I began really cleaning my house after quitting a full time job that kept me away from home except to fix supper and sleep. I enjoy cleaning, so I decided to help others clean their homes. I have a few families now that I clean for regularly and I share some of my techniques with them. So, here are a few tips I have developed about cleaning from my good mom sense and 52 years of experience.
- Declutter First – It is a waste of time to start cleaning when your house is so cluttered that you have to constantly move things to dust or vacuum around. You have to clear the area of shoes, junk, stacked collections, etc…If it is not furniture, move it until the cleaning is done. If it has collected dust on it, do you really need to keep it anyway? You be the judge. Remove all rugs or anything that hinders you from putting a mop on the floor later. Now is a good time to wash those or hang them outside!
- Top to Bottom – Literally and physically start at the top floor of the house and move down. Also start with dusting fans, ceiling fixtures and vents above head height. If dusted, it will fall and create more mess below…so it only makes sense to do this before anything else. Hint: Cover beds with old sheets while cleaning fans over the bed so dust bunnies don’t dirty up your clean comforter!
- Room by Room or Task by Task – There are two ways to approach cleaning. You can go room by room (closing doors to prevent dust from traveling) and do the top to bottom method, or you can go through the whole house doing one task. With a small house, I tend to follow the task–as in dusting the whole house top to bottom first (furniture dusting, dusting knick-knacks, and table tops), and then vacuuming. Either way to proceed is an effective method. Bigger homes require much more time, so room by room allows a split of cleaning into several days if needed.
- Save deep cleaning for last and one at at time – This will include: windows, baseboards, fireplaces, inside of appliances, stove hoods, under or behind heavy furniture, refrigerator vent covers (usually in front at bottom), under/behind washer & dryer, door jams and doors/knobs, shower door tracks, patio door tracks, walls, backsplashes in kitchens, cabinets, and ventilation grates and returns. These are items I add one at a time to my regular cleaning every week so it eventually gets done.
- Carpet cleaning – Always vacuum first, then remove stains with pretreatment. Dry carpet foam works good on small stains. For bigger or pet stains, consider a wet shampooer or professional cleaning. Remember when you remove a stain and do not remove all the cleaning product, the residue can attract dirt from your shoes and show a more prominent stain than before. Therefore, keep the use of cleaners to a minimum and dry well. Also vacuum again after a cleaning to remove any extra soil raised in carpet nap by the foams. Vacuuming should be done before and after mopping well traveled surfaces. Hint: Never walk on a damp carpet…it must be completely dry before you walk across. Use fans on it and if you have to walk there, put down an old plastic table cloth or painters drop cloth to protect the carpet.
- Mop Last – When I clean my house, I often mop right before bed or after others in the house are asleep. This way the floor is not tread on while wet and will dry before morning. I mop tile floors with a environmentally safe cleaner, and cut it with water. I don’t drench the floor, but use a good wet mop and scrub liberally. The secret to a non-sticky floor is to change the water often. You can’t make a floor clean by using dirty water, right? I use a floor shine on the kitchen and hallways about once a month, again applied to a dry clean floor with adequate time to dry.
- Wood floors – Murphy’s Oil Soap (also great for cleaning wood cabinets), thinned with clean water as per label directions is my go to cleaner for all wood in my home. It smells great and is easy on the finish. If you want a shiny finish, there are environmentally safe orange brand oils, but know that you will have to clean this floor more often because the shine film actually attracts and absorbs more dirt than a mute clean oil soap finish.
- Other comments: If you have hardwood floors, spend the money on them to have them professionally waxed and buffed. They will do well with simple cleaning for up to 6 years after that. Revitalize old hard wood floors with this treatment every 5-8 years unless you have that bowling alley slick polyurethane coating on the floor. This will need regular mopping and buffing with a rentable light soft buffer every few years, but in the long run will last a long time with minimal care.
- Use the right products: Use stainless steel cleaners for stainless appliances, use products suggested for certain types of tile or flooring if you want the floors to last longer and not be a sticky mess. Use cleaner needed for marbles and stone or concrete countertops and you will avoid having them replaced or repaired later. Spending a little more money on correct cleaners now may save you a fortune later.
I hope these basic tips will save you time and make your cleaning more efficient. Happy Cleaning!