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How to Clean Your House from Top to Bottom in 4 Hours

Updated on April 5, 2017
Sherry Hewins profile image

I am a former cleaning professional and a long-time homemaker. I have had many years to learn the tricks of the trade.

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.

© 2012 Sherry Hewins

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    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 7 weeks ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Sherry.....Very good tips! I have a 2-story home with 9 major rooms and a few minor (large entrance ways & enormous closets) I'm afraid no matter what type of tips or plan I followed, 4 hrs just wouldn't cut it. Now, as my aging body moves much slower than in my youth~~I'll only labor for a couple of hours and then be kind to myself.

      The truth is, I'm never really in a hurry these days anyway! I'll admit, what gets done makes me happy, what doesn't, well it can just wait until I'm good and ready!

      There's no way I can do it all myself on a regular basis, so I don't knock myself out! I have a young woman I call from time to time who comes by to work a few hours and lighten my load.

      Your hub is excellent for young busy working Moms who never seem to have a enough hours in a day! I'm sure they really appreciate what you have shared!....Peace, Paula

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
      Author

      Sherry Hewins 7 weeks ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Great John! Now that you are a professional, perhaps you can give us a tip or two.

    • profile image

      John 8 weeks ago

      thank you this helped me create a business

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
      Author

      Sherry Hewins 21 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

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

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 21 months ago from Home Sweet Home

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

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 22 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.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image

      Margaret Schindel 23 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!

    • profile image

      Sergio Freddson 2 years 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. http://thecleancompanyhouston.com

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 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.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      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.

    • Sue Bailey profile image

      Susan Bailey 4 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
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      Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Thank you Beltane73. You are too kind.

    • Beltane73 profile image

      Holly Kline 4 years ago from South Jersey

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

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 4 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!

    • Esther  Strong profile image

      Esther Strong 4 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.

    • profile image

      Vickiw 4 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!

    • 2patricias profile image

      2patricias 4 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.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
      Author

      Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      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.

    • pagesvoice profile image

      Dennis L. Page 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.

    • Sharkye11 profile image

      Jayme Kinsey 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!

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