Having once worked for a maid service (and now a mother of two), I can give you tips to give your place the illusion of clean and even some tips that will actually make the place clean. And for a fraction of the cost and effort.
Bathroom: If you have a tub area that you cannot get clean...Scrubbing Bubbles, Cleanser, none of this works. Before you give up and replace it, try oven cleaner. Don't make a habit of using this. We would do this on shower doors and the tub area of someone who was either getting ready to sell a home or for one who bought a fixer-upper. Many times it would clean up what the customer thought would never come off. Spray the cleaner, let it sit and then wipe it out and rinse. Whatever you do, use gloves.
The sink, the mirrors, the floor: Aunt Betty called and said she be over in 15 minutes. Panic? Nope. And window cleaning product (even those you make for a fraction of the cost) will shine up mirrors, chrome, sink basins, and even the floor. Also good for kitchen sinks, stoves, washer/dryer areas, floors.
When it comes to dusting, try not to keep too many knickknacks in plain sight. They show dirt every time. Spray the rag, not the furniture. Bounce softeners work great after they have been sent through the dryer once, as do old fashioned cloth baby diapers. When in a pinch, wipe around the dusty area. And for those Aunt Betty moments, tons of stuff can either be chucked in a closet or in your bedroom. Keep the door closed!
Pattern vacuuming: You've seen this on real estate shows. Vacuum going in the same direction, making sure that the "lines" all start and end in the same place. Vacuum in rows, starting from the furthest point of the room and vacuuming backwards until you are out of the room. I can do a large dining room in 5 minutes and people think I have spent tons of time in there. Maid services are in business to make money. The idea is to do the work as quick as possible, giving the illusion of clean, they make big money and pay their employees a small fraction. (Usually $6/hr)
By the way, if you get a pan that has stuff stuck on it and it won't come clean...don't kill yourself. Don't throw out the pan. Shove a fabric softener sheet in it with water and let it soak. Takes the food out every time.
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