Simplify Your Home Cleaning Routine with These Easy Tips
Get better results with less time and effort.
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There are many ways to clean a house, but the best methods are those that save time and effort, while avoiding toxic cleaning chemicals. Here, we've compiled a list of some simple hacks that will make the task easier and healthier for you. Armed with these, you'll soon be looking for reasons to clean.
Lingering moisture is the enemy when it comes to keeping bathrooms and kitchens clean because it attracts bacteria and mildew. Leave the shower door or curtain open when not in use to allow for air flow. Always run a fan or open a window when showering to let out steam. Leave the washing machine door open between loads. If you have dirty rags or dish cloths, hang them to dry between laundry loads; don't put them wet into the hamper.
You know how you move your face around in a mirror, using different angles to see get a clear look? The same logic applies to cleaning. Use a flashlight to illuminate surfaces, floors, and corners in order to spot dust and dirt you might have missed. This also involves getting down on eye level with whatever you're cleaning.
Put the Dishwasher to Work
Dishwashers can do so much more than just wash dishes. They can clean kitchen sponges, silicone oven mitts, light fixtures, desk accessories, fan exhaust covers, hairbrushes (remove hair first), plastic and metal toys, flip flops, manicure tools, pet bowls, makeup brushes, filters for cooking ranges and bathroom fans, house keys, pet collars and leashes (if not made from leather), sink strainer, and more. Just don't mix food and non-food loads because that gets gross.
Cleaning blinds is an annoying task, but it must be done because all those finicky sides are dust magnets. Try putting a sock on your hand and wiping two sides at once. Alternatively, wrap a pair of tongs with a rag, fasten with elastic bands, and wipe along the slats to clean. If the blinds are filthy, remove from the window after dusting and submerge in the bathtub with a dash of laundry soap. Let soak for an hour, then rinse and lay outside to dry.
Use Sunlight to Your Advantage
Sunlight is a powerful cleaning tool. Its UV rays are natural virus-fighters, as Professor Mark Fretz of the University of Oregon's College of Design told Huffington Post: "We have evidence in the literature that sunlight can inactivate influenza viruses and other viruses. It’s also good for your psychological well-being." At the very least, letting sunlight into a room will make it less hospitable for microorganisms – and more welcoming for humans.
Put your bedding out in the sun to freshen up – pillows, comforters, mattress protectors, stuffed animals, upholstery, and more. Hang whites in full sunlight to bleach, get rid of stains, and generally brighten up. Set emptied and cleaned garbage cans and recycling bins in the sun to deodorize.
A subtle yet effective hack: If there are cleaning brushes, rags, and solutions in every room (or at least on every floor of the house), you'll be more inclined to jump into a job when it needs to be done than if you have to climb a flight of stairs to get the right tools.
Never Skip These Two Tasks
The bed should be made and the kitchen sink should be scrubbed daily. If you make your bed every morning, you'll start the day with a small sense of accomplishment and end it with a sense of satisfaction. The same goes for the kitchen sink, which Melissa Maker, owner of Toronto-based company Clean My Space, describes as "the bed of the kitchen":
"If you walk into a bedroom and a bed is beautifully made, the rest of the bedroom just feels clean. It feels organized and beautiful. The same thing goes with the kitchen sink. If you walk into a kitchen and it looks pretty good and the sink is sparkling, all of a sudden that elevates the kitchen. The rest of the kitchen feels great. On the flip side, if you walk in and you see a grungy sink with dishes in it, the kitchen kind of feels gross."
Keep These 3 Ingredients on Hand
Lemons, baking soda, and white vinegar are the three staple ingredients for many DIY cleaning formulas. Here are just a few examples of the many things they can do.
Lemons are great for scrubbing smelly cutting boards. Cut in half and use it to rub coarse salt into the board. Steam-clean the microwave by squeezing juice and putting the halves into a bowl with water, microwaving for 3 minutes, and leaving to sit 5 minutes before removing. You'll be able to wipe it down easily. Rub lemon halves all over faucets for instant shine. Squeeze into a tea kettle, add water, boil, and rinse thoroughly to descale. Add 3 tbsp lemon juice to a squeeze bottle of water and use to clean glass and mirrors with a microfiber cloth.
Use baking soda as a deodorizer, abrasive, and brightener. It can get rid of soap scum, add shine to a stainless steel sink, clean grout when applied in a paste and left for 10 minutes, deodorize carpets, and boost laundry.
Vinegar is a powerful cleaner whose scent can be masked by steeping with citrus peels for a few days, then straining before use. Use it to deodorize the dishwasher by putting a bowlful in the top rack. Mix 1:1 with water to clean stainless steel appliances. Polish faucets and cutlery with a microfiber cloth dipped in a water-vinegar solution.
This list is far from exhaustive, but it will put you on the right track toward keeping your house spick-and-span. Cleaning shouldn't be daunting. With the proper tricks up your sleeve, you'll always feel ready for the job.
Katherine Martinko, December 2020