There's a lot of truth to that age-old saying: "Cleanliness is next to godliness." Even the most optimistic among us can find it difficult to keep their spirits up in a dirty surrounding. Bad sights and bad smells can quickly bring you down and keep you there, not to mention making your dearest friends unwilling to visit you, even briefly.
If you're feeling your home isn't as clean as it could be – or if friends and family left negative reviews of your living conditions (tsk, tsk) – it's high time you put on those rubber gloves, grab those cleaning accessories and get to work.
Keeping your whole house clean – a habit
When making the choice to live in a clean environment, it's important to move away from a reactive mindset to a proactive one. What this means is that you won't wait for filth and grime to accumulate to a point where you have no choice but to scrub it off. Instead, you will make efforts to clean regularly, even when it seems there's no good reason to.
What you need to realize is that bacteria – the thing you're trying to rid your home of – is invisible. As they say, a door handle is much more bacteria-infested than a toilet seat. While it might seem that this information only serves to give you obsessive-compulsive disorder, it's meant to illustrate that we aren't good judges of what's clean and what isn't.
Things to do on a regular basis and the most critical areas in one's home
While it's true that more traffic means more cleaning, you should still clean even the parts of your home that you rarely go to. Let's break the home into parts and outline the best cleaning practices for each.
Bathroom: The bathroom has, time and again, earned its reputation as the most critical area to clean. The hazards are plenty – the toilet and the drain are connected to a sewer, which generally isn't a very happy place. To avoid going into too many disgusting details, let's just note that bacteria have a knack for hanging around the air of a bathroom. Therefore, aim to scrub every horizontal surface in the bathroom with an antibacterial agent somewhat regularly – this includes the toilet's inside and outside, the bathroom sink, the bathtub/shower cabin and the floor. You might also want to go over the tiles on the walls every now and then.
Living room/your room/study: These are the rooms that tend to see the most traffic and therefore need the most attention. The dirt and bacteria from shoes will accumulate over time, the dropped pieces of food can rot and attract all sorts of unwanted life forms, and then there are pets – if you own a cat or dog, you'll need to vacuum even more often than you otherwise would, as well as keeping an eye for dirty paws on your surfaces.
Kitchen: The kitchen might be the most important room in the house in terms of having to keep it clean, considering that's where we prepare our food, eat it, and sometimes store it as well. It's not just that, however – any sort of nutrition left out in the open can attract anything from ants to roaches or even rats. Before leaving the kitchen, make sure any food is covered and sealed – also, be particularly vigilant when checking whether you spilled something. Scrub your eating utensils and dishware thoroughly, and clean the floors regularly for any invisible spills, or ones that lost color over time.
Detergents, cleaners and eco-friendly options
Destroying the bacteria in your home with the most powerful cleaning agent out there is all good and well, but there are downsides. To get the job done, these cleaners need to be extremely powerful – to a point where they can prove harmful to people.
When using antibacterial agents on your home's surfaces, ventilation is key – make sure to open all the windows so that toxic vapors can get out. Be mindful of the room in which you are using the chemical – if it's one you spend a lot of time in, you'll probably have to remove the cleaner from the surface with a mixture of water and soap after about an hour or two, in order to avoid the vapors harming you. If you have children or pets, keep these chemicals out of reach and cordon off the room until the cleaner dries out.
Due to the toxicity of commercial cleaners, many opt for an eco-friendly solution instead. While soap won't always be effective enough, some combination of vinegar, baking soda and isopropyl alcohol will kill most germs you're trying to eliminate without posing a risk to you and others living under your roof.
There are also eco-friendly commercial cleaners made from natural ingredients, like Method, BioKleen, Ecover and so forth. These will not only come without health risks but will also do the job just as well in most situations. However, they can sometimes be difficult to find – availability is why many owners opt for chemical cleaners, despite the dangers involved.