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1. Should I dust or vacuum first?
Some people say that you should vacuum first because the vacuum spews dust into the air. My answer to that is to get another vacuum! Definitely dust first and then vacuum anything that might fall to the floor. I also believe in top to bottom logic, putting the vacuuming at the bottom makes it the last thing to do (before mopping).
2. How can I make housecleaning go faster and not turn my morning into a cleaning marathon?
I think the easiest way is to do it in stages. Some 80% or more of cleaning time is spent just putting things away and straightening. That can turn a morning of cleaning into an all-day event!
When I think of cleaning, I think of the actual act of cleaning, not putting away items or straightening and picking up clothes off the floor, for example. I also don’t like to lump laundry into cleaning either. Personally, I spend time picking up and straightening the night before I clean. Then, the next morning I’m ready to scrub, dust, vacuum, and mop – strictly cleaning.
3. How can I get my kids to clean?
Generations of mothers had the credo that before you could go to play or go to a friend’s house, your chores had to be done. Seems fair – and it reinforces the life principle that you can’t do what you want to do until you do what you have to do.
4. How can I get my husband to help around the house?
Divvy up the chores. Tell your husband that vacuuming is like indoor mowing! Really. And, just plain ask. Many women just expect their husbands to see them huffing and puffing and just “know” to help out. Instead of getting mad because they didn’t read our minds, we should instruct them on how to clean a toilet, run the vacuum, and wipe counters.
5. Does more (soap, bleach, detergent, ammonia, etc.) mean more clean? No, in fact it’s a case of diminishing returns. If you put too much soap in the mop water, for instance, the floors will be sticky and that actually attracts more dirt, making the floors get dirtier faster.
Not only that, but it’s wasteful. And, depending on the cleaner you use, you could just be dumping excess chemicals into your home environment, which can be aggravating if you have allergies or someone in your home has asthma. I usually recommend using half of the recommended amounts that manufacturers suggest because these are at the higher end of effectiveness – which makes you use more product and buy more.
6. The dishes in my dishwasher never look clean and sparkling. Why?
One of the problems here is that the water temperature isn’t getting hot enough. An effective way to handle this is to check the temperature of the water during the wash cycle. It should be about 140 degrees or higher. Be sure to run the hot water in your sink before starting the dishwasher to make sure the washer pulls in hot water when it fills the tub.
If the water isn’t hot enough, you may need to turn up your hot water heater higher. Another problem could actually be too much soap. Most people overfill their soap receptacles. More isn’t better. Try using half your usual amount. Lastly, check to be certain your dishwasher drain is clean and that food and other items aren’t trapped in the drain.
7. I hate laundry. What can I do to make it easier and faster?
Me, too! I like to do laundry on a Friday night. How exciting is that? I like to watch TV on Friday nights and this is a good time to fold laundry. Then by early Saturday morning it’s all done and ready to put away. I don’t believe in doing itty bitty loads all the time, either. It’s a waste of time, water, and energy. Save laundry up enough to do full loads. And, clean the dryer lint trap every single time – it reduces drying time significantly.
8. Stains are all over my carpet. What can I do about it?
Well, that depends. If you have pet stains, read my article Keeping a Clean Home When You Have Pets. Pet stains need to be treated with odour blockers and enzyme cleaners – especially for cat urine. If you have run-of-the-mill stains on your carpet (red wine, mud, coffee, etc.), try spot cleaning with an Oxiclean Carpet Cleaner. It’s my hands down commercially-available product.
Treat stains as they happen. Don’t let them sit and your carpets will look like new for years.
9. My walls are stained and nasty. How can I clean them?
Wipe the walls every time you clean with a damp microfiber cloth. Regular cleaning is the best way to keep walls looking good. If your walls are painted with flat paint, use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to get up stubborn stains. This is truly a miracle cleaning product. One of the best ways to keep your walls looking good is to make them “cleanable.” Few flat paints are cleanable, so don’t waste your time with flat paint. Consider painting as many of your walls as possible with cleanable paint. It’s the best way to keep walls clean.
10. It always seems like I need to sweep. Why do my floors get dirty so fast?
It may be incomplete sweeping that causes the problem. Few vacuums really get the edges of where the floor meets the wall good and clean. This dirt can find its way out to the main walkways. Take out your vacuum hose and sweep the edges of all your floors when you vacuum. The extra five minutes you spend doing this will help keep your floors cleaner. Also, be sure to have doormats at every entrance and rugs or mats inside, too.
Another idea to keep floors extra clean is to ban shoes. Have everyone leave shoes at the entrances and dirt will be greatly reduced. Lastly, get a small vacuum that works on smooth and carpeted floors for quick touch ups. I do all of these things and I’m not constantly sweeping, I know it can help you, too!