This month, Clorox is set to launch some new cleaning products: Disinfecting Mist Spray and Disinfecting Mopping Cloths. Melissa Maker, the expert behind Clean my Space, offered her best cleaning tips, common mistakes people make when cleaning, and a few do-it-yourself recipes for cleaning products at home.
What are some tips you can offer when it comes to cleaning your house?
Set a timer – this is the best way for me to get going on days when I don’t feel motivated. Sometimes, I’ll pick a podcast that’s say, 20 minutes, and do what I can during that time. Anything left undone can be finished at a later time. Oftentimes, I’ll end up pushing through until the whole task is done because I don’t want to have a job be 80% finished and have to carve out time to complete the rest.
Pair cleaning with something else – if you are waiting for your coffee to be made or your water to boil for tea, use that time to unload the dishwasher instead of doom scrolling. Find little ways to weave cleaning into your day. If you need to stretch your legs after a few video calls, do so by vacuuming your office floor (which is what I just did) or finding another quick 5-minute cleaning task that gets you to move your body.
Make sure you are using the right products and tools for the job. If you pick up a sponge that’s too abrasive and use it to clean stainless steel, you’ll scratch it. If you use a cleaning product with acid (like vinegar), you can etch your natural stone. Learn the finishes in your home and what they can tolerate, and select the products and tools you need accordingly. That way you get the job done efficiently, and you don’t ruin anything in the process.
What are some common mistakes people make when cleaning their homes?
Not getting things cleaned because you are unclear about your cleaning ‘style’: know thyself! Are you a marathon cleaner – someone who likes to spend half a day cleaning their home so they feel set for the week? Or, are you a piecemeal cleaner – someone who likes to do a room or task or two a day? If you are the former, don’t sweat the small stuff; leave everything until your big clean and just enjoy the rest of your week without worrying about cleaning. If you are the latter, you’ll need to be on top of your schedule and make sure you get a room or a couple of tasks done every day so that things don’t pile up. We get into trouble when we don’t clean according to our cleaning ‘style’, the cleaning piles up and never gets done or feels insurmountable when you finally decide to do it.
Understand how to properly disinfect surfaces and where disinfection is actually needed. Many people would use the terms ‘disinfect’ and ‘clean’ synonymously, but in fact they are two different things and serve different purposes. Cleaning is just that, it’s removing dirt, dust, debris, grease and grime from a surface. It helps a surface look better. Disinfecting takes cleaning a step further, and actually kills 99.9% of germs on that surface. I recommend disinfecting surfaces that are considered ‘points of contact’ such as door handles, light switch plates, levers, pulls, remote controls, etc. And to do that, clean the surface first, and next, apply a disinfectant. I like using Clorox Disinfecting Mist after I clean a surface, because it’s bleach-free, can be used on both hard and soft surfaces, and comes in an aerosol-free bottle, too, which I appreciate.
Cleaning among clutter: any time a room needs to be cleaned, don’t clean it before you remove the clutter. Otherwise, it becomes a very daunting job to move and replace and clean around a bunch of stuff that is out of place. The way I teach people to clean is to use my ‘3 wave system’. Wave 1 is tidying and organizing (this tackles this very problem), wave 2 is the actual cleaning and disinfecting, and wave 3 is when you empty garbage cans and clean the floors. By parsing it out into 3 tasks, you can get the job done efficiently and not have to clean around tons of piles and misplaced items.
What DIY substitutes can you offer?
My favorite all-purpose cleaner that I use to clean most of my surfaces with at home is 2 cups of water, 1/2 tsp dish soap and 5-10 drops of essential oils (the one you choose can be dictated by your mood or preference).
Glass cleaner – vinegar is an amazing glass cleaner, so I like to mix up a 50/50 solution of vinegar to water for glass and window cleaning. For grimy exterior windows, I use 3 L of hot water, 1 tbsp of dish soap and 1 L of vinegar in a big rectangular bucket. Then I use a double-sided squeegee (the kind professional window cleaners use) and go to town. Just don’t do it on a sunny day, and you’ll have stunning windows in no time. For sticky grime built up on interior windows and mirrors (like hairspray and air freshener remnants), consider using a bit of rubbing alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the build up.