There are few of us who like cleaning house, but almost all of us like living in a clean house, and hate living in a dirty one. So what’s the solution? Making the task of cleaning house as effective as possible without spending a fortune on products seems to be the best way to go – and if one can make it simpler and faster, that’s a bonus. After all, being thrifty with time is as important as being thrifty with money!
1. Be prepared and save your good clothes
Take on cleaning as you would take on any job and prepare for it. It’s best to try and do it in one go – the piecemeal approach of one area today and another three days later just means that overall everything is always at least slightly dirty most of the time.
As with any other job, dress for the part in comfortable and old clothing so that you don’t mess up your good clothing and have to go shopping to find a decent replacement. Then tidy surfaces in preparation so you don’t have to waste time by stopping midway to pick up a dog’s chew toy or the clothes your teenager wore last night. Time is worth money, so the more efficient you are, the more you save.
2. Work smart – don’t waste time and energy
Gather the right tools for the job and pack the cleaning products so you can carry them with you as you move. Starting at one end, do everything needed within that area, moving as little as possible within that space before going on to the next. This will save a lot of time wasted in running backwards and forwards to fetch cleaning products or do another job in an area already partly covered. By working smart, you get more time off. How much is that worth to you?
3. If you want your house clean from top to bottom – do it that way!
Working methodically and systematically will result in the job being done right the first time. Those in the know say it is best to clean from top to bottom – it’s an age-old saying that makes sense. Dust cornices and high shelves first and work downwards towards the floor so that anything dusted off these areas is on the floor before it is vacuumed. You’ll save electricity and you’ll get valuable extra time off by being efficient!
4. Be straightforward
Scrub, wipe and polish in straight lines (not circles) so that all areas are covered, including corners which have a habit of trapping dirt. And never hold back either by working from the corner of the room farthest from the door or room exit, whether you are mopping a floor or vacuuming. Otherwise, you might get yourself trapped with nowhere to go while the floor dries or end up tracking dirt over the freshly vacuumed rug in order to get out of there. Save cleaning products, energy and precious time.
5. Don’t be a doormat – use one
Keep dust and dirt where it belongs – outside. Have a mat inside and outside every external door, especially at the main entrance. Even if the mat says ‘welcome’, the sand and dirt outside is not welcome and most of it will stay right there, making it easy for you to just brush off one mat rather than dust and sweep the whole household. The less you have to vacuum, the happier you’ll be, and you use less electricity.
6. Give the old a clean start – and save
Your house is probably full of old stuff that can take on a whole new role, like old cloth diapers which become incredibly effective cleaning and dusting cloths – just fold them into a triangle a comfortable size to use. As each exposed area becomes a bit grungy, refold it to expose a clean area and pop it in the wash when done. Old socks, or the ones left single after a wash cycle also make ideal gloves for wiping down plants or surfaces. Why buy expensive cleaning materials when you don’t really need them?
7. A treasure trove in your cupboard
Items like baking soda and white vinegar, probably sit in the dark cupboard waiting for a bake-off or a salad dressing to be mixed, while prettily-packed (and expensive) products adorn the shelves in the cleaning cupboard and take their toll on the family budget.
Yet these two products combined in water can take on a wide range of tasks. These include laundry stain removal and cleaning stoves and fridges as well as surfaces like floors, furniture and tiles. The mixture will also lift sticky burnt-on residue from pots and pans if added to hot water and allowed to stand for a while before washing. It’s cheap, it’s effective and you get to have a gorgeously clean house.
8. Sponge on, sponge off
A sponge is a handy cleaning ally. A sponge is a great clothes brush and can remove pet hair like a champion. Use it dry, or if necessary, slightly damp for tougher cling-ons. Sponges can also be useful for getting into small crevices and corners in normal household cleaning, and are wonderfully versatile as, if they’re too big for the task at hand, they can be easily cut to size with a pair of scissors. Halving sponges can also save cash – it’s two for the price of one and doubles the time before it has to be replaced.
9. Cleaning screens and monitors
Dust on laptop screens, monitors or flat screen TVs can be a real problem, but an unused coffee filter does the trick, leaving the screen safely clean and lint-free. Why buy expensive micro-pore cloths if you don’t really need them?
10. Finish the job
When the job is done, be sure to pack everything away, clean the cloths used and check on the levels of cleaning products – that way you will find it easier to do the job the next time – and you won’t find yourself hopping into your car and driving to the oh-so-tempting to spend money at mall just because you’re out of cleaning products.
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