Hot Cleaning Tips
July 17, 2018 6:45 AM   Subscribe

I haven't cleaned my house for years (to be clear, someone else was doing it - I wasn't living in filth). I recently bought a new house and I'm feeling a pleasant sense of accomplishment in taking care of it myself. For however long this is the case, I'd like to ride it out rather than hiring someone.

However, this house is a lot bigger than anything I've ever taken care of before, and I really want to keep it under control without it becoming a burden. Thus, I'd like to know how other people manage the cleaning of their houses.

What I'm looking for are specific products or tools that are game-changers, schedules and checklists that work for you, frequency, how you manage deep cleaning tasks, that sort of thing.

My floors are all hard (wood, marble & slate tile) and I've already gotten a nice vacuum that works for both the floors & rugs. What else do I need?
posted by something something to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
Martha Stewart’s cleaning checklists are as thorough and slightly bonkers as you might expect. A great place to start!
posted by Sweetie Darling at 7:08 AM on July 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

We have also just moved (merged) house(holds). You mention you already have a nice vacuum, but I have to say, the decision to purchase a Roomba (prompted by the integration of a total of 5 cats and 1 dog) really has been a game changer. No more fur and dust drifts!
posted by instead of three wishes at 7:09 AM on July 17, 2018 [4 favorites]

I loooove Todoist for this. I've tried cleaning-specific apps and none of them have worked as well. Your preferences may vary, but what I did to set it up was create a "house" project and then mentally move through each room, entering all possible cleaning tasks ("kitchen: sweep" "kitchen: mop" "dining: clean table" etc -- that way it's easy to search and you can do one room at a time, or one type of cleaning at a time) and a guess as the frequency each needed to happen (there are tons of charts online to help with this if you really have no idea, and I say that without any judgement), then I tried following the schedule that yielded. Sometimes I'd notice something needed cleaning sooner, or conversely, sometimes a task was up and it clearly didn't need to happen yet, so I'd just adjust the frequency to match reality. Most of my guesses were pretty okay to start with though: usually weekly, every other week, or monthly. When I get to doing something like changing the fridge water filter, I log that too, and enter the recommended frequency so I'll know the next time it's due. The great part is that things don't get piled up, because the scheduling can be dynamic based on when you actually got things done. For example, I try to vacuum the stairs once a week, but sometimes chronic pain interferes, so what happens is that my task just hangs out in the "overdue" section as a reminder until I can get to it, and then when I do check it off, the repeat task is scheduled for a week out from there. Alternatively, if you really like a regular schedule, you can say that certain things will always be on Mondays, for example, so even if you didn't vacuum the stairs until Friday, your repeat task would still be the following Monday. Hope that all makes sense! I make do with the free version just fine, but I gather that the subscription one has additional neat features and I'm sure they're lovely too.
posted by teremala at 7:18 AM on July 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

UnFuckYourHabitat is perfect for this. While a lot of people who use the site have habitats that are, well, fucked, you can also use the tips and techniques for preventing fuckery.
posted by bilabial at 7:24 AM on July 17, 2018 [5 favorites]

My favorite gamechanger is making sure to have cleaners easily accessible in as many places as possible. Each bathroom gets its own cleaning kit under the sink with cleaning rags, cleaners for bathtub/shower, sink, toilet, floors, mirrors. The kitchen has sink, countertop, microwave, oven cleaners. That way, when you notice your bathroom needs a sprucing up, or when you have a few minutes while the bath fills, all your supplies are right there and there’s not much of an excuse to just get it done and clean (as opposed to shrugging the chore off because all the cleaning supplies are all the way at the end of the house).

My next favorite tip is actually knowing how long it takes to clean an area. Knowing this has helped me not get so overwhelmed. When I look at my bathroom I know I can get it done in just a few minutes instead of not really knowing how long it takes and kidding mysef into thinking it takes an unreasonable amount of time and then not doing it. Also, knowing pretty much how long it takes to clean a space, I can continuously try to beat my time. I hate emptying the dishwasher, but I timed myself once and it took a measly 3 minutes instead of the hours I had concocted in my head.

Another good tip: it’s hard to do a job without the right tools. Invest in decent tools - rags, cleaners, brooms, etc. Sounds like you have a nice vacuum!

Happy cleaning!
posted by Sassyfras at 7:41 AM on July 17, 2018 [18 favorites]

I've not personally put this plan into action, but I know a lot of people swear by FlyLady for helping them make sense of their cleaning schedules. Don't let the very early-aughts looking website fool you—apparently her tips are dynamite.
posted by helloimjennsco at 8:16 AM on July 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

So, my housekeeping changed radically when I read Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House. By which I mean, I started being a better housekeeper. The big takeaways were developing a schedule to keep from being overwhelmed, and having a few short chores every day so that filth doesn't build up. I'm easily dismayed when there are too many things to tackle all at once, so this was key.

This means that every day before bed I'm: wiping down the kitchen, wiping the bathroom sink, making sure the dishes are in the dishwasher, and clearing clutter off surfaces like tables and couches. For me, this is very manageable, and I'm a slob by nature. On Sunday nights I do laundry. I shop for food on Tuesdays or Thursdays. Every Saturday morning I do my big weekly clean, which includes vacuuming, cleaning the whole bathroom, cleaning out the fridge, dusting, wiping down the doors and lightswitch plates. It doesn't take very long, since the house isn't filthy to start with. There are some things I do seasonally, like clean the inside of the oven and drapes, windex the outside windows, dist the tops of the fans (I should probably do this more frequently), etc.

I think the key is to figure out what you can do daily, what you should do weekly, and what can wait to be done seasonally or yearly.
posted by zoetrope at 8:18 AM on July 17, 2018 [6 favorites]

These are the two tools responsible for my transition from someone who dreaded cleaning (as in, "But dear, that's what money is for!") into someone who looks forward to cleaning day:

Baby soft dusting cloths do a fabulous job of dusting everything, removing grime along with dust, and trapping the dust rather than sending it flying around the room. The pile is long enough that they can clean small crevices, and they're thick enough that I never jam my fingers or break a nail.

Spiff cloths are a miracle! Get one really wet, wring it out, then wipe it across mirrors, windows, stainless steel, etc. to end up with a perfectly clean and streak-free surface. All without using any glass cleaner or even a towel to dry it off. (I bought the four-pack just to test them out because they sounded too good to be true. Now I wish I'd purchased the ten-pack.)
posted by DrGail at 8:31 AM on July 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

Also, since you wanted specifics: Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day everything. I too like to have supplies in each major area -- even if it means they're sitting out, which I don't understand why anyone thinks is uncouth anyway -- and a spray bottle of that plus a nice hefty microfiber cloth (I got them from Flylady as linked above) is my primary tool for basically everything except the floors (Murphy's oil soap, mostly because we have a big dog, otherwise Mrs. Meyer's would be fine), stainless steel appliance fronts (Windex; no residue), and excessive dust (Pledge; okay smell to me).
posted by teremala at 8:31 AM on July 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

I spend 15 minutes every day cleaning. It's not a very long time, but I am always amazed at how much I can do in that timeframe.

I might spend a bit longer on the weekends if I have a big project like cleaning the oven, or dusting baseboards, but I rarely spend more than half an hour on any given day and my house is always clean. And this way you don't have to spend ages deep cleaning one room because it's already fairly clean from your daily time.

If you have a huge house it might take you a bit longer, but doing things in small chunks helps me not get overwhelmed and gives me a sense of accomplishment.

Also yeah, Flylady is super cheesy to look at but it has great advice.
posted by ananci at 12:43 PM on July 17, 2018

My entire housecleaning plan is and always has been cleaning something when I notice it. If I can't do it then, I do it the next time I notice it. I also rarely dust and leave cobwebs and spiders where they are most of the time. In practice, I usually clean something -- could be a kitchen counter, the stovetop, a toilet, the shower, a dirty floor, a messy desk, the top of a credenza or dresser -- for a couple of minutes each day; spend perhaps 5-10 mins cleaning something every few days; and every now and then (before a party or a houseguest visit) take an hour or two to clean and tidy. I clean the kitchen and bathrooms the most; I vacuum or sweep each room other than kitchen maybe once every 2 weeks (I have a cat -- and I do sweep the bathroom where the litter box is at least once per day -- and used to have dogs); I dust most areas maybe once a month, in short bursts. If a window or door looks dirty, I clean it, but I never clean more than one or two at a time.
posted by mmw at 12:43 PM on July 17, 2018

Shout out to Mrs Meyers products that I waited too long to try. They are a game changer and last longer than you think, they are more economical in the long run!!
posted by jbenben at 12:46 PM on July 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

The thick gooey bleach-based toilet cleaners are amazing at removing shower mildew. Squirt some on, wait half an hour wash off.
posted by gregr at 12:47 PM on July 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

I like the Clean Team techniques and supplies. They've also got a blog at Speed Cleaning.
posted by Lexica at 3:42 PM on July 17, 2018

posted by Enid Lareg at 4:53 PM on July 17, 2018

A good degreaser saves a ton of work in the kitchen around the stove/ exhaust hood. I'm now particularly fond of the citrus based degreasers (I currently have a bottle of ZEP brand stuff).

It's much less caustic and doesn't smell terrible (it's actually kind of pleasant). Its based on monoterpenes so it solublizes grease directly rather than saponify it into a soap-like substance that is then water soluble. Still, wear gloves though as it'll suck some of the lipids/ oil from your skin.

The instructions typically say leave on for 1 minute, but there's no harm in leaving it on for 5 or 10 (assuming that the surface is suitable for this type of cleanser). It's awesome for heavy duty jobs; if you clean regularly you shouldn't get resistant grease buildups, but you do (like, under the cover of electric stovetops) can give it a couple/ few rounds.

At the beginning of summer, I sprayed the outside of my (aluminum body) Weber which was covered in baked-in grease and pollen and it cleaned up to brand-new within minutes. I don't have running water on my balcony, but two passes from two bucket of clean water and it was done.
posted by porpoise at 7:10 PM on July 17, 2018

We spend about 5-10 minutes a day doing a basic pick-up/de-clutter nearly every day. On Friday night, we have a cleaning date-basically, we get home from work and do a deep cleaning. After it is all said and done, we make pizzas and have a beer to celebrate the beginning of the weekend. This works well for us as the weekends are then completely free for fun, self-care, friends and family.

I use e-cloths for most of my cleaning and they are great! It has saved a ton on cleaning supplies, storage for said supplies, and icky chemicals.
posted by LinneaJC at 7:04 AM on July 18, 2018

I was about to naysay this thread, because I can't imagine "checklists" being pleasant - too many of those at work! - but then something came to mind, and well, yeah.

We have a kid. Folex spot remover gets spills out of cloth furniture and/or carpets. It's seriously magical.
posted by talldean at 12:41 PM on July 18, 2018

One thing that will help you in the long run is looking at how you decorate and organize your home. The less you have the less there is to clean - limit how many tchotchkes or knickknacks you have sitting out, or put them in a display where they won't get dusty. Put kitchen appliances away when you're not using them, countertops with less clutter on them are much easier to keep and wipe clean without having to move everything to get to the toaster crumbs. Don't wear street shoes in the house - keep a pair of "house shoes" to wear around the inside, this really helps to keep floors clean.

Another tip - if it takes a minute to do something - do it now. You'd be surprised how that one little rule helps keep the clutter at bay.
posted by NoraCharles at 1:53 PM on July 18, 2018

I got this steam mop and I love it. I also have a roomba which I dont think I could live without. Between these two items I almost keep up with the massive amount of loose dog fur produced by my Great Pyrenees.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 10:38 PM on July 18, 2018

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