I managed a janitorial cleaning service for more years than I’m going to admit to here. Our clients included rental properties, new construction and residential. While most of the homes we cleaned were of the average variety, we also cleaned high end homes that required a high level of service. I learned a lot about cleaning during those years. I think I could write a book about cleaning; today I’ll cover the tools I use.
First of all, most people buy way too many cleaning products and tools, and don’t have a clue about the impact of these cleaning products on their homes and health. Not to mention the unnecessary money spent in the name of keeping a clean house. While I’m not going to tell you how you should clean your home, I will tell you how I clean mine. I’m not 100% green in my cleaning either, but I think I have a very small impact on the environment with what I use. I like to save money, my time and energy, the environment, and most certainly the health of my family.
My cleaning tools for my home consist of cleaning rags, a feather duster, a Swiffer duster with a long handle, a broom with nylon/plastic angled bristles and a dust pan, a cotton string mop, a good vacuum with attachments, a bucket, rubber gloves, paper towels (Bounty is my favorite and I use these very sparingly). I also use old toothbrushes, a 3 or 4” paint brush, a razor scrapper, and a squeegee for the windows.
My cleaning rags are terry cloth and old t-shirts, and are the basic tools I use; having them as clean as I can get them is necessary for the best results. Sometimes a colored cleaning rag will leave behind traces of color, so use all white ones. I wash my cleaning rags separately from my other laundry and would never use a fabric softener or dryer sheet on them; these leave behind residues in the cloths that will come off onto the surface you are cleaning leaving it dull or streaking it. I use bleach in the wash ( this whitens, kills germs and removes products in the cloths) and rinse them twice.
large metal wall hanging with sharp points, paintbrush works here or feather duster
I also use a feather duster which may surprise some of you. I’ve included with this post pictures of things that I use the feather duster on. Feather dusters are great for surfaces that are rough and that a cleaning cloth would stick to or even damage. Some rough surfaces might ‘grab’ tiny pieces of lint or fibers from your cloths leaving it looking dirtier than it is.
a mirror frame covered in real leaves, this would be damaged by anything other than a feather duster
While I am cleaning with a feather duster I tap it firmly on my shoe occasionally to dislodge some of the dust from the feathers, don’t do this if you are not going to vacuum after. Also you can clean it off with a slightly damp rag during use; grab the duster with one hand starting at the handle and pulling it through the hand holding the cloth down over the feathers. Use a spray bottle to dampen the cloth with water or a light spray of furniture polish. Some feather dusters hold up to light gentle washing in water after you have used them.
a textured surface that 'grabs' cloth
I love my long handled Swiffer duster but resent buying the disposable replacement part. I have been gently washing them by hand after giving them a soak in a bowl in dishwashing detergent and have reused them many times this way. I haven't bought replacements in a couple of years. I decided to see if I could make a cloth one and actually found a pattern online someone had posted of how to do that. I haven’t made one yet; I’m going to use flannel instead of the micro fiber cloths suggested. I don’t like micro fiber cloths ( I think I’m the only person alive who doesn’t!) because they seem to push the dirt around rather than grabbing and holding onto it.
My broom is an angled one with nylon bristles and it gets into corners nicely. Brooms dislodge dirt particles that vacuums may miss. I use a broom to sweep baseboards, walls and ceilings too. I just make sure it is clean first before sweeping the walls, cleaning my broom bristles in the bathtub with dish washing soap when it needs it. I use another broom for outside only. You can also pin a small towel around the broom to wipe down walls or ceilings.
small nooks and crannys that'grab' a cloth,or not easily reached
use a feather duster here or a paint brush
I love an old fashion string mop, cotton strings; synthetic strings don’t grab the dirt the way cotton does. You have to wring it out by hand, but that’s not so hard and it doesn’t get smelly if you rinse it clean after use with some vinegar added to the water. Other than washing a floor by hand, I insist on cotton string mops and a 2 gallon plastic bucket.
You will probably have to pay more than a couple of hundred dollars for a good vacuum. Check out some vacuum stores rather than looking at the usual places (stores that sell everything). At least you will learn a few things about vacuums and it will help you make an intelligent purchase. I now have a bagless vac that someone gave me when they bought a new one. It was said not to work very well; I checked and cleaned the filters inside and I have been using it for about 3 yrs now and it works fine. I wash the filters (with water and dish washing soap) about every other time the house is vacuumed and this is what keeps it working right. You have to clean the filters! Have you cleaned yours? Check your owner’s manual or look it up online to find out how to do it properly. That is the main problem with bagless vacuums. If you have pets you may have a filter that clogs because of the oily residue from pet dander. You have to clean those filters or your vac will not work to it’s fullest capacity.
If and when I buy a new vacuum it will be from a vacuum store, and it will not be a bagless type! The ones with disposable bags work much better, and the bag its self filters the air; no messy filters to clean all the time. A bag should be changed out before it is half full for best air quality and best performance. Other than my cleaning rags, I rely on my vacuum for the bulk of my cleaning chores.
I use a squeegee for my windows; a wide paint brush is wonderful for brushing the bevels on doors and on window sills, toothbrushes for hard to get to spots around the bathroom faucet, a razor blade scrapper for the rare times something won’t scrub off, it might scrap off; but be careful! I always wear rubber gloves to protect my skin from becoming rough but also to protect myself from chemicals that could be absorbed into my skin.
I’ll do cleaning products next time.