What You Need to Clean Like a Pro
Clean Like a Boss.
I have been running a small cleaning business in Central Maine for almost 4 years now. I am often asked for cleaning tips, so I decided to start with what you need to clean your home thoroughly and efficiently.
1. Dress for success:
Much like dressing for a workout, cleaning is a task in which you will want to be able to move like a panther, and your clothes should allow for that. Put aside some comfortable clothing, that you can move, bend, and crawl around on dirty floors in. I usually wear yoga pants, a t-shirt, a hoodie, and some leather bottomed slipper socks or light sneaks. Again, these clothes may get dirty, dusty, stretched and ripped, or stained - so choose accordingly and keep this outfit specifically for cleaning. Knee pads (or a rolled up towel) are helpful to have on hand.
2. Your Basket:
You're going to want to get yourself a basket for your supplies. I suggest a large plastic model with easy to grab handles. It should be large enough to hold the few cleaning supplies and tools you'll need, but portable enough to lug around your entire house w/o killing you. In this basket you'll need just a few items to clean your entire house:
- All purpose cleaner. Use whatever you want. I mix 50/50 warm water and white vinegar and add 5-10 drops of peppermint, eucalyptus, or lemon oil. This can be used on any surface, including mirrors and glass, eating surfaces, safe on fabrics (in moderation), safe around pets and kids, and a kick ass product.
- A scrubbing agent. Again, what's your go-to grunge remover? I have a mason jar of baking soda. It is safe to use on porcelain, stainless steel or enamel sinks, cast iron tubs, and most counters. Always test an inconspicuous spot on any new surface. Sprinkle and then spray your all purpose vinegar based cleaner and you get fwoosh!, mega cleaning power.
- Furniture polish. Can also be diluted to clean and polish up wood floors and dust. I have a jar w/ 1/4 c. olive oil, 1/4 c. Brommer's Peppermint Castile Soap (liquid), 1c. warm water, and 10-20 drops lemon, balsam, or peppermint oil.
- Toilet bowl cleaner. I often use a whap of baking soda followed by a splash of uncut white vinegar. I've also used method Antibac Toilet cleaner.
- A small bottle of straight bleach.
- I also have a reusable shopping bag full of rags. I have rags from t-shirts and towels, sponges with scrubber pads, soft dusting and polishing clothes (I have a few microfiber ones, but I love the bamboo clothes that TWIST makes), and non cotton, lint free, microfiber glass and window clothes. Also a few scrubbing brushes, some with long handles. A toilet brush should be stationed in each bathroom.
- A small baggie with a razor blade and q-tips for detail work. I have a jar of straight peppermint oil in here too. The oil dissolves sticker stickiness and old cold grease like nobodies business. Just a drop will do.
"I'm not going to vacuum until Sears makes one you can ride on." —Roseanne Barr
3. Vacuum, vroom vroom.
I'm not here to tell you what kind of a vacuum to get. But you need one, and a good one. A vacuum that you feel confidant in. You need to be able to clean carpets, and hard floors, to clean edges, and under furniture. I have an Oreck upright that is a master on rugs, and does good work on tile, linoleum and any hardwood floors (it can scratch soft wood or slate - uprights can so keep an eye on it, and know your floors) and a handheld Oreck canister for edges, stairs, and also touch up work on hard floors. Both of these vacuums are powerful but lightweight, so I can move anywhere around the house with them. I also suggest a nice long grounded extension chord. You can keep this in your cleaning basket.
If I could tell people to do one thing, it would be this --> ditch your sponge mop. They stink. There are like ten better options.
There are dozens of quick mops on the market. What you want is a sturdy handle and large mop head with pads or mop heads you can remove and wash. You don't need a attached floor cleaner bottle, you can use your own spray bottle or jug, but if it does have one make sure it is re-fill able. Ideally the mop should have wet and dry capabilities/clothes. Dusting under furniture and swooping up dust bunnies is dry mop work. If you have a Swiffer, it's cool- just fashion yourself some rags to use rather then the disposable clothes they sell. Cotton string mops are also good, especially if you have a bucket/wringer system. Again - know your floors. If you have miles of floors that get heavy traffic to wash, a big cotton mop and bucket is a good option. If your home is mostly carpeted, a quick mop is better. And some floors just aren't going to look good unless they are hand washed! Get out the knee pads!
That's all you really need. But here are a few more things you might like to have, depending on how ninja you are.
- Steam Cleaner. I have one. It has pads for floors and a detachable wand that makes me a steam jet magician in the bathroom. It works great and wasn't expensive, but is absolutely not necessary.
- A Window Kit. I have a two sided bucket, with squeegees and sponges for doing windows.
- Carpet Cleaner. You can rent them, which is usually enough, but if you live in a cream colored wall to wall carpeted mansion with 10 Labrador Retrievers, you might want to buy one.
- Extendy Wand Duster.
- An ipod :)
- Lint roller.
- Scent. I use essential oil diluted with warm water. Spritz spritz and it's lavender time.
Dressed in your warrior garb, armed with your vacuums, basket, rags, and quick mop, you are ready to clean your home. Keep it clean, and keep it green, my friends!