How to Clean Your House from Top to Bottom in 4 Hours
I was a Cleaning Professional
You can clean virtually any house in about four hours a week. I learned this when I had a residential house cleaning business. One reason that cleaning other people's houses is a lot easier than cleaning your own is that you're not involved in the mess. Nothing is personal and you don't get distracted while you're cleaning. You can clean your own house just as efficiently if you don't get distracted.
Cleaning vs Clutter Clearing
The first thing to understand is that there's a difference between clearing clutter and cleaning. A lot of times when we're cleaning our own houses we do both at the same time, but this is not the most efficient way.
When a professional cleaner comes in, the house is generally expected to be "picked up." If I would come in to a house to clean it, and there was stuff lying around, I would simply make a pile for the homeowner to sort out later. Some other household chores that this does not include are dish washing and laundry. Those are better left for another time as they can be distractions to your mission.
Stick to the Plan
The keys to being able to keep your house clean are organization and consistency. If you are able to stick to a schedule of cleaning the entire house each week, you will probably find that it will take you less time after a few weeks.
The first time, if the house has not been kept up, you will probably find a lot of dusty corners that haven't been cleaned in a while. This is what I found any time I got a new client, no matter how tidy the house looked.
Start the Bathrooms
The first thing I do when I start to clean is to start on all of the bathrooms at once. Remove everything from the tubs and showers and spray them with cleaning products, so they can soak. I do the same with the toilets, put the cleaning products in and give them an initial swish with the brush. This is a good time to take a trash bag with you and empty all of the waste baskets.
Clean Ceiling and Walls From Top to Bottom
While my cleaning products are working in the bathrooms, I start on cobwebs and dust on the ceilings, in the corners and door jams, working methodically around each room. Work your way all the way down the walls to the baseboards. A webster works OK for corners, but I think it works better if you cover it with a cloth, the cloth is just better at wiping off those sticky webs.
A flat microfiber cleaning mop works equally well on the ceiling and the floor. Before they were available, I used to use a broom with an old towel tied over it to sweep the ceiling. Clean light fixtures and fan blades while you're doing this. If you have light fixtures that are really dirty or full of bugs, you won't be able to take them all down and clean them within your four hour time period. For that type of job, you can do one or two of them a week until they're all caught up.
Finish the Bathrooms
By the time you've got all the webs and dust down you're ready to finish the bathrooms. I used to use a broom to scrub tubs and showers, but now Mr. Clean makes a nice tool for cleaning the bathroom. It is called the "Magic Reach." It does a good job of scrubbing and you can reach the whole shower easily without throwing your back out.
When you are through, put all the shampoos and things back in the shower and do the vanity and mirror, polishing all the fixtures.
Now you are ready to finish cleaning the toilet. Don't forget the rubber gloves for that job. I use a small wastebasket with a bleach solution in it to disinfect the toilet brush after use. Paper towels are good for cleaning the outside of the toilet and the seat.
The floor is last, I usually find it easier and more thorough to clean the bathroom floor with a rag than a mop. A Swiffer works pretty well for quick clean-ups, but it's still hard to get into the tight spaces like behind the toilet.
Mr. Clean Bathroom Cleaner
On to the Dusting
Now the hard part's done you're ready to dust the furniture. Starting at the top, remove all small items from the shelf or table top and polish wood surfaces with whatever oil or wax you prefer.
For lamps, if the shade is covered in fabric, remove it and set it aside to be vacuumed, then just wipe off the lamp itself, and lift it to dust underneath.
Wipe each item down before putting it back. You'll want to use a separate rag with windex or something similar for dusting the knick knaks so they don't get smeared with oil or wax.
Books on shelves are another of those jobs that you can take on one each week. Dust the shelves, fronts and tops of the books each week, but occasionally it's good to take all the books off the shelf and dust each one.
You're Ready for Floors
When all of the dusting is done you're ready to vacuum. Do the lamp shades and put them back. Any upholstered furniture should be vacuumed each week.
Use the corner tool first to get the edges and corners of the floor. Then move on to the rugs and carpets.
Finally, clean the hard floors. I use my canister vacuum for that job, but if you have an upright vacuum you may want to sweep.
If the linoleum or tile floors are really dirty, with stuck on dirt, I use a roller head sponge mop and bucket. If they are only moderately dirty a slightly damp microfiber mop works very well. For hard wood or laminate be sure to follow the manufacture's instructions for cleaning.
Congratulations on a Job Well Done!
Whew! Good job, now put away your cleaning supplies and sit back and enjoy your clean house.