How clean is your home? Let’s answer this question straight away: It’s not as clean as you THINK it is. After the shelves have been dusted, the windows washed, and the floors have been swept, scrubbed, and mopped, there are still overlooked spots where grime is hiding. Do you know where they are? Don’t worry! We’ve prepared our best solutions for helping you get to every corner.
How clean are your cleaning supplies?
Just because they’re immersed in suds doesn’t mean they are clean. If your cleaning items go uncleaned, you’re simply smearing the house with germs and grime! There is a right way (and a wrong way) to scrub those scrubbers, brush your broom, and wash your wiping cloths, check in the section below labeled: Cleaning your Cleaning supplies.
Are you cleaning in the right order?
For instance, always vacuum before you sweep: If you use a broom to sweep the dust away, you’ll only succeed in kicking it up so that the dust lands somewhere else. To address dust in curtains and softer surfaces, use the vacuum’s brush attachment.
Do you clean as you cook?
Instead of filling the sink with pots and dishes, wash them or put them in the dishwasher as you prepare a meal. Yes, it can seem like an inconvenience at the time, but not only does this take the work out of heavy-duty dish-washing and pot-scrubbing later, it prevents odor and grime from building up. From there, you can actually enjoy time spent with friends and family who’ve gathered in your dining area.
How much clutter do you have?
Of course, tidiness begets tidiness, but it’s more than that. An excessive amount of stuff impacts the health of your home in very physical ways: without regular rotation, mold lingers in hidden corners, products expire, dust builds, and common household pests sneak their way in. The less clutter you allow to accumulate, the less grime your home will generate and that results in reducing overall housework by 40 percent. At the bare minimal every season, you should follow the old homestead rules. Spring & Fall is time for a whole house deep cleaning. remove things from shelves, clean, and inventory (making sure to check for expired foodstuffs) your pantry/food storage area. Summer & Winter is when you switch out your wardrobe (repair, replace, donate items not worn in the past 6 months), also make certain to perform a deep cleaning of your clothing storage areas as well (inside and around dressers, shelves, inside closets, or other storage containers).
Does the air seem less than fresh?
Unbeknownst to us, airborne allergens like pollen, dust, pet dander, and mold spores are swirling around our living spaces. Daily, we are subjected to hazardous chemicals emitted from household products and furnishings. In fact, according to the EPA, indoor air pollution levels are typically twice as high as levels outside and this can have dire consequences for your health. Therefore, proper housekeeping guidelines should be followed.
Do you enforce a no-shoe rule?
You should. Outdoor shoes transfer bacteria like E. coli to floors, according to a study done at the University of Arizona. At the door, set out a basket of slippers or skid-resistant socks to encourage the habit for family members and guests alike.
How often do you dust?
Each year, an average of 40 pounds of dust materialize in your home. Really. As clutter accumulates, so does dust. Think beyond the visible surfaces: Brush down staircase banisters, furniture, light fixtures, ceiling fans, and in between objects.
What About Your Walls?
If your walls could talk, they’d be crying out for a good cleaning. Dust, grime, fingerprints, grease, and crayon marks (courtesy of your “budding artists” at home) all line the walls. They each call for a different solution.
When was the last time you cleaned your appliances?
Major appliances like dishwashers, washers, and dryers do some of the heaviest (and most important) cleaning in your home. So it only makes sense to thoroughly clean the machines that clean your dishes, utensils, cookware, and clothes.
Is your fridge Overstocked?
If it is, that’s a problem. The refrigerator is one of the hardest working appliances in your home. Do you wipe surface spills immediately? Check the contents daily for spoilage? Keep groceries to a reasonable amount? Too many items can block the circulation of airflow, causing food to spoil faster, and leading to a bigger cleaning job later. Find the USDA’s recommended storage limits for refrigerated and frozen food at foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/storagetimes.html
Do you properly disinfect your electronic devices?
Your go-to gadgets namely, your cell phone, printer, and keyboard, mouse, and monitor. As well as their affiliated accessories all require a good cleaning to function properly. But besides that, without proper cleaning maintenance, they can become a breeding ground for germs. A can of compressed air can dislodge bigger particles while a deeper disinfecting calls for careful dispensing of an alcohol or ammonia-based solution, always remember to never use ammonia based cleaners of any sort on TV/Monitor LCD screens (tablets and phones normally have a glass cover over their touch screens, so should be safe. When in doubt check with your manufacturer).
Cleaning 101 – How to clean without harsh chemicals!
Many people are conditioned to believe a house is not clean unless it smells of chemicals. In fact, the opposite is true. You can make your house sparkle with just a few simple supplies, many of which are already in your cupboards.
Mild Is Best: Mild dish-washing liquid is excellent for removing spills that water won’t budge. Make a simple all-purpose cleaner by mixing 2 cups water with 2 tablespoons dish-washing liquid in a spray bottle. Use it on counter-tops and other hard surfaces.
The Power of Baking Soda: Baking soda has scrubbing power but won’t scratch surfaces. Mix a paste of 3 parts warm water to 1 part baking soda to scrub kitchen stains or clean the oven. Make a bathroom cleanser by mixing dish-washing liquid with baking soda until you have a thick paste.
Natural Cleaners: Distilled white vinegar and lemon juice are both excellent for cleaning, deodorizing, and mild bleaching. They are acidic and can eliminate soap scum. Make a window- and mirror-cleaner by mixing equal parts vinegar and water, which also works well on most polyurethane-finished wood floors.
Less Is More: For routine cleaning, less is more. You actually need very few products to clean any given room. Although there will certainly be instances where specialized cleaners are necessary, the following list of products will suffice for most tasks. Gather them in a container so you can transport them from room to room as you work.
Your universal cleaning kit should include:
An all-purpose cleaning solution: 2 tablespoons mild dish-washing liquid, such as Ivory, and 2 cups water in a spray bottle
A mildly abrasive cleanser, such as Bon Ami
A glass cleaner solution: 1 part white vinegar and 1 part water in a spray bottle
Rubber gloves; lint-free white cloths; medium-bristled scrub brush
Cleaning the Kitchen: Cleanliness isn’t merely a virtue in the kitchen, the busiest room in your house: It is essential to the health and safety of your family. Corral your supplies in a bin or bucket stored in a cupboard under or near the sink. To protect the floor of the cupboard, line it with parchment paper or rubber matting.
Cleaning the Bathroom(s): Cleaning a bathroom well does not mean using harsh chemicals. Start with the gentlest cleaning solutions first before moving on to anything stronger. Adequate ventilation via a ceiling fan or open window will help prevent moisture buildup and go a long way toward keeping the bathroom fresh.
How to Clean Your Cleaning Supplies!
Cleanliness isn’t merely a virtue: It is essential to the health of your family and household. From your dustiest feather dusters to your scummiest sponges, here is how to clean your cleaning supplies.
Cleaning your scrub brushes: After each use, rinse brushes thoroughly to remove any particles of food or dirt. Do not soak brushes to clean them; doing so can weaken or dislodge bristles. To prevent them from becoming moldy or sour, allow brushes to air dry before storing them. Dry them bristle side up or hanging from a hook to prevent the bristles from warping.
Cleaning your broom: To maintain the shape of your broom, hang it on a wall or store it upside down. If the bristles become splayed, submerge them in warm water for 30 seconds. Then wrap a rubber band around the bottom, and hang the broom for a day or two. When you remove the band, the bristles’ form will be restored. Clean the bristles by running them over a stiff edge, such as a deck stair or a front stoop.
Dusting off the duster: Whether you’ve chosen a feather duster or a lamb’s-wool duster, the general use and care is the same. Release the dust by shaking the tool outside, or gently tap the duster on your ankle to release the dust onto the floor to then vacuum up.
Cleaning your cleaning cloths: Used for blotted stains on carpets and soaking up big spills. Look for inexpensive bar mops, also known as the classic white towels used in restaurants. Wash and dry as you would your cloth clothing, after a couple of uses.
Cleaning your polishing cloth: Choose untreated 100-percent-cotton flannel, which is softer than plain cotton, for polishing silver or other metals. Wash and dry as you would your cloth clothing, if you can’t launder it right after use, let it dry on a rack before throwing in the laundry basket. Do not use fabric softener or dryer sheets, as these reduce absorbency and can leave behind a residue.
If you choose to use sponges, over cotton cloth: Putting sponges in the microwave to disinfect them is a bad idea. Although it may kill bacteria, it can also cause a fire. After use, thoroughly rinse and wring them out, and keep them in an open dish (such as a flat soap dish for hand soap) where air can circulate so that they dry thoroughly. Remember to replace them every two weeks.
Cleaning your mop: Keeping a mop impeccably clean is essential, not only will this ensure cleaner floors, but even a little bit of leftover soil can result in a sour smell. After washing the floor, rinse the mop-head thoroughly in a bucket of clean, hot (but not boiling) water. If the mop-head is easily detachable, you can rinse it in a utility sink instead. To avoid spreading germs, never rinse mop-heads or other tools used for cleaning in the kitchen sink.
Regular vacuum cleaning and maintenance: Make sure the vacuum is unplugged before cleaning it. Once a month, use a damp cloth and mild detergent to wipe off any dirty from the outside casing, hoses, and attachments. After each use, vacuum the rug/floor attachment with the crevice tool or hose before putting away the machine. Empty or change the bags once a week, or as often as needed. If you or your spouse have long hair that tends to get caught in the bristles using a razor to cut the hair across the bristles will allow you to pull them free, which will also increase it’s ability to pull other items into the debris storage area (bag or bag-less container).
Washing down the washing machines: Once a week, wipe down the outside of the washer and dryer with a cloth dampened with mild dish-washing liquid and water; rinse with plain water and wipe dry. Wipe the inside of the machine with a damp cloth to remove lint, debris, or soapy residue.
If it seems that your clothes are not getting as clean as they should, it’s time for a deep cleaning of the machine (which should be done at minimum every 6 months for your Summer/Winter deep clean). Run a short hot wash cycle with detergent, then rinse with plain water. If the machine is exceptionally dirty or requires sanitizing, add ¾ cup bleach and 1 tablespoon powdered laundry detergent, fill the washer with warm water, and let it sit in the machine for a few minutes. Then drain and rinse a few times with plain water to eliminate any traces of dirt or bleach.
Cleaning out the dishwasher: Once a week, clean the front and dishwasher door control panel with a soft, lightly dampened cloth and dry thoroughly. Stainless steel can be cleaned with a commercial stainless-steel spray or a 1 to 1 mix of vinegar and water. To clean the control panel, use a lightly dampened cloth. Note:excessive moisture can damage the controls, so it is best to spray the water unto the cloth then clean (do not drench the cloth) and then dry thoroughly. Dishwasher interiors are either stainless steel or plastic. Stainless is generally impervious to stains; plastic is more vulnerable.
Seasonal Deep Cleaning:
Spring/Fall Deep Cleaning:
Deep Clean Carpet and Rugs (Spring or Fall, not both): Spot-clean rugs and carpeting as stains occur, but at least once per year (spring or Fall) Do a deep clean with a DIY Rental, or hire a professional.
Clean Window Treatments: Take down your draperies and launder or dry-clean them; dust off blinds and clean with a sponge. Freeing these areas of dust helps to refresh the air in your home so you can breathe easy.
Replace/Switch your Outside Doormats: Give your front door a fresh new look. Replace your winter-ravaged doormat with your spring & summer one, or replace with a new one.
Smoke Alarm Maintenance (Spring/Fall): Fire safety includes doing a battery check every six months. A great way to remember this task is to do it when you reset clocks for daylight savings, or when you do your Spring/Fall deep clean.
Clean Your Gutters (Start of Spring/End of Fall): It’s time again to clear gutters of leaves, twigs, and debris left in winter’s wake. It’s important to keep gutters clear so they won’t clog and drive water under the house eaves and into your walls.
Service Air Conditioning Units (Spring): This is important to the health of your HVAC unit. Inspect your air conditioning units. Remove and clean filters or replace if disposable, and vacuum vents on window units. If you have central air, have a professional service the unit ever spring.
Clean Coffee Maker: This should be done once a month but at minimum with ever seasonal cleaning (spring, summer, fall, and winter) this helps to remove mineral deposits by pouring equal parts white vinegar and water into your coffee maker’s tank. With carafe in place, run the machine for half a cycle, switch off, let sit for an hour, then finish. Run several cycles of water to remove any potential aftertaste.
Prevent Bugs: As the weather warms, insects return in search of food. Don’t put out the welcome mat. Instead, make sure all dry goods are stored in airtight containers. Wash your pet’s dishes as soon as they finish meals. Check seals on trash receptacles and wash all containers and bottles before recycling.
Clean Siding/Cladding (Spring): Most common types of siding (wooden, aluminum, and vinyl) should be sprayed down twice a year with a garden hose to remove grime.
Prepare Your Outside Spaces (Spring): Don’t be stuck cleaning the day of your first cookout. Prep now and enjoy your deck or patio whenever you like. If you have a grill, make certain to do your deep cleaning on it now as well, make sure gas units are firing evenly by clearing clogged burner holes with a sewing needle. Remove grime by spraying grates with a solution of equal parts distilled vinegar and water. Close lid, leave for an hour, then scrape gently with a putty knife, or stiff bristled cleaning brush.
Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet: Restock supplies, discard old medicines, refill prescriptions, and replace any expired cosmetics.
Get a Car Check-Up (Spring): Have the air-conditioning, cooling system, tires, and brakes inspected before you hit the road. Add in a vacuum, wash, and wax.
Eliminate Clutter Where You Can: Freshen up your rooms by removing unnecessary objects from tabletops and shelves, storing them. Replace them with a single arrangement of fresh flowers, to assist with not cluttering horizontal spaces.
Prep Your Vegetable Garden (Spring): Good planning is essential to a successful vegetable garden. Vegetables have specific requirements, and you must choose your site carefully to ensure a bountiful harvest. Here are the basics you need to consider before you select your seeds.
Wash down outdoor furniture (Fall): At the end of the summer season, your outdoor pieces may start to show their age with rust marks, mildew, or stains. Proper cleaning varies with the surface. With a little extra care now, you will be sure to enjoy the pieces for years to come.
Check Firewood Supply (Start of Fall): As the darkest, coldest days of winter come on, you’ll want to be sure you have enough firewood on hand to keep the house warm and toasty, so make certain to check now so as not to get caught out in the cold, literally.
Summer Deep Clean:
Restock Your First-Aid Kit: Prepare for the scrapes and stings of summer by making sure your first-aid kit is filled with bandages, antiseptic wipes, and antibiotic ointment.
Power-Wash Fences and Gates: This is a quick and easy way to remove built-up mildew. Buy or rent a power washer from a home-supply store. Follow instructions; the spray can damage wood if used improperly.
Keep out the unwanted guests: To avoid uninvited guests who come looking for food and water, make a nontoxic, homemade repellent. Pour equal amounts of water and white vinegar into a spray bottle, and shake to mix. Then spritz the solution in water-resistant areas where ants are common, such as kitchen floors or the crevices in painted baseboards from which the pests often enter. You can also use the repellent outside, spraying patios, porches, and picnic tables before family and friends gather.
Rotate lampshades near windows: Sunlight from nearby windows can fade your lampshades over time. To keep them looking uniform, rotate each shade a half turn every time you dust (once a month is best).
Shade potted plants: Sun-sensitive foliage such as bromeliads and some agaves enjoy late-day shade, so position them near trees or shrubs that can provide a little afternoon cover.
Clean outdoor garbage cans: This chore should be a breeze if you first drill several half-inch holes in the bottom of the can. The drainage holes will allow you to hose down the insides of the barrel without having to dump out the dirty water; this will also prevent rainwater from collecting. Rinse with a hose, scrub interiors with water and biodegradable dish soap, rinse, and dry in the sun.
Rotate your mattress: For even wear and a longer life, rotate your mattress four times a year. Alternate between flipping it end-over-end and side-over-side. You should also vacuum the mattress at this time.
Service garden tools: Garden tools need the same daily care as the plots they maintain. Caring for them is easier than working with dull ones and cheaper than buying new ones every few years.
Reseed bare spots: Check your lawn for bare patches and reseed heavily. Fertilize with an organic fertilizer such as rotted manure or fish emulsion.
Winter Deep Clean:
Winterize your entry: Place a rough mat (coir, wood, or rubber) outside for wiping off mud and snow and an absorbent mat inside to soak up moisture.
Season Your Cast-Iron Pots and Pans: A properly seasoned cast-iron pan has inherent nonstick properties. Here are tricks for proper seasoning and periodic maintenance of a true kitchen workhorse (if you don’t know, check for a video on YouTube).
Clean and Reorganize the Kitchen Pantry: Pantry cabinets need their contents taken out periodically so shelves can be wiped down. It’s also a good time to reorganize, inventory, and check for expired items.
Replace Baking Soda in Fridge and Freezer: The odor-absorbing properties of baking soda make it a necessity for the fridge and freezer. The trick is in remembering to replace it. See our tips for keeping your fridge clean and fresh.
Wax Wooden Furniture: Keep wooden furniture looking new with a seasonal waxing and buffing. Many modern wooden furniture pieces come with a protective polyurethane coating, but for older items, nothing beats wax to protect against dust and moisture. Choose paste wax, the solid kind sold in tins. Natural (clear) wax works on any wood, but dark wood may benefit from tinted wax (it will mask tiny scratches). Begin by cleaning with a mild solvent, such as mineral spirits (test first in a hidden spot).Then cover the piece with a thin, even layer of wax using a cotton rag or cheesecloth. Let dry 10 to 25 minutes; buff vigorously.
Wash chandeliers, dust light bulbs: Beautiful homes are all about great lighting; dust off lampshades and light bulbs, and give your chandeliers a clean shine.
How healthy is your heating: Heating accounts for more than a third of the average annual energy bill, so it pays to make your system more efficient.
Clean your tea kettle: To remove mineral deposits, boil equal parts white vinegar and water inside kettle. Remove from heat. Let sit several hours; rinse. Hand wash the pot’s exterior with a gentle pot-scrubber sponge. Let tap water run for a few moments before adding it to the pot.
Plan your spring garden: A snowy winter afternoon is the perfect time to plan your vegetable garden. So start leafing through seed and plant catalogs. Once you’ve picked your favorite plants, begin placing orders and plotting out what will go where.
Is there something we missed? Is there something you do differently? Share your suggestions below, and make sure to check us out at: www.facebook.com/mostprepared or over at: www.facebook.com/groups/sotmp