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Follow these 8 steps for a clean house in a snap

Follow these 8 steps for a clean house in a snap

If you consider cleaning your house as picking up your children’s toys, clearing last night’s ice cream bowls from the coffee table or helping your husband’s dirty gym shirt find its way to the hamper, you’re not alone. Most people don’t give their home a proper deep cleaning as often as they should. What’s the No. 1 reason we neglect our nest? Lack of time.

But you can clean your house like a professional in less time than you think. Follow these quick, easy steps—complete with secrets from the pros—to achieve a spotless home.

1. Make the time.

When done right, cleaning your house doesn’t take all weekend. Still, you do need to set aside an adequate amount of time to get the job done. Figure out a day and time when you’ll have a couple hours to devote, considering the size of your house. After you’ve done a deep cleaning once or twice, you’ll know exactly how long it takes.

2. Commit to getting the job done.

The most important part of cleaning a home efficiently is concentration. While the average professional housekeeper is laser-focused on getting the job done fast, it’s easy for us to get distracted by that stack of magazines you never got around to reading. To avoid answering emails or scrolling through your social media timeline, put your phone away. Then, put on some comfortable clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. Keep in mind that some products contain bleach, which can discolor your favorite T-shirt. If you’re using harsh products, wear gloves. Finally, put on a little music to relax or pump you up—whichever helps you get the job done.

3. Have a plan.

Rather than cleaning in the order that things come to mind, professional housekeepers always have a plan. Start by giving the whole house a once-over. Go room to room, picking up the clutter. Next, strip the beds of their linens, take the towels and mats out of the bathroom and grab those musty throws off the couch. Put these washable items, including dirty laundry and washable rugs, in your laundry room or area to wash later. You want to get your surfaces and floors as bare as possible.  

4. Clean the toughest room first.  

After you’ve given the whole house a once-over, experts advise cleaning room by room, starting with the most difficult and time-consuming spaces first. For most of us, that’s the kitchen and bathrooms. Tackling the most intimidating spaces at the start means you won’t run out of steam before you get to that mildewy shower curtain or greasy stove. Plus, making the bed will feel downright luxurious compared to scrubbing bathroom tiles.

5. Go in order.

Within each room, take a top to bottom, left to right approach. Start by dusting ceiling fixtures and blinds. Next, wipe high up surfaces. Floors get washed or vacuumed last. This particular choreography ensures you’re not inadvertently dirtying a space you just cleaned or neglecting any corner. Within each room, if there’s a product that needs to sit, apply that first so that it has time to do its magic. One mistake you might make is not reading cleaning product instructions. Follow directions so supplies can do their best work.

6. Use the right supplies.

Sure, in a pinch, most of us have used window cleaner on our countertops and counter spray on our mirrors, leaving them a streaky mess. Whereas some products are multifunctional, others are specific. Invest in the right supplies and have them on hand. Most pros keep it all organized in a handy caddy or tool belt. For windows with a streak-free shine, experts recommend you buy a professional-grade squeegee. Alternately, a quality glass cleaner and a microfiber cloth will get small jobs done. A high-quality feather duster is worth the extra couple dollars it might cost.

7. Don’t discount natural products.

If you’re concerned about chemicals found in most store-bought cleaning supplies or if you’re short on time and wanting to save yourself a trip to the store, there are plenty of natural alternatives you probably already have in your home. You can use white vinegar on hard surface floors, for example, or run half a lemon in your garbage disposal to get rid of unwanted odors. Banish harsh oven cleaners and opt for baking soda instead. And mineral oil works wonders on stainless steel.

8. Make it shine.

There’s nothing more satisfying than a glossy floor. After all the rooms are clear, sweep and mop all the hard flooring surfaces, using a special cleaner for wood floors. If you have area rugs or carpeting, give them a vacuum. When the hard surfaces are dry, replace the rugs. Put fresh towels in the bathroom. Make the bed.

The best way to ensure you’ll maintain your clean space is by enjoying it. When you’re all done, light some candles, spray a room freshener or bring in some fresh flowers and do what you do that’s makes your house a home.

Here are some common chore checklists for the most challenging areas of your house:


  • Pick up bathmats

  • Clear counters

  • Remove products from inside the shower and tub area

  • Apply tile and grout cleaner to shower and tub

  • Apply cleaner to inside of toilet

  • Organize medicine cabinet and other closets

  • Clean outside of toilet

  • Clean mirrors

  • Wipe/rinse off cleaner where necessary

  • Replace products in shower and tub area (toss if empty)


  • Strip and launder linens

  • Wipe down furniture

  • Clean under bed

  • Replace linens

Living and Dining Rooms

  • Dust blinds and/or ceiling fans

  • Clean all surfaces

  • Vacuum upholstery

  • Wax wood furniture  


  • Load dishes into dishwasher and/or hand wash

  • Take out the garbage and recycling

  • Soak stove top burners, drip pans and knobs

  • Clear counters

  • Wipe down counters and cabinets

  • Wipe down appliances

  • Return the removable burner pieces to the stove

  • Clean inside the microwave

  • Clean inside the sink

  • Clean inside the fridge