A Clean House to Start the New Year

Welcome to the New Year! I hope you had a restful holiday season and were able to spend your precious time visiting with friends and family. I know I had a busy schedule and we didn’t even travel out of town over the holidays! Now, I will be perfectly honest (if not here, then where???) but I did not worry too much about how clean my house was over the holidays. Yes, I did my normal cleaning and wipe-downs as the mood struck me, but there really wasn’t any time for a proper deep clean. Besides, the kids were home from College during their Thanksgiving Breaks and then again for the December holidays. So the house was full of life (in the afternoons and late into the night, of course, they needed their morning rest) and who wants to think about cleaning a house then? My time was better spent hanging out with my family and from time to time making fun messes.

The Big Clean - Garies Girl

Well, now the time has come to do that Big Clean. It is the beginning of a new year and the beginning(ish) of a new month, so it is now or never. Both kids returned to college and now I have the whole house to myself to get things done! And bonus – I don’t have to be worried about making a mess while cleaning up. That is the way you do it too, right?

A Cleaning Schedule

I’m a schedule-type of person. I love them!!! I need a schedule and a routine to function properly. Not sure if I was always this way, but this is what my family deals with now.

As for the cleaning schedule, since I do have a full-time job and other responsibilities, I created a 7-day schedule, so that I can get to the whole house by focusing on specific areas for a couple of hours each day. I also planned the schedule so that I started with the top floor and worked my way down to the main floor and then the basement, working from the outside rooms in.

The Big Clean - Garies Girl

Today I’m going to share with you how I completed the Big Clean and how this schedule worked out for me. If you are more interested in some Cleaning Tips and Tricks, I have all of that in a separate post for you.

Ready for The Big Clean? Take a seat, and put up your feet, this is going to take a while!

The Big Clean – Day 1

Two Bedrooms: It was time to clean everything in these bedrooms. From top to bottom – ceiling fan to windows to doors to the floor – everything got a proper clean. I moved nightstands, and other furniture and also wiped down walls (by the way, why does dog hair stick to my walls?), baseboards, doors, doorknobs and light switches. I removed all the items from shelves and desks and dusted the surfaces before I wiped them down. Before putting anything back onto the shelves, I gave the individual items a wipe-down as well.

All bedding went through the wash, including blankets, comforters and even the little accent pillows. I also washed the curtains and cleaned the windows to make sure the whole room starts the new year off sparkling clean.

The Big Clean - Garies Girl

After everything was cleaned, it was time to vacuum the carpets. We do have two cats and a large dog, so I try to be very thorough to make sure I get as much of the pet dander and dust vacuumed up every time. I made multiple passes and used the crevice tool to get right up to the baseboards. I will come back to both bedrooms and wash the carpets at the beginning of February.

While cleaning, I also managed the laundry part of it. Loads had to be switched from the washer to the dryer as they finished. I hung bigger items over the upstairs railing until I could put them back on beds or fold them and pack them away. Before making the beds, I vacuumed the mattresses and rotated them (or flipped them, depending on the type).

The Big Clean - Garies Girl

End of Day 1 Summary: I only managed the two bedrooms! I started to feel overwhelmed halfway through the second bedroom. Or maybe I ran out of steam… Nothing was over-the-top dirty, but it was harder work than I anticipated. I think adding in cleaning the windows and doing all the laundry at the same time, was what made it tough. And I ran out of cleaning hours. Everything took longer than I anticipated. So the guest bathroom came off the schedule for the day. The last load of laundry was still going when it was bedtime for me.

The Big Clean – Day 2

Main Bedroom: Here too I started with dusting the ceiling and ceiling fan, and worked my way down. Our Great Dane sleeps in our bedroom and I normally have to sweep the floor about two to three times a week. How he has any hair left on his body is beyond me… For the Big Clean, I moved Ben’s bed out of the way. In fact, I actually carried it downstairs and all the way outside to be cleaned separately. I also moved our nightstands and even the big cabinet we have in our room to clean around and underneath it. I obviously haven’t done this in a while, since we had quite a collection of items under there… We have hardwood floors in our main bedroom, but I still vacuumed them before I used my Swiffer Wet Jet mop.

The Big Clean - Garies Girl

I did not have to change the bedding, since I did that the previous week. I also didn’t clean inside our walk-in closets. But I did wash the curtains – good grief they were dusty – and properly cleaned the wooden blinds.

By the time I was done with the main bedroom, I decided to adjust my schedule again. Instead of tackling the bathrooms, I moved on to my office, the laundry room and the upstairs hallway. Not the smartest of choices, since the laundry room was constantly in use and I ended up cleaning that and the hallway twice.

The Big Clean - Garies Girl

Office: My office/writing space/hobby area has a lot of furniture in it, so it is also a beast to clean. Here too I dusted top to bottom, including the window blinds and ceiling fan. I cleared my shelves for a proper dusting and wipe down, before repacking my photo frames and knickknacks. I moved the desk items to one side to clean half of the surface, and then I moved them to the other side to clean the other half. Screens and laptops got wipe-downs too.

The one cleaning task that was also a bit of an organizational task – and made cleaning this room fun – was emptying my bookshelves. I took out all the books, looked through and removed ones that needed new homes, and then reorganized the remaining books and knickknacks. A big job by itself, but a fun one.

As with the bedrooms, I vacuumed the carpet as the final task. No curtains here, so there was nothing to take down, wash and rehang!

The Big Clean - Garies Girl

Laundry Room: Confession time: I don’t nearly clean my laundry room often enough! Let’s face it, this space creates a lot of dust. I see clouds of it when I clean the dryer lint trap and can’t keep some from falling into the space between the dryer and the wall.

For my deep clean, I removed all items from the shelves and dusted them starting at the ceiling, all the way down. I can only move my dryer, so I moved it just enough to get the vacuum into the tight spaces and vacuum up the extra dust and lint. The shelves got wiped down, as well as all the items that I store on them. I used my damp cloth to wipe down both the washer and dryer, inside and outside.

I got all the way down the walls to the floor when I realized I’m completely out of mop solution. I guess I’ll get to the floors after I go shopping.

The Big Clean - Garies Girl

Hallway and Stairs: This area is easier since I only have one piece of furniture – a litterbox cabinet – in my upstairs hallway. I dusted, starting with the ceiling and chandelier, again working top to bottom. Since I was working around the cabinet anyway, I just went ahead and cleaned the litterboxes themselves. I then swept the hallway and worked my way down the stairs, making sure to sweep in such a way that the dust and pet hair stayed together on the way down.

The stair runner was a DIY project from a couple of years ago and I’ve noticed that the carpet holds on to pet hair and even intense vacuuming doesn’t always get everything. I figured out a while ago to just use my shoes (!!!) to get all the hair up and to the side so I can sweep it away. Good old rubber-soled shoes do the trick every time.

The Big Clean - Garies Girl

Bonus Kitchen Task: I found myself with extra energy after watching Jeopardy with Pieter, so used the time to clean out the fridge. Tomorrow is our trash collection day, so I like doing this task the night before. I took everything (yes, every single thing) out of our fridge and wiped down the inside with vinegar water. Then I went through all the items discarding things that expired recently, as well as all other random items that accumulated over the holidays. An hour well spent.

End of Day 2 Summary: I didn’t get to the guest bathroom I skipped yesterday, or even to the main bathroom today. I figured it might just be more efficient to clean them both tomorrow. I was tired (not going to lie) and I needed the fun book project in my office to lift my spirits. Normally, I would not recommend adding in an organization project while you are cleaning (too easy to get sidetracked) but hey, Pieter talks about breaking the rules all the time and since this is my own rule, I guess I can make an exception. Of course, with some extra energy later in the evening, I took on a kitchen task to make up for my rule-breaking!!! I am so weird…

The Big Clean – Day 3

Guest Bathroom and Main Bathroom: Before getting started with the cleaning process, I removed all the bathmats and towels for washing. I then dusted around the ceiling and air vents and wiped down all the walls. I always start with the toilets – simply to get that disgusting task out of the way. So after dusting, this was my first task in each bathroom today as well. Then I cleaned the mirrors and countertops. I removed all the extra products from the countertops and stored them below in the cabinets. The guest bathroom closet holds our extra bath and swim towels, additional bathroom products, and some first aid items. I did a quick cleanup of that closet, taking stock of what has been used and needs to be replaced.

There is a tub/shower combination in the guest bathroom that only needed a wipe down. After the small updates we did last year, this room was still fairly clean. The last task in the guest bathroom was to sweep and mop the tile floors. But, since I ran out of mop solution yesterday and haven’t been to the store yet, I decided to wait on this task.

The Big Clean - Garies Girl

Back in the main bathroom, I cleaned everything but our shower. I decided to leave this “fun” little task for the end of the cleaning schedule. And I’ll circle back to the floors once I make that unplanned trip to the store.

The Big Clean - Garies Girl

Since I had some more cleaning time left, I went ahead with curtain washing by gathering all curtains from the main floor and washing them set after set. I have curtains in the dining room, Pieter’s office and our living room. As they came out of the dryer, I immediately put them back on the curtain rods. So much easier than trying to store them somewhere temporarily.

It was time for that shopping run and I was ready to get started on floors when I got back. But, tree services were able to come a day earlier and I spent an hour or so watching them take down a pine tree that was leaning towards our house. It was a nice day for climbing trees (according to the Climber Guy) so I just took time off from cleaning and watched them.

Day 3 Summary: It didn’t feel like I did a lot today, but then again, I had to leave for the store and had some new outside entertainment as a break in routine. Getting most of the bathrooms cleaned was still a big accomplishment and I felt good about my overall cleaning progress so far. Tomorrow will be a big day.

The Big Clean – Day 4

Living Room: I wanted to start in this room before I needed to get to my day job. That way I can get the carpet washed, and it will have a proper chance to dry. So I dusted all the surfaces, working my way down from the ceiling to the baseboards. Then I had to vacuum before I could get to the fun activity of washing the carpet. To save some time, I moved all the smaller pieces of furniture out of the room and pushed the bigger pieces all the way against the walls. This way I can get to all the “trouble spots” of the carpet.

Back Upstairs: With the carpet, all washed and busy drying, I went back upstairs to sweep all the upstairs rooms (except the bedrooms and my office). Then I mopped all the floors all at once. So much for finishing one room at a time… I mopped myself into a corner, okay, into my office, and got started with my work day and even a bit of writing.

Pieter’s Office: I don’t like messing with his desk, so I only dusted the surface. The other smaller pieces of furniture got moved out of the way (well, into the foyer and dining room, actually). Again I dusted working my way down, but I avoided the area around the clean curtains (since I dusted that while I washed the curtains the other day). I washed the windows (inside and outside where I could reach) and then did some more vacuuming and carpet washing. I’m sure you get my routine by now. While that carpet dried, I moved on to the foyer.

The Big Clean - Garies Girl

The Foyer: I already did a good clean when I removed all of my Christmas decorations – all those little bits of the fake tree were everywhere. I dusted again then wiped down all the furniture, including the pieces from Pieter’s office. I will work on the floors once the furniture is moved back.

The Big Clean - Garies Girl

Living Room – Again: I was finally ready to finish this room. The carpet was now dry, so the furniture in the kitchen could be moved back. But before I did that, I wiped all of them down and vacuumed all the upholstered pieces. I have slipcovers on the couch but will wash them in the morning. I did get all of the blankets and pillow covers off and those went into the wash. Of course, I realized that I never cleaned the fireplace (and that is such a dusty job), but I think we will use it again tomorrow if I can trust the weather predictions, so I will let that slide.

Once all the furniture was back in position, I got my spray bottle out and cleaned the windows (another item I forgot to clean before rehanging the curtains).

The Big Clean - Garies Girl

Day 4 Summary: In my haste to get the carpet washed and have enough drying time, I forgot to clean the fireplace and wash the windows. Not the worse mistake, but I know both of those activities create a little bit of dust and dirt. I don’t think it was too crazy to skip the fireplace though. It is winter and we do use it now. I will make sure it gets a proper clean at the start of Spring. I worked in a lot of rooms (and dirtied others in the process), but this was the only way I could work in washing the carpets.

The Big Clean – Day 5

Dining Room: I moved all of the chairs to Pieter’s office so I can easily clean this room. We only have a dining table and chairs here, so not much furniture to move. I do have a lot of plants that live here, and they needed to be picked up and moved out of the way for deep cleaning.

Like before, I started dusting at the top and worked my way down the walls to the baseboards. I cleaned the windows and baseboards. The curtains were washed on Day 3, so I just worked carefully around them. All that was left was the dining table. We have a glass table, so I clean it with Windex after removing the table runner (also for washing) and table decorations. Once all the surfaces were cleaned, I was able to do a final sweep and mopped the floor. While the floor dried, I wiped down all of the chairs and will move them back later.

The Big Clean - Garies Girl

Kitchen: Now this room gets used the most, I would say. So I do clean it a lot. For the deep clean, I started at the top and dusted all surfaces. I unpacked all the items from my two glass front cabinets and cleaned the glass inside and outside. Both cabinets got wiped down inside and outside. Then I moved on to the countertop removing everything so I could clean and wipe it all at once. On the other side of the kitchen, I cleaned the microwave and the stovetop and those countertops.

Since I’ve put some kitchen items aside for storage already, I just went ahead and reviewed the rest of the cabinets and drawers and took out some more duplicates and unused items to take down to the basement. Who needs four whisks, for goodness sake?

I cleaned the inside of the stove last month and the inside of the fridge earlier this week, so the outsides of these appliances just needed a good wipe-down.

Kitchen cabinets can get sticky over time, and mine is no exception. I used a mild mixture of dish soap and water and wipe them all down, top to bottom. I did not go through the inside of the pantry as part of my deep cleaning project. To me, that falls under the Organization/Declutter category and I will save this fun little project for later in the month. For now, I just removed the items from the floor of the pantry, so I could sweep and mop properly. Some people have been dropping M&M’s and not picking them up – so far I’ve found four including the red one under the recliner in the living room!

My last task in this room was washing the windows. Didn’t take too long at all and really makes a room look and feel clean.

Half Bath: A small room to clean, but it does have a toilet which I don’t particularly enjoy cleaning. But with the end in sight, I powered through and got it all done. Again, I dusted top to bottom and gave everything, including the walls, a good wipe-down.

The Big Clean - Garies Girl

All furniture was now back in the rooms they belong in, so I swept and mopped all the floors, starting with the foyer, then the dining room, the half bath and the kitchen. Once everything was dry, I could put back the items that live on the floor of my pantry. I was finally done with the main floor of the house.

Day 5 Summary: It feels like I did a lot today, but I had to really push myself to finish these areas. I really wanted the whole house to feel clean all at once and I needed these rooms to shine. My room-by-room plan didn’t work out, but it is easier to sweep all floors at the same time, and to mop them all at once. And no! We did not cook dinner tonight. We got takeout and ate out of the containers (like teenagers). I wanted to hold onto that clean kitchen a little while longer…

The Big Clean – Day 6

Guest Room: This was only used a couple of nights over the holidays, so I started here. I removed all bedding and started dusting at the top moving downward. By now the routine I follow for bedrooms is old news, just know that I got it all done. I made the bed with fresh linens, vacuumed and moved on to the living area.

The Big Clean - Garies Girl

Living Room: Before I could get to cleaning, I had to move my bins of Christmas decorations into the storage room. I had help bringing them downstairs this year but had to complete that last step myself and have been putting it off. Once that was done, I could get to cleaning. Again I started at the top to dust and worked my way down the walls. All surfaces got a wipe-down. I removed all the couch cushions and vacuumed under them, before vacuuming the carpet. Since we don’t use this area very often I did not need to wash the carpets here.

The Big Clean - Garies Girl

Main Bathroom – Shower: Remember this task that wasn’t completed earlier? Well, it was finally time to get to this little gem. I find it is easier to clean the shower while I’m using it, so to prep, I added some tile cleaning solution to all the trouble spots. I gave it some time to work before I got in the shower and started scrubbing the tile. I used both a regular scrub brush and an old toothbrush to get into the tighter spots. Once the tilework was clean and rinsed, I could clean the glass. I keep a squeegee in my shower so I can clean off the water after each shower. This helps keep the glass cleaner for longer.

Day 6 Summary: The basement isn’t that big, but I wanted to split the tasks up over two days. Mostly because of the bar area. So many individual items here to move out of the way… I didn’t spend too much time and energy here. My big cleaning task for the day was our shower.

The Big Clean – Day 7

Bar Area: Pretty much a second kitchen, just with more stuff, as you can imagine. I had to remove all items from the shelves to clean those first, then wipe down all the bottles and decorations before putting them back. Next was the counter, where we keep the glasses. All had to be moved to the side so I could clean and then moved back into place. A lot of work.

The Big Clean - Garies Girl

Bathroom: Finally time for my last room in the basement – and the whole house. We haven’t had house guests in a while (and that is when I do a deep clean. Before they arrive of course). Another toilet here, so I cleaned it first to get it over with. All the other areas in here just got a quick wipe-down before I could sweep and mop the floor.

The Big Clean - Garies Girl

Luckily my vacuum cleaner was still in the basement since I now realized I would have to vacuum the carpeted stairs before I can truly be done with this deep clean. I worked my way up from the bottom step so that when I get to the top, the vacuum cleaner would be on the main floor for cleaning before I could put it away.

Project Summary: Yes, I see this as a project. And it was a BIG project. The schedule was the biggest help for me. I had seven days set aside for cleaning and it took all of that to get it done. I did not keep to my plan of starting and finishing a room at a time. It worked for bedrooms, but common tasks in connected areas were done at once. Knowing what makes my house feel dirty was the second biggest plus. Personally, it is dust and pet hair, but it could be different for you. Baseboards, light switches and air vents were also on that list, so I cleaned them all. I did a final walk-through with my cleaning wipes and wiped down all those items.

Hey, you made it through my longest blog post ever! Wow! Since you are obviously an invested reader, I have a handy link here to my Cleaning Tips post. As always, let me know what you think in the comments section and scroll down for the “Follow” button to follow this blog!

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