Welcome Home: The Ultimate House-Cleaning Guide

Many of us consider cleaning the house to be a tedious and unwelcome chore, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you plan ahead and perform routine maintenance, your house can be camera-ready any day of the year. More than that, you’ll enjoy the peace of mind that comes from living in a tidy, well-maintained space. With the help of this comprehensive guide, your home will be spick-and-span.

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A Step-by-Step Guide to House-Cleaning

A Step By Step Guide To House Cleaning

No matter what the task, you’ll find it more manageable if you start with a good plan. House cleaning is no exception—in fact, a plan can motivate you to do an even more thorough job. And every plan should begin with a detailed list. Here’s our contribution.

1. Determine how much time you have.

Many people think they need to devote an entire day to cleaning the house. That’s not true, especially if you follow the advice detailed in “How to Maintain a Clean Home,” below. That said, you’ll probably need to block out a few hours if you want to do a thorough job. If you don’t have that kind of time, that’s okay—just focus on the areas that concern you the most. For your convenience, we’ve also included a section labeled “Tips on Fast, Easy Cleaning,” located near the bottom of this article.

2. Look at the big picture.

If you do have time to perform a thorough cleaning, don’t be tempted to section off different areas of the house. You might be tempted to call it a day after just a couple of rooms. Instead, focus on one task at a time, going through the entire house before starting on a different track. This will give you more exercise and variety, and help to keep you motivated.

3. Make a checklist.

Your list will give you something to turn to when you’re feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next. We’ve devoted an entire section to this in “Your Cleaning Checklist,” below.

4. Delegate tasks.

If house-cleaning is a family affair, decide who will be responsible for which jobs. Give little ones easy chores, like dusting the electronics or picking up toys and clothing so the floor can be vacuumed.

5. Dust from top to bottom.

Dust From Top To Bottom

It’s easy to tell when the shelves and knickknacks need a good dusting. But what about the rest of the room? When it comes to dusting, you should start at the ceiling and work your way down. That way, if you knock any dust or debris onto the floor, it won’t be falling onto a clean surface.

As a general rule, you should dry-dust whenever possible, especially on wood surfaces. It’s much harder to get rid of wet dust. If you encounter grime that’s particularly stubborn, you can dampen a microfiber cloth and gently wipe until the surface is clean. For more tips on efficient dusting, check out this video tutorial.

Tip: If you have ceiling fans or other elaborate light fixtures, don’t neglect them. Dust tends to build up in these places, giving them a macabre appearance. An extendable duster with a fuzzy head does an admirable job at keeping the fixtures sparkling-clean. Now might also be a good time to change the light bulbs, if it’s been a while.

6. Focus on furniture.

Now that the rooms are reasonably free of dust, it’s time to go through and deal with any fabric surfaces. Strip the beds, wash the sheets and pillowcases, and air out the bedspreads. If you can remove the covers from your couch and chairs, do so now. Otherwise, just give them a thorough cleaning using the hose attachment on your vacuum. For more advice on vacuuming, see “How to Clean Carpeted Floors,” below.

7. Go for the glass.

Seek out any glass surfaces—the windows in every room, television screens, mirrors, and picture frames—and wipe them down using white vinegar or glass cleaner. This is a safe and simple task for older children, provided they’re tall enough to reach the items in question.

Tip: When you’ve finished applying the cleaning solution, run over the surfaces a second time with a clean microfiber cloth. This will help to eliminate streaks.

8. Seek out smooth surfaces.

Now it’s time to turn your attention to all the tables, countertops, and other smooth surfaces in the house. Use disinfectant on the sinks and countertops as needed, and furniture polish on wood surfaces.

Tip: If you have the time and resources, you might also want to apply a solution of oil soap (such as Murphy’s) to wood furniture and cabinets. Add about a tablespoon of oil soap to two cups of warm water, dampen a cloth with this solution, and apply it to the surfaces in question. Oil soap can also come in handy for cleaning hardwood floors (see our section devoted to this below), but you’ll need to use a slightly different formula.

9. Breeze through the bathrooms.

Breeze Through The Bathrooms

We know—this is the least appealing part of the process, which is why we’ve decided to put it right in the middle of the action. By the time you reach this section, you’ll have hit your stride.

#1 Take stock of what you’ve already completed. The countertops, windowsills, and sinks should all be dusted and disinfected, so you’re already halfway through!

#2 Fill any soap dispensers or lotion bottles that need replenishing.

#3 Clean the toilet. Start by wiping and disinfecting the tank, seat, and sides if you haven’t already done so. Don’t neglect the divots and screws on the floor—these collect grime faster than almost any section of the house.

When the surface is clean, add bleach or toilet cleaner to the bowl and let it sit for a minute or two. Then scrub all around the interior with a toilet brush, making sure to clean all around the upper inside “lip” of the bowl. When you’re finished, flush the toilet and give the surface one last wipe.

Check out this video tutorial for a hands-on toilet cleaning demonstration.

#4 Use tile or multi-purpose cleaner to scrub the grime from the inside of your shower or tub. A stiff-bristled brush works wonders for cutting through the tougher parts. If you don’t have a special cleaner for the tub, you can also use dish soap. Just be sure to rinse the surfaces thoroughly when you’re through scrubbing.

Tip: If your shower has glass doors, make a solution of one gallon water, 1/2 cup ammonia, and a few drops of dish soap. Apply to both sides of the glass with a stiff brush, then wipe dry with a microfiber cloth.

#5 Repeat this process in every bathroom in the house, if you have more than one.

10. Move on to the kitchen.

Move On To The Kitchen

#1 If you haven’t already done so, wash any dishes and utensils in hot, soapy water. Place them in a well-ventilated rack to briefly air-dry, then wipe them down with a clean cloth and put them away before you continue.

#2 Since you’ve already cleaned and disinfected your countertops and sinks, it’s time to focus on the appliances. First of all, take out the racks and place them in a sink full of soapy water to soak. Next, see if your oven offers a self-cleaning feature. If this is the case, set the cycle to self-cleaning and let the oven do its work while you skip ahead to the other appliances. When it’s finished, wipe out any residue with a wet rag, using a multi-purpose cleaner if necessary.

To clean the oven by hand, remove the racks and put them in soapy water, then put on a pair of sturdy rubber gloves. Spray the inside of the oven with whatever cleaning solution you prefer. A combination of baking soda and vinegar works well. Let the solution sit for about 15-20 minutes while you work on some of the other appliances, then remove the residue with a heavy-duty sponge and a scraping tool, if necessary.

Tip: If you don’t have time to do a deep-clean on the stove, at least make sure the door looks presentable from the outside. Give it a good once-over with a green scrubbing brush and white vinegar, or whatever cleaning solution you prefer.

#3 While the oven cleaning solution is doing its work, place a bowl of vinegar or lemon water in the microwave (make sure the bowl is microwave-safe) and turn the unit on for two or three minutes. When this cycle is complete, you should be able to wipe down the doors and interior easily with a wet sponge. The combination of heat and acidity will have melted the gunk right off. Repeat the process if necessary.

#4 If there are any appliances that missed the first pass with the glass cleaner or disinfectant, take the time to wipe them down now.

#5 Once the oven and other appliances have been taken care of, turn your attention to the cabinets. Take all of the items out and place them somewhere safe, keeping them relatively organized. If there’s anything that has expired or hasn’t been used in a while, now is the time to either throw it out (if it’s perishable) or find it a new home (for appliances or kitchen tools).

When the cabinets, shelving, and drawers have all been emptied, wipe them out with a clean cloth. The cloth can be either wet or dry, whichever is more appropriate. Place all the removed items back in their designated areas.

Tip: Now would be the perfect time to take stock of the flow of the kitchen, and do whatever reorganizing you feel is necessary. For example, if you’ve noticed that the measuring spoons are too far away from the mixing bowls, you can take this opportunity to find more convenient homes for these utensils.

#6 Once everything is back in place, wipe down all surfaces with a clean damp cloth. Wipe out the sink and polish the faucet before moving on.

11. Brush up the bedrooms.

Brush Up The Bedrooms

#1 If there’s any clutter remaining on the floor or other furniture, pick it up now.

Tip: Keep a garbage bag and a laundry bag handy while you’re performing this step. That way, you won’t have to keep walking in and out of the room when you encounter trash or dirty clothes.

#2 Make the bed using the clean sheets and pillowcases you washed earlier. A well-made bed will make the room look much tidier, giving you incentive to keep moving. If you’d like tips on how to make a bed like a professional, take a look at this YouTube tutorial.

#3 Take this opportunity to go through your closets, in much the same way you organized the kitchen cabinets earlier. If there’s anything that you no longer wear, or that has become too stained or worn, separate these items into piles. You might want to keep a second laundry bag on hand for clothing that you plan to donate, and a third bag for any items that need to be discarded.

#4 Go through dressers and bureaus in the same manner. One easy trick is to keep all of the clothing you wear most often close to the top, with lesser-worn items on the bottom. This will make it easier for you to find the things you’re looking for when you’re in a hurry, especially in the mornings.

#5 When the rest of the room is in pristine condition, you’re ready to move on to the floors. Give every other bedroom the same treatment before you tackle this step.

12. Finish with the floors.

Finish With The Floors

Since you’re moving from the top to the bottom, the floors should be the last category on your list. Begin in whatever section of the house you’d like.

Tip: You might want to put the vacuum in a carpeted area, then begin with laminate or hardwood floors. That way, you can retreat to a different section to do the vacuuming while the smooth surfaces have a chance to air-dry.

#1 How to Clean Hardwood Floors

To begin, make sure the floor is clear of clothing, toys, or other objects. Run a broom or a dry mop over the surface to pick up dust or other debris. Move as much furniture out of the way as you can.

Mix together a solution of 1/4 cup Murphy’s oil soap (or something similar) and one gallon of water in a clean bucket. If the floor hasn’t been cleaned in a while, use 1/2 cup of oil soap per gallon of water. Gently blend them together until the mixture is lightly emulsified.

Working with one small area at a time, apply the solution with a soft cloth or a spin mop. This works better if you get down on your hands and knees, but if this isn’t possible, make sure you get the mop into every corner and crevice. Dry each section with a clean cloth after you’ve finished, taking care to note which areas have been finished.

Tip: Make sure your cloth or mop is barely damp, rather than soaking wet. Too much water can damage hardwood, even if the wood has been treated and sealed.

If there are hardwood floors in more than one area of your home, move on to the next one. You might want to start again with fresh solution, especially if the floors were particularly dirty. Remember: the more often you wash the floors, the less solution you’ll have to go through each time.

Always clean your bucket thoroughly when you’re done. The worst thing you can do is start with a bucket that’s already coated with dirt—you’ll be rubbing more grime into the floor as you go along, instead of removing it.

#2 How to Clean Laminate Floors

Laminate flooring is one of the easiest types of flooring to clean. It’s smooth, it’s forgiving, and it dries quickly after each washing. Do these floors after you’ve tackled the more complex hardwood areas.

Make sure the floor is clear of debris. If you’d like, you can run a vacuum over the area first, turning the unit to the “Bare Floor” setting (see “Vacuuming,” below, for more details on this).

Mix together a solution of equal parts hot water and white vinegar in a spray bottle. If you’d prefer, you can use a multi-surface cleaner for this step, but we prefer to keep it natural. You can also add a few drops of essential oil to the vinegar and water mixture to help dissipate the strong scent.

Working in small sections at a time and starting with the area that’s farthest from the exit, spray the floor with the cleaner or vinegar mixture. When you’ve saturated the area, wipe it down carefully with a clean cloth or a microfiber mop (like a Swiffer). Continue to move across the room until the entire floor is clean.

#3 How to Clean Carpeted Floors

When it comes to carpets, you have a couple of different choices. Vacuuming is fast and generally easy, and should be done on a regular basis (at least once a week). For semi-annual or annual cleaning sessions (see “Spring Cleaning,” below), you’ll want to bust out the steam mop. In this section, we’ll walk you through both methods.


First, determine whether you’ll be using an upright or a canister vacuum. Upright vacuums are inexpensive and offer a wide cleaning path, as well as a switch that allows you to differentiate between bare flooring and deep-pile carpets. Canister vacuums are quieter, more versatile, and much more powerful than their upright counterparts. Be aware, however, that you need to invest in vacuum bags for these models.

As always, you should begin by clearing the floor of any loose objects. This is an especially important step when you’re using a vacuum, since coins or paper clips may cause damage to the system.

Next, take a look at the dirt container (in an upright vacuum) or bag (if it’s a canister vacuum). Is it full? If so, empty the container or switch out the bag before you get started.

If you’re using an upright vacuum, check the setting to be sure it’s appropriate for the type of carpet you’ll be cleaning. They usually offer five or six settings, ranging from “bare floor” to “high pile” or something similar. If you’ve never operated an upright vacuum before, you might want to take a look at this tutorial before you begin.

Turn on the vacuum and run it in long, even strokes across the floor. Use the wand attachment to reach beneath furniture, under the heat registers, and in tight corners.

Once you’ve completed the process, cover the same ground by approaching from the opposite angle. To clarify, if you’ve already traversed the room from front to back, start again by moving from left to right. This might help pick up any dirt or debris that got pushed into the fibers the first time around.

Repeat this process in any other carpeted rooms. When you’ve finished, take a look at the container or bag again to see if it needs changing. It’s always preferable to begin with a fresh bag so you don’t have to change it halfway through the job.

Tip: Changing the bag on a vacuum can be tricky. Here’s a visual aid to help you get through the process. Upright vacuums are more straightforward, since you can clearly see how much dirt you’ve collected (sometimes without even opening the compartment).

13. Perform a walk-through.

Once the floors are clean, you should be ready to take a visual survey of your work. If you notice any nooks and crannies that still need polishing, feel free to go over them now. Otherwise, make a note of anything that you found particularly troublesome, or tips that you discovered along the way. Solid preparation will give you a good base to work from the next time you undertake this chore.

For now, relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor! You’ve earned it.

Other Useful House-Cleaning Tips

Other Useful House Cleaning Tips

If you follow the steps outlined above, you should have a neat, tidy home that’s free of dust. But if you want to make the whole place really shine, you can always go a bit further. Here are some things you can do to give yourself the gift of truly impressive surroundings.

—Polish glasses by soaking them in white vinegar for at least five minutes, then drying them with a clean microfiber cloth. This trick comes in especially handy for stemware that’s on display most of the time.

—Give your coffee maker similar treatment by “brewing” a pot of equal parts vinegar and water and stopping the cycle partway through. Let the mixture sit for half an hour, then complete the cycle. Repeat with a pot of plain water.

—Clean out candlesticks and candle holders by filling them with very hot water. Carefully empty them, then wipe out the insides with dry paper towels or reusable rough cloths. Don’t use cloths that are too dry, or the wax will streak and smudge.

—Use shaving cream (the foam kind, not the gel) to get tough stains out of your carpet and upholstery. Just spray a dab of the foam on the stain, wait for at least 30 minutes (preferably overnight), and wipe it clean with a microfiber cloth or paper towels. You might want to do a spot-test on an inconspicuous area first, just to be sure that the shaving cream won’t discolor or damage your upholstery.

—Attach a clean dryer sheet to your microfiber mop and run it along the baseboards to collect any dust that’s built up there.

—Put damp sponges in the microwave for 90 seconds at full power. This will disinfect them for their next use.

—Polish your dishes using a mixture of baking soda and water. The solution is abrasive enough to deal with any scratches from cutlery, but gentle enough not to damage the enamel.

—Rub lemon juice and salt into your wooden cutting boards to remove stains and keep them looking as good as new.

—Use the narrowest attachment on your vacuum cleaner to buzz dirt and grime out of your blinds. If you have curtains, run the hose attachment over those as well.

Making a Cleaning Checklist

Making A Cleaning Checklist

If you’re like us, you’ll find that a task becomes much simpler if you have a list to follow. Keeping a cleaning checklist on hand will guide you into the routine, without your having to overthink anything. Just make sure you have everything on the preliminary list, review the steps, and get started.

Begin with a list of supplies. It’s no good to start a cleaning project, only to discover halfway through that you don’t have the tools or products you need. For tips on how to turn ordinary household supplies into cleaning products, see “Ideas for Useful Homemade Cleaning Products,” below.

Supplies that will come in handy include:

  • Caddy or sectioned bucket large enough to hold a variety of items
  • Multi-purpose cleaner (you can substitute homemade in most cases)
  • Glass cleaner
  • Disinfectant
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Furniture polish
  • Oil soap
  • Several spray bottles
  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Liquid dish detergent
  • Stiff-bristled brushes in several different sizes
  • Green scrubbing pads
  • Sponges
  • Broom
  • Microfiber mop and cleaning pads (wet and dry)
  • Upright or canister vacuum
  • Scraper with a flat edge
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Duster with a long handle
  • Dust mitt
  • Paper towels
  • Aluminum foil
  • Old newspapers
  • Cloths or rags

You might find that you’re making adjustments to this list as you go along, and that’s fine. Just take note of the supplies that were most useful, so you can be sure to include them on your list for next time.

Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning

The well-worn name aside, you don’t have to do these things in the spring. That’s just the time of year when most people decide to take stock of their homes and perform the tasks that were too dreary to contemplate throughout the dark, cold winter months. Whatever the season, you should undertake these chores at least once a year.

Washing the Walls and Baseboards

Move all furniture out of the way before you begin. It’s best to work with one room at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed.

For wooden walls, dust them well with a microfiber cloth. Wood and painted walls can be treated with multi-purpose cleaner and a dual-sided sponge. Move to the abrasive side of the sponge when you encounter any hard-to-remove scuffs. If the wall is painted, be careful not to scrub too hard, or the paint might peel off.

If your walls have wallpaper, make sure it’s washable by applying a small amount of cleaner to an inconspicuous area. If the wallpaper looks normal once the fluid has dried, then you can apply cleaner to the rest of it, removing scuffs as you normally would. If you find that the wallpaper becomes discolored or damaged, you should wipe the rest of it gently with a microfiber cloth to remove dust.

If you have unwashable wallpaper, stains can be dealt with by applying an absorbent cloth to the affected area, then placing a warm iron over the cloth. If the stain is grease-based, it should soak right into the cloth when heat is applied.

Dust baseboards using your microfiber mop. Go over any deep scuffs or problem areas with the abrasive edge of a dual-sided sponge.

Vacuuming Heat Registers and Vents

This will get rid of any dust that’s built up in your vents and help maintain the air quality in your home. Use the narrowest attachment on your vacuum to get between the metal slats. If your vacuum isn’t doing a thorough job, you should call in a professional or rent another unit for your annual cleaning.

Cleaning the Carpet With a Steam Mop

How To Clean A Carpet With A Steam Cleaner

A regular steam cleaning is invaluable for killing off dust mites and bacteria that are too small for the vacuum to reach. This step is particularly important if anyone in your household suffers from pet or seasonal allergies.

Tip: If you don’t have the space or the money to invest in a steam mop, consider renting one from a local business. A professional can even do the job for you, but it’s helpful if you know how to do it yourself.

Clear the floor of all loose objects and move as much furniture out of the room as you can. If the furniture is too heavy to lift, you can protect the legs and bottoms from the steam by placing squares of tin foil beneath them.

Fill the water compartment on the steam mop, taking care not to add beyond the fill line. This could result in disappointment at best and painful burns at worst. You don’t necessarily need to add any other cleaners or detergents when you’re using a steam mop, but check the manufacturer’s instructions to see what’s recommended.

Attach the cleaning pad and the glider to the bottom of the mop. Double-check to ensure that they’re fully attached—if they come loose while you’re cleaning, you’ll have a disaster on your hands.

Begin in the corner of the room that’s farthest from the door where you’ll be exiting. Turn on the mop and move it over a small area of the carpet in a circular motion. Even if you start with a spot that’s no more than one square foot across, the difference should be visible at once.

Keep repeating the same process until the entire carpet is clean. Move slowly and deliberately to allow the mop to do its work. Be careful not to oversaturate any one area, or it will take too long for the carpet to dry. This could invite mold growth, which is the very thing you’re trying to avoid.

Repeat the cleaning procedure with any other carpeted rooms in the house. If you don’t have room to store all the excess furniture while you’re working, it’s permissible to wait until one carpet has fully dried before you tackle the rest.

Don’t forget to empty the steam mop when you’re finished using it. A clean, dry interior will keep the unit in good working condition during its time in storage.

Finally, make sure the carpet is completely dry before you re-enter the room or put the furniture back into place.

Wash Curtains, Drapes, and Blinds

If you have window treatments, remove them and clean them as needed. Most drapes and curtains can be laundered, but always check the label to be sure. Give blinds a good scrubbing using a toothbrush and multi-purpose cleaner.

Clean Light Fixtures and Lamp Shades

Run the hose attachment of your vacuum cleaner around the inside and outside of all your lamp shades. Clean the light fixtures as we described in step five of “A Step-by-Step Guide to House Cleaning.”

Deep-Clean the Refrigerator

Move the fridge from its usual spot so you can sweep and mop behind it. Remove everything from the door and shelves and wipe out the interior using a sponge, paper towels, and multi-purpose cleaner. Give the exterior door a good scrubbing as well. You can also use your vacuum to clear any dust that’s collected on the coils underneath.

Wash Throw Pillows and Blankets

Pillows and upholstery might benefit from a deep cleaning with the steam mop. Blankets can be laundered as usual.

Ideas for Useful Homemade Cleaning Products

Ideas For Useful Homemade Cleaning Products

You don’t have to invest in a ton of expensive cleaning product to maintain your home. Many of the ingredients you need can be found right in your pantry. Here are some of the homemade cleaning products that are gaining popularity:

  • White vinegar mixed with water and several drops of essential oil (often, a surface should be sprinkled with baking soda before this solution is applied)
  • Lemon juice and salt (for glasses, cutting boards, and enameled stoneware)
  • Warm water mixed with a tablespoon or two of liquid dish detergent (for removing certain stains from carpets and other surfaces)
  • Baking soda mixed with water (for stubborn gunk on pots, pans, and the inside of the oven)

Setting a Cleaning Schedule

Setting A Cleaning Schedule

To make a cleaning schedule that’s easy to stick to, begin by writing out a list of the chores that need to be done on a regular basis. Beside each task, make a note of how often the service needs to be performed. Now would be a good time to set aside a separate list of spring or fall cleaning tasks.

Designate a certain day of the week for each task, making sure to choose days when it will be easy to find the time to get the job done. For example, if Saturdays are usually a busy day in your household, don’t plan on vacuuming the entire house or cleaning the bathrooms. You can make the tasks easier on yourself by spreading them throughout the week.

Finally, assign tasks to each individual in the household. Teens can be responsible for things like laundry and vacuuming, while younger kids should stick to dusting and disinfecting the countertops.

Once you’ve worked out a manageable schedule, post it somewhere the entire family can see it. Reward yourselves occasionally for sticking to the list and getting jobs done on time.

Routine Maintenance: How To Keep Your Home Looking Neat and Clean

Robotic Vacuums

Routine Maintenance: How To Keep Your Home Looking Neat And Clean

Carpeted areas should be vacuumed at least once a week. If you have pets who shed a lot, you should probably vacuum more often. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have time for this. That’s where robotic vacuums come in handy.

These units can be programmed to clean the floors when you’re doing other things—even when you’re not home at all. This is a huge time-saver for busy households. Bear in mind, however, that they should be used as a supplement to hand-operated vacuums, rather than a substitution. If you do decide to invest in a Roomba or a similar model, follow the steps outlined below to ensure the most thorough cleaning possible.

#1 Try to keep the floor clear of clothing, toys, or other objects that could be read as obstacles. The vacuum will automatically turn when it encounters anything that it can’t move through, so you’ll want to keep its path as clear as possible.

#2 Check the batteries on your robotic vacuum to be sure they’re installed properly. Place the docking station in a spot that’s safely out of the way, where it won’t get stepped on.

#3 If you’re programming the vacuum to work on a schedule, check the manufacturer’s guide for instructions and proceed accordingly.

#4 Turn the vacuum on by pressing the “Clean” or “On” button. At this point, most units will begin to calculate the area of the room. When their systems are in place, they’ll move across the floor, turning around when they encounter a wall or a drop-off (like the top of a staircase).

#5 Most units will work for about two hours before they have to retreat to the docking station for recharging. Remember that larger rooms might need another go-round at this point. You should also check the bin after each use to see if it needs to be emptied. Some devices will include a feature that alerts you when the bin is full or close to full.

More Steps

In addition to floor maintenance, here are some other steps you can take to keep your house looking tidy in between cleanings:

#1 Do the dishes regularly and empty the drying rack as frequently as possible.

#2 Wipe your feet on a mat before entering the house. You can also remove your shoes at the entrance to keep from tracking dirt, mud, and snow onto the floors.

#3 Wipe down countertops with disinfectant after preparing a meal.

#4 Place baking sheets under pie plates or casserole dishes to catch drips when you’re using the oven.

#5 Invest in hampers or laundry baskets to keep dirty clothes off the floor. 

Tips on Fast, Easy Cleaning

Tips On Fast & Easy Cleaning

Even if you don’t have a great deal of time, you can still whip your house into shape. Following these tips will help you get the place looking sharp in no time:

#1 Gather all your cleaning tools and supplies in one place (the bucket or tool caddy we recommended in the Supplies section will come in handy here)

#2 Remove all newspapers, shoes, toys, and excess clutter from the floors

#3 Go around with a feather duster, cleaning the fans, windowsills, and other smooth surfaces from top to bottom

#4 Wipe down and disinfect countertops and appliances

#5 Turn on the robotic vacuum or run your hand-operated unit over the main floors

#6 Clean all mirrors, screens, and picture frames with glass cleaner and microfiber cloth

#7 Sweep the floors thoroughly, then go over them with a wet microfiber mop attachment

#8 Scrub out the sinks with a solution of one part white vinegar to two parts water

#9 Thoroughly wash all your cleaning tools when you’ve finished, so they’re in good working order for the next go-round

Frequently Asked Questions


How often does the bathroom need to be cleaned? What if it’s a secondary bath that doesn’t get used that often?

You should clean your main bathroom once a week, including the tub and shower. If you have a guest bathroom or another one that’s only used infrequently, check on it every other week. If it’s still in decent order, you might only need to clean the sink and tub or shower (if it’s a three-quarter or full bath) every four weeks. The toilet and floor should receive routine maintenance every two weeks, no matter what.

What maintenance should I perform on seasonal areas of the house (like a covered porch or sunroom)?

During your spring and fall cleaning, the seasonal areas should receive the same treatment as the rest of the house. When the rooms are in use, the same rules apply—dust and vacuum as you would the rest of the house. During the times when your family isn’t using the room, go in and dust the surfaces about once a month to make sure they don’t collect a layer of grime. When you’ve finished, vacuum or clean the floors before closing up the room again.

Why is it important to dust from top to bottom?

When you dust, the particles don’t fall upward—they eventually collect on the lower surfaces in the room. That’s why you should start with the ceiling fans or other light fixtures, then gradually work your way downward. The dust that fell from the higher levels will be removed as you go along, until you finally reach the floors.

How often should I steam my carpets?

Experts recommend performing this task at least every 18 months. We would suggest making it part of your annual cleaning routine, so that you don’t forget. While the task can be time-consuming (not to mention exhausting), the rewards will be well worth it.

I keep hearing about natural cleaning supplies. Will white vinegar really clean and disinfect my countertops? What about the smell?

Yes, white vinegar really does act as a disinfectant. It has antimicrobial properties that allow it to wipe out many types of bacteria. While it won’t wipe out all bacteria (it’s ineffective against staphylococcus, for example), you can safely use it to clean your countertops, sinks, and floors. When combined with baking soda, it’s even effective as a toilet cleaner.

As for the smell, we know that some people have a hard time getting around it. You can help to offset the strong, acidic scent with a few drops of your favorite essential oil. We’ve found that eucalyptus is a good choice, especially in the kitchen and bathroom.

I’m thinking about hiring someone to help with my house-cleaning chores. Will I need to provide the cleaning service with equipment and supplies?

A reputable home-cleaning service will supply all of their own equipment. Steer clear of anyone that asks you to provide supplies. These should be included in the cost of the service. Just be sure you treat the workers courteously and pay them in a timely fashion. Even though they’re doing their work in your home, this is a job like any other.

In Conclusion

By now, you should have all the information you need to get your home photo-ready. Whether you’re planning a formal gathering or just need a few tips for everyday maintenance, we’re pleased to have been able to help you along.

1 thought on “Welcome Home: The Ultimate House-Cleaning Guide”

  1. Maintaining the house clean is just a matter of dedication and consistency. It is important to use the proper cleaner for specific areas and furniture. Like for example, you can not use a soaking wet mop to mop your wood floor, because it will damage the wood. Some basic cleaning procedures that should be done daily or weekly to maintain your house clean include dusting, sweeping and vacuuming, and mopping.

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