Thrill of Living

A lifestyle blog from Canada's West coast

Tag: home

Insider secrets for cleaning like a house cleaner || part one: get on your merry way

For much of my twenties, I devoted myself to the development of what for me was an unlikely skill set – house cleaning. It was unlikely, because when I think back to how I kept my bedroom as a teenager, it’s disturbing.  I can still see the piles of clothes on the floor and furniture, thick dust on my dresser and mirrors, dead flies on the windowsills… and all this in an otherwise very lovely and unique room carefully crafted and designed by my wonderful parents.   I know it drove my parents crazy, especially since at the time they were full swing into building their dream home and had made sacrifices so that my sister and I could have finished bedrooms before other areas of the home were tackled.  I doubt they ever pictured the beautiful room they created for me to be such a ‘disaster’ – words frequently spouted from my mothers lips.

Thinking back to the days of the endless disaster, I have to thank my past self for being so naive of my obvious lack of innate organizational and cleaning abilities that I actually applied for a housekeeping position with the Snow Valley Motel in Fernie, BC.

Motels tend to get a bad rap.  Generally perceived as truck stops in the middle of nowhere – accommodation where nothing worth mentioning goes on (or in my families case, a place you can check-in near the middle of the night AND sneak your two dogs in, too.)  Yes, dingy, outdated, and sketchy…’clean’ is not a word you would use to describe a motel.

The Snow Valley Motel was different.   The owners of this establishment had been raised in the hospitality industry and through their combined experience they developed what I still consider to be very high standards for what constituted cleanliness AND how fast that cleanliness could be achieved.  Tending towards eager-to-please, I did my best to make them happy.  Their constant corrections annoyed me, and hurt a bit too (I’m soft in the middle).  In the end though, I learned some valuable lessons.  First – how to take criticism while secretly having a hissy fit behind a smile.  I learned that details matter they shape the impression people have when they first walk into a space.  For example, I learned to make a faucet gleam from all sides, and how to fold a blanket in a neat little parcel every time.  I learned that the edge of picture frames must be parallel with the ceiling.  Finally, I learned to keep moving and make every movement count – no running back and forth.   No wasted time and no wasted effort.

Keen to move on to the big city of Calgary after high school, I only worked at the motel for about 3 months. It turned out to be only the very beginning of almost a decade of working in the industry though!  I worked in a high-end hotel, for Merry Maids and other cleaning companies and finally started my own residential cleaning business, Clean Earth Housecleaning.  It helped me pay for university, learn to navigate through a few different cities, introduced me to some truly wonderful people, and even kept me fit too!  Though I don’t work in the cleaning industry anymore, I am very thankful for having these experiences that I still draw from in my daily life.

Now, I’m not suggesting everyone  quit their job and become a house cleaner.  Cleaning roughly 1000 toilets in a year is something I wouldn’t push on anyone!  Like it or hate it though, at some point (and generally more often than we would like), everyone needs to clean their space.

Years later I’m still passionate about cleaning – cleaning quickly and easily, and specifically ‘green’ cleaning, which uses products and methods that keep the health of yourself and the planet in mind.  I thought it would be fun to share some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned through my experiences here on the Thrill-of-Living blog.

To start off, here are five principles of cleaning I’ve learned over the years to keep in mind the next time you pull out your cleaning supplies. Whether the goal is to make your home gleam from every corner or to simply give the appearance of clean,  these tips are a great start to helping you make your cleaning routine more efficient.

1) Start and finish each room.  Instead of tackling the whole house at once, work your way through it by starting and finishing each room as you go.  As a rule, trained house cleaners start at the top and back of the home and literally work their way room by room all the way out the front door.  That way time isn’t wasted racing from one floor to another and dirt isn’t tracked back over somewhere that’s already been cleaned.  Remember, what is means to ‘finish’ a room is defined by you – priorities are personal and will change depending on your needs/goals for cleaning.

2)  Make sure you have everything you’ll need to finish the job when you start it.  For example, if you’re cleaning a bedroom/living room/office, etc., it’s a good idea to have a bag with you to collect garbage and/or recycling.  You’d also need damp cloth (like this!), a nice, natural all purpose cleaner, a dry cloth, vacuum, damp mop (for hard surface floors), and maybe a feather duster.  A cleaning apron like the one linked here is a HUGE help to increasing your efficiency.

3)  Work from top to bottom.  This is common sense and it’s important, especially if you’re going for a deeper clean (dusting cobwebs, wiping door/window frames, etc.) as all those little (or not so little) bits of dust are going to make their way down from the places they’ve been hiding.  For me though, it takes a conscious effort to go in this order – I always want to go for what’s at eye level first.

4)  Work from left to right, starting from the door you enter.  For example, wipe the door frame, light switch, then baseboard.  You can also do multiple passes around the room all high, all middle, all low, vacuum, wash floor, then go!

5) Pay attention and stay focused.  This is probably the most beneficial thing you can do to increase your cleaning efficiency.     I think everyone enjoys turning up the tunes and singing their way through their cleaning chores (I definitely do) but know you’ll likely be trading some speed for your rendition of Shania’s ‘Man, I Feel Like a Woman.’  For me, most of the time it’s a worthwhile tradeoff 🙂

Next week I’ll be posting about microfiber cloths (a total game changer in the cleaning business) – how to use them, what they’re for, and the ones I recommend.

Cheers to (pre)spring cleaning!


Clean like a house cleaner. Tips and tricks for cleaning smarter, faster and greener.

A throwback to dorkier days when I posed with vacuum cleaners and our cat Trixie  tried her hand at photo bombing.

8 tips for surviving a renovation with your sanity intact

We are currently in the middle of the largest, most life-disrupting renovation yet – our kitchen!  Living without a kitchen kind of sucks, and we’ve been living without one for over two months now. The whole house is turned upside down.  Our fridge is in our second room, along with the stack of drawers we removed from the demolished cupboards, and multiple Rubbermaid bins filled with dried foods and pots and pans.  I’ve replaced books on our bookshelves with dishes for easy access, but they’re frequently covered in a thick layer of dust.  Thank goodness we found a two burner electric element on Used Victoria or we’d be in deep trouble!

Of course I’m not complaining – I know we’re so fortunate to be able to tackle a project like this… and it’s going to be amazing to have a clean and functional space we’ll love to use for years to come in the not-too-distant future!  And task lighting!  I can hardly wait.

This project has been particularly challenging – the mess, the scope, the joys of running between three rooms to create a meal – but through it and the other projects we’ve worked on, I’ve learned a few things that stop me from losing my mind while living in chaos.  Here are my top 8 tips for surviving a renovation while keeping at least some sanity intact.

1. Buy a good mask

Totally crucial, please get one before you begin!  I use this respirator-style mask which is rated for asbestos and lead. It lets me breathe easy knowing that I’m not totally endangering myself*, and it lets me breathe without fogging up my glasses.  Oh, puns.

*please hire a professional for asbestos removal and have the material you’re demo-ing tested for asbestos before you begin.

2. And… a pair of work gloves 

It’s the cheapest path to feeling invincible! Plus they help keep your hands from getting destroyed.  At around $5 a pair, you can buy yourself a new set when they get gross (like after you clean up rat poo from your crawl space.)

3.  Downgrade your old favourites to your work clothes pile and invest in cover-alls

  • A toque.  A ‘work’ toque saves the (hair) day when you’re making a renovation-sized mess.  Your shower drain will thank you!
  • A pair of pants that you like, and fit well.  One sad day my favourite pair of cords got some bleach on them at work.  Even though they aren’t ‘fit’ for the office or much else, they’re still a well-fitting, comfortable pant that I enjoy putting on.  Turns out it’s made every renovation day since a little more enjoyable.
  • Cover-alls.  Want to feel like a super-hero? Wear cover-alls.  They’re a girl-going-in-a-crawl space’s best friend.

4.  Allow yourself a reason to stop working

Just because you’re renovating doesn’t mean you need to decline every invitation on the horizon.  Is your friend having a birthday party? House-warming?  Don’t say no, say yes!  It’ll give you a reason to shower, eat something and get out of the house  – you’ll be ready to go the next day and you won’t hate your life.

5.  Include take-out in your budget

It doesn’t matter what you’re renovating, you will find yourself starving at the end of the day with no will-power to cook for yourself.  Include take-out in  your budget and you won’t have to feel so guilty about it!

6.  Give attention to your relationship

If you’re doing this project with your boyfriend/partner/spouse/friend/whatever, don’t forget that they’re under pressure, too.  If you’re not careful, renovations can be as destructive on relationships as they are on your house on demo day!   Be aware that your partner likely feels stress for different reasons than you, too.  Talk about it.   If you want to relieve some tension (or stop it from building in the first place), say thank you frequently – show you appreciate the work they’re doing.  Lastly, try not to fall into ‘gender’ specific tasks – do what you can to keep the workload even.

7.  Don’t stop cleaning just because it’s going to get messy again

Throughout this renovation we’ve had a few friends and family come to visit which has forced us to clean the bathroom and other rooms throughout the renovation.  You wouldn’t believe how good it feels to have a clean(ish) house even if it is short-lived.  It’s definitely a sanity booster – kind of like how you feel after showering when you’ve been at a music festival for a few days… so fresh!

8.  Have a clear vision of what it’s going to be like AFTER the renovations.  This will keep you motivated better than anything else!

8 tips for surviving a renovation with your sanity still intact | Thrill of Living - |

Halli, amid the kitchen floor refinishing fun.

© 2018 Thrill of Living

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑