I love cleaning, but only when I feel like it, and that feeling doesn't happen very often.
In the world we live in, it's very inexpensive to hire a maid (not really, but I'll elaborate on that shortly), so rather than waste my time, which is more valuable spent doing what I love, I should hire a maid.
The problem I have, is that maids and I don't get along. Not to say I can't work with anyone, but they get in my space.
I work from home, so they are either washing dishes or vacuuming, both of which make a noise, or they are trying to clean up around my desk and under my feet.
Living in South Africa means that your domestic worker is most likely unskilled, and has had no real formal education. Which also means that she most likely doesn't know how to use appliances correctly without breaking them.
I've had one maid break four vacuum cleaners in one year, another wash all my clothes at 90° C, causing all the colours to run and shrinking my brand new clothes to doll-size, another sleep naked in my bed with my 2 year old child (horrifying!) while she was meant to babysit for a couple of hours. The list is endless, but at the end of the day, the cost of new appliances, breakages and theft is way more than the low wages they receive.
Which brings me to the fact that I clean my own house (which I don't mind, and nothing gets broken).
In my quest for efficiency, I have found that there are ways to do things in a system so that you get the most done, in the least amount of time. This doesn't mean cutting corners, it means working systematically.
My house is a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house with a double garage, so it may take you a bit longer if you have a bigger house.
Some people like to tackle one room at a time, but I prefer to tackle one appliance/ one cleaning utensil at a time.
My House Cleaning System
Step 1. Make the beds - 10 mins
I'm assuming that you are house-proud and you always make the beds when you wake up. However, if you haven't, then you need to do this first.
While you are in your room / child's room, take all the dishes, washing or dustbins out with you when you have finished making the beds. This will save you a trip later. Take them to the kitchen, where you will allocate the items later.
Step 2. Soak / Pack Dishes - 5 mins
Pack all the dishes into the sink or the dishwasher. Add all the dishes that you picked up from the rooms .If you are washing by hand, then let them soak while you clean. If you have a dishwasher, now is the time to switch it on. Wipe down the counters, and pack away whatever needs to be put away.
Step 3. Dust and polish - 10 mins
Take out your spray and cloth, and go through each room dusting every surface. Wipe down the counters, then spray, using furniture polish for wooden surfaces. I find that a wet cloth stops the dust from going into the air, which can cause breathing difficulties.
You need to LIFT UP all the items that are on the tables, on the floors, so that you dust everywhere. Dusting around items actually takes more time, and the end result doesn't look as good.
Step 4. Vacuum - 15 mins
Now that you have allowed the dust to settle and thrown all the breadcrumbs off the counters onto the floors, you are ready to vacuum. Move chairs out of the way, and shake out the bath rugs. Leave them hanging over the bath while you vacuum.
Pack the vacuum away.
Step 5. Clean the bathrooms - 10 mins
Take out your trusted cleaning liquids, Handy Andy, Toilet Duck, Bleach, whatever you use, and wipe down the bath, basin and clean the toilets. If you use bleach or vinegar, leave it in the toilet bowl while you continue cleaning.
Step 6. Dishes - 15 mins
If you haven't done the dishes, then now is a good time, because you have let them soak for a bit.
Step 7. Mop - 10 mins
Get your mop and wash the tiled areas, starting with those furthermost away from you, and work your way back towards the kitchen. This will give the water time to dry. Finish off in the kitchen.
Step 8. Final touches - 5 mins
If you have furniture you need to polish, then you can do it now. Lastly, place the bath rugs back on the floor, tidy up the towels hanging on the rails, flush the toilet(s) and you are done!
If you look after your day-to-day habits of tidying up, you will only need to do this routine once a week to have a neat and clean house.
If you have any cupboards that need to be wiped down, or closets that need to be tidied, tackle them as you notice them. I apply the 5 minute rule to each situation. If it's going to take me 5 minutes or less to do it straight away, then I do it. If not, then I set time aside to do the job. I also find that my regular maid would never attend to these either, so I'm really paying her to just do the basics anyhow.
Some people will say that you need to clean every day, but I swear by the 80/20 rule, which is the rule of efficiency.
You spend 20% of your time getting 80% of the results.
If you spend 80% of your time cleaning, you will improve your results by 20%.
This means that the more hours you put in, the less the value of the result you will achieve. I will rather spend my time on doing the things that will further my personal development, than on impressing my friends with a stove that I polished with a toothbrush three times a day.
There is another way that works even better! It's called delegation:)
If you have kids, then now is a good time to teach them that your house is not a hotel, it's a home.
They can make their own beds, bring their own laundry and dishes to the kitchen, and they can each be assigned with a task or two. At the end of the cleaning, you can ask them if they are proud of their work. If they are, then you are done, if they are not proud, chances are they will fix it, and then you will be done!
If you have lots of ornaments, clutter, or a storage problem, then you have a clutter problem. I will deal with this in another blog post!
I hope this helps you or your maid. Happy cleaning!