Cleaning is an incredibly useful skill for anyone to have. Unfortunately, many of us never really learn how to clean. At least not properly. We end up figuring it through trial and error sometimes, but I’ll admit that I’m still learning the right way to clean different things. Learning to properly clean can also be a bit daunting if you think that you need a bunch of different chemicals and fancy tools. Luckily, as with most things in life, cleaning is actually easier than you think it is.
The first thing you should do, is establish a cleaning schedule. If you’re never sure of what to clean, and when to do it, you’re going to either spend more time than you need cleaning things over and over, or you’ll put off cleaning for so long that everything becomes a big, impossible task. It’s important to keep daily, weekly, monthly, and seasonal tasks for cleaning your home. A perfect example is that dishes get washed every day, fridges get cleaned out once a week, freezers get cleaned once a month, and ovens should be cleaned once every few months unless you should spill something in them, in which case, wipe it up quickly and then proceed with your normal schedule.
By breaking the schedule down like this you end up with many smaller, more manageable tasks, and you address bigger tasks before they get out of hand. Dusting once a month not only keeps the dust from being as noticeable should you let it go for a full year, but it’s also much easier to remove a fine layer of dust compared to a thick layer.
Now, let’s take a look at some basic cleaning tips that will get you through most anything. If you can start on a leaning routine when you move into a place, it’s easier to maintain, and it gives you the added benefit of being able to make sure everything has been deep cleaned before you put furniture in place and forget that there’s 5 feet of carpet under that couch that needs vacuumed. Don’t fret if you’re just not starting a cleaning routine when you’ve lived in a place for months or years though, with patience and consistency, anything is doable.
Baked on Grease: Do you have cookie sheets and pots that are caked in a layer of baked on grease? You don’t want to use steel wool because it can damage any non-stick coating that’s there. Dish soap and table salt is a surprisingly gentle option for cutting through that grease though. Soak your pan in hot water to soften up the grease, then when you’re ready, sprinkle a generous amount of table salt on the pan, and soap up your sponge. Give everything a good scrub, and repeat as necessary.
Coffee Maker: Coffee makers need cleaned occasionally. Run your coffee pot with the reservoir filled with half water and half white vinegar. Afterwards, run a cycle filled with just clean water to remove any left over vinegar.
Coffee/Tea Stains: Wet your cups tea pots, ect…sprinkle with salt, and then clean with a soapy sponge to take set in stains right out.
Cutting Boards: Stained cutting boards got you down? Cut a lemon in half, sprinkle your cutting board with salt, and then scrub the surface of the cutting board with the lemon half. The juice helps pull up stains to leave your cutting boards looking clean.
Dust (anything): Blinds can be a daunting task, especially slatted blinds. If you’re ever tried to dust them with a regular duster then you know it doesn’t actually work that well. The easiest way to clean those blinds is just to get your hands on them. A cleaning rag dipped in a solution of 1 part water and 1 part white vinegar, wiped across the slats will easily take off all the dust. The same solution can be used for ceiling fans as well. Be sure, any time you’re dusting, that you start at the top and work your way down, and save sweeping or vacuuming until after you’ve dusted. If you’re going to use this on wood or other porous materials, test a small, hidden spot first to make sure there’s no discoloration.
Garbage Disposal: A tablespoon of baking soda and a cup of white vinegar down the disposal once a week will help prevent funky smells, and gunky buildup. Another alternative is to throw some lemon peels in and run the disposal.
Glassware: If your glassware is cloudy because of built of hard-water mineral deposits then it’s time to soak them on plain white vinegar for five minutes. Rinse them in cool water afterwards, and dry with a soft cloth.
Hardwood Floors: First, you need to know if your floors are polyurethaned or waxed. Either way, start by sweeping up all dust and dirty with a soft broom or a dry mop. If you’re floors are waxed then be sure to regularly wax them, in order to keep them protected. If they are polyurethane then you can mop them. Again, vinegar is going to be a good cleaning tool here. One gallon of water and one cup of white vinegar, mixed well, and then be sure to mop with the grain.
Lampshades: Lampshades are easily cleaned and dusted with a lint roller. Just run it over the shade to remove any dust build up and keep them looking clean and fresh.
Microwaves: Mix a cup of water, 2-3 tablespoon of white vinegar, and some lemon slices. Microwave for a few minutes, until the microwave is steamy, then let it sit for about 5 minutes. Open up the microwave and wipe it out.
Mirrors: Windex works, but if you’re looking for a chemical-free alternative, try dipping a cloth in a strong pot of black tea. Rub the mirror with the damp cloth in circular motions, and then follow up with a dry, soft cloth for a shimmering clean. Don’t have black tea in your house? You can mix ½ cup white vinegar, ¼ cup rubbing alcohol, and 2 cups of water for a homemade windex.
Shower Heads: Fill a plastic bag with 1 part water and 1 part white vinegar, and tie it over the shower head. Let it soak for an hour, and then remove and wipe away all the loosened gunk from the shower head.
Sliding Door Tracks: Get your trusty mix of 1 part water and 1 part white vinegar. Spray generously into door and window tracks and let soak for a few minutes. Wipe it up with a rag or some paper towels, and add a squirt of WD-40 if the track seems to be sticking.
Toothbrushes: Yup, toothbrushes can and should be cleaned once a month. Swirl the head around in a ¼ cup of warm water and a ¼ cup of baking soda. Let it soak for at least 30 minutes but up to all night long, and then rinse before you use it again.
With a little elbow grease and the right tools, cleaning is actually an easy task. And if you’re someone who doesn’t like cleaning and avoids it, I just want you to think about how nice it feels to finish up your cleaning and have a spotless room to relax in!