It’s New Year’s resolution time, and one of the most common refrains is to “keep a cleaner house” or “de-clutter my home.” Often, people are good at one but not the other. But both tasks – cleaning and organizing – work in tangent to make your space feel clear, stress-free, and relaxing. Whether you’re going to accomplish this goal on your own or hire a cleaning company to help you, here are some tips for setting yourself up for a year of clean.
1. Organize first.
Create files. Reserve an ingoing and outgoing paperwork folder or desk space, and remember to look through this paperwork on a regular basis. Choose a day each week that you attend to such tasks. Buy plastic containers to store larger items, and label the containers to find things easily. I like to use old shoeboxes for small items like tape, batteries, electrical cords, etc.
2. Clean from top to bottom.
If it’s been awhile since your house has been cleaned, it’ll probably need a deep clean. Start with ceiling fans, light fixtures, and window and door frames. Slide a broom or long dusting brush along the edges of the ceiling and wall corners. The dust that comes off of these high areas will fall on lower surfaces. Allow this dust to settle before attending to the lower surfaces. Once a room is fully dusted, vacuum the floors and mop.
3. Note cleaning tasks that you don’t like to do.
Cleaning preferences are very idiosyncratic. Pay attention to what you like to clean and what you despise – mirrors, toilets, dusting, vacuuming? If you live with someone else, you can ask them to manage those tasks. Or, depending on the task, you can set it aside for the beginning or end of your cleaning regimen.
4. Stay organized.
As you accumulate new Stuff over the month, keep it organized. Have a designated space for any work-related items you continually bring in and out of the house. Rotate your shoes seasonally, so only a few pairs are easily accessible. When we allow things to pile up, our space feels cluttered. And the cluttered area usually doesn’t get cleaned, making for exponential growth of cleaning dread.
5. Maintain a regular cleaning schedule.
Choose a day that you do minor cleaning and stick with it. Every few months, attend to deep clean tasks like baseboards, window and door frames, vertical surfaces (e.g., cupboard doors), outlet and switch covers, etc. If you don’t let it build up, it’ll remain far more manageable.
If you do let it build up, or if you’ve come to the conclusion that you’d just rather not clean your house yourself, contact a cleaning company. Here are some things to think about and how best to prepare:
1. Provide the company with details.
The square footage of your house. Number of beds and baths. Whether the floors are hardwood or carpet. Presence of pets and/or kids. Desired frequency of cleaning service. Location. These are the details I ask of potential clients up front. Then, I can provide them with a general quote to see if the price range I provide is within their budget. If it is, I arrange a time for an estimate and pin down the cost of the job.
2. Frequency of cleaning service.
If you’re not immediately sure how often you want your space cleaned, pay attention for a few weeks to how much time passes before you feel the itch to clean. Generally, a house with kids or pets needs a weekly or biweekly clean. And a house with neither can usually hold out for a month. But much of this is personal preference – some people like their house to remain spic-and-span, while others can stand to roll in the mud for awhile to minimize cost.
3. To clean or to deep clean?
If you haven’t deep cleaned your house in the past year, you probably need a deep clean. Dust accumulates on every surface, and when it’s not removed, it gets blown around, contributing to a dustier home. A deep clean usually takes 3 times the time of a regular clean, so don’t be surprised with the estimate your cleaning company provides. They’re likely not ripping you off; it just takes a lot of time. To keep my clients from paying for a deep clean 3-4 times a year, I offer an option in which (after the initial deep clean, if one is needed) deep clean tasks are rotated within the regular clean throughout the year.
4. Stay organized.
I can’t emphasize this point enough. A cleaning company, for the most part, will either charge you to help you organize or will clean around your clutter. If you want to get the most for your money, keep things in containers, neat piles, and off the floor.
5. Do your dishes.
Some cleaning companies may do dishes, but most don’t. I don’t. Keeping up with daily tasks like dishes and laundry is within the scope of housekeepers. Housecleaners, however, get paid to clean your house. Housekeepers are usually employed in one full-time position or a couple of part-time positions. Housecleaners are paid by the job, usually once every couple of weeks. It’s difficult if not impossible to estimate the dish-load a given client will leave in their sink each time you clean, so dishes are generally not included. If I have extra time, I’ll do them. But to get the max out of your clean, make sure you have them done so that your cleaner can access and clean your sink.
6. Communicate effectively.
Your cleaning person is not a robot. This has two ramifications: s/he cannot read your mind, and s/he may sometimes forget things. So be nice and communicate your needs with her. If you have a thing about the top of your fridge being clean, let your cleaning company know that up front. It’s not a surface they’d likely clean every time but would certainly do that upon request. If you notice something was missed, ask your cleaner about it. He probably either forgot or didn’t realize the regularity with which you wanted that task completed.
I hope all of this sets the stage for a fantastically clean 2013. If you want help with your cleaning, please check out my website 2wheelsandamop.com or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.