A little known fact about me is that I have more than 15 years of experience in the… wait for it… cleaning industry. I’ve profiled more than 100 people who manage the cleaning of exclusive hotels like the Broadmoor in Colorado to Bally’s in Las Vegas, people who clean huge hospitals, children’s museums, college housing – you name the building type, they have cleaned it. I’ve also worked on the other side of the business, working with manufacturers of cleaning products like green cleaning chemicals and microfiber mops. It might sound boring but it’s an absolutely fascinating industry filled with some of the most under-recognized but incredible people. And their jobs are REALLY important when it comes to protecting the health of the buildings and people we visit. So thank a cleaner!
As we turn to the spring, the inevitable duty of deep cleaning will likely appear on your to-do list sooner or later. Over the years, I’ve picked up some best practices when it comes to cleaning our own home that I thought I’d share as you start to tackle spring cleaning projects around your own house.
- Ditch your terry cloth rag or string mop for microfiber. Microfiber is one of the best cleaning tools you can use. When you use it with distilled water, which is a powerful solvent, you can remove most soils. What’s amazing about microfiber is that it’s lint free and has magnetic properties that allow you to remove up to 98.9 percent of bacteria from a surface WITHOUT chemicals. And it’s launderable, just make sure wash your microfiber separately and don’t use bleach.
- Use green cleaning chemicals. Long gone are days of environmentally friendly cleaners that don’t work, but it’s important to be wary of products that claim they are “green” or “environmentally preferable” without a third-party endorsement such as Green Seal or Safer Choice. A little bit of research goes a long way when identifying chemicals that are actually green. Using green chemicals not only reduces the impact of your cleaning on the environment (crazy, but did you know certain cleaning detergents have been found to cause hermaphroditic fish?), but it can also reduce your family’s exposure to volatile organic compounds that could be an irritant to breathing, skin, etc.
- Put all of your tools in a caddy. When it’s time to start cleaning, organization is key. Gather all of your tools and put them in a mobile carrying case – such as a caddy or bucket that you can carry from one room to the next. This simple trick offers a tremendous time savings by eliminating multiple trips.
- Color-code for cleaning areas. If you’re deep cleaning, you want to maintain different cleaning tools for each area to help prevent cross contamination (or the transfer of bacteria throughout one area to the next). The easiest way to differentiate between different zones is to color-code. You can use a red cloth or mop head for potentially high-contamination zones, such as restrooms, yellow for more moderate contamination ares, like the kitchen and blue for everywhere else.
- Start high and work your way down. When it comes to actual cleaning, you should always start at the highest point in the room and work your way down. For example, you’d never want to clean your baseboards before you’ve dusted the bookshelves, as the dust would fall down and dirty the work you’ve already done. Vacuuming your floors should be one of your final activities when spring cleaning.
- Clean clockwise around the room. This will enable you to make sure you work in an organized fashion and don’t miss anything.
- Allow time for the chemicals to work. This is a hard one for most of us, because we just want to wipe it up and move on to the next thing, but it’s critical you allow for the appropriate dwell time. For most disinfectants that clean the really yucky stuff, chemicals need to sit for at least 7 to 10 minutes in order to do their job. If you’re not trying to disinfect the surface, you still need to let the product sit for a few minutes to effectively cut through the dirt.
- Use a plastic spatula or knife for cleaning tough-to-reach areas. While some people rely on an old toothbrush to reach the spots behind the faucet and around tighter areas, you should consider this as the first step. Use the toothbrush to agitate areas and then follow with a butter knife or spatula wrapped with a towel to pull away grime rather than just pushing it around.
- Carry a plastic bag as you go. I don’t know about you, but when I clean my house, it’s critical I eliminate as many potential distractions as possible so I actually finish the task at hand. By carrying a plastic bag for waste with you, you can save several minutes of running back and forth to the trash can… and trips to the fridge, the cookie jar, Facebook, etc.
- Refresh entryway matting. To help keep your home clean, don’t overlook what’s outside your doors. Entryway mats help stop dirt before it even enters your home, so keep mats clean throughout the year.
If you have any other tips to share, feel free to add them in the comments! We’d love to hear what else works for you!