We are all born, we all must die, we all must pay taxes and we all need to clean our homes (unless we like bugs and dirt). It is one of the most dreaded tasks and if you live alone, sometimes quite overwhelming. If you’re determined to get it done without the aid of a professional housekeeper, here are a couple tips to keep you organized and on track.
Preparation and Planning Make lists - You’ll be working, perhaps going to school, keeping up with friends, and doing everything else you want to do before you start cleaning… The time that you’ll going to have for “chores” will be minimal. Keeping a list of the things you NEED to do, in priority order, helps keep you on track. If you create a checklist, each time a chore is completed, mark it out in big red pen, it’s a small thing, but when the entire list is done, you’ll feel like you really accomplished something (and you did!).
Prioritize – If you’re short on time, plan which things need to be done first. This may include taking out the trash (leaving that one go will cause odor problems), sweeping and washing windows and mirrors. Think about things that you need to do to keep sanitary (cleaning out the refrigerator) and things that will make the biggest impression (believe it or not, if you’re having guests over, cleaning your door will give the impression of a clean house!). A little dust isn’t that big of a deal, but pet hair bunnies living on your floor is a bit disgusting.
Communicate and agree with your roommate - If you share rent with others, BEFORE you move in together, decide who is going to do what tasks. Agree in writing if you have to. More arguments seem to take place over “who’s going to do the dishes” than from anything else. (Another tidbit that will keep harmony with your roommate is to always clean up after yourself. If you make the mess, you best be the one to take responsibility for it!)
Money - Set up a jar or bank to put your spare change. Cleaning supplies can add up to a substantial amount and isn’t usually figured into living expenses.
Clean often – It is much easier to climb a hill than climb a mountain. Cleaning the toilet isn’t the greatest thing to experience in life, but it IS MUCH easier to keep on top of it once a week rather than dealing with the mess that will build up over the course of a couple months. Remember what your mother always said “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Plus, always looking in the back of your refrigerator will probably save you from some yucky surprises later. It’s the same for taking out the trash… There’s only so many odors that nice air freshener or incense will cover up. Some smells just don’t want to go away….
Start from the top down. – Dust first, and then vacuum. There’s nothing more maddening than seeing your clean floor full of dust. Also, if you have space rugs, take them OUTSIDE to shake them before you vacuum.
Some things you can’t put off. - Sweep the floor and vacuum often. Those little nuggets of left over fried chicken, or potato chips will attract mice, ants and other vermin. No one likes that!
Use the right kind of cleaners. – It might be basic, but that’s the name of this category… Don’t use furniture cleaner on your windows and vice versa. NEVER mix cleaning solutions. Some, like ammonia and bleach, can be toxic. Use a lint free cloth (not all paper towels are lint free) on windows and mirrors.
Wash up afterwards and use gloves. Change your clothing immediately after you’re finished with your cleaning. You’ve just made your house spic and span and now those germs may be on you! Anti-bacterial soaps are made for a reason.
To avoid running back and forth between rooms, put all your cleaning supplies in a caddy and take it with you as you move from room to room.
Wash windows on a cloudy day instead of a sunny day. The heat from the sun will make your cleaning solution dry more quickly, causing streaks.
To make it easier on yourself, listen to music. Cleaning is one of the best workouts you can have; consider your day of cleaning equivalent to two days at the gym! And reward yourself when you’re done with a giant bowl of Ben & Jerry’s!
Keep your mind off it by listening to a book on tape or cd. Get wrapped up in the latest romance or mystery and your cleaning will be done before you know it.
Stick with it! Pick a day, figure out your plan and then go to it without interruption. Turn off the TV and don’t pick up that phone call. It’s much easier to keep with your project than to go back to it after an interruption.
Repairing and Replacing
To repair cigarette burns in a carpet – Cut out blackened rug fibers from the hole, fill hole with super glue, trim fibers from carpet remnants (or if you don’t have any, from a hidden part of the carpet) and place trimmings in the hole.
Small holes in window screens can be patched up with clear nail polish.
Use a Q-tip to rub toothpaste on glass tabletops to smooth out scratches.
Other Interesting Cleaning Tidbits
Hairspray can be used to kill flies.
Use paintbrushes and cotton swabs to dust hard to reach cracks (in a stereo system, on a computer, in the crevices of cabinetry, etc.).
Use nylon covered sponges to clean window screens.
Car wax can be used on a door that sticks.
If your dinner du jour drips over in your oven, sprinkle salt on the spill. When it’s dried, you’ll easily be able to sweep it up without the crust. Or, line the bottom of your oven with tin foil; it’ll catch the spills completely.
Spray your broom or dust mop with furniture polish, it’ll help collect dirt, but be careful, sometimes wood floors can get slippery, so walk with caution!
Clean your shower stall and fixtures after a steamy bath or shower. The steam will help loosen dirt and grime.
Sick of your plastic ware getting stained from red sauces? Before you store that marinara, spray your plastic bowl with cooking oil or wipe with vegetable oil. The oil will prevent the food from soaking into the plastic.
Get rid of those stinky sponges! Sponges breed bacteria and should be tossed every couple weeks, throw them in the dishwasher after each use to keep them as yuck free as possible.
Use cooking oil (any kind will work) for lubricating hinges, tools and other squeaky things. It’ll also help keep them from rusting and its non-toxic!