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 HIGHLY recommend the Norwex window polishing cloth. This works so awesome for windows and mirrors, along with the antibac cloth, which gets rid of 99.9% of the bacteria. The polishing cloth gives you a streak free shine, and it's so easy, and very green! I am not affiliated with Norwex, nor do I sell it. I just believe in that product!

By Karissa (not verified)

I prefer to use my hubby's old boxer shorts. They don't leave lint and are good for buffing away any streaks...just make sure to wash them lol

By Kailey (not verified)

Do you have any tips for cleaning my husbands beard clippings off if the counter? I'm tired of trying to wipe it all up, or try to wipe it to the floor to sweep it up. Thank you.

By Katie B. (not verified)

My husband doesn't use an electric razor so most of his mess ends up in the sink. I would recommend a few things: first, tell your husband to attempt to stay leaned over the sink and when he is done to wash the sink out. Messes are always easiest to clean up immediately after they happen. You could also try running a lint roller over the majority of it after it dries. With other hard to pick up hairs I typically try to push them into a pile on the counter (wiping them on the floor will add much more time and effort) and then spray them with some cleaner for mositure and wipe them into a rag. The last thing you want to do is try to move the pile around too much. You may need a seperate "hair" rag, just keep it bundled up so the mess doesn't transfer to another part of the house!

By jayme

I agree that he should clean it up himself but if you end up cleaning it up, just hold your wastebasket to the edge of the counter and use a rag to wipe the mess into a little pile and into the wastebasket. Five second solution!

By SJ (not verified)

Have your husband place a towel over the sink, and then shave. After he is done, let him shake the towell outside or into big trashcan.

By Mary (not verified)

wait until they are dry and just vacuum them up. In our buisness I teach all my employee's to vac all hair from tubs, showers, counters, etc (as long as it is dry). Why wipe it up and spread it everywhere if you don't have to.

By heather (not verified)

Quote of the day: Our houses should be junk free for a few hours at least once a week
I'm putting that on my FaceBook, with a link back here of course!

I stumbled across your page via Pinterest. I had my own house cleaning business for several years. I was curious to see what you had to say and see if I was "doing it right" (I don't consider myself a professional by any means, or maybe I just harbor some insecurities). And looky here - I WAS doing it right! Your post just made my day! Thanks for the validation!

By Natalie (not verified)

I'm interested in cleaning with no water for my kitchen tile floor but I feel as if I need to keep rinsing my microfiber rag with hot water to rinse the dirt but then again that would be cleaning with water even though I don't use a bucket of water nor a sponge because I know how disgusting sponges are for bacteria. I mist some disinfectant and wipe but wouldn't I be speading dirt if I didn't rinse???!!!

By Kim (not verified)

Instead of rinsing your microfiber rag when it gets too dirty just start over using a clean microfiber rag. I typically use 3-5 in a day. They are small and washable so it doesn't add much work to just start fresh!

By jayme

Just a question about the order. You say you clean the counter top and fixtures and then the mirrors. Every time I spray the mirrors the spray lands on the countertops and the fixtures. Wouldn't it be better to clean the mirror then the countertops and fixtures?

By Leann (not verified)

As a general rule of thumb you should clean the dirtiest areas of the bathroom first but I wouldn't say it was %100 necessary if you prefer to do the mirrors first. The thing I personally like about cleaning the mirrors last is that I like to clean my sink faucets with window cleaner so after the counter tops are done I go to the mirrors with a clean rag and then quickly wipe down the faucets with the window cleaner rag (to help remove water spots).

By jayme

Just a question about the order. You say you clean the counter top and fixtures and then the mirrors. Every time I spray the mirrors the spray lands on the countertops and the fixtures. Wouldn't it be better to clean the mirror then the countertops and fixtures?

By Leann (not verified)

I keep a container of diaper wipes in each bathroom to quickly whisk away all the stray hairs before I clean the counters. I learned this from Don Aslett. He also sells some effective yet inexpensive disinfectant concentrates. Then for the mirrors, I use the purple microfiber rags from The Flylady. These amazing cloths clean mirrors perfectly, quickly, and without streaks. I actually use them all over the house. They're that good! Just follow her directions and never use fabric softener on them. They make cleaning the bathrooms much faster and easier. And no, I'm not associated with either of them. I'm just a very busy mom. :)

By Lesley (not verified)

I totally agree with you about getting help every other week. I have had a lady come in every two weeks for 10 years now. She is amazing, and makes my life a joy! I am a working mother with two very active children, and I can either spend my weekends cooking, cleaning, and grocery shopping, or I can spend time at games, Girl Scout functions, and plays. I do clean, I do all my own laundry (including ironing), and all of my own cooking (we rarely eat out). But, with that little extra help (for under $60) every two weeks, my life is that much more rewarding.

By Kelli (not verified)

Silly questions, but what type of rags do you use? Papertowels or cloth? If cloth, do you dispose of them or throw them in the washing machine?

By KK (not verified)

I almost NEVER use paper towels. They are too expensive for my taste. Most of my rags are old cut up bathtowels or wash rags that are too stained for me to feel comfortable putting them on my face. I do use some microfiber rags for dusting. I wash a batch of rags every week and some of my rags are 3-5 years old. I think I like them more the older they are.

By jayme

Love your tips!! Do you have any specific suggestions for cleaning a kitchen? I would love to read anything you got!

By Kristie (not verified)

My blog list is pretty full for the next month but I will put Kitchen cleaning tips on the list! I do have a few up my sleave. ;)

By jayme

Great tips! I have to admit, your schedule made me smile - reminded me of the old adage housewives lived by:
Monday: Wash Day
Tuesday: Ironing Day
Wednesday: Sewing Day
Thursday: Market Day
Friday: Cleaning Day
Saturday: Baking Day
Sunday: Day of Rest

I'm off to clean something now.....

By the Bag Lady (not verified)

Just recently, I too have discovered that cleaning goes much easier if not using water. And there aren't any streaks or water spots. I use Method Multi-Purpose Cleaner (lavender scent) and paper towels. I had been using those Lysol cleaning wipes, but realized that it's cheaper to use a spray and paper towels. I will try to use rags and see how that compares, certainly would be even cheaper!

Just wondering how you would recommend cleaning hard wood floors that get lots of traffic and need more than a dry mop treatment. Thanks for your tips!

My entire main floor (about 1500 sq ft) is Bamboo. The pathway from the garage door to the front door through the kitchen gets an enormous amount of traffic. I still clean it the same as everywhere else. Vacuum everything first to remove all loose dirt (my central vac typically does a good job of removing hard dried mud) then spray the floor with a vinegar/water mixture and mop it with a clean, dry microfiber mop. The microfiber mop will begin getting wet and dirty which may result in the dirt being pushed around. When this happens change the mop head and keep going. When my floor is really dirty I will sometimes use 3-5 mop rags on cleaning day.

By jayme

About how many rags do you go through? Does it start streaking when they get saturated with the cleaning product?

By Seberina Thrush (not verified)

I use a lot of rags. When they get so wet with product that you can't tell if you are picking up germs or spreading them around get a new one! Also, I have long hair so my rags tend to get filled up with hair before they have been used too much.

By jayme

Doesn't all that cleaner build-up over time? Also, I have noticed it starts to break-down the finish on my toilet seat. Any suggestions?

By Sherry Hunsaker (not verified)

I have never noticed any type of buildup. In fact using a dry rag should remove the chemicals much better than using a wet rag that will just move them around. You shouldn't need more than a light mist of product.  If you are having problems with the finish on your toilet seat I would try using a more mild chemical. If you aren't cleaning a public restroom you don't need strong products, you are just cleaning up after your own family.

By jayme

Love this post, thankyou. I can actually see me getting through it in a day, too! We have a weekly routine at our place too, with two under three and one more on the way, we need it. Our cleaning day is Thursday - it might be half-Thursday now! Love your ideas, thankyou.

By Hannah (not verified)

What part vinegar and water do you use on your hardwoods when you mop? Do you use this on tile floors in the bathroom too? The majority of my house (kitchen, hallways and living room) are hardwood (not real wood) and my bathrooms are tile and then the bedrooms are carpet....I am out sick from surgery but anxious to try these cleaning tips and can't wait to hear more...especially about cleaning the kitchen. Thanks for the info!

By Jessica Harless (not verified)

I am not to exact when mixing my vinegar and water but it is probably close to 1/3 vinegar to 2/3 water. I don't like when my house smells like vinegar for 3 days so if it smells too strong I add more water. At the same time, if you dont have enough vinegar the water will leave streaks. Play around with it a bit as different floors will need more or less vinegar.

I don't have any tile floors but I don't see why you couldn't use the same solution as with the hard wood. At my motels we use a mild disinfectant on the tile but there we are more concerned with removing bathroom germs.

By jayme

I am intrigued by the idea of using no water, and I'm ALWAYS game for something that makes cleaning quicker and easier. However, I can't help but wonder if it's safe to only wipe disinfectant off with a dry rag. I have a toddler and a small dog and I worry that not rinsing surfaces off with water will expose them to harmful chemicals. I'm probably just being paranoid!

By Tiffany (not verified)

I will still hold to my argument that wiping a disinfectant with a dry rag is CLEANER and removes the chemicals better than using a wet rag. You shouldn't need to use very much product. Also, there are TONS of chemicals that are perfectly safe to use around animals and children (I have 3 kids and 2 dogs). Unless you are using so much disinfectant that the rag quickly becomes saturated there shouldn't be a problem. Remember, you don't need strong chemicals, you are cleaning up after your own family not a truck stop!


By jayme

I love your suggestions...thank you so much for sharing! I am a working mom of 2 with another on the way. The scheduling has always been difficult for me. We are all so tired when we get home there is hardly time for homework, reading and dinner, baths and bed time routines.And the weekends are filled with soccer, church and rest. Any suggestions on a schedule for working moms? Thanks for your thoughts and tips!

By Tiffany (not verified)

 I applaud your ability to be a working mom... I'm not sure I could do it beyond being my own boss. 

Be sure to enlist in some help from your husband, if the income is supplied by two the housework should be as well. Make a schedule WITH him and discuss the items you feel you can improve. 

Remember, there is always a faster and more efficient way to do things so try new routines until you find the one that works the best. 

You may have to reevalutate your schedule. If there is something that is really getting in the way consider removing it, even for a short time. Prioritize everything from the meals to the extra activities to the tv shows. 

Keep in touch for more information on this topic soon but for now read my post on "school is in session". 

Good Luck!

By jayme

I find that my kids old burp cloths make wonderful cleaning rags. They are durable, washable and super absorbent. My kids are now 9 and 7 years old and so they have seen a lot of years and still hold up.

By Melissa (not verified)

 I couldn't agree more!!! I love to use cloth diapers for just about everything. I know most people wil say that disposable diapers were the greatest invention (and perhaps they are for their given purpose) but cloth diapers can be used for just about EVERYTHING!

By jayme

I really enjoyed your blog and I think I will follow you. You sense of humor and logic are both spot on!

I noticed you mentioned you get all your products through commercial channels. I work in a small company that decided to hire someone on to clean vs. hiring a company in order to reduce the cost. I have been managing her, and the owners have asked me to work towards sending her out to clean as a side business. I have been wanting to find commercial products, but have been out of ideas as far as where to start. I was wondering if you had any advice you could share with me, or some referrals for where to buy. That would be MUCH appreciated! :)

By Monique Johnson (not verified)

One of the great things about buying cleaning products from a commercial distributer is that they are very good at giving advice and suggestions on what products to use for different purposes. Back when I had a career in Hotel management I dealt mostly with Ecolab, Waxie and Hillyard. To be honest I never felt over biased towards one companies products, I typically bought from the sales rep that was the easiest to deal with and provided me with the best prices and customer service. If you are just beginning to develop a relationship with one of these compaines call to talk to their nearest representative and get price information on a variety of different products and brands. Then get information on shipping costs, delevery schedules, and price minimums. My bet is your boss will be very interested in low product costs and low shipping costs whereas you will be more interested in delievery schedules. Find a company that will work well with what you need. Ask your sales rep A LOT of questions about product value (price vs quantity) and product uses then just start trying things out to see what works best for what you are doing.

By jayme

I love the work your way out of a room and dry cloth cleaning is so smart. I was clicking on the link and awhile ago it worked and now it does not.
Are you having the same problem?

By Shelly (not verified)

I'm not sure which product you are looking for but the link you posted worked for me...

By jayme

I just started cleaning houses today to earn some money. The lady made a BIG deal out of wiping down her showers so I started with my vacuum and did all the baseboards, all the shelving, the windowsill, and the floor. I also vacuumed the large sunken tub because it was dusty--she can't use it at all. Then I cleaned the toilet--Lysol wipes over the entire outside plus the seat, then dumped cleaner inside and scrubbed with brush. THen the tub and the shower I cleaned with a bucket of hot water and cleaner--then squee-geed it, then wiped it all down with a chamois cloth because she had made such a big deal out of wiping it down. This meant I touched the tub and the shower stall three separate times!!! Plus there was another shower stall in the second bathroom. Again touched three separate times!

I am so totally changing to spray and a dry cloth--the dollar stores sell microfiber cloths and I am stocking up! The two bathrooms took me nearly an hour and a half today to do it her way--I think I would have been faster doing it without all the wiping-down but that's what she wanted. Next time--spray and a cloth, same with the floor. I wiped down both baths and the kitchen on my hands and knees--no thanks!!!

I ALSO found you via Pinterest, and I love your ideas! Just wanted to say thank you as I almost feel like I need a refresher course on how to be efficient. I have a 2 year old and we just actually got rid of our "help" as in this economy, we had to cut somehting and she ended up being the first to go... =0( I'll be using some of your no water tips this weekend to see how it goes!

By Bridgette (not verified)

How many clean, dry rags are used total in one day? It seems that every surface cleaned uses a new rag. Do I understand correctly that you only clean 1 day a week...Friday? Thanks!

By Sara (not verified)

I use a lot of rags! Not necessarily one per surface but close to it. Basically, the toilet and the floor around the toilet get their own rag, the tub and shower get their own rag, and the sink and counter top get their own rag, etc.

I do only clean once a week (Tuesdays for me!). Picking up and putting away is a constant but actually cleaning with rags and chemicals = once a week!

By jayme


By Sara (not verified)

Just cleaned your way with no water and rags! But now, I have hair filled, solution soaked, and germie rags. How do you clean your rags to use for your next cleaning day? Do you just throw them in the wash as their own load with hot water and detergent? I know some people soak their cleaning rags in a bucket with bleach before they take a trip to the wash. Just curious about your routine!

By Liz (not verified)

Yes, I let my washer do the work with the rags. I have a designated laundry basket in my laundry room for cleaning rags so they all stay together (hair, grime and all) then they go in the laundry once a week. Because they are extra disgusting I typically put them on a prewash cycle and an extra rinse cycle.

By jayme

How do you get the rag you use inside the toilet clean. ? I always use an old washcloth that I don't want anymore , and the last step is to throw the rag away.

By Linda (not verified)

I'm fascinated by this whole no water cleaning idea, my only concern is cleaner residue left on surfaces, especially the bath tub. I have babies and toddlers and I worry that without rinsing the tub the next time I fill it for their bath they'll be sitting in water with cleanser in it. Would you recommend rinsing with babies or does the dry rag really get it all off?

By Amanda (not verified)


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