FORT WORTH, Texas, Nov. 11, 2015 — Now that the Halloween decorations have been put away, it’s time to start thinking about the holidays. And for many that means cleaning and organizing your home to be ready for guests, parties and decorating.
I spoke with cleaning expert Megan Hennes about tips and tricks to make the job easier. Megan has had her own successful cleaning business here in Fort Worth for the past 17 years. She has supported herself and two kids and put them through college doing it.
She says the old axiom to clean “top to bottom, side to side” is the best way to accomplish your cleaning goals for any room. Therefore, start by cleaning the ceiling fans. Make this a weekly chore using a ceiling fan brush. It greatly decreases the amount of dust and allergens in the home. Next, clean the blinds. Use a commercial device that has disposable dusters, preferably the kind with the extendable handle. Megan says that in her experience the name brand dusters work better and last longer than generic brands. If you don’t have blinds, you can use the duster to clean the tops of draperies, cobwebs from corners, doorframes, baseboards, hanging picture frames and more.
To clean the blinds you have two choices: 1) Dust between the individual slats or 2) Close blinds and, starting at top, dust in a downward motion from one side to the other. The choice is yours. Do the ceiling fans and blinds for entire house first. They don’t take very long and gives you a good headway into your work.
Clean the bathrooms first. You’ll need bathroom cleaner, spray bleach cleaner, window cleaner (name brands seem to work best), toilet bowl cleaner, toilet brush, scrub sponge, magic sponges, big cup, microfiber cloths, several drying cloths, paper towels and trash bags. Either keep them in each bathroom or put them in a small bucket you can take with you throughout the house.
- Pick Up: trash cans, scale, laundry baskets, rugs and anything else and put them out of the room. Vacuum master closet if there is one.
- Vacuum Floors – Megan uses a small canister vacuum. Vacuum the floors, then take the head off the metal part of the hose and suck out the corners, baseboards and behind the toilet. If the bathtub and shower are dry, vacuum any hair off the walls or bottom. Do not vacuum anything that is wet!! You can also suck out the sink (if dry) and countertops as well. It saves time from chasing after hairs.
- Clean Mirror – Next, turn the light off (use hall light or other indirect light) – clean the mirror using microfiber cloth. The lights heat the mirror when turned on, causing serious streaks. If necessary, wipe away any lingering dust or fibers with a paper towel or coffee filter.
- Spray Shower, Tub, and Sinks – Squirt cleaner in toilet. Then remove bottles, puffs and other items from shower and/or tub. Spray areas with bathroom cleaner. It’s a good idea to also use bleach cleaner in the corners and edges close to walls where mildew grows. Then move any toothbrushes and soap away from sink and spray the bowl and faucet with bathroom cleaner as well.
- Mop Water – Go make mop water while cleaners work.
- Toilet – Clean toilet using brush inside and under rim, then scrub bowl. If necessary use the brush on the bottom of and behind toilet seat and around the bolts on floor. Next wipe the whole toilet from the tank all the way to the bolts, except for inside of the bowl, with paper towels. Do not flush paper towels!! They will clog your septic system and sewer pipes! Throw them in the trash can that you have not emptied yet.
- Counters and sink – Put away combs, brushes, lotions, toothpaste. Scrub sink and faucet with scrub sponge, making sure you get the faucet, around faucet base and in between knobs. Use a cloth if the sponge won’t fit. Rinse with the big cup; wipe away excess water with drying cloth. Use sponge on counters and wipe dry. If counters are granite, travertine or other natural stone, fill sink with soapy water using dish soap and clean with that using a cloth. Wipe dry.
- Bathtub – Wipe area around windowsill if applicable. Clean tub with scrub sponge. For soap, body oil and dirt build on tub sides and bottom up use a magic sponge. Megan says the store brand usually works as well as the name brand. Rinse the tub using the big cup. Wipe with drying cloth.
- Shower – Scrub glass, tiles or fiberglass using scrub sponge. Use magic sponge if necessary. Clean hair stuck in drain. Rinse with big cup or shower hose using hot water. Squeegee if you have one. If not, get one. They make the job much easier. Dry with cloth. Go over any glass with window cleaner and microfiber cloth and/or paper towel. Replace shampoo bottles and puff to the shower.
*Note: hard water stains, soap, shampoo, conditioner, body oil and dirt build up over time in showers. If it’s been there for a long time, it will take several cleaning sessions to get it all off. You can also use a putty knife (plastic one if you’re worried about scratches) to scrape it off, or try one of several caustic products on the market that will do the job with minimal effort on your part, always following the manufacturer’s directions.
- Mop floor – Make sure to get all the way around the toilet if possible, base boards if necessary, and under cabinets as far as you can go. Let dry or use old towels to dry the floor. Make sure it’s completely dry before putting rugs back down and other items in their places.
- Replace trash bag – If you don’t, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of lining wastebaskets with bags made for them or even discarded plastic grocery bags. It helps keep the inside of the trashcan clean and, if you put new bags under the present bag it will save you a lot of steps. All you’ll have to do is remove the filled bag and put a clean one in its place.
If you follow these steps you’ll finish in no time. In the next cleaning article I’ll share Megan’s secrets of cleaning the kitchen.