17 Cleaning Secrets from Housekeepers
Use Multi-Tasking Products
"Manufacturers love to sell home consumers lots of little specialty tools and cleaning chemicals that only do one thing or clean one special type of surface because it is an easy excuse to get you to buy more stuff," says Melissa Homer, chief cleaning officer at MaidPro. "Since we all fall for it, most people have a cabinet full of partially-used chemicals we almost never use!"
Stick to products Homer suggests you really need: a disinfecting all-purpose cleaner that can also clean glass, a disinfecting bathroom cleaner and a floor cleaner that is safe on wood and tile.
Have the Right Tools
The same is true for cleaning tools. "If you bog yourself down with too many specialty tools, you'll feel overwhelmed," comments Homer.
You can keep your house spotless with some quality microfiber cleaning cloths, a few sponges, a handle and detail scrub brush, a plastic scraper, a vacuum that can clean hard floors and carpets, a microfiber "feather" duster and a microfiber mop.
Grab a Toothbrush
"It's hard to find a tool that will beat this all-purpose cleaning gadget," says Amy Olson, spokesperson for The Maids. Add it to your kit. A toothbrush or grout brush can help you get the toughest grime out of the tightest corners -- and make cleaning vents simple. The strength is in the bristles though, cautions Olson. "Let them do the work for you."
Make a Cleaning Caddy
Once you have your supplies assembled, how do you organize them? "One of the biggest differences between the way professionals clean and the way regular people clean is we pros make sure all of our best products are right at our fingertips," says Homer.
Don't waste time looking for different tools and products from around the house. Buy an inexpensive shower caddy and fill it with your essentials, so it's easy to just grab and go and tackle any room.
David Lieberman, even keeps basic equipment and sprays in a tool belt while he cleans.
Most homes have too much clutter. Removing that excess stuff is key to getting the house clean. "You need to find a place to keep your books and magazines before you can begin to dust and polish," says Curtis Timsah in Edmond, Okla. If you need help, many cleaning companies also provide a decluttering service to customers.
Follow a System
Don't just walk into a room and start cleaning. For Lieberman, having a system is key to effective cleaning. "I start at one point in a room, and then I clean in a circle around the room," he says.
This method will keep you focused on one task, so you don't get distracted and tackle another project before the first is complete. And scour each room top to bottom, so you're catching dust as it falls.
Speed up your vacuuming tasks with one quick change. "Plug in your vacuum in the central room in the house," suggests Matt Ricketts in St. Louis, Mo. "This will save you time because you can continue vacuuming in every room before doubling back to remove the cord and plug it into another socket," If your cord is too short, add an extension.
Can you write "clean me" on your flat-screen TV or computer monitor? If so, it's time to dust those electronics with this tip from Samara Lane in Seattle: "Turn off the TV or monitor, then use a dry microfiber cloth and gently wipe the screen. If necessary, dampen the cloth with distilled water or with an equal ratio of distilled water to white vinegar." Never spray liquid directly on an LED, LCD or plasma screen -- it could damage it.
Get a Fresh Scent
Many cleaning products have harsh chemical odors that leave a home smelling like a laboratory. Debra Longfellow in Tacoma, Wash, makes her own cleaning solutions with Borax, washing soda, vinegar and baking soda, uses a few drops of essential oils like lavender, grapefruit, yang-ylang and lemon.
Scrub Your Showerhead
Is there yucky residue on your showerhead? According to Lane, removing the grime is easy. "To get built-up residue off a showerhead, tie a baggie of vinegar around it and leave it to dissolve overnight. In the morning, rinse the showerhead." It'll be squeaky clean.
Getting a buildup of grease on things that are touched often, like door handles and light switch plates is normal. Tabita Cruz in San Antonio, Texas, uses Magic Erasers to get these spots clean. "They cut down on grease left by everyone's hands," she says.
Clean Fridge Coils
To get your refrigerator completely clean, get ready for some heavy-duty vacuuming. "Remove the refrigerator's kick plate and vacuum the fur and hair around the coils," says Cruz. Not only will your refrigerator be cleaner, but also it will run more efficiently -- saving you money on your energy bill.
Wash the Windows
There's more than one way to clean a window, and it all comes down to the size of the glass. For smaller windows and mirrors, Lieberman suggests using balled-up newspaper because it's gentle and won't scratch the surface. For larger mirrors and windows, he suggests using a squeegee with a handle attachment; not only will you cut down on time, but also a squeegee can help you reach the high edges of the window.
Eliminate Pet Odors
Does Fido occasionally leave a mess on the floor? To remove pet odors, consider this tip from Longfellow: "Use a spray bottle filled with white vinegar," she says. "Next, cover the vinegar-soaked area with baking soda and allow to dry. Sweep and vacuum up the excess soda. There will be a strong pet odor with this method, as the mixture actually pulls the odor out."
Vacuum Grout Tiles
If you have tile floors, don't start scrubbing just yet. According to Sheila Jonson in Rockford, Ill., you should vacuum or sweep your tile floor to remove all loose dirt and debris before washing it with a cleaning solution.
Reach with a Yardstick
Have trouble dusting high-up or hard-to-reach areas? Grab a yardstick. "Fit a sock onto the end of the yardstick and secure it with a rubber band," suggests Olson. "It's a nifty tool to reach behind headboards and under furniture."
When you think you're done cleaning a room, Ricketts suggests getting down to eye level and examining your home from a new angle. "By getting close to your surfaces, you can see if you still have any crumbs or dust that needs to be cleaned up," he says.
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