How to Clean Like a Professional
Do you want a spotless clean home once a week but can't afford the price of a cleaning service? While we would all love to just leave and let someone else handle our mess, most of us just can't justify the expense, but also, can't bring ourselves to begin the daunting task of making our homes sparkle. How do professionals do it day in and out? Well, I had a cleaning service through my college years and learned a few tricks of the trade. Here are my tips on how to clean like a professional:
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Set aside a solid block of time
Some people are satisfied with the approach of cleaning "one room a day" or doing one task, such as dusting, a day. That just doesn't work for me. If I'm going to clean, I'm going to make the entire house sparkle, otherwise, I don't enjoy the end result.
My clients had to schedule a time for me to come to their home, and during that time, all my attention was placed on that task until it was done. That type of scheduling and focus carries over into my own home. I usually set aside Thursday mornings and once I begin, I would determine not to get sidetracked.
I clean my own home as if I'm on the clock, with as much speed, energy, and perfectionism that I would in someone else's home. I usually tell myself that I can afford to use a crazy amount of energy if it's only for a few hours because, one, its good exercise and two, when it's done I can feel perfectly justified with relaxing for a while since so much was accomplished.
Also, if you set aside one block of time, it makes it easier to keep pets, children, and husbands out of your way. ;)
"There is a right way and a wrong way to do this" is something my Dad would say. This couldn't be more true for cleaning. When cleaning your home always work Down and In.
Down- Gravity pulls dirt and dust downward, so it makes sense to do the dusting, straightening up, and wiping counters before cleaning the floor. Clean the microwave before the stove (if it hangs over it), or the counters before the sink.
In- Clean the most outlying rooms that experience the least amount of traffic first. Once a room is clean, close the door and don't go back in (at least not until the rest of the house is clean. Since it's your house, I don't expect you to stay out of the room forever), that way dirt doesn't make it's way back into the room. This concept apply's to floors also: Start your mopping at the outermost sides of the room and work your way toward the door you plan to exit from.
*Bonus note: You should also clean high gloss surfaces last. I usually would dust the window ledges before cleaning the window so there are fewer chances for my dust rag leaving a smudge or a fingerprint landing on it.
Establish a routine
The more you do something, the faster you will become. If you clean your house the same way every week, you will be able to establish a routine which results in efficiency. When I first began cleaning houses, I would find myself running back and forth because I had forgotten something or did something out of order. It probably took a whole year to get it right and when I did, it was almost mechanic.
The routine for me looked like this:
- Collect the bathroom cleaning supplies, make the master bed, clean the master bathroom (all but the floors), move on to the main floor bathroom, begin dusting the house (starting from the top, down in each room), clean the windows, wash out the microwave, clean the stove top, wash the counters, clean out the sink, collect the garbage, vacuum, sweep, and mop.
I was able to finish a sizable three bedroom, two story house in 3 hours because of this routine. I was paid by the hour, so maybe I shouldn't have been so fast....just kidding, it was my aunts house and I would never cheat her!
Be a Perfectionist
"But, you're all about charming imperfections!" Not in this case. When it comes to cleaning, I expect a white tissue to go over every surface spotless. That's how I cleaned my client's houses, and that's how I clean my own.
"You had to have cut corners to clean a house like that in under 3 hours" Nope, if you clean smart, efficiently, and do it right the first time it's totally possible.
Here are some tips on being a perfectionist:
- Clean with all the lights on: light reveals dirt. You wouldn't want to think you have a clean home, only to find in the middle of the day that you missed things you couldn't see.
- Windex is your friend: it's amazing what a good polish can do to make a room really sparkle. Polish not only the windows but also faucets, counter tops and table tops, stainless steel (not with Windex), chrome drawer handles, the toaster; basically anything that can be shined.
- Consider every object to be "cleanable". One time I noticed the legs on our couch were completely dusty. It's something I never thought to clean before, but I'm glad I did. There are things like light fixtures, fan blades, or your bedroom's headboard that tend to get passed over. To me, it makes a difference when you know you've eliminated that dirt and dust from your home.
- Clean floors methodically. Start in a corner and make linear sweeps, working your way sideways until you reach the opposite corner. Step backwards and do it again. It's tempting to only do the high traffic areas, but I always cover every inch of the floor because dust can settle anywhere it wants and that way you know for sure you've picked up all the dirt that may have fallen earlier.
- Give a final inspection
Then, sit back and enjoy your beautiful home.
So, what are you waiting for? Are you ready to clean like a professional and have that spotless home you always dream of having, but didn't think you could afford it? Well, now you can because you have been empowered with the secrets I've developed through years of working in the cleaning biz. Just remember to set aside a block of time, clean smart with the "down and in" method, establish a routine, and be a perfectionist. You will undoubtedly improve your quality of living and find that cleaning is an enjoyable thing, rather than a dreaded task.
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