By Julie Short
I know some of the following sections may seem simple or obvious to some of you, but there are many who do not have any cleaning experience so we will start from scratch. If I know any tricks for the particular task, they are included.
Sweeping the floor
Option 1 – If you have a vacuum cleaner that works on hard surface floors, this makes it easy and you can use the hose to get under the edges if necessary.
Option 2 – The broom is still your best option for quick clean ups and when you don’t want to get the vacuum out. First of all, you need a good quality broom and an even better dust pan. It is so frustrating to just be moving the dirt around with cheap tools. Start at the farthest corner of the room and begin sweeping from the edge. Work on an area of about 6 feet out and across at a time, sweeping toward yourself. Make small piles of dirt for each area. After you get a few little piles, scoop them into the dust pan and empty the contents into the trash. Repeat until all areas are dirt free and all piles are transferred to the trash.
Start at one end of the house, at the farthest corner of the room and work your way backward across the carpets so that you do not leave your own footprints on your freshly cleaned floors. I have Berber carpet so it is not an issue for me.
No lovely lines in the carpet, but no footprints either.
Make sure that you have vacuumed or swept the area very well before you being to mop or you will be making mud. I use the Swiffer Wet Jet and it make mopping so easy. No mixing and no measuring needed. Just attach a clean pad to the bottom and start at the farthest point of the room or area and work your way backward out of the room. Spray the product as needed and change out the pad as needed. The cleaner works great on my tile and hardwood floors so I do not have to switch products for the different areas. It smells wonderful too.
If you are using a traditional mop, just make sure that you have squeezed all excess liquid before you begin mopping and rinse regularly, depending on the condition of the floors you are cleaning. You can mix some products in your bucket of water and there are some products you spray on to the floor as you go. Make sure the products you use are safe for your flooring surfaces. If you floor feels a little “tacky” when you are finished, it probably just means you need a little less product and a little more water in the mix.
The Swiffer Duster is a great tool. I have the extendable pole and it allows me to reach things I could not with a traditional feather duster or a rag. This product is also great because you do not have to use a spray and it works on glass and wood. It grabs the dust and you don’t just move dir around. Now there are times and certain pieces of furniture for which I like to use furniture polish. Most of the time, less is better with the spray. Use a cleaning rag that is safe for your wood and is very absorbent. Make sure you switch to a fresh rag if yours starts to get dirty. Put the product on the rag instead of directly on the furniture. The furniture oil is my favorite for my cabinet doors. It makes the whole room shine. Whatever you’re dusting, start high and work your way down.
A damp rag is usually all that is needed. I have black counter tops so I usually have a damp rag in one hand and a dry one in the other so that no water spots are left behind. Go under your canister and decorations on those counter tops, it makes a difference, especially if you get lots of natural sunlight in your room. You don’t have to make it a big deal when you move your stuff to go under it. Just pick it up, wipe and put it back down or slide it to the side, wipe and return. Wipe any crumbs into your hand and throw them in the trash so that the floors stay nice.
A damp cloth is the best for a quick wipe down. I have used the Dow scrubbing bubbles on “stuck on” stuff. I have also put half a lemon in a bowl of water and put it in the microwave for about two minutes and it loosens everything up to make the wipe down easy. Be careful when you take the bowl out, it will be hot.
Spray the tub, shower, toilet, sinks and counter tops with Dow Scrubbing Bubbles. Spray your mirrors and faucets with SprayWay. Use paper towels and clean the mirrors, then the glass shower doors and finish up with the faucets. If your paper towel is still OK, wipe out the sinks and do the counter tops before you move on to the tub. The paper towels I use are a little rough so they are great for scrubbing. I also have some great cleaning rags that I use. Make sure you don’t put any fabric softener in with your cleaning rags and you will have to do a little less scrubbing. The shower is next and lastly the toilet. Make sure you do the entire toilet; wipe the top of the tank, the tank, around the outside of the bowl and the base. Then the lid, seat and under the seat. Use a brush for the inside. No one should have to go there!
Glass and mirrors
Using a dry rag is the best way to make sure you don’t have streaks in your work. If yours starts to get damp, get another one. I like SprayWay because it cuts through the gunk and it doesn’t run very quickly. I use Windex also. I have both under my kitchen sink. Windex has the disposable wipes that make bathroom touch ups easy. Again, start at the top and work your way down, going all the way to the edges. Look at it from a couple of different angles to make sure you got all the spots and streaks.
Kitchen sink and disposal
I have a stainless steel sink and it usually looks good if I just spray with the SprayWay and wipe it down. If it starts getting some food stains, I sprinkle a little Ajax and scrub it down with a rag. Rinse it and dry it out to make it look perfect. I don’t use the Ajax every day because I think it can be a little harsh. Throw a slice of lemon or the lime from your cherry limeade down the disposal every now and then to clean it up. Make sure you wipe down the outer edges of the sink and the back of the sink where the scrubber and soap sit. Details make the difference between just looking OK and looking polished.
Clean the oven
I currently have a self-cleaning oven and it is awesome. I set it to self clean, wait the allotted time and simply wipe out (or vacuum) the crumbs when done. I haven’t always been so lucky, but the oven cleaners these days work very well. Make sure you follow the directions exactly and move your trash can close by so you can wipe and shake your rag out often.
Make a bed
Make sure your sheets are smooth; they don’t have to be perfect. Pull up the comforter or quilt and smooth out the wrinkles. Put the pillows on with the case openings facing the center of the bed so that the outer edges look smooth. Add decorative pillows and you are good to go in about one minute.
Clean your blinds and window sills
Vacuum or wipe out any dust, dead insects or debris. You can vacuum the blinds quickly by using the attachment that has a brush type end. Turn the blinds completely one direction and vacuum before turning the other direction to vacuum. If needed, use a damp cloth to wipe down. The Swiffer Duster can also be used for this and is great at getting in between the individual slats.
Clean your ceiling fans
The Swiffer Duster can be used in many cases and is especially good for cleaning the lights of the fan. I also have a tool specifically for ceiling fans that has an oblong brush with a hole in the middle that fits the blade so that top, bottom and sides are cleaned at once. This works well if it has been awhile and the dirt is a little more stubborn.
Load the dishwasher
Face all your plates and bowls in the same direction. Put all flatware in handle end first that that they spread out at the top instead of lying against each other where parts can get missed. Make sure you do not block any moving parts or water flow. Put all sharp knives together and put them in point end first so that you do not accidentally grab them when unloading. Do not overload your dishwasher. Remember, the more organized you are when loading the more you can fit and not have to hand wash.
Julie Short has been married to her husband, Stoney, since 1997. She is currently working on a series of books known as Julie’s Simple Solutions. She is a Mansfield resident, business owner and member of the Mansfield City Council.
Find her book “Cleaning Your House in Minutes a Day” at https://www.amazon.com/Cleaning-Your-House-Minutes-Day/dp/1949563103
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