The one overarching, guiding principle in making quick work of housekeeping is this: Neatness Counts! Neat and not-so-clean beats clean and not-so-neat every time. Even our housekeepers have been fooled by a neat house that looks clean even though layers of dirt may be hiding most everywhere! So pick up. Hang up. Straighten. De-clutter. You’ll be well on your way to a great looking house.
- Make your bed. Always. Every day. It’ll only take a minute (literally) and makes you feel so much better about your house and yourself.
- Put dirty clothes in the hamper. Don’t even think about throwing them on the floor! Ever.
- Spend 30 seconds hanging up anything you’ve worn that day that’s good for another wearing. Your bedroom will look better and your clothes won’t be so wrinkled.
- Empty the wastebasket. Fold a bunch of fresth trash liners and place them in the bottom of the receptacle to make quick work of this task next time. By the way, an open top wastebasket is said to be bad feng shui. If you can’t hide the wastebasket, check out one of those cute bullet shaped ones from Umbra on www.Amazon.com. They have a swing top and come in several fun colors.
- Clear the top of your dresser. Use a basket or designate the top dresser drawer to stash clutter.
Each of these tasks take a minute or less, but oh, what a difference they make. Try it.
Disposable wipes make everyday house cleaning a breeze. And of course they’re indispensable for baby bottoms! But please don’t flush them down the toilet– even if they are labeled “flushable.”
The label simply means they will go down your toilet when flushed. What you need to be concerned about is what happens next.
Unlike toilet paper, wipes do not disintegrate in water. They stay pretty much intact as they travel through the sewer pipes and can get caught on roots or other debris, increasing the likelihood of a clog..
So, throw away any cleaning/disinfecting wipes, moist towelettes, personal hygiene products, etc., in the trash, never in your toilet. Clogged sewer lines are ugly and expensive to fix. Trashing disposable wipes is such an easy way to prevent trouble.
How much you clean between housekeeper visits depends on three things: 1) how often you have housekeeping service 2) your standards for an acceptably clean house and 3) the number of high maintenance items you have, like clear glass shower doors, for instance. But most people find they don’t need to do a lot of cleaning in between times.
- Keep everything well picked-up. Try never to go to bed with a messy house. Get the family involved! A neat and tidy house automatically looks clean. Plus, you’ll get a lot more for your housekeeping dollar if the surfaces are clear and ready to be cleaned.
- Wipe down kitchen and bathroom counters. Generally, you don’t have to move everything to clean underneath, but do keep the counters clean and shiney.
- Clean kitchen sink and appliances as needed.
- Wipe the spots off bathroom mirrors. Use Windex Wipes in each bathroom to take care of both mirrors and counters.
- Sweep/vacuum floors. To preserve your carpets for years to come you must vacuum frequently. If that’s not an issue for you, you may not even run the vacuum between visits. S ‘up to you.
- Squeegee shower doors after each shower. The 30 seconds this takes means no soap buildup. This too will save your housekeepers time, and you money.
- Dust if you have to. If dust allergies are an issue or your conscience demands you dust every day or two, for heaven’s sake buy a good quality lambswool duster (about $10.00 at most any hardware store). Contrary to what some people think they do not “just spread the dust around,” they actually attract dust by the natural oil found in lambswool. You won’t believe how easy dusting can be. ( On the other hand, some of us just think of dust as a wood preservative and don’t bother our pretty little heads about it!)
We realize there may be other things that are important to you to do between housekeeper visits, but these are the basics.
Comments? Please add them below. We love to hear from you.
Not long ago we came across the following words by one Henry Giles. Since he wrote more than 100 years ago he addressed his remarks to men only. We’ve taken the liberty of changing the gender for our purposes here.
“Women must work. That is certain as the sun. But she may work gratefully…. or she may work as a machine. There is no work so rude, that she may not exalt it; no work so impassive, that she may not breathe life into it; no work so dull, that she may not enliven it.”
Take a minute to ponder the implications of those words for all the work you do.
What is your attitude towards housework? The very thought of it makes many a woman shudder. Drudgery. Boredom. Thankless. These are but a few of the words that may spring to mind. On the other hand, in our business we often hear the housekeepers we represent apologize for liking to clean. “I know you will think I’m crazy…,” they will say, or “I hate to admit it, but….” It’s as if they are confessing to some gross personality disorder.
But, whether you love it or loathe it, there are probably times when your attitude towards house cleaning could stand a little adjustment. If we can learn to enjoy house cleaning more, chances are we will do it better and faster. Housework may seem dull, but with a little wit and imagination we can enliven it.
Cleaning is great exercise. Vigorous house cleaning gives your whole body of work out. If you become conscious of how you are moving, you could work on toning specific muscle groups. It may not replace your regular exercise program, but look at how much you’re accomplishing at the same time.
It can challenge your ingenuity. Think in terms of time-saving, energy-saving, and money-saving techniques and you’ll be amazed at how many new ways of doing things you will come up with.
You can gain a sense of accomplishment. Psychologists tell us that one of the major causes of job dissatisfaction in the modern world is that most people are involved in only small segments of any given job or project; they seldom see the whole. Thus, there is little feeling of pride or accomplishment. But whether you clean one room or the whole house, you have accomplished something tangible, you can see the results.
Housework is a change from the mental to the physical. A nice change of pace, especially if you sit at a desk all week.
Cleaning can provide the opportunity for meditation. Yes, it’s true! There is an aspect of yoga called “housewives meditation”–no, really! This comes about when you are so into the task at hand that you almost become a part of it. Anyone can do it with a little practice, and you will find it a refreshing, revitalizing experience.
You can use your housework time for planning, thinking through problems, dreaming. With our hectic pace, we never have enough time for thoughts such as these.
You can no doubt add ideas of your own to this list. And that very process will make your cleaning time more enjoyable. Try it. You’ll see.
Comments? Questions? We’d love to hear from you.
Sometimes no matter what you do, a toilet bowl will just not come clean with regular cleaning. Try one of these easy methods:
- Toss in 2-3 denture cleaning tablets or a can of cola. Let stand overnight.
- Add 1/4 cup sodium acid sulfate from the pharmacy. Let stand 15 minutes and flush.
- Pour a bucket of water into the bowl. The toilet will flush, but will not fill again. Now attack the stains with powdered cleanser. If that is not effective use a pumice stone (available at any hardware store).
- Extra fine steel wool or wet/dry sandpaper may be used for rust stains–but gently. If the rust stains still will not come off, use Zud, available at any hardware store, but follow directions very carefully as it is very toxic.
Do you have any other suggestions? We’d love to hear from you, dear reader.
It’s amazing how much a cleaning professional can get done in a short amount of time. You could probably clean someone else’s house faster than your own home too. Why is that?
Think about it: if you were going to have someone clean your house, what would you do before they came? Most people make a list of what they want done, get everything picked up and the kids and pets out from underfoot. Already, you’re seeing part of the problem, aren’t you. So here are some tips to clean like a pro:
A professional has a list to work from. So what do you want to accomplish on cleaning day? Psychologists tell us that if you write things down the night before you’re more likely to do them. So go ahead make a list for yourself. And stick to it!
A professional doesn’t get sidetracked. Here’s where most of us fall short. Distraction is your number one enemy! And truth be told, you’d probably much rather sort through the magazines than, say, scrub the bathtub, but be resolute and stick to your list. Make a mental note of projects that need to be done and move on. Don’t get sidetracked. Don’t even answer the phone, check your emails or Facebook!
A professional (usually) doesn’t have kids to contend with. If at all possible, clean house when you don’t have little people around. Take them to a sitter, trade with a friend, get your husband to take them to the park. Be creative. But don’t try to clean and “mother” at the same time.
A professional (usually) starts with a house that’s straightened. Try to get the house picked up the night before. Set out your cleaning supplies and list and you’ll be good to go the next morning.
A professional carries all the supplies from room to room. This is far more efficient than getting out and putting back supplies in each room. And keep cleaning products to a bare minimum. You don’t need special cleaners for each of your surfaces in spite of what advertisers say. You’d be amazed at how much of your house can be cleaned with simple soap and hot water!
A professional isn’t interrupted. Every break in your routine is a time robber. It takes time to stop what you’re doing, time to start another task, time to complete that task and then more time to start again on what you were doing in the first place!
A professional must work within a certain time frame. Set your own time limit. Try to improve your time a little each week. This will keep you moving and on track. And remember to take a 10-15 minute break somewhere in the middle of your routine.
A professional is paid for her work. Okay, so maybe no one is going to pay you for your efforts, but at least you can do something nice for yourself. Whether it’s a chocolate chip cookie, time to read or a leisurely bubble bath, give yourself a reward.
If at all possible, give yourself a break every month or two and have a real pro come in and clean. You’ll be amazed how much easier it is for you to maintain your house in between visits.
Of course, if you are in San Francisco’s East Bay, you need to call The Clean Sweep. We’ll set you up with just the right professional!
Who wants to spend more precious time than necessary doing household chores. Here are a few ways to make housekeeping faster and easier:
- Sharpen scissors and pinking shears cutting through several layers of aluminum foil. Use the same method for can openers. It really works!
- To quickly remove pet hair from clothes or furniture, rub them with old-fashioned rubber gloves (like some people wear for doing dishes). You can buy them at any super market. Dampen the gloves first for an even faster job.
- Got a loose button? Dab some clear nail polish on top of the thread and let it dry. It will never come off.
- To restore toilet bowls back to their shiny best, clean with old, flat Coke or Pepsi. To dissolve limescale, leave the soda overnight to soak.
- Toss your soiled shower curtain in the washer with a couple of bath towels and the usual amount of detergent. Hang to dry.
- Keep kitchen brushes and sponges clean a sweet-smelling by putting them on the top rack of the dishwasher every time you run it.
Please share your personal favorite housekeeping tips with our readers.
Yep, it’s true! Deodorize the ‘fridge with an open container of kitty litter. Place a sprinkle or two at the bottom of the garbage and/or diaper pail. Put kitty litter into a couple of knee-high nylon stockings, tie a knot in the stockings and place in your shoes to absorb any perspiration and make them smell nice and fresh. Works in a laundry hamper too–especially if wet clothes or towels seem to mysteriously find their way in there.
Prevent mildew by placing an open container of kitty litter in a bathroom or closet. And make sure your camping gear is mildew free next summer, include a few socks of litter in the tent before stowing it for the winter.
A ten pound bag of kitty litter will absorb up to a gallon of oil, gasoline or paint. You just never know when this tip might come in handy. ;-) But an extension of this tip is: add a layer of litter at the bottom of your grill to prevent grease fires. (No more charcoal chicken).
And one last, totally random tip: pour litter down a mole hole to encourage those furry little destroyers to go elsewhere! It’s a kinder, gentler solution to a very annoying problem! Kind of an outdoor housekeeping tip .
Comments? Suggestions? Additional tips? We love your feedback!!
Bathroom cleaning is an integral part of keeping a clean house. On that we can agree. But it doesn’t have to be a big chore if you do just a little bit every day or two.
- Keep wipes on the vanity in each bathroom. There are a ton of them on the market. Windex, Clorox disinfecting, environmentally safe–you choose. Even baby wipes can be used
- Every morning or two do a quick wipe down of the sink, faucet and vanity area. Wipe off any spots from the mirror. Every now and again swipe the fingerprints around the switch plate and the back of the door.
- Keep the vanity as clutter-free a possible. If you prefer having lots of items on display, consider putting them all on a tray so they can be easily moved to clean.
- Use liquid body wash instead of soap in the shower–no more soap scum on the glass shower doors! Wipe down the tile before you get out of the shower.
- Give your kids sponges and let them wash the bath tub as the water drains out. If you use bubble bath the tub practically cleans itself.
- Keep a toilet brush in a container next to the toilet. Swish the bowl a few times a week. If it needs more work, add cleaning agent or an Alka Seltzer tablet the night before and quickly clean it the next morning.
- In between regular floor washing, put a few damp paper towels or cleaning cloth under your foot to clean the floor. Concentrate on the perimeter of the room where hair accumulates. I know this isn’t the housekeeping your mother taught you, but it works!
- Never let any family member put wet towels on the floor. Ever!
All of these things can easily be done in just a couple of minutes a day. They’re easy to do and your bathroom always looks nice.
What ideas can you share to make bathroom maintainance easy and fast?
You cannot call your house clean if you have grease splatter spots on the wall behind the stove. They look ugly and after awhile the accumulated grease gets rancid so that your house doesn’t smell so good. So let’s get to it.
Put a little dish soap on a Dobie’ or other “scrubby” pad safe for non-stick surfaces, and gently rub the spots. (Be sure to test it in an inconspicuous area first).
If that doesn’t work, take it up a notch and use an all-purpose cleaner such as 409 on the scrubby pad.
And if the spots are still there, don’t scrub harder, use a more powerful cleaning agent like Dow Bathroom Cleaner (with the famous scrubbing bubbles) and then rinse the area with hot water.
After the area is clean, apply a generous coat of paste wax. Subsequent spots can then be removed with a dry paper towel. Reapply paste wax as necessary.
Now, that’s pretty easy. Housekeeping doesn’t have to be hard.
I received the following EMAIL. I couldn’t resist passing it on!!
HOW TO CLEAN THE HOUSE:
1. Open a new file in your PC.
2. Name it “Housework.”
3. Send it to the RECYCLE BIN.
4. Empty the RECYCLE BIN.
5. Your PC will ask you, “Are you sure you want
to delete Housework permanently?”
6. Calmly answer, “Yes,” and press the mouse
7. Feel better?
Works for me!
See if it works for you. If not, call your local housekeeping agency or house cleaning company and make an appointment. From our perspective, that’s the BEST solution!
In our last post, we sang the praises of the lambswool duster for cutting your dusting time in half. It’s easy to use and really attracts that dust. But, here are a few more hints to make your house work even easier.
- Change your furnace filter as soon as they become clogged with dust and dirt (medium grey in color). Not only will you have less dust, but the air quality in your home will improve which is especially important if you have allergy sufferers the house. We find that the 3M filters are worth the extra cost. These go a long ways towards keeping your house clean.
- Brush your pets frequently–outside!
- Use entrance mats outside of all your doors. Costco or a janitorial supply store are great places to buy these mats, and they will last a long, long time. If you will place a mat inside of your main doors, you will further limit the amount of dust and dirt tracked into the house. These mats will also prevent a lot of wear and tear on your floors and carpets.
- Consider grouping knickknacks and such on trays for faster dusting.
- Always dust from the top down. But keep in mind vertical surfaces don’t need to be dusted nearly as often as the horizontal.
- If all else fails, just think of dust as a wood preservative…. (Just kidding, I think!)
Hope some of these dusting tips are helpful. Please share what works for you.
It’s a holdover from my little girl days when dusting was my “chore”, I know, but I’m not a big fan of dusting. (Actually, truth be told, I’m not a big fan of house cleaning in general, which explains, perhaps, why I chose to start a housekeeping agency many years ago. I mean, there’s more than one way to get out of doing house work!) But, I digress.
I almost remember the day that I discovered the lambswool duster. They are small, have a nice handle and you can dust around most anything with nary a telltale sign that you didn’t move everything to dust. Lambswool dusters do NOT just spread the dust around as so many uninformed people claim. Lambswool actually has natural static electricty which attracts dust like a magnet. You can buy lambswool dusters on Amazon.com, Ace Hardware, Bed, Bath and Beyond, to name a few. They cost about $10.00, are washable and last almost indefinitely.
If you have a lot of little knickknacks you may want to opt foran ostrich feather duster instead as they are much easier to use on delicate items. The same principle of static electricity applies, so you’re not just moving dust around. Just be sure you get genuine ostrich feathers.
I’d be willing to bet that you can cut your dusting time in half by using one of these tools. Try one and see!
I don’t know of anyone who wouldn’t like to know how to save time and energy on housekeeping. Whether it’s house cleaning or kitchen clean up, laundry or quick clean ups, these tips will help.
- Wipe down mini-blinds with a fabric softener sheet. This eliminates the static that causes dust and dirt to stick. The same trick works for TV and monitor screens.
- Wash ceramic tile floors with a few drops of dish soap in a bucket of hot water. Dry thoroughly with a towel for a nice sheen and no streaks. Just stand on a bath towel and boogie around a bit to wipe dry. Or put a cloth under each foot and make like “Dancing With the Stars.”
- Throw a couple of denture cleaning tablets into your toilet before you go to bed. In the morning, just run your toilet brush around a few times and flush. Your toilet will be clean and fresh.
- Use a sponge mop to clean the shower walls. It’s fast and saves you from stretching and bending.
- For a stain that resists all other spot and stain removers, pour 1/4 to 1/2 cup OxiClean granules in the washer with hot water until dissolved. Add detergent and soak the garment before washing as usual.
- Best and cheapest fabric softener? Fill the fabric softener container in your washing machine with plain white vinegar. No waxy residue on your clothes or dryer, and it makes towels super-absorbent. No irritating smell either.
- To speed up drainage of your tubs and sinks, pour down one cup of baking soda followed by a cup of vinegar. Let it foam up for a few minutes and thoroughly flush with hot tap water. (Kids love to do this!)
Hope you find some of these housekeeping tips useful. Please share some of your own!
When I first heard about these all-purpose cleaning sponges I thought the manufacturer was overstating the case. Magic? Really? But you know what? It’s pretty close to true. They last a long time. All you do is add a little water. And they clean so many different things well. Now here’s something that will really make housekeeping easier.
So simplify your cleaning and put one or two Magic Erasers in the bathrooms, kitchen, the cleaning caddy and in your car. They will replace a bucket load of other cleaners.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Remove scuff marks from floors, baseboard and even tennis shoes! Actually, they remove scuff marks on just about anything.
- Take off chair marks, fingerprints and handprints from walls.
- Remove mold and mildew from anything plastic.
- Clean off magic marker, permanent marker or ballpoint ink from just about any surface.
- Great for cleaning soap scum off the tub and shower.
- Remove stains on the underside of the toilet seat.
- Take off bugs from car windshield, grille and bumper.
- Remove melted plastic (think bread bag!) from toaster, glass stove top or other appliance.
- Remove baked on brown spots from the oven door.
- Clean doll faces.
The beauty of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers is that they will not do harm to any surface. Therefore, you can try them for virtually anything. If for some reason they don’t work, you haven’t lost a thing.
Our housekeepers have found these to be as helpful as just about anything on the market today. So give them a try.
‘Already tried them? What was your experience?
In our previous post we explored a number of ways to clean glass or ceramic stove tops. Sometimes, however, conventional means aren’t enough. So if you have stubborn spots or buildup a razor blade may be the only answer. It’s easy to do, but you must use it correctly, or you will scratch the glass! Follow these instructions and you won’t have any problems.
- Get a razor blade holder available at most any hardware store for around $5.00.
- Sponge on a sudsy solution of hot water and dish soap. This will create a slippery surface to work on and prevent scratches. Do not use a razor blade on dry glass!
- Insert a fresh blade in the holder.
- Apply medium pressure to the blade and scrape in one direction at about a 45 degree angle. Work slowly and carefully rewetting the surface as needed.
- If you feel any resistance or you hear a gritty sound, stop immediately and replace the blade.
This same method can be used to remove paint spots or overspray on windows.
If you do not have a glass stove top–either white or (worse) black–count your blessings! They are the worst, unless you count how beautiful they are for 20 minutes after they’ve been cleaned. I can say this from personal experience because I–what was I thinking?!– have a black glass top gas range. Thankfully, my housekeeper does a gorgeous job on it when she cleans, but it still needs lots of in-between maintenance.
Now, to be sure there are special products for glass stove tops. There’s Cerma Bryte, available at any big box store such as Home Depot or CermaBryte.com, Weiman’s Cook Top Cleaner available at Lowe’s, Walmart and elsewhere. Both companies also make cleaning pads.
Barkeeper’s Friend and Bon Ami are available at most any supermarket can be used. Both of them are both non-scratching powdered cleansers and completely safe for use on glass or ceramic.
A paste of baking soda and liquid dishwashing soap or water are often effective. One person keeps a shaker container of baking soda next to her stove and sprinkles it on every fresh spill. A little elbow grease applied with a damp cloth should quickly take care of the mess even after it has dried.
You can always use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser sponge or a blue Scotch Brite scrubby sponge for any glass or ceramic stove top.
To remove grease, use a solution of Dawn Dishwashing Liquid and hot water. Rinse with more hot water and buff with a dry towel.
As in most things, the sooner you attack any spill the better.
If none of these methods work for you, check out our next post on the hard core cleaning solution for glass stove tops.
First of all let me say I hate germs as much, if not more than, the next person. I’m an inveterate hand-washer, I never cut meat and vegetables on the same cutting board, I carry sanitizing wipes in my purse. Get the picture? So how do I keep my kitchen germ free without antibacterial sprays or bleach? Read on. (And please comment if you have something to add).
- First, I rarely use sponges except for the scrubby side when I need to remove really tough stuff from a baking pan, etc. Sponges probably harbor more germs than anything else in your kitchen.
- I use a sink brush to wash pots, pans, dishes.
- My sponges and sink brush are sterilized in my dishwasher every time I run a load.
- I use a barely damp microfiber cloth to clean my counters. I add dish soap and hot water if necessary.
- Wooden cutting boards are time-consuming to clean adequately so I use lightweight plastic cutting boards which I then throw in the dishwasher to sterilize.
Now I admit everything gets a really good scrubbing when my housekeepers come to clean, but these things work beautifully for me on a day to day basis. And they’re easy. Let me know what works for you!
Sanitizing the kitchen is just a basic part of housekeeping. Everyone wants a nice clean kitchen to cook and eat in. And many people swear by using chlorine bleach for this purpose. But the question is, Is this the best product to use for getting rid of germs?
Many people swear by cleaning with chlorine bleach. It’s been around so long that no one can remember when we didn’t use it. We assume that it’s a natural, non-toxic cleaner. But, while it’s not the worst toxin you can have in your house, it is registered with the EPA as a pesticide. And it impacts our environment. When bleach wastewater comes in contact with materials like wood and soil, it can release known cancer-causing and hormone disrupting chemicals.
All by itself bleach was responsible for poisoning 25,000 children in the year 2000. It can also irritate your eyes, nose, throat and lungs.
If you absolutely cannot break your bleach addiction, only use one tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water. If you use more, be sure you thoroughly rinse the counters after sanitizing them for 1-5 minutes.
See our next posts for non-bleach solutions to keeping germs at bay in your kitchen.