TWO Part Cleaning Primer: How to Get Started & Our Best Tips & Hacks

Part 1: How to Get Started

Between work, family, and a social life, maintaining a well-kept home can be a daunting task. If you are like me, your schedule may seem like a never ending cycle of laundry, dishes, dusting, and vacuuming with a little bit of life sprinkled in there somewhere. Regardless of whether you are a domestic god or goddess, with a little effort and planning you can achieve a home that even grandma would be proud of – and reclaim your life too! If you are looking to get a handle on your household chores follow these simple tips to create the best possible cleaning routine for your schedule:

Schedule Cleaning:

Set up a regular cleaning schedule. Create a list of all the tasks you would like to accomplish and schedule them using a calendar or checklist so that nothing is forgotten. For the “average” person it works better to complete a few small tasks each day so that the work doesn’t pile up and then have deep-cleaning days a few times a month.

Stay Focused:

You won’t find professional cleaners stopping to follow television programs or check their Facebook accounts. Don’t allow yourself to become distracted. Distractions can seriously hinder your productivity. Use motivators such a music to prevent distraction and head off boredom. Or for bookworms try playing your new favorite audio novel in the background as you clean.

 Tote Your Tools:

Productive cleaners tote all of their tools with them. While this may not always be feasible; cleansers, brushes and rags needed to finish the job should stay within arms-reach at all times. Store the vacuum, mop and mini-vac in the doorway (while cleaning) or in a nearby closet. The idea is not to have to run up and down the stairs to collect the items you need.

Simplify Supplies:

Wonder how the pros can tote all the products they need in one tray? It’s simple – or at least simplified! They have simplified their cleaning products and typically carry only a few key items. Oh and don’t be fooled by high priced cleaners. There are many cleaning solutions that you can make with products that you have in your home that work as well or better than their high priced counterparts. And they are better for your home and the environment as well! With these four simple products you’ll be able to handle any ordinary cleaning chore:

  • Light-duty evaporating cleaner (glass cleaner or multi-surface cleaner)
  • Heavy-duty degreasing cleaner
  • Tile and bathroom cleaner
  • Powdered abrasive cleanser

Two Hands Are Better Than One:

Plan Ahead: Know which rooms you plan to start and finish your cleaning in front (generally back to front door works best). This will help expedite the process and ensure you are not duplicating your efforts, especially if more than one person is involved in the cleaning.

Work from the top down:

You don’t want to vacuum and then get crumbs all over the floor, or dust the bottom of something and knock more dust down when you work your way up onto the previously         uncleaned areas. Working from the top down will ensure that your cleaned area stay clean.

Get Outdoors:

Outdoor tasks can help create a better living environment. Raking leaves helps to prevent mold growth that happens in wet climates after raining. Raking regularly will also assist in dropping the bug count in your yard. Raking will also leave your yard looking neat and cared for and offer more room for grass to grow and sunlight to reach. Alternatively, if you have a leaf blower this can be used as a time saving method. Trimming/pruning back plants (hedges, rose bushes, etc.) can help prevent water lines and dirt from getting on the walls of your home. In addition, pruning shrubs so that they don’t block windows will help improve the natural light in your home and will help to keep the windows cleaner since there won’t be dirty branches leaning against them.

Reclaim valuable real estate:

Organize and de-clutter high traffic areas such as desks, tables, bookshelves, etc to reclaim additional storage or organization space. There are tons of great DIY projects on the web that are perfect for organizational novice.

Multitask During Idle Time:

Watching TV? Organize the children’s books while watching your favorite program. Cooking Dinner? Wash dishes as you are waiting for the water to boil. Several small tasks accomplished over the course of the day can add up to big results.

 Part 2: My Favorite Household & Cleaning Hacks

  1. Eucalyptus oil removes the gummy residue left by shop stickers.
  2. To stop bathroom mirrors steaming up, regularly rub a dry bar of soap over the surface and rub in with a clean cloth.
  3. Stop clothes with thin straps falling off hangers by sticking small felt furniture pads onto the hanger just beyond where the straps sit.
  4. To keep spiders or any other nasty surprises out of shoes you keep outside, (such as your gardening shoes or work boots), place old stockings over the top of them. Make sure the stockings don’t have holes in them, and if they don’t fit snugly over the top, use an elastic band to secure them.
  5. To make candles last longer, cover with a plastic bag and place in the freezer for 24 hours before lighting.
  6. To keep your car windows ice and frost free when left outside overnight in the wintertime, mix three parts vinegar to one part water, put it in a spray bottle and spray on the windows as needed.
  7. To prevent buttons from becoming loose or undone, dab a little clear nail varnish on the top thread or onto the stem of the thread and leave to dry.
  8. To reuse the bits of soap that are always left over, combine them with glycerin and some warm water. Pour into a bottle for a handmade liquid soap.
  9. To pick up small fragments of broken glass, press pieces of bread onto the affected area.
  10. If you have an aquarium, save the water each time you change it and water your house plants with it. It’s full of nutrients and makes a great fertilizer.
  11. To deter silverfish, place whole cloves in wardrobes and drawers.
  12. To get blood out of fabrics, use hydrogen peroxide. Apply it directly to the stain and then launder in the washing machine.
  13. To revive a vase of wilted flowers, add a teaspoon of mild detergent.
  14. To prevent ash from flying everywhere when cleaning out a fireplace, use a spray bottle filled with water to cover the ashes with a light mist.
  15. To clean the bottom of the iron, sprinkle salt on the ironing board and iron back and forth.
  16. To locate light switches in the dark, put a dot of luminous paint on tape and stick to the switches.
  17. To keep shears or scissors sharp, cut through a sheet of folded aluminum foil or coarse sandpaper.
  18. To leave a room smelling fresh after you have vacuumed, place a few drops of your favorite essential oil (such as lavender or peppermint) near the vent where the hot air is released. The air warms the oil and blows it into the room.
  19. To mask unpleasant odors, put some coffee beans in a saucepan and burn them. Or place brewed coffee grounds in an open container. The smell of coffee is a natural palette cleanser and will overpower the other nasty odors.
  20. To clean a microwave oven, add four tablespoons of lemon juice to one cup of water in a microwave-safe bowl. Boil for five minutes in the microwave, allowing the steam to condense on the inside walls of the oven. Then wipe them with a soft cloth.
  21. To clean a stainless-steel sink, put the stopper in the sink with two denture-cleaning tablets and half fill with water; leave for several hours or overnight and the next day it should be sparkling. Then use the water to clean the draining board, too.
  22. To remove fingerprints from stainless-steel appliances, place a small amount of baby oil on a napkin and wipe the affected areas. The fingerprints will just wipe away.
  23. To remove marker pen off hard surfaces, spray on hair spray and then wipe it off.
  24. To remove cat and dog hair from clothes and furniture, rub them with damp rubber gloves.
  25. To restore toilet bowls back to their shiny best, clean with old, flat Coke or Pepsi. To dissolve lime scale, leave the soda overnight to soak.
  26. Use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to clean the tops and creases of Roman blinds.
  27. Vacuuming a mattress, particularly along piping and crevices, removes dead skin cells that attract dust mites.
  28. Clove oil kills mold spores. Mix three drops in about 4.5 cups of water and then use to wipe down areas susceptible to mold.
  29. Empty the freezer and make sure to label and date each food item. Throw out anything more than 6 months old.
  30. Dish washing liquid is an excellent way to get rid of the scum in the bottom of the tub, just like it cuts the grease off your dishes! Then continue cleaning as usual with Lysol or other antibacterial cleanser.
  31. Using mismatched socks for your ways to be a good house cleaner furniture duster is perfect and can save you money. Old t-shirts can be cut into rags, too.
  32. To disinfect a sponge, place in the microwave for 1 minute. The heat will help to sanitize the sponge and kill germs and bacteria.
  33. To prevent the spread of dust, use a pillow case to dust ceiling fans. Simply slide the pillow case over the fan blade and wipe the blade off inside the pillow case.
  34. To remove pet hair, dampen a pair of rubber gloves. Run the gloves over the pet hair and the wet rubber will act as a magnet attracting the pet hair.
  35. Use a few drops of water, cream of tartar, and a sponge to clean stainless steel appliances.
  36. Dust first then vacuum so that you can vacuum up the dust.
  37. Use a dish wand filled half with vinegar and half with dish washing liquid to wipe down shower walls.
  38. While cleaning the bathroom, fill the tub up with a couple of inches of the hottest water you can draw from the tap. Heating up the bathroom 10 degrees above the normal air temperature “doubles the effectiveness” of alkaline cleansers. It’s a trick hotel staffers use. Let disinfectants sit for at least 5-7 minutes, and always rinse off cleaners to prevent build-up.
  39. Use WD40 to erase scuff marks from floors.
  40. Use a Magic Eraser to clean hard to remove stains from walls. Mediums such as crayon, marker, nail polish, etc are easily removed from wall surfaces without damaging the paint. However I have found that Magic Erasers do work better on gloss or semi-gloss paint finishes.
  41. Clean toothbrushes by soaking them in a mixture of half water and half white vinegar for 15 minutes. Rinse and place in toothbrush holder.
  42. To remove pills (small lint balls) from clothing, use an old disposable razor to gather the pilled fabric. Then use a piece of tape to remove the fabric from the clothing.
  43. Clean small children’s toys by running them through the dishwasher. Add a few tablespoons of white vinegar to the soap dispenser to disinfect.
  44. Use dryer sheets to clean blinds since the chemicals in them help to repel dust.
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