"Create a schedule and commit to it," says Melissa Maker, host of YouTube's channel Clean My Space and founder of Clean My Space housekeeping services. "Don't overwhelm yourself and think you have to do every spring cleaning task ever done in history. Focus on what I call the 'MIAs,' the most important areas in your home. If the basement is a big issue then focus on that."
Once you've determined which areas need tackling, research the best cleaning methods and materials related to the tasks at hand. Armed with proper knowledge and tools, you'll complete jobs safely and successfully, Maker says.
Mary Findley, a sustainable living coach, author, and cleaning expert (goclean.com), says operations will run more smoothly if you get ready before your scheduled cleaning day.
"If you are planning to dust baseboards and vacuum behind furniture the next day, before you go to bed, pull furniture away from walls and pick up clutter in the room," Findley says. "Cleaning time speeds up as you clean. Each time you stop to move furniture or sort clutter, you have to start all over picking up your speed."
The same rule applies to supplies. Gather them before you start cleaning and sort them into easy-carry caddies or buckets that you can take along as you labor. "Any time you have to stop to go get supplies, it really slows down progress," Findley says.
Nothing kills motivation (and momentum!) like having to go search for the right tool, says Amanda Thomas, founder of Moxie Girl, a company offering a holistic approach to housekeeping and home organization. Thomas recommends you carry a spray bottle filled with a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water to clean (and deodorize) most surfaces, including windows and mirrors. Stock your cleaning kit with a nonabrasive powder like Bon Ami or baking soda; a degreaser ("Dawn dish soap works great," Thomas says); clean rags; a nonscratch sponge; a plastic scraper; and a toothbrush. Have on hand a bucket, a mop, a vacuum with a new bag or empty canister, and a stepladder for reaching up-high dirt.
"Clean in a circle," says Leslie Reichert, a nationally recognized green-living home expert and author (greencleaningcoach.com). "Pick a spot to start and clean the outside of the room first and then go to the middle. Remember the mantra, 'top-to-bottom, back-to front' when dusting or washing items. Let dust and dirt drop to the floor because you will vacuum when you are done."
Smartly cut down on cleaning time. Reichert offers these shortcuts: When washing floors, skip the bucket and arm yourself with a spray bottle of your favorite floor cleaner (diluted as if it were in a bucket) and a moistened microfiber mop. Spray the cleaner on the floor; wipe with the mop; and repeat as needed. Instead of washing walls and baseboards, dust them with a microfiber mop you've lightly sprayed with water; the moistened mop head will whisk away dust and cobwebs.
Don't do more than you have to, says Donna Smallin Kuper, author of books on organizing, cleaning, and simplifying life (unclutter.com). Spot-clean stains on walls instead of sponging down ceiling-to-floor surfaces; dust windows and sills instead of washing; and take help wherever you can find it!
"Let cleaners do the work for you," Kuper says. "Allow sprays to really penetrate surfaces; dirt and stains will wipe away quicker and easier. Get family members involved to get the job done faster. Give little ones a microfiber cloth or worn out socks to put on their hands and put them to work dusting baseboards and table and chair legs."
Watch and get Donna's tips for cleaning with what you already have.