If you’ve been living at home up until now, you’ve probably been able to access all your parents’ cleaning gear and products. And if you’ve hired a professional cleaner, pros often have their own gear. But now you’re on your own – either in your own place or having to do without the pro cleaner.
What do you need?
Cleaning gear falls into two basic categories, permanent and consumable. Here’s the top ten of basic cleaning gear from both categories that you will need if you’re starting from scratch.
1. A vacuum cleaner. This can be used for lino, wood, parquet and carpet, as well as for upholstery and curtains. A must for keeping carpets flea-free. Check what happens to the dust – one with a reusable bag is often better value for money. Ones that deal with liquid are handy but not essential.
2. A bucket. You will use this for any liquid Cleaning product involved in washing floors, washing windows, washing cars and cleaning up disgusting stuff (e.g. blood). You will also use it for soaking very filthy laundry items, hand-washing, building sandcastles at the beach, keeping Christmas trees, throwing water to extinguish fires or break up dog fights, and being sick in. Every home must have one!
3. A heavy-duty scrubbing brush. One is the bare essential, but having several in different strengths and sizes is also very handy.
4. Rags. These will be used for dusting, shining things and wiping down various surfaces. They can also get in and around tricky places scrubbing brushes can’t go easily.
5. Rubber gloves. These protect your hands from chapping through contact with tough chemicals and from direct contact with disgusting substances. When they get holes in them, cut the cuff bits up for heavy-duty rubber bands.
6. An old towel. For blotting up excess liquid after dousing an area. Also for blotting up spills.
7. A mop. The squeeze-out type is better than the old fashioned type, unless you have a specialised wringer bucket to get the excess water out. Otherwise, you will be left with a puddle after mopping the floor (if this has happened, see item 6 above).
8. A broom. A good stiff one works well for outside areas. For inside areas, the vacuum cleaner will work. For outside, a stiff broom works brilliantly. Also good for getting spiderwebs out of tricky corners.
9. A window squeegee. You can use this for the car or for the house windows to dry the cleaner off. It’s best not to use this on mirrors, however – use a soft lint-free cloth for that, or even old newspaper.
10. Dustpan and brush. For cleaning up small areas of debris and an absolute essential for dealing with broken glass.
1. Dishwashing liquid. Not only is this good for dishes, you can also use the detergent for washing cars, washing floors and washing windows (it will leave streaks, however).
2. A non-scratch scouring product for bathroom surfaces, white-ware and stove tops. You can use a proprietary cleaner or old-fashioned baking soda and elbow grease. Baking soda is best for inside fridges and microwaves, as this is non-toxic. Vinegar also works well inside fridges and microwaves, and gives a very satisfying fizz if you use baking soda first and vinegar second.
3. Disinfectant. You will use this for cleaning the lavatory and anywhere that has been in contact with particularly unhygienic substances. If you have to tackle a particularly foul fridge (I’ve seen some mouldy horrors), disinfectant will be a stronger germ-killer than baking soda – but you may need to rinse it off with plain water afterwards.
4. Chlorine bleach. Can be used in the same way as disinfectant as well as to treat stains in the laundry. Do not use it on coloured surfaces or substances, and never, ever mix it with an ammonia-based product.
5. Window or glass cleaner. This is not so much for windows – you’d use gallons this way – but for mirrors and monitors. Apply with a soft cloth, then remove with newspaper or a soft, lint-free cloth.
6. Toilet bowl Cleaner. The proprietary brands that come with a nozzle that squirts under the seat rim are best.
7. Heavy-duty general cleaning liquid. Ammonia based products that can really bust through deeply ingrained dirt and grime on floors, etc. For safety reasons, never mix with chlorine bleach and always protect your hands with rubber gloves.
8. Furniture polish. You won’t use this all the time, but if you have natural wood furniture, then you will want to buff it up and protect the wood every once in a while.
9. Metal polish. For silver, brassware and the like. Can also be used to shine up belt buckles and the like.
10. Oven cleaner. This is another product you won’t use very frequently, but you will need it every now and again to get rid of burnt-on ick inside the oven. If you have a flat-topped stove where the elements are covered by a glassy surface, this will need its own special cleaners and protectors.