House Cleaning Tips and Tricks

Professional housekeepers have an arsenal of secret weapons to help them scrub any mess clean. (Photo by Katelin Kinney)

Years of experience cleaning hundreds of houses gives our highly rated house cleaning companies an advantage when it comes to knowing what tool works best for each job. They’ve spilled the beans and provided some insider secrets any homeowner can incorporate into his or her cleaning routine.

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The Tools for House Cleaning Success

Every housekeeper has a favorite cleaning product — but shhhh, don’t tell anyone — many swear by common household supplies.

In order to sanitize items, mix a bit of antibacterial dish soap with white vinegar in a bucket of hot water. And then use a rag to wipe doorknobs, doors, walls — any areas of the home you wanted to disinfect and clean.

Claudia Niswonger, owner of Marcela’s Cleaning in St. Louis, says a little bit of vinegar and water sprayed on vinyl floors makes them shine, and baking soda sprinkled in showers and sinks acts as a natural cleanser and deodorizer.

Vinegar and baking soda mixed together can freshen up drains and help clear clogs. Pour the baking soda over the drain, followed by vinegar. Rinse the bubbling mixture down the drain with boiling water.

For glass shower doors with hard-water stains, vinegar will do the trick while leaving behind a streak-free surface, says Debbie Pickens, owner of Heavenly Touch Maids in Akron, Ohio. “Elbow grease is the best tool you have,” she adds.

And if you find it tricky to keep dark granite countertops smudge-free, use soapy water to wipe them down and then buff dry with a clean, dry microfiber cloth (so you won’t leave behind any lint).

Jennifer Vines, owner of Girl vs. Grime in Kernersville, North Carolina, relies on a simple solution when she encounters dirt in nooks and crannies too small for hands to reach.

“Toothpicks are a cleaner’s best friend,” she says.

Other tools and products our experts swear by: Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, Febreze, Bon Ami (an all natural scouring powder), microfiber cloths, pumice stones (to remove stains in toilets) and the Roomba.

“Probably the best investment anyone could make is to purchase a Roomba, which will vacuum your floors on a schedule every day,” says Kevin Wagnon, owner of My Sweet Clementine Pure & Natural Housekeeping in North Charleston, South Carolina.

“When you come home, your floors will be vacuumed and you will be less stressed because of it. It was the best purchase of my life!” she says.

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Give it Time

One of the most common “tricks of the trade” is to give whatever cleaning solution you’re using time to do its job.

“Let the product work for you,” says Kim Condon, vice president of Godsend Cleaning in Lynchburg, Virginia. “When you go to clean your shower, make sure that you spray it and let it sit for a good 10 to 15 minutes. When you come back to wipe it down, it should come off a lot easier.” That strategy applies to the kitchen or any other area, particularly if the surface is really dirty.

Know When to Call for House Cleaning Help

Every once and awhile, there are some cleaning issues too tough for the average homeowner to tackle. In those cases, it’s best to call in a professional.

“My most unusual cleaning problem was a shower that had become rust-colored from minerals in the water,” says Debbie Groothuis, owner of Bizzy Bee Housecleaning Service in Snohomish, Washington.

“I took a powdered oxygen cleaner, mixed it with hot tap water to make a paste, and covered the shower walls and glass door," she says. "I let this sit for a half hour, and then took a scrub brush, a pail of hot water and proceeded to scrub like crazy with a blue nylon scrubber. I rinsed everything off and buffed it dry. The results were amazing!”

Another good reason to hire a pro? Perhaps it’s inexperience, but homeowners can sometimes do more harm than good when they take matters into their own hands.

Niswonger says one of her clients mistakenly used the wrong type of cleaner on her kitchen floor, dulling the tile.

“She wanted her house to smell good, so she used a product that smelled good,” Niswonger says.

In an attempt to bring the shine back to the tile floor, Niswonger says she tried a variety of products, but finally sought advice from a specialty flooring company.

“They recommended just mop with water until the stuff was completely removed,” she says. “Her floor returned super shiny and the solution was simple.”

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