Monday, May 4, 2009

Elle's Guide to a Gleaming Home

After managing to get my entire house clean (for the first time in well over a year) on Saturday, I declared myself an expert on such matters and decided that you all needed me to impart my wisdom on you. I'd been having a bit of a pity party of late because I just couldn't seem to make a dent in the disaster area I called my home. I'd get one room clean, and by the time I got to the next, the prior room would be destroyed again. I just never seem to find a chunk of time to devote to housecleaning. Part of the problem is I have a pretty big house - 3500 sq ft - which I tell you not to brag by any means, but to illustrate my predicament. The other issue is my obsessive compulsive tendencies which makes me feel like a room isn't clean until it reaches model-home-like qualities. I blame my beloved step-mother who raised me for that (whom I also call Mom, so people are often confused as to whom I am referring, but you get the gist). Growing up, our home was always a beacon of cleanliness, organization, and well...perfection. With 4 kids (and their friends) running around, that was no small feat!

So, pumped up on caffeine and a compliant husband, I set about tackling my house Saturday. I developed quite a methodology that I simply must share.

Step One - Devise your attack plan and get prepared.
* Get a big bucket or tray and put your cleaning supplies in that you will need. In my bucket, I had Windex, Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, Kazaam Tib & Tile Cleaner, Pledge, a coarse bristle scrub brush, a Mr. Clean Eraser, several coarse white wash cloths and several yellow car detailing towels.
* Carry a trash bag around with you to empty the trash cans from each room and to toss random things you encounter.
* Wear rubber or latex gloves!!! This way you can focus on cleaning rather than keeping your hands clean!
* Start from the top floor of the house and move downward.
* Focus only on routine cleaning - save "projects" for later. Carry around a pen and a pad of paper with you to jot down things you want to remember to do later.
* Keep moving at a fast pace and put energy into it - cleaning can be quite a workout! Put on upbeat music and aim to finish each room in 30 minutes or less!

Step Two - Realize that its gotta get a whole lot worse before it can get better! Meaning, you're going to have to make a mess before you can clean up the room. Don't worry about keeping things neat - focus on cleaning.
* If its a linens day, strip all the bed sheets and towels at the start and throw them in the washer while you clean.
* When you go into a room, take every item that does not belong in that room and throw it in the hall and forget about it (for now). Then put everything that does belong in that room away. Everything should have a home - any wandering items get thrown in the hall and dealt with later.
* Then clear all surfaces and put the items on the floor.
* Moving around the room in one direction, use a yellow car detailing towel and pledge and dust all furniture. After you dust a particular piece of furniture, then dust the items that belong on them and put back where it goes. If you encounter glass, use a different detailing towel and Windex to clean it.
* Clean everything as you get to it, don't back-track. Say you reach a window, clean the window sill and window ledges.
* After the room is dusted and cleaned, make the bed with clean sheets.
* If you haven't done it in at least 3 months, go around the circumference of the room one more time and clean the baseboards with Pledge and a detailing towel.
* Finally, use a disinfecting wipe or Lysol spray and disinfect the light switches, door knobs, telephone receivers, mouse/keyboard, etc.

Step Three - Bathrooms.
* Remove all bath mats, shake out on carpet/floor outside. Nothing should be on the floor. Sweep bathroom out to the exterior floor.
* Remove all things from the counter tops and from inside bathtub, set outside. If you are feeling super ambitious, remove the shower curtains and wash. Every few months, I wash my white shower curtain liners with bleach to keep them looking new.
* Squirt toilet bowel cleaner in toilet. Then use bathroom cleaner and spray down sink and counter and inside of tub and shower walls. These cleaners work by chemical activation, so leaving them sit for a minute works better than using elbow grease.
* Return to toilet and clean. I use the disinfecting wipes because that is my preference. Don't forget the exterior and the pedastal portion that has an odd way of getting filthy! Once that is cleaned, use your toilet brush to clean the bowel and rinse by flushing with the brush still in the water.
* Use coarse dry wash cloth to wipe down sinks.
* Move on to the tub and using the same wash cloth, wipe down shower walls and exterior of the tub. Then use scrub brush with some water to scrub the inside of the tub and any surfaces that things sit on that accumulate gunk. Rinse with water.
* Use Windex and detailing towel to clean all mirrors and metal surfaces like toilet paper rings, towel bars, faucets, etc.
* Use Lysol or disinfecting wipes to clean light switches and door knobs.
* Re-stock toilet paper, bath towels, hand towels, hand soap.
* Grap you mop and mop your way out.
* Clean anything that sits on the sink counter like cups, tooth brush holders, etc. These get dirty quick. Once floor is dry, replace everything to where it goes. You're done!!!

Step Four: Kitchen
* Clean out fridge - throwing away anything that is expired. Wipe down shelves and remove bins and shelves and handwash in sink real quick if necessary.
* Unload dishwasher, reload with any dirty dishes in the sink. Hand wash turn plate from inside microwave real quick.
* Take anything that is on the counter tops that does not belong in the kitchen and throw in hall. If it does belong in the kitchen, put away.
* Clear off all counters, placing things on the floor like cannisters, spice-racks, etc.
* Clean inside of sink until it gleams. If you really feel in the mood, disinfect with bleach! Clean faucet while you are at it.
* Spray all countertops with your preferred cleaner, use a detailing towel and polish until they shine. Replace countertop items.
* Use Windex and detailing towel to wipe down the exterior of all appliances. Also clean inside microwave.
* Sweep floor.
* Mop floor.
* Use disinfectant to clean door knobs, light switches, etc.

Step Five: Hallway
* Now is the time to deal with all the crap you threw in the halls. Put things away that have a place to go.
* If an item doesn't have a place to go, find a new home for it. Rubbermaid bins are your friend!
* Dust all wall hangings, clean glass with Windex.
* Clean baseboards it it has been a while. Don't forget stair banisters and railing too.

Step Six: Vaccuum entire house, moving from the top down. Use your hose attachments to suck up any cob webs you find along the way.

Step Seven: Finishing touches
* Make one last walk through the house and look for anything you've left behind to do.
* Use your Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to wipe marks off walls as you go.

Step Eight: RELAX!!!!!!!!! You did it!!!

I know this SOUNDS like a lot - but it really isn't bad once you get started. The key is to KEEP MOVING. If you feel sluggish, push through! It helps to have a spouse or partner to work with you, or to keep the kids distracted! If you have little helpers, give them a towel and a spray bottle of water - they'll be in heaven! Don't stop until you are done. I started at about 12:30 on Saturday and finished completely at 6:45 p.m. Ace helped some. There is NOTHING like a clean house!!!

Now, the next challenge is to do a little something every night to keep it this way!!!!!

PS - Head over to Bennett's Journey to see our pictures from the March for Babies we did this Sunday!


  1. it hasnt happened yet because i married a stubborn rock and he decided he didnt want to do it anymore after a succesful month.... but, when bailee starts school we have decided this is how it will be..... family chore chart! with allowance!

    do an entire day of cleaning, somewhat like written in your blog. then, abide by the choreeeeee chart.
    when bailee starts school, i want her to have chores.
    so i made my little chore chart, and each of us have 3 things to do each night. basically, throughout the week, there is a list of things to do, and we all alternate:
    - dishes
    - vaccum
    - living room
    - dining room
    - basement
    - bathrooms
    - foyer
    - toy room

    very simple, not detailed, just rooms
    but, you have to start with a super clean house first.
    everyone alternates a job throughout the week - so monday jeremy needs to clean the kitchen and 2 other jobs and i do the living room and 2 more - bailee helps one parent one day and helps the other the next.
    the next day one of my jobs is the kitchen and one of his jobs is the living room, and so on throughout the week. basically, i do on a tuesday whatever jeremy did the day before on monday - because i know he'll half ass it anyways, but will have done SOMETHING and it'll be that much easier to correct it the following day - lmao!!!
    then i figured that if i cleaned the living room on monday and it is his job on tuesday - there wont be too much for him to screw up in one day since i will have cleaned it to my liking the previous day lol, but still, he would have contributed and eventually will see how the house should be at all times and hopefully(?) get used to it that way and automatically keep it that way.
    plus, he'll learn the chore chart isnt evil because if i do the living room on monday, and he has to do it on tuesday, he wont have very much to do because it will already be pretty clean - he'll just need to tidy up, and that will get him used helping pick up before the night is through.
    then like once a month or every 2-3 months do another whole house clean and hopefully, the little effort we put into it everyday will have paid off and not too much will need to be done.

    okay, it is super late so none of this made sense and i was jonesing to comment on someones blog so i took it all out on yours lol.
    But, while i think it is awesome that we can master the fine art of crash cleaning, i think we need to master the art of simplicity and maintence in that we crash clean, then give ourselves 3 things to be responsible for each night, alternating with our hubbies and kids (depending on the work) that way we all contribute, we limit ourselves to just light housework hopefully relieving stress and creating more family time during the week and decreasing the need for 8 hour marathon cleaning projects!
    okay phew lol congrats on tackling the house!!! wish me luck in my attempt to do that this saturday - and wish me luck in enforcing the damn chore chart!!!!

  2. You crack me up! You are truly the Erma Bombeck of the 21st century! OCD and all! But remember this, your Grandma Marie use to tell me when I was going thru what you are "No one will know any different in 100 years!" And they will know how beautiful and loving your were through your children! Babies first housework second!

  3. wow, renee you just made me want to go huggy my little baby girl and feel like my messy house is justified! thank you!!! lol!!!!