Great Ways to Clean on a Tight Budget


We all work hard and play hard, and at the end of the day, we all want to relax in a clean space, but cleaning supplies are costly and time is short – who really wants to spend their time and money on cleaning and cleaning supplies? Unfortunately, for the majority of us, housekeeping is something we’ll have to do forever, so let’s make the most of it with some low or no cost, and, sometimes fun, ideas.


  1. Tidy up daily

Before going to bed each night, take a few minutes to put the dishes in the dishwasher, throw out your junk mail, wipe down your kitchen counters and get your coffee ready to brew in the morning. If you have kids, have them pitch in. I like to turn on funky tunes and we do a little samba as we put things to rights. In the morning, you’ll appreciate the appearance of a neat space while your coffee is dutifully brewing.


  1. Don’t save your heavy cleaning (scrubbing bathrooms, mopping/vacuuming floors, cleaning blinds, cleaning windows, etc) for the weekend or a day off. They never get done, because on our day off, we want a day off! Instead, spread these chores out in smaller chunks throughout the week or month and save your time off for your well deserved rest and relaxation in your sparkling space!


  1. Save the landfills, sanitize your sponges

Sponges are a virtual breeding ground for germs, if you use them, you know this from the smell that triggers us to throw them away. But did you know you can kill 99% of the germs in your sponge by microwaving it for about 2 minutes every couple of days? Do this while you’re wiping down the counters, and remember to let them cool before you remove them from the microwave because they will be HOT! This will let you use those sponges longer and buy them less often.


  1. Use microfiber dusters


Microfiber dusting or cleaning cloths are made to trap dirt, dust, and many other debris so one swipe usually does the trick. There are disposables that are less expensive, but there are many brands of reusable microfiber cleaning products too. They cost a little more up front than a disposable, but you can wash them instead of buying new ones so they will save you money over time. These are great for cleaning any surface and can be used on ceiling fans too – just spray a little furniture polish on one side and hold it palm up to your fan, turn the fan on its lowest speed and let the fans swipe themselves against the cloth.


  1. No Shoes policy?

If you have many visitors, you might want to encourage them to take off their shoes when they come in. If they are coming in with you, taking your shoes off at the door will signal to them that you have a no shoes policy, generally, they will follow your example. You can also put up a friendly sign decorated by you and your kids to place directly inside your door, that says “Kindly remove your shoes please!”. Removing shoes can preserve your carpet and eliminate dirt, mud, and other debris that is normally walked in on the soles of our feet.


  1. Vinegar is the inexpensive alternative for many cleaning products


Plain white distilled vinegar can clear out mineral deposits in your coffee maker and dishwasher.


For your coffee maker, fill the carafe with equal parts water and vinegar, turn on the brew and allow it to brew about half way through the pot. Turn off the coffee pot for about 20 minutes to allow the minerals to loosen, then turn the pot back on to finish brewing the remaining half of the vinegar mix. Remember to run a pot of clear cold water through it afterward before brewing your next pot of coffee


For your dishwasher, simply fill the dispenser with vinegar every couple of weeks and let it run an empty load, this will eliminate odors and clear any deposits inside the washer’s tubing.


  1. Vinegar can also be used to clean your windows, mirrors and bathroom appliances

For windows, mirrors, chrome or metal taps, make a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water and wipe them down with the mixture. For windows and mirrors, you will want to use a dust free (or microfiber) cloth.


  1. Lemons are another inexpensive cleaning alternative


Cleaning up the dried on mess inside a microwave can be a lot of work, but you can cut through the grease and eliminate the scrubbing with a lemon. Cut a lemon in quarters, place them in a large mug or small bowl and fill it halfway with water. Place it in the microwave on high for about 4 minutes and watch the vapors loosen everything up. Take a warm wash cloth, and wipe the food and grime away – no scrubbing and no sweat!


Drop the used lemon slices one at a time into your garbage disposal (while running and with your water running) to deodorize the disposal as well!


  1. Hard wood floors

Do you own a pair of really thick socks that you love to bum around the house in? Do the waltz with them on your hardwood floors, without lifting your feet, this is a fun way to remove the dust from their surface. If you’re not a dancer, pick up an inexpensive hardwood vacuum to keep your floors looking shiny between polishes.


  1. Put those pesky single socks to use

There is always that lone sock that comes out of the dryer without its mate – save these under your sink and use them to clean your blinds. To do this you just place them over your hands like mittens, dampen it with water and run them over the slats, gripping them gently between thumb and your other fingers so you can clean both sides at once.

These are the Best Hardwood Floor Vacuums You Can Buy

As a consulting custodian, I get a lot of questions from individuals and firms about the best equipment to get the job done. While a lot of times that depends whether you have contracts with different tool suppliers, when it comes to vacuums, you really want to do your own shopping instead of relying on the tool catalog. On todays’ blog, I wanted to take a moment to talk about vacuuming hardwood floors, one of the easiest tasks to take care of in theory, but one of the hardest to actually do well.


People think hardwoods are easy to vacuum, because they’re a hard smooth surface. That’s true, but we’re not dealing with linoleum or tile here. Hardwoods usually have cracks, which means you have to vacuum into those as well as on the surface. Hardwoods are also premier flooring. They’re finished, waxed and sanded when they’re installed, and part of being a good custodian is being able to protect nice floors while you clean. So, getting the balance right between cleaning power and a delicate touch is the challenge you face when you’re outfitting yourself or your team with a good vacuum for hardwoods.


I’ve got two recommendations for you today, as far as the best hardwood floor vacuum out there today. They’re not the most obvious choices on the market, really, but after I took the effort to do lots of research, and having used a lot of different machines over the years, I’m pretty confident these two are the best bets.


First off, I want to take you through some of what I look for when I’m shopping for a vacuum to use on clients’ hardwood floors.


It’s really important to keep in mind that as well as cleaning, you’re there to take care of floors. So you have to be careful to make sure your vacuum isn’t causing any damage to the finish by scratching or scuffing. Some things to avoid: hard plastic wheels and nylon bristles.


You also need some tools for stairs, ideally big soft brushes with bumpers so you don’t scratch up the paneling as you go.


It can be a bit counterintuitive to think about hardwoods requiring lots of power, but unless you’re working on perfectly smooth floors, you will definitely want lots of power for cracks where dust collects. When you’re a janitor, that’s the sort of detail you don’t want to ignore.


The big priority is to keep the hardwoods safe. You’ll get fired quickly for damaging floors, and that’s the kind of reputation for carelessness that can sink you in this business for life.


The first vacuum I want to mention is called the Sanitaire. It’s a lot like your average commercial vacuum for custodians, but it’s nearly as cheap as a typical consumer vacuum. It’s got a compact canister with a bagged collection system. You can carry the canister as a backpack, which is best for hardwoods, since you don’t have to worry about dragging the canister behind you and scuffing up the place. I like this one because it’s got a really long wand and hose, and you can adjust the wand length as you go. The fact that you can carry it makes stairs easy, and it has a better bristle floor head than most commercial vacuums. All told, definitely the best inexpensive option I’ve found for hardwoods if you’re a custodian. It can also do a decent job on flat carpets, but I wouldn’t really use anything that doesn’t have a motor brush to do a thorough cleaning job.

If you work in nicer places, I have one other recommendation. It’s not a commercial vacuum, per se but it’s even better than the Sanitaire. I’ve used it in upscale places like law offices, historical buildings, and fancy houses. Definitely the best hardwood floor vacuum that the average consumer can buy, and I think it’s totally worth of a pro. It’s called a Miele, which is a german brand, and the one I’ve used is called the Titan. It’s not terribly expensive, about $600 when last I looked, but it’s got a huge range of power that you can adjust through, which makes it really versatile for working in nicer homes and offices. You can just turn the power down and get all your curtains and upholstery done with the same vacuum as the hardwood floors, without having to worry about damaging anything. This one has some crazy attention to detail that I doubt the average Joe would notice, but someone like me who cares about cleaning equipment for my income loves the kind of engineer that thought to put rubber on the wheels and bumpers on the sides to protect walls. I also absolutely love the self-sealing bags on this thing, which are the most sanitary design I’ve seen in several decades of janitorial work.