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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Cleaning Gone Wild: Tips for Keeping Camp Clean

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Lots of people get away from the nonstop busyness of everyday life by retiring to the woods for a few days. While going off the grid is relaxing, there’s no maid service in the wild.

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

The following are some tips for keeping your camping adventure clean and safe.

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Keep a Lid on Food

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

Keep Food Cool

Keep items that normally require refrigeration on ice.

Clean Up Leftovers

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

Don’t Leave Trash Lying Around

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

Bring Plenty of Water

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

Wash Your Dishes

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

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Don’t Forget a Broom

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

If There’s Power, Bring a Small Shop Vac

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

About Cobwebs

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

Cleaning Wipes

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

It’s Camp, It’s Supposed to be Dirty

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

Want more 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 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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Never Underestimate the Importance of House Cleaning

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Why Clean?

A clean home may not seem like a big deal. It’s something that many of us take for granted every day. And we shouldn’t. Every so often we should take time to appreciate the significance of the many little details in life that contribute to our overall well-being. A clean home is one of those details. Here are some great reasons to never underestimate the importance of house cleaning.

A Clean Home is a Healthy Environment

A clean home contributes to the good health of its occupants. Breathing clean air is infinitely better for you than breathing polluted air. Homes filled with dust, mold, or sources of bad smells are polluted. Your home should be your sanctuary, not make you sick.

A Clean Home is a Safe Environment

A clean home is a safe environment for children. In a clean environment, you can feel secure that kids will be safe doing kid things like playing on the floor and exploring.

Clean Equals Happy

A clean home makes people happy. Who doesn’t like their home better right after it’s been cleaned? It smells good, looks good, and makes you feel good.

Cleaning Saves Wear and Tear

Cleaning away dirt reduces wear and tear on a home and the objects it contains. Dirt on any surface is potentially damaging. For example grit on hard floors causes friction. Keeping rugs clean extends their life. Removing dust from under the refrigerator keeps it running efficiently.

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Organization Pays Off

A clean home makes it easy to find what you’re looking for. Uncluttered, well-organized spaces help us keep track of things so we can find them when we need them. Having a hook or bowl for car keys right by the door saves time searching for them. Keeping a basket or bin for important pending paperwork means never having to scramble to find the car registration renewal that came in the mail last month.

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Clean Homes are Never Embarrassing

Clean homes are never embarrassing when unexpected company arrives. Don’t be caught off guard. Keeping a neat and tidy domicile means always feeling comfortable inviting friends and family inside when they turn up at the door.

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A Clean Home is Uplifting, Especially When You Can’t Do It Yourself

Not everyone is able to clean their home. If you are able, appreciate that fact. For every one of us who finds house cleaning manageable (if a bit challenging at times) there is someone else who simply can’t keep up. Some are physically unable, some are overwhelmed, some simply don’t know how.

If you want to make someone’s day, help out an elderly or invalid friend or relative with house cleaning. Watch how happy it makes them to have things freshened up. For people who can’t do it themselves, having their home cleaned is beyond uplifting. So count your blessings, and never underestimate the importance of house cleaning.

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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Home Cleaning Tips To Maximize Efficiency

vacuum ceiling fanNo one wants to spend hours upon hours cleaning their home. The key to keeping a home cleaning regimen short and sweet is simple: maximize efficiency. By making the most of your time and efforts, your house cleaning routine will be streamlined and you’ll have plenty of time left over to do more interesting things. The following are some house cleaning tips to maximize efficiency.

Begin With a Walk-Through

Before starting to clean, take a quick lap through your home with a laundry basket and large trash bag. Gather up loose items that should be put away and deposit them in the basket. Collect trash, and empty trash containers into the trash bag.

Pay attention to what tasks need to be done, what areas might require extra attention, and what places are in good shape and therefore don’t need any sprucing up. Mentally calculate how much time you’ll need for each area, keeping in mind how much time you have overall to spend cleaning.

Starting off knowing that there’s dog hair all over the sofa in the family room and the upstairs bathroom is a disaster makes it easy to allocate enough time to these areas. This way you know from the start that you won’t have time to vacuum under beds today.

Minimize Clutter

Set aside the basket of lost items that you collected on your walk-through and deal with it later. Picking up and organizing are not part of house cleaning; they are prerequisites. Clutter control should be an ongoing process. Spending an hour picking up and putting away miscellanea before you can start cleaning means you’ll potentially run out of steam before the housework is done.

Working around, or worse, having to shift and replace, clutter while cleaning eats up time as well. Clear surfaces and spaces make cleaning quick and easy. Cluttered surfaces and piles of paraphernalia collect dust and complicate cleaning.

Have What You Need On Hand

Keep your cleaning closet stocked with whatever you need. Penalize household members who make off with the vacuum cleaner or the broom and don’t return it. Having to spend twenty minutes tracking down the mop is an inefficient use of time.

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Wear an Apron or Tool Belt

Keep what you need readily at hand as you work so you don’t have to repeatedly stop to fetch supplies. Wear an apron with lots of pockets, or a tool belt, or carry a caddy with you. Reducing steps reduces time and maximizes efficiency.

Use Minimal Supplies

Use as few cleaning agents and tools as you can; the less stuff to have to tote around and keep track of, the better.

Clean With a Buddy

If chatting with a buddy while you work isn’t a distraction, clean your homes simultaneously and cheer each other on. Exchange cleaning tips. If it keeps you motivated, go for it.

Pay Attention to What You’re Doing

On a related note, don’t allow your mind to wander off while you work. Pay attention to the job at hand. An efficient cleaner cleans only what is dirty, which requires mindfulness as you work.

Think Ahead

Anticipate what’s next as you perform each task and work in such a way as to minimize unnecessary steps.

Don’t Get Sidetracked

Stay focused. If you’re easily distracted by side jobs, keep a small notepad in your apron pocket and make a to-list as you work. If you notice that the fridge needs to be wiped out or the kids’ closets are a mess, plan to tackle these extra chores as soon as your schedule permits, but don’t stop doing what you’re doing now. Completing one job from beginning to end is satisfying and motivating. Starting three jobs and not finishing any of them is frustrating.

Work in a Straight Line

Clean either room by room or in zones, and work in straight lines. Don’t backtrack.

Work Continuously

Don’t sit down. Keep working until the job is done. If you must take a break, time it. When your ten minutes is up, so are you.

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Focus on What Shows

Clean what’s dirty, focusing on areas that stand out. When there’s time, clean the dusty bookshelf in the corner. When there isn’t time because the sofa has to be vacuumed free of dog hair, leave it. The dust will be there next time.

Treat Cleaning Your House like a Job

Cleaning your home is a job, treat it as such. Make a schedule, stick to it, see the job through to the end.

Use an Eraser-Type Sponge

Eraser sponges have many uses throughout the home. Soap scum removal, tough kitchen cleanups, scuffs on floors, and fingerprints on walls are just a few. These sponges save time and effort, both of which maximize efficiency.

vacuum ceiling fan

Dust Your Ceiling Fans

Make it a point to regularly dust areas that accumulate dust such as ceiling fan blades, under beds, on top of the refrigerator, tops of cupboards and wardrobes, and any other places that are not part of your regular dusting regimen. Removing as much dust as possible from surfaces means there’s less dust to end up re-circulating in the air.

Use a Dusting Tool

Forget dusting with a cloth; the quickest means of removing dust from surfaces is to use a tool, preferably a microfiber wand with nubs, because this will grab and lock down dust. Don’t belabor the task; working from the top of the room downward, dust ceiling fans and light fixtures, wall hangings, window treatments, window sills and grates, chair rails, baseboards and baseboard heaters. Then tackle furniture and lamps. Work swiftly, don’t backtrack, and make every movement count.

Keep a Spray Bottle of Water on Hand

A damp cloth cleans a variety of surfaces, from wall smudges to water glass rings to fingerprints on switch plates and sticky doorknobs. Avoid having to hunt down a cloth and find a faucet; keep a supply of cleaning cloths and a spray bottle of water on hand as you work.

Work Out a Routine

A regular, consistent cleaning routine works to your advantage in several ways. First, repeating the same tasks over and over increases speed and efficiency (the learning curve). Second, a regular routine gives you the chance to clean everything in your home on a rotating basis. From week to week some tasks can be deferred until next time, and others can get the attention they need right now. Third, working out a system forces your focus onto efficiency; over time your routine will inevitably become more streamlined as you work out the bugs. Finally, by making home cleaning a habit and a priority, it will get done. Period.

vacuum lampshade

Stay Motivated

Stay motivated by finishing what you start. Each time you successfully complete your cleaning routine, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment. Take a little time to admire your handiwork. This feeling of pride in a job well done will inspire you to take up your broom next week and clean on.

Use the Right Cleaning Supplies and Equipment

Use whatever cleaning agents and equipment make you happy. If you use scented cleaners, be sure the scents make you feel good. Likewise, cleaning agents should do the jobs for which they’re intended, leaving you feeling satisfied that you’ve accomplished something by using them. Your equipment should be easy to use, not frustrating.

Spending a little more money on good cleaning supplies that you’ll look forward to using (or at least not mind using) is well worth the investment. You cleaning tools should be easy for you to use, perform well, and make you feel glad to use them.

Eat Right, Exercise, Get Some Sleep

Cleaning is hard work! Give your body what it needs to do the job. If you feel sluggish and run down, you’re not going feel overly enthusiastic about mopping and vacuuming and making beds. When you feel good and are energized, cleaning is a breeze.

Delegate

Make house cleaning a team effort. Many sets of hands get the job done quicker. Make a chart, assign chores, do whatever gets the job done quickly and efficiently.

Make a List

If you’re the type of person who is motivated by crossing items off your list, write up a list of chores before you start cleaning. Staying on task is very important to cleaning efficiently, so if writing it down helps achieve this goal, go for it.

Don’t be a Perfectionist

It’s a waste of time to try to remove 100% of the dirt from your home. Perfectionism will turn a three-hour job into a six-hour job. The difference between 95% efficiency and 100% isn’t worth three hours of your time.

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Set Realistic Goals

There’s only so much any one person can accomplish within a few hours. Don’t set the bar too high. Set realistic goals that you’ll be able to achieve. Accomplishing goals is motivating. Failing to achieve goals is not.

Don’t Make a Big Production Out of It

House cleaning is labor intensive but not overly difficult. Don’t make it harder than it is. Don’t’ clean what isn’t dirty. Don’t perform elaborate cleaning rituals that make no sense just because your grandma did it that way. Simplify your procedures and get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible.

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

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Spring Clean Express: Deep Cleaning Shortcuts

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Spring is the time to refresh and rejuvenate. It’s also an excellent opportunity to do those cleaning jobs around the house that you don’t usually get around to doing. Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be a major undertaking. Just a few minutes here and there can get the job done.

vacuum upholstery tool

Vacuum Upholstered Furniture

The next time you’ve got the vacuum cleaner out, tackle upholstered furniture. Vacuuming and rotating sofa and chair cushions takes just a few minutes, freshens the furniture, and prolongs its life. Use the upholstery tool or dusting brush attachments, depending on your furniture’s composition. Be gentle on delicate fabrics.

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Get Rid of Cobwebs

Use a telescoping dusting tool to reach cobwebs that form in high spots, like where walls and ceiling meet, on light fixtures and ceiling fans, along the tops of window and door frames, and in any recessed areas like skylights. While you’re at it, dust the tops of any cabinets or tall furniture.

Freshen Window Treatments

Dust horizontal blinds with a damp cloth or your vacuum cleaner dusting tool. Vacuum heavyweight curtains; take lightweight curtains outdoors and give them a good shaking to remove dust. Use a dusting wand to get into all the spaces on interior window shutters.

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Wash Windows

If you’ve got tip-ins, this tedious task goes quickly. Have a supply of dry rags on hand. Make a window cleaning solution by mixing a half cup of ammonia into a gallon pail of water. Use a sponge or rag to wipe clean your window surface, rinsing your sponge as necessary. When your surface is squeaky clean, buff with a dry cloth. Switch out your cloths as they become damp to avoid streaking.

Dust Your Curio Cabinet

Spend a few minutes dusting inside cabinets that aren’t routinely cleaned. This is an excellent opportunity to cut down on the free dust circulating in your air. The more dust you can eliminate from your environment, the less dust there is floating around, waiting to settle down on your grandma’s crystal.

Purge Your Pantry

Remove items from your pantry, sorting as you go. Discard expired foods or anything that looks suspect. Dust shelves and re-organize as you restock.

Wash Entry Mats

Rubber and rubber-backed mats and rugs can be sprayed with an equal vinegar/water mixture and then hosed off outside. Leave to dry in the fresh air and sunshine. They’ll look and smell like new.

These are just a few ideas to give your home a spring boost. For more quick home freshen-ups, check out my post Cleaning Secrets: Details Matter.

Look around and see what else needs to be cleaned, polished, or freshened up. Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be a big deal, but it can make a big difference in the way your home looks and smells.

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

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

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

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

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

Plan

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

Don’t waste your efforts

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

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

Live to clean another day

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

Don’t get sidetracked

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

House Cleaning Dilemma: Dealing with Messy Roommates

wiping a counterYour roommates are slobs and it’s driving you crazy because you like to keep a neat and tidy home. Besides finding new living quarters, is there a solution to this dilemma? Dealing with messy roommates can be tough.

People have many different attitudes toward house cleaning. Some can’t function in anything less than a perfectly ordered environment and therefore clean continually as a normal part of daily life. At the opposite end of the spectrum are the folks who are oblivious to piles of dirty dishes and masses of cobwebs. Most people fall somewhere in between these two extremes on the cleaning continuum.

If you’re faced with having to tell your roommate that their slovenly ways are driving you nuts, there are strategies that you can use to attempt to resolve the issue. Whatever you do, don’t resort to yelling. Coercion is never the answer.

Step one is to assume that your roommate is simply unaware of their shortcomings in the housekeeping arena. Communication may quickly resolve the problem. Gently open a conversation in a non-accusatory manner and approach the situation as the mutual problem that it is. You might say something like: “I’m the type of person who functions optimally in an uncluttered environment, so I wonder if we could work out a system to keep our place a little more picked up than it has been.”

Hopefully this will start you talking about your different attitudes toward clutter, or dirty clothes on the bathroom floor, or dirty dishes in the sink. There are lots of people who never learned how to clean, and your unfortunate roommate may be one of them.

Starting this discussion should lead you directly to step two, which involves you and your roommate setting up a cleaning plan. Getting your roommate involved in the solution both empowers them and holds them accountable.

This is the time to talk about cleaning goals. Is your beef chronic clutter or a dirty bathroom or a perpetual mess in the kitchen? Be as specific as possible about what needs to be done to bring your home up to code. It may be the case that a little bit of education will go a long way toward solving the problem. After all, most people don’t want to live in slovenly homes. So give your roommate the benefit of the doubt.

You might simply write up a list of the specific tasks that need to be done and then ask your roommate which ones they want to do. For example:

  • Wipe down kitchen counters, appliances, and clean sinks.
  • Throw out food that’s no longer any good.
  • Take out the trash.
  • Wash the kitchen floor.
  • Dust and vacuum the living area.
  • Clean the bathroom sinks, countertops, mirrors, tub, and toilet.
  • Do laundry.

Specifically spelling out what needs to be done to maintain order serves several purposes. It gives your roommate ideas in case they don’t actually know what to do. It also sets very clear goals about what needs to happen to make your living area clean. It gives you both a reference point in case tasks get lost in the shuffle of daily life. And it gives you both the ability to negotiate who does what as well as establishing accountability if things don’t get done.

This takes you to step three: implementation of your plan. Once you’ve ironed out a solid contract, you and your roommate have to each carry out your parts. If you’ve both agreed to keep your individual clutter confined to particular areas and take care of certain chores, you must each follow through. Failure to do so violates your contract.

Consistently failing to respect your agreement (on either end) might signify a more serious problem with your relationship. At the end of the day, the place where you live is your respite from the world. It should be a place where you can relax and unwind, not a constant source of irritation. If you’ve made an earnest attempt to resolve your issues and are unable to do so, then it might be time to consider rethinking your choice of roommates.

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.

Get Up Off the Floor: Tips for Finding Your Best Mop

Floor care is one of the most time-consuming aspects of a home cleaning regimen. Removing dirt from bare floors is one of the biggest challenges in this area. Finding the perfect mop helps you meet this challenge.

Why Cleaning Your Floors Is So Important

It’s important to keep your bare floors clean for several reasons. First of all, floors last longer if they’re well-maintained. Second, dirt on floors doesn’t stay put; it transfers onto the feet of anyone passing through and gets tracked all around. Third, food spills have the potential to attract bugs or other unwanted visitors. Finally, clean floors feel great on your bare feet (and keep your bare feet clean).

Getting your decks clean doesn’t require scrubbing on your hands and knees, so get up off the floor. There’s no need for you to use the same method your Grandma did.

Types of Mops

Mops these days are much more effective, and easier to use, than the mops of yesteryear. In fact there are many excellent choices available, including sponge mops, string mops, flat head mops, steam mops, and robot mops. The trick is selecting the best type for your situation.

A sponge mop has a sponge head with some kind of ringer to squeeze out excess water. The problem is, these don’t always wring out fully, which can leave excess water on the floor. Another drawback is that they aren’t very maneuverable so it’s hard to get into corners and under the edges of things.

String mops or strip mops come in lots of different types and are typically made from cotton, rayon or microfiber. The ends of the strings or strips may be cut or looped, and the heads wring out in various ways such as hand wringing, or using a twister to pull the head up, which forces the water out. Some come with a wringer that attaches to your mop bucket.

moppA good string mop will wring out well so you don’t end up with a lot of water on your floor. String mops are also very maneuverable, so you can get into corners and under the edges of things with them. Many also have washable heads that will last and last.

Flat head mops usually have a microfiber pad or head that can be removed and washed then re-used. Some types use disposable pads instead. Some types have a reservoir tank that holds cleaning solution and a sprayer that attaches to the handle so you can spray your cleaning solution into the path of the mop as you work. With others you use a hand-held spray bottle to spray solution into the path of the mop as you work. Some flat head mops are both a dry dust mop and a wet mop and some have exchangeable heads that serve different functions.

Steam mops use steam to clean the floor along with a pad of some type that attaches to the base. Some types of floors should not be cleaned with a steam mop, so make sure it’s safe to use on your flooring if you go that route.

Robot mops wash and dry the floor while you do something more interesting. You’ll spend some dough for the convenience, these aren’t cheap.

What type of mop is best for you?

If you’ve got wood floors, a flat head microfiber mop is your best friend. Get one with changeable wet and dry heads. It can be used for spot cleaning as well as total-floor cleaning, if necessary. These are good to use on wood floors because they don’t leave much water behind and they are very soft.

If your floors see a lot of use and need frequent mopping, a good microfiber string mop will be a sure bet. Microfiber wrings out excess water more efficiently than other materials and picks up most common floor messes effectively. A string mop is versatile, durable, and washable, so you can use it over and over and over again.

Steam mops are handy for cleaning small areas, for disinfecting, and for cleaning grouted floors. If these situations apply to you, a steam mop will fit the bill. However, if your floors tend to be very dirty, you’ll need to change the cleaning pad several times as you work. In this case it might be easier to use a string mop and bucket of water instead.

If you want to splurge, try a robot mop. It works on the same principles as a robot vacuum cleaner. You might want to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t try anything funny, though.

Sponge mops are okay in a pinch but are handier for jobs like washing walls or cleaning showers. As floor care tools, they come in low on the list because they’re not very maneuverable. They have their applications, just not on floors.

Keeping floors clean can be pretty simple if you keep up with it as often as necessary. Your situation will dictate how often your floors need cleaning. By not allowing dirt and grime to build up on floors, you make cleaning easy and protect the life of your flooring.

Get a decent mop and be sure to use it often enough that dirt never gets a chance to take root. That’s all you have to do to make sure you never have to scrub a floor on your hands and knees.

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

Cleaning Secrets: Tips and Time Savers for the House-Cleaning Challenged

Keeping your home clean can be challenging. Some folks make it seem effortless, while others struggle every day to keep even the basics under control. While it’s true that some fortunate souls have a natural ability, anyone can learn what it takes to be a cleaning whiz.

House cleaning is a very straightforward process. To stay on track, don’t undermine yourself by making cleaning unnecessarily complicated or procrastinating getting started until the job looms large. Don’t be the person who dillydallys as a mode of avoidance, so that in the time it would have taken to clean up the kitchen, the minor mess that could have been easily converted into a gleaming space becomes a minor hazmat event.

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

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

Tips and Advice

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

  • Clean frequently.
  • Eliminate clutter from your home.
  • Organize your stuff so you know where everything goes when it’s time to pick up.
  • Dust with a long-handled dusting tool rather than a cloth or rag, and work swiftly, dusting everything with your tool. A tool with nubs that grab dust will work universally on all surfaces from chair rails to baseboards to lampshades to knick-knacks and books to tables and shelves. The long handle means you won’t have to bend down to reach baseboards or strain to reach up high. Don’t move any objects that you don’t have to move in order to reach dust.
  • Rotate tasks. Many chores shouldn’t have to be done every time you clean. You will soon get a feel for which ones you can do on a rotating basis. If it isn’t visibly dirty, you probably can put it off until next time or the time after.
  • Use appropriate cleaning agents. Use a cleaner that is strong enough to break down the grime you are aiming to eradicate. Don’t use a heavy-duty cleaner on a surface that isn’t particularly dirty or use more of a cleaning agent than is necessary.
  • Invest in good equipment: a faulty or ill-performing vacuum cleaner or mop will cost you time in the long run. For more advice about what to use, check out my post Back to Basics: What Supplies Do You Really Need To Clean A House?
  • Keep track of your cleaning supplies. On cleaning day, you should be able to readily lay your hands on everything you need without spending a half hour hunting down the mop.
  • Don’t try to rush while you’re cleaning. It’ll only cost you time in the long run if things get overlooked, or worse broken or spilled.
  • Do it right the first time.

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

Want more 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.