If anyone knows a thing or two about quick-yet-efficient cleaning, it's hotel maids. They have tons of practice — and loads of tips that can help you at home. Here, a few you should check out (pun intended!).
1. They clear the clutter first.
Maria Stickney, the Housekeeping Manager at the Radisson Blu Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, likes to clear the clutter out of a room, so she can start with a blank slate. She empties the trash, removes the linens, towels, and anything else left behind. In the bathroom, she clears the towels, bathmats, bottles, and everything on the counters or toilet tank. "This removes the temptation of just wiping around these items or picking them up and immediately placing them back down on a wet surface, which can leave ring marks," she says.
2. They prefer microfiber cloths — but reach for clever substitutes in a pinch.
The secret to efficient dusting is a proper cleaning cloth. "Microfiber is the best," says Agustin Canongo, the Director of Housekeeping at Loews Vanderbilt Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. "If you don't have one, use a rag that's 100% cotton — like a (clean) cloth diaper, an old pillowcase or an old T-shirt — and dampen it slightly." Be sure to avoid using terrycloth towels or polyester — they can actually create more dust.
3. They know the trick to a quickly made bed is in the tags.
Making a bed that's larger than a twin can be time-consuming: No matter which corner you start with, you almost always realize you put the long end of a fitted sheet on the short end of the mattress. A hint: "Tags always go on the bottom," says Emma Anderson, Best Western's 2014 Housekeeper of the Year. "With king sheets, the tags are on the left. With queen sheets, they're on the right." Anderson also suggests marking the inside seams with a fabric marker to denote right or left corners.
4. They give drapes a good whack in between deep cleanings.
Dust particles will only continue to circulate around the room over time. "The best way to dust drapes is to whack them with a hand towel," Stickney says. Turns out, a towel this size is heavy enough to make a good impact, but light enough that your arm won't tire. What about the drape attachment on your vacuum? "It doesn't get all the nook and crannies like a towel," Stickney explains. Knock out all the dust onto the floor and then vacuum it up.
5. They vacuum before they mop.
Always vacuum — or sweep — before you mop. "You do not want wet hair on your floor — it can be difficult to remove," Stickney says. When it's time to mop, start from the far corner and make your way to the door.
6. They do the bathrooms last.
"It's best to start in the bedroom (rather than the bathroom) to minimize bacterial transfer," Stickney says.
7. They know that cleaning products take time to really work.
Let your cleaners do the work for you. "Spray the shower walls and the toilet and leave them to do their job for several minutes," Stickney says. Use that time to clean the mirrors, windows, medicine cabinet, and whatever else is in the room. "Then go back and wash off the surfaces, using way less elbow grease."
8. They vacuum the opposite way that you've been taught.
Your mom may have taught you to start at the furthest part of the room and vacuum yourself out, but Anderson has a different method: "Vacuum into the room over the high-traffic areas and then vacuum yourself out, so you hit the most walked-on spots twice.
9. Their favorite cleaner is probably in your pantry.
"You'd think that we'd have some crazy secret weapon up our sleeves, but the best thing we have is white vinegar and water," says Canongo. "It cleans well and even clears cloudiness from residue left behind by other cleaners." Fill a spray bottle with one-part vinegar, three parts water.
10. They always have a toothbrush on hand.
You certainly don't need to clean every inch of your house with a fine-tooth comb, but Stickney does support the use of toothbrush once in a while. "I have several small brushes to get into those tiny cracks in the bathroom," she says. "Around the bottom screws of a toilet are the hardest parts to get."
11. They corral their tools.
Housekeepers keep everything they could possibly need on their handy carts. Take a cue from them and make yourself a mini version: Fill a plastic bin or bucket with all of your cleaning supplies, rags and brushes. "A caddie keeps everything together, cutting down the amount of time it takes to get the job done," says Anderson. Keep it in the laundry room and grab it when you need it.