms, vacuum, dust mop or sweep floors and damp mop, if necessary.

Laundry

Laundry can be a big job that’s often easier by spreading it out over time. Rather than letting it accumulate, doing laundry as soon as you’ve got a full load makes it more manageable than facing the daunting task of doing six loads in one day. Plus, you never run out of clean towels using this method.

Cleaning Styles

Different lifestyles call for different cleaning styles. House cleaning can be done every day, once every week or two, or whenever you have time. The key element is doing it. A house that’s never cleaned isn’t a pleasant place to live.

This is a basic overview of house cleaning. The process is made up of many more details, which you can learn about from other blog posts here. Don’t let cleaning intimidate you, it’s not difficult. Just get up, start doing it, and before you know it, you’ll be a cleaning master.

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 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.

vacuum baseboard

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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Hints for Hiring a House Cleaner

cleaning range hood (2)Everyone likes to have a clean house, but not everyone has the time, the ability, or the ambition to tackle the arduous task of house cleaning. Hiring someone else to do the job is the simple solution to this problem.

Hiring a house cleaner is a process that should be approached systematically. It’s important to find a good fit; the right person can make your life much easier, but the wrong person can spell disaster. Your home is your castle, safeguard it by making a thoughtful search for your cleaning person.

What to Look For in a House Cleaner

A professional house cleaner needs to have some very specific traits: honesty, a strong work ethic, excellent listening skills, maturity, and the ability to get along with lots of different types of people. Most importantly, a house cleaner should actually know how to clean. The process of screening candidates should include an assessment of these traits.

Finding Candidates

But first, you’ve got to find a prospect or two. Simply asking friends if they know of anyone who fits the bill might lead to finding the right person. If none of your friends can recommend anyone, local online or print classifieds often have a “services provided” section that house cleaners typically use for advertising. Craigslist, bulletin boards, and local free papers are other places to look.

Arrange a Meeting

Once you’ve got a line on someone,  contact them to ask about their availability and what they typically charge. These are the first issues that can make or break the deal. If their availability doesn’t mesh with what you need, or if they charge more than you’re willing to pay, there’s no deal to be made.

If you come to acceptable terms on these points, a face-to-face meeting is the next step. Set up a time for the candidate to visit your home in order to give you a chance to discuss your needs as well as their qualifications.

Spend a little time preparing for this meeting. Think of a few carefully-worded questions that will help you to get a sense of the potential cleaner’s abilities and attitude. Your questions should be simple and respectful; an interrogation is not necessary and will scare the person off.

Appropriate things to ask include how many years experience the person has, their typical routine on a job, their attitude toward and responsiveness to feedback from clients, and whether the person considers him/her self to be a hard worker. Asking for two or three references (preferably other long-term clients) is a good idea as well.

Also think about what results you expect from a house-cleaning routine so you will be ready to explain to the candidate what you would like them to do.

Get to Know Them (a Little)

When the cleaner arrives for your meeting, show them through the house and discuss what specific tasks you consider important. Each person has a different idea of what constitutes a clean house. The cleaner should be able to break down a roster of possible tasks that clients typically like to have done, and the two of you would at this time hammer out the details of a cleaning regimen that will make you happy.

Ask the questions you’ve prepared either as you go along or at the end of the tour. Try to get a feel for the person’s character and temperament. Trust your instincts. If you get a bad feeling about the person, it’s perfectly ok to simply tell them you’ll have to think about it and show them to the door.

The meeting should take about fifteen to twenty minutes. By the end of that time, if you’ve asked good questions and had a well-prepared discussion about your expectations, you ought to know whether this is your house cleaner or if you need to keep looking.

The final details to consider, if you decide to hire the prospect, are things such as:

What day and time will they begin?

House cleaning jobs are usually done on a regular basis, such as weekly or every other week, and on the same day of the week each time. For example, you might agree that the cleaner will come over every other Tuesday morning at 9:00 and work until 1:00.

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Do you provide supplies or do they?

If you provide supplies, ask if they have preferences with regard to products. If you have specific requirements about which products you prefer to be used on your surfaces, now is the time to talk about them.

What form of payment do they prefer?

Cash, check, Paypal? Better to know beforehand.

What’s their cancellation policy?

This works both ways. If you need to cancel for some reason, how much notice does the cleaner expect? What happens if the cleaner gets sick or can’t make it for some reason? This is also the time to discuss the best method of contact for each of you, for example texting or calling or e-mail.

Miscellaneous Details

Other things to consider might include whether the cleaner takes breaks (and if so, are they paid or unpaid), whether the cleaner will bring a lunch or if you’ll be expected to provide it, what method of entry the cleaner will use to get into your house if you’re not home, and whether your pets are allowed outside unsupervised.

If you’d prefer the cleaner not go into certain areas of the house, this is the time to say so. Iron out as many details as you can think of so the job will go as smoothly as possible on day one and each time thereafter.

If you’ve never before faced the prospect of hiring a house cleaner, these tips will lead you in the right direction. Your cleaning person should be someone you trust and can have a good relationship with (hopefully a lasting one). It takes time for a cleaner to become familiar with your home and your specific needs. Ultimately a long-term employee will do the best possible job.

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Don’t hire anyone you’re not comfortable having in your home. Once you’ve settled on someone, be polite and respectful, but don’t be afraid to speak up if you’re not happy with the job they perform. A good house cleaner wants to know what will satisfy each and every client. Bear in mind, it might take a little time to establish a routine and get things into shape.

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When you’ve hired someone else to do the heavy lifting, cleaning day should be your favorite day of the week. Taking the time to carefully search for the right person will net you this result. So take your time, conduct a well-thought-out search, and know that time spent searching for the best person to suit your needs will pay off in peace of mind, as well as a clean home.

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

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House Cleaning Made Quicker: Ten Cleaners Worth Buying

cleaning shower door

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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Housekeeping Secrets: Tame the Clutter Monster

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Clutter is one of the biggest obstacles to keeping a house clean. Spaces that are overflowing with objects are difficult to dust, vacuum, and wipe up. Floors can’t be thoroughly swept or mopped when piles of miscellanea clog up open spaces. In a nutshell, it’s almost impossible to eliminate all dirt and dust from areas that are overloaded with stuff.

Habitual tidiness doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but the good news is that tidying up isn’t difficult. The following are some simple steps anyone can take to wrestle the clutter monster into submission.

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Practice Every Day

Practice makes perfect. Making an everyday practice of keeping things in order will, over time, become a habit that requires little to no thought.

Minimal clutter is no big deal. The trouble with minimal clutter is that it often spreads, and quickly becomes more than a minimal issue. The best and easiest way to avoid this problem is to keep things picked up and organized every day.

Keeping possessions organized has many benefits. It not only makes it easier to clean house, but saves time, energy, and frustration searching for lost objects.

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Put Things Away Immediately After Using Them

Done cutting through the packing tape on your Amazon box? Put the scissors back where they belong before they get lost. Done scratching your back? Replace the back scratcher into its permanent home. Putting things away right away means it gets done. Do it now and there’s no need to worry about doing it later.

Find a Spot for Everything You Own

Taming the clutter monster is all about putting your stuff somewhere. Every object should have a space of its very own. Some things can live on countertops, everything can’t.

Every single object you own should have a designated spot where it permanently belongs when it’s not being used. This way, you’ll always know where to put things when you’re done using them and where to look when you need them again.

Find a Spot for Each New Possession as it Enters your Home

Your new Cuisinart Air Fryer is really cool, but where will you put it? Make a space for it immediately on its entry into your home. If it’s sitting in the box in a corner for six months, not only do you not get to use it, but it’s creating a clutter hazard.

If Space is Short, Purge

If you’re finding that there’s nowhere to put stuff, you’ve got too much stuff for your space. Either move to a bigger space or get rid of stuff you don’t need.

Look at it this way: no one can realistically keep track of 40 pairs of shoes, 30 pairs of jeans, or 20 handbags. Weed out what you’re not using and make a donation to a local charity. Someone else can use it and will appreciate it more than you do.

Don’t Hang on to Things You’re Not Using

Don’t keep stuff because you think you might use it some day or you got a really good deal on it or you just like it for no good reason. Things are objects, no more, no less. Objects don’t have personalities, bring good luck, or do much of anything other than sit around waiting for you to do something with them. If it’s not useful and you need the space, get rid of it.

Use Storage Space Effectively

Make maximal use of closets, dressers, cupboards, and space under beds. Leave no space un-utilized when you need it. Don’t leave stuff on top of a dresser when its drawers are empty. Don’t pile stuff on top of the bed in the spare bedroom when you could store it in a tote under the bed.

Arrange things neatly, not haphazardly. You should be able to open a drawer or cupboard door and quickly find what you’re looking for.

Label boxes, if need be. Use clear totes. Store things on shelves according to height so the taller items are in back. Don’t over-crowd things so much that you can’t see everything at a glance. Leave a little room for growth.

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Use Storage Aids

Use baskets, bins, stacking tubs, boxes, or whatever will help you logically store your stuff. Baskets are handy for storing paperwork that’s in transition. Storage tubs come in all shapes and sizes for all types of situations. Collapsible fabric storage cubes are versatile, low-cost, low-space organizing tools.

Be creative and use whatever makes you happy and makes it easy to store and retrieve your things. Your system of organization should be customized to suit you.

Assign a Basket to Each Family Member

Hold all household members accountable for keeping track of their own stuff. Assign each member of the household a basket. If clutter starts to accumulate in common areas around the house, simply deposit items into the appropriate basket. If a basket gets too full, penalize the offender.

Remember that the More Space You Have, the More Space You Fill Up

Finally, remember that we tend to fill up whatever space we have. Don’t go there; become a minimalist. Be realistic about what you actually need. Don’t hang on to unimportant things.

Clutter makes it difficult to distinguish between the important things you need and the irrelevant things that are just in the way. Clutter makes house cleaning difficult. Clutter weighs you down. Don’t let clutter get you down; do whatever you can to tame the clutter monster.

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

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Make House Cleaning Easier

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

Organize Your Possessions

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

Organizing is simple, really.

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

And here’s the best part:

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

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

Clean As You Go

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

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

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

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

Use the Right Equipment

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Focused

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

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

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

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