I recently ran across a Reader’s Digest article from several years ago called “The Golden Rules of Cleaning,” which got me thinking about my OWN “Golden Rules” when it comes to cleaning my home, office, car, etc. I realized that I actually do have several of my own unwritten “rules” that I’ve just never taken time to actually write down. So today I thought I would share them with you. Many of them are actually similar to the Reader’s Digest article…but with my own spin. I hope they inspire you to think about your own set of “rules” and maybe find a few new ones to add to them.
My Golden Rules of Cleaning
(or “getting your cleaning done as quickly and with as little effort as possible!”)
Clean it up sooner rather than later.
This is especially important when it comes to STAINS. That tomato or blood stain is MUCH easier to treat and get out when you attack it right away. (One exception: mud tracked onto carpet is easier to clean when you let it dry first!) But this also applies to clutter in general. If you leave the kitchen a mess after dinner, telling yourself you will clean it in the morning….you’ve already handicapped the start of your day tomorrow. And if you put it off even LONGER, you will have a MUCH bigger problem to address.
Give it time.
OK, this may sound like it’s in complete opposition to the rule directly above, but it’s not! I promise. :-) This is a time management trick that will make your cleaning more efficient overall. Give your cleaning products (whether purchased or homemade) a chance to work by spraying them first and then working on other tasks for a little while. For example, spray the toilet, tub, shower, and countertops in the bathroom and then occupy yourself with emptying the trash and/or re-stocking the toilet paper, etc while the cleaner soaks in. When you come back, there should be little or not scrubbing required.
Never leave a room empty-handed.
Someone gave me this nugget of advice many years ago and it has served me well ever since. I honestly don’t think there is EVER a time that at least ONE thing isn’t out of place in my house. (OK, MAYBE before a big party…but doubtful!) So I try to be cognizant of this fact and each time I travel from one room to another in my house, I look around to see what I could be taking with me that goes into that destination room.
Carry your supplies with you.
This is a cousin to the above rule. No point in making multiple trips back and forth to gather needed cleaning supplies and tools. Create your own cleaning caddy (easily purchased at any hardware store) that has multiple compartments for all your supplies. Cart it with you as you clean. If you have more than one level, it’s not a bad idea to keep one caddy on each. Just don’t weigh it down with products that are only needed for one job. For instance, store your toilet bowl cleaner under the bathroom sink by….the toilet! :-)
Clean from top-to-bottom & back-to-front.
The law of gravity is one that’s hard to fight! :-) It’s almost always better to work from top to bottom when cleaning. If you have a two story home, start on the top floor and work your way down to avoid dragging dirt back into areas that have already been cleaned. The same philosophy applies to individual rooms. Dust the ceiling fan and light fixtures, followed by windows and drapes, then conquer the furniture, baseboards and floors. This way any dust that falls from the ceiling fan to the floor will be cleaned up on the last step.
Always clean from back to front for similar reasons. If it’s a room, start in a rear corner and work toward the door. If it’s a cabinet, begin in the back and clean out toward the edge. You don’t want to clean the room twice do you? Heavens no! :-)
Dry clean first, then wet.
Similar to the above rules….dry, then wet will also save you from “double-cleaning.” When you’re cleaning a room, start with the jobs that require dry methods such as, dusting, vacuuming, and sweeping. Once those are done, you can move on to the wet methods such as all-purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, mopping, etc. Following this rule less dirt and dust will be kicked up that will end up clinging to wet surfaces (which you and I both know equals MUD!)
Read the directions.
I know. Crazy talk huh? haha. This is actually rich coming from me because I am notorious for trying to figure something out on my own BEFORE I consult the directions! I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer sometimes. :-) I tend to rely on my own intelligence rather than that of the manufacturers who actually MADE the furnishings I’m trying to clean…or the cleaning product I’m trying to use. So when at all possible (or when you’re finally desperate enough to admit defeat, like me) follow the manufacturer’s directions. This applies to everything from clothing to appliances, to rugs! It’s also a good idea to keep those care labels that come with any potentially washable objects…ie. comforters, linens, clothing, etc.
Stop dirt at the door.
I guess this is more of a golden rule of PREVENTIVE cleaning, because dirt that is never allowed into your home in the first place is dirt you never have to CLEAN! :-) Most of the grime in your house comes from the outside, mostly unnoticed on people’s feet (or shoes.) Stop the dirt in its’ tracks before it ever has a chance to make extra work for you inside by placing doormats at every entrance to your home, both inside and out. Floor mats near such high-traffic or spill-prone spots as the kitchen sink, the refrigerator, the tub, and the toilet, are also a good idea.
Use only what you need to.
Always ere on the side of “less is more,” even with natural cleaning products. Start with a small amount of cleaning product and use more as necessary for tough spots and other challenges. Using more than you need to start not only is wasteful but also creates more work for you when it’s time to rinse everything off! For example, the first time I used my Tub & Shower Soap Scum Buster I used WAY too much and ended up rinsing for what seemed like HOURS! The next time I used it I only used HALF as much and had the same great results, minus the hours of rinsing. :-)
And last but not least, take care what cleaning solutions you are using and if they contain ingredients that can harm you, protect yourself. Many commercial cleaning products contain acid, bleach, abrasives, and other nefarious ingredients that can damage your eyes, skin, nose, and even your lungs. I personally prefer using mostly natural ingredients which is why I have made so many of my own cleaning products over the years. Here are just a few:
Using natural products, such as vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice are not only safer for you and your family, they are EVERY BIT AS EFFECTIVE as the stuff that is full of chemicals and costs a whole heck of a lot more! OK….stepping off my soapbox now. :-)
So, my strong suggestion is to use natural cleaners when possible and when you do use commercial cleaners, make sure your cleaning kit includes a pair of rubber gloves and even protective glasses and a mask. Rubber gloves are a good idea even if you ARE using natural ingredients….to protect your manicure if nothing else. :-)
Most importantly, use extra caution when combining cleaning products….even “natural” ones. For example, mixing hydrogen peroxide & vinegar (which I use a lot of, separately) will create something called parecetic acid which, despite being an effective sanitizer, is potentially corrosive and irritating. In addition, chlorine bleach and ammonia are two products that should NEVER be combined as they will produce poisonous gases.
So use caution when doing any combining, whether natural or not. Also, make sure the room you are working in is properly ventilated.
There you go….MY GOLDEN RULES OF CLEANING! May they serve you well as you go about this seemingly never-ending task! :-)
What are YOUR Golden Rules of Cleaning? Please share in the comments so we can all benefit from what I’m certain is DECADES worth of combined cleaning wisdom! :-)