How to Deep Clean Your House from Top to Bottom (Admit It, You Can’t Put It Off Any Longer)
Deep cleaning is the number one task you put off until you just can’t ignore it anymore. And you know it’s bad when even the wild feuds between Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin on Tiger King can’t distract you from the web of dust on your baseboards. Or how the oven gets a slightly funky, charred smell as it preheats. You know you need to deep clean your house, but perhaps you dread the thought of losing hours—or even a whole weekend—to the project. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We’ve culled the best advice from a range of experts, including cleaning services, professional declutterers, the EPA and the CDC, to come up with a fast yet thorough way to clean up your act…without letting it take over your life.
It all comes down to thinking of deep cleaning in three phases:
1. Tidying to remove clutter
2. Cleaning to make your home gleam
3. Disinfecting high-traffic areas to kill germs
Consider this your handy guide to all that mess.
1. Tidy using the Wastebasket TechniqueHere’s a tip we love from Get Organized Already founder Nonnahs Driskill: Grab a wastebasket, hamper or other bin. Set a timer for five minutes and zip around the room, gathering everything that doesn’t belong there. (Living rooms, dining rooms and guest rooms tend to be teeming with items hastily dropped on tables.) Then set another timer for ten to 15 minutes, pushing yourself to return everything in that bin to its rightful place. The timer is just a motivator, Driskill says, pushing you past your “I don’t wanna!” knee-jerk reaction and getting you into deep-cleaning mode.
2. Place an old pillowcase on your ceiling fan blades
Turn off your fan and use a step stool to comfortably reach the blades. Slide an old (clean) pillowcase onto each blade, one at a time, and cup your hands around the pillowcase to wipe off the dust that’s accumulated on the top of the blade. Any dust that falls off the sides of the blade will be caught in the pillowcase as you slowly slide it off, rather than getting all over the floor (and you).
3. SWEEP/VACUUM THE FLOORS
If dust does spill out, at least the next item on your list is cleaning the floors, right?
4. VACUUM ALL SEAT CUSHIONS
While the vacuum is out, use it on your couch and armchair cushions, paying extra attention to seams and corners, which are havens for crumbs.
5. Mop the floors
Unless, of course, you have wall-to-wall carpeting. If that’s the case, proceed directly to the next step…
6. Spot-clean carpets
If you want to go all out and shampoo your entire rug, go for it. If your rug has just a few spots here and there—or you don’t have time for such an undertaking—try the “spray and let sit” method from Molly Maid: Spritz a carpet stain remover (like OxiClean or Resolve) onto your rug, let it sit for ten minutes or so, then carefully blot, working from the outer edges of the stain inward.
7. RUN A DRYER SHEET ALONG BASEBOARDS, TRIM, WINDOWSILLS AND BLINDS
Jill Nystul, the blogger behind One Good Thing by Jillee, swears by dryer sheets for efficiently lifting and removing dust, lint and pet hair from almost any surface. Who needs a feather duster?
8. WIPE COUNTERTOPS, DOORS AND WINDOWS
You can use a standard all-purpose cleaner on counters—unless they’re stone, in which case you should stick to soap and water to avoid wearing away the sealant—and doors (including cabinet doors). Use glass cleaner for the windows.
Pro tip: If you’re the type who never remembers to restock this stuff, try using a subscription service, like Amazon Subscribe & Save, the Grove Collaborative or Blueland.
9. Disinfect light switches, knobs and drawer pulls
Take a disinfecting wipe or a microfiber cloth spritzed with an all-purpose cleaner from the EPA’s list of disinfectants strong enough to kill novel coronavirus germs and run it over the knobs, handles or switches that are frequently used.
10. Clear out your fireplaceYou’ll want to do this before tackling any of the items on the general room to-do list, since it can get messy. Merry Maids recommends placing an old sheet or drop cloth at the base of the hearth before taking a handheld broom to the floor and walls of the fireplace, sweeping away any ash. You can also use the brush attachment of your vacuum to clean the outside of the fireplace.
11. DUST OFF YOUR TV
We bet you didn’t even realize that a fine haze was developing over the TV screen. While you’re at it, if you have a bunch of loose cords dangling everywhere and creating visual clutter, consider corralling them with a cord cover.
12. GET RID OF WATER RINGS
Make a paste from a teaspoon of salt and a few drops of water. Gently rub it onto any water stains with a cloth, rubbing it until the ring disappears, according to Reader’s Digest. Wipe off the salt paste, then apply wood polish to the surface to restore its luster. (Then treat yourself to some pretty little agate coasters from Anthro, so you don’t have to deal with this step ever again.)
13. STRAIGHTEN YOUR BOOKSHELVES
Just like the wastebasket decluttering trick, set a timer for 15 minutes so you don’t start reading a book and lose half your day to this project. Do a quick sweep, tidying up the shelves and pulling out any books you have no intention of reading again. Put those books into a “donate” bin to take to your local library, mail to a friend or give away to neighbors.
14. Scrub the tileSpray tile and grout cleaner all over the shower stall, letting it sit for five to ten minutes before using a scrub brush (not the same one you’d use for your toilet, BTW!) to remove any grime. Use a toothbrush to remove stubborn stains in the grout, then rinse everything with water.
15. SQUEEGEE THE SHOWER DOORS AND/OR CLEAN THE CURTAIN
If your shower curtain is machine washable, remove it from the shower rings and toss it into the washer with your next load of towels. For liners or plastic curtains, mix a solution of equal parts water and vinegar in a spray bottle, then spritz the curtain and scrub away any mildew. Rinse it clean.
16. CLEAN THE TOILET INSIDE AND OUT
Most people know to squirt on a toilet bowl cleaner, let it sit for a few minutes, scrub and then flush. But they often neglect the outside of the toilet. Martha Stewart recommends spraying the exterior with a disinfecting cleaner and letting it sit for at least five minutes to kill germs before wiping it clean.
17. Use a dryer sheet to remove soap scum
Dryer sheets aren’t just good for your baseboards; they also work wonders for removing soap scum. Just dampen a sheet and use it to gently wipe down your sink and faucets, Nystul recommends.
18. Scrub Your OvenSure, there’s an auto-clean function on your oven, but that cranks your oven’s temp way up—and often triggers the fire alarm. Turns out, there’s a better way: Just follow this method that uses baking soda and water.
19. DEGREASE YOUR STOVE TOP
A little hot water, dish soap and a microfiber cloth are all you need.
20. CLEANSE YOUR DISHWASHER
Place a drinking glass full of apple cider vinegar or white vinegar in the top rack of an otherwise empty dishwasher, then run it on the hottest setting. After that, sprinkle a little baking soda into the bottom of the dishwasher and run it on the hottest setting again to further de-gunk and deodorize. (For even more in-depth cleaning for your machine, check out Clean Cult’s full tutorial.)
21. MAKE YOUR MICROWAVE SPARKLE
Mix a tablespoon of white or apple cider vinegar with a cup of water, place it in the microwave and let it “cook” for a few minutes, until the window starts to fog. Let the appliance cool for at least five minutes before carefully removing the bowl and wiping the inside with a clean sponge. (For an even easier—and dare I say fun?—take on cleaning, try using the Angry Mama to steam clean it.)
22. WIPE DOWN CABINETS
A little soapy water is all you need here. A Magic Eraser can help get rid of scuff marks, but test it in an inconspicuous spot first to make sure it won’t damage the finish.
23. REMOVE STREAKS FROM STAINLESS STEEL
Traditional cleaners leave streaks on stainless steel appliances. Stainless steel spray cleaners and wipes, like Weiman, get rid of them completely (pesky fingerprints too!). If you don’t have any of that on hand, Windex will also remove those smudges.
24. WASH OUT YOUR GARBAGE CAN
If you’ve ever wondered where that smell was coming from, even after taking out your trash, it’s definitely the can. Take it outside and give it a good scrub with all-purpose cleaner.
25. Wash your sheets and comforterLook for the tag to find the exact instructions, since they will vary depending on what your linens are made of. Don’t forget to wash the accessories too, like bed skirts or the pillowcases on decorative pillows.
26. FLIP OR ROTATE YOUR MATTRESS
Because nobody wants their bed to have a permanent indentation of their body in it. (Aim to do this seasonally.)
27. Vacuum under the bed
If you can’t vacuum because too much stuff is crammed under there, it might be worth setting another timer (this time for 30 minutes) to see what, exactly, is there—and what you actually need, want or might use. To the donate bin with the rest!