I actually had someone ask me if I have a cleaning outfit I wear at home!!
It wouldn’t be “speed cleaning” if you took the time to change into a cleaning outfit every time you started cleaning! The short answer is, I don’t dress up (or down) to clean. Most of the routines I describe in this book are about quick cleaning routines you can get through in minutes. It’s probably not a good idea to wear that $500.00 dress with heels or that Armani suit, but generally, don’t worry about what you wear – just be comfortable.
For people who work outside the house and just want to come home and get through the routine in minimum time, changing into sweats may be part of the daily routine. And nothing wrong with that. But if you have to go out again, or take the kids to a concert, or you’re having guests etc etc etc, just use an apron.
Having said that, most people do change when they get home into something more comfortable and that’s the key. Be comfortable.
One more caveat about the fashion of cleaning. The daily routines are based on periodically doing more thorough cleaning (one or twice a month) when you get into the corners. For those cleaning activities, you should be comfortable. I use sweat pants and a T shirt (I like to use these cleaning activities as kind of an exercise routine). But the name of the game is comfort. And please don’t choose anything that you would feel badly about if the bleach or other cleaner happened to cause it a little bit of damage.
The Apron or the Tote-All?
Most aprons have a hundred pockets or so – all kinds of places to put the cleaning tools of the trade. I’ve seen some people use them like that. But I don’t do it. I wear an apron to protect my clothes, but I’ve never found it particularly efficient to be lugging around all kinds of tools clipped to me. The idea is to get the job done as quickly as possible – having everything in your pockets inhibits movement and just gets in the way.
One of the basic secrets to speed cleaning is having everything you need right there. How many times have you wasted time going back to the pantry or the kitchen for some cleaning product that you don’t have with you when you enter the room you’re going to clean? I use a pail. With a few exceptions (that I’ll point out at the appropriate time) I have all my cleaning materials stored in one place and in a pail that I take from room to room.
Recently, I’ve seen specially designed “tote carry alls” on the market that are a bit bigger than a standard pail and have dividers so you can organize your cleaning tools and carry them around. I might get one of those – they look like they will do the job! But my pail seems to work just fine for me and the only thing I might have in my apron pocket are some rags (I use specific rags for specific rooms but we’ll get to that….)
Also, plastic bins sales have exploded. While am not usually an advocate of these, consider buying one for your cleaning supplies. In this bin you can store all your brushes, rags and even a roll of paper towels. Think of it for a moment: instead of stashing all of your cleaning supplies under the sink in the kitchen, you can have them waiting for you in a bin. And you can have the bin stored in a convenient location where you can be sure it’s always handy. When you’re ready to clean, remove only those items you’ll be using for that day.
So, organizing your tools is the first key to speed cleaning. You won’t have to hunt for all the necessary cleaners and accessories.
You need fewer “tailor-made” tools than you think. Don’t spend a fortune buying the streamlined, specialized tools you see on television. It’s just not necessary. Look around your house. You already have a lot of what you need.
A Clean Sweep
It’s difficult to make a clean sweep if you don’t have the proper broom, mop or brush to do the job. That is what we’re concentrating on next. If you have the proper tools, making the sweep clean in as few sweeps as possible is the name of the game.
If you’re like me, you probably have several mops around your house. Mops are to a person who cleans what hammers are to a carpenter. In each case you have a wide range of choices. But each style of mop, just like each hammer, has a unique job to fulfill. Deciding which mop performs a specific job best is one of the very important keys to speed cleaning.
One of my favourite kinds of mop is the self wringing kind because it’s so versatile. If you don’t already have one, you should think about picking one up. You can find these just about anywhere for under $20. This is a handy mop because it adapts the traditional, industrial power of a cotton-string mop to residential use. You’ve no doubt seen janitors with their string mops as they pull the cart that serves as a rinse bucket and wringer. Instead of lugging the wringer for the mop around behind you, it’s already attached to the handle. It also allows you to twist the mop portion a full 360° to ensure that you squeeze everything out! How cool is that?
However, in the spirit of speed cleaning, the self wringer may not be the most appropriate for daily floor maintenance (save it for a more thorough cleaning or to mop up significant spills).
For daily maintenance, many people use the Swifter Wetjet. This mop has disposable pads and the cleaning solution is stored in the mop. As you mop, a trigger releases the cleaning solution in front of you. A great product for daily kitchen floor mopping or for floors in any high traffic area. (This might not be suitable for a truly “green” cleaner because once the pad is saturated and dirty, you simply throw it out – but it is a suitable product if that isn’t an issue for you.)
I’ve found something I like better than a traditional mop or a swifter: a steam mop. Seriously, this thing is great.
This mop uses high temperature steam (110C ) to clean and sanitise ceramic tiles, vinyl or wood laminate floors. The high pressure steam removes visible dirt, grease and grime. It has a micro fibre pad, which is important (micro fibre is the very best cleaning material bar none) and on top of that, it’s washable! You use it over and over and they last and last. And it’s a natural product. No chemicals – just steam.
You can also get models that have a pivot head which allows you to get the mop into any corner or under furniture etc. I’ve only been using a steam mop for about a year now and I love it. It cleans as well as any product I’ve ever used, it’s quick and it’s easy. Well worth the investment.
Go figure! We’ve even made advances in the structure of brooms. Remember Grandma’s broom? It was made with all corn bristles and built for “heavy-duty sweeping. In fact, it was probably used so often the bristles on one side of the broom were longer than the other. That’s how I always thought you could tell a well-tested, time-honoured broom.
Many individuals still swear by this type of broom. I can’t say that I blame them.
So what did broom manufacturers start doing to me? They built in that natural usage angle that one could only get by “ageing” the broom. Now, it’s a regular feature of most brooms.
Brooms today, you’ll also notice are seldom made from natural bristles. They are made with synthetic bristles. These are usually a bit more pliable than the corn variety.
I have to confess that when given the choice, I snatch up the stiff natural bristle broom. It seems to gather and pick up the dust and crumbs off the floor much quicker. Fewer items get left behind simply because of the strength of the bristles.
While the synthetic bristle brooms may have the natural angle built in, they’re too soft at times to make that one clear, clean sweep through the kitchen that I need for a quick fix.
So just how can you improve on the bucket? Don’t think anything could replace the standard bucket, do you? If you’re stuck in the “old-fashioned” mode of thought where a bucket is round and metal, boy you’ve been hiding under a rock for many a year.
Okay, you do realize that most buckets made for home cleaning are indeed plastic. But did you also realize that you can buy a bucket with a spout for pouring, and even a square bucket these days?
And this diversity is a good thing. The size and shape of the bucket you’ll use will be strictly a personal choice. Much of your decision in purchasing a specific kind will be dictated by the chores for which it will be u