One of the reasons I get hired and retain the clients I do is because I am thorough. I clean everything. I don’t cut corners at all and as such I take quite a bit longer to clean than regular maids. What I enjoy is that getting details sparkly actually improves the overall look of a place without the viewer being able to tell what it is that has been cleaned. As such I often get the question “what are you doing that I don’t do?!”
Herein, (in no particular order) is your answer.
Baseboards are the bottoms of the walls. Walls generally have a plank of wood that is capped with some outward curved trim and “shoed” with some inward curved trim. This adds support for the wall especially against random kicks from passing feet. It also protects against dirt and splatter. Usually it is painted but sometimes it is varnished instead. Baseboards are one of the most basic and best “cranny” to clean in a house. At the very least, I make sure to vacuum and dust them. You’d be surprised, however, how filthy they can get without your noticing it. I challenge you to take a look. Get on your knees and look at your nearest baseboard in direct light. What you see is one of the most common things to take up my time on a first visit. The good news is that baseboards can go a long time and stay clean. Which is why I enjoy cleaning them; they brighten up a room when they are clean and they will stay clean for months. You don’t have to clean them very often, just dust and vacuum them once a month or so.
Windows are nearly always set in a frame that is recessed into the wall. This makes a natural shelf for dust and dead bugs and hair and you name it. Not to mention many windows are contructed in pieces making make more tiny shelves. Most are painted wood but occasionally I see varnished or even unvarnished wood. It’s a good idea to paint them white if you can. Cleaning tiny strips of wood is a HUGE time-sink. Unfortunately they do not stay clean quite as long as baseboards do, but they aren’t the kind of thing that needs scrubbing on a regular weekly basis, just dust and vacuum every other month.
It should go without saying that kitchen cabinet doors get amazingly filthy. So I will just take this moment to point out that there are probably other cabinet doors in your house that could use a good scrubbing too. One of the problems with kitchen cabinet doors is the oil they collect. If you have doors near or above your stove, you should know exactly what I’m talking about. The problem is, when oil heats to a certain temperature it will change to a polymer. Yes, a polymer much like plastic. This polymer is exceedingly hard to get rid of without damaging the surface underneath. That’s because it has fused with the surface underneath. The best thing you can do (besides buy new doors) is to get some industrial grade de-greaser (the kind they sell to auto-mechanics) and put it on the doors. I’d test a door on the inside first to see if the degreaser is kind to the door or if it kidnaps part of the door with it. A friend suggested making your own degreaser from vinegar and orange or lemon peels. I found this mixture works fairly well but it requires soaking and it is HIGHLY acidic as well. So wear gloves. It also is water-based so it has the possibility of warping the wood under the surface. Its not the kind of thing you want to leave on too long. But it worked great on the inside of my oven door (just be patient and let the vinegar do its thing)
I wasn’t sure whether I should put “toilet bases” or “Toilet hinges” then I realized I’m just going to talk about all of the finer points of toilets so why not annoy everyone by using the general term.
Here’s where I get personal. Put your big kid pants on and deal with it.
Look, I know you’re busy. I know you hate cleaning. I know the smell in the bathroom makes you gag. But really, let’s be honest with ourselves; you haven’t been cleaning the toilet worth a damned and we both know it.
I have seen all manner of foul and disgusting things in my time as a cleaner and let me tell you, nothing but NOTHING is more foul and disgusting than fecal matter. Well, okay except maybe maggots. Still, the point is that the toilet is where the nastiest, foulest stuff gets taken care of and at the same time it is where we expose the most vulnerable, delicate parts of our body yet for some bizarre reason, the vast majority of people cannot be bothered to adequately clean it! I’ve heard every excuse (and some of them are pretty good, to be sure) but this is where I get super-real with you all; if you can clean anything else in your house, then you can clean the toilet properly. There is no excuse for what I keep seeing in people’s bathrooms, really, no excuse at all. Black mold, accumulated urea crystals, hair, blood and fecal splatter – how do you people manage to sit your bare butts on this smorgasbord of yuck and wave your most precious body parts above without losing your lunch? GET A GRIP.
Put on some gloves, use knee pads, pull back your hair, get down on the floor and LOOK at your toilet! Not just the inside of the bowl but the underside of the seat, behind the hinges, under the bowl, on the floor around the base, heck look at the walls right next to the toilet and take a good whiff through the nose – how can you spend any time awash in this biohazard?
Here’s a tip: a bottle of rubbing alcohol and some toilet paper can wipe down behind the hinges in a few seconds without coating your hands in bacteria from hell. If you don’t feel like cleaning it all, then tackle one part each day. Just for the sake of all that’s good in this world, clean it like you mean it!
Smibbo is a middle-aged mom who cleans houses in order to pay for her education habit. She is currently single and available for dates or tributes. Chocolate, flowers or cruise runs are all happily accepted. While she writes our popular Ask a Cleaning Lady column, she writes about all topics with sensitive wit on smibbo.org