General Cleaning for Busy Families

How to Clean A House like a Professional

     Busy family?  Behind in your house cleaning?  Don’t get overwhelmed.  We asked professional house cleaners about their systems and how they get through their work so fast.  Our handy guide to general cleaning sums up their answers and summarizes what they do.  

Fill a caddie or hamper with these items and start from where you are.  You don’t need a lot of fancy gadgets or supplies. If you don’t have everything organized or you have clutter areas, work on those areas separately, a little at a time, and for now clean around the extra stuff.

Essential Supplies

  • a large number of microfiber rags (about 2 dozen) (prefold cloth diaper inserts work great!)
  • a spray bottle of all purpose cleaner
  • a spray bottle of glass cleaner
  • a spray bottle of vinegar/water (if there are wood floors)
  • foaming bathroom surface cleaner
  • rubber gloves
  • vacuum
  • trash bags
  • keep a toilet bowl brush next to each toilet in the home
general cleaning supplies including rags, spray cleaners, a mop
  • a Swiffer-type swivel mop head with velcro to attach the aforementioned rags, parts to make these are sold in the cleaning section of the Home Depot.  The Bona mop is especially designed to have microfiber cloths stick to it.

You might wind up switching some of the above products for other ones as you get more experienced and try out other strategies, but the above will be fine to get you started in some new, better habits.

General Cleaning By Room

There are two types of rooms: wet rooms and dry rooms.  Wet rooms are places like kitchens and bathrooms. Dry rooms are places like living rooms and bedrooms. These are the steps for cleaning a wet and dry room:


vacuuming a dry room

Dry Rooms

  • Empty trash
  • Use a rag to knock down any cobwebs you can see.  Use same rag to wipe off fan blades or light fixture (if you’re too short, get a step stool). Throw dirty rag in a garbage bag just for rags.
  • Take dirty sheets off bed, remake with clean ones.
  • Dust surfaces with rag. Throw dirty rag in garbage bag.
  • Clean mirrors and any glass surfaces with glass cleaner. Throw dirty rag in garbage bag.
  • If the floor is a hard surface, spray the floor with floor cleaner (vinegar/water) and use additional dry rags as necessary to wipe it up working your way out of the room. Throw dirty rags in aforementioned garbage bag.
  • If its carpeted, vacuum yourself out of the room.


Man cleaning his bathroom and talking by mobile phone

Wet Rooms

  • Spray any problem spots with foaming cleaner and let it sit.
  • If this is a bathroom, spray inside of toilet bowl with cleaner and let it sit.  Consider learning how to empty the bowl and doing this before applying cleaners so the usual part under water gets a good thorough cleaning as well. (Quick instructions- turn the valve at the back of the toilet to the right for “tighty-righty”, then flush and all the water should go down and stay down.)
  • Empty trash
  • Knock down cobwebs and dust light fixtures. That rag is now dirty.
  • Clean one surface at a time (bathroom vanity, toilet, tub and shower surround, sink, stove, outside of refrigerator, etc) by spraying it all over with all purpose cleaner (use vinegar spray on stainless steel appliances), wipe clean and discard that rag. 
  • Go back and use glass cleaner on anything shiny.
  • If this is a problem area, just spray on top of the old foam cleaner.
    If you’re cleaning a toilet, use two rags and a toilet brush: brush the inside of the bowl, a rag for the outside of the bowl and stool and another rag for the top/tank section.
  • Use a dry rag on the swivel mop to get hair and dust. Discard that rag.
  • Spray floors with cleaner and wipe clean with clean rag on the swivel mop.
  • Mop yourself out of the room

Other Projects to Consider

Here are some other larger projects that go beyond general cleaning.  Do one each cleaning day or try to tackle a few each weekend, etc.  Some of them may only need to be done seasonally.

  • washing windows
  • vacuuming the whole house instead of just dry mopping
  • completely cleaning upholstered furniture, washing covers if able
  • vacuuming under large pieces of furniture/appliances
  • cleaning drapes/curtains/blinds.  For blinds, close one way, wipe down.  Close the other way, wipe down.
  • cleaning the insides of drawers and cabinets, etc.
  • cleaning the inside of the fridge
  • cleaning the inside of the oven: use a mixture of peroxide and baking soda with a little dish soap mixed in.  Buff the whole oven, leave on for a few minutes especially where there is any caked-on food. Wipe the mixture out with paper towels, then use water to get any lingering residue out of the oven.  Clean top of stove with vinegar/water mixture, let soak on any burned parts.

When you are done with your general cleaning:

Immediately put all rags into the wash and wash them by themselves.  Throw a little bleach or vinegar in this wash.

Re-stock cleaning supplies as necessary.

Consider lighting a candle, opening the windows in the house to get some fresh air circulating, or relaxing with a cup of tea in your newly cleaned home.

General Cleaning Help:


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