Have you just moved into your own place, only to discover that you have no idea how to clean it properly? You aren’t alone: Today, kids in the US have three times more homework than they can handle, and chore participation is at an all-time low. As such, many American children don’t learn essential cleaning skills at home, which leaves them ill-equipped to tackle basic housekeeping as adults. The good news? By breaking cleaning down into manageable chunks and using the expert tips below, you can quickly come up to speed.
Step One: Buy Your Supplies
Nothing is more frustrating than starting a big cleaning task, only to find you don’t have the right tools for the job. Before you tackle housekeeping for the first time, be sure to purchase the following supplies:
-Broom and dustpan
-Natural cleaning agents, including white vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice
-Oven cleaner (if you don’t own a self-cleaning oven)
-Carpet deodorizer (if you own pets or smoke indoors)
-Stainless steel cleaner (if you own stainless steel appliances)
Though not an exhaustive list, these supplies should be all you need to keep your home looking and smelling fresh, especially while you learn the basics of cleaning.
Step Two: Make a Plan
After you’ve bought everything you need, create a plan of attack: Decide when you’re going to clean, and what order you want to clean your home in. Depending on your schedule, you might prefer to complete one task per day (e.g., clean your bedroom on Wednesday, the bathroom Thursday, etc.), or set aside one day of the week to deep-clean your entire home. Whichever option you choose, make sure you also do some light “maintenance cleaning” each day to keep things sparkling.
In terms of cleaning order, most experts recommend tackling the bathroom first. Though bathrooms are typically small, they take a lot of elbow grease to clean, so you’ll want to take care of this task while your energy levels are still high. Furthermore, because bathrooms can harbor dangerous bacteria (like e. Coli and Salmonella), it’s essential to prioritize cleaning this space. Toilet bowls alone often contain up to 3.2 million bacteria per square inch, for example.
After you clean your bathroom, dust and organize the other rooms in your home before mopping and vacuuming the floors. Don’t forget to dust hard-to-reach places, like ceiling fans, baseboards, light fixtures, and blinds. You should also take a moment to wipe down your door handles and light switches – This good habit will reduce the spread of germs, in addition to giving your home a more polished appearance.
Finally, tackle the kitchen: If you clean the hard surfaces in your kitchen daily (which you should, to prevent food-borne illness), there won’t be a lot of work to do in this area. Your weekly kitchen cleaning duties will consist of “detail work,” like organizing the items in your fridge and wiping down your cabinets, appliances, sink, and microwave.
Regardless of which room you’re cleaning, remember to work from back to front and from top to bottom. This way, you won’t track dirt through the room or deposit fresh dirt on the floor after vacuuming or mopping.
Step Three: Master Basic Cleaning Techniques
Knowing the correct way to clean different surfaces will ensure satisfying results and save you a lot of time. It will also protect your home by preventing needless damage to delicate items, like carpet and upholstery.
In the bathroom:
-To clean grout quickly, make a thick paste out of baking soda and water (or hydrogen peroxide, if your grout has stubborn stains). Apply the paste to the grout, let it sit for 20-30 minutes, then use your grout brush to scrub the area thoroughly. Rinse with cold water.
-For hard surfaces, use an all-purpose cleaner and warm water to get rid of dirt and bacteria. Use a sponge to clean delicate tiles, a microfiber cloth when cleaning counters and cabinets, and a microfiber mop to clean the floor.
-When cleaning your bathroom sink, use a disinfectant spray cleaner that’s formulated for use on sinks. (Most sinks are made out of ceramic or porcelain, which may be damaged by abrasive cleaners.) Spray the cleaner liberally, then scrub the area with a microfiber cloth.
-Fill a bag with white vinegar and tie it around the shower head. Let it soak for two hours, then run some warm water through the shower head. This will prevent clogging and bacteria build-up.
-To clean your shower curtain, simply toss it in the washing machine along with your towels and run it through a normal cycle. Add a cup of white vinegar for extra mildew-busting power.
-When cleaning your toilet, skip conventional bristle toilet brushes. Instead, use a toilet wand that comes pre-loaded with disinfectant cleanser. Simply snap the cleanser head onto the wand and scrub the toilet bowl thoroughly, then flush to rinse. Don’t forget to wipe down the exterior of the toilet with disinfectant cleaner, too.
In the kitchen:
-Use an all-purpose cleaner, warm water, and a microfiber cloth to wipe down all of the hard surfaces in your kitchen (including your appliances, unless they require specialized stainless-steel cleaners).
-Mop the floor with a microfiber mop dipped in warm, soapy water. Work in circles, being careful not to soak the floor. Change the water as soon as it looks dirty or murky.
-To clean your sink, wet it down, then dust it with baking soda. Dip a cleaning sponge in white vinegar and scrub the sink thoroughly to remove odors, before rinsing with cold water.
-To clean your microwave quickly, add a dash of white vinegar or lemon juice to a bowl of water. Place the bowl in the microwave and run it on high for several minutes. Let the bowl cool for at least five minutes, then remove it and wipe down the interior of the microwave with paper towels.
-Take inventory of everything in your fridge. Throw out any items that have expired, along with any leftovers that are more than three days old.
In the Bedrooms and Living Room:
-Remember to tidy away clutter and put dirty laundry in the wash before you start cleaning these areas.
-To dust surfaces quickly, equip your vacuum cleaner with a large, soft brush attachment (known as a dusting brush). Then, lightly vacuum your ceiling and walls. To dust furniture, switch to using your vacuum’s upholstery attachment and run it over your couch, chairs, etc. (Don’t forget to vacuum under your couch cushions, too!) After you’re done, use a microfiber cloth or duster to dust fragile knickknacks and hard-to-reach places.
-If you have carpets, sprinkle them with baking soda and let it sit for at least an hour before vacuuming. This will reduce odors throughout your home.
-Use glass cleaner and old newspapers to clean your windows without leaving streaks.
-Make your bed.
Step Four: If You’re Struggling, Ask for Help
Cleaning sounds easy on paper, but if you’re already struggling to manage a full schedule, it can be exhausting in practice. Rather than allowing your home to become chronically messy, try enlisting the help of friends or family when you start to feel overwhelmed. (You can make it a fun occasion by rewarding everyone with a pizza party or movie tickets.) Alternately, you can hire our team of professional, affordable maids in Milwaukee to keep your home sparkling clean, no matter what’s going on in your life and spend your day relaxing instead in Burns Commons.