Angie's LIST Guide to
House Cleaning

Keeping your house clean is an increasingly challenging task for families in which everyone is busy. Here are tips on how to get the chores done efficiently yourself, or how to hire a good housecleaning service to do the heavy lifting for you.
 

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tips for hiring a housecleaner (Photo by Elizabeth McQuern)
Housecleaning services can be customized for your specific needs. Talk with your housecleaner about what type of cleaning schedule works best for you and your family. (Photo by Elizabeth McQuern)
 
 

Room-by-room tips

American families have less free time than ever to tend to house cleaning, but it becomes an overwhelming task if you don’t keep up with it. Here are some tips from professional house cleaners on how often to clean the most frequently used living areas of a home:

Kitchen & eating areas

If you do nothing else daily, make sure you wash the dishes and clean the sink and countertops. Wipe up messes on the stove and inside the microwave. Floors are a constant cleaning job depending on what’s been dropped, but if you’ve managed to keep it reasonably clean, mop weekly. Every few weeks, run a cleaning agent through the dishwasher to prevent buildup and ensure sparkling dishes.

It’s also a good idea to clear out the refrigerator before your weekly shopping trip. This way, you’re removing what’s spoiled and making room for fresh groceries. Every six months or so, remove all the items from your cabinets and wipe down the shelving. This also is a good time to go through your canned and other packaged goods and throw away items that have expired.

If you use a table cloth, shake it out and wash it regularly. On a weekly basis, dust all surfaces and mop or vacuum the floor.

Living room / Family room

The main problem here is clutter.  Make it the responsibility of every member of the family to put away items they left out.

Dusting should be done weekly, or at least every other week.  If you can write your name in the dust, you've waited too long.  Wipe down often-used surfaces like table tops, mop floors and vacuum carpets. Some people like to move their furniture around a couple of times a year so they can reach areas they don’t routinely clean, such as under the sofa or chairs or behind book cases.

Bathroom

This room can be the dirtiest and cleanest in any house, so weekly cleanings are important. Start with the bathtub. Wipe all surfaces to prevent mildew and soap scum. Clean the sink to remove any build-up from toothpaste or other toiletries.

When cleaning the toilet, spray or add cleaning solution to the bowl then go clean other areas of the bathroom. This allows the toilet cleaning agent to activate for several minutes before scrubbing the bowl clean. Mop the floor last, so you leave a clean floor drying in a clean room.

If you have a cabinet or linen closet, remove all contents every six months and wipe down the shelves. This gives you time to sort make-up and other toiletries and throw away items that are expired or empty.

Bedrooms

Even if you don’t feel like making the bed first thing in the morning, doing it every day will help you achieve the feeling of a clean room in just a few minutes. Wash the linens weekly to help reduce allergens and dust mites.

Make sure you put dirty clothes in a hamper and take the time to fold and put away clothing. Regular dusting of furniture and vacuuming carpet or dusting floors and baseboards can also help to reduce allergies.

What you missed

If you're not a professional house cleaner, there are probably some things you're overlooking, even if you clean regularly.

Ceiling cobwebs and baseboard dust

Look up. Cobwebs collect along the top edge of the wall where it meets the ceiling, and especially in corners. Use a long-handled dusting tool on these at least monthly.  Wipe down your baseboards and trim, which tend to collect dust. This can be done with a furniture polish or with a rag dampened with water.

Doorknobs and telephones

Why was doorknobs? Because lots of hands touch them every day and leave germs behind. Telephones and other frequently touched surfaces should get the same treatment. Use an antibacterial wipe or a rag dampened with any household cleaner to wipe these surfaces clean. Remember, some of the most contaminated surfaces in the home involve places touched by multiple hands. Be sure to include them in your weekly cleaning routine.

Novice cleaners should read the labels of cleaning products before tackling a home cleaning. Knowing what you can and can’t use on each surface in the house will save time, money and a potential disaster in the long run. Using the wrong product can do severe and sometimes irreparable damage. Also, some products can be harmful to children or pets if used too aggressively.

Hard-to-reach areas

Whether you’re hiring help or tackling the cleaning on your own, think about the last time you cleaned these hard to reach areas:

• Behind and under major appliances: We often take for granted that nothing is going on under and behind the stove, refrigerator, washer or dryer. But the kitchen appliances attract grease, which provides a perfect surface for dust to stick. Other appliances collect dust and lint from laundry and daily living.

You may need help moving your major appliances a couple of times a year to ensure the area where you cook is as sanitary as it can be. In addition to cleaning the area around and under your washer and dryer, you will want to clean out the dryer vent to prevent a fire hazard.

• Behind the toilet: The toilet itself is pretty obvious, but the walls and floors behind and around the toilet, as well as the pedestal of the toilet should be cleaned thoroughly. A wet rag or mop will help pick up and remove dust and lint rather than sweeping it to another area in the bathroom.

• Ceiling fans: As the blades spin, they likely are throwing dust across the room. You may be able to reach the blades with your vacuum cleaner attachment or a special long-handled ceiling fan brush. However, the best thing may be to get on a ladder and wipe down the blades with a little soapy water. Vacuuming might be required if you were unable to catch all the dust yourself.

• Ceiling corners: Depending on the height of your ceilings, you may be able to reach the corners with one of your vacuum cleaner attachments. Rooms with high ceilings may require you to climb a ladder to get at the cobwebs.

• Tops of cabinets: Whether you have space between your kitchen cabinets and the ceiling or an armoire in a living room or bedroom, it’s probably time to get out a ladder.

Remember, whichever room you clean, it’s best to start high and work your way down because dust and dirt will become dislodged as you clean and make their way downward.

Don’t forget to clean you cleaning tools. Though we’ll drop dishcloths and dish towels into the washing machine, we often leave the dust in the broom, and forget to wipe out the bucket and clean the mop.

Tools & supplies

Before you begin tackling the challenge of cleaning the house, you will want to make sure you have all the necessary items on hand.

From tools of the trade, such as vacuums and rags, to cleaning products like Windex and baking soda, this list can serve as a comprehensive guide to assist you with house cleaning.

Vacuum cleaner: The best way to begin cleaning a room is to eliminate the dust, dirt and visible debris. Go over all carpeted and bare floors with an upright or handheld vacuum cleaner.

Regular vacuuming will also significantly improve the appearance and life of your carpets.

Mop: Once the floors in your home are vacuumed, a mop is vital for getting rid of stains and eliminating bacteria from the floor.

Choose a mop with a longer handle so that you are comfortable using it, and pair it with a bucket full of warm water and a cleaning solution.

Windex: The cleaning product is designed to remove smudges and stains on your glass items, such as tables, windows or mirrors.

Spray it directly on the glass surface, and wipe it off with a clean rag, or wipe it down with a squeegee.

All-purpose cleaner: If you can only have one cleaning product in your home, it should be a spray bottle of all-purpose cleaner.

It can be sprayed on most household surfaces and wiped off to easily remove bacteria, germs, smudges and stains.

Baking soda: This inexpensive item is a staple for cleaning the home. Not only does it have cleaning properties, but it is also a great way to remove unpleasant odors.

Use it as a paste with water on spills to clean the carpet and eliminate smells.

Rags: A supply of rags is vital when cleaning a home. Use them for cleaning bathrooms, windows, kitchen countertops and more.

Have enough so that you can use different rags with different cleaning products. Plus, cloth rags can be washed and reused.

Gloves: If you are using lots of chemical cleaners, washing dishes or scrubbing toilets, you will need a pair of gloves to protect your hands from harsh chemicals.

Choose a rubber pair that extends up to your elbows for the best protection.

Polish: While your all-purpose cleaner will work to clean many surfaces in the home, invest in a few specialty polishes for surfaces like stainless steel or wooden tables.

Be green as you clean

If you’re concerned about climate change, resource depletion and recycling, consider these environmentally-friendly tips for cleaning your home.

Reuse instead of throw away

Whenever you consider throwing something away, make it a practice to try and find another use for it. Instead of using paper towels, try rags that can easily be laundered and used again. Instead of throw-away floor cleaning pads, consider using equipment that makes use of steam and pads.

Since steaming tools use water to help with the cleaning process, they tend to be healthier for the environment than many toxic-laced commercial products. Also, weigh whether the use of recycled products may be more environmentally friendly than taking up the resources you would use for laundering.

Make your own brew

Rather than purchasing products with hazardous ingredients, try making natural cleaning solutions.

  • Use a lemon juice and water mix to clean glass and mirrors. An old tee shirt torn to make rags can work well to clean those messy glass table tops without leaving streaks.
  • Mix lemon juice and olive oil to make a great smelling furniture polish.
  • Make a paste of salt, vinegar and flour to polish metal surfaces.
  • Throwing a handful of salt into a wood burning fireplace can help loosen up the soot buildup.
  • Use vinegar and water on bare floors to leave them fresh.
  • Use vinegar and baking soda to clean out clogged pipes and drains, or to deodorize your kitchen sink.
  • Use lemon juice and hot water to remove foul smells from your garbage disposal.

If you prefer not to do the cleaning work yourself, there are many professional house cleaning services that use green cleaning products.

Read more about eco-friendly home care options.

Hiring a house cleaning service

You don't have to be wealthy to hire a cleaning service. Many busy families arrange for a service to come in once a week, once a month or something in between. Professional house cleaners can take care of tasks like vacuuming, dusting, mopping floors and so on while family members focus on keeping control of clutter and light cleaning of the bathrooms and kitchens.

When hiring, ask questions: Are you insured? Do you hire all your employees or are independent workers used? How many workers do you use?  Have the prospective cleaner meet you at your home so you can walk from room to room asking what type of cleaning they will do and with what products.  Most cleaning companies provide their own products, but if there are special products you prefer that they use this may cost extra.

Most experts recommend keeping consistency in cleaning. It’s preferable to use the same person every time if the experience is satisfactory as different cleaners are likely to clean in different ways.

Finally, trust is extremely important.  Unlike most other service providers, house cleaners typically come to your home while you're at work so you need to feel comfortable allowing them access to your home.  If you are a member of Angie's List you will be able to search for house cleaners in your geographic area and pick someone who has consistently received high grades from other customers.

Comments

Some body that cleans well and does not steale!

Housekeeper,i have a wonderful lady I trust an is very reliable I. Lex ky..she will always show up ,and do an excellent job.

needing house keeper I am located in zipcode 90010 in LA

Looking for dependable housekeeper in lex ky for bi weekly cleaning. Bathrooms kitchen and sweep and mop linoleum areas with alternating dusting and wiping baseboards.

Proffesional Family looking for person 2 clean....... 4 room and board many amenities large in ground pool game room with pool table...just 2 much work for working wife, 3 people in home husband wife and 17 year old son.married 27 years motorcyclist,52 at age 22 in heart.

Hi Paul,

Have you checked Angie’s List? Angie’s List articles provide great tips and advice, but for ratings, reviews and information to hire the companies you need, visit www.angieslist.com today.

Where are u located Paul? Are u in California??

where are you located paul?

I have a wonderful,trusting cleaning lady!
She is like a part of our family...we just love her.

I would like someone who can help me with the toughest jobs. I am 73 yrs. old, and have physical limitations.

I worked for 10 years cleaning and careing for their house.I'm a very hard worker honest on time.and good of what I do

would like someone to do bath rooms blinds and floors. Are you in Sacramento?

I need someone to do my ironing. I have hurt my arm and cannot do it.

I am looking for a reliable housekeeper...Initially, job will look overwhelming, I am disabled and stuff has just built up. However, with a very Patient person, we will work together, I cannot bend so things have really fallen into disrepair. This will be an ongoing project. I need someone I trust and they will view my home prior to any contract. Good long tern project!! Need the right person Now!!!

Hi Victoria are you live and Vegas

HI THERE, WHERE ARE YOU LOCATED? MAYBE I CAN HELP...

I'm a very hard working individual will always respect my employee wishes Will work as long as I'm needed . Just need too work . If anyone its interested please contact me .

My son and his wife just had a baby. She needs a lot of help now with a new baby and my son at work. Do you recommend any housekeepers in the Downey, California area ? I would like to buy her a gift of 6 weeks of housekeeping until she is back on her feet.

Hi Sheree, Congratultions on the new baby! Looks like there are 349 house cleaning companies on our list, but only 63 have been highly rated by members in your area. You can get more local information by copying and pasting this link into your Internet browser: http://www.angieslist.com/companylist/us/ca/downey/house-cleaning.htm  If you decide to join our service in order to find a Downey house cleaner, use promo code "ANSWERS" to receive 20% off an annual membership. Thanks again!

I live in Anaheim and I am looking for house keepers to clean the empty house that we are moving into this weekend. I am looking for Friday availability. thanks

I am disabled and I cannot bend so things have really fallen into disrepair. This will be an ongoing project. I need someone I trust and they will view my home prior to any contract. Good long tern project!! Need the right person Now!!!

i live in the Menifee, CA area...any reliable out in this area?

My husband and I have 7 dogs and a lot of DUST. I am partially disabled and can't keep up with the cleaning and need some help to keep the dirt under control.

I am disabled and just had neck surgery. I live alone and there is a lot of things that need to be done. how can I be sure I can trust someone. I am also very poor eye sight and deaf in one ear and use a cane for my poor balance. I do not have a lot of money.. Can you help me? I live on South Whidbey Island, Washington

I'm a house cleaner for 7 years I'm hard worker and onset person I have strong reference I'm living in Maryland

I need a trustworthy house cleaner/housekeeper 2 1/2 days a week. The house is presently clean, but I am 78 and physically limited in movement and need washing, ironing, windows, floors, vacuuming etc. It is a three bedroom,, 2700 sq foot house with one loveable dog.. Salary depending on experience and applicant must be legal and have a SS number, speak fluent English, and experience..

I live in Murrieta/Menifee area and would like to find an independent gal to clean my house where I want it cleaned not where they think they should clean. I am 75yrs old and no long can vaccum or clean floors etc so I just need someone to do the thing I cannot do. For instance, the mirrors in my baths are high and you need to get on a stool to get all of it but one company would not let the girls go any higher than their reach so dusting on the top shelves and top of mirrors etc were not done. I need someone that can do those things and is reliable and not too costly. Please help.!

Hi,

New to the area and in need of a bi-monthly Cleaning Lady(s). 3 bedroom, 2 bath house in Butternut Wi.

thanks

Wanda

I need someone to do the housecleaning that I can no longer do my self. Mop floors, clean windows and shutters, bathroom mirrors that I can no longer reach, etc. Please contact me by email.

hello my name is Sandra. I have been house keeping for 3+ years. I have 10+ clients and a small business. We are located in Chesterfield VA. We will be glad to help.

I'm seeking for a reliable cleaning person whom I can trust in my home .my husband and I work I have no time on the weekend to do any house stuff I also need for someone to iron my husband clothing.i also have to little dogs who like to bark when a stranger come into the house once they get to known you they will stop barking. I live in Staten Island I would like for someone to come in on Fridays to clean the house,to dust, vacuum , mop, and most of all clean my bathrooms. Please Help me find someone trust with my belongings oh! Before I forget my kitchen is brand new when clean they must be very gently . I take pride of my home and my personnel stuff. Thank you for considering me and my family.

I have been cleaning for over 15 years and I love doing it, I have had some hard one and some not so hard but I would never change my job because I love the people I work for here in stillwater oklahoma

My house has outgrown it's content. There is clutter every where. I have tried to tackle the job myself, but to no avail. My constant health problems continue to impede my progress. I need to sort, store away, and give away a lot of items. Therefore, I am not sure how long this project will take, working anywhere from 3 to 5 hours a day.

Hi Rad, You might want to try a professional organizer who can help you clear clutter and determine which items are worth keeping, donating, selling or getting rid of. Click here to start your search to find a local home organizer in your area: http://www.angieslist.com/companylist/

If you need help cleaning the house, I can help you I have been cleaning for over 8 years , I m a realible person I live in Baltimore area .

I must admit - I always forget to clean my doorknobs! It's ironic because literally all people who go in and out of the rooms touch them, so they must belong to the ""dirtiest things"" group in our house. Thanks for the reminder!

It is a long and expensive story. I won't bore you with all the details. What I will tell you is DON'T sign anything unless you read the contract and totally understand everything!! Better yet, sleep on it! Talk it over with someone you trust.Don't let the rep to pressure you. If you sign and later want to change your mind, it will COST you!! The cleaning was fine, it was the OTHER THINGS!!

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