It’s summer time! It’s vacation for most of us! Time to spend lazy days at the beach, do some gardening in the yard or take the kids on a crazy vacation. I’m sure that cleaning the house is one of the last things that comes to your mind. However, if you really want to be stress-free throughout this summer, before pampering yourself you need to spare some time to clean and declutter your home. I’m here to show you how you can expedite this chore faster than you ever imagined, without sacrificing the much needed thoroughness.
Let’s go step by step and sort it out. Here’s my standard checklist:
- 1 Step 1. Above the floor cleaning
- 2 Step 2. Window Cleaning
- 3 Step 3. Floor Cleaning
- 4 Step 4. Consider these additional tips
- 5 Home Preparations for the Independence Day
- 6 Final thoughts
Step 1. Above the floor cleaning
Do some random cleaning
Starting with the things which aren’t really all that urgent. For instance, take the medicine cabinet. Clear off all the expired and unwanted medicines. Don’t just dispose of them away, check regulations for disposal and follow those steps. Organize your accessories, dressing table and side tables. Do a cleaning of toilets and bathrooms to avoid any kind of germ spreading. Make sure you get rid of all the unwanted stuff. Make some room around you. This will make you feel fresh and organized, ready for the next steps on this checklist.
Organize clothes and shoes
Move all the winter clothes in the back, bring all the summer clothes upfront. It’s as simple as that. Don’t forget to throw away all the stuff which you haven’t been wearing for more than 1 year. In 99% of the cases, you won’t wear it ever again. Put all these clothes separately; perhaps sell or donate them.
You can also work on organizing your shoe rack; bring in your flip flops and put the summer collection on the top. Maintain a habit of cleaning your shoes often. This will help to avoid the pungent smell from the shoe rack. You can also try to add a few scented candles with mint or lemon flavors to make it smell cool and fresh, in tone with the season.
Summer is the seasons of great furniture discounts. If you bought e.g. a new IKEA cabinet, don’t just leave it in your garage for months to pass. Assemble it in a systematic manner. Get rid of the bulky pieces of furniture. Try to obtain as much space as possible, because this will let air currents to circulate freely, allowing you to enjoy even the hottest days.
Step 2. Window Cleaning
There are a lot of things which can make your windows dirty. In winter, precipitation and debris from winds and other inclement weather make keeping windows clean somewhat difficult. In the summer however the extreme heat and humidity can increase the mold and mildew dramatically. The thicker these things become the more likely it is that they will begin growing on your home’s windows. Of course, calling in a professional is the first choice of many homeowners. I will cover this aspect in a minute. However due to budgetary reasons, some you may have no choice but to clean the windows by yourselves. Cleaning a home’s windows in the summertime presents a great number of challenges, challenges which must be met if you want your windows looking clean and healthy.
Start by formulating a proper plan of attack. Such plans might include cleaning the windows before sunrise, or at least in the early morning hours, before the sun has a chance to begin baking your home. If you’re not a morning person, you can also start working at dusk or just after sunset, but the visibility decreases in these circumstances.
A good idea is to involve other family members to help, so that windows can be dried quickly and properly. Family members can even split up and tackle different parts of a home in order to expedite the project.
Deciding on which type of chemicals and tools to use in advance will also make cleaning windows in the summer less arduous and can even make the job run smoother and more efficiently. E.g. you can use a device such as the Karcher WV 50. This product sucks up the dirty water and cleaning solution, leaving spotless glass behind.
Another idea is to get yourself a robotic window washer. Check my top picks here. Such a device might prove useful if you have really large windows.
Last but not least, you’ll have to maintain the windows clean for as long as possible. Keep a close eye and look for spots that are turning green or blotchy. This can be a sign of mold and mildew growth. While not all windows will grow mildew and mold during the summertime, depending on the place you are living in, all are susceptible to these hazard because of the high heat and humidity. You must remain vigilant throughout the entire season.
Mold and mildew aside, there are other challenges homeowners must face when cleaning windows. Selecting chemicals, soaps, tools, and keeping a close eye on hydration, personal safety, and even streaks are all very important. The summertime and its extreme heat can present homeowners with a unique challenge that they won’t face during other seasons. The high temperatures make drying windows a chore. While in winter or spring windows can be washed and dried rather easily, in summer liquids dry out rather quickly during which means you must be extra careful to avoid streaks, dried soap marks and hard water stains.
Step 3. Floor Cleaning
Summer is the season when lots of dust accumulates. If you will not engage it on a regular basis, you might end up spoiling your furnishings while also developing some nasty allergies. Thus it is very important that you vacuum and/or broom frequently. You can do this on a daily basis, or you could get a robot vacuum which will help you with the “high upkeep”. Check out my latest comparison of the best bot units on the market at the moment.
Talking about allergies, summer is time when HEPA filters matter the most. It’s trivial, a HEPA sealed vacuum cleaner such as the latest Dyson Ball Animal 2 is key to maintaining a healthy environment. Focus on units which specifically feature a great filtration. In this regards, make sure you check out my list of vacuum cleaners for allergies (or better said, which are great against these).
If you have mostly hard floors, you can consider buying specialized gear, such as the latest Bissell Crosswave or the classic Hoover FloorMate, or more simple floor mops. E.g. the latest Shark Genius is a pretty solid acquisition.
Step 4. Consider these additional tips
As I was saying, moisture and heat are agents for the growth of mold. In order to keep restrooms, basements, cellars and other areas with a lot of moisture free of mold, you should use a dehumidifier. This will also diminish mold in hard to reach places such as bathroom tile grout, shower borders and underneath the toilet. If you do not have a dehumidifier, try keeping the bathroom fan on for at least 30 minutes after you take a bath or shower, and air the house as much as possible.
Wash waste bins often
The midsummer heat can affect the decomposition of organic material greatly. In order to keep your living area smelling fresh, I recommend washing waste bins (recycling, garbage and compost) with dish soap and water, as often as you can. If you are looking for a cheaper alternative to dish soap, an equal mix between vinegar and baking soda will do the job just fine.
Sell or donate unwanted goods
If you are looking to reduce unwanted clutter, a yard sale may do the trick, meanwhile putting some extra cash in your pocket. Check the forecast and plan ahead (ideally for a weekend) to sell unwanted items. If you do not have the time, or have only a few things you would like to get rid of, post an advertisement in a local classified ad, either in print or online. And last but not least, if you have items that you wish to donate, you can give them to a local community shelter, charity, or second-hand store. Some second-hand stores even offer coupons or rebates, should you choose to donate items to them.
Change the air filters
Changing air filters is a must. Fresh air has a very important role to play when it comes to HVAC system’s performance. So if you want to increase the IAQ (indoor air quality) and enjoy a cool breeze all the time, you must ensure that your air filter is functioning within parameters. This will keep your house free from odor and germs.
Clean the fans
The next thing to check is your fans. Fans are the best media for circulating cool air. Hence, you must keep them clean so that you don’t end up having the soot sprinkled all over your beautiful interiors. Remember to clean your fans from time to time so that whatever dust deposition is there, it will not end up all over the place. You can use e.g. a long multi-angle brush or the ceiling fan attachment presented in my encyclopedia of vacuum accessories.
Wash your garage
Summers are the most convenient time to pressure wash your garage. The water evaporates quickly and the debris can be washed away quickly. Many men, me included, need a complete garage declutter at least once per year. Summer mornings are the perfect setup for this chore. If you have a small backyard, take everything outside and rearrange it while you bring it back in.
Clean the bathrooms extra carefully
Bathrooms should be a primary focus. Summer is the season where people invite and visit friends and generally there is more traffic throughout the house. Due to this, the bathrooms must be up to par and as clean as possible. There are numerous small tasks included in this chore, but above all, the toilet must sparkle, floors should be clean and each nook and cranny should be disinfected. Use a variety of cleaning solutions and as final touch, add some scented sticks/candles. It would also pay to include a few live plants to add a little bit of natural vibrancy to these areas.
Deal with the exterior areas
When someone wants to ensure that their house is thoroughly cleaned, they also have to clean their patio and deck (if available, of course). This is very important, since most of the summer will likely be spent in these areas, enjoying all the sunshine. Even if you do not spend a long time in these places, it’s important to ensure that they are clean as you could be inviting your guests there. Regardless, use the most appropriate cleaning products. Exterior wood flooring is susceptible to mildew, make sure you use right solutions to protect it and sand it if needed.
Appeal to an effective residential cleaning service
If you don’t have the time or don’t want to clean alone, you could hire a company for your cleaning requirements. When looking for these kind of businesses, it is important to concentrate on all aspects of their service. For example, check into the types of cleaning agents that they use and make sure that the detergents they use don’t cause allergies. Additionally, hire an agency that uses Eco-friendly cleaning agents whenever possible, in order to have your home cleaned in a healthy/natural manner. Get quotations from numerous companies and make sure you call at least a few. There are many cleaning businesses available which can help with this, so be sure to choose a company that can be reliable overall. Web portals such as Yelp and even Google for Businesses can help with insights and reviews.
The beginning of the summer is e.g. the perfect time to replace some of the old furniture. This is the moment when you want to take advantage of discounted prices of house cleaning and moving services and show some love and care to your home.
Enjoy summer promotions
Summer is a dead season for appliance sellers. Vacuum cleaners are usually bought between October and February. Thus, most producers and wholesalers host various promotions during the summer months, in an attempt to maintain a continuous income. Keep an eye on your favorite products at Amazon, they might get discounted from time to time. If you want to shop from GearBest, make sure you check out my list with all their active promo codes. I update it weekly.
Home Preparations for the Independence Day
The Independence is approaching. It’s in the middle of the summer, and all of us need to make the relevant preparations. There is a roller coaster of emotions that is intrigued by particular occasions such as Christmas, Thanksgiving and Independence Day, among others. They tend to bring some form of anxiety and excitement at the same time. You are excited because it is a day you will share with loved ones, but also anxious because you are not sure what will go wrong or right. In such occasions, we all want things to be perfect; from the food being served to the color on the dining room wall. Unfortunately, many people fail to put the relevant effort needed to make such days successful and enjoyable. For those who make the effort, many take the wrong approach and bear wrong and frustrating outcomes. The focus being on Independence Day, this section will enlighten you on how you can make home preparations that will contribute towards having one of the most enjoyable days of your life. Once you follow these steps, you will not be surprised when you see the guests taking their time to leave even after they have been released. If you are planning to spend the day alone, you will thank yourself that you took the time to do the cleaning and other relevant preparations as you will not want the day to end.
Occasions such as Independence Day are celebrated on a specific day of the year, thus they do not get people by surprise. You should learn to take advantage of the nature of such a holiday and plan ahead. Preparing for such a holiday should not be done in manner suggesting that it was an impromptu decision. You need to identify the time that you will be available to make the preparations. Additionally, it is important to plan the chores in a subsequent manner so that one can start with the chores that will need more time and end with those that will require less time. You need to allocate each preparation the time needed to execute it effectively. For instance, if you need to paint, put on a new wallpaper or need to engage a contractor, planning will allow you to give yourself ample time to conduct these activities and contract other people, if necessary.
Create a schedule/program
This is part of planning and it is often ignored. There are people who will simply write a list of the things that need to be done, but do not allocate the time and dates for executing the chores or activities. You think that you will arrange the garage, remove clutter from your children’s room or buy decorations, but fail to schedule specific dates and time that you will carry out these activities. It is more effective if you plan to have two schedules. One schedule or program can give a generalized structure regarding the order of activities so that you have an idea of particular activities that will be carried out in specific days. The more detailed program, on the other hand, will allow you to identify the activity that will be done after or before the others. If you are planning to clean the garage a week before the day, the detailed schedule will indicate that you will start the cleaning at a given time and conclude it at another given time with the other specifics clearly indicated between the two time limits. A specific time must be allocated to the activities presented above, such as collecting clutter, conducting a yard sale for unwanted items, putting the remaining items on shelves and in boxes and cleaning/vacuuming an area.
Plans are made so that the parties involved can follow them. There is no need of having a perfect plan or program that you will not implement. If you concluded that you would paint the wall two weeks prior to Independence day, do not give yourself excuses when the day comes, unless it is impossible to execute the task. If you decided that you will collect clutter on Tuesday at ten o’clock in the morning, then you should stick to the schedule. Procrastinating will only complicate and frustrate the preparation process. You will end up conducting activities hurriedly in the last few hours prior to the day; something that could have been avoided.
General Program sample
- Research on the cleaning agents, decorations and overall preparation – one month prior – one day’s work
- Buy products and other necessities – three and a half weeks to the day – three hours’ work
- Assess the magnitude of the work and see whether you need help – three and half weeks prior – three hours’ work
- Find assistance – three weeks prior – one day’s work
- De-clutter, clean and arrange the garage – two weeks prior – Two days’ work
- De-clutter, clean and arrange the children’s room – one and half weeks to the day – One day’s work
- Clean the other parts of the house including doors and windows – one week prior – two days’ work
- Decorate – two days’ prior – one day’s work
- Make any changes or modification – one day prior – one day’s work
Do ample research and experiment
Every home is unique. What may be perfect for your friends’ or neighbors’ households may not suit your home at all. Don’t rush into making decisions. Do ample research on cleaning products and the best cleaning approach that will work for your house. At times, you may be forced to experiment, which may not always bring the intended outcome. For instance you may want to buy decorative material that conveys a given period that is of significance to the independence struggle, but fail to include the right colors. Do not feel frustrated. You can change the theme and go for a simpler look. You may choose to buy a product that promises to clean the windows extremely well. If the product fails to deliver, the planning you did earlier will allow you to choose another product or find an alternative that will correct the mistake.
You may be forced to try out new ideas and approaches before finding the right thing that works for you so don’t get frustrated when some things don’t work out as intended. However, you can avoid having some issues such as buying the wrong cleaning product or contracting the wrong cleaning/decorating team by assessing reviews or experimenting prior to the scheduled day of cleaning or decorating. For instance, if you have scheduled that you will clean the windows one week to the day, you may try out the targeted cleaning product or process one month earlier so that you can use as many products as possible before settling on the preferred products on the actual cleaning day. This way, you will minimize your chances of being disappointed by the final outcome.
Ask for help
There are women who feel that they have to do everything to make a certain statement. They usually intend to prove that they are the best wives and mothers, among other titles. Unfortunately, in the process of obtaining such titles, some end up sacrificing their own happiness. I would like to state right from the beginning: men should contribute to the cleaning process in the same way women do. There should not be any genre preconception. Although a woman may prefer to vacuum, decorate or package things on her own, it is not only prudent, but normal and natural to ask for assistance from her hubby. And as stated above, you can ask contractors to do the décor, plumbing, wall paper changes, vacuum/wash different areas or mow the loan. With your guidance, they will achieve equal to or better results than what you could have achieved if you performed the activities by yourself.
When you decide to engage outside contractors for a task, it is significant to note that there is a difference between guiding them and nagging them. You will feel tempted to control every activity that they do, especially if you are used to doing the task on your own. This is not prudent and it will outdo the purpose of having help. You need to trust that the people you have hired and do the research prior to hiring them. Becoming a controlling client will only act as a disruption and negatively impact their work.
If you cannot afford hiring help, you can ask friends and family members to assist. You should also align your availability with their availability. The task you want completed should be scheduled on the day they are available. For instance, if you want your children’s assistance when removing clutter from their rooms, you can schedule the activity on a weekend when they are likely to be free. If you want your hubby’s or friends’ assistance, you can schedule the activity on a day that they will not be going to work.
The most important thing is to ask for help in advance. When asking your children to help you in cleaning the compound, garage or the house interior as part of Independence Day preparation, for instance, make a direct request. Do not suggest or imply that you are asking, as this leaves room for misunderstandings or misinterpretations. Make sure that you and the other party have agreed that they will assist you to carry out a given task so that you hold them accountable, if they choose to change their minds or fail to stand by their word. If for some reason they are unavailable on the agreed time or day, find another way of getting the work done and do not dwell on the inconvenience for too long. Staying angry for too long will only affect the overall outcome.
Enjoy the process
Independence is a day that is not only important to the country as a whole, but it is of relevance to you at an individual level. You need to understand that as much as the country is celebrating its freedom, you are celebrating your freedom as well. Celebrations are not all about material things; rather, they are about the inner person and his/her well-being. You have to constantly remember than the preparations are only a part of something that goes beyond cleaning and having a flag at the front porch. It involves celebrating that you are born in a free country, hence you are a free human being.
Cleaning, shopping and making other preparations are important because they enhance the mood of the day. However, do not forget that they are not the celebrations. It is not about having the right flag, the cleanest house in your neighborhood or color coordination. It is about being free. If you feel that you are becoming overwhelmed, remind yourself that it is not that serious. Write or do something that will create a comic scenario of the things that did not work out as you wanted. When you feel that a cleaning agent is harming your hands, a friend failed to clean the silverware as you wanted or a contractor failed to deliver, look at something that turned out as intended and smile. Look at your family and smile. Remember that you are simply cleaning and preparing for a big day, but not fighting for the actual independence. Check out the 90/10 rule, perhaps you might adopt it.
It is important to remember that Independence Day preparations are not Christmas or Thanksgiving preparations. The decorations and preparation process is different. For instance, preparing for Christmas takes longer than preparing for other occasions. However, do not feel limited by these differences. Other than putting up the decorative materials too many days before the actual day, as it is usually the case with Christmas holidays, you can make the other preparations as early as you want. Note that cleaning will last after the day is long over, hence making prior meticulous preparations is beneficial to the household in the long-term.
If you will follow the points mentioned above, not only will you finish summer cleaning quicker, but you’ll also avoid unwanted situations (e.g. insects such as mosquitoes which generally become more active in this season and interfere with your living comfort, developing allergies due to dirty HVAC filters or permanently damaging hardwood floors due to the granular debris which originates from outside). If you’ve got additional tips, both me and the readers of this blog would love to hear them out.