Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cleaning from top to bottom

Do you know how to clean a house?  I don't.

Don't get me wrong.  I know how to clean a kitchen, bathrooms, even the dining room.  I know how to put things away in the bedroom and vacuum and sweep.  But life gets in the way of daily cleaning, and eventually, our whole house looks like a tornado hit it and my poor husband has given up on me, and eventually it's time to put things to rights.  Since we are having my in-laws over after Christmas and we are having our annual New Year's Party, we need to spend the next week seriously cleaning house.  Which requires me to admit that well, I don't really know how to clean a house.  Obviously, the proper steps are:

1) Get stuff off the floor/counter/couch/bed and put it away
2) Clean/vacuum/sweep/lysol/change tablecloth, etc. until shiny.

However, I don't really know the right order to start tackling things in.  Normally I start with the dining room, because the table is kind of a vacuum/dumping ground and is covered in stuff.  However, it occurred to me recently that when doing a week-long deep clean, you must instead start with the least frequently used rooms of the house, as they are the least likely to get messed up again.  So I have opted instead to start with the guest room and the living room.  Next will be the bathrooms, the hallway/steps, the office, and then our bedroom, and lastly, the dining room/kitchen.

In addition to not knowing the right order, I'm never sure where to start.  I fixate on little things and abandon the big picture.  I focus on dusting the molding, not clearing the stuff from the coffee table.  I have helped enough other people clean to know that this failure to look at the big picture is not unique.  It ends in throwing all of the things in a box and shoving it in the bathtub/closet/under the table before people come over.  This is bad.  In the future, I plan to use this "clean from top to bottom, left to right" method to avoid fixating on anything too large or too small and move quickly.  I am also in the market for a better method for dusting besides Swiffer dusters, so if you have any suggestions, let me hear them. (I do not actually know how to dust anything.  I know how to use pledge, but I don't think I'm supposed to use pledge on the fake plants in our bookshelf.  I also don't want to just shake the dust into the air, as I have a severe dust allergy.)

As far as keeping a house in good shape, I really like a lot of the ideas from this Daily Quick Cleaning Checklist.  We try to do 10-minute cleaning bursts daily, which helps a lot, but it's easy to fall behind on them.  But I'm open to more ideas - how do you keep your house clean?  What order do you clean in?  How do you dust?

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