How to Clean Your House Like a Pro: From Top to Bottom in 4 Hours
Cleaning Tips From a Professional Cleaner
You can clean virtually any house in about four hours a week. I learned this when I had my own 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. You can also save money instead of hiring a professional house-cleaning service. My five-step method includes:
- Setting a Cleaning Schedule
- Cleaning Bathrooms
- Cleaning Ceilings and Walls
- Cleaning Floors
Learn How to Prioritize Your Cleaning Needs
Household chores like intensive kitchen cleaning and laundry are better left for another time as they can distract you from your mission. I assume the dishes are generally washed and counters wiped down every day.
If you are efficient, you can run the dishwasher or washing machine while you focus on the tasks at hand. We will talk about some techniques to tackle these chores towards the end. I do suggest including the kitchen when you are clearing cobwebs, dusting and cleaning floors.
Cleaning Supplies You Will Need
In your cleaning caddy you should have:
- Sponge (with a scrubby side)
- Cotton rags (I like cloth diapers or old terrycloth washcloths. Old t shirts make good rags too. If you use old towels or clothing, cut them up so it's easy to tell that they have been retired.)
- Microfiber cloths
- Paper towels
- Bathroom cleaner
- Glass cleaner
- Furniture polish
- Rubber gloves
- Floor cleaner and/or polish
A Little Advice About Cloths and Rags
Microfiber cloths are very popular, and they are great for some jobs. They work fine for dry dusting, cleaning woodwork, and final polishing. However, they are not very absorbent. Most of the time you will want to use them either dry or slightly damp. They are not good for drying dishes, but they are great for rubbing off water spots. If you use spray cleaner and a microfiber cloth, it will not dry the surface very well. In that case you are better off to use a paper towel or a cotton cloth or rag.
Paper towels are good for very nasty or greasy messes that will contaminate your sponge or rag, things like the outside of the toilet. On the top of your stove you can use a paper towel for the initial clean-up and then move on to a sponge or rag.
Other Necessary Tools
- Long-handled duster
- Vacuum cleaner
- Dust mop
- Wet mop
Buy a Decent Vacuum Cleaner
For years I had problems with vacuum cleaners. I bought one cheap one after the other. It seemed like I was spending more time unclogging them than I was vacuuming.
I finally bought myself a Kenmore canister vacuum. I've had it for ten years now, and it solved most of my problems. Of course, it still needs maintenance. As long as I empty the bags when needed and clean the filters it has good suction. The hose finally cracked a couple of years ago, but I was able to get a replacement on ebay.
I would warn against the bagless vacuums, I never had any luck with those, and emptying the dirt cup is a messy job. Uprights seem appealing and easy to use, but if there's a clog it's hard to get to it.
How to Deep Clean Your House Fast
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 the first time you clean. This is what I found any time I got a new client, no matter how tidy the house looked.
Cleaning vs. Clearing Clutter
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 piles for the homeowner to sort out later.
Cleaning to Remove Dust Mites
It's important to clean more frequently throughout the year rather than just a little "spring cleaning. "Those untouched areas can harbor dust, mites and other irritants that should be removed regularly for health and wellness.
Dust mites can cause allergies and asthma. They like to live in fabrics and soft bedding, like mattresses, pillows, carpets, rugs and blankets. This is why weekly cleaning is important.
Step 1: Set a Cleaning Schedule or Cleaning Routine
The key to keeping your house clean is organization and consistency. If you stick to a cleaning schedule and do the entire house each week, you will probably find that it will take you less time to do your basic cleaning. Then you can catch up on those other tasks that you don't need to do weekly.
You might want to keep a running list of those, so they don't get overlooked. Some of these tasks might include cleaning:
- the inside of the refrigerator
- kitchen cabinets
- medicine cabinet
- light fixtures
- books on book shelves
- behind and under heavy furniture
Step 2: Start Cleaning the Bathrooms
The first thing I do is to start on all of the bathrooms at once. Remove everything from the tubs and showers and spray them with the bathroom cleaner you prefer and leave them to soak. Do the same with the toilet bowls. 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.
Step 3: Change Bedding
Gather the clean sheets and pillowcases you will need for all bedrooms. Go to each room, strip the sheets and remake the bed. Gather all the soiled sheets and take them to the laundry room.
It is important to make the beds before dusting the ceilings in the bedrooms. This avoids getting dust under the covers. If the ceiling is particularly dusty, you may want to cover the freshly made bed with a sheet while dusting the ceiling.
Step 4: Clean Ceilings and Walls From Top to Bottom
While my bathroom-cleaner products are working in the bathrooms, I start on cobwebs and dust on the ceilings, corners and door jams, and work 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.
I like to use a for the walls and ceiling. This is a better alternative than your standard feather duster because it's made of microfiber and it's washable. If you don't have one, you might try your favorite microfiber mop. 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. Casabella® Everywhere Duster
When to Clean Light Fixtures
If you have light fixtures that are really dirty or full of bugs, you won't be able to take them all down and wash them within your 4-hour time period. For that type of job, you can do one or two of them a week until they're all caught up.
A good way to clean glass shades on a light fixture is the dishwasher. It is easier and more thorough than washing them by hand.
Step 5: Finish Cleaning the Bathrooms
By the time you've removed all the webs and dust, 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 . It does a good job of scrubbing and you can reach the whole shower easily without throwing your back out. Magic Reach
When you are through cleaning, put all the shampoos and things back in the shower and do the vanity and mirror, scrub the sink and polish all the fixtures.
Clean the Toilet Bowl
Now you are ready to finish cleaning the toilet bowls. Don't forget the rubber gloves for that job. I use a small wastebasket with a bleach solution in it to disinfect the toilet bowl brush after use. Paper towels are good for wiping the outside of the toilet and the seat to avoid contaminating other cleaning cloths with bacteria.
Clean the Bathroom Floor
Clean the floor last. I find it easier and more thorough to clean the bathroom floor with a rag instead of a mop.
Some Advice About Cleaning Cloths
I keep some old cotton rags for jobs like cleaning the bathroom floor. Once the job is done, those rags go straight into the washing machine. Old t shirts and towels make great rags. Cloth diapers also make excellent cleaning rags.
Microfiber cloths are great for dusting, and cleaning the fronts of cabinets, door jams, window sills and light switch plates. They are also great for polishing chrome kitchen and bathroom fixtures, but they are not very absorbent.
The Best Way to Clean Your Shower Curtain
If your shower curtain has mildew, you can wash it in warm water on the gentle cycle and hang it back in the shower to dry.
Step 6: How to Dust Your House
Now that the hard part is done, you're ready to start dusting.
- Furniture: Starting at the top and remove all small items from the shelves and table tops. Polish wood surfaces with whatever oil or wax you prefer.
- Lamps: If the lamp shade is covered in fabric, remove it and set it aside to be vacuumed. Wipe off the lamp itself and lift it to dust underneath.
- Knick Knacks: Wipe each item from the shelves and coffee tables down before putting them back. You'll want to use a separate rag with Windex or something similar for dusting those items, so they don't get smeared with oil or wax.
How to Clean Books on Shelves
Thoroughly dusting books on shelves are another one of those jobs that you can take on once every few weeks. You can dust the shelves and 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.
Step 7: Vacuum and Mop Floors
When all of the dusting is done, you're ready to vacuum. Vacuum in this order:
- Lamp shades: Vacuum the lamp shades and put them back in place.
- Furniture: Upholstered furniture should be vacuumed each week as well.
- Floor corners: Use the corner tool first to get the edges and corners of the floor. Then move on to the rugs and carpets.
- Hard floors: Clean the hard floors. I use my canister vacuum cleaner 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, I use a slightly damp microfiber mop. It works really well. If there's a difficult spot, you can use a damp cloth by hand. For hard wood or laminate flooring, follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning.
My Favorite Cleaning Tool for Hardwood Floors
I originally bought this mop to clean walls. I recently moved into a rented house that had painted walls that were in good shape but dirty. Rather than repaint, I decided to try cleaning the walls. This mop was excellent for that purpose. The mop is very light, so good for working overhead.
Now I also use it on my hardwood floors. The microfiber is great for cleaning and has the advantages of a string mop. With the spinner, you can have the mop as wet or dry as you want it. When the head gets too dirty, you just throw it in the washing machine.
The spinning mechanism seems sturdy. I have used it three times a week for the past three months, and it works as well as the day I got it.
I also use the mop to apply Weiman Wood Floor Polish and Restorer. I love this floor polish, it really brings my old hardwood floors back to life. If you use the mop to apply this polish, put it in the washing machine immediately afterwards. If you let it dry with the polish on it, the mop will get stiff.
Between polishing, I just damp-mop the floors with the mop spun as dry as I can get it.
If you are an efficient person, you can consider running your washing machine while you clean your house. This might make sense if you use your weekend for laundry and deep cleaning. I like to wash occasional loads throughout the week instead of letting laundry pile up.
Remove All Laundry From the Rooms
Before you begin cleaning your bathrooms and bedrooms, remove towels and bedding from these areas as part of the picking up process, this allows you to reach all surfaces that would otherwise be hidden. You can put the bedding and towels straight into washer.
One problem with doing laundry while cleaning is that you risk wrinkled clothing if you don't get to the folding right away. It's not such a problem with towels, and bedding.
I have a hanging rod above my washer and dryer where I hang shirts right out of the dryer. Most shirts will not need ironing if you do that.
Tips for Deep Cleaning Your Kitchen
To start, you may want to wash all of your dishes, dry them, and put them away or run your dishwasher and let them vent. When cleaning your kitchen, do the following:
- Wash your cutting boards: Remove all cutting boards and objects from the counter. Use a sponge with warm soap and water and wipe down the tops and bottoms of your cutting boards. Rinse with hot water. Let dry.
- Organize your drawers: Do you have a drawer full of containers? Take the time to arrange them by size and style. Create a streamlined pile for the lids. Consider sorting your utensil drawer as well.
- Dispose of expired food: Go through your pantry and refrigerator and get rid of expired food.
- Clean your refrigerator: I start with the shelves in the doors. Remove all items from one shelf and clean the shelf with a damp cloth. If your shelves are very sticky, you may need to spray them with an all purpose cleaner, or some soapy water, and let them soak for a few minutes. Wipe off each bottle or container before putting it back. In this manner, clean all of the the shelves. You will need to occasionally remove all crisper drawers and clean under them. Also wash out the drawers themselves.
- Wipe down your drawers: Empty each drawer and wipe it out. Wipe down all cabinet surfaces. I like to use a clean sponge with a scrubby side or a damp microfiber cloth.
- Clean cabinet faces: This is where you microfiber cloth might be a good choice. If that's not enough by itself try 409 or a similar commercial cleaning spray. If it's a really tough job, try Magic Eraser.
- Clean your stove: To clean your stove top you can use an old sponge to clean underneath the grills with a little soap and water by lifting them. Scrub stuck on debris with a little baking soda; it is very effective at removing stubborn grease. By the time you are through with this task, your sponge will be ready for the trash.
- Clean your microwave: First, soften hard debris inside the microwave by placing a cup full of water or a wet cloth inside and running it for a minute. The steam will soften stuck-on food and make it easier to clean. Remove the microwave plate and soak it in warm, soapy water. Wash and dry it. Wipe the microwave inside and out using your cleaner of choice and a damp sponge or cloth.
- Clean your sink: You can use a sponge, warm water and dish soap to clean your sink. I use Dawn dish soap. Dishwasher soap is more effective if you have a stained sink. If your sink has already been scratched by abrasive cleansers such as Comet or Ajax, you may have no choice but to continue using them to get your sink clean. Just make sure to rinse the sink well, especially after using anything containing bleach. If you leave it on it can discolor or damage sink surfaces.
- Perform a final wipe: Wipe down the entire counter-top before you put objects such as mixers, coffee makers back in their places. Be sure to wipe them down as well.
- Clean the floors: Come in with your broom and clean up any debris, then use your damp mop. Back out of the kitchen as you mop to avoid footprints.
Tips for Doing Your Dishes
If you are a hand-washer, plug your sink and fill it with warm, soapy water. Let dirty dishes soak while you do other tasks. After 10 minutes or so, return to hand-wash and rinse. Place dishes in the dish-drainer to air dry or wipe them dry with a dish towel
When letting dishes soak, add a little baking soda to the dish water. It helps to break down stubborn food.
DIY Glass Cleaner
Excellent DIY Glass Cleaner
This makes for an excellent DIY glass cleaner. Be sure to follow the dilutions properly to avoid overly soapy results. Supplies:
- Dawn soap
- 32-oz spray bottle
- Fill your bottle with roughly 20 oz of water—this is a little over half full.
- Add 1 rounded drop (the size of a lentil) of Dawn soap to the bottle. Gently swirl or shake until slightly foamy.
- Let the bottle sit until the suds have settled down. The bottle should have a subtle blue tinge but not look obvious.
- You can add a little more Dawn if you find that the cleaner isn't working well, but less is more.
This works great for glass and many other cleaning jobs as well!
Congratulations on a Job Well Done!
Whew! Good job, now put away your cleaning supplies and sit back and enjoy your clean house.
Questions & Answers
- Helpful 37
- Helpful 24
When do you clean your kitchen?
I treat the kitchen like every other room. The floors and dusting are included in the weekly cleaning. Big jobs like cleaning the oven are done on a rotation, like the light fixtures. I do the dishes and counters daily, so they are not part of the weekly cleaning.Helpful 49
© 2012 Sherry Hewins