Organization & Cleaning

The ultimate housecleaning guide

The ultimate housecleaning guide

Image: Janis Nicolay

Organization & Cleaning

The ultimate housecleaning guide

Pros share their best tips for cleaning every surface in your home.

Professional butler Charles MacPherson (a regular guest expert on CTV's The Marilyn Denis Show and author of The Butler Speaks: A Return to Proper Etiquette, Stylish Entertaining and the Art of Good Housekeeping) shares his top strategies.

1. Make a list
Before you start, take a 10-minute coffee break to note the chores that need doing. "We write lists before we go grocery shopping; we should write down the tasks we need to tackle at home, too. Having a game plan is key and will help get you to the finish line with ease," says MacPherson. Keep the list as a guide for next time.

2. Do one task at a time
"We used to be taught to do one room at a time, but now, in large part due to the popularity of Marie Kondo, a Japanese cleaning consultant and bestselling author, the switch to cleaning and organizing by category is proving to be more efficient," says MacPherson. So pick one chore (such as vacuuming), then do all the necessary rooms in one session instead of lugging equipment around several times a week.

3. Deep-clean twice a year
This will save you a lot of work during your regular weekly sessions. For example, says MacPherson, "if you deep-clean the grease from your range in spring, you won't have to worry about it later collecting dust and turning into a bigger project down the road."

4. Break it up
To spare yourself the drudgery of a single jam-packed cleaning day on the weekend, check a few chores off your to-do list each weekday. Bingo: More time to enjoy with family and friends when it counts the most!

Lustre Luxury Cleaning and Services founder Nick Kaczun shares the best way to clean every surface in your home.

Vacuum furniture regularly, using the upholstery attachment. Clear pet hair with a rubber squeegee or collect it with rubber gloves. Spot-clean stains immediately with a store-bought product such as Spot Shot. For more delicate fabrics, such as silk, follow the manufacturer's instructions. For nonsilk upholstery, test an inconspicuous spot with some mild clothing detergent such as Woolite or OxiClean on a damp cloth.

For granite or natural stone, use a pH-neutral stone cleaner or a small amount of mild dish soap. For laminate, stick to vinegar and water. Use a stainless-steel cleaner on stainless-steel surfaces. For stained marble or stone with pitting, contact a stone specialist. Clean butcher blocks with water and vinegar after each use.

Remove germs and grime from remote controls with disinfectant cleaning wipes (such as Lysol), but wring them out first to remove excess liquid that can cause damage. Use a microfibre cloth dampened slightly with water for screens on tablets and laptop computers; window cleaners can damage screens and leave streaks.

Clean grout lines with a scrub brush (or a toothbrush with strong bristles) with soap and water frequently. Recaulk edges and corners every one to two years, depending on wear and tear. To remove surface water deposits on your showerhead, wipe with a cloth soaked with lemon juice, then rinse with water, or use store-bought CLR Calcium, Lime & Rust Remover.

Bonus cleaning tip: For a quick and easy shower scrub, mix 1/8 cup of Pine-Sol cleaning solution with 1/2 gallon of warm water. Making sure the glass shower wall is dry, dip a dryer sheet in the mixture and scrub away residue, then rinse with water to finish. The dryer sheet will help soften built-up scum for easy cleaning!

Run a long-handled duster over ceiling light fixtures every other week. For shades, use a damp or dry microfibre cloth every four to six months.

Oven and cooktop
Clean the inside of your oven monthly, depending on how much you use it. For self-cleaning ovens, follow the manufacturer's instructions; use a damp cloth to wipe out any leftover ash. For gas stoves, remove and wash cast-iron burners, and banish stubborn buildup by placing burners in resealable plastic bags with ammonia overnight; be sure to check manufacturer's instructions first. For glass cooktops, immediately clean spills with a specialized cleaner, like Cerama Bryte, otherwise the marks may become permanent. For electric coil-style stoves, clean up spills right away with a wrung-out cloth with soap and water. Twice a year, remove and clean the exhaust-fan filters; start by soaking them in a sink filled with soap and water, but get a degreaser, like Swish, at the hardware store if the grime is caked on.

Wax and polish on wooden furniture can build up over time. Stick to a damp cloth for daily cleanups instead.

Advanced class on floors:


For natural stone, use a pH-neutral cleaner like HG or SCI, or even mild dish soap and water. Avoid anything acidbased, like lemon, especially on such porous materials as marble. Steer clear of vinegar, all-purpose cleaner and products with bleach on any natural stone, as it can lead to corrosion. Scrub grout lines with a nylon brush and grout cleaner, checking to make sure it's safe for natural stone. Reseal every one to two years to repel stains and maintain sheen.

Hardwood & laminate

For a squeaky-clean finish and to prevent scratching, first sweep or vacuum to remove dirt and dust. Then, add a few capfuls of vinegar to a bucket of water. (If you're worried about using vinegar, check with the manufacturer.) Using a mop with a washable microfibre head, mop with the grain.


Blot spills immediately. Vacuum high-traffic rugs and carpets once a week. For antique rugs, avoid power heads and the beater-bar attachments that can damage fabrics made with wool or silk; instead, use a smooth no-bristle attachment to gently suction up dirt.

Household hacks from Shoana Jensen
The Cityline lifestyle expert shares her top tips for staying uber-organized.

- Use a lint roller around the drum of lampshades and upholstered furniture to remove lint and dust.

- Clean the inside of your washing machine yearly by adding two cups of vinegar where you'd put clothes. Then, run the empty machine on the hottest setting.

- After showering, spray tiles with equal parts vinegar and water to eliminate mould, or wipe down tiles and glass with a squeegee.

- Once a month, tack on an extra chore that doesn't fall into your daily routine, like cleaning out the junk drawer or medicine cabinet.

Read more:
The complete bed buying guide
How to declutter your entire home

This story was originally part of "The Ultimate Housecleaning Guide" in the April 2016 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!


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Organization & Cleaning

The ultimate housecleaning guide