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.

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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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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.

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.

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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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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.

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. 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.

dust ceiling wall

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.

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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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The Commercialization of House Cleaning

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.

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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

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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Team Clean: Get Everyone in Your Home Involved in Cleaning

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Keeping a home clean is a big job which gets bigger based on many factors, including the number of occupants in a household as well as the cleaning habits of each member. It’s only fair that all inhabitants participate in cleaning at least to the degree that they contribute to the mess.

The willing and able-ness of all occupants weighs heavily into their level of participation. Some people are natural-born cleaners, some not so much. Some may be too young or physically unable. And sometimes it’s just easier to take on the job without the group for any number of reasons.

Create a Team

Cajoling those who are able but not overly enthusiastic about cleaning can sometimes be accomplished through shame or bribery. Offering a reward (beyond the intrinsic satisfaction that comes from a job well done) or encouraging participation through praise might spur the loafers to action.

Alternatively, educate them: home care is the duty of all household members and the failure to participate indicates a lack of respect for others as well as self. As a last resort, present a bill for your time to anyone who willfully subjugates you to the role of live-in maid. The going rate for professional housecleaners ranges between $25 and $45 per hour.

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Team Cleaning Plan

If you’ve managed to corral a willing and able team, the next step is formulating a plan. Creating an effective team cleaning plan promotes a successful cleaning experience for all team members. Breaking the job down by tasks or by areas in your home is one means of accomplishing this. Refer to this house cleaning checklist for a comprehensive list of common house cleaning tasks. Additional assignable jobs include dish washing and laundry as well as changing bed linens and bathroom towels.

Decide whether your team will clean all at once or as time permits. This decision will be based as much on the availability of various team members as the preferred cleaning methods of the household. Some break the job down over time, some tackle a portion every day, and some complete the entire job in one fell swoop every week or two.

Make Lists or Charts

Lists or charts outlining who is responsible for what are excellent organizational tools that serve several purposes. They make it clear to all parties what their jobs are. They also make it easy to identify who is pulling their weight and who isn’t. They give all team members a good idea of the overall makeup of a house cleaning regimen, which is valuable knowledge for young people to be exposed to. Lists also help the group facilitator keep track of what’s been done and what hasn’t.

Assign a Leader

Which brings us to the next point: your team needs a leader. This can be a fixed individual or team members can take turns leading. Either way, someone has to assign tasks and make sure each team member is completing their chores. Taking turns at being the team leader is a great way to expose all team members to the overall picture. Cleaning a home is a big job that’s comprised of many smaller tasks. Everyone on your team should understand its wide-reaching importance.

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A clean home is a happy, healthy home. It’s the responsibility of all occupants to keep their environment in shape. House cleaning chores are basic life skills that all children need to learn, and all adults should practice. Cleaning as a team might take a little time and practice to master, but in the long run this approach will pay off, both as a shared experience and as a valuable tool for teaching and productivity. Best of all, team cleaning makes the big job of cleaning a house manageable for all household members.

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

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

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

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Define the Job

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

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

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Make a Plan

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

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

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

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

Understand the Job

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

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Break It Down

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

Complete the Project

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

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

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