How to clean your house like a professional

My professional work experience is in the hotel industry. As the manager of a few different small properties I hired and trained a great deal of housekeepers. Some people may think that being a hotel “maid” is a simple job that anyone can do. This simply isn’t true. Sure, almost anyone can TRY to clean a motel room but only the dedicated will succeed. From time to time I am given the opportunity to draw upon my past work knowledge to hire and train one of my husband’s new employees. This task was much easier when I was still working because I had so many useful resources, not to mention that I did it regularly so it was very natural. Now things are more difficult.

As I was trying to recall the room cleaning processes required by my employees of the past I began to realize how useful these techniques would be for cleaning a personal home. Hotel chains requires their rooms to be cleaned in about 45 minutes for a large room with many amenities (such as a Hampton Inn) and about 25 minutes for a small room with few amenities (such as a Motel 6). Motel housekeepers are typically required to clean 10-15 rooms per day. How do they manage it? To be successful they must have a system.  

Here is the daily cleaning checklist I gave to the housekeepers at the motels I managed. I believe we will be more successful on cleaning day if we have a plan. I know I don’t have 15 bathrooms in my house but if a motel housekeeper can clean that many bathrooms in one day I should be able to clean my house from top to bottom in only a few hours.

1-      1- Clear out all trash and dirty linens (in a personal home changing linens on Laundry day makes for one less thing to do on cleaning day).

2-      2- Clean the bathroom:

a.       Spray the shower walls and the bath tub with a mild disinfectant spray. Wipe with a clean DRY rag (never use water to clean a bathroom - except the INSIDE of the toilet- !).

b.    Use a toilet bowl disinfectant to clean the inside of the toilet, especially underneath the rim. (I prefer to use a rag and scrub with my -gloved- hand, toilet brushes gross me out!)  

c.      Spray the entire exterior of the toilet with disinfectant, including the pedestal connecting to the floor. Wipe with a clean DRY rag.

d.      Spray the counter top and sink with a disinfectant spray. Wipe with a clean DRY rag.

e.      Clean mirrors, sink faucets and bathtub faucets with window cleaner.

f.        Mop floor, being careful to remove all hair.

                                                               i.      General instructions: use a clean rag for each section of the bathroom.

                                                             ii.      Never use water except on the inside of the toilet.

                                                            iii.      Keep all dirty rags wrapped tightly to prevent hair from falling out.

3-      3- Dust furniture

4-      4- Make Beds

5-      5- Vacuum yourself out of the room.

 The key to cleaning your house as if it was a hotel is to have all the “stuff” put away. That means all toys, clothes, junk mail, shoes, and clutter. Hotel maids aren’t required to clean around stuff and neither should you. Our houses should be junk free for a few hours at least once a week.

I am also a large supporter of having someone help you with the dirty work, especially the floors and bathrooms. Many people assume it must cost a fortune to hire someone to come into your home to help, but if you keep your eyes peeled you can find someone to help you for 10-15 dollars per hour. Unless you have a monstrous house with 7 or 8 bathrooms you should need only 2-3 hours of help every other week.  That is between $40 and $90 per month, a small expense when you take into consideration the increase to the value of your house. Bathroom fixtures will last a life time if they are cleaned regularly, however they may need to be replaced after only 5 – 10 years if they are not properly taken care of.

I realize for some people this may be an expense that simply does not fit into their budget. That’s okay! I suggest finding a friend who feels the same way you do who would be willing to swap a few hours of work each week. On the first and third week of the month spend 2 hours cleaning one house; on the second and fourth week of the month spend 2 hours cleaning the other house. Work is always more fun with a friend and you will get twice as much done. Just knowing you have a friend coming over to help will force you to de-clutter so the rooms and bathrooms can be cleaned like a hotel.  Focus on cleaning the bathrooms, the floors, and doing a quick surface dust.

 The average size of a house in the United States is 2330 square feet with 2 ½ bathrooms. The average hotel room is 450 square feet and most housekeepers are required to clean about 12 rooms per day. That means they are cleaning 5400 square feet of floor space, 12 bathrooms, and making 12-24 beds all in about 6 hours. This seems like an incredible work load but they manage it because of a few very important issues:

1-      The bathrooms are cleaned REGULARLY (daily at a busy property) which means there is rarely any heavy build up on the plumbing fixtures.

2-      They aren’t working around clutter, toys, trash, food, etc. There is nothing to ‘put away’, if there does happen to be some food or trash in the room they throw it out.

3-      They have a system that includes a logical path of travel throughout the space and they do NOT clean with water.

A clean house is like an organized house; a CONSTANT work in progress. My house is nowhere near as clean as it could be (I once had a housekeeper tell me, “everywhere I look everything is just SO dirty!!”). But I do dedicate my Tuesdays to making it clean and I have a cleaning schedule (click HERE to see the schedule I have hanging on my broom closet door) that works well for me and my life. I figure one day the kids will be smart enough to use a door knob instead of the glass and their aim to the toilet will improve (or they will learn to sit down!). And perhaps they won’t continue to eat ketchup with every meal or wear their muddy boots in the house. Until then I will do my best to provide a comfortable place for my family to live. I challenge you to do the same! I firmly believe this is something we can all do to drastically increase our value of lives.

Check out my post on having a "Clean Kitchen"

Interested in purchasing the cleaning products I use, check out the SHOP page

Cleaning is nearly impossible if you are having a difficult time 'Managing Clutter' - start with first things first!

Laundry got you down? There is a correct way to do that too! How to Do Laundry



I love having it all written down and in order. I haven't ever seen the hotel order before exactly and I love it.

By Melina (not verified)

I'm curious...Why do you NEVER use water to clean a bathroom? Why do you not use a damp rag and then dry afterward? You mentioned it several times and I'm just curious as to the reason behind that.

By Curious (not verified)

There are 2 main reasons for NOT using water while cleaning. The first reason is that it is much less sanitary. Wet rags are a massive breeding ground for bacteria and the water just spreads the germs from one location to another. Imagine you are cleaning the shower in a hotel and guest A leaves behind her germs on the shower wall near the faucet. Using a WET rag you wipe the germs off but then the germs spread throughout the entire rag because of the water. You then wipe out the bottom of the bathtub with the same rag where you may, or may not, leave behind the germs you picked up from the shower wall. Welcome guest B to the bathtub. Dry rags with only the moisture from a disinfectant will not spread germs in the same way a wet rag will.

Reason two for never using water is that it takes at least twice as long to do the same job. If you use a wet rag you are in essence spreading water all over the entire surface you are suppose to be cleaning which does nothing but leave water spots (and possibly germs), you then have to use a dry rag to wipe up the water to avoid spotting. This means you have cleaned the same surface two times, taking twice as long. The water is, simply put, completely unnecessary and time consuming.

I personally dislike using water to clean because I don't like the feel of having wet hands while I work, even if I have rubber gloves on.

I hope this answers your question!

By jayme

What kind of disinfectant spray do you recommend?

By Natalie (not verified)

I may not be much help in the cleaning product category. My husband owns hotels for a living so I buy all my cleaning supplies through commercial channels. I do use different products for different areas of the bathroom. For my white tile shower (which is EXTREMELY difficult to clean) I often use a very strong foaming disinfectant similar to Scrubbing Bubbles (be aware that more potent cleaners may need to be rinsed off). For my toilets, sinks and counter tops I use a much more mild disinfectant called Spring Clean which reminds me of window cleaner only with a disinfectant. There are really so many products out there and most of them are comparable in ability. The Spring Clean I use is purchased as a concentrate so it is inexpensive whereas the foaming disinfectant is in an aerosol and costs quite a bit more.

By jayme

Not to argue or anything... but all my disinfectants say to rinse them off after spraying... Doesn't leaving residue harm certain surfaces or leave buildup? I would really like to stop rinsing-

By Renee Dalton (not verified)

I would suggest finding a new product. The market is full of mild disinfectants that are safe around children and animals. I would also suggest you consider NOT disinfecting certain surfaces that may be harmed by chemicals. I have oil rubbed bronze faucets that are easily damaged by abrasive surfaces as well as chemicals. To clean my faucets I use window cleaner so they will not be harmed. Most surfaces that really need to be disinfected will hold up to chemicals; toilets, bath tubs/showers, floors, sinks, etc. I know there are some varnishes used on limestone and poured concrete that can be ruined with chemicals but formica, tile, cultured marble, granite, and most other common bathroom surfaces will not have a problem.

If you are having buildup problems you are most likely using too much product or your rag is too dirty. A clean dry rag will remove the majority of the chemical so there shouldn't be much build up. Avoid using cream products as they do need to be rinsed.

By jayme

When we had our bathroom redone the last thing the plumber said to me after installing everything was not to use ammonia on the fixtures because it would damage the oil rubbed bronze finish. Since glass cleaner has ammonia, I've never used it on or near the fixtures. Was the plumber wrong?

By charlie (not verified)

Not all window cleaner has ammonia in it. The lady who cleans my house is allergic to Ammonia so my window cleaner is ammonia free.... Sorry, I don't know if your plumber is wrong.

By jayme

Many window cleaners do have ammonia in them. But you can buy popular brands that specifically say Ammonia Free. Having worked in a high end furniture showroom with lacquer furniture we had to buy ammonia free Windex to clean it.

By Peggy Powell (not verified)

Sprayway makes an ammonia free window cleaner. Windex also has and ammonia free verson.

By Wesley (not verified)

I agree that leaving the cleaner is more sanitary but my main concern with doing it is leaving a film behind, especially one that someone can slip and fall on.

Any thoughts?

By hols (not verified)

If you find that not rinsing with water is leaving a film you need to use a more mild product. Avoid using cream products and foam products as they typically do need to be rinsed. I have never cleaned my house with water and I have lived here for 7 years. No one has ever slipped. If you are concerned about falling fill free to use a lightly damp cloth on the floors after cleaning.

By jayme

I sooo agree with the NO WATER thng. Its much easier n faster to clean with dry rag.Thnx.

By Felicia (not verified)

Hello, should I use a different rag for the toilet, shower and sync? Thank you

By Mey (not verified)

 Whether or not you use a different rag for the toilet, shower and sink depends on how dirty your bathroom is. If you have been cleaning every week you may not need to use a different rag. Just be sure to start with the sink, then move on to the shower and save the toilet for last. If you bathroom hasn't been cleaned for a while or if you find you are picking up a lot of hair and grime you may end up doing more harm then good by using the same rag. 

By jayme

I worked at a high end hotel and we used water to clean the mirrors. A rag with no cleaner just rub it under the faucet and rub down the mirror, no streaking or anything. We had to use dry rags to clean with in a bathroom to catch more hair. If it's wet then it just moves the hair around.

By Samantha (not verified)

If you use toilet paper to pick up hair etc... you just flush it down the toilet and you don't have that hair your rags to wash!

Just be careful with putting hair into your plumbing. If you are unfortunate enough, as we are, to have a grinder pump, hair will clog it up and cause it to fail. It cost us nearly $3,000 to have ours replaced!

By Shannon (not verified)

I just found this on Pinterest. I am curious about the water, too. It makes sense for the reasons you stated, but is using only disinfecting spray enough to REALLY get the nastiness off bathroom surfaces?

By Holly (not verified)

You make a very good point. If you don't clean your bathroom very often you may need to use water to help wash away all the soap scum, especially if you have a tile bathroom with hard to clean grout. However, if you clean your bathroom on a regular basis (once a week, or sometimes even twice a month) you shouldn't need to use any water. Water works well for scrubbing really dirty surfaces but the goal of this method of cleaning is to clean really fast on a regular basis. Try it for a month, week 1 may require a bit more time and water to get the build up off. Weeks 2, 3 and 4 should be quick and water free.

Let me know how it goes!

By jayme

I own a cleaning buisness and we use razors and magic erasers to remove hard water and soap scum. If you want to lesson the amount of soap scum you have then stop using bar soaps, the product that is used to keep the soap in a cake form is also what allows it to stick to your shower and tub walls. A magic eraser is a great thing to use as when you have soap scum on the walls it will "stick" and is hard to wipe across, when the eraser slides easily on the surface you know that you have gotten all the soap scum off! Although you have to do this wet, it helps get your surfaces clean for the next time you clean and you will get through it quicker!

By heather (not verified)

You can also use a wet Bounce sheet. Works wonders.

I've never tried this! Thanks for the tip!!

By jayme

Disinfectant spray should be enough, but if it's super gunky I usually go over everything with a lysol wet wipe first. I was a housekeeper for a very short time (what was I thinking that summer..) in high school, and the time we had in each room was only about 12-15 minutes. Wet rags are horrible in bathrooms when you're trying to clean out all the hair of the grizzly bear that apparently just stayed in the're essentially just pushing hairs around. What we did was literally coat the bathroom in a disinfectant spray - finish up something in the other room - and then come back and wipe everything down with a clean dry cloth for each area of the bathroom. You'll notice that the dryness catches on to the hairs easily and cuts the wipe down time in half...and a trick I've learned from my own home, but after I scrub down my bathroom knobs - I do a once over with a piece of wax paper. It leaves a little invisible wax film on the metal which keeps those water marks off for a little bit longer :)

By lizzy (not verified)

What disinfectant spray do you use?

By Michelle (not verified)

I may not be much help for specifics in the cleaning product category. My husband owns hotels for a living so I buy all my cleaning supplies through commercial channels. I do use different products for different areas of the bathroom. For my white tile shower (which is EXTREMELY difficult to clean) I use a very strong foaming disinfectant similar to Scrubbing Bubbles. For my toilets, sinks and counter tops I use a much more mild disinfectant called Spring Clean which reminds me of window cleaner only with a disinfectant. There are really so many products out there and most of them are comparable in ability. The Spring Clean I use is purchased as a concentrate so it is inexpensive whereas the foaming disinfectant is in an aerosol and costs quite a bit more.

By jayme

Hi, Thanks for all of the fabulous tips. Is "Spring Clean" brand available online? I looked but can't find it.

By Kim (not verified)

Spring Clean is actually the name of a Waxie Brand product. I have only ever purchased it through my husbands work so I'm not sure the best way to get it. Try the Waxie website.

By jayme

Spring Clean is actually the name of a Waxie Brand product. I have only ever purchased it through my husbands work so I'm not sure the best way to get it. Try the Waxie website.

By jayme

Thank you! Here's the link I found several Spring Clean products by Waxie:

Which product is the one you can use on glass as well as counter tops? Hopefully I'm not bothering you with all my questions, I just want to make sure I purchase the correct product.

Thanks again for all of your help!

By Kim (not verified)

Sorry if I wasn't very clear with one of my comments (too many chemicals on the brain??). I don't use the Spring Clean on my windows, I use Sparkle (also a Waxie product).

By jayme

What do you mop the floors with? Especially if you're not using water? Thanks for the great tip list!

By Holly (not verified)

When cleaning a bathroom floor I always vacuum the hair up first (sweeping works too!). The floors in the hotels I worked at were usually linoleum. With a linoleum floor I recommend cleaning the floor as if it were a bathroom counter, on your hands and knees with a dry rag and a bottle of disinfectant. OR, if you prefer to stay on your feet use a microfiber 'damp' mop and lightly spray the mop cloth with your mild disinfectant.

The floors in my house are bamboo so I mop them with my microfiber mop that has a bit of vinegar/water sprayed on the cloth. I do wipe the floor around the base of the toilet with a disinfectant when cleaning the toilet to kill any 'bad aim' germs.

If you have tile floors, how you clean them will depend on how well they have been kept up. Tile and grout have a tendancy to collect all sorts of yucky stuff that can be difficult to remove. If this is the situation you are in use your strongest cleaner, get on your hands and knees and start scrubbing (hot water may help if the problem is bad). If your tile and grout are relatively clean you will most likely be fine using a microfiber mop with some disinfectant or a special tile floor cleaner.


Rubbermaid Microfiber Damp Mop, 18

By jayme

I am now not positive the place you are getting your information, but great
topic. I needs to spend a while studying much more or figuring out more.

Thank you for wonderful info I was looking for this info for my mission.

What kind of disinfectant spray do you recommend for the bathroom? I am used to using water, but an interested in trying your there a good product that doesn't leave streaks or stickiness when using a dry rag?

By Gina (not verified)

I have mentioned in above comments what types of products I use, I hope those are helpful to you. If you are having problems with your cleaner leaving a sticky residue you are either using too much product or your product is too strong. You want to use a sprayer that can 'mist' the surface not saturate it. If you use enough elbow grease on top of a lightly misted surface you should be able to adequately remove the mess AND the cleaner with a dry rag. Toothpaste and soap scum may require a bit more muscle but shouldn't need more product. The same goes for the streaks. However, if you are still having streak problems try using a bit of window cleaner.

By jayme

Thanks so much for the no water tip. I clean two houses once a week and I hate cleaning up the bathrooms. I'm always going back and making sure I haven't left behind little puddles here and there. There is always so much slop and hair to deal with, and these are CLEAN people. The no water thing makes sense. Thanks a bunch. Your overall tips will hopefully get me in and out of the properties,as it is just a bathrooms, dust and mop job.

By Rebecca (not verified)

How exactly does one mop without water? : ) I always thought "mop" implied a bucket full of water....

By Rachel (not verified)

Once upon a time mopping DID mean a bucket full of water, but not any more! Think of your floor as just another surface to clean. As long as you remove all the hair and spills (like on a counter top) and disinfect the area you are good to go!. I don't even own a mop or a mop bucket, I use a microfiber mop cloth (attached to a stick with velcro) and a spray bottle of cleaner.

By jayme

I prefer to use a damp cleaning rag attached to an old swiffer handle. For cleaning rags, I just cut up a couple of old dingy towels to the approx. size of a swiffer cloth.

By Kailey (not verified)

I'm glad I put off my bathroom cleaning from yesterday until today, I'm going to try out the no water method.
With three small children I'm so used to having to scrub everything with a hot water filled rag to melt it away. Maybe a quick wet scrub then a disinfecting dry one to get the work done on the difficult areas(like toothpaste in the sink O_o)! Thanks for the tips! :)

By Rachel (not verified)

My husband and I are downsizing and moving from a 3000 sq ft home into a 1700 sq ft home. I still work full time and every second of every day counts. It was impossible to keep two floors clean for just two people. Our new home is one floor and with your cleaning schedule, I can't wait to try it.

By Linda Maynard (not verified)

I used to work in housekeeping in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and I never understood why we didn't use water to wipe down the bathrooms. It baffled me, but it really IS a lot easier to not use water anyway! Thanks for the extra tips!

As I age, I'm always looking for helpful hints on making cleaning easier and more efficient. It's simply not how I want to spend my time. So your hints were very helpful and I can really see the value of the no water rule. I have used a spray (no water) for a long time, and I agree it accomplishes what you say. Smells better too.

The only way I would change the routine is to clean areas that are the least likely to be contaminated first. Not sure about the reasoning since I too change clothes (actually heavy paper towels), for each area. But I like to do the sink/counter first, then the shower/tub, then go to the toilet and finish with the floor. Maybe I'm just procrastinating and saving the worst for think? Great notes....appreciate your blog. Just discovered you on Pinterest as well....LOVE your blog decor!!!

I think doing things in the order from least dirty to dirtiest is a great idea! I never thought of that (though I should have...)...thanks for the tip!

I also found this blog via Pinterest. THANK YOU! We just moved this week and I've been trying to figure out a new cleaning schedule for our larger apartment..and we are also getting a dog monday and I am so OCD about dog hair everywhere!

By Ashley (not verified)

Any input on what type of cloth to use to clean the mirrors? I emptied my trash first as you said then I realized I used paper towels for the mirrors and then needed to take those out too. I assume you use something different than paper towels and just wondered what that was!

By Adrian (not verified)

Paper towels are great for cleaning mirrors. However I don't use paper towels because I don't like paying for them. All of my cleaning rags are old torn up bathroom towels. I use to own a window cleaning business and I know that newspaper works well to remove streaks from windows but that always seemed like too much work to deal with.

By jayme

I too spent many years in the restaurant/hotel biz! What we always used to wipe up nasty messes (just as you would a paper towel), clean mirrors, windows, glass, and even chrome fixtures was coffee filters!! They're SO CHEAP and leave NO lint or mess behind!! I still use them only now I use the "green" version and if I'm using an eco- friendly cleaner (like water & vinegar) I can even toss them in the recycle bin!!

By Margi (not verified)

Paper towels are great for cleaning mirrors. However I don't use paper towels because I don't like paying for them. All of my cleaning rags are old torn up bathroom towels. I use to own a window cleaning business and I know that newspaper works well to remove streaks from windows but that always seemed like too much work to deal with.

By jayme


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