12 Cleaning Secrets That Only Professionals Know

They're sharing their favorite tips with you.

If you're from the South, it's likely your grandmother mentioned once or twice (or a few dozen times) that any job worth doing is worth doing well. That is particularly true when it comes to cleaning. We spoke to cleaning professionals for their favorite tips to help you get things spic and span the right way. These handy hints will be helpful whether you're spring cleaning, getting ready for a holiday, opening up the vacation house, or just looking for a few shortcuts to make your chores go a little faster.

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How To Begin Cleaning

Start With a Blank Slate

"Declutter, then dust, then clean," says Sacha Dunn of eco-friendly soap company Common Good.

Clean Clockwise

"The first page in our standard operating procedures stipulates that, whatever room you're cleaning in, make sure to clean clockwise. This will help to avoid you missing things," says Adriana Aziz of MaidForYou. "Since we implemented this, we've seen a drastic decrease in the number of re-cleans requested by customers, upwards of 80 percent."

Make a Plan

"Everything works better if you plan things out," says Alex Varela of Dallas Maids of Frisco. "Professional cleaners have a checklist that is carefully thought out in order to maximize time and resources. This checklist should be thought both in the sense of a weekly or monthly planning and on the actual cleaning time itself. Try to plan things out in a way that you can leave cleaning products working on the surface or your washing machine running while you are doing something else."

How To Choose the Right Tools

Pick One Cleaner

"Many people might think that cleaning professionals have dozens of different products. The truth is: using all-purpose cleaners, or DIY cleaners, is much cheaper and easier on so many different levels," says Alessandro Gazzo from Emily's Maids in Dallas. "With a multi-purpose cleaner, it's much easier to carry and store them, and because you can buy them in bulk, they're cheaper in the long run. Plus, you don't need to think and keep track of how much there's left of every cleaning product.

Of course, there are some exceptions to the rule. Organic materials such as wood, leather, and natural stone are sensitive, and in this case, it's safer to use a specialized product."

Get the Right Tools

"Just having the right tools for the job can make a difference and make cleaning your home so much easier," says Aziz. "Cheap melamine sponges are amazing for cleaning walls and a great substitute for the Magic Eraser. They're also considerably cheaper and do the same job. They work especially well in getting rid of stubborn stains from your bathtub.

Let Cleaning Products Do Their Job

"Many people don't know this, but cleaning professionals are efficient at their job because they let products act on the surface," said Steve Evans of Memphis Maids. "It's about working smarter and not harder. Let products act for 15 minutes instead of scrubbing like crazy!"

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Special Cleaning Considerations

Use Dryer Sheets Outside the Dryer

"Dryer sheets are amazing when it comes to getting rid of dust, hair, and other small things usually missed by sweeping or vacuuming. They're especially great for cleaning ceiling fans and baseboards," says Jennifer Rodriguez, the Chief Hygiene Officer at ProHousekeepers. "You can wrap dryer sheets over a duster or an extended paint roller for those hard-to-reach places by using rubber bands to hold [them] in place. You'll be surprised at just how effective these dryer sheets are at cleaning ceiling fans and baseboards!"

Clean Your Grills Naturally

"All you need to clean a grill grate is lemon halves and salt," says Rodriguez. "Rub the lemon and salt together, and then proceed to the grill grates. Make sure the grill is heated, and swipe the halves carefully through the grates. The acid of the lemons will sterilize the grill and cut the grease off."

Get Steamed

"Steam is more powerful than you think, and, of course, it is extremely safe for basically all surfaces," says Gazzo. "A power steamer is pretty affordable, and it can soften up grime and dirt without using cleaning products or without scrubbing, just by wiping with a microfiber cloth afterward. I think buying a steamer is cheaper in the long run, and it makes cleaning easier."

Add Inconspicuous Trash Bins

Set a rubbish bin outside. "We always recommend that a small rubbish bin is left out the front entrance of your home. Make sure it's non-conspicuous in terms of style, so your home doesn't look cluttered. By doing this and making sure you trash anything you bring in that will get thrown away," says Aziz. "This cleaning secret has saved our regular clients so much time."

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Things To Avoid

Mind the Mix

"Mixing manufactured cleaning products is not a good idea. In fact, if you don't know very well what you're doing, chemicals can actually 'cancel' each other out, and you'd be getting just plain water or a different chemical that is not cleaning effective. For example, both castile soap and vinegar are excellent cleaning products, but if you mix them, the castile soap would revert back to just plain oil," says Evans. Furthermore, you can create a potentially dangerous reaction if you don't know enough about the chemicals you're mixing. Avoid potential harm by using the original products individually as intended.

Avoid Non-HEPA Filtered Vacuums

Use a HEPA-filtered vacuum. "HEPA filtered vacuum cleaners prevent excess pollen and dust from leaving the exhaust of your vacuum cleaner," says Aziz. "A regular vacuum will just end up spitting out whatever pollen and dust mites have already entered the vacuum cleaner. Making non-HEPA filtered vacuum cleaners highly inefficient for actual cleaning."

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