House Cleaning Basics: Floor Care Tips

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Floor care is a large component of house cleaning. The majority of the dirt on your floors comes in on the feet of those who enter your home. House cleaning basics include floor care tips such as the following.

Keep Dirt at the Door

Using door mats at each entry area along with leaving shoes at the door significantly reduces the introduction of dirt into your home. Keeping a towel handy to wipe Fido’s feet also reduces the tracking in of mud and grit.

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Keep a Broom Handy

If incomers aren’t so careful about wiping their feet, your floors will probably need more maintenance. In this case, you would be wise to keep a broom or stick vacuum handy and clean high traffic areas every few days. It also wouldn’t hurt to damp mop bare floors near the door frequently. Your objective is to keep dirt from being tracked all through the house.


On cleaning day, floor care will probably be one of the most time-consuming parts of your routine. If you’ve got wall-to-wall carpeting throughout your house, you’ll be doing a lot of vacuuming. For best results, use the correct height adjustment for your vacuum carpet brush. It’s better for your carpeting and the machine will do the most optimal job if the height is adjusted correctly.

Carpet Care Tips

More carpet care tips:

~Always check your vacuum bag or collection chamber before you start. A full bag or chamber will not have good suction.

~High traffic areas warrant more attention than corners. Make a few passes over the sections that see a lot of action.

~ If no one walks there, don’t bother to vacuum it every time. Areas under furniture or in corners should be vacuumed periodically, but these are areas you can skip sometimes.

~Spot clean high traffic areas as needed with a good quality spot cleaner that’s safe to use on your type of carpet.

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Mix of Bare Floors and Rugs

Areas with a mix of bare floors and area rugs are usually most quickly cleaned with a canister vacuum cleaner. If the rugs are all smaller, it might be easier to pick them up and shake them clean outdoors. However, if the rugs aren’t especially dirty, you can quickly go over them with your vacuum floor brush. Hold one side of the rug in place with your foot as you pass the floor brush over it.

Alternatively, if the floors are dusty rather than dirty, using a dust mop on the bare areas and vacuuming large rugs may be quicker. If you don’t have a canister vacuum, this would also be the best approach. Use whatever method will most expedite the process in your particular situation.

Use the rotating brush head on carpeting only, never on bare floors. The rotation of the brush can scratch the floor so use the floor brush attachment on bare floors. Also use the floor brush on oriental rugs, antique rugs or any rugs that are delicate, like silk rugs.

Bare Floors

Bare floors can be swept, vacuumed, or dust mopped and then damp mopped or steamed clean if necessary. There’s no need to wash a floor on your hands and knees. Use a mop that’ll get into corners and under the edges of appliances and such. Don’t make unnecessary work for yourself.

Wood Floors

Wood floors shouldn’t be washed unless they are dirty. Wash wood floors with a mop very lightly dampened in plain water or with a microfiber mop and wood floor spray cleaner. Use as little liquid as possible. Water is bad for wood and can ruin a wood floor if it is used in excess. Never leave standing water on a floor, and especially not on a wood floor.

Vinyl Floors

Vinyl and similar sealed floors can be cleaned with just a little all-purpose cleaner, vinegar, ammonia, or commercial floor cleaner diluted in water. Don’t overdo it with cleaning agents in your mop water as too much will leave a film that looks cloudy and attracts dirt. Less is more.

Stone Floors

Stone floors shouldn’t be cleaned with anything other than mild soap (like a few drops of castile soap) or plain water. Using vinegar or ammonia on a stone floor can damage the surface.

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Ceramic Floors

Ceramic and other shiny tile looks better if it’s dried with a cloth after washing. This eliminates water spots from forming as water evaporates off the floor. To dry a wet floor quickly, use a couple of old towels and swish them around on the floor with your feet. Be careful not to slip and fall down while you’re doing this.

Whatever method you use to wash flooring, if your mop water, mop head, or cloth is filthy after one use, you aren’t cleaning your floors often enough.

Keeping your floors clean is one important means of protecting the investment you’ve made in your home. Floors will wear out more quickly if they aren’t maintained. Loose dirt and dried-on debris can destroy the finish on your flooring and ruin your carpeting. And like every other area of house cleaning, the more frequently you clean your floors, the easier the job will be each time you do it.

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

How to Clean your Kitchen

Kitchen cleaning can be hit or miss. Some people are meticulous about keeping their kitchen in tip-top shape day to day. In truth, most people aren’t. This is why it’s a good idea to do a thorough kitchen cleanup from time to time. In the event that you’re not quite sure how, this guide will walk you through the process of how to clean your kitchen.

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Top Down

No matter what room you’re cleaning, a thorough job always starts at the top. This ensures that dirt and dust fall downward onto areas that haven’t yet been cleaned.

So the first step in cleaning a kitchen is to use a long-handled tool of some type to dust ceiling fans and anything else up high like light fixtures and remove any cobwebs that have formed along the edge where the wall and ceiling meets.

Next, continue dusting from high to low, tackling tops of cabinets if they don’t meet the ceiling, the top of the refrigerator and other tall appliances or furniture, top edges of window treatments, wall hangings, etc.

Work around the perimeter of the room, dusting window blinds, window grates, window sills, chair rails, baseboards, baseboard heaters, and any furniture.

Clean Door Windows

Wash door windows and wipe away fingerprints on doors, door moldings, and switch plates. Dust edges on paneled doors or louvered doors.

Remove Scatter Rugs

Pick up scatter rugs or mats and shake outdoors or wash.

Kitchen Table

Wipe clean any tables, chairs, or stools. Pay attention to spindles in back, spindles connecting the legs, and any areas that collect dust. Kitchen tables and chairs often harbor hidden sticky areas, so look out for these. Use a damp cloth and/or disinfectant.

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Appliance Fronts

Move on to the appliances. Clean fronts of all appliances, and sides if applicable. Pay special attention to keypads, knobs, and handles.


If you have an inset water or ice dispenser in your refrigerator door, don’t forget to clean this area, paying particular attention to the tray at the bottom. Moisture tends to get trapped under the tray, causing bacteria and mold to grow.

If necessary, spend a few minutes quickly wiping up spills or crumbs inside the refrigerator. Scan for expired items and toss them out.


Use a damp cloth to clean inside the microwave, if necessary. To remove tough dried-on or cooked-on deposits, place a glass bowl or cup of water inside and run the microwave long enough for the water to create steam, then turn off the microwave and allow the water to steam in the microwave for a few minutes until the mess gets soft enough to wipe away.


De-crumb the toaster or toaster oven. The majority of toasters have a crumb tray on the bottom that either slides off or swings open. The same goes for toaster ovens. Also clean the glass on the toaster oven door.

Stove Top

Wipe clean the cook top with a damp cloth dipped in a sudsy dish-detergent and water. Remove drip pans or burner grates and wash in the sink with dish detergent and water or all-purpose cleaner.

Clean glass cook tops using specialty cleaner or baking soda and water. Cooked-on spills can be gently loosened with a plastic scraper. Don’t use abrasives on glass cook tops as this will damage the surface.

Clean top of range hood if you have one. If it’s greasy, use all-purpose cleaner or dish detergent and warm water.

Counter Tops

Wash and disinfect counter tops, shifting objects on top from side to side in order to clean underneath. Also clean backspashes.

Cupboard Doors

Clean cupboard doors, drawer fronts, drawer pulls and handles. Kitchen cabinets likely have spills from cooking or other food-related mishaps. Use a cleaning agent appropriate to the surface. A very lightly dampened cloth can be used on any surface if you aren’t sure what to use.

Kitchen Sink

Clean and disinfect kitchen sink using disinfectant cleaner, sudsy scrub (if appropriate), or all-purpose cleaner.

Trash Can

Optionally, clean your garbage container outside and/or inside.

Inside Kitchen Cupboards

From time to time, check food packages for expiration dates and rotate to bring older items front and center so they get used before going bad. Toss anything suspect.


Next, sweep or vacuum the floor. Take time to thoroughly remove dirt and debris from corners. Use a crevice tool vacuum attachment to get underneath the refrigerator, stove, and any other such areas. Alternatively, use a yard stick wrapped with a rag.

If necessary, mop or steam the floor clean.

Periodically taking some time to thoroughly clean your kitchen is a wise investment of time. Since your kitchen is the place where food is stored and prepared, it’s important to keep it clean. So make a point of scheduling this important task however often is necessary based on your usage, and stick to the plan to be sure your kitchen is always up to code.

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

Spring Cleaning Hints and Tips

Spring is the perfect time of the year to tackle jobs around the house that don’t usually get much attention. It’s the season of renewal; the traditional time of year when folks who have been holed up in their homes for the long winter months are able to open windows and air out the winter mustiness. In keeping with tradition, I encourage you to take up your brooms and get busy with these spring cleaning hints and tips.

Let In Fresh Air

The solution to pollution is dilution. I didn’t make this up myself, but that doesn’t make it any less true. One of the best ways to detoxify your home is opening windows and doors on a warm spring day to allow fresh air inside and old, stale air out. Fresh air is your friend.

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Freshen Window Treatments

While you’re letting the fresh air in, why not freshen window treatments? Dust settles on valances and blinds and draperies. Use your vacuum cleaner dusting tool to remove it. Or take down the drapes and shake them vigorously outside. If possible, leave them hanging outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine for a couple of hours.

Dust or vacuum window blinds, depending on their composition. Fabric blinds can be easily vacuumed with a dusting tool attachment. Vinyl or metal blinds can be dusted with a damp cloth.

Dust Ceiling Fans and Light Fixtures

Grab a long-handled dusting tool or a step ladder and tackle ceiling fan blades. These are notorious dust traps. You might be amazed at how much is up there. Just be careful not to get any in your eyes!

While you’re at it, remove dust and cobwebs from light fixtures, wall sconces, lamp shades, and other areas that are either up high or typically ignored.

Spot Clean Woodwork

One easy way to improve the appearance of your home is to spot clean woodwork, doors, and switch plates. Look for areas that have fingerprints or other stray marks. Cleaning these areas can make your home look fresher and brighter.

Dust Behind and Under Furniture

Hidden dust in your home will find its way into your air. Taking a little time to dust behind and underneath furniture keeps hidden dust from re-circulating.  Use a dust mop or broom if you have bare floors, or a vacuum cleaner floor attachment if your floors are carpeted.

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Air Out Duvet Covers, Pillows, Blankets, Throws

Textiles take on stale odors over time. While you’re in spring cleaning mode, air them out. Place them outside in the sun for a couple of hours or toss them into the dryer to remove dust and musty smells.

These spring cleaning tips will get you going in the right direction during the season of renewal. Don’t limit yourself. There are many other jobs around the house awaiting your attention. Check back here often for more house cleaning tips and ideas.

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

Perks of Self-Employment as a Housekeeper

Self-employment isn’t for everyone. Having to take total responsibility for getting the job done calls for self-discipline, ingenuity, and a strong work ethic. Anyone who is in possession of the aforementioned traits who also has excellent house cleaning skills may be an excellent candidate for becoming a house cleaner. For those of you who might be interested, I present the perks of self-employment as a housekeeper.

Self-employment in and of itself can be a tough row to hoe. Depending on the nature of the business one chooses to enter, the hours may be long, assurance of work spotty, and overhead high. House cleaning, fortunately, doesn’t fall prey to any of these drawbacks.

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Housekeepers are in High Demand

Self-employed housekeepers are generally in high demand. Not many people can tolerate cleaning homes day in and day out. So if you’re one of the lucky people who doesn’t mind cleaning, or even – gasp! – enjoys cleaning – you can pretty much write your own ticket should you elect to turn your aptitude into a career.

Set Your Own Hours

What this means is that you can work as much or a little as you like, and you can decide what hours to make your services available. The hours may be long, but only if you so choose.

Plenty of Work

If you’re any good at cleaning, you won’t have any trouble finding work. Your clients will tell their friends about you, and then those people will tell their friends, and so on until you’re turning down job offers.

Low Overhead

The best part of this scenario is that even if you begin to clean houses as a job and then discover that it’s not your cup of tea, you haven’t invested anything other than your time. There are virtually no overhead costs related to self-employment as a housekeeper.

Nice Paycheck

On the other hand, you may soon find that you enjoy the excellent paycheck every week. This is another perk. Housekeepers are well paid for their trouble.

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Grateful Clients

You may also enjoy the immense gratitude afforded you by satisfied clients. This is another wonderful perk. Seeing the joy of people coming home to a clean, sweet-smelling space is deeply gratifying. Clients are always glad when their housekeeper arrives and are ever-so-appreciative of the work she does.

Flexible Schedule

Schedule flexibility is another benefit that many housekeepers quickly learn to love. Taking a vacation isn’t an issue that needs the approval of four different supervisors. Simply let clients know a week or two in advance, and off you go!

Need to be somewhere for an appointment? No big deal. Again, just let clients know that you have to re-arrange your schedule and be done with it. No bosses giving you a hard time.

Control over Clients and Places

Along the same lines, you get to decide who to work for and where to work. If you find that a client rubs you the wrong way, or vice-versa, you can cut your losses and move on. There are plenty of other fish in the sea. You’re never stuck having to suck it up and deal with a boss you cannot stand the sight of.

And if you discover that the commute to a client’s home isn’t worth the trouble, it’s easy to set them loose and forget about it. It’s never necessary to continue to travel to a locale that takes you through the most heavily-traveled section of town just to earn a buck or two.

No Need to Dress Up

Also not necessary: a fancy wardrobe. There’s no need to buy expensive clothes or worry about makeup or having the latest hairdo. Getting out of the house in the morning doesn’t have to be a big deal. Simply hop out of bed, throw on some clothes, run a comb through your hair, and go. Doesn’t that sound easier than spending two hours fussing over your appearance?

Lots of Exercise

Another great perk is the daily workout. When you work as a housekeeper, you’re on your feet most of the day, which means you get to exercise all day long. Bending and stretching and walking are part of your daily routine, and you get paid to do it! You will soon find that you’re easily walking 10,000 plus steps each day.

Clients are Nice People

The nicest perk of self-employment as a housekeeper is that you will meet many lovely people. Most clients are real sweethearts. Many will come to regard you as a friend, or even as a member of the family. And at the end of the day, who can turn their nose up at that?

Working independently as a housekeeper isn’t for everyone. It takes a special kind of person with a set of unique traits to do the job and do it well. If you’re one of those people in possessions of the abilities to make it work and the drive to succeed, you’re in an excellent position to cash in on these many perks of self-employment as a housekeeper.

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

Home Disinfecting Facts

There’s a time and a place for all things, as the saying goes, and now is the time for disinfecting. We live in a dangerous and terrifying moment in time: the age of COVID-19. And so we must do what we must to protect our homes and our families from the virus. This calls for disinfectants. In the interest of promoting their proper use, I present these home disinfecting facts.

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There’s a Difference between Cleaning and Disinfecting

Cleaning and disinfecting are different processes. To clarify, the following information comes directly from the U.S. Center for Disease Control website:

Cleaning removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects. Cleaning works by using soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection. 

Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects. Disinfecting works by using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces or objects. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.”

Cleaning and disinfecting can be a two-stage process, or disinfection can take place independently, or they can occur simultaneously, such as with the use of a cleaning disinfectant. The more thorough approach involves both cleaning and disinfecting; however this may not be always be necessary, for example at times when all household members are healthy.

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Disinfecting Wipes Must Be Used Correctly For Maximum Effectiveness

Simply swiping a disinfecting wipe over the surface of a remote control doesn’t guarantee that the area will be disinfected. In fact, disinfection usually requires that the disinfecting agent be allowed to sit on the surface for a period of time ranging anywhere from three to ten minutes.

This means you may need to re-apply the disinfectant to the surface to maximize effectiveness.  Make sure to look at the instructions on the package of wipes to determine how long the liquid has to remain on the surface in order to kill pathogens.

Also pay attention to the surface area that each wipe effectively covers. If your wipe has run out of moisture, it’s not going to distribute the effective ingredients onto the surface that you’re aiming to disinfect.

Not All Disinfectants are the Same

There are many different types of disinfectants created from many different mixtures of ingredients. These do not all work in the same way.

According to Nyco, a leading cleaning chemicals manufacturer, “the ‘active ingredient’ in each disinfectant formula is what kills pathogens, usually by disrupting or damaging their cells.” Active ingredients vary along with the other components of the formula that are mixed together.

The correct choice of disinfectant depends on what surface needs to be disinfected, among other factors.

Use EPA Registered Disinfectants To Kill COVID-19

If disinfectants are not all the same, how do you know what to use?  To kill COVID-19, make sure you’re using EPA approved disinfectant products.

According to the March 5th news release by the EPA, “coronaviruses are enveloped viruses, meaning they are one of the easiest types of viruses to kill with the appropriate disinfectant product. Consumers using these disinfectants on an enveloped emerging virus should follow the directions for use on the product’s master label, paying close attention to the contact time for the product on the treated surface (i.e., how long the disinfectant should remain on the surface).”

The list of EPA-registered disinfectant products can be found here:

Many popular commercial products are on this list including Clorox Multi-Surface Cleaner + Bleach, Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, Clorox Commercial Solutions Clorox Disinfecting Spray, Lysol brand Heavy-Duty Cleaner Disinfectant Concentrate, Lysol Disinfectant Max Cover Mist, and Lysol Clean & Fresh Multi-Surface Cleaner.

Disinfectants Don’t Have to Be Fancy

Effective disinfectants can be mixed using simple ingredients that you may already have on hand, like chlorine bleach, isopropyl alcohol, and peroxide.

To disinfect hard surfaces that won’t be damaged by its use, mix 1/3 cup of bleach per gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart (according to CDC guidelines). Allow to work on the surface for one minute.

Also according to CDC guidelines, for disinfection of phones or other electronics: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products. If no manufacturer guidance is available, consider the use of alcohol-based wipes or sprays containing at least 70% alcohol to disinfect touch screens. Dry surfaces thoroughly to avoid pooling of liquids. (Also according to CDC guidelines.)

Finally 3% hydrogen peroxide is “a stable and effective disinfectant when used on inanimate surfaces,” (again, according to the CDC website.

While the topic of disinfecting isn’t glamorous or sexy, it’s one of great importance to many people at this particular point in time. Although the recent trend has been toward minimizing the use of chemical cleaning products, we must be vigilant about eliminating germs until the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

Atypical House Cleaning Jobs

There are lots of tasks that fall outside the scope of a typical house cleaning routine. For this reason, it’s important to watch out for any areas that are starting to look dirty or smell funky. Sometimes when we see things every day we don’t notice the gradual changes that are right in front of us. Once in a while it’s important to tackle atypical house cleaning jobs.

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Below the Kitchen Sink

One notoriously grungy and commonly overlooked area lies right below the epicenter of your kitchen: the sink. This space often holds things that are not food-related. Cleaning supplies are frequently stored here. Some people keep their garbage container in this space. Some use it as storage space for brushes, buckets, or other cleaning equipment.

It’s also a spot that sometimes ends up with moisture problems due to leaks. If for no other reason than this, keep an eye on the cupboard that lies below your kitchen sink. From time to time, make it a point to take everything out, wipe up any spills or other messes, discard anything that isn’t useful, and rearrange what’s left.

Kitchen Cupboards

Another kitchen hazard area is the pantry. Food cupboards harbor spills that can easily attract insects or rodents. They also often contain outdated products that ought to be tossed out so they’re not inadvertently served to friends or family. Making a practice of periodically removing all items from your pantry, cleaning and sorting as you go, reduces the likelihood of attracting unwanted visitors or poisoning the ones you asked in for lunch.

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The Refrigerator

Along similar lines, the refrigerator typically needs attention from time to time. Regularly get rid of anything that isn’t fresh. Any foul odor deserves your immediate attention. Every so often, wipe down the inside. Walls, shelves, the racks inside the door, as well as drawers, all need to be cleaned. Food spills, crumbs, and drips typically occur over time and won’t go away on their own.

Light Fixtures and Lampshades

Other areas of the house also need a little extra sprucing up on occasion. Light fixtures and lampshades often accumulate dust or cobwebs that we don’t notice. Dust lampshades gently with a clean paintbrush, a hair dryer, a microfiber dusting wand, or a clean, damp cloth. Alternatively, vacuum lampshades with your dusting tool attachment (use low suction). Light fixtures may be easily dusted with a dusting wand.

Glass shades that are cloudy from dust or dirt can be hand-washed with a little dish detergent in warm water. Glass prisms or shades that aren’t easily removed can be cleaned with a 50/50 mix of rubbing alcohol and water applied with a soft cloth and then buffed dry with a second, dry cloth.

Sofa Cushions

Couch and chair cushions often harbor objects, crumbs, dirt, and pet hair. Periodically vacuuming this space easily remedies this situation. It sometimes pays off, too, if there are loose coins among the paraphernalia.

Fingerprints on Walls

Fingerprints and smudges on walls, switch plates, door frames, and handrails often go unnoticed. Whatever doesn’t come clean with a damp cloth or sponge will easily be removed with an eraser-type sponge. Don’t scrub too hard or you’ll remove your paint along with the dirt.

Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are the number one dust draws in your home, and are quite commonly overlooked on cleaning day. Dusting ceiling fan blades on a regular basis is an excellent way to remove dust from your environment. Use these dust traps to your advantage.

These are just a few of the many jobs that should be done from time to time in order to keep your home at its best. More ideas can be found in my post Cobweb Patrol: What Are You Missing When You Clean Your Home?

Hone your eye for detail by paying attention to things like dusty blinds and fingerprints on windows. Whatever house cleaning routine you generally adhere to, there’s always more stuff that needs attention. A little extra time spent here and there ensures that your home stays in great shape everywhere.

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

Do We Use Too Many Cleaning Products?

Today’s homes are easy to clean in comparison to homes of yesteryear. Yet we have more cleaning products at our disposal than ever before. What gives? Do we really need half a dozen different products to clean a bathroom? Do we use too many cleaning products?

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Modern Homes Practically Clean Themselves

Most modern surfaces hold up to wear and tear extremely well; many actually repel grime. Floors don’t need to be waxed. Shower walls wipe clean in minutes. We have robotic vacuums and hand-held scrubbing devices.

Our indoor air quality is better than ever. HEPA filters remove dust and other pollutants. We have clean heating systems that don’t emit smoke, dust, or other byproducts, ensuring 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.

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???

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Most People Dislike House Cleaning

The fact is, 99 out of 100 people dislike house cleaning. These 99 people are interested in finding the magic elixir that will take the sting out of the job. And the people responsible for marketing the many, many cleaning products being manufactured take full advantage of this situation.

Smoke and Mirrors

Television infomercials make amazing claims about house cleaning gadgets and potions. 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 basic cleaning agents and tools will easily get the job done. Besides, using simpler products with gentler means is better for us and for our environment.

Cleaning Agents Pollute Our Homes

Ironically, because modern construction is so airtight, the fumes from harsh chemical cleaning agents used in homes these days 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 strong chemical cleaning products finds its way 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. You vote with your dollars; when you avoid buying products that are harmful to people and our planet, you can make a difference. House cleaning doesn’t require a closet full of chemicals.

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

Simplify House Cleaning: Tame the Clutter Monster

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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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

The More Space You Have, the More Space You Fill

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. So don’t let clutter get you down; do whatever you can to tame the clutter monster.

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

Set Goals to Keep Your House Cleaning Motivation High

To get to where you want to be you need to know where you want to be. This statement seems obvious, but when it comes to house cleaning, we often fail to start out with any particular direction in mind. The remedy to this is having specific goals in mind from the get-go. Setting clear house-cleaning goals is a strong motivator to clean your home from start to finish rather than ambling from task to task until you grow weary or bored, or both.

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Plan Your Job

A successful house cleaning regimen begins with planning. Setting goals ensures that your efforts are used for maximum gain. Approaching the job systematically, breaking it down, and understanding what you’re hoping to accomplish all increase the likelihood that every important task on your to-do list gets completed. Diving in without any clear plan makes for a haphazard result that may or may not get you where you want to be.

Spontaneous Cleaning

Here’s an example: suppose you wake up bright and early on Saturday morning, look around at your messy home, and decide this would be a wonderful day to clean it up. You dive right in, starting in the kitchen, but are quickly sidetracked by the mountain of laundry awaiting your attention in the adjoining laundry room.

While starting a load of wash you see that the laundry room cupboards are a disaster, so you start pulling things out to reorganize. Partway through this process, however, you take a load of trash to the garage and, on your return trip, are again sidetracked by a mess of backpacks, shoes, and other misplaced paraphernalia creating a hazard in the middle of the mud room floor.

After gathering the pile into a basket, you begin distributing items into their respective homes. In the course of this activity, you collect a large variety of dirty dishes that need to be transported to the kitchen. You return to the kitchen, where you unload the clean dishes from the dishwasher and reload it with dirty dishes.

By this point you’re feeling somewhat frazzled and can’t recall where you left off or what your original intention was. A neighbor calls and asks you if you want to go for a walk. With great relief, you accept the invitation and give up on the house cleaning job that’s become confusing and overwhelming.

Spontaneity is not your friend when it comes to house cleaning. Having a clear set of goals in mind along with a solid plan outlining how to achieve them keeps you focused.

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Planned Cleaning

Adding clear goals and solid planning to the above scenario leads to a very different outcome, played out as follows:

On Friday evening, you make a plan to clean your home the next day. With this in mind, you do some prep work by washing, drying, and folding the dirty laundry that’s piled up in the laundry room. You also put away the clean dishes in the dishwasher and restart it with the dirty dishes that you gathered up from around the house while tidying up the clutter lying around. With these side jobs out of the way, tomorrow you can get right to cleaning without distractions.

You write out a list of the tasks you hope to accomplish: clean the kitchen countertops and appliances; clean the kitchen and mud room floors; dust and vacuum the living room, dining room, and den; clean the bathrooms. You budget three hours overall to achieve these goals and break this down further by assigning time values to individual rooms to help keep yourself on schedule.

First thing the next morning, you silence your phone and get busy. Having completed the kitchen cleaning from beginning to end, you move right on to the dusting and vacuuming and finish up with the bathrooms. You complete the job on time and feel great that you’ve spent your morning productively and met your goals.

Goals Keep You on Track

Goals keep you on track. They force you to devise a strategy to get to where you want to be, and they narrow your focus to where it needs to be in order to get there. Goals motivate you to follow a job through to completion. Furthermore, the act of repeatedly achieving your goals motivates you to set new goals and follow them through to completion as well.

To get to where you want to be, you need to know where you want to be. Whether it’s cleaning a house or constructing one, the job is best achieved by setting goals and then formulating a plan to reach them. Treat house cleaning like the job it is and you’ll be on your way to knowing what you want as well as how to get it.

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

House Cleaning Tips to Remove Germs

Preventing the spread of illness in our homes is one of the primary reasons to clean. Controlling germs in our environments is one way to prevent these noxious microorganisms, such as COVID-19, from polluting our bodies.  Following basic cleaning and disinfecting procedures can aid in achieving this control.

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Cleaning Versus Disinfecting

First let’s talk about the difference between cleaning and disinfecting. Cleaning is the mechanical action of removing germs, dirt, and other materials from surfaces. This can be accomplished through any number of methods, such as wiping hard surfaces with a cloth, vacuuming rugs, or sweeping floors.

The process of disinfecting, on the other hand, involves the use of chemicals to eliminate germs.  Typically in homes, disinfectants are applied to surfaces to specifically target common household pathogens. Disinfectants come in many forms, which will be discussed below.

Cleaning and disinfecting can be a two-stage process, or disinfection can take place independently, or they can occur simultaneously, such as with the use of a cleaning disinfectant. The more thorough approach involves both cleaning and disinfecting; however this may not be always be necessary, for example at times when all household members are healthy.

Preventing the spread of highly contagious illnesses calls for treating hard surfaces by both cleaning and disinfecting. This method most effectively removes the highest percentage of germs.

Surfaces That Harbor Germs

Certain surfaces in your home are more likely to harbor germs than others. This is because these areas tend to be the ones with which multiple household members come in contact most regularly.  To prevent the spread of germs in times of illness, these “hot zones” should be cleaned and disinfected at least once a day. This will significantly reduce the spread of microorganisms.

Targeted surfaces include all areas that are frequently touched: door knobs and handles, drawer pulls, kitchen counter tops or other similar surfaces, sink handles, light switches, frequently-used tabletops, and electronic surfaces such as phones, remote controls, and keyboards.  Bathroom sinks, faucets, and counter tops should also be cleaned and disinfected, as well as toilet handles and all other toilet surfaces that are often touched.  Any other areas that are subject to frequent touching by hands should be likewise cleaned and disinfected.

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The process of cleaning a surface has the potential to remove a substantial percentage of germs, depending on how thoroughly and diligently the job is performed. Many variables weigh in on the effectiveness of mechanical cleaning to reduce germs. For example, when wiping surfaces with a cloth, factors such as the density of the weave of the cloth, number of times the cloth is rinsed in water, and the number of passes made by the cloth over the target surface will directly impact the resulting removal of germs.

Since the primary objective of cleaning isn’t so much to remove germs as to remove other debris, such as crumbs, dust, pet hair, or dirt, the elimination of germs at this stage is beneficial but incidental. Many densely-woven microfiber cloths have the potential to remove substantial amounts of undesirable microbes, and when the prime overall objective is the elimination of germs, this is very advantageous.


Stage two, disinfecting, should eliminate any remaining germs from hard surfaces. This may require that applied cleaning agents be allowed to remain on the surface for several minutes in order to achieve the most effective result.

Thoroughly rinsing the surface after the proper amount of time removes the dead germs along with the cleaning agent, which is likely also toxic to humans and pets. Rinsing is the equally important third step in the process.

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Let’s talk about disinfectants.  Disinfectants are chemicals that kill germs. They are also generally not especially healthy for humans and pets. Many of these strong agents produce fumes requiring ventilation and may cause unpleasant respiratory irritation, among other things. Generally, it’s best to wear gloves when using these products.

By and large, the use of disinfecting agents should not be taken lightly.  These products have their place to contain the spread of contagious pathogens.  In healthy households, it is generally not necessary to use these products on a daily basis and may be counterproductive because their use increases household members’ exposure to chemicals.

What Disinfectant Should You Use?

Common household disinfectants include chlorine bleach, isopropyl alcohol, and many pre-mixed commercial products such as Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, Clorox Clean-Up, and Lysol Disinfecting Cleaner. Some disinfectants can be harmful if used around pets, for instance many Lysol products. All disinfectants should be used with caution.

The CDC recommends specific disinfectants to control the spread of microorganisms such as COVID-19. Taken directly from the CDC website, these are as follows:

  • Diluted household bleach mixed using 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water.
  • Alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol.
  • EPA-registered household disinfectants. A link to EPA-registered household disinfectants can be found here.

Safety When Using Disinfectants

When using disinfectants, be sure to follow safety precautions. Wear disposable gloves and properly ventilate the area in which the agent is being used by opening a window or using a vent fan. Rinse thoroughly any products that instruct you to do so.

Never mix any cleaning agent with another cleaning agent and especially never mix ammonia or chlorine bleach together or with any other products.

Also be sure that it’s safe to use the disinfectant on the surface to which it is being applied. For example, chlorine bleach can damage many surfaces. Use common sense as well; you wouldn’t want to saturate a phone or remote control with liquid.

Also be very cautious using any type of disinfectants around pets or small children. Many disinfectants have great potential to cause illness in or even kill pets.  Finally, always be sure that children can’t accidentally get hold of any type of disinfecting agent.

Wash Your Hands

A final note: according to the CDC, the most important thing all members of your household can to do reduce the spread of germs is hand washing. Plain old-fashioned soap and water used many times throughout the day is what they recommend doing to improve your odds of staying healthy.

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.