Published on September 16, 2018

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Photography by Cody Giulfoyle

Keeping your house clean can seem like the ultimate chore. Scrubbing the bathrooms, wiping down the kitchen, and keeping your home dust-free are tasks that can quickly pile up, regardless of how clean you consider yourself. Gone are the days when your mother would pick up after you and make sure everything was dirt-free and in the right place. With your own space, that task is now up to you. And all too often, we become so overwhelmed by everything we think we should be doing, that we avoid the duties of cleaning and tidying altogether.

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Illustration Phuong Nguyen

Melissa Maker—host of the CleanMySpace YouTube channel and founder of Clean My Space, a housekeeping service based in her native Canada—explains that most people feel overwhelmed in their own homes for two reasons: Either the home is too cluttered, which can immediately trigger an overwhelmed response, or they simply don’t know where to begin when it comes to cleaning. Specifically, Maker notes that if people don’t know how to clean a certain area or item (i.e. the kitchen stove or the bathtub) they may avoid it altogether until it becomes so overwhelmingly dirty that they’re forced to tackle it.

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Illustration by Phuong Nguyen

Now, we’re not saying that you should just be cleaning because your Mom told you to back when you were a kid. A survey run on behalf of Clorox found that our emotional and mental state can be linked to how clean our homes are and that we can actually be more productive and less stressed in such an environment.

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Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

According to another study by Kärcher, a global leader in cleaning technology solutions, if you spent the average of 3 hours and 20 minutes each week house-cleaning, that would amount to just 173 hours per year, or one full week (7.2 days) in total. So whether you’re a total clean freak or someone just looking to get out ahead of the daily messes, these tips will help you make the most of your routine.

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Photography by awpixel via Unsplash

Maker’s method is simple: First, figure out your MIAs (most important areas) and start with those. “When people feel overwhelmed, it’s usually because they are thinking of doing it all, and I’m a big proponent of doing what is needed.”

She advises working your way through your selected areas based on need and tackling the rest on a different day. Take on the countertops and dishes, for example, and worry about mopping the floors at a time when you’re feeling less overwhelmed.

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Illustration by Phuong Nguyen

“I consider the kitchen to be one of my most important areas, which is why keeping it clean is a priority for me. I’ve made it a rule to clean up as much as possible after each use. Whether it’s just a few crumbs on the counter, or a full-on scrub down—dishes, pots, pans, backsplash—whatever it takes, get it done,” Maker says on her website.

 “When people feel overwhelmed, it’s usually because they are thinking of doing it all, and I’m a big proponent of doing what is needed.”- Melissa Maker 

After finding out where you want to prioritize your time and energy, Maker then says it’s time to find the right products, tools, and techniques for executing the type of cleaning you need to be completed. This is where a lot of Youtube videos (like ones on Maker’s channel) come in handy since they can show you just how you should go about cleaning the trickier spots in your home. Shower heads and tile grout come top of mind. Generally, when you know how to go about completing the task, you’ll feel much more empowered to get it done.

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Illustration by Phuong Nguyen

Finally, when it comes to cleaning, Maker says one of the best things you can do is create a schedule for yourself. This way, you’ll hold yourself accountable for those designated MIAs without letting everything else pile up.

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Illustration by Phuong Nguyen

With this in mind, there are also certain ways you can make your time spent cleaning more effective. By using things you already have around the home or attempting a few clever hacks, you can tackle even the most difficult of projects. Read on for some of our favorite mom-approved cleaning hacks that will make your life easier.

Salt for Cleaning A Cast Iron Skillet

Spruce up that coveted le creuset by using salt to break down some of the built-up grease and grime for recipes of cooking past. Salt works as an effective yet gentle scouring agent and can serve as a catalyst for other ingredients, such as vinegar, to boost cleaning and deodorizing action.

Maker suggests filling your pan halfway with the water and then pouring in a couple of tablespoons of salt. Bring the salt water mixture to a boil over medium heat before gently scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spatula.

You can also achieve the same effect by simply pouring the salt directly onto the dry pan and using a plastic scrubbing sponge to get rid of the remaining debris.

Salt is also a great option for getting out tea or coffee stains from steel mugs or pots. Pouring a little salt inside and taking a lemon wedge to scrub them down!

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Photography by Mickel Hill

Vinegar for keeping things shiny and clean

Vinegar’s high acidity is what makes it such a good cleaner. It can counteract icky buildups and break down some of that basic household grime, all on its own, but works well when mixed in with other ingredients, such as baking soda, to boost its overall cleaning power.

One of Maker’s all-time favorite uses for vinegar is getting a streak-free, shiny clean on glass.

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Woman housekeeper cleaning the mirror with green cloth.Photography via iStock

Her method involves a clean spray bottle and adding equal parts water and white vinegar, then slowly adding about a teaspoon of cornstarch. After giving the mixture a good shake, you can spray it directly on the glass or mirrored surface and wipe it down with a microfiber cloth to eliminate any streaking. This also comes in handy inside sinks and on faucets, leaving them extra shiny.

“The vinegar will help remove any of that dirt and grease, while the cornstarch works as a gentle abrasive,” Maker explains.

Hydrogen Peroxide as a Toilet Bowl and Grout Cleaner

That bottle of hydrogen peroxide you have hiding under your bathroom sink can actually come in handy for a number of cleaning necessities. Turns out it’s great for sanitizing and disinfecting all sorts of things, not just your cuts and skin scrapes. One of the simplest things you can do with hydrogen peroxide is to pour a cup of it into your toilet bowl and swish it around to help break down stains and get rid of any nasty, lingering bacteria.

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Photography via Pexels

Another way to use hydrogen peroxide is by mixing it with baking soda. Baking soda’s properties make it a natural abrasive while also being whitening and deodorizing, resulting in a genius DIY cleaner. Maker is a big fan of using this powerhouse duo on those pesky, hard-to-reach grout stains. In the bathroom or kitchen, grout stains are an eyesore that can be tricky to clean properly. The solution? Mix two parts baking soda to one part hydrogen peroxide, blend and apply to the grout with a cleaning toothbrush.

Try leaving it for a few minutes, before giving it a good scrub with that cleaning toothbrush. Afterwards, be sure to rinse the mixture off as the baking soda is likely to leave behind a fine grit.

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Illustration by Phung Nguyen

Lemon for cleaning kitchen utensils

Citrus fruit, with its highly acidic properties, is great for more than just adding a tasty bit of tartness to your water. If you have a bowl of lemons out on your kitchen island as a pop of bright color, put them to good use instead of allowing them to double as decor. Coarse salt and half a lemon will work well for scrubbing down, disinfecting, and deodorizing wooden accessories such as cutting boards or various utensils. Maker says you should consider finishing this tip with a hit of mineral oil to protect your board.

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Eco-friendly natural cleaners made of lemon and baking soda on white wooden tablePhotgraphy via Istock

Another tough kitchen utensil you can easily clean with a bit of lemon is your cheese grater. Maker says one genius way to get it sparkling is to run the fleshy side of the lemon on a cheese grater.

“The lemon oil and juice help to cut the dairy fat and break up any of those proteins. After a quick rinse, you should find that the lemon does an excellent job and it also saves you from ripping apart your sponges!” Maker says on her website.

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Photography via iStock

Rubbing Alcohol for Laminate Floors

Laminate or synthetic flooring often can get dirty fast, and it can be especially hard to clean them up properly. In an effort to avoid those annoying streaks or a hazy finish, Maker suggests you whip up her miracle laminate floor cleaner, featuring items you definitely already have on hand. Combine  ½ cup water with ½ cup white vinegar and 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol in a clean spray bottle. Spray and wipe down the floors with a clean cloth or microfiber towel and watch the magic happen!

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Photography Pexels

See more squeaky clean tips

How To Care For Every Type of Backsplash

You’re Probably Cleaning Your Bedding Wrong

Tips For Cleaning Your Kitchen While You Cook

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