Cleaning is the most daunting thing to some people, whereas other people gaily chirp that they “clean to relieve stress.” Forget those weirdos, and take the intimidation factor out of cleaning. You can do it, and here’s how.
Spring cleaning. It was understandable that the beginning of good weather was the time for old Victorian homes to finally open their windows and send some servants to beat out the hall rug in the sunshine. But just when we want to get outside and stop doing boring things in our home, suddenly we feel like we have to…what, spend a Saturday covering ourselves with dirt and making gross discoveries behind our fridges?!
Yes and no. The bad news is that you should be doing this way more often than once a year. But the good news is that there’s a way to make it less awful: doing more maintenance in between deep cleans! OK OK, that’s not the good news you were looking for, but listen. It’s not as bad as you think.
Stephanie Floyd, owner of World Class Cleaning Services here in Richmond feels strongly about a clean house. Her employees are thoroughly trained in green cleaning (WCCS makes a lot of its own products, and commits to only using something like bleach when you request it and there is literally nothing else that will do the job) (grout, I’m looking at you, you nasty sonofagun). I asked her to go through the exact method she uses to deep-clean and maintain cleanliness in her own home–to tell us what we can skip, what we can’t afford to skip, and what products we actually need.
Because honestly, every Martha Stewart checklist I read about this kind of thing makes me want to sell my house and live in a van down by the river. Stephanie’s list–for the most part–does not make me feel that way, but if you’re still sighing exasperatedly after you read it, you can always just pay her or her cleaners money to do it all for you. That’s the REALLY good news.
The Stephanie Floyd Product List
Most people think they need a tub cleaner, toilet cleaner, Clorox spray, stainless steel cleaner, glass cleaner–whatever the cleaning companies can think to market to you as a separate product. They want your dollars, people. You can get away with the following and do a job that’s just as good (if not better) and much less harmful to the planet.
“I just use good old detergent and water in a small spray bottle with a pump. Then I spray a microfiber cloth and not the glass. Wipe the glass and dry it really well.
For wood furniture
A homemade furniture polish tends to work wonderfully. Stephanie recommends checking out recipes online or buying one without harsh chemicals.
For the tub and toilet and stuff
Bon Ami cleaning powder. “Comet has a lot of stuff in it that you don’t want,” says Stephanie, who uses it in the tub and on its walls, as well as the toilet and sink.
Stephanie touts the virtues of a vacuum cleaner over a broom any day. “A broom is really only good for sweeping up big pieces of something you’ve broken. But it just sweeps dirt into the cracks of your floors. A vacuum goes over and lifts everything up and is a lot faster.” Keep all of the below in a caddy and take it with you around the house as you go.
- Microfiber cloths – “If you have a good microfiber, you might not even need a dusting polish. In the bathroom we sometimes use terry cloth instead.”
- [Whisk broom] for brushing surfaces and loosening dirt gently without scratching
- A good vacuum with all the attachments and a rotating brush, which you really need for carpets (but don’t forget to turn it off when you’re doing hardwood floors)
- Good gloves – “The fancier the gloves the more you’ll want to clean.”
- Good toilet bowl brush
- Old toothbrush (not currently in use, gross)
- A plastic baggie with some cotton swabs and toothpicks for small details
- A cup (particularly if you don’t have a sprayer in your tub/shower)
- A good feather duster, if you feel like you need it (i.e. if you have lots of bookshelves or a need to feel like you work at Downton Abbey)
- A squeegee for your shower
The Stephanie Floyd Deep Cleaning List
To do once a season.
Living Room / Dining Room
- Move furniture, vacuum what’s behind them, discover lost things
- Take down drapes, wash them
- Take down blinds and wash in the tub or do a once-a-month feather dusting
- Wash light fixtures – “Most people don’t know that you can just stick glass bulb covers in the dishwasher.”
- Wash down baseboards
- Wash trim around the doors (or if you have kids, the whole door)
- Ceiling fan blades – hand-wipe the tops, sides, and bottom
- Vents – Often overlooked, and the buildup can cause fires. Vacuum if it’s not built up, wash if it is.
- Open shelving – For a deep clean, wipe down exposed areas (pantries, closets, open exposed ledges like bookshelves). Stephanie doesn’t recommend emptying shelves of its contents or using deep-clean time to clean out a pantry. It just distracts you from the task at hand. That works best being a different task on another day.
- Dust entertainment centers, lifting the cable boxes and getting in between the cords
- Washing cabinets – Again, don’t get sidetracked throwing out your many unfinished boxes of pasta. You have more work ahead!
- Wipe down appliances that are sitting on the countertop – Put that dishwasher to work for you! Throw attachment pieces in there and degrease and degunk them. Clean out crumbs from toaster oven.
- Wash utensil crocks – “These often get really greasy, as they’re near the stove.
- Wipe down stove vents
- Ignore the inside of your refrigerator, and tackle on another day
- Set oven to self-clean and wipe out whatever’s left behind – This will smell really alarming as it’s happening, but it’s all going to be OK. Probably best to stick around your house though, and remove racks first.
- Clear stuff of the top of the fridge and dust this often-missed spot
- Vacuum the coils behind the fridge with an attachment – “I lost a fridge because of all the dog hair that got sucked in.”
- Wipe underneath bottom lip of cabinets – This underloved spot can harbor a lot of drips and cobwebs and other gross stuff.
- Clean trash can – It harbors odors and is best being taken out in the sun, hosed off, and left to dry outside. Yes, even if you use bags. Everyone uses bags!
- Microwave – Wipe down inside and out
- Dust recessed lighting
- Refrigerator bottom vent – Another neglected spot that should be really wiped down with a cloth
“Most people clean tubs and then forget everything else,” says Stephanie. “But there’s a lot of stuff going on in there.”
- Wipe down light bulbs with dry cloth while they’re off – “Normally light bulbs are horrible and dusty.”
- Take a toothbrush and get behind the faucet. If there’s a ball-and-socket sink handle, lift it up.
- Toilet – Move top to bottom. Once you get to the bowl, use a brush that can go under the rim. “You don’t necessarily need the harsh cleaners if you keep up with it, but you do need to get under that rim.” Then move to the basin and get all the dust and whatever else (ew) that’s been collecting.
- Tubs – “This can take a lot of elbow grease if you use the natural products,” (which she does recommend, to be clear, as it’s better for you, your family, and the environment). “But if your tub looks fairly normal, take a cleaner and go section by section (use a soft sponge on a plastic tub). Rinse it and then dry it.” Drying is key to preventing water spots and getting a good shine. Use a squeegee every time you shower to reduce buildup and make your job easier later on. Or, if you’re as clean as Stephanie, keep one of those kitchen sponges with the refillable handle hanging in your tub and give the tub a wash every few showers or so. This woman hates buildup, I’ll tell you that.
- Throw toothbrush holders in the dishwasher if they’re metal or 100% ceramic. “Those things can get nasty,” says Stephanie.
- Vacuum – “Sweeping is kind of a waste of time,” Stephanie declares, to my delight, because I hate doing it and always feel like I’m spreading dirt around. “You should have a vacuum with an on/off brush. Use the brush on carpet, not on hard floors. Get one with good attachments.
- Hand-mop – For hardwood, wipe with microfiber that’s damp with a little detergent and go over it twice. For tile, get some good knee pads and hand mop. And DON’T talk to Stephanie about a mop. “A mop will take four or five times before it gets really clean, but if you can get on your floor and scrub by hand, it’ll take more time but you’ll only have to do it once.”
- Take vacuum attachment and get those cobwebs. Aren’t you glad you got a good vacuum?
- Wipe smudges on the wall with a microfiber that’s been dampened with detergent + water
- Mirrors and pictures with ornate frames – Take a cotton swab and moisten it a little bit and go through all the curlicues, same with a cabinet, or use a very soft paintbrush.
- Use a paint scraper with a cloth around it and clean that groove in your baseboards
- Lampshades – use whisk broom to get dust and animal hair and other crud off
The Stephanie Floyd Maintenance-So-That-Your-Deep-Cleans-Are-Super-Quick List
Stephanie recommends (although, to be fair, I did put her on the spot) 1.5-2 hours a week on cleaning your home. To me, this sounds like a lot, but I just spent two minutes of my life watching a video about a woman losing Who Wants to be a Millionaire on the second question. So maybe I should get my time priorities in order. If you’re keeping up with the following maintenance list, you should be able to knock it out in an hour a week (which could be just a few minutes a day). Again, this is what Stephanie does in her own home, although I suspect she is a little bit of a superhuman.
- Wipe the table down,
- Wipe the kid’s seat down
- Wash dishes
- Leave zero clothes on the floor (ever) – “When it’s time to really clean, if you have to pick up things also, you’re going to be tired really quickly.”
- Feather dust blinds
- Empty your basket of shoes by the front door – Oh, by the way, get a basket of shoes to keep near the front door. Throw everyone’s shoes in it all the time (the ones that they’re just kicking off wherever. Or, insist that they remove them when they get inside. Then, put them all back into their respective places once a week.
- Vacuum (including bathroom and kitchen) – Stephanie said these words to me, “You can actually get away with mopping every other week if you vacuum a lot.” To which I raised an eyebrow and said I think I am comfortable with more dirt than she is, as I am a non-superhuman, just a regular human.
- Clean dog trays and bowls
- Wash dog beds (get a dog bed with a removable insert) and human bed linen
Photo by: JD Hancock