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How to Clean Your Home Efficiently

With Time to Spare


We live in busy times where it is not uncommon to begin the day crafting a to-do list during morning coffee that may occupy our time until the clock strikes midnight. Interestingly, cleaning the house is usually trumped by other demands, if it makes it on to the list at all.

Where does cleaning the house fall on your to-do list? Do you clean daily or once per week? Do you find yourself struggling with finding the time to meet your house cleaning goals?

If this sounds like you, hiring a professional cleaning service might help to ensure the house stays clean regardless of where the to-do list leads you. You can also consider these house cleaning tips that reflect the over-scheduled days we live in.

Commitment Is Key

Whether or not you decide to put a professional cleaning service on speed dial, it's important to be aware of certain ways that cleaning professionals approach house cleaning. Many cleaning professionals dedicate a specific block of time to cleaning a house that leaves no time for dawdling. The cleaning team arrives armed with the right tools, supplies and an appropriate uniform. They have a strategy in place that leads to a fast and focused result. If efficient and effective house cleaning is a priority for you, we suggest that you commit to the same standards.

Ready to clean? Before you get started, first things first. Mute the phone and disable the email. Queue up your favorite music playlist, podcast or audio book. Now it's time to get to work!

Clean for the House Cleaner

If you ever had a professional service clean your house, you're familiar with cleaning up around the house in advance of the visit. Why exactly do you have to clean up for the house cleaner? Like it or not, the first and one of the most important steps in effective home cleaning is preparation.

We compare it to painting a room, another task where preparation is key. Think about it: Do you just go in and paint the room? No! You move furniture, wipe down the walls, tape off the perimeter and cover the floor. You retrieve the paint and brushes and some old, ratty clothes. Then it's time to paint!

The same goes for cleaning your house. Begin with tackling clutter before you clean. Warning: When it comes to efficient home cleaning, this step may get worse before it gets better. But it will get better.

As you take on the clutter, pay attention to the most common places where it accumulates. Walk through your clutter step-by step, and devise solutions to ensure everything has a place. Cleaning is much easier if you have well thought-out places for your possessions. Look at each room in your house to see if additional storage can help you solve some of your day-to-day clutter challenges.

Think bins, baskets and re-organized drawers. Look around online for organization ideas and products for the kitchen, home office, closets and other easily cluttered rooms of the house. For example, an over-the-door shoe organizer in the coat closet can double as hat and glove storage during winter. Dedicate a row or two to each member of the family!

Along those lines, baskets can be a quick and an attractive way to capture stray books. Plastic bins can store an impressive collection of color-coated Legos.

Once you've tackled the baskets and bins in your clutter areas, move on to your home's permanent storage area. In order to keep long-term clutter to a minimum, dedicate a closet or part of an attic or garage to re-cycling, up-cycling, hand-me-downs, charity donations and the neighborhood yard sale.

Throw away items that don't fit into those categories. Remember, the fewer possessions you have, the less clutter there will be, a sentiment hammered home by the folks at Consumer Reports. They remind us that "the less you have, the less there is to dust, polish, shine, vacuum and otherwise take care of."

The Zone vs. Task Debate

After eliminating (or reducing) your clutter, it's time to identify your strategy for efficient home cleaning. There are a few strategies you can consider:

  • Zone Cleaning - Focus on one specific area each day or every couple of days. Go deep wherever you focus on a given day, and consider moving the furniture. Bend down to wipe the baseboards and scrub the floors. Reach high to clean cobwebs, light fixtures and ceiling fans. Wash curtains. Dust off blinds and every surface. After all of that is done, vacuum and mop.

  • Task Cleaning - Instead of focusing on one room or area per day, complete one chore such as dusting, vacuuming or laundry throughout the entire house before starting the next cleaning task. Conquer chores, one at a time, throughout a day or over a period of several days.

  • Full Hog - Okay, there isn't really a name for this strategy. Essentially, get ready to buckle up and tackle the entire house in a day - or half the day if you follow these house cleaning tips. You'll try to emulate the professionals and don't stop until the job is done!

Regardless of your preference, these are ways to fit house cleaning into your busy to-do list. Along with reduced clutter, each of these strategies can have a positive outcome and can help you save time. There's even "an app for that" called Home Routines to help you manage these chores once you've decided which strategy works best with your lifestyle.

Whether you favor Zone or Task cleaning, or dedicating the good part of a day to tackling everything, you shouldn't bite off more than you can chew. Each of the options leaves more time for work and play.

Set a Schedule

Regardless of your cleaning strategy, it helps to put everything on paper or make a list. Then, commit to showing up just like a professional house cleaning service would do.

To honor your cleaning commitment for the day, remember to:

  • Embrace the spreadsheet - Whether you focus on a zone, task or all-day approach, identify how often each chore needs to be done. Few chores need your daily attention. Most fall into the weekly, monthly or a seasonal category. A spreadsheet helps to break your chores down into manageable parts, so you can schedule cleaning into your daily routine without letting it suck up all your time.

  • Save for something special - Save your time for special projects. Make sure to dedicate time to unpredictable tasks that come with cleaning your home effectively. Mr. Maid can help with this since we regularly update our blog with great advice on how to tackle any special housecleaning project you may encounter. From fixing dry wall to removing scratches on your big screen television, our tips will help you work efficiently and productively.

  • Delegate - Unless you live alone, there's most likely someone else in the home who can help you execute this plan. A spouse should be reminded of the term "partnership." Assign your teenager with the task of vacuuming or emptying trash bins. Teach your preschooler how to sort socks. Many hands make light work and the more the merrier, right?

Dress the Part

Would you go skydiving without a parachute? Would you go to the beach without a towel and sunscreen? Would you go fishing without a pole? When you get ready to clean your house, make sure to approach the process with the right gear.

Let's start with the clothes. You need to dress the part. Cleaning effectively involves bending down and stretching out to reach tight places. Wear something comfortable which allows for flexibility. You may want to consider layers to account for working up a sweat or cooling off. Some people go as far as including kneepads, goggles and gloves to their house-cleaning wardrobe.

Cleaning also brings you into contact with a lot of dirt and grime. Wear something that can handle dirt, stains and even bleach. We recommend dedicating one or two outfits to house cleaning. Wash your cleaning duds together and store them away from your other clothes, so you don't track dirt or dust everywhere.

Build an Arsenal

You also need to assemble a collection of cleaning tools and supplies. There are some tried-and-true staples that are key to effective home cleaning. These products include:

  • high-quality gloves
  • microfiber cloths
  • feather dusters
  • brushes
  • mops
  • vacuums
  • plastic garbage bags

The house cleaning pros recommend investing in a backpack-style vacuum with lightweight hand extensions to go easy on your back muscles. It will also help you cover a variety of surfaces and make it easy to move quickly from room to room. Instead of a microfiber cloth, some seasoned house cleaners also prefer to cut old undershirts into cleaning cloths which can be used and washed repeatedly.

Once your arsenal is assembled, set aside a storage area for your "ammunition." Also make sure to dedicate a large bucket to use for transporting cleaning supplies from room-to-room.

Recipes for Success

Most cleaning professionals agree that only a few basic potions are required to effectively clean almost 100 percent of your house. These include:

  • Glass or multi-surface cleaner
  • Heavy-duty de-greasing cleaner
  • Tile and grout cleaner
  • Powdered abrasive cleaner

If you're like many of our clients, you may be hesitant to use toxic cleaners. Luckily, there are many milder choices available on the market today. You can try making your own cleaning product by keeping basic ingredients, such as baking soda, vinegar, cream of tartar, borax and lemon, on hand.

If you're interested in DIY cleaning options, try some of these:

  • Glass/Multi-Surface - 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol, 2 1/2 cups water, 1 tablespoon white vinegar

  • Heavy Duty Degreaser - equal parts of baking soda, castile soap, vinegar and warm water

  • Tile and Grout - 1 part hydrogen peroxide with 2 parts water

  • Powdered Abrasive - 3 cups baking soda, 1 cup vinegar, 3 cups warm water

Feeling inspired? Try adding essential oils like cinnamon or vanilla to boiled water - it works well as a natural air freshener. You can also make homemade laundry detergent out of washing soda, bar soap and borax. Grind sliced lemon to clean your garbage disposal. Some swear by vodka as a multi-purpose cleaner, stain remover and de-greaser - all in one!

Establish a Regular Routine

These house cleaning tips should go far in motivating you to clear clutter and establish a regular house cleaning routine that includes everyone in the home. Establishing a routine has many benefits:

  • A clean house brings order to our lives. Removing the clutter and keeping things clean allows for less distraction and more focus on the things we really want to spend time doing.

  • If your house is generally clean most of the time, you can avoid the stress that comes with worrying whether things are presentable when guests come to visit - especially if people stop by unannounced.

These are great outcomes, but what is the reward? Unlike the professionals, you aren't getting paid for this job.

Make sure to work the rewards into your schedule as well. Schedule a hot shower or bubble bath after deep cleaning one area of the house. Carve out some time for reading or a nap after you have vacuumed every square inch of the house. If you spent the entire day cleaning, spend the next at a spa or hiking in the woods.

The Back-Up Plan

You have a plan in place, but every week is different than the one before. Some weeks are better than others for getting things done - especially house cleaning. Sometimes we operate at the top of our game. Other days, we're in the trenches. Work deadlines need to be met, the entire household may come down with the flu, family comes to visit, or you may go on vacation. Maybe you simply just don't feel like going through the motions every week.

Sound like a lot of work? Are you unsure how you'll find time to efficiently clean, and still meet your other priorities? Create a back-up plan, and keep your local cleaning service, such as, Mr. Maid on speed dial. That way, you'll always ensure you have a plan in place if you fall behind on your cleaning. And you'll be confident knowing our team will clean up to par with your typical regimen.

Mr. Maid is an expert company with cleaners who will save you time and money. For those weeks when house cleaning just can't make the list, we won't let you down. If you're in the Pittsburgh area, contact us today to learn more about our cleaning services.


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Mr. Maid Residential and Commercial Cleaning

2945 Brunot Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15204
412-875-6254 (Office)