Wondering how to clean smarter? For starters, there's really no right or wrong way to clean. Cleaning — regardless of how you do it — is a major feat in itself that should be celebrated. The fact that you cleaned at all is a win: Having a clean home can bring about a clearer mind and psyche. Once your home is clutter-free and organized, the more focused you will feel so you can move on to other important tasks. If everything is in its place, the more productive you can be. The health and wellness benefits of a clean home are also notable. A dust-free home is a home that keeps allergens, germs, and other pollutants at bay.
That being said, there are definitely ways to make cleaning house a quicker and easier process. Whether you're deep cleaning and organizing your bathroom, decluttering the garage, or sprucing up the kids' spaces, we know you don't always have a lot of time on your hands to devote to the project. So, we sought expert advice to uncover easy cleaning tips and tricks, plus product suggestions to streamline your efforts.
1. Declutter first.
Before you dust, wipe, and scrub, one of the first things you should do is, "Pick up, and put away everything [that] has gathered on the floor," says Sharon Lowenheim, MBA, MSE, certified professional organizer, and founder of Organizing Goddess, Inc. "Then, do the same with all the surfaces." Kate Pawlowski, founding partner of Done & Done Home, echoes Lowenheim's sentiment, adding that what makes cleaning so difficult for some people is that they have too much lying around the house. "We always suggest that doing a big declutter will make cleaning so much faster since everything is put away in its home," says Pawlowski.
2. Gather supplies.
When it comes to cleaning, getting started should entail creating a special station for all of your cleaning supplies and products. Devote one bucket or caddy to carry around the house with you while you clean, explains Wendy Silberstein, professional organizer and founder of The Aesthetic Organizer. Then, "create a master schedule and commit," she tells Woman's Day.
3. Make a schedule.
Having a schedule and cleaning cadence can give your home the focus it deserves, while also keeping your mind in check. There's no sense in cleaning the same space over and over again if you're neglecting other parts of your home. Divide your cleaning tasks into daily, weekly, and monthly lists, Jamie Hord, founder of Horderly Professional Organizing, suggests. "You'll never have to spend hours (or days) doing an entire-home deep clean again," she adds. Hord recommends wiping down and disinfecting all high-traffic areas daily — doorknobs, countertops, kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms, just to name a few. "On a weekly basis, wash sheets and towels, vacuum and mop floors, dust surfaces and furniture, and clean your showers and bathtubs," she says. As for monthly tasks, Hord suggests taking inventory of the food in your kitchen, cleaning supplies, and toiletries to make sure they're not expired or running low.
Once you've cleared the clutter and gotten your cleaning schedule and cadence down, it's time to start cleaning. We talked to the pros to uncover their most valuable tips for the best way to clean your house, so you can get right to it.
4. Work smarter, not harder.
Professional house cleaner and blogger of ConfessionsofaCleaningLady.com, Sara San Angelo, has a great motto for cleaning: "Work smarter not harder.”
One of the tools that helps her work smarter: a cordless electric spin scrubber with extendable arm. “You can clean your whole bathroom with it with minimal effort,” she says. “With the extendable arm, you don't have to bend over to clean large tubs or showers. Cleaning grout lines on the floor is a breeze.” San Angelo even dusts baseboards with it using a dry scrubber head.
5. Try the total method.
Roman Peysakhovich, CEO of national cleaning company Onedesk, recommends cleaning the entire house with every cleaning session — not just one room at a time. “House cleaning is much more efficient if you pick one task, such as dusting, mopping or vacuuming, and do the same task in every room of the house,” he says. “Focusing on one task will save you hours of time in the long run and it'll help you avoid starting the same task over and over again.”
The biggest mistake people make is cleaning room by room (also known as "zone cleaning"). "You can either clean your kitchen in four hours, or clean your entire house top to bottom in four hours," says Lisa Romero, owner of Just Like New Cleaning in Fort Collins, Colorado. "A lot of people get caught focusing on one area — say, doing a super job cleaning the counters — and never get to the stove, let alone the next room. In reality, just wiping things down and moving on is quick and efficient."
These pros are in favor of task cleaning, i.e. completing one chore, such as dusting, throughout the entire house before starting the next.
6. Dust with greatness.
Peysakhovich loves the Scrub Daddy Damp Duster for dusting most surfaces in your home. “The ridged edges of this easy-to-use duster trap even the smallest dust bunnies,” he explains. “This duster is built to last, and makes dusting your home easier.”
7. Increase your scrubbing power.
Residential real estate developer and general contractor Bill Samuel has innovated grout cleaning as he rehabs houses for reselling and renting. “When it comes to cleaning bathroom and kitchen tiles, we have found that any basic cleaning solution and some elbow grease will get the job done in almost every case. However, getting stains out of the grout between the tiles is much more difficult and so we discovered an effective method for cleaning tile grout,” he explains. “First you should purchase a product specifically designed for cleaning grout, so check out the reviews of any retailer to find the right product for the job.”
But here’s where the innovation comes in: Samuel uses a drill bit brush for the motorized scrubbing action. He specifically uses this Holikme Drill Brush Power Scrubber. Simply attach it to your drill and scrub grime away.
8. Give your toilet some TLC.
Doyle James, president of Mr. Rooter Plumbing, a Neighborly company, explains how to care for your potty: “For a squeaky clean toilet, mix 1 cup of baking soda with 15 drops of tea tree essential oil and 15 drops of lemon or orange essential oil. Let the mixture sit in the bowl for 30 minutes and scrub with a bowl brush before flushing.”
9. Clean your dishwasher.
Ron Shimek, president of Mr. Appliance, reminds to clean your dishwasher routinely. “The dishwasher is one of the biggest culprits for potential mold growth,” he says. "Its warm and damp environment is heaven for mold spores — especially if there’s food particles left behind from your last cycle."
To clean it, Shimek advises to regularly run an empty dry-heat cycle to flush out the interior, including the silverware basket, filter, panels, and door gasket. “To keep this appliance germ-free, you can clean the affected areas with diluted bleach and if there’s mold in the silverware basket, let it soak in your kitchen sink with diluted bleach and warm water for 30 minutes,” he adds. “Be sure to rinse thoroughly before placing back into the dishwasher.”
10. Don’t forget your drains.
Jake Romano, who works for Ottawa Drain Cleaners, says a routine drain cleaning that you can do yourself can save you hundreds of dollars on plumbing services in the long run. “Every month or two, simply pour half a cup of baking soda into the drain, followed by half a cup of white vinegar,” he explains. “Let it fizzle and react for about half an hour before flushing it down with hot water.”
Romano says that doing so will eat away at the grease and grime building in the drains, which lead to stubborn clogs.
He also suggests using products like drain enzyme cleaners regularly. “These cleaners are safe for the environment,” he adds. “They usually include enzymes and bacteria that will slowly devour the particle buildup in your drains. It can help with your entire plumbing system, even into your sewer.”
11. Clean what you clean with.
Peysakhovich stresses the importance of cleaning what you clean with. “To clean your house properly, your cleaning tools must be clean before you even start using them,” he says. “You'll end up spending more time trying to clean if you don't clean your tools beforehand.”
12. Start at the top, then go step-by-step.
The recommended plan of attack? Top-to-bottom, left-to-right. "I always start [in the upstairs bathroom]," Romero says. "It's a good place to leave supplies." For each task, start at the highest point in the room (if dusting, this might mean high shelves), and move from left to right across the room. This way, you don't miss anything, and you won't accidentally knock dust onto already-cleaned lower shelves.
Step 1: Dust
Dust each room, including the topsides of all the furniture, undersides of shelves, and all handrails, as well as picture frames, TV screens, and knickknacks. "When it's possible to dry-dust, I do — getting something wet makes it harder," Romero says. To get rid of fingerprints, dampen a microfiber cloth with warm water.
Pro cleaning tip: Look up top. "People don't dust up on the very top of furniture, and that's where all the dust collects and then falls off," Romero says.
Step 2: Clean Furniture Fabric
Go through the house and strip and remake beds. Tidy up pillows or furniture blankets. Brush furniture surfaces with a vacuum extension as needed.
Step 3: Clean Mirrors and Glass
Easy to forget, but important to clean, wipe down mirrors and windows throughout the house. If possible, do the outside too!
Pro cleaning tip: Using one wet and one dry microfiber cloth won't leave streaks.
Step 4: Disinfect Counters and Surfaces
Wipe down all surfaces and counters throughout the house, disinfecting every step of the way.
Pro cleaning tip: Be sure to wipe down all places that fingers touch, like door handles, light switches, TV remotes and phones. "Those are the places that people forget, and they really hold germs," Payne says.
Step 5: Spray Bathrooms and Kitchen
Walk through the bathrooms and spray cleaner on tubs, sinks, and toilets. Return and scrub. Then, in the kitchen, wipe down the inside of the microwave, and cabinet and appliance doors.
Step 6: Sweep and Mop
Sweep, then mop or scrub the bathroom and kitchen floors, and any other floor that needs it. You may want to vacuum first if you have lots of bits that you don't want to get caught on your mop.
Pro cleaning tip: "I always do bathroom floors on my hands and knees with a microfiber cloth and cleanser. That's how I know that I got every corner, even behind toilets, and that they're 100% disinfected," Romero says.
Step 7: Vacuum
"I vacuum my way out the bedrooms, down the stairs, through the living room and out of the house," Romero says.
Pro cleaning tip: It's not crucial to vacuum every single inch. Just keep moving. You'll get the spots you missed next week.
Ysolt Usigan is a lifestyle writer and editor with 15+ years of experience working in digital media. She has created share-worthy content for publishers Shape, What To Expect, Cafe Mom, TODAY, CBS News, HuffPo, The Bump, Health, Ask Men, and Best Gifts. A working mom of two, her editorial expertise in parenting, shopping, and home are rooted in her everyday life.