Clean like a maid!

By: Badbadivy Feb 21, 2007

Let's talk about cleaning. Cleaning is a drag. I hear there are people out there that actually like to clean, but I am not one of them, even though I used to work as a housecleaner. The good thing about having that job is, I learned to clean very quickly and efficiently. Now, I pass that knowledge along to you, Curbly readers! Here's how to clean like a maid:

The mantra of the company I worked for was top to bottom, left to right.  This way you could easily walk into any room and know exactly where to get started. The work was divided into"wet rooms" (bathrooms and kitchens) and "dry rooms" (living room, dining room, bedrooms). If we were lucky and weren't understaffed, we'd go out with a partner and one person would do the "wet rooms" and the other person would do the "dry rooms". One "wet room" and one "dry room" would be "deep cleaned" each cleaning.  

I still clean my house in the same manner. I try to clean on a weekly schedule, and "deep clean" on a rotating basis. I start with the "wet rooms" first, as I hate cleaning them the most. Getting it out of the way means it's all downhill work from that point on.  

On cleaning "wet rooms"

**Maid's Tip** Keep all your cleaning supplies in a tray you can easily carry from room to room.  You'll need a blue shop rag, some white rags (I use cloth diapers), an all purpose spray cleaner (I like Formula 409), a glass cleaner, a heavy-duty all-purpose cleaner (such as Simple Green), a floor cleaner (I typically use Mop N Glo), a good toilet bowl cleaner, and a duster

In bathrooms, I start first with putting the toilet bowl cleaner in the toilet to let it sit while I'm doing everything else. Then (in any room) knock down cobwebs and dust light fixtures. Spray counters, tubs, and sinks. Spray the dirtiest parts first, then move around the room wiping everything down from left to right. Only bother to wipe down the mirror if it's smeary. If you want your fixturesto really shine, use glass cleaner on them. Run your duster along the baseboards and cabinet fronts, then swish the toilet.  Sweep the floor. Toss down some Mop N Glo, wipe it up, and you're finished.

This is probably obvious, but make sure you don't use the same rag in the kitchen as you do in the bathroom.  E. coli is a bad, bad thing. 

**Maid's Tip** Cleaning your microwave is easy peasy.  Put a bowl of vinegar and water in the microwave, and cook on high for 3 minutes. Then just wipe out the microwave with a rag. The vinegar will take care of that funky popcorn/bacon smell combo most everyone's microwave has, and the steam will soften even the most funky funk that's in your microwave. 

 On cleaning "dry rooms"

 Dry rooms are a breeze. Knock down cobwebs, dust light fixtures. Dust all other furniture and picture frames, moving from left to right. (Our bosses at the maid service would occasionally come behind us and check our work- the place they got us most was by doing the "white glove" test on the tops of picture frames. Don't forget the picture frames!) Change the sheets if you're in a bedroom. Run your duster along the baseboards, then vacuum. 

**Maid's Tip** There is no good, fast way to dust an area that has lots of knickknacks and tchotchkes on it.My personal design aesthetic keeps me from having those kinds of little items, but if you must have them, only bother to dust those suckers when you're "deep" cleaning. Trust me on this one. ;) 

 By using this method and making sure you keep up with it weekly, you can clean extremely quickly. I can clean my entire 1200 square foot house in about 45 minutes this way. 



Tagged : ,



I showed my wife this post and she really liked it. Thank you for making me look good after she was pissed at me for no reason (at least I don't know it as always :P)

It's my first time cleaning someone house there are three bedroom upstairs and two bathroom upstairs one bedroom downstairs and one bath where should i start to clean first

In reply to @lovetoclean I'd suggest that you don't clean together with your husband but to split the jobs - he cleaning one property and you the other. This way it'll be $15p/h. I cannot advise you on charging but can tell you I am paying by the hour. It's quite like the same thing though - if it is very dirty, it will take more time. If the customer requests the place to be completely clean - charge by how much time it will take, if the client asks for 2-3 hours of cleaning, clean those 120-180 minutes and leave. These are some thing you have to arrange upon starting the service. I know it's almost an year since you asked and you may not read this but I just had to write it as I am hiring home cleaners and this is how we roll. The bigger the job - the more the hours simple as that. 

As to the article, I think cleaning is not such a big deal. You'd say "said the person that hire a cleaner in London". But the problem with cleaning is THE TIME required. As a part time working mother some household help is not a luxury but a necessity. So once I have the time to clean, hopefully, I'd certainly be using your tips and becoming my own maid. 

I appreciate all of the great suggestions.  Have pinned this article to my "Teaching Children How to Clean" board.


I've been cleaning houses since June.  My business has increased, thank God.  I love to clean but the one problem I'm having is how to charge my clients.  Do I charge by the hour or by the job????  Some of the houses I clean are pretty clean and some are gross.  When I started cleaning I charged 15.00 an hour.  Now that my business has grown I'm cleaning with my husband and we're getting the job done twice as fast.  Some of my clients are still paying 15.00 dollars for 2 people!  7.50 an hour!!!!!!  I assumed they figured 2 people cut the time in half.  What would take me 4 hours to clean now takes 2 because of working with my husband.

With my business growing I really need some advice!  Any suggestions?

Great article! This was exactly the info I was looking for. I clean my own home, but I used to have a wonderful cleaner before we moved. You are absolutely right to point out the back of the toilet, the baseboards, microwave to your cleaner. They need to know your standards, and if they can't handle your standards, you can find a wonderful cleaner who can......they are out there. Or, do your own cleaning. ;)


Just a tip. Don't spend hours and hours cleaning something to remove an odour. I used O3 Clean an odour removal cleaning service. It took an hour but saved hours. 


Some of the house cleaning ladies told me i have to buy a min. Of three hours. If they did what they thought was a good job, they left early. To me, if i bought three hours, she should ask can she do something else, as time would permit. They could sweep off the porch, or walkway or other small tasks until the three hours are used up. Not one lady noticed the dirty children's prints on the doors to the bathrooms or scuffs on the baseboards!
I have used several different companies, and also some house cleaners that were not with any agency. I have found that so few can actually make up a bed! The sheets stick out from under the coverlet and the coverlet is not even all the way around, it is lopsided on the bed.the pillows are not arranged neatly . a sloppy made bed to me is worse than unmade!it They should learn from the housekeepers at the Dismey hotels. they are well trained. After inspecting my house for what did get done, i found so many little things not done like not cleaning the toilet on the outside in the back and the pipes that are exposed from the back of the toilet to the wall. These areas collect dust, and should be wiped down often while the bathroom is being cleaned. Also, we have a fan in the ceiling like an exhaust fan, that rids odors from the bathrooms, they never clean those. They can get full of hair and dust if ignored. The house cleaners were spending so much time cleaning the shower curtain until i told them i wash the clear liner in the washing machine and hang it back up wet. it looks new every time i machine wash it, washing with laundry detergemt and a little clorox added, makes it new again. They miss some of the window sills and never dust on top of the moulding around the windows and doors.Most do not carry a sheet to check off each task so i am going to make a check sheet for each room of every task, even those that are only done once in a while.These sheets can be printed up in bulk and filed in a notebook so we can see what has not been done recently. The odd tasks can be listed on the bulk printed sheets and can be marked if that task is to by completed that cleaning day,so each time she comes to clean, there might be a couple of the seldom cleaned tasks listed to be done.

Thanks for the great tips. Like others have said: I tend to start in one place and then get side tracked by something else. These methods will help me.

Thank you for your tips. It is hard for me to stay on task as I would get sidetracked very easy resulting in cleaning my house is any all day chore. Your really simple path of left to right top to bottom has helped and cut my time down to just 1/4. My house also looks cleaner at the end without areas being missed because of my jumping from job to job. Thank you.
I am just starting to clean a few Apts first. My sister use to clean my house and it smelled so good when I came home. It was like peppermint or something ..she does not remember. Also,I don't quite get starting left to right? Just laid off after 12 yrs. Background is Payroll/HR.. To competitve and I want to try this.I am 60 and fit! Need all the tips I can get

I've been using house cleaning service for a while. Thanks to you I know now how they do such amazing job. I might even try those tips one day! Thumbs up! 

Thank you for all the info-sharing. It's Saturday morning and I've been avoiding this for weeks as sick kids and exhaustion has gotten the best of me, but now I'm feeling really equipped and motivated. Thanks!!! PS yes Flylady is great!!!

Having cleaned as a janitor in the past it does make it a lot easier to have your supplies gathered togethr like was mentioned. I used to come home from work and think about how quickly I could clean my bathroom if I had my stuff from work. Also I love the idea of the rotating deep clean schedule. It makes it easier in the future if you stick to your schedule.


Hi! Thank you for writing this posting; I find that doing the detective work online helps broaden your understanding and it is worth while getting as much information as possible. I have a few questions if you don't mind (any with experience please feel free to respond!):

-what have you done if you happened across wood stairs w/o carpeting? Backpack vac it, then mop?

-procedural Q- as a prof. housekeeper, did you ask your clients of the types of surfaces ( e.g. finished hardwood, bamboo, poured concrete, etc etc) before you go or do you already have cleaner/supplies on hand that you know that will take care of them?

-Procedural Q: as a prof. housekeeper, how much "tidying" or "organization" have you personally done (past or present) for your customers?

- What is your absolute favorite combination of cleaners do you like to use while prof. cleaning? Favorite vac?

@Darlene ... I agree. I realized how much one should consider before cleaning different surfaces. What have you personally used for the variety of surfaces?

Thank you for taking the time to read my msg. and for responding!


This article is awesome. Thanks for posting! After paying too much for shoddy housekeeping I'm going to follow your instructions and do it myself.

Excellent, no-nonense, thanks for posting!


1.  You are not *guaranteed* to get liver cancer if you use Formula 409 any more than you are *guaranteed* to get skin cancer if you don't use sunscreen.  An increase in risk is not a guarantee.

2.  Water is a fine cleaner, but it cannot dissolve lipids (fats, oils, waxes).  To do that, you need some sort of detergent.  It's very hard to wash dishes with just water, or to clean a bathtub with just water, no matter what your health-crazed fanatic brain may tell you.

3.  Sponges are only dangerous if not cared for the right way.  They *can* harbor lots of bacteria.  To kill the bacteria in a sponge, microwave it until dry (easiest), or boil it in water for ten minutes, squeeze it out and let it air dry completely before reusing it.


If you clean with a sponge, you are just spreading bacteria. Try a dry cloth with just cleaner, no water. Much more powerful and less icky.

Try to avoid sponges AND water. Not counting the awesome vinegar, baking soda and other natural non-toxic solutions listed here.

» All comments
» Comments RSS

To help stop SPAM, please follow the directions in the graphic below: