By far the most common question I get when I show up to a job is “What can I do to make sure it doesn’t get like this again/keep it clean?”
Well, that answer always tends to be a bit long so here we go…
1. More trash receptacles. Not once have I ever seen enough trash receptacles at a deep clean site. In my opinion, every room where you do something needs a trash receptacle, whether its tiny or huge. I’m still amazed people will have a room that is obviously their favorite, where they spend the majority of their time but not ONE trash receptacle anywhere! Or if there is one, its at the other end of the room, usually overflowing because the receptacle is tiny and decorative.
Look, if its a place you rest your bones and veg out, you’re going to need a place to put your trash. Unless you get up for every snack, every nose blow, every manicure, you NEED a trash receptacle by your favorite resting spot. And it needs to have a bag. Because favorite resting spots tend to get all manner of trash, not just paper. If you don’t use a bag, the receptacle itself will begin to smell funky over time.
If you’re a parent, you need AT LEAST one large receptacle in every room. If your child is old enough to run, they are old enough to learn to throw things away properly. Let it be one of the FIRST things you teach them. Let it become automatic. IF you impress this rule upon them at 2 or 3, they will be doing it without thinking by the time they are ten. Trust me. Older kids often are a big help here because they get to be tiny dictators to the younger ones.
2. Better lighting. Most places I am hired to clean, I end up pulling curtains back and opening doors because its too damned dark to see. Once I do that, I can see all the nasty dustbunnies and fur balls that have accumulated in the corners and along the baseboards. So when you have been cleaning, you didn’t see this stuff, so you didn’t clean it. Then to your great astonishment, the place you just cleaned a couple of days ago, looks hopelessly filthy again in no time. That’s because all the stuff you didn’t see? It rolled around and covered everything in a fine layer of new filth. If you can’t see it, you can’t clean it. Add more lamps, get higher wattage bulbs, whatever – just add more light. It always looks nicer too.
3. Designate a place for your shoes and socks. People have no idea how much crap they track in from outside. If you start parking your shoes when you come in, you will notice a big difference in that wave of dirt that keeps migrating in from your front door. It won’t cure it, but it sure will help. Plus, when you go to bed at night, you’ll see the bottoms of your sock and have a better idea of how clean or filthy your floor really is. If you see me walking around my house with my shoes on, its because I know my floors are filthy and need to be cleaned. Going shoe-less is more comfy anyway. I’m surprised more people don’t do it. I know some people like to take their shoes AND sock off when they come home. For them, I say put a small clothes hamper by the shoe dock.
4. Stop using bar soap. Okay, this one is a biggie for me because its so prevalent yet so, so nasty. Bar soap is comprised of many things but one of those things is fat. That fat does not rinse completely away. Every time you use bar soap, you leave a tiny trail of dirt attached to bar soap molecules that stick to your shower/bath walls. It takes some time but eventually that dirt trail becomes visible as a brownish coating. This coating is EXCEEDINGLY hard to remove. The longer it’s built up, the harder it is to get rid of. I did one job where I literally scraped it off the shower wall for an HOUR. This was a single-person abode. The customer had never once cleaned their shower. For years. Once I was done, he was blown away at how bright his shower stall was.
Bar soap is nasty, it leaves a sticky icky coating that solidifies into something ungodly. By all that is good in this world STAHP using it!
Use liquid soap. Liquid soap is a different composition. It is detergent, not soap. Which means its actually gentler on your skin as well. More importantly, it rinses clean. Even if you don’t rinse it, it doesn’t build up like soap does. If you like, shampoo will do the job just as well. Just no more bar, I am begging you.
5. Close certain rooms off from pets. Face it, your pet has fur. Your pet sheds. THe fur that it sheds goes everywhere. Fur is fine and delicate and often hard to see. It also sticks to tile like nobody’s business! If I had a curse jar for every time I’ve battled fur sticking to bathroom tile, somebody would have their college paid for in full. I hate pet fur. But I really hate it in a tiled bathroom.
Also, pets do leave effluvia behind when they sit. If you have your room open or your office or whatever, the pet will go in there and sit because that’s where you are. If you can contain the area of contact, it is easier to clean and keep clean. Especially rooms that have off-the-floor furniture (like a bed)
6. Brush your hair every day, in the same place. NOT in the shower. You are asking for a visit from your plumber with all the hair you let slide down the drain. Just brush it before hand in a place you can easily sweep or vacuum it up later. Or over a trash can. That’s what I do. Even if your hair is short.
7. When you spill something, don’t just leave it there. Don’t just wipe it with a bare paper towel and walk away. Use a spray, a slightly soapy sponge or cloth or even plain water. Once you wipe up what you see, squat down and wipe the area. I guarantee you there is splatter. It may just be a few drops but those drops accumulate over time and darken the walls, doorways, floor, baseboards. If I had a dollar for every time I had to sit on the floor SCRUBBING splatter off of baseboards I wouldn’t have to clean for a living any more.
Ladies: Take your tampon out while standing/squatting. NOT while sitting on the toilet. Use a folded toilet paper in your other hand to catch the tampon when it comes out and you won’t get a mess anywhere. Every time you take one out while sitting on the toilet, it swings and hits the underside of the seat and that stuff is HELL to scrub off.
Men: keep a bottle of rubbing alcohol in the bathroom. Pick a day, any day of the week, and resolve to on that day, wipe behind the seat hinge of the toilet. It is easy, it takes three seconds and it won’t hurt you in the slightest. Just fold some toilet paper, pour a little rubbing alcohol on it, and wipe just behind the seat hinges. Your urine spray accumulates there at a frightening pace. For gawds sake wipe it once a week. And if you have to pee when you’re stumbling drunk, fer crying out loud SIT DOWN.
9. Learn to throw away Kipple. Kipple is the paper detritus that breeds in your home, usually the desk or kitchen counter. Stop saving it. That coupon you think you might use? you won’t. If you really were going to use it you’d put it in your purse or wallet. That offer you got in the mail for a new blahblah at half price? Toss it. If you had really wanted a new blahblah at any price you would have already bought one. If its something you have to really be enticed to go buy, then you probably don’t need to buy it in the first place.
Whatever your weakness is, throw it away. And while we’re on the subject, wherever you usually go through your snail mail, put a trashcan specifically for kipple.
10. Brush your teeth with your lips closed. Preferably bend over the sink somewhat. Stop spraying teh mirror: it doesn’t make your teeth cleaner to make a mess while brushing. After you’re done brushing, rinse the sink. It takes two seconds. Use your hand to cup some water, then sling the water at the sides of the sink. Bam! Clean sink.
11. If you go in a non-kitchen room with food or drink that requires a non-disposable container, use a tray or bring a bin with you. When you are done with your food/drink, put the dish/es on the tray or in the bin. You will feel too lazy to take your dishes back to the kitchen right away, but its always likely you’ll be walking by later not doing anything in particular and you can grab the tray or bin and take it to the kitchen.
12. If you don’t want to wash your dishes right away, SOAK THEM. Just pour some water on those puppies before you walk away.
13. When something spills, WIPE IT UP. It helps if you have paper towels or rags in every other room. You can stash rags in drawers, you can hide a roll of paper towels under a coffee table.
14. When you use the microwave, put a paper towel under whatever you’re heating. No exceptions. When you take your food out, you can leave the towel or throw it away. Because there’s a garbage can nearby, right?
15. Groom your pets.
16. Keep a dustbuster by your couch or your desk.
17. When you vacuum, take a second to vacuum the baseboards, the indentations in doors and lampshades.
18. More laundry hampers. I’ve never met a client yet who had enough laundry hampers.
19. Don’t nag your partner/roommate about picking up, give them a list. Don’t even say anything, just leave it where they will find it. They are an adult, they don’t need instructions, but many people do need a list.
20. Pick a specific place for: your keys, your glasses, your cell phone, your lotion, your “important weird thing I need to attend to within a week”, your medicine, your vitamins, your lighter, your cigs/pipe/snuff, and never, ever, EVER listen to your brain when it says “I’ll just put this here for now… I’ll get back to it later” because you know good and well you’re never going to find it again.
Bonus: When you can’t find something, start cleaning up.