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15 best cleaning tips from professional house cleaners

Clean your house like a pro with these house cleaning tips and tricks.
woman cleans window
“By starting high in a room, all the dirt will fall down onto those things you have not cleaned yet,” Jan M. Dougherty told TODAY.Shutterstock
/ Source: TODAY

House cleaning just got easier — and possibly a little more fun?

Most modern homeowners are too busy to sit around in coffee klatches trading cleaning secrets, so TODAY asked two cleaning experts, Jan M. Dougherty and Beth McGee, who both ran their own cleaning businesses for decades, for their tricks of the trade for cleaning houses. Now, you can go pro in your next house cleaning session.

1. Keep your cleaning tools where you intend to use them. “Not just the cleaning products, which everyone has under every sink, but the rags too!” said Dougherty, author of "The Lost Art of Housecleaning." “Can’t do much with the product if you don't have the rags to finish the job!”

2. Simplify your products. If you need a different product for every item in every room, it’s not efficient, said Dougherty, who only uses three products to remove dirt and grease from almost every surface.

3. Stock up on rubber gloves and microfiber cloths. “Rubber gloves help you move through your icky cleaning tasks uninhibited,” said McGee, author of "Get Your House Clean Now: The Home Cleaning Method Anyone Can Master."Microfiber cloths work for the majority of tasks from kitchen and bath to dusting.”

4. Turn on the music — loud! Even cleaning ladies want to have fun while they clean. “Put on something that makes you want to move, something that gets your pulse racing,” Dougherty said. “It needs to be loud enough to hear above the vacuum.”

5. Don’t put off cleaning showers and bathtubs. “Do this task at a minimum every other week to make it less painful,” McGee said. “Use a product you know will work best on your surfaces and a microfiber cloth. It covers more area, more efficiently, in less time.”

6. Only clean when it’s super light. “Open all the drapes, blinds and shades or turn on all the lights,” Dougherty said. “All cleaning should be finished by 3 p.m. because after that time, the light starts to fade and you don’t see the dirt with the same clarity as you did at 10 a.m.”

7. Don’t get bogged down with picking up clutter. “Until you can spend a day getting your clutter under control, work around it,” McGee said. “Pick up light piles of mail, magazines, etc., and wipe under and all around. Then move on. Plan a separate time to tackle your clutter and devise a practice of keeping it under control.”

8. Follow a cleaning “path.” In a cleaner's house, there's always a strategy. Dougherty, for example, cleans from top to bottom, back of a room to front, and in “slices,” moving in one direction around the room, finishing the floor last. “By starting high in a room, all the dirt will fall down onto those things you have not cleaned yet,” Dougherty said.

To determine your “slices,” she suggests walking around your room and visualizing areas no wider than your arms stretched out from your body or as defined by a piece of furniture or architectural detail. Then you clean everything in a slice completely and thoroughly, working top to bottom, before moving on to the next slice like professional home cleaners do.

“The simplicity of ‘the path’ is that once you finish a slice, you don’t have to think, you just keep moving forward,” Dougherty said. “What you have to do now and what you have to do next is defined.”

9. Start with the worst thing in the room. “If you clean the worst thing in the room first, then the rest of the room is a skate,” Dougherty said. “In the kitchen, this is the slice that has the range. In the bathroom, that is the shower. In other spaces, that is probably the ceiling fan or chandelier. You don’t want to tackle the range slice two to three hours into the kitchen. You’ll probably never finish and if you do the results will probably be iffy.”

10. Plan ahead to mitigate dust. “Keep windows closed during high dust or pollen times and put filters on air inputs in your home,” McGee said. “Keep clutter to a minimum as it seems to breed dust. If you have light colored or non-shiny dark furniture, dust won’t collect any less. However, it will be less noticeable!”

11. Keep your pets brushed. “This one practice will keep the pet hair in your home at a manageable level, as well as give much appreciated attention to your pet,” McGee said. “A good vacuum used regularly will keep pet hair out of your way. Sweeping is not going to cut it.”

12. Clean and finish so everything sparkles. Dougherty doesn’t feel a cleaning job is finished until things gleam. “When you ‘finish’ something, spray it with vinegar and wipe with a clean microfiber rag. This includes room doors, glass, all kitchen appliances, cabinet doors and porcelain fixtures.”

13. Clean the kitchen every day that you cook. “Yes, I said every day,” Dougherty emphasized. “Not the whole kitchen, just the parts that were used and abused, like the stove top and counter on either side of the stove, the refrigerator handle and the sink. New kitchen dirt is easy dirt to clean. When it gets old it hardens into rock.”

14. Give yourself a goal. “While working, think of how good your spaces will feel to you when you are in them and they are clean and organized,” McGee said. “Invite your favorite people over or plan a relaxing weekend at home in your newly cleaned spaces as an incentive to get it done and have something to look forward to.”

15. Don’t get overwhelmed. “Do the basics to start,” McGee says. “Once you get the main items like kitchen, bath, and floors under control, begin adding other areas to your regular routine bit by bit so it all eventually becomes manageable.”

Congratulations! Now it's no longer a house for cleaning, but one for enjoying.

This article was originally published on June 9, 2016.

Ellen Sturm Niz is a home decor and parenting expert. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.