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Basic Housekeeping - Clean Like A Pro

By HC Staff

Time is money for people who make their living cleaning homes, so most rely on simple, essential tools to get the best results in the shortest amount of time. You can save yourself both time and money by keeping these basic tools on hand:


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  1. Good quality cleaning cloths (not rags!) are an essential component of efficient cleaning. Generally, look for microfiber or terry cloth in a size that feels comfortable in your hand. Fold your cloth into fourths, switching to a clean area as you move through your task. When laundering, avoid the use of fabric softeners, which reduce effectiveness and absorbency (especially with microfiber).

  2. A cleaning caddy or apron that lets you easily carry supplies from room to room saves time and trips back and forth to get the tool you need.

  3. A professional squeegee like the kind made by Ettore or Unger will end your struggle with streaks and lint forever. It isn’t difficult to learn how to use a squeegee, and once you do, you’ll be cleaning windows, large mirrors and sliding glass doors in seconds. With proper care, one squeegee will last a lifetime; you’ll only need to replace the rubber blade from time to time.

  4. An ostrich-feather duster is a fast and effective way to remove dust (although for purists, or those with allergies, vacuuming with a quality HEPA vacuum or a wiping with a damp cloth removes more dust without driving it airborne). The delicate plumage of a black ostrich feather duster is great for knick-knacks, vents, light fixtures and anything else that would normally require a lot of time and detail work. Some feather dusters come with longer handles that will extend your reach. Don’t be afraid to spend some money on this essential tool. A good one will last for years — even with regular use.

  5. Flat mops have practically revolutionized floor care. They are versatile, lightweight, easy to store and great for getting into tight spaces. Look for one with a sturdy handle, 360-degree swivel and detachable pads that can be laundered. (Be sure to purchase spare pads, so you can always have a clean one on hand.)

  6. Toilet bowl mops have several distinct advantages over their brush-style counterparts (although this can be a passionate argument for those who love their bowl brushes ). First, with a bowl mop, you can back flush (force) the water out of the bowl so your cleaning agent is less diluted. Bowl mops are also very inexpensive, so you can replace them more frequently. And most importantly, bowl mops won’t spray water on you as you scrub! (Never a pleasant experience.) Most janitorial supply or hardware stores sell a container to store the mop, but a large plastic cup from the soda fountain works just as well and fits nicely into a caddy.

  7. A good vacuum cleaner is an obvious essential. Frequent, thorough vacuuming will extend the life of carpets and help control allergens. Opinions vary as to the best brand and model, but a nimble, lightweight vacuum with HEPA or high-efficiency filtration and good airflow is your best bet. (You’ll probably be less inclined to pull out a big monstrosity every time a little bit of dirt gets on the floor.) Onboard tools are great — as long as they stay on board. Check to see that the tools stay snugly in place when you’re not using them. Cord length is also a consideration. A good cord length is one that allows you to clean the largest room in your home from one central outlet.

  8. Effective household cleaners are a must for any cleaning job, but what pros know is that you don’t need every type of cleaner that lines the grocery store shelves. Assembling your own arsenal may take some trial and error, and preferences will vary from person to person. You may prefer environmentally-friendly solutions, or ones with a particular scent, or even homemade cleaners. Generally though, for routine cleaning you should have a glass or all-purpose cleaner, soap scum remover, floor cleaner, furniture polish and a gentle scouring powder. Surprisingly, regular tap water performs admirably on many cleaning jobs. In some situations, a few sprinkles of water on a clean, soft cloth makes a great multi-surface cleaner.

  9. Trigger spray bottles found in home improvement and janitorial supply stores will allow you to buy bulk cleaning liquids or make your own cleaners. When the sprayers wear out or begin to drip, you can usually purchase them separately. The bottles will last indefinitely — just be sure to label them clearly so you don’t inadvertently mix chemicals, which can produce harmful (sometimes deadly) fumes.

  10. A little knowledge can save time, money and a lot of frustration. Before you tackle a tough cleaning task, rather than “throw the book” at it, find out what works. is a great, searchable resource, and many books are available to provide tips, stain removal guides and methods for faster more effective cleaning.


Basic Housekeeping - Clean Like A Pro:  Created on May 31st, 2007.  Last Modified on January 21st, 2014