Clean a little now, so I don't have to scrape a lot later
July 18, 2018 4:53 PM   Subscribe

What little, relatively easy cleaning jobs can I do on a regular basis that would be A LOT harder to clean if I let them go?

I recently moved out of an apartment and was faced with two cleaning jobs that were a pain in the butt, but would have been a lot easier if I'd done them regularly:

- Baseboards: I feel like these are the platonic ideal of what I'm talking about. You can dust them weekly (ok, monthly is probably more realistic for me) with a duster OR you can wait months until the dust has turned into a sticky residue that requires scrubbing on one's hands and knees.

- Hard water build-up in the toilet. The apartment I moved out of was the first I'd ever lived in with hard water, and the toilet got a pretty significant buildup of limescale. I was eventually able to chip the scale away with a special tool, but my neighbors (in the same building, with the same toilets/pipes/water) who were less lazy/procrastinatory, and who cleaned their toilets at the very first signs of stains, did not have to do this.

So in my new apartment, I'm determined to dust the baseboards and scrub the toilet on a regular basis. What else should I do, on top of the standard wipe down surfaces/sweep/vacuum that I do on a regular basis?

Please note: I'm specifically looking for things that are easy to do on a regular basis and which will pre-empt really gross/difficult/unpleasant cleaning jobs later. Obviously, most cleaning jobs are more labor-intensive the longer you go, just because there's more dirt to clean, but I'm talking about the things where the dirt/mess changes form the longer you wait and becomes significantly different/more difficult to clean because you waited.
posted by lunasol to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Definitely cleaning the shower- same issue as your previous toilet (hard water scale) and soap scum build-up. I really need to do this more, because it makes a HUGE difference.
posted by DTMFA at 4:57 PM on July 18, 2018 [5 favorites]

Clean your gutters once a year, or more often if there are trees overhanging them. At best, gutters full of leaves will corrode, at worst, they can back up and over flow into ceiling spaces, flooding roofs and destroying your ceiling.
The other thing about gutters is that a backed up downpipe makes for swampy anaerobic bacteria over time, which, when you eventually go to shovel it all out, is repulsive. Ask me how I know.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:03 PM on July 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

The stovetop! Wipe up spills (carefully) while you’re cooking and you won’t be scraping the crud off later.
posted by scratch at 5:04 PM on July 18, 2018 [17 favorites]

Almost everything comes clean with baking soda and water mixed to an appropriate paste for the task. I can clean the blackest black burn on my stove to like new condition as long as i havent let the grease build up enough to caustically pit the surface. It works better than a citrus degreaser (actually, I think the fastest way is a baking soda paste scour, then followed by a citrus degreaser or dawn and followed by an appropriate surface cleaner in almost every case). I buy the 5lb box of baking soda and i have a tablespoon measure which I use to apply it on to the surface I need to scrub - dishes, stove tops, grills, bike parts, dried floor spills, countertops, tire rims, the tops of cabinets - whatever.

That isn't a call for procrastination... but... sometimes knowing how to clean something simplifies the task enough to allow for a level of procrastination. If I cooked like a slob and coated my stove every night for a week, I could probably clean it to spotless every two weeks in about 10 minutes.

As for things you should always take care of right away for small maintenance... oil changes... coupon clipping and sorting, scheduling Dr appointments... and taxes.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:33 PM on July 18, 2018 [4 favorites]

Clean your French Press. Soak it overnight in water and detergent after every use. I use Dawn.
posted by Raybun at 5:35 PM on July 18, 2018

Oh ... and if you've never cleaned a black toilet that used to be pink, was slightly black before that, but should be pristine white... well then... consider yourself having saved half a day and a serious case of nausea.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:36 PM on July 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

To add to the shower suggestion, get a squeegee and use it after every shower, especially if you have a glass shower door. Also, keep a dry washcloth handy, and use it to wipe down the faucet fixtures after every shower. I started doing this after having to get new fixtures for unrelated reasons. The old ones were literally impossible to get clean because of build-up. Mine are years old now and still look like new.
posted by FencingGal at 5:45 PM on July 18, 2018 [4 favorites]

Nearly every surface in a kitchen is like this. Cooking oils must into the air and then resettle. The oil becomes a glue for everything that dust is composed of. With additional heat the oil becomes a kind of polymer. Hit it with hot water with a dash of vinegar mixed in at least once a week and you won’t have to scrape.

Refrigerator insides. Spilled syrup or (in my opinion) dairy products are harder to clean when they’re aged. Wash the shelves in warm (not hot, the temp change can shock the glass, even though it shouldn’t) soapy water once a month. Wipe the bottoms of all the bottles and jars and then Check the Best By Dates before returning to the fridge. Toss or immediately use anything that’s outside of your comfort range. Plan meals around things that are approaching your comfor range or are nearly empty.

Mirrors. Wipe after each time you brush and floss. The little particles that flossing flings are...gross. Try not to think about where else they’re landing.
posted by bilabial at 6:45 PM on July 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

Is there a hood over the stove with a fan? It will have a filter and it will not have been cleaned. It should come out easy. Put it in the dishwasher; might need 2 times if it's as vile as every one I've ever seen. Do this every 6 months.
posted by theora55 at 9:29 PM on July 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

Anywhere hard water settles needs to be cleaned or brushed at least bi-weekly. Shower heads, faucets, glass doors, coffee machines, kettles, etc.
posted by artdrectr at 10:02 PM on July 18, 2018

Whenever I use the toilet to do my normal toilet business, I often take an extra bit of toilet paper and wipe the bit between the seat and the tank and drop that bit of toilet paper in before I flush. I might give the top of the lid a wipe too. It's surprising how much... stuff... builds up there.
posted by like_neon at 3:42 AM on July 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

All the little crevices around faucets and handles etc get super gross after a while. If you keep some barkeepers friend in your kitchen and bathroom it makes quick work of little gross accumulations. It's the difference between a quick swipe and scrubbing with a brush and bringing up lots of little gross gunk. That stuff also cleans microwaves which can get really hard to clean and nasty if you don't get spills right away.
posted by Kimberly at 5:23 AM on July 19, 2018

Hey - if you've got a free dryer... Towels go in the dryer after every use to be dried... otherwise they start to smell not like fresh towels, but like mildew. Rubbing yourself down with a foul towel after you've gleaned clean... that's worse than bad consonance.
posted by Nanukthedog at 8:02 AM on July 19, 2018

As somebody said above, clean your shower after every use. Mine is tile. I squeegee it, which only gets some of the water off, then I give it a quick wipe down with a dry towel. I literally have had zero mildew on the grout in a year. NO SCRUBBING IN A YEAR! And, it allows you to put off going to work that extra two minutes in the morning! Oh also, don't use a shower mat, use 3M shower tape. Water doesn't sit around underneath it and let gunk grow, like it does with a suction cup style mat.
posted by bluesky78987 at 4:36 PM on July 19, 2018

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