Whether you’re tackling a deep clean or you’ve got five minutes spare for a quick refresh, effective cleaning tips that get the job done in double-quick time are always preferable. Not only does it take the pressure off, but it also gives you the opportunity to actually enjoy your efforts – after all, what’s the point in a lovely clean home if you can’t relax in it?
From the kitchen to the bathroom, the living room to the bedroom, the jobs can seem endless, as can the list of cleaning products, for that matter. But you’ll be pleased to hear that you don’t need expensive tools, chemical-laden solutions, and complicated cleaning rules to achieve a sparkling finish, for example, there are lots of things you can clean with vinegar.
‘Our top tip is to make use of the everyday products you already have in your kitchen cupboards. Baking soda, lemon juice and white distilled vinegar are some of nature’s greatest natural cleaners, and they work wonders for a whole host of common cleaning tasks’, says Sue Caldwell, managing director of Clean Living International.
With the help of those in the know, we’ve put together an expert-approved list of quick and easy cleaning tips, from hard-working fixes and all-natural solutions, as well as some cleaning hacks to avoid, to ensure every inch of your home looks – and feels – spotlessly clean.
Cleaning tricks professionals use
Before you start cleaning any room, a good tidy up is recommended. Begin by emptying bins, putting away laundry, clearing countertops and surfaces, tidying toys and generally decluttering where necessary. You’ll then be left with a much clearer idea of what needs to be done, and you can start to prioritize tasks.
1. Start with a plan – and write it down
Tackling a deep clean can be overwhelming, particularly if you’re working through every room in the house. ‘I like to make a list of the things I’d like to accomplish and in what order, so they’re not all floating around in my head’, says Andrea, founder of Pine & Prospect Home. It makes the whole process feel a lot more manageable, and you’re less likely to give up halfway through’.
Andrea Francavilla is the creator behind Pine and Prospect Home, a blog that encourages others to create the home of their dreams on any size budget. She shares all things home, from DIY projects, recipes, gardening tips, organization skills and more!
2. Deal with dust (the right way)
They may be fun to use, but fluffy dusters only spread dust, they don’t collect it. If you want to keep pesky particles at bay, opt for a damp microfiber cloth, at Amazon instead. For hard-to-reach areas, or if you’re dusting particularly fiddly items – think artificial flowers, intricate ornaments and such like – use a hairdryer set on low to free the dust, leave for five minutes to let the dust settle (literally), then wipe beneath.
3. Whisk away stray pet hairs
If your home plays host to a furry friend or two, you’ll want to keep stray hairs at bay; if not every day, at least before guests come over. Use a lint roller like these ones from Walmart on soft furnishings and lampshades. For more routine cleaning, run a damp rubber squeegee or rubber gloves over carpets before vacuuming with a cleaner that specializes in tackling pet hair, such as the Dyson Ball Animal.
4. Show houseplants some love
Houseplants, like any other household item, require regular cleaning to keep them dust-free. Hardy houseplants can usually handle a rinse in the shower (as long as you stick to lukewarm water), but if their leaves are a little on the large side, the easiest way is to simply wipe them down with a damp microfiber cloth.
‘Don’t forget to wipe the undersides of your leaves too, you’ll be surprised how much dust you’ll find there. Maintain this method once a month to keep your plants looking fresh and healthy,' says indoor plant specialist Mo Bhula of The Botanical Archive.
For more delicate specimens, wrap paper towels around the container to stop the earth falling out and gently dip them leaves-first into a bowl of water – easy.
5. Don’t scrub carpet stains
‘Whether it’s nail varnish, coffee or a red wine stain, try and avoid panic-scrubbing when cleaning a carpet, you’ll only push the stain deeper into the fibers. Instead, blot the stain gently with your remover of choice using a clean cloth – only ever use a white one to prevent any pigment bleeding into the carpet and making the stain worse ’, advises Vera Peterson, President of Molly Maid.
6. Ditch synthetic scents
Aside from being overly-perfumed, synthetic air fresheners often contain chemicals that are bad for our health, and the environment. If you prefer a more natural approach to fragrancing your home, try these seasonal hacks.
During warmer months, keep windows and doors open for freshness and make up little bundles of your favorite seasonal flowers to bring fragrance into every room. Through winter, make a quick-fix air freshener by filling a pan with water, fresh herbs and lemon, bring to the boil, and allow to simmer for a few hours so the vapors scent the air.
7. Clean as you go
Make daily cleaning a habit by wiping down surfaces and putting items away as soon as you use them. This will prevent mess from building up and make cleaning faster and easier going forwards’’, recommends Angela Lee.
The living room
8. Refresh woodwork
Save yourself both time and effort scrubbing scuffs and stains of doors, baseboards and woodwork in general by investing in a Magic Eraser. They don’t call it magic for nothing, it makes light work of fingerprints, pen marks, paw prints and more.
This humble white sponge can also be used for cleaning walls, but be aware that they do have a tendency to leave faint marks behind on certain paint finishes, particularly matt ones, so test in an inconspicuous spot first to be on the safe side.
9. Spot-clean couches with baby wipes
Given how much time we spend on them, knowing how to clean a couch quickly to avoid spillage stains setting is pretty useful… and the answer is baby wipes. They’re gentle and contain very little moisture, making them practical for spot-cleaning most materials; not to be confused with proper cleaning wipes which may contain stronger chemicals that could cause damage.
10. Keep TV screens streak-free
When cleaning a living room, tackling the tv screen regularly (at least once a week ideally) is a must, but knowing how to clean a tv screen the right way is essential if you want to avoid any damage. The main thing to remember is to avoid liquids at all costs. While a microfiber cloth works well, you can also use a tumble dryer sheet; they’re anti-static, so you won’t have to dust so often, either – bonus!
11. Clean the oven – without using chemicals
Place a slice of fresh lemon into one and a half cups of water in an oven-proof bowl, then place into a 250-degree oven for 20 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the water cool slightly before wiping the floor, walls and racks with a cloth or sponge dipped in the hot lemon water until they shine.
This ‘steam-cleaning’ method can be used to clean a microwave, too. Place half a lemon cut side down on a microwaveable plate with a little water, and heat on high for about 30 seconds (or until it produces steam). Leave to stand for a few minutes, then use a damp cloth to wipe down the walls.
For tougher, baked-on greasy areas in either appliance, try rubbing in some baking soda with half a lemon (squeezing it as you go so the juice mixes in to form a paste), or try bleach-free Barkeepers Friend cleanser.
‘To lessen your workload in the future, consider lining the bottom of your oven with aluminum foil, then place a baking sheet on top. This will catch any spills or drips so you don’t waste time scrubbing baked-on food. Replace the foil when it gets dirty’, advises Angela Lee of HellaMaid.
12. Keep your sink looking spotless
Even if the rest of the room isn’t quite up to scratch, a sparkling sink will give the impression it is. How you clean a kitchen sink (or a bathroom sink, for that matter) will depend on what it’s made of, but if you’re looking for a quick fix, a mixture of mild washing up liquid and warm water is generally safe to use. If you’ve got chrome taps, try rubbing with a little whitening toothpaste squeezed onto a dry cloth to restore their original shine.
To get rid of any drainy smells emanating from the plughole, tip half a cup of bicarbonate of soda and half a cup of vinegar down and rinse with hot water from the kettle.
13. Get rid of stubborn water spots
From stainless steel sinks to toasters and kettles, metal surfaces are annoyingly prone to watermarks. For a quick fix, wipe them with hand sanitizer or a drop of baby oil on a clean cloth – no rinse required.
14. Keep cutting boards hygienic
Did you know that rubbing half a lemon over your chopping boards is one of the best ways to get rid of lingering onion smells? Sprinkle the surface with grainy rock salt beforehand to help shift any stains, then give the surface a good scrub with a natural brush before rinsing.
15. Descale the coffee machine
After that perfect brew? Be sure to clean your coffee maker regularly with… denture cleaning tablets. Yes really. Containing many of the same ingredients as basic household cleaners, they dissolve into water, making them an expert-approved hack for appliances with hard-to-reach crevices. Simply fill the reservoir with water, drop in a tab or two and run a cycle. Discard the water and run through again to rinse away any loose limescale.
16. Give kitchen cabinets some front
They may look clean enough, but the doors and handles of your kitchen cabinets are one of the most high-frequency touch points in our homes, making them a hotbed for germs… not ideal in a room made for cooking.
A quick wipe down with a microfiber cloth and some warm water is all it takes to remove sticky marks on a daily basis and stop unhygienic grime from building up over time. If the door is greasy, you can always add in a small amount of washing up liquid – just be sure to wipe off the residue afterwards to avoid a smeary finish.
It doesn’t need to be part of your regular cleaning routine – once or twice a year is fine – but don't forget to clean the tops and the inside of your cabinets, too. Vacuum up loose dirt and debris first using the brush attachment, then employ the same method as above.
17. Don’t forget the dishwasher
Cleaning a dishwasher is not something you need to worry about day-to-day, but a monthly MOT is a good idea if you want to avoid food debris and soap residue from building up – it’ll last longer, too.
Start by running an empty hot-wash cycle. Remove any baskets and/or trays and soak in hot, soapy water. Using a toothpick, clear debris from the filter (and the water holes on the spinning arms whilst you’re at it), soak it in soapy water and rinse clean.
Pull out the bottom drawer so you can get to the drain, and give it a good scrub with a toothbrush and a multipurpose cleaner. Wipe down the door with a cloth, not forgetting the rubber gasket around the sides, and run a short cycle to finish the job. Done!
18. Pre-treat coffee-stained sheets
Having the time to enjoy a coffee in bed is one of life’s simple pleasures, but the chances of a spill are pretty high – particularly first thing in the morning when you’re still waking up. Rather than chucking linen sheets straight into the wash, take the time to pre-treat the stains directly. It may feel like a hassle, but it’ll save you time (and money) in the long run.
Soak the stain in some dishwashing detergent mixed with warm water and let it sit for 15 minutes. Rinse, then sponge with rubbing alcohol. Rinse again before washing. If the stain persists, don’t bother drying; try using an enzyme pre-wash soak and wash again.
19. Let your mattress breathe
Before making your bed each morning, get into the habit of drawing the sheets off for 20 minutes or so. Airing out your mattress like this will stop stale smells permeating the surface, saving you from having to use strong, chemical solutions further down the line.
Even though it’s not part of your regular cleaning routine (every six months is a good guide), knowing how to clean a mattress the natural way is beneficial. Use the upholstery attachment on your vacuum to clean all sides, then spot clean stains individually. Bicarb of soda is a handy natural deodorizer – combine with a few drops of lavender essential oil and sprinkle over your mattress, leave for an hour, then vacuum it clear.
Turn your mattress every three months or so to prolong its life and keep it in comfortable condition.
20. Machine wash your duvet and pillows
You may clean your linen regularly, but what about the bedding itself? Don’t worry, it’s not as hard as it sounds – most synthetic duvets (and some feather-and-down duvets) can actually be machine washed, provided your drum is large enough that is – head down to the launderette if not, they’ll have large-capacity machines there.
When washing pillows in the washing machine, use your washer’s delicate cycle so that they keep their shape, and hang them up as soon as the cycle has finished to air dry.
21. Keep the toilet naturally clean
If you want to keep a toilet hygienically clean, bleach doesn’t have to always be the answer. Swap it out in favor of a few store-cupboard ingredients, instead. Pour a cup of white vinegar into the toilet, followed by two tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda. Let the combination fizz for a few minutes, then give the bowl a good scrub with a toilet brush, getting right up inside the rim. Flush to see gleaming results.
22. Allow cleaning products time to work
Whether you’re using all-natural remedies or store bought cleaners, you’re guaranteed a better result if you give them enough time to work, something you’ll want to factor into your routine when cleaning a bathroom, in particular.
‘This will give the cleaning agents time to soften up and break down any stains while you get on with other cleaning tasks. When you get to them, they’ll be much easier and quicker to wipe away’, says Jen Stark, founder of homemaking blog, Happy DIY Home.
23. Buff up tiles
There’s nothing like squeaky-clean tiles to give a bathroom that hotel-luxe feel. Mix up a solution of one part white vinegar to two parts cold water in a spray bottle, then spritz over your tiles. Leave to work for 30 seconds before wiping with a damp cloth.
24. Rid grouting of grime
Stubborn black mold found in grouting and silicone can be quickly eliminated by scrubbing with a toothbrush dipped in bleach, but if it’s a more natural route you’re after, try using a magic eraser – a quick wipe should do the trick, but for any stubborn areas, scrub a paste made up of ½ cup of bicarb of soda and 2 cups of water into the grout, then buff until it’s clear of grime.
25. Be aware of your bath mat
One of the things in your bathroom you might be forgetting to clean is your bath mat. Just like towels, they spend a good deal of time damp, which makes them a breeding ground for bacteria. Shake out to remove any dust or hair, and wash on a hot cycle at least once a week to keep it hygienic. You could clean your shower curtain, too, whilst you’re at it.
26. Work on windows
To clean windows without streaks, be sure to avoid the task on a hot day – they’ll dry too fast and leave streaks otherwise. Before you start on the panes, give the frames a good dust down using a soft, dry cloth.
You can use a solvent-free glass cleaner, but a spray bottle with warm water and a drop of washing liquid (swirled in gently to avoid suds) works just as well. Add a splash of white vinegar to help cut through the grime. Spray onto the glass panes using a microfibre cloth and wipe dry, or use a double-sided squeegee for the outside.
This solution will work on any glass surface in the home, from picture frames and coasters to the glass panels in your wood-burning stove, and is also the recommended method for cleaning a mirror without streaks, as well. ‘If you’d rather not use vinegar, try adding distilled water in the mix to achieve a streak-free finish’, recommends Marilee Nelson, co-founder of Branch Basics.
A good hack is to wipe horizontally indoors and vertically outside, or vice versa, so you know which side any smears are on. If you spot any, try using newspaper to wipe them away – the paper and ink act as a light abrasive.
27. Keep window treatments looking lovely
Struggling to keep slatted blinds and shutters dust-free? We’ve got a handy hack to solve the problem. Wrap a pair of tongs with a microfiber cleaning cloth and secure it in place with rubber bands. Spritz with household cleaner before grabbing a slat and swiping right the way across. The same technique can be achieved by putting old socks on your hands, something to bear in mind when organizing a sock drawer!
If you’re after a deeper clean, restore plastic and metal blinds with a mixture of warm water, white vinegar and a few drops of washing up liquid; wood blinds with furniture polish and fabric blinds with the vacuum.
‘The one cleaning treatment that’s safe for virtually every window treatment, from blinds to curtains, is the humble vacuum – just pop an upholstery or brush attachment onto the end and you’re ready to go’, says Julia Dorn, executive director for Graber.
28. Clear clutter from windowsills
If a room is feeling dark and dingy, let the light in. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how clearing even just a few things off a windowsill can make all the difference to the levels of sunlight that stream into your home. It’ll make cleaning feel more worthwhile, too, if you can actually see the results! On that note, be sure to wipe down the sills regularly to keep them looking neat.
29. Sort your ceiling fan
Turning on your ceiling fan only to see specks of dust flying through the air is no good for anyone, particularly if you suffer from allergies. ‘To sort, simply place a pillowcase over each blade, pulling it tight, so there’s no gaps. Gently pull the pillowcase towards you to contain the dust neatly in the case’, says cleaning pro Beth McCallum, contributor for Oh So Sportless.
30. Keep your washer – and your clothes – smelling fresh
Try making your own fabric conditioner by adding 10-15 drops of your favorite essential oil to a jam jar of white vinegar. The vinegar will leave your clothes fluffy and reduce static, while also giving your washing machine a clean at the same time, while the oil keeps everything smelling naturally fresh – it’s a win-win.
How to clean your house like a professional
By adopting similar techniques to those used by professional cleaning companies, your house can reach a whole new level of cleanliness. And contrary to what you might think, fancy cleaning products aren’t a necessity either. In fact, pro cleaners, particularly those who work in hospitality, tend to stick to old–fashioned, all-natural solutions where possible to account for allergies.
You’ll also want to start thinking beyond your everyday cleaning tasks to those areas often overlooked; the tops of door frames and cabinets, underneath the sofa, baseboards, doors, woodwork, nooks and crannies inside your kitchen cabinets… the list goes on. We’re not saying tackle them every time, but scheduling them every 6 months or so will ensure your home remains hygienic – a top priority when it comes to pro-standard cleaning.
In what order should I clean a room?
The expert way to clean a room is to work from top to bottom, so that any dirt or dust falling from higher surfaces doesn’t settle in places that you’ve already cleaned.
‘Start with areas such as the tops of kitchen counters or wardrobes, then work downwards, making the floor your very last job. Bathrooms and kitchens require a deep clean once a week, but we’d recommend a mid-week freshen-up to help prevent dirt and grime building up’, advises Sue Caldwell.
How do you start cleaning a very dirty house?
When a house is overwhelmingly dirty, it can be hard to know where to begin. The trick to take it room by room, starting with the areas that require the most work – usually the kitchen and the bathroom. Accomplishing these will spur you on, and encourage you to tackle other areas of the home, too.
‘Make sure you have all the materials you need to tackle every task. The Branch Basics Deep Cleaning Checklist consists of Branch Basics Concentrate, a certified sealed HEPA vacuum, 2 buckets, sponge or microfiber mop, 2-3 cleaning rags, 1-2 spare towels, ladder to reach the ceiling, and face mask that filters non-oily and oil-based particles’, says Marilee Nelson. ‘We also recommend finding a friend or cleaning partner to help speed up the process’.
How to clean a room quickly
Whether you’ve got unexpected guests dropping by or you simply don’t have the energy for a full room refresh, it’s always handy to have a few speedy cleaning tricks up your sleeve.
Start by gathering together a basic cleaning kit, so you don’t have to keep running back and forth to find what you need – a caddy is useful for containing items neatly, and means you can move them around the room with you.
‘The quickest way to refresh any room is to focus on surfaces and floors – simply wiping dusty surfaces or spraying down counters, then running a vacuum or a mop over the floors will immediately make any room feel much cleaner’, says Sue Caldwell.
Angela Lee agrees, and emphasizes the importance of multi-tasking when it comes to speed-cleaning; ‘tackling several tasks at once is a great time-saver; spritz the oven or shower with the appropriate sprays as a priority, then while they’re doing their job, busy yourself with other tasks around the room and wipe them down at the end’.
If you find yourself getting distracted whilst cleaning, Beth McCallum of Oh So Spotless suggests setting a timer. ‘Start with 15 minutes and try to get as much done as possible in that time. We find it helps to put on a motivating playlist too!’.
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For 10 years, Tara King worked as a Content Editor in the magazine industry, before leaving to become freelance, covering interior design, wellbeing, craft and homemaking. As well as writing for Ideal Home, Style at Home, Country Homes & Interiors, Tara’s keen eye for styling combined with a passion for creating a happy – and functional – family home has led to a series of organization and cleaning features for H&G.
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