In desperate need of a job, any job, I find myself in the business of cleaning. Cleaning has never been something I enjoy, so I try to get it done as quickly and efficiently as possible. That way, I can enjoy the fruits of my labor. Can I tell you something? From day one at this job, I stand amazed at the number of people who do not understand what my mom taught me from a young age. The things that I thought were common sense are far from common. I would like to share some of what I thought was common knowledge, but apparently is not.
1) Clean from the top down. Start with the ceiling fan. Move to the tops of window casings and tops of book cases. Work from top to bottom. Spider webs in the corners come first and make sure you vacuum/sweep/mop last. See, there is this little thing with which we must contend on a regular basis. It’s called gravity. Stuff falls down, not up. If you clean the ceiling fan after changing the bedding or vacuuming, the dirt falls all over the surfaces you just cleaned . You then must spend time repeating portions of your cleaning. It is not efficient. It takes too long and quite frankly, it annoys me. I hate having to repeat things I just finished!
2) Clean the sink LAST. Again, start at the top (with one exception: sweep first, it is much easier to sweep up dirt tracked in or tiny bits of toilet paper the kids were playing with in their spare time if it hasn’t been wet by other bathroom cleaning). Tops of light fixtures before floor. Shower head and shower walls, before the inside of the tub. Why? Chances are good you will be standing in the tub and you don’t want to get it dirty again or worse, fall because it’s still slippery. Top of toilet before the pedestal. Top of toilet seat before the underside of the seat. You don’t want to end up sitting in whatever was on the bottom of the seat after it’s schmeared all over the top if you do it the other way around. Almost there. Then mop, using the sink instead of a bucket (why wash an extra item?). Then, clean the sink. Actually, I have found that doing the mirror last means that some of the cleaner drifts on the fixtures. If it bothers you, do the mirror before the sink. I just use my paper towel or microfiber cloth and give the sink fixtures one last polish as I wipe them off. They look shinier to me when I do that, but it might just be my imagination…
3) Dishes: the dishwasher is loaded every night at a minimum. There’s just two of us (0ne is a teenaged boy), so sometimes this does not fill the machine. That’s ok. We just run it when it gets full. We try to unload the dishwasher every morning (or every morning after we have run it), so it is always ready for rinsed dishes to be placed inside. When you don’t run the dishwasher every day, stuff tends to stick if they aren’t rinsed first. My tip when making dinner is to fill the sink with the hottest water your tap can dish out. As you finish using an item (knife, pan, spoon, bowl), just plop it in the sink. When you are done eating and are ready to tackle the dishes, they are practically clean! The water will probably tepid by then. You can refill the sink with hot, soapy water and wash them quickly by hand or just put them in the dishwasher. If washing dishes by hand, a couple of tips: use the hottest water you can stand (they will air dry faster, too, if you use hot water) and do glasses first, plates and silverware next, pots and pans last. Why? Two reasons, really. One is that the dish drainer stays balanced that way. Seriously! If you wash all the silverware first, the little drainer is highly likely to tumble over. Then, the plates and glasses fit where the drainer designer intended and it actually makes it easier to stack the pots and pans and plastic containers on top! The second is that doing the dishes in that order means the greasiest dishes are washed last. Wash the chicken fryer pan first and you must redouble your efforts in further cleaning. **Bonus tip: use white sugar with a smidge of liquid soap, add a little water, and scrub dry skin from your hands. Rinse, then slather with your favorite lotion and put on rubber gloves. The heat from the water will keep your pores open and your hands will be amazingly soft when you are done doing the dishes.**
4) Go ahead and wipe up the spills as they happen. Kids aren’t great at remembering this one. My mom used to joke that she knew it was time to mop the kitchen when the cats stuck to the floor. As a kid, I never noticed it was sticky. Something I learned a long time ago is that if it will take less than 30 seconds to do it, just do it now. So, when the spaghetti sauce does its little volcano thing and splatters all over, just wipe it up while it is still wet. It takes so much more effort to clean once it has dried. If you don’t have a little furry vacuum cleaner (aka: a dog), wipe up any floor spills quickly and then you don’t have it hanging over your head on your “to do” list.
5) Do food prep with the trash can (or trash bowl) right next to you. It is so much easier to just flick your hand and thow it away rather than trying to gather it all up after it has piled up!
6) Microwave: boil water in a microwave safe cup for several minutes (maybe 3-5). Let it sit for a couple more. Remove the cup with a pot holder and you will find that the steam, all by itself, has loosened anything that exploded onto the top of the microwave or spilled/boiled over. Cleaning is a chemical-free breeze this way. No more scrubbing. If you actually find that something is still stuck, repeat the process and let sit a while longer.
7) Mom had to explain to me (repeatedly) when I was growing up that cleaning the kitchen after meals didn’t mean just taking care of the dishes. It meant wiping the stove, range hood, and counters, too, as well as sweeping if necessary. Counters first, hood next, then the stove, since the stove is probably greasier (refer back to rule #3). Sweep last (refer to rule #1). You don’t need anything other than dish soap and hot water to clean your counters and stove top. I choose Dawn. It really does “take grease out of your way.” Rinse the sponge/scrubby often. If you have granite counter tops, believe it or not, most of them are sealed at the factory and the seal should be good for around 15 years before it needs to be resealed. You really don’t need all the fancy cleaners. Sometimes, the tops of glass/ceramic stoves can get pretty gunky. Use a cleaner specifically designed for them (looks like “soft scrub” but isn’t) and scrape then with a fresh, clean razor blade, available at your local discount store with the paint stuff. It honestly works and will not scratch the surface if you use a new blade.
This is not all of my brilliant wisdom, but it is enough to get you started on saving time and effort while cleaning.
What are your tips for cleaning faster, better, and more efficiently? Please leave a comment and share. I would love to learn how to get my cleaning done faster!