Get Your Home Cleaner Than a Pro Can — And Save Big


Want to cut $200 or more from your budget this month? Consider parting ways your cleaning service. Sure, it's not the most glamorous task to take on yourself — but keeping your house sparkling clean doesn't have to be intimidating or even take too much time. In 2014, Angie's List polled its members and discovered that most were spending between $100 and $150 on bi-weekly house cleanings. Put that money back in your pocket with these tips.

Collect Your Tools

One of the most annoying things about cleaning your house yourself is having to round up all your equipment and cleaners. Make it easy by creating a bucket you can carry around you home and then store in one convenient place.

What should go in the bucket? Clean Mama suggests items from the following categories:

  • Dusting tools (feather duster, hand duster, ceiling fan duster, extender pole)
  • Window wipers (squeegee, etc.)
  • General cleaning cloths (cotton, microfiber, and paper towels)
  • Cleaners (all-purpose, stainless, disinfectant, wipes, and scrub)

Simplify Your Routine

Better yet, save some cash you've been spending on cleaning supplies and make your own using natural ingredients. I clean my home using mostly vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice with a few drops of essential oil mixed in. If you make your own natural cleaning supplies, you'll need just one or two bottles to do the tasks of what used to take many more.

And a good bar rag will outlast many paper towels as you make your way from room to room. When you're done, just toss it in the wash to reuse on your next deep clean. (See also: 9 Greener, Cheaper Alternatives to Paper Cleaning Products)

Make a List

To help yourself stay on task, it's helpful to create a checklist. What goes on your checklist will depend on your unique needs, so take some time to think about the areas that get the most dirt in your home. You can even distribute a list to family members and divvy up the tasks to make the cleaning go faster. (See also: 9 Things in Your House You're Forgetting to Clean)

Of course you'll want to give your kitchen and bathrooms a good scrub. Your living areas and bedrooms will need to be tidied and get special attention too (don't forget to wash your pillows!). Otherwise, thinking of the rest might feel daunting. Martha Stewart shares that the following areas should definitely get some attention:

  • Walls and ceilings: Wipe them down to get rid of dust and grime, especially in kitchens.
  • Grout lines: Those pesky lines between your tiles can look amazing again with a little scrubbing and some sealer.
  • Carpets and rugs: Vacuum all of them. If you have the extra time, try periodically shampooing them. (Note: Rugs that don't have waterproof backings will need the help of a professional.)
  • Shelves and furniture: Dust every nook and cranny. A crevice tool is helpful here. And don't forget to dust the books while you're at it.
  • Cushions, etc.: Take upholstered furnishings outdoors to beat off dust. Vacuum the rest.
  • Wooden furniture: First wipe your wooden surfaces clean and then let dry. Apply wax to condition and buff once it dries.
  • Curtains, etc.: When's the last time you washed your drapes? If they're machine washable, stick them in your next load. Then dust and clean your blinds, interior shutters, or shades while you wait.
  • Window screens: Especially in the spring, it's good to give your screens some love. Take them out and wash with dish soap, rinse, and re-hang.
  • Floors: For vinyl or linoleum, you'll want to use a wax or other cleaning agent specifically made for those materials. Otherwise, the surface may lose shine over time.

Bonus: Cleaning your home from top to bottom is also a great time to ensure fire safety. Check and replace batteries on your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Break It Up

Yes, it's more gratifying to have your entire house cleaned in one fell swoop. If you don't have that sort of time to devote, try breaking up the bigger parts over the course of a few days to a week. After doing an initial big clean, my family decided on a rough schedule to tackle tasks on the regular before things ever get too gunky.

We clean the kitchen, tidy the living spaces, and clear out junk mail on the daily. We vacuum the floors and do the laundry and recycling every other day. Then once a week, the focus moves to the bathrooms, bedrooms, and trash collection. Things we do less often? Washing windows, deep cleaning floors, dusting everything, and wiping down furniture. Those tasks happen maybe once or twice a month. It's a system that works for us — and our house looks and feels fresh.

How you break up everything will depend on what gets dirty the fastest and what's most important to you. (See also: 25 Cheap and Easy Fixes That Make Your House Look Amazing)

Move Things Around

Since a lot of these tips are general, I thought I'd share my biggest secret for getting your house as clean as the pros do. You need to move your stuff around and clean above, underneath, behind, etc. Dust and grime loves to accumulate in crevices and corners, so don't let it hide out for months or years at a time. The next time you set out to clean your spaces, pull that rug up and vacuum underneath or shift that love seat and find what's lurking in the darkness.

Moving things around means moving your body, too. Stand on a chair or get on the floor to find those places you're missing, like the tops of your ceiling fan or your baseboards.

Do you use a cleaning service? If you do it yourself, what's your biggest tip for getting your home sparkling clean on a budget?

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