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  • Writer's pictureSophie - Dustpan & Brush

5 Cleaning Tips & Hacks: Making it Easier!

Sometimes it's tough keeping on top of the house cleaning tasks, and when life piles up around you, having a couple of time saving cleaning tips and tricks in your basket can be an absolute life saver!

I’ll be honest here, sometimes I'll procrastinate, enter into something without knowing the best way to do so and will end up making the simplest tasks much harder than they need to be. With domestic cleaning however, it should come as no surprise that I’ve got the tips, tricks and cleaning hacks that will actually help! We are your Melbourne cleaning experts afterall. While these tips save time and effort, they don’t come at the expense of quality or motivation - I mean is a list of cleaning hacks really worth doing if it saves you that time and effort but leaves a result of looking/feeling half done? The best of both worlds exists, quality and timesaving ease in one.

Cleaning is still cleaning, but it’s all about making things as easy as possible, wherever possible. Call me nuts (although saying ‘passionate’ would soften the blow) but I always get a little kick of achievement and satisfaction after finishing little house cleaning tasks. Yes, I congratulate myself for adulting and if you aren't doing the same, let me outline below why you should too!

Similar to that endorphin hit from exercise, having a clean space and reducing mess/clutter will give you a sense of breath and calm borne of a very similar serotonin release . Mood, mental health, stress and anxiety alleviation are all positively affected by being in a clean space.

So, let's use this to our benefit with some handy tips and celebrate the little adult achievements - they’re more valuable and significant than you may have assumed!

Tip #1 - Microwave Cleaning Hack:

We all know what a gunky microwave looks like. The baked-on remnants become a special type of cement that is borderline impossible to get off. It may even be something you really begrudge doing. Whichever way you feel about it, this cleaning hack will make things WAY easier (this one completely changes the game, and of course it’s eco-friendly, surely that’s a given!). I'll detail the steps below but what if I told you all you need is to be cleaning your microwave with lemon, and finish if your microwave cleaning with vinegar. Yep, that's all you need.

1- Grab a microwave safe mug; a glass, ceramic or reusable plastic cup you’d normally use will be perfect.

2- Fill 1/3 of the cup with water, squeeze in half a lemon, and then pop that half piece of lemon you just squeezed in the mug as well.

3- Place it in the microwave for three and a half minutes on high, then leave the whole thing sitting for another minute or so without opening the door. The heat and steam from the water and natural acids from the lemon will do its magical thing to loosen up grime.

4- All you’ll need to do now is gently wipe. Yep. No hacking away, no scourer, no hard work or utensils. Whatever was in there becomes entirely loose with the circulating condensation, so that gentle wipe will take care of it completely. No elbow grease needed.

5- Finish off with a 1:3 ratio of vinegar to water, either fill a spray bottle or to make it even easier, dip a microfiber in and finish the internals of the microwave with this vinegar solution for a clear, streak free finish.

Five minutes in total, four of which are spent standing around enjoying the fresh scent of yummy lemon citrus. Environmentally friendly, easy, done. Note:

- If you have no lemons on hand, you can use the kitchen vinegar (white or apple cider) in replacement of the lemon in the first couple of steps. Just pop a capful in your cup in replacement of the half lemon. Vinegar is very readily biodegradable so you’re good to go.

- Be careful taking the mug out as it will still be quite hot, and there may be some spill over onto the glass plate. Probably not needed but use a towel or oven mitt just to be extra safe.


Tip #2 - Quick Kitchen Cleaning & Bathroom Cleaning Tips:

Most of your cleaning items and products tend to be in one place, but if everything is in that dark corner of the laundry that only gets ventured into when people are coming over, then it makes sense that you’re less likely to reach for them. Kitchen cleaning and bathroom cleaning are the two heaviest areas, known as "wet areas" of a home that need the most attention. Many will employ either a general home cleaning service, or a kitchen and bathroom cleaning service for exactly this reason.

The most effective advice I can give to address the amount of work needed for kitchen cleaning and bathroom cleaning is this is: Keep some cloths/microfibres in the kitchen and bathroom, with an all-purpose surface spray beside them.

If the basics are easily accessible, then you’ll be more inclined to do a quick once over rather than go hunt for them. If there's no room in your cupboards, leaving them on the bench is an easy solution. A lot of you might not be doing this simply because you might think it messes with the visual feng shui – but these days there are some absolutely stunning cloths and cleaning products out there. Not only can you arrange them ever so quaintly, but it can seriously add visual value to your space! Take below a home grown favourite, Koala Eco, who make beautiful designs to show off on your benchtop.

As a bathroom cleaning hack, by giving the sink and bench a little wipe every few days you’ll be minimising the build-up; so when you do get around to conducting a more thorough clean it will be hardly any extra effort.

  1. Gather Your Supplies: Before you begin, gather all your cleaning supplies. You'll need vinegar, we use organic apple cider but any vinegar will do (no need to splurge, use what you have!) baking soda, your favourite scrub brushes, microfiber cloths and a toilet brush. Feel free to sport some gloves if you're so inclined but since we are working with entirely eco-friendly products, there's no risk to your health.

  2. Start with Decluttering: Remove all items from the countertops, shower, and tub area. This allows you to clean more effectively without obstacles in your way. The idea is to create a canvas in which visual noise has been removed to you can visualise your workspace and job ahead. Not only practical, but a really big psychological step in allowing you to get to work without feeling overwhelmed.

  3. Pre-Treat Surfaces: For tough stains and grime, pre-treat surfaces with a mixture of baking soda and water or vinegar. Make a paste of 2:3 baking soda to water, apply the paste to problem areas and let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing. Finish with vinegar for shine.

  4. Tackle the Toilet: While there are many eco-friendly toilet bowl cleaners around, which is fantastic, you really only need a mild acid here as well, vinegar will do the trick once more. Spray around the rim and let it sit while you clean other areas of the bathroom. Use a toilet brush to scrub the bowl thoroughly, including under the rim and around the edges.

  5. Clean Mirrors and Glass: Use a glass cleaner or once again a solution of vinegar and water to clean mirrors, windows, and glass shower doors. Wipe in a circular motion with a microfiber cloth to prevent streaks.

  6. Scrub the Shower and Tub: Spray the shower and tub with a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water or a designated bathroom cleaner. Use a scrub brush or sponge to remove soap scum and build-up, then use a squeegee (on shower glass) to remove all liquid. A squeegee here will do wonders for a crystal clear finish! Rinse thoroughly with water afterward and one last squeegee to finish.

  7. Address Grout and Tiles: Mix baking soda and water into a paste and apply it to grout lines. Scrub gently with a toothbrush or grout brush to remove dirt and stains. Rinse with water and dry with a clean cloth.

  8. Clean Sink and Countertops: Spray the sink and countertops with a disinfectant cleaner or a mixture of vinegar and water. If your countertops are made from soft stone such as marble, travertine or limestone etc then avoid the vinegar altogether and opt for a pH neutral cleaner instead. Castile soap and water will do wonders for those surfaces. Wipe down all surfaces with a microfiber cloth, paying attention to faucets, handles, and edges for a good shiny buff finish.

  9. Don't Forget the Floors: Once done, sweep or vacuum the bathroom floor to remove dust and hair. Then, mop with a mixture of warm water and floor cleaner, focusing on any dirty spots or stains. We use our hand-crafted eucalyptus and lemongrass for bathroom floors for bacteria and mould, and our lavender and rosemary concoction for other areas of the home for dirt and grime, however you can use your floor cleaner of choice.

  10. Freshen Up the Air: After cleaning, do yourself a beautiful favour and open all windows and doors to get some fresh clean air to improve ventilation, move the wonderful eco-friendly scents around the space allowing for circulation of any stagnant air and eliminate any lingering odours.

Remember to clean your bathroom regularly to prevent the build-up of grime and bacteria. Consistent maintenance will make deep cleaning sessions easier and keep your bathroom looking fresh and inviting. The hardest part, quite genuinely, is getting into the routine of restocking your freshly washed and dried cloths in these places, once it's looking fresh though, I guarantee the motivation for a touch-up here and there will maintain itself.


Tip #3 - Effective Dusting: A How To

Dust can feel near impossible to keep on top of, especially if you have a lot of glass and/or dark furniture and finishes. Screens and computer monitors can also become eyesore hotspots. I’ve had a lot of clients ask how I manage to bring it up and not have it settle straight back down on the same or nearby surface.

The basic principle I work by with how to keep dust away is simple:

1- ALWAYS work from the top down. Dust loves gravity. 2- DRY wipe with one cloth first, then WET wipe with a slightly damp cloth after.

All dust and dirt falls - gravity’s pretty rude that way. Start from the top and work your way down, otherwise you’ll be going over the same things again and again. Remember, we want to reduce dust and make this an easier clean, not a harder one. This will mean you're maintaining the easiest way to dust your home through your cleaning process.

In the first wipe down: the dry cloth will pick up most of the dust, in the second wipe down with the damp cloth: all the little bits that have either been left behind or kicked up from the initial wipe will be taken care of. The damp cloth also freshens and for some surfaces, removes the static that can occur when dry wiping, so you’ll stop the dust zapping straight back there!

If you’re just wanting to stick to the basics, that’s all you need to know! Otherwise, here you can read more comprehensive detail on the best way to keep dust away, how to dust specific rooms, furniture & décor.


Tip #4 - Streakless, Spotless Bench Tops and Glass:

Seeing streaks or smudges on a surface you just cleaned can elicit a strange level of frustration, maybe even a little resentment starts bubbling up for your black glass or dark marble counter-top. It’s okay, I understand, there was a time many eons ago where I didn't know the best way to keep glass clean. Through practice and a few little tips, you'll become an expert too. When you’ve gone to the effort of cleaning, and you know that it’s clean, why do those smudges and streaks stick around to ruin it all!? This is a really simple fix for those who love a pristine surface.

Firstly, if you want thorough detail on how to clean glass and surfaces without streaking, read more here. For a quick how to on the best way to keep water spots from glass and shower screens, read on.

Here are two quick options:

1- Surface clean: Lightly damp wipe, then dry buff. Simple

2- Deep clean: Wet scrub, squeegee, dry buff.

Both these methods will work every time, but the deep clean style squeegee method really pulls both the grease AND cleaning product completely off the surface. The second method is going to really get that shine if you're wondering how to clean glass shower screens, glass oven door, cooktops or how to clean glass hard water stains too.

I will also add- don’t use your used dish cloth to wipe down benches! You really want a streakless clean, but a dish cloth will only reintroduce sink bacteria, other nasties (in the current state of things that is not a risk worth taking!) and along with them, the oil smears from washing your dishes. Of course, this is only going to transfer onto the bench you’re trying to clean, we’ve definitely had to teach our household humans about this in the past. Secondly, tea towels are great for a lot, but the material is not right if you’re after a truly shiny surface.

Have a designated surface cloth. Have a clean rag/microfibre for the dry buff and say goodbye to smears and streaks.


Tip #5 - 10 Minute Stints:

We all know the lines ‘tidy home, tidy mind’ etc, they exist for very good reason, but when life gets busy or your mind is otherwise preoccupied, those little mantras almost seem like taunting barbs of failure.

No matter the size of your space, the thought of cleaning the whole home in one go is at the best of times an overwhelming one for most. I get it. That’s also before we take into account anything else about your lifestyle too - family, mortgage, rent, business, work, pets, social life or whatever your life may be - when it comes to cleaning ‘I don’t think I can deal with this’ can be a pretty justified thought. Cleaning can give you an amazing feeling of gratification, and that sense of reward and achievement has certainly helped me when adulting feels just a little too tough to manage. With that, I’d like to share this little slice of sanity and a request from me: Don’t worry about tackling the whole house in one go, okay?

Give yourself 15 or 20 minutes a day (even a little less than that is fine if that’s too much to squeeze in!), and just focus on one room a day.

It doesn’t have to be a massive overhaul of a clean -just a simple wipe over and tidy of that one room is perfect! It’s also important to find the happy and calm in that room. Don’t get ahead of yourself thinking about all the other rooms that need attention. By adopting this routine and tweaking it to suit you, you’ll find that the overall space is infinitely more manageable and the grime you once spent hours trying to remove doesn’t even get a chance to build up. Tidy up what I call the ‘visual noise’, and even if it lasts all of 5 minutes, it is amazing what making the bed and arranging the couch pillows can do for a room. While you might think it’s silly to congratulate yourself for making your bed, you’re adulting and we know now more than ever that it’s not always that easy. On those days where it's particularly tough, book a clean with Dustpan & Brush, we'll come help.


Don’t have the time to do your home cleaning, or want a professional organic and eco-friendly cleaner around? We know the feeling, that's why we're here!

Give us a shout out and we’ll be happy to help.


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