Holiday Housekeeping Hints

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

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

The following tips will help you achieve these goals.

Make a Plan

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

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

Do some planning:

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

Next, make three master shopping lists:

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

Shop Now

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

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

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

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

Get Your House in Order

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

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

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

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

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

Start Preparing for Christmas

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

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

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

Begin tackling other chores.

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

photo of pumpkins
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On Thanksgiving Day

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

Before Christmas

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

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

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

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

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Get Your Home In Shape for the Holidays: a Week-by-Week Action Plan

 

close up of two flute glasses filled with sparkling wine wuth ribbons and christmas decor
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The holiday season is bearing down on us like a freight train. If your home is not quite ready for the time of year when people show up at your door and expect to be invited inside, now’s the time to get busy. This holiday-readiness action plan breaks down home holiday preparation into a simple five-week plan that’ll have your house in tip-top shape by Thanksgiving Day.

Week One: Cut Down on Clutter in Common Areas

Phase one calls for clearing out unnecessary stuff that collects dust and complicates cleaning in common areas like the living room, dining room, kitchen, and family room. The goal is uncluttered surfaces throughout: countertops, shelves, tables, and wherever else stuff has accumulated.

File or toss out stacks of bills. Recycle magazines that you’ll never read. Donate the box of baking pans that have been sitting in the corner since your mother-in-law gave them to you after she cleaned out her kitchen cupboards (and which don’t fit into yours either).

Look around your space with a critical eye and be merciless. If it’s not useful to you, get rid of it. Things that you don’t need can be used and appreciated by someone else if you donate them to a local community action center or church.

This de-cluttering phase is a fresh start. When it’s complete you’ll be able to clearly spot, and access, the dust on flat surfaces, cobwebs in corners, and dirt everywhere else. It’s infinitely easier to clean and maintain spaces that have minimal clutter, so this first step ensures that your subsequent cleaning endeavors will be successful.

 

Week Two: Tackle Dust and Cobwebs in Common Areas

Phase two is the time to clean up accumulated dust and cobwebs that are clearly visible and accessible now that the clutter has gone away. Get out your long-handled, telescoping duster to first tackle cobwebs and dust up high. If you don’t have one, secure an old towel over the business end of a broom. Areas where dust settles and cobwebs form: valances and window treatments, ceiling fans, the top of wardrobes and cupboards, recessed lighting fixtures, and corners where walls meet up.

After all the dust up high has been removed, move on to areas at eye level and below. Target chair rails, lampshades and finials, picture frames and wall hangings, window sills, shelves, door ridges and louvered doors, air exchange grates and covers, baseboards and baseboard heaters.

Dust also accumulates at floor level under appliances like the refrigerator and stove, under beds and couches, and in the corners behind furniture and in closets. Tackle these areas with crevice tools, a dust mop, a broom, or your vacuum cleaner.

Remove as much dust as you can from these typically overlooked areas. Eliminating dust from your ceiling fan and on top of the fridge reduces the overall amount of dust that can be stirred up and re-distributed later on. Once the lion’s share of dust is gone, a little bit of upkeep between now and Christmas Eve will guarantee a dust-free family bash, so Aunt Gertrude will have no cause to cast a critical eye at dust bunnies in corners.

leather chair

Week Three: Deep Clean Guest Rooms

If you’re expecting out-of-town guests for the holidays, phase three of your pre-holiday cleanup involves getting guests rooms ready for occupancy. The nature and amount of work involved in this step depends on the state of the rooms: if they’ve become household catchall spaces, the task will be more complicated than if they simply need sprucing up.

Do whatever needs to be done to make them habitable. De-clutter, if necessary, dust and vacuum, freshen bed linens and window treatments. When this phase is completed, your guest rooms will be ready and waiting when Santa Clause and his compadres come to town and you won’t have to scramble at the last minute to unearth the beds.

Week Four: Thoroughly Clean the Kitchen

The kitchen typically sees a lot of action during the holiday season. For this reason, giving the kitchen a good cleanup is the goal of phase four of your holiday action plan.

This is the time to tackle tasks that don’t get done regularly: purge the pantry, re-arrange and re-organize cupboards, clean the oven and the fridge. Really take time to get into corners and underneath furniture.

When you’re done, the kitchen will be in prime condition for holiday baking as well as entertaining visitors. No cringing when Cousin Celia opens your oven door to pop in her green-bean casserole!

Week Five: Give the Whole House a Quick Cleanup

Phase five is the time to whip through the whole house: dust, vacuum, mop, clean bathrooms, and generally tidy up. Pay particular attention to the areas that will be visible to visitors. Since you’ve already de-cluttered, eliminated cobwebs and dust, plus cleaned guest rooms and the kitchen, this phase of the operation should be quick and easy.

Breaking down a big job into manageable segments is the key to successfully achieving any goal. This five-week action plan gets your home into shape just in time for the holiday season kickoff: Thanksgiving. So get busy, stay on track, and allow yourself the luxury of less stress at game time by implementing this preparation plan over the next five weeks.

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.

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.

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.

Hints for Hiring a House Cleaner

photo of white window frame an white wooden stair balustrade
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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.

 

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.

washing sink

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.

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.

Housekeeping Secrets: Tame the Clutter Monster

 

pile of covered books
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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.

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.

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.

basket with papers

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. 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.

Make House Cleaning Easier

rectangular white and black wooden display rack beside green snake plant
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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.

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.

 

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.

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).

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.

The Commercialization of House Cleaning

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Photo by Vecislavas Popa on Pexels.com

Modern Homes are Easy To Keep Clean

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.

washing sink

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.

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

 

Hints for Cleaning Cluttered Spaces

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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.

 

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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