“I thought everyone knew the secret, but boy was I wrong.”
How do we find the joy in cleaning? “Easy,” says Sarah McAllister, founder of the popular Instagram account Go Clean Co. “Focus on the reward of a clean house.”
When the pandemic hit and Clorox wipes became scarce, Sarah took to Instagram to share her cleaning hacks and easy homemade disinfectants. Since then, her @GoCleanCo. account has attracted more than 1 million followers — her “cleaning army.” From shower doors to range hood filters, Sarah’s got pro tips for cleaning every inch of your house. We asked her to share overlooked cleaning spots and the one product she can’t live without. Here’s a hint: It’s not Clorox wipes.
Katie Couric Media: Your cleaning tips have attracted more than 1 million Instagram followers. What is it about cleaning and tidying up that’s struck a nerve with so many people?
Sarah McAllister: I think a lot of people are overwhelmed with the state of their homes and the unlimited products in the cleaning aisle. They’re very lost on how to clean both efficiently and properly. Throw in a pandemic and the gift of time. I was there at the right moment to shoot it to them straight and reminded people that your home is a place to be proud of. I dished out some tough love and inspired a community to roll up their sleeves and get to work. All we were doing was watching the horrifying news cycle and feeling very out of control and worried. Cleaning gave people a sense of control this year in a very upside-down world. I am very proud I was a part of the movement.
Most of us clean haphazardly. What are some of Go Clean Co’s cleaning strategies that will change our approach to tidying up?
Haphazardly is the perfect word! I do not like to surface clean. Tidying up before company arrives is one thing, but we all need to deep clean our homes regularly. Most people start by ripping their entire house apart and making a bigger mess than they started with. But once you get into this routine, you will find that it is so much easier to maintain.
This is how we clean at Go Clean Co:
- Identify the room that is the worst in the house and start there.
- Do not get overwhelmed and stay focused.
- Work in a circle, top to bottom, left to right.
- Stay in the same room, even if your family is trying to derail your methods, hold your ground! Do not leave until the room is complete.
At Go Clean Co, each staff member takes one room at a time. When we first started, we tried bouncing around the homes and we missed so much stuff (and got a lot of complaints). Take your time, do it right, once you have done one room, top to bottom, that is all you do for the day. Take a break and enjoy your hard work. This has a domino effect on your entire house.
What are some spots around the house that many of us forget to clean?
Range hood filters: They are directly above your stove on the underbelly of the range hood and they’re a commonly overlooked spot. Clean these monthly. Spray with Yellow Mr.Clean (which is a very strong degreaser) or run through the dishwasher. If they are really bad, you can soak in a dish-tab for an hour or overnight.
Dishwasher Filters: Cleaning out your dishwasher filter once a month is also very important. Your dishwasher is a place that we blindly accept does its job to keep us safe from germs, but 90% of the ones we see in homes are covered in mold or swamp slime. Clean it out and run a sanitize cycle with some bleach regularly.
Front Load Washing Machine: Your front load washing machine also has a filter and they get so gross. Consult your manual and also clean out the seal with some bleach. Always, always, always leave your front load door open when it is not in use to circulate air flow and stop mold growth.
Dryer Back Hose: Also, it takes five minutes to pull out your dryer, remove the back hose and vacuum it out. Lint builds up and blocks the hose (which adds tremendously to your dryer time) and is also a fire hazard.
What are five cleaning products people should always have on hand?
- Powdered Tide Laundry Detergent — I can clean an entire house top to bottom with Powdered Tide, bleach and hot water! (Buy Here)
- Bleach (Buy Here)
- Bar Keepers Friend (Buy Here)
- Mr. Clean (Buy Here)
- Weiman Stainless Steel Spray (Buy Here)
What’s a cleaning gadget or product people should splurge on?
The O’Cedar or Vileda Spin Mop. This is a game-changer to your floor routine. I know, I know, do you really need a $30 mop? The answer is yes. Yes, you do.
Here’s how to get clean, shiny floors:
We use one teaspoon of Powdered Tide in the bucket with hot, hot water; pump the foot pedal on the bucket seven to 10 times to wring out the mop until it’s almost dry. Scrub the floors twice, minimum. Keep an eye on your water and change it often. You cannot mop with dirty water. You will be floored (see what I did there?) with the results, no streaks, your water will be alarmingly filthy and you will feel like you can eat off your floor for the first time in years, I promise.
You’re an evangelist for powdered Tide laundry detergent — and not just for laundry. Why?
Clean your floors and walls with it once and you are sold for life. My grandma and my mom always used it when I was growing up, so I was taught to clean with it. I thought everyone knew the secret to the Tide magic, but boy, was I wrong. Powdered Tide Laundry has surfactants in it, which break up grease and stains (no matter what surface) that otherwise would not dissolve in water. Powdered Tide also has enzymes to break down dirt and stains into smaller pieces which make them easier to remove. Enzymes also break down smells.
When I first opened Go Clean Co, I was trying every cleaning product on the market and kept coming back to good old powdered Tide. Everything was taking longer to clean with other products, especially floors. My staff was mind boggled when I would show them how well it worked, so I started showing the Instagram world too… and the rest is history!
We’re still seeing shortages of disinfecting cleaners. What are some alternatives for when we don’t see Clorox wipes on the shelves?
Nothing beats bleach. It is cheap and readily available but many of us shy away from it because we do not understand how it works. A very small amount of bleach goes a long way. One-third cup of bleach in one gallon of water will disinfect your entire home and the jug of bleach lasts forever. I do not recommend storing or putting this in a spray bottle as bleach decomposes in about 24 hours in the presence of light and water. Make a new batch each time, and wear gloves and old clothes.
You swear by the rule, “full hands in, full hands out.” Care to explain?
Ah! This comes from my days of working as a waitress, and it’s one of the best lessons I have learned in life. The cardinal rule is that you are not allowed to enter or exit the restaurant kitchen empty-handed or you get yelled at. So, I apply this to my daily life and parenting style. If you are going anywhere in your house, pick something up and take it to where it belongs on your travels. Heading to the kitchen? Grab the glass by the bed. Heading to the bedroom? Pick up those socks off the floor and put them in the hamper, this cuts down on so much tidying time and once you get your family on board, life gets a little easier.
You put the joy in cleaning. How do we stop viewing cleaning as a miserable chore?
We get hung up on the difficulty of the task and it prevents us from even starting. Focus on the reward instead! Cleaning is horrifying and exciting at the same time. I love finding dirt and then polishing things up and feeling proud! I like to focus on the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction at the finish line. When you stop and admire your hard work, nothing feels better than a clean house.
Sarah McAllister’s Calgary-based residential cleaning business is only two years old, though she’s quickly amassed an online #cleaningarmy of followers that spans the U.S. and Canada. Sarah saw viral growth as the global pandemic had almost everyone stuck at home, and almost everyone gaining a newfound appreciation for a sanitized safe space. Sarah’s tells-it-like-it-is deep cleaning tips feel refreshing and attainable in your own day to day life. Best of all, they actually work, and you don’t need pricey professional cleaning supplies.
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