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.

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.

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Comments 31 comments

Jeff Gamble profile image

Jeff Gamble 4 years ago from Denton, Texas

Super cleaning tips Sherry - I like the idea of doing all the bathrooms at once, it seems much more efficient.

Sherry Hewins profile image

Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA Author

Thanks for reading Jeff Gamble. It really does seem to help me get through it a lot quicker. And you can't just stop after the first one if they've all already been started.

courtyB3 profile image

courtyB3 4 years ago from New Jersey

Great article Sherry! Now would you mind coming to NJ and showing me in person? :)

Sherry Hewins profile image

Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA Author

Sure, I'll be there in 5 courtyB3, make sure it's picked up.

moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

Very interesting hub. You pretty much clean the way I do. I use to clean my sister-in-law's house when my youngest son was little. They had no kids so it was very simple to clean. They use to put a glass of water behind the door. I think they were checking to see if I cleaned behind the door. I always looked behind every door where cobwebs like to build up. I always did my floors by hand never used a mop now I have to my knees just can't take it anymore. Voted up on your hub.

Sherry Hewins profile image

Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA Author

Thanks for reading moonlake. That's funny about the glass of water behind the door. Sometimes I found that the people with the dirtiest houses were the easiest to please, when they left the house was dirty, when they came home it was clean, what's not to like. But the people with very tidy houses would be more likely to give it the "white glove treatment."

Hazzabanana8 profile image

Hazzabanana8 4 years ago from Southern Realms of England

I think you might appriciate this YouTube video.

A very famous stand-up routine here in England.

Sherry Hewins profile image

Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA Author

Hazzabanana8: Thanks for the clip. Looks like he gets a lot of entertainment value from his Hoover.

Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 4 years ago from Georgia

Wow! Great cleaning tips. I sort of do this, but I miss the lamp shades. I noticed I've never really gotten them clean with dusting alone, so I guess I need to turn on the vacuum. In general, I'm not too fond of cleaning, but it's a necessary evil. :-)

Sherry Hewins profile image

Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA Author

I hear ya Cyndi10, cleaning's not fun. But when it's over it feels great. Those darn lamp shades are a pain.

vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

I use a similar method for cleaning. You're's too easy to get distracted on one's own house. I'll have to imagine I'm cleaning for someone else and I'm sure things will go faster next time. Thanks for sharing your method with us!

Sherry Hewins profile image

Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA Author

Thanks for commenting vespawoolf. It is easier said than done. I've seen it suggested that friends could trade housecleaning, each cleaning the other's house.

B. Leekley profile image

B. Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

Up, Useful, Interesting, and shared with followers and on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. You're hired! When will you next be in Kalamazoo?

What is a webster? I googled on it and all the results were Webster dictionaries. If I'm remembering right, long ago back home my parents had a Webster, but that was an outdoor charcoal grill.

About clutter, that's the problem with hiring a house or apartment cleaner -- that you have to tidy all the rooms before the cleaner arrives. Have you done or will you be doing a hub on efficiently decluttering?

How about a home video showing you cleaning house in fast motion?

Sherry Hewins profile image

Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA Author

Wow! Thanks for all the votes and sharing. Here's a link for the webster. There are other similar tools by other names.

Clutter is a bigger problem for me. When I figure out how to deal with it I will definitely let you know. It seems simple to just put stuff in a box and get rid of it, but if it were that easy it wouldn't be a problem. I don't know why I get attached to useless stuff. That's a great idea about the video. It's a technology I have not, so far, embraced.

Sharkye11 profile image

Sharkye11 4 years ago from Oklahoma

Great hub! I never thought of using the broom to clean the shower. That would make it a lot easier! Voting up for being super useful!

pagesvoice profile image

pagesvoice 4 years ago from New York/Pennsylvania border

Voted up, useful and interesting. I love the way you broke down some cleaning tasks that can seem so daunting to many of us. I am curious though about a couple of things. I am clueless what a webster is. The only reason I ask is because I am the chief cook and bottle washer which, of course, includes cleaning the house. My other question surrounds dusting versus vacuuming. My wife will start to dust and I always say "No...wait till I'm done vacuuming because the cleaner throws dust in the air." Now I'm wondering if I have it backwards. Oh and you are so right about the clutter. I swear the older I have gotten the more paper piles I have. Alas, it is a never ending battle.

Sherry Hewins profile image

Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA Author

Thanks for the votes pagesvoice. How nice for your wife that you clean the house. I know there has been an ongoing controversy over whether to dust first or vacuum first. I'm squarely in the dust first camp. I think if your vacuum is throwing up that much dust you need a new vacuum, and often there is more than just dust on the surfaces, and it ends up on the floor. The Webster is just a round brush on the end of a telescoping pole. There's an Amazon capsule for it in my hub if you want to check it out. Happy housekeeping.

2patricias profile image

2patricias 3 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

This is voted up! Both of us Patricias are always looking for ways to save time.

We both tend to set a timer when we are cleaning - it helps to avoid distractions. You are right - clearing clutter and tidying are NOT cleaning.

Vickiw 3 years ago

This one article that absolutely deserves an up and interesting, awesome. It is sort of like taking a lemon you have been given, and turning it into lemonade. Great tips for professional cleaning. Not too many of us are as systematic. Thanks for writing this!

Esther  Strong profile image

Esther Strong 3 years ago from UK

I've never really thought it through before but yes, cleaning would be so much simpler minus the clutter. Oh, and a bit of music on whilst your cleaning can make a daunting task almost fun.

Thanks for sharing. Voted up etc.

sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

I am always trying to find better and quicker ways to clean house! I always start at the top, dust falls to the floor. I like to clean the corner of the ceiling with a broom and then the ceiling fans and light fixtures. Then comes the dusting and lastly the vacuuming and mopping. I like the idea of cleaning all the bathrooms at the same time! Voting this up and useful!

Beltane73 profile image

Beltane73 3 years ago from South Jersey

I read another great hub and you're the author! No surprise. Love your work!

Sherry Hewins profile image

Sherry Hewins 3 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA Author

Thank you Beltane73. You are too kind.

Sue Bailey profile image

Sue Bailey 3 years ago from South Yorkshire, UK

Oh I wish I liked cleaning. I will try your tips though, voted up and interesting. Shared with followers

Sherry Hewins profile image

Sherry Hewins 3 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA Author

I don't think many people enjoy cleaning @Sue Bailey, but we still have to do it. We might as well get it over with as quickly as possible. Thanks for the votes and shares.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas

I wish my apartment was so easy to clean! It has been at times, but that was a while ago. Right now I have so much clutter and things are so disorganized that you can't find the floors and surfaces to dust or vacuum! Well, most of the apartment is like that anyway.

I've been working on my office for a while and it's almost done. Still have my desk to sort and organize and the blinds in the window next to my desk to clean, and then I need to bring some things back in that I took out of the room to make getting to what was left easier. Once it's done your method would very probably work well in the office as there should be minimal clutter for the first few weeks at least . . . :)

I love reading articles like this one because it gives me hope that it really can be done. I know it's true that if a person maintains their home once they have it cleaned up, it goes much faster and what a difference it makes.

You know, considering how things have gotten so out of hand from time to time over the years, the one thing that has never, and I do mean NEVER been a problem are my kitchen cupboards. They are absolutely always clean and organized even when the rest of the house is a disaster. Even when I had a pantry, that too, was always ship shape. Why just that one little place in the house and everything else looks like a tornado hit?

Excellent advice here and I like reading it from someone who has done it for real and knows what she's talking about.

Sergio Freddson 17 months ago

I think you're right: doing the floors last is a great idea. It's easy to want to get that out of the way first and do a "bottom up" method, but the top down works much better. If you can get into the habit of doing this you'll have to vacuum much less often! Thanks for sharing these tips with us.

Margaret Schindel profile image

Margaret Schindel 16 months ago from Massachusetts

Sherry, both my parents worked outside the home, so I grew up in a home that was cleaned professionally and never really learned to clean properly myself. When I left home I was in the corporate world for many years and was able to afford professional housecleaning help. When I left the corporate world and could no longer afford those services, I was ill-equipped to take on those tasks myself. Your tips will prove invaluable to me. Thank you so much for sharing them!

Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 15 months ago from Long Island, NY

Excellent cleaning tips! Even though I'm a fanatic at keeping a clean house, I still can learn a thing or two. And your hub gave me a lot of useful pointers.

For example, I always get tired of cleaning each little item on the shelves when doing the general cleaning. It adds so much more time to the entire cleaning day. You convinced me it's okay to leave that as a job to do by itself. I'm going to schedule a time to just take everything off the shelves, wipe the dust off the shelves, and clean the each item with a damp cloth. Then consider it done for the day.

peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 14 months ago from Home Sweet Home

I am not god at cleaning but I do sweeping and mopping everyday

Sherry Hewins profile image

Sherry Hewins 14 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA Author

peachpurple I'm very glad that you cannot see my house right now!

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