Simple Cleaning Tips for a Healthy Home and a Smooth Home Inspection
In this article:
A clean home is a joy for all who visit there. It’s welcoming and friendly and creates a solid first impression. By keeping your home clean, you’ll eliminate potentially expensive problems down the road, such as mold and pests—two of the most significant factors that make or break a home inspection.
Elements of a healthy home
For excellent home health, follow these tips:
Element 1: Dry
A dry home is free of mold, mildew, and other rot associated with water damage. Ensure no pipes are leaking and that bathrooms are well-ventilated. Keep the dirty laundry hamper in a different room where it isn’t exposed to steam and humidity, so bacteria can’t grow. This practice will also reduce unwanted laundry odors while ensuring home health for years.
Element 2: Dust-free
When organizing your home, ensure all storage and shelving is easy to wipe down. Dust is a constant in homes, but if it’s easy to clean, you’re likely to do it more often than if it’s a frustrating challenge. Build dusting into a weekly habit, or dust different areas every day.
Element 3: Pest free
To prevent pests, store food in sealed containers. For dry foods, buy jars with air-tight lids on them. Regularly sanitized homes are unlikely to have infestations. If you have pests, consider sticky traps and closed bait containers. Seal any cracks where pests might be entering.
Element 4: Odor free
Your trash can may retain an undesirable odor. Consider using a Febreze aerosol spray, then fill it with diluted bleach before washing it out with soap and water. Wash your bedding once every two weeks. Run the dishwasher on an empty dry-heat cycle to kill potential mold.
Don’t trap moisture in a front-loading laundry machine; leave the door open for a few hours to let it air out.
Home inspection & cleaning
If you’re preparing for a home inspection, you should give your house a solid clean inside and out beforehand. If you’re pinched for time, cleaning services are an option for a one-time clean. A home inspector is a person who will get their first impression of your home based on what they see. People don’t do this consciously, but everyone perceives each other this way. You’ll want your inspector to know that you’re organized, clean, and keep up with home maintenance.
Not only should you give your house a good clean (put the clutter away, sweep the floors, dust), but ensure the inspector has access to where they need to go. This preparation is essential for both outside and inside. They have to walk around the house, have access to the hot water tank and furnace, keys to any electrical panels, and an easy way to inspect attics and crawl spaces.
By keeping a clean home, you can spot any potential damages and have them fixed before an inspector finds them. Ensure your HVAC system is cleaned and maintained beforehand, so it’s an easy checkmark on an inspector’s list.
Commonly overlooked cleaning spots
Ceiling fans, air vents, and baseboards are some of the most overlooked spots in the home. Even though they’re in plain sight, we don’t think of them often and they’re difficult to get to. They can accumulate and spread lots of dust and dirt particles, though, so they need to be dusted or wiped down occasionally.
Door handles, light switches, and remotes are often overlooked because they aren’t furniture, but we touch them frequently and therefore they need to be cleaned. These are prone to collecting germs and bacteria, so they should be wiped down with a disinfectant.
Throw pillows, blankets, and couch cushions are also easily forgotten. We wash our clothes and sheets frequently, but these items in the living room collect all kinds of stains, odors, and bacteria too. If they are machine washable, throw the cushion covers and blankets in the laundry once a month. If not, buy an appropriate upholstery cleaner and hand clean them.
The final overlooked item is the dishwasher. Although you might think it cleans itself every time you use it, food particles, grease, and even detergent can get trapped in the filter or build up on the bottom. You’ll need to remove and clean the filter occasionally, then run an empty dishwasher with a cup of baking soda.
–Alessandra Mendes from Cleaning Glow
Hiring professional cleaners before a home inspection
Hiring professional cleaners before a home inspection is a great way to get the most out of your home inspection, as it will clean up areas of the home that are often neglected or hidden behind furniture, making the inspection process easier. It will make sure any home issues are not covered up by dust and grime, and will help the inspector do a better job investigating the home for sale. Additionally, the home will then be in better shape when you are ready to start moving in.
If you are selling your home, having a clean house to show will send a positive message to the inspector and buyer that the home has been well cared for. Depending on the current condition of the home, a couple deep cleanings may be necessary to get the home into a presentable state for the inspection. Hiring professionals to clean your home during any step of the buying and selling process is never a bad idea!
–Evan Blumberg from Mulberry Maids
DIY cleaning hacks
There are some great cleaning hacks you can implement to give your home an extra shine. Most of these cleaning hacks involve some very basic ingredients. Baking soda, vinegar, and essential oils are necessities. Try this nifty hack for grease stain removal in the kitchen: Spray a mix of one cup water, one cup vinegar, and some lemon essential oil onto your stove top, and watch those grease stains wipe away. If they’re adamant, sprinkle baking soda on them first. This technique also works for cleaning inside the oven.
Baking soda, dish soap, essential oils, and a few drops of lemon juice create a perfect concoction for bathtubs and sinks. These ingredients also make a great glass cleaner, but to really clean a shower stall, spray it with shaving cream and let it sit for fifteen minutes. The shower glass should wipe away clean with minimal effort.
Hard water stains
You will need some acidic liquid, for example, lemon juice mixed with water, to remove hard water stains. After getting the mixture done, lightly spray it on the surface that has hard water stains. Wait for around 10 minutes, and then wipe it out. If the stains don’t go away, you can apply the liquid and wipe again until they’re gone. To prevent hard water stains, the easiest way is to keep the surface dry. If not, you must clean the surface more often or use a water softener.
–Jon Rowland from Green House Center
Copper pipes are among the easiest pipes to maintain – if you know a few tricks.
Unlike most other pipes, copper pipes seldom have an issue with limescale buildup. However, if you install a water softener, you’ll ensure they are in the best condition possible all the time. At the same time, this will help save your other units, such as a washing machine or a dishwasher.
More importantly, you might want to clean pipes from the outside. This reduces the chance of leaks while also making your pipes look neat and polished.
Don’t waste money on expensive products. The best way to clean copper pipes is to use two items you already have in your kitchen: Salt and vinegar.
Mix a tablespoon of salt and a cup of white vinegar, then soak a soft cloth into the mixture. Use this to rub the pipes. Once the mixture touches the tarnish, a chemical reaction will happen. This will ensure the pipes are sparkly clean without any hassle!
Just don’t forget to thoroughly wash a pipe with a clean and wet cloth or a sponge. Otherwise, you’re risking the pipes turning green.
–Dave Conners from Plumbertip
“If you have marble or granite countertops, you know how important it is to keep them looking their best. They’re beautiful, but they can also be a bit of a pain to keep clean. First, you’ll want to avoid using too much water on your countertops. You don’t need to scrub with a brush—just use a damp sponge or cloth, and warm water will do the trick just fine.
Since granite countertops have a sealant on them to keep them shiny and stain-resistant, you want to avoid using anything too acidic or basic on the granite. Frequent use of vinegar, Windex, or bleach will dull the granite and weaken the sealant. Instead, a little soap and water should do the trick. Add dish soap and warm water to a sponge, get a good lather and begin cleaning. Avoid using abrasive pads, as granite can be scratched. Scrub your countertops from back to front in an “S” pattern. You may need to scrub a bit more if there is a really stubborn or sticky spill.”
Marble is a soft natural stone that can be scratched, stained, or etched without the proper protection and care.
For regular cleaning, use a quality Granite & Marble Cleaner for a streak-free shine and avoid surface damage. Do not use common cleaners like bleach, vinegar, or ammonia. These will damage the finish. Most brand-name household cleaners are also too caustic for use on marble. Mild soap and warm water are often recommended and fine for quick cleanups, but will leave a dull and dingy film on your marble countertops when used as a regular cleaner.
Your marble countertop may need sealing to prevent stains. A polished finish is less prone to stains and may not require sealing. However, a honed finish should be sealed. A sealer should be applied upon installation and then reapplied periodically, depending on the quality of the sealer.
Contrary to popular belief, marble is quite dense and does not stain readily. But it does etch easily. Etching and stains are two different issues. Etching damages the finish from contact with acidic foods, drinks, and harsh cleaners. Etching causes a clear or chalky dull spot. It’s a chemical burn that corrodes the surface. Stains can be removed and etch marks repaired, but to avoid or minimize damage, always wipe up spills quickly and use coasters, cutting boards, and trivets.
–Ryan from Countertop Specialty
Concrete floors and driveways
“The best cleaner for concrete floors, especially if you keep them waxed, which you certainly should be doing for multiple reasons, is simply adding a small amount of a mild dish detergent like Dove or Ivory to your water. The best cleaner for driveways is a concrete degreaser. Tires are made from petroleum products and, as such, leave traces on the concrete. Along with tree sap and other debris, a good concrete degreaser will go a long way in cleaning and keeping your driveway looking new.”
–Earl from Concrete Camouflage
Oil stains on concrete patios
“At first glance, oil stains may seem difficult to remove. But there are some household items you can use to remove oil stains from concrete patios.
How to remove oil stains from concrete surfaces:
1. Use a rag to wipe up all the excess oil. (Tip: Clay-based cat litter also works great for this.)
2. Scrub the remaining stain using powdered laundry detergent or baking soda. Then, rinse with water.
3. Wash the area with soap and water, scrubbing with a brush or sponge in the process.
While a concrete degreaser works best, there are other household items you can use to remove oil stains. These include:
- Soda. If you need an inexpensive solution, pour a few cans of soda over the oil stain and allow it to sit for a day. Then, wash it off with a hose. Repeat this process until you’re satisfied with the results.
- Oven cleaner. Spray oven cleaner over the oil stain and allow it to settle for at least 10 minutes. Then, scrub the area using a hard-bristled brush before rinsing with water.
- WD-40. Nowadays, most households have a can of WD-40 lying around. Simply spray this over the oil stain and allow it to set for about 5 minutes. After that, wipe it away with a rag.”
–Steven Jordan from Washh
There are many cleaning mistakes that can damage your tiles, some of which are outlined below.
- Not using a proper tile cleaner: Cleaning products designed for concrete or other hard surfaces may not be effective on tiles. Instead, you should use a specific tile cleaner that is specifically formulated for removing dirt and stains from ceramic and porcelain surfaces.
- Using harsh chemicals: Harsh detergents like bleach can actually damage the surface of your tiles over time. This is because chlorine molecules attack the silica in tile dust, leaving behind unsightly brown spots or even cracks in the glassy finish.
- Rinsing with too much water: Rinsing excess water off your tiles instead of letting it sit will quickly cause them to become slick and slippery – an ideal environment for bacteria growth. Leaving dampened tiles between treatments also allows dirt to accumulate, leading to stained grouts and floorboards later on down the line!
Therefore, it is important to use caution when cleaning your tiles so that you don’t inadvertently harm them either physically or chemically. Just remember to follow the instructions included on the product label and use only products approved for tile usage.
Air vents and vent covers
“There is no doubt that a clean room in your home can still look untidy if the heating/ cooling air vent covers are filthy with dust, debris, and pet hair. One could only imagine the air quality in a home if the air vents are not properly dusted and washed periodically. Most professional residential house cleaning services can dust, and damp-wipe high or low ceiling vent covers as part of their basic cleaning services. If you don’t currently have a professional maid service provider, consider adding this cleaning task to your routine house cleaning schedule.
How to clean heating/cooling air vent covers in three easy steps
- Remove the vent cover using the appropriate size screwdriver. Some don’t require tools and are simple to pop out and then off.
- Use a HEPA-filtered vacuum with the dusting tool to remove all dry debris. Be sure to clean both sides and all corners.
- Soak the vent cover in a mild detergent if need be. Then wipe dry and replace.
It would also be good to vacuum inside the vent just about a foot if possible.
This simple DIY 3-step system can help your heating/ cooling vent covers stay clean longer.
–Stacey from A Janitor’s Story
“With regular use and foot traffic, any carpet can look worn down—even when it’s clean. The good news is, with a bit of regular cleaning and a few cleaning tricks, you can get a carpet looking as good as new.
Here’s a quick and easy way to spruce up an old-looking rug. This works best for short rugs or carpets. All you need is white distilled vinegar, a bucket of water, and a stiff cleaning brush or a push broom with stiff bristles. White vinegar is great for fluffing up fabrics and banishing stains and odors.
(Note that carpets made of silk or other delicate materials may need to be professionally cleaned. Always do a small patch test first.)
- First, vacuum to remove any surface dirt and debris.
- Add 1 cup of white vinegar to 1 gallon of warm water in a bucket.
- Dip the cleaning brush into the solution and work the bristles gently into the carpet. Avoid getting the carpet overly wet.
- Let air dry, no rinsing is needed.
To keep your carpets looking fresh, it’s best to do a weekly vacuum to prevent dirt and grime buildup. And mop up any spills as soon as possible to prevent staining!
–Josh and Theresa from RusticWise
Your mirrors, especially bathroom mirrors, can become covered with dirty dried-up water droplets and splatters of residue left from when you’ve brushed your teeth.
We can use a common, low-cost, vinegar-based mix to ensure a streak-free clean and keep a healthy home environment free from harsh chemicals. With glass and mirrors, using harsh cleaning chemicals can cause discoloring and possibly erode and damage the surrounding frames. The best solution, in this case, would be an effective all-natural cleaner.
Vinegar is not just a condiment for cooking but is also widely used as an all-natural cleaning detergent. The acetic acid in vinegar is the chemical that helps dissolve dirt and grime. This makes vinegar the best cleaning solution on almost any surface.
Here are the measurements of three items that you need which are commonly found in almost any home:
– 2 cups of water
– 1 teaspoon of dish soap or 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
– ½ cup of distilled white vinegar
Step 1. Mix the ingredients in a container.
Step 2. Use a clean, lint-free microfiber cloth and soak into the vinegar solution
Step 3. Squeeze and wring the cloth so that it becomes damp
Step 4. Start with spot cleaning the mirror in small, straight motions to only areas which need cleaning. Large, wide cleaning motions will tend to cause streaks
Now it’s time for you to enjoy your sparkling mirrors with the confidence of using a low-cost, all-natural cleaning solution.
–Sanra from Shine Mirrors
When dealing with a mold infestation in your home, it’s important to keep in mind what mold needs to grow. The main factors include the following:
1. Food source – organic materials
2. Humidity / Water
4. Temperature – below 40 degrees. Mold is dormant. The higher the temperature, the more quickly mold can spread.
If mold is removed but the growth factors remain, mold will reappear no matter how well you have cleaned it.
Our best mold cleaning hack is using a HEPA vacuum. A HEPA vacuum with properly designed seals collects mold spores better than the average non-HEPA vacuum. After you vacuum the area, you should treat the affected material with mold spray and then use the HEPA vacuum to remove the remaining mold spores. We recommend going the extra step by using an encapsulant to help prevent mold from reappearing in the future.
–Mike Rizzo from KPM Restoration
How does mold remediation work?
The first step is to find an IICRC-certified mold specialist. This will help ensure that the mold remediation company is familiar with and follows industry standards. The mold remediation process generally includes the following steps:
- Mold Assessment – The first step in the remediation process is to identify the source of the mold, the affected materials, and the spore count. A mold assessment will conduct an inspection and write up a mold assessment report. The report will include a work plan for the remediation company to follow.
- Mold Containment – The affected area should be sealed off before starting the work. The containment will ensure that mold spores don’t spread to other areas.
- Filtration – HEPA air filters will be set up remove mold spores from the air.
- HEPA Vacuum- A HEPA vacuum cleaner will trap and remove mold spores from the affected material.
- Mold Removal – Any thoroughly contaminated building materials, such as drywall and insulation, is removed and discarded.
- Mold Cleaning – Antimicrobial cleaning solution is applied to clean the remaining mold.
- Sealant – A sealant is applied to prevent mold from returning in the future.
- Restoration – If building materials were discarded during the process, they would be replaced or repaired.”
-James Kennedy from Abate Pro
“Getting rid of bathroom mold can feel like a tricky task, but a simple DIY mold remover can do the trick! The first step is to identify the source of the mold. This could be something like a leaky pipe, faulty ventilation, or even just too much moisture in the air.
The next step is to clean up the mold. Start by combining distilled vinegar, a naturally antimicrobial substance, and tea tree oil in a spray bottle. Give it a little shake and spray the mixture directly on the moldy area. Let it sit for 30 minutes. The vinegar will kill the mold with its acid, while tea tree oil is naturally anti-fungal and one of the best natural mold killers.
Next, take some baking soda and add it to slightly warm water in another spray bottle. Shake the mixture well until the baking soda has dissolved. Then, spray this mixture on top of the moldy area. Let it dry on the mold, and don’t touch it for at least half an hour. In addition to killing mold, baking soda can help to absorb moisture which also prevents mold.
Finally, take some hydrogen peroxide, an anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial solution, and pour it into a glass. Dip a clean toothbrush into the peroxide and scrub the moldy area with the toothbrush, rinsing and dipping the toothbrush as you go.”
–Sarah Ware from Root + Revel
Maintenance of a vacuum cleaner goes further than just emptying the dust container. Filters should be cleaned or replaced regularly to ensure low dust emissions.
–Robbert Tigchelaar from Vacuumtester
If you have a newer oven with a self-cleaning feature included, you can skip the scrubbing and let your oven do the dirty work. Follow your manufacturer’s guidelines to get the best possible results with this option.
If you’re cleaning the inside of your oven by hand, decide whether you want to use a store-bought oven cleaner or homemade solution. A commercial oven cleaner is stronger and may be a bit easier to use but can contain harsh chemicals. If you’re sensitive to chemicals, a homemade cleaning solution is a way to go. To make a homemade solution, mix equal parts water and baking soda to make a paste. Spread the paste along the entire surface of your oven, then spray with vinegar. The vinegar will react with the paste to form a foam that will help dissolve grease. Let sit for at least 12 hours or overnight, and then wipe with a clean towel. Repeat this process as many times as necessary.
Another tip to keep your oven clean is to clean it frequently. Especially if you use your oven often, try to clean the inside of the oven at least once per month. This will prevent hard buildup and will keep your oven in great condition.
Lastly, if you’re cleaning the inside of your oven, make sure to lay a towel down in front of the oven. This will catch any spills or grease from contacting your floor.
-Elias Weston from Seatown Cleaners
To safely clean a microwave you can use 2 cups of water and 2 T of vinegar in a microwave safe bowl, and heat it on high power for at least 5 minutes (you want the water boiling). Once it’s done, let it sit for about 5 minutes before cleaning with a clean sponge. This helps all of the food particles soften so that they can be cleaned out easier.
-Carly from Mommy on Purpose
You want to know your grease, often mistaken for cooking oils such as vegetable oil, but the two things are different. Our favorite methods are a simple mix of baking soda, kosher salt, and water. This is alkaline, which makes it pretty good for tackling grease. You can also you a diluted D-Limonene solution, but be careful around painted or polished surfaces. The natural citrus peel oil can break down paints too! Always scrub with the grain, especially on stainless steel surfaces. The Mr. Miyagi approach will put undesirable surface scratches on your appliances.
–Zach Hawi from Organic Maids
While most pillows can be cleaned in a standard washer, stick to spot-cleaning with memory foam and down feather pillows. This method works best for washing pillows with cotton or synthetic filling.
Spot treat visible stains with your preferred liquid stain-treatment product.
Toss the pillow in the washer. Be sure not to overfill the washer – only wash 1-2 pillows per load. (Use the “bulky” cycle if your washer has the option)
Add 2 tablespoons of your favorite detergent. We also love to put 2-3 drops of dishwashing liquid to help lift and dissolve the sweat and body oils your pillow has absorbed.
For drying there are 2 options. The first is to dry in the dryer on low heat, stopping to fluff every 15-20 min. To speed the drying process up, use wool dryer balls. You can also air dry the pillow outdoors on a warmer or sunny day. Keep in mind air-drying will take quite a bit longer and the pillow will need to be flipped every 30 minutes or so to dry evenly.
- Pillowcases should be changed weekly
- Ideally, pillows should be cleaned every other month. But you *can* stretch the time between washes to once per season.
- Pillows should be replaced every 2-3 years
-Lyndsee Campbell from Laundry Care
Photos and frames
For frames and photos that are simply dusty, a microfiber cloth works really well to clean them. You want to avoid brushes and other coarse items that can scratch surfaces.
For photos, negatives, etc that are a little dirtier, greasy, or perhaps have been written on, you can try Pec-12, which is a photographic emulsion cleaner.
It works really well when used with lint-free wipes, like the Pec-Pads. This is what the pros use to get results! For photos that have sticky residue on them, Goo Gone Adhesive remover also works well.
–Caroline Guntur from Organizing Photos
Getting rid of the garbage can smell
Part of keeping your home clean and smelling good is getting rid of and preventing garbage smell.
The first step in getting rid of the garbage smell is by cleaning the garbage can. Various effective methods can be tried using household products. One of the most common methods is using baking soda. First, you will need to place some baking soda in your garbage and let it sit for a while (the longer, the better). Then, clean up the baking soda. Repeat this process if necessary.
Another solution is the HOCI fogger. A disinfecting spray method helps remove bacteria and mold from your garbage can. HOCl (hypochlorous acid water, also known as ECA) is a human-friendly, effective spray to eliminate the smell.
Mold can become a considerable problem in garbage cans. To get rid of the mold, applying a solution of bleach and water to your garbage can, is a tried method that generally works. After using the bleach/water solution, you only need to let it air dry.
To prevent garbage smells, a regular clean-up is essential. Just using soap and water for your regular clean-up should do the trick. However, the methods mentioned above would work as well. Lastly, you can use air fresheners and wicks for a good-smelling garbage can.
–Yamamoto Naoki from SEIKO GIKEN INC.
When is it time to hire a professional cleaning service?
I always recommend hiring a cleaning service, but I also recommend hiring a professional cleaning service that has been thoroughly trained to clean your home or office. A professional cleaning service is worth the money, as they will take the time to properly clean your home or office.
If you have a hard time keeping your spotless on your own, you should hire a cleaning service. Besides keeping your home clean, cleaning services can also save you a lot of time.
If you have pets, it is best to hire a cleaning service to help keep your home clean and free of pet hair.
-Nancy’s Cleaning Services
Why have a steam cleaner at home?
If there is any cleaning tool to invest in for your home, a steam cleaner is. A steam cleaner has an endless number of uses that range from cleaning grout to sanitizing surfaces. The best part is that the steam does all the heavy lifting for you. Deep cleaning tasks that are typically labor-intensive become extremely easy!
My favorite thing to clean with a steam cleaner is the walls. Anyone with kids knows that kids can very quickly dirty up the walls, and it’s a tedious task to remedy. But with a steam cleaner, you just run the device along the walls, and sticky fingerprints are gone within a couple of seconds. The best part is that it requires no other cleaners…just water! So you don’t need to worry about using harmful chemicals around kids and pets.
Because of its wide range of uses, a steam cleaner is a must-have for every home. It’s extremely simple to learn how to use and makes cleaning a breeze.
–Michelle Hansen from Practical Perfection
A clean home is great for mental health and does double duty in keeping pests, mold, and mildew away. As a bonus, these habits keep you updated with any minor repairs your home may need (preventing extensive repairs down the line). Be ready for that home inspector without stressing—and enjoy showing off your beautiful home.