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House cleaning checklist: A step-by-step guide

As much as we might try to deny it, we lead messy lives. It’s just that some of us work harder to hide it, meaning some people spend a lot more time cleaning and organizing than others.

How we clean and present our home says a lot about the type of person we are. There are some people who are anti-clean, and it definitely shows. Some of us genuinely enjoy cleaning, but the majority of us fall somewhere in the middle.

Whether you’re an everyday house cleaner, or you let it get as bad as you can tolerate, the amount of cleaning you do is the same in the grand scheme of things. It’s either done in short, daily micro-cleanings or weekly (or even monthly) long cleaning sessions that can take up to a day or more.

However you decide to tackle the art of tidying, there should be a method to your cleaning madness. There’s a specific approach to cleaning that breaks down into a house cleaning checklist.

Getting ready to clean
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Top-to-bottom cleaning method

Our recommendation on how to clean house involves starting from the top and working your way down to the bottom. If you think about it, a lot of dust and dirt moves around during the cleaning process. Where does it ultimately wind up? The floor. Following this house cleaning list will speed up the process and give you a better end result.

Ceilings, fans, and moldings

We all have seen those neglected ceiling fans with an inch of dust on the blades. That dust also likes to stick to moldings on your ceiling, window frames, and door frames. Investing in a quality duster that traps the dust with static, like a Swiffer, helps keep that dust and debris from finding its way onto shelves and furniture. If you want to be hardcore, use a spray cleaning agent and a rag to dampen the dust and wipe it. This is also the time you dust or wipe down your blinds if it’s needed.

Shelves and surfaces

Once the dust settles, hit it again by wiping down all your countertops, shelves, tables, and other surfaces. Don’t worry about getting the floors dirty, because that comes in a later step. If you’re using a cleaner, make sure it’s appropriate for the material. Some kitchen countertop cleaners can be harmful to wood surfaces.


Next is the furniture. The material it’s made of dictates your cleaning technique. Leather or wooden furniture might just need a quick suction with a hand vacuum, while cloth may require you to brush it, use a lint roller, or steam clean it.


Now you’ve made it down to the catch-all area of the home: the floors. If you have carpet or oversized rugs, standard vacuuming should be enough. However, whoever said hardwood/tile is easier to clean didn’t have pets or kids. Yes, it can get cleaner than carpet, but cleaning hard surfaces takes a bit more work elbow grease. There’s a three-step hard floor cleaning process that truly makes it shine.


First sweep to get all large dirt and debris.

Dry Swiffer

The Swiffer is truly the master cleaning invention for hardwood floors. Its static cleaning technology traps hair and dirt that you miss when sweeping. You could even forgo the sweeping step and just dry Swiffer, but plan on going through many Swiffer cloths.

Mop, wet Swiffer, or steam

Finally is the step that removes any sticky or greasy grime from your floors and makes them shine. You can use a traditional mop for this step, but Swiffer also makes wet cloths for this step. If you want to invest in a steam mop, they work wonders without the use of chemicals or cleaning agents.

Cleaning the couch with a vacuum
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More cleaning tips and hacks

Clean by room or whole house

When using the top-to-bottom cleaning method, you can either apply it to the whole house at once or do it room by room. Cleaning room by room is less daunting, and if you want to call it a day and pick it up tomorrow, you can just start in the next room. Keep in mind that if you’re cleaning room by room, you run the risk of tracking dirt from an uncleaned space to a cleaned one.

Have the right tools

Vacuums, dusters, and mops have been around forever. Cleaning products have improved with technology over the years. We’ve mentioned some great cleaning products Swiffer has to offer. Still, other brands like Bissell, Dyson, and Shark have some excellent cleaning innovations that make cleaning less of a chore.

Closing thoughts on how to clean house

Cleaning doesn’t have to be a chore, but many times it is. Like anything, if you have a systematic approach, it’s easier to accomplish. With the top-to-bottom cleaning method, you’ll have a squeaky clean house in no time.

One final tip before we go. Save your bathrooms for last. Since they are usually hard porcelain/tile surfaces that need more abrasive cleaners, you can scrub everything down and then hop in the shower and clean it while you clean yourself. When you’re done, enjoy your fresh, clean, and tidy home.

Steven Johnson
Steven Johnson is a chef-turned-content strategist. He now helps companies attract and retain more customers through content…
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