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The Ultimate 10 Step Whole-House Cleaning Plan

Yes, your primary goal in cleaning is to remove dirt. But at what cost? Surely you don't want to injure yourself and damage the very thing you are trying to clean. You want to get it done as quickly and with as little effort as possible.

The Ultimate Whole-House Cleaning Plan
Reader's Digest

Stick to these 10 laws when cleaning any room and you're golden.

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1. Clean it up sooner rather than later
1. Clean it up sooner rather than later
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Spills and stains are generally much easier to clean up when you attack them right away.

If you treat that tomato sauce splatter on your shirt without delay, for instance, it will offer little resistance.

If you wait until the next day, you'll be sporting a permanent-look­ing red polka dot that you'll expend a lot more cleaning solution and time getting out.

Similarly, clothing or carpet stains are easi­est to remove when they're fresh.

The longer you wait, the more chance the stain has to set.

The rare exception to this law: Mud tracked onto your carpet is easiest to clean when you've let it dry first.

Wait until it's bone dry and crumbly; then just vacuum it up. 

2. Clean from the top down
2. Clean from the top down
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Don't fight gravity when you clean. You'll lose.

Working from high to low almost always works better in cleaning individual rooms.

When you're cleaning the entire house, start on the top floor and work your way down to avoid tracking through rooms you've already cleaned.

When you're cleaning a single room, first remove the cobwebs from the ceiling and upper mouldings.

Then dust the ceiling fan and light fixtures, followed by window frames and wall hangings.

Moving downward, conquer the furniture, baseboards, and floors.

This ensures that any dust shaken loose from on high does not settle on something you've already cleaned below.

Simi­larly, when you clean windows and mirrors, start up high and work your way down, because your cleaner obeys gravity. 

This saves you effort and time.

The ancillary to this rule is always to clean left to right, starting at the door to the room.

That way, you'll never miss a spot or go over the same area twice.

3. Think dry, then wet
3. Think dry, then wet
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When you're cleaning a room, start with the cleaning jobs that require dry methods (dust­ing, sweeping, and vacuuming, for instance).

Then move on to wet methods (using an all­purpose cleaner and glass cleaner, mopping, and the like).

This way, there will be less dirt floating around in the room to cling to wet surfaces. 

4. Start with the least harmful approach
4. Start with the least harmful approach
Wikipedia

Use your gentlest cleaning methods first and move up to more aggressive techniques only if necessary.

And know your materials well enough so that you will stop your cleaning efforts before you do damage.

Better to suffer along with a small spot on your stovetop, for instance, than to ruin the surface with steel wool.

This also applies to the cleaners you use.

Start with warm water and mild soap before you turn to bleach and harsh detergents.

5. Let time do the work for you
5. Let time do the work for you
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A little time-management trick will make your cleaning easier and faster.

When you plot out your approach, remember to spray on your cleaning chemicals first and then do another little job while the cleaner does its dirty work.

If you're cleaning the kitchen, for instance, spray your cleaner on the counters and appliances, then occupy yourself with removing old food from the refrigerator while the cleaner soaks in. 

When you come back to wipe clean, there will be little or no scrubbing to do.

6. Carry your supplies with you
6. Carry your supplies with you
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This is key to making whole-house clean­ing as easy and quick as possible.

Carrying your core cleaning products with you will save you from making multiple trips around the house looking for the right tools and cleaners.

Pick up one of these accessories at a home­ improvement centre or hardware store: 

•     A cleaning caddy-a plastic or rubber car­rier with a handle and compartments for holding your gear 
•     A sturdy, large plastic bucket with a good handle 
•     A rolling supply cart 
•     An apron with roomy pockets 

Put your cleaning supplies into the receptacle you've chosen, along with clean rags, paper towels, and a trash bag for empty­ing all of those wastebaskets, and cart it with you from room to room.

If your house has multiple floors, keep a fully stocked caddy on each level.

However, don't weigh your carrier down with specialty products needed for only one job around the house.

Store toilet bowl cleaner, for instance, under the bathroom sink.

7. When in doubt, make a stealth test
7. When in doubt, make a stealth test
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Before you use a new cleaning technique or product, test the method on an inconspicuous area of the object you're cleaning.

This rule also applies when you first clean an object that is deli­cate and might be damaged by a cleaning compound.

Testing will show you whether the object is colourfast and whether the cleaning method is likely to do damage. 

8. Don't rush easily damaged items
8. Don't rush easily damaged items
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When you clean an item that could be harmed by a liquid clean­ing product (electronics, computer screens, framed artwork, or framed photographs, for example), first spray the cleaner on your cleaning cloth and then wipe.

Don't spray cleaner directly on any object you're cleaning.

Cleaner dripping into your electronics could do them damage, and cleaner dripping into a frame and soaking the matting could harm your artwork. 

9. Read the directions
9. Read the directions
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The makers of all those wonderful furnishings in your home really do know best how to clean them.

And the makers of your cleaning prod­ucts know best how to use them.

So whenever possible, follow the manufacturer's directions.

That goes for everything from toasters and silk blouses to down comforters and mini blinds.

Be sure to file the directions and cleaning tips that come with any new appliance, rug, or other household item, and don't remove those care labels that come on clothes, linens, and other potentially washable objects. 

10. Protect thyself
10. Protect thyself
Wikimedia

Last but not least, take care of yourself.

Many cleaning products contain acid, bleach, abra­sives, and other ingredients that can damage your eyes, skin, nose, and even your lungs.

So make sure your cleaning kit includes a pair of rubber gloves and protective safety glasses.

If it's not too steamy, wear an old pair of pants or sweats and an old long-sleeved shirt to cover your arms in case of spatters from cleaning products.

Cover your hair with a kerchief or baseball cap.

Whenever you're using cleaning chemicals, make sure the room you're in is properly ventilated. 

Insider Insights
Insider Insights
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Keeping a cleaning schedule is key to staying ahead of dirt, clutter, and general messiness.

We checked with many cleaning experts who have both feet solidly planted in the real world.

Here's how often you should perform the most com­mon, general cleaning tasks (in addition to the room-by-room action plans that follow). 

EVERY DAY

•     Put things away when you're finished using them
•     Wash dishes, wipe kitchen coun­ters, clean up stove spills, and empty the trash as needed
•     Towel down showers after use to prevent mineral deposit buildup and mildew
•     Wipe out sinks
•     Tidy up bedrooms and make beds

TWICE A WEEK

•     Dust-mop hardwood floors to prevent scratching from dirt
•     Declutter rooms
•     Vacuum if you live in a dusty region or have children and pets that track in lots of dirt. Otherwise, weekly vacuuming should suffice.

ONCE A MONTH

•     Wipe or vacuum baseboards and blinds
•     Sweep the garage, patio, and walkways
•     Vacuum upholstered furniture with the brush attachment
•     Thoroughly clean the ceiling fixtures in one room (rotate)
•     Wash throw rugs
•     Dust ceiling fans

EVERY THREE MONTHS

•     Remove cobwebs from high up in stairwells or vaulted ceilings
•     Change or clean furnace and air­conditioner filters (less frequently in low-use seasons)
•     Clean the oven

EVERY SIX MONTHS

•     Wash windows inside and out. Do this quarterly for windows near work spaces (the kitchen sink or desk, for instance)
•     Declutter storage areas in the basement, attic, and garage
•     Vacuum, flip, and rotate mattresses
•     Polish silver
•     Air out pillows

ONCE A YEAR

•     Move heavy furniture to clean behind and underneath
•     Vacuum rug pads and the backs of large area rugs
•     Clean drapes and carpets (may require dry cleaning and steam cleaning)
•     Turn area rugs 180 degrees to even out wear
•     Wash walls
•     Clean chandeliers



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