So how can you learn the fastest techniques for cleaning your home? You have already learned the Three Ts — Time, Tools and Techniques. The rest comes from following four basic principles used in the janitorial industry. (After you understand how the principles work, I'll show you how to use the whole process in each room.) The Four Basic Principles address the actual system you will use to clean everything:
1. Be organized and have all your supplies on or near you. A cleaning caddy, a five-gallon pail, a cleaning apron and a laundry basket are all great places to store your cleaning supplies. Whatever your preference, choose a container big enough to hold all of your supplies to prevent backtracking. Just like a carpenter who has his toolbox or tool belt always with him and ready, you need the necessary tools and equipment that enable you to do your job. As mentioned earlier, it's important for hotel maids to have their tools and equipment ready to go. The maids cannot waste time taking an elevator from the 16th floor back to the supply room in the basement to get more products or tools. In the same way, forgetting supplies or equipment and making a special trip to get them can make cleaning your home seem like twice the work. Each time you have to stop to get a missing tool or product, you've added two to three minutes to your total cleaning time. Multiply that by the number of times it happens, and see how quickly you've spent a lot of unproductive time! No wonder you feel as though you can never get the cleaning done.
Clearly, you can see the benefits of organizing before you start. This will save you time and energy. Make a list of the cleaning tasks you are going to do and check them off as you go. As you check them off your list, you are rewarding yourself for yet another task done! Load your cleaning caddy with the supplies you need to get the job done, and get to it.
2. Clean from top to bottom. This rule applies to every single thing that you clean in your home. It does not matter whether you are doing Deep Cleaning, Basic Cleaning or Spruce-Up Cleaning. Tackle every cleaning job from the top to the bottom. This works for cleaning the outside of the refrigerator, wiping the kitchen cabinets or washing the walls. You will always start at the top and work your way down in horizontal (not circular or vertical) motions.
Why start at the top? The law of gravity is pretty simple: Dust and dirt fall to the floor as you clean. Many people ask me if you should vacuum first — and my answer is always no. You should always dust first, vacuum last. Vacuuming last captures dust and dirt, unless you have a vacuum that blows dust back into the air. We will talk further about vacuum cleaners in chapter five.
Cleaning top to bottom also forces you to look at your ceilings, tops of the walls, door and window frames, and high corners. These areas are often overlooked because we tend to pay attention to things at eye level when we clean. Cleaning from top to bottom forces us to check out the entire room and do a more thorough job.
Of course, the other reason why we clean from top to bottom is equally important — we are cleaning in a synchronized, organized way, which saves time!
3. Work the room in a circle and finish one room at a time. In the janitorial industry, every single step is important. If employees do not work an entire office in a circle, they could miss trash, cobwebs and spots on the walls and furniture. Remembering where you cleaned last is tough if you don't follow an organized approach. This is also true in a home. The phone rings, you let the dog out — and you forget where you stopped cleaning. Working the room in a circle reduces the chance of forgetting where you've cleaned or missing an area. By cleaning each area thoroughly as you work your way around the room, you are less likely to miss anything. And if you have your supply caddy with you at all times, you will avoid backtracking and missing spots.