Learn the right way to tidy up from the people who know
Most pros are in favor of "task cleaning": completing one chore, such as dusting, throughout the entire house, before starting the next. "You'll do a little more walking, so it's a good workout," says Ronald Payne, owner of RZJ Janitorial Services in Plano, Texas, "and I find that it's faster because you're in a mindset to keep moving." Follow these seven steps and your whole house will sparkle in four hours if you're a beginner, two and a half once you become a pro.
Wipe down mirrors and windows throughout the house. Pro tip: Using one wet and one dry microfiber cloth won't leave streaks.
Step 4: Surface Cleaning
Wipe down all surfaces and counters throughout the house, disinfecting as necessary. Pro tip: Be sure to wipe down all places that fingers touch, like door handles, light switches, TV remotes and phones. "Those are the places that people forget, and they really hold germs," says Payne.
Step 5: Kitchen and Bathroom
Walk through and spray cleaner on tubs, sinks and toilets. Return and scrub. Then, in the kitchen, wipe down the inside of the microwave, and cabinet and appliance doors. Step 6 floors Sweep, then mop or scrub the bathroom and kitchen floors, and any other floor that needs it. Pro tip: "I always do bathroom floors on my hands and knees with a microfiber cloth and cleanser," says Romero. "That's how I know that I got every corner, even behind toilets, and that they're 100% disinfected."
Step 7: Vacuum
"I vacuum my way out the bedrooms, down the stairs, through the living room and out of the house," says Romero. Pro tip: It's not crucial to vacuum every single inch. Just keep moving. You'll get the spots you missed next week.
Overhaul Your Cleaning Kit
No pro cleaner likes to carry around too many supplies. Their five must-haves:
1. A 20-pack of microfiber towels (wash 'em as
needed). "I've saved thousands of dollars on paper towels and window cleaner since I started using microfiber," says Romero. Make sure to buy good-quality cloths, usually around $1 per cloth from a janitorial supply store, and never wash with dryer sheets or fabric softener. Pro tip: Before using a cleaning product for dusting, try just warm water and the microfiber. "It usually works," says Romero.
2. A microfiber mop. On a tight budget, it's cheaper and less wasteful than disposable mops. Pro tip: Great for picking up dust in high and low corners.
3. A nylon-bristle broom. "It doesn't splatter walls or lose its bristles," says Payne. Pro tip: Sweep your rug. It often works better than a vacuum.
4. A Shammy. A synthetic version of the traditional chamois cloth, this rubbery, hyper-absorbent towel is great for soaking up water and quickly buffing counters and furniture. Pro tip: Run a dry Shammy over a couch or floor to pick up pet hair.
5. A backpack vacuum. Professional cleaners love backpack-style vacuums because they're gentle on back muscles and make it easy to move quickly from room to room. Pro tip: Look beyond the floor. It's easy to quickly vacuum shelf surfaces, mantels, railings and inside drawers if you use lightweight hand extensions.
Clean for Less
"Your home is just like your body—you don't need a lot of products," says Essie Powell, owner of A-1 Cleaning Extraordinaire in Fayetteville, Georgia (who has cleaned homes and commercial spaces for 37 years). She's got some great ways to revolutionize your cleaning cabinet.
You might want to try. "Essential oils," says Powell. "At my house, I like to use cinnamon, vanilla or nutmeg. I just boil a little in water and let the aroma go through the house."
Instead of. All-Purpose Counter Cleaner
You might want to try. "Warm water and basic dishwashing soap," says Powell. "It does the same thing." If you need to disinfect or wash off some serious grime, grab Butcher's Bath Mate.