Do you have a few hours to spare, a bucket full of cleaning supplies, and the motivation to make your inner-Monica Gellar proud? If so, now “all” that’s left is figuring out how to tackle the monstrous task of cleaning your entire home from top to bottom. I’ve got the cheat sheet!

Here’s the TL;DR:

The seven-step cleaning process involves decluttering to remove unneeded items. Next, you’ll dust all surfaces (high to low) and vacuum floors and upholstery. You can then work on the kitchen and bathrooms, mopping and spot-cleaning your floors, and last-minute organization and touch-ups.

This back-to-basics 7-step cleaning process in this blog post will teach you how to clean your home like an absolute pro. As a bonus, you’ll also reduce the time you spend wringing out dirty rags and revving up that jet-engine Dyson. So keep reading!

1. Declutter Your Space

I’m kicking this guide off with the task that 58.9% of us consider “overwhelming” but can simultaneously cut household chores by a whopping 40%. But why start with a task as anxiety-inducing as decluttering?

Well, there are a few reasons.

For one, by decluttering early on in the cleaning process, you can limit the amount of dust and allergens in a space, as clutter tends to be a major dust magnet. Returning or chucking these items now leaves you less to clean later. 

Two, it frees up hard surfaces, flooring, and corners for more efficient cleaning in steps two and beyond. For example, you won’t have to pick up piles of junk mail to clean the table beneath or move mounds of laundry to vacuum the entire closet floor.

Exactly what “decluttering” will look like largely depends on the severity of the junk

If you generally return objects to their rightful place, completing this first step could be as simple as bringing a few dishes to the kitchen and putting a book back on the shelf. 

If your clutter is more complex or you’re attempting a house-wide cleaning project, you may be better off with full-blown decluttering. 

example decluttering tasks room-by-room (infographic)

The three-pile method or the KonMari method—to name a few—can help you decide what’s worth keeping. These methods give you less to clean later on and save “future you” the hassle. Of course, the best decluttering solution is the one that works best for you!

2. Dust All Household Surfaces

Now that the most “overwhelming” cleaning task is complete, it’s time to handle the one that 66% of Gen Z and 73% of Boomers purposefully neglect

The motto from this point forward is “Top to bottom, dry to wet.” This logic will give you the upper hand against gravity—consistently cleaning from ceiling to floor. It’ll also help avoid turning fine dust, dirt, and hair into wet clumps.

To dust your household surfaces, you’ll first need an extendable microfiber duster or a standard microfiber cleaning cloth. Traditional feather dusters can work. But they tend to send dust airborne, and microfiber is generally a better material for trapping these particles.

The table below offers a glimpse at 28 of the higher level, shoulder level, and floor level areas of the home that may require some dusting:

areas of the home to dust - low, medium, and high dusting

Dusting will kick up a lot of dirt and allergens. So, open windows, avoid harsh dust sprays, wear a mask, or use a damp microfiber cloth while dusting to limit irritation. This is especially important if you have allergies or other breathing issues.

Also, swap in a fresh, unused microfiber cloth every once in a while.

3. Vacuum the Floors + Furniture

From a full-house dusting, you graduate to the step that 13% of people globally do every day, and 2% of folks confess to doing buck-naked (um). You’ll need a reliable vacuum and compatible crevice, upholstery, and extension tools. 

Remember the motto!

Start by vacuuming all upholstered furniture, working your way down from top to bottom. Don’t forget to vacuum the sides, the back, and in-between cushions. With your furniture now hairless and crumbless, you can reattach that vacuum hose, put the tools away (for now), and switch to the floors.

Use long, slow, and overlapping strokes while vacuuming your carpet and floors. This technique will help you avoid missing sections of carpet with debris that may cause stains. Vacuuming slowly will also create more suction to suck up dust and dirt and better agitate the fibers and the dirt within them.

You’ll close out step three by using your crevice tools to remove any lingering dust on the stairs (if you have any), in any corner, and along edges. Your dust has officially been busted!

order of vacuuming in a basic room
The order of vacuuming in a simple room, starting with furniture before moving to the floors and edges/corners

4. Clean All Hard Surfaces

Now you’re more than halfway through and ready to attempt step four. This step just so happens to be the task that 42% of us supposedly don’t do correctly (according to the CDC). 

At the very least, you’ll need a stack of microfiber cloths.

I’ve been using Mr. Siga Microfiber Cleaning Cloths for well over a year now, and they’re still holding strong (link takes you to Amazon). This 12-pack comes with four vibrant cloth colors—pink, yellow, green, and blue. These colors are a huge plus for those of us who like to dedicate specific colors to specific cleaning tasks.

These cloths are non-abrasive, super absorbent, and a reliable grab-and-go cleaning tool.

Mr. Siga microfiber cloths

A multi-surface cleaner—this would be your Lysol, Mr. Clean, or any other surface cleaner—should work fine for most hard, high-touch surfaces. 

Granite, marble, natural stone, stainless steel, and wood may require special cleaning solutions. Multi-surface cleaners tend to be too harsh and abrasive for these sensitive surfaces. They often leaving behind a dull or discolored appearance.

Sticking with the top-to-bottom trend, you’ll start with your high shelves and bookcases. Then, you’ll move to somewhat lower surfaces, such as countertops and tables. 

Simply spray all surfaces with your cleaner of choice, and then wipe them off immediately* with your microfiber cloth. Use straight strokes to prevent streaks. If you’re battling set-in stains or scuffs, you can use circular motions to loosen the debris—just don’t forget about wiping it clean afterward.

Pay attention to easily missed edges, corners, crevices, and cracks clean before considering step four “done.”

* Check the label of your chosen cleaner to see if you should let the solution sit before wiping. Some cleaners need additional time to break through the dirt and grime.

5. Clean the Kitchen + Bathrooms

These two rooms are their own beasts according to a 2018 survey by the American Cleaning Institute. The survey revealed that cleaning the bathroom and kitchen ranked as the #1 and #2 cleaning tasks that we dread the most (52% and 23%, respectively).

You dusted, vacuumed, and wiped down some hard surfaces in the previous steps. Next, you’ll need to complete a few additional cleaning tasks unique to the bathroom and kitchen. 

This step will require fresh microfiber cloths, a multi-surface cleaner, a scrub brush or sponge, a tile and grout cleaner, a wet floor mop and cleaning bucket, and a broom. A degreaser and toilet bowl cleaner are optional but recommended. 

If you saved these rooms for (almost) dead last, you’d also need all the supplies used in steps 2–4. (Again, you may also need a few special cleaning solutions!)

These are the tasks you’ll need to complete:

Bathroom Cleaning Tasks

sleek, modern bathroom with tub/shower
  • Clear countertops.
  • Dust.
  • Clean light fixtures and light switches (multi-surface cleaner).
  • Clean the mirrors (glass cleaner using straight strokes).
  • Scrub and then rinse the tub/shower (tub cleaner, scrub brushes).
  • Clean and scrub the toilet (toilet cleaner, scrub brushes)
  • Wipe down the toilet’s exterior (multi-surface cleaner)
  • Scrub the sink and faucet (multi-surface cleaner).
  • Wipe down countertops (multi-surface cleaner).
  • Clean cabinets (multi-surface cleaner).
  • Sweep or dust mop the floor.
  • Vacuum.
  • Mop.
  • Take out the garbage, replace the trash bin liner, and replenish toilet paper.

Kitchen Cleaning Tasks

modern kitchen with white cabinets
  • Clear countertops.
  • Dust.
  • Clean light fixtures and light switches (multi-surface cleaner).
  • Remove grime from the range hood (degreaser or multi-surface cleaner).
  • Clean the stove + oven (multi-surface cleaner or degreaser).
  • Scrub the sink + faucet (multi-surface cleaner, scrub brushes).
  • Wipe down countertops (multi-surface cleaner or special cleaning solution).
  • Clean lower cabinets (special cleaning solution).
  • Sweep or dust mop the floor.
  • Vacuum.
  • Mop.
  • Take out the garbage and add a new bag.
  • Restock paper towels

6. Mop, Steam, and/or Spot Clean the Floors

You’re finally onto step six, and although there’s still one task remaining after this, this is the last “big” cleaning task you’ll face. Now, exactly how you tackle this step largely depends on the type of flooring in your home.

The table below explains the supplies you’ll need for each common type of flooring and a few tips to guarantee the best results:

how to clean common floor types (table)

7. Do Some Last-Minute Organizing + Touch-Ups

Congratulations! You’ve survived the first six steps, and now you’re ready for the last stage: some last-minute organization and touch-ups to finish the job.

Now’s the perfect time for a quick walkthrough to ensure everything is in its proper place and nothing was missed. That means you should straighten mats and rugs, organize anything that doesn’t belong, fluff your pillows, and take out the trash.

You should also clean any remaining mirrors and windows if you haven’t already. Just be sure to use a glass cleaner and a microfiber cloth that you haven’t washed with fabric softener or harsh detergents.

Fabric softener is notorious for leaving behind unsightly streaks!

Final Thoughts

These cleaning tips and tricks are all about efficiency and effectiveness. You don’t necessarily “need” to complete these seven steps in this particular order or even do all seven in a day. However, this process will ultimately save you some valuable time and energy in the long term.