Ready for a Refresh? Here's Your Complete Guide to Deep-Cleaning Your Home

An all-white bedroom with two gold desk lamps

Julian Porcino

Many of us aspire to deep clean our homes from top to bottom. But, when it comes time to actually do it, we can’t figure out where to begin. Should we go in with a plan, or should we just start cleaning? And how can we possibly maintain the stamina to pull such a major project off? 

“When tackling such a large project—like an entire home—it’s important to break the project into smaller, manageable parts,” Joanna Wirick, life and home professional organizer at Joanna Organize, says. She recommends asking yourself two simple questions. First: where do I and my family spend the most time? Then: what space is overwhelming me the most?

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“By organizing the space where you and your family spend the most time, you will feel the greatest positive impact,” she says. “If you focus on the space that is overwhelming you the most, you’ll feel the gratification and calm—which is usually what you need to keep the momentum going.”

Once you’ve asked yourself those questions, it’s time to dig in. To help you along your way, we’ve compiled a step-by-step guide you can follow as you deep clean, declutter, and organize every room in your home.

How to Deep Clean Your Kitchen

A kitchen with light wood cabinetry and shelves
Margaret Wright

Materials: 

  • Cleaning gloves
  • Oven cleaner
  • Vinegar (apple cider or white)
  • Dish soap
  • Sponge
  • Baking soda
  • Old toothbrush
  • Dishwasher cleaner
  • All-purpose cleaner or cabinet cleaner
  • Vacuum and mop

Step 1: Quickly Tidy Up

Start by tackling any routine cleaning you haven’t gotten around to yet. If there are dirty dishes lying around, clean them, and make sure all your kitchen utensils are in their rightful spots.

Step 2: Clean Out Your Oven and Your Microwave

Cleaning your oven may sound intense, but store-bought oven cleaners make it easy. So, slip into a pair of cleaning gloves, and spray the inside of your oven with a store-bought oven cleaner. Check the cleaner’s instructions to see how much to apply and how long to wait before wiping it down. Then, wipe down the inside of your over with a cloth rag.

Since oven cleaners can get a little pungent, you may want to open your windows while you wait. 

While you wait for your oven cleaner to work its magic, tackle your microwave.

  1. Pour a cup of water into a microwave-safe bowl, then add a few spoonfuls of vinegar—either apple cider vinegar or white vinegar.
  2. Then, pop that mixture in the microwave, and flip your microwave to high until the mixture starts to boil. This will likely take a few minutes.
  3. Once the mixture is boiling—and your microwave has gotten steamy—turn your microwave off, and let it cool for several minutes.
  4. Then, remove the mixture and wipe down your microwave with a cloth.
  5. Dealing with persistent grease? Try wiping down your microwave with a 1-to-1 mixture of vinegar and water. If that doesn’t work, try using a mixture of dish soap and water.
White kitchen with rug

Ausland Interiors

Step 3: Scrub Down Your Stove

  1. Start by wiping down your stove with a damp cloth. You’ll want to remove any crumbs that could get in your way as you clean.
  2. If you have a gas stove, remove your burners and grates before you do this. You can pop your grates in your sink for the time being.
  3. Then, put some dish soap on a sponge and scrub down your stove.
  4. If your stove is still dirty after that, don’t worry—simply combine 1 part vinegar with 2 parts baking soda, and spread the mixture across your stove.
  5. Let the mixture sit for about 20 minutes, then wipe it off with a soapy sponge. 
  6. If you have a gas stove, be sure to coat your grates and burners in this same mixture. You’ll want to let them sit for 20 minutes before wiping them down.

Step 4: Clean Your Sink—and Don’t Forget Your Disposal

  1. Start by wiping down your sink with a sponge and dish soap.
  2. Then, use an old toothbrush and some dish soap to scrub down hard-to-reach areas. 
  3. Show your garbage disposal some love next. Pour ½ cup of baking soda and ½ cup of vinegar down your disposal, in that order.
  4. Use your sink stopper to cover the drain. That combination is about to get fizzy, and you don’t want it bubbling up in your sink.
  5. Let the mixture sit for about 15 minutes.
  6. Then, remove the stopper, run some hot water, and flip on your disposal.  

Some sinks—like stainless steel sinks—can handle abrasive cleaners. Deep clean them using a combination of baking soda, water, and vinegar. This method should not be used on other materials, like porcelain, copper, granite, and enameled cast iron.

Step 5: Clean Your Dishwasher

  1. Start by emptying your dishwasher. Then, clean out any visible debris. 
  2. After that, you’ll want to locate your filter. If you’re having trouble finding it, look up your dishwasher’s make and model to see where it might be.
  3. Remove the filter, run it under some hot water, and use an old toothbrush to gently scrub it until it’s clean. Once it looks good, pop it back into place.
  4. Then, give your dishwasher a deep clean by running an empty cycle with a dishwasher cleaner. Many store-bought dishwasher cleaners come in tablet form, so you can put one where you’d normally put detergent.

Step 6: Clean and Organize Your Fridge and Freezer

Now that your appliances are handled, it’s time to get organized.

  1. Remove everything from your fridge.
  2. Then, create a DIY surface cleaner by combining 2 tablespoons of baking soda with 1 quart of water.
  3. Spray this solution on all your fridge’s surfaces, and use a cleaning cloth to wipe them down.
  4. Throw away any old food and restock your fridge. “One huge step that can be applied to any area of your home is to store like items together,” Ashley Murphy and Marissa Hagmeyer, co-founders of NEAT Method, say. Try to keep produce in one place, dairy products in another, and so on.
  5. When you’re ready to move onto your freezer, start by taking everything out.
  6. Then, use a warm damp cloth to melt any ice that’s in your way.
  7. Once everything is clear, you can use a 1-to-1 combination of vinegar and hot water to wipe down your freezer’s surfaces.
  8. Get rid of any expired items and restock your freezer.

Step 7: Clean and Organize Your Pantry, Cupboards, and Drawers

Start by taking everything out of your pantry, your drawers, and your cupboards. Then, dust them with a duster, or wipe them down with a damp cloth. 

After that, it’s time to get organized. “Take everything out, combine duplicates when possible, and part with anything you no longer use,” Murphy and Hagmeyer say.

If you find something that belongs elsewhere, go ahead and move it. You’ll want it to be easy to access when you clean that part of your home. “Be sure to give the area a good wipe down before putting everything back,” they add.

When it comes to organizing your kitchen drawers, Holly Blakey, professional organizer at Breathing Room, recommends one thing: drawer dividers. “Use drawer dividers to keep items organized,” she says. “From dish towels to utensils—these will look nice and they're super functional.”

Step 8: Clean and Organize Your Countertops

Take everything off your countertops. Then, wipe them down using dish soap and water. (Yup, you can use dish soap to clean your countertops!) Once you’re finished, wipe them down using a dry cloth.

Step 9: Wipe Down Your Cabinets and Appliances

Wipe down your cabinets—from top to bottom—using an all-purpose cleaner or a specialty cabinet cleaner. Then, move on to your appliances. For this one, you don’t need a specialty cleaner—you can just use white vinegar. So spray some vinegar onto your appliances, then use a cloth to wipe them dry.

Step 10: Take Out the Trash

No deep clean is complete until the trash is taken out. Make sure you’ve rounded up all the junk your deep clean unearthed and take it outside. 

Step 11: Sweep and Mop Your Floors

At this point, it’s time to put the finishing touches on your deep clean. Use a broom or a vacuum to rid your floors of crumbs and other debris. Then, use a mop to clean up more persistent dirt and grime. 

“Start with one space and then move onto the next,” Murphy and Hagmeyer say. “Trying to tackle everything all at once will just create an even bigger mess and potentially lead to frustration and burnout.”

How to Deep Clean Your Living Room

A bohemian living room with red and turquoise art in it
Casa Watkins Living

Materials:

  • Duster
  • Vacuum
  • Upholstery cleaner
  • Damp cloth (optional)
  • Broom (optional)
  • Mop

Step 1: Quickly Tidy Up

Kick things off by tidying up your space. Don’t stress about making your space look picture-perfect. Just quickly declutter by storing things where they belong.

Step 2: Dust All Your Décor

Dust loves to lurk in living rooms, so whip out a duster, and wipe down every surface where dust may be hiding. Start with flat surfaces, like mantles, tabletops, and shelves. Then tackle your décor. Be sure to get those harder-to-reach spots—like ceiling fans, air vents, and window blinds—too.

While a damp cloth can help you wipe down dusty surfaces, those higher-up spots along your ceiling are almost impossible to reach without a duster.

Step 3: Vacuum and Clean Your Couches

Take all the cushions off your couch, and vacuum the inside of it. If your upholstery is machine-washable, this would be a great time to give it a quick clean. But if it isn’t, rest assured knowing you have a couple of options.

For starters, you can shake out the cushions to get rid of lingering dust and debris. And if your cushions need a little more love, you can use an upholstery cleaner to get rid of stains and stench. Before cleaning your upholstery, be sure to carefully read the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions. Upholstery is expensive—so it’s not worth playing it fast and loose here. 

Neutral living room.

Coco Lapine Design

Step 4: Clean and Organize Your Shelves

If there are any shelves in your living room, empty them out. Then, use your duster to dust them—or use a damp cloth to wipe them down. You’ll want to do the same for any other spot where items are stored. This could include your mantle, coffee table, cabinets, or anywhere else you’re keeping stuff.

If you’re happy with the way things are organized, restock your shelves. If not, take this moment to get organized.

Step 5: Vacuum and Clean Your Rug

If your floors are carpeted, vacuum them. And if you come across any spots or stains, you can use store-bought upholstery cleaner to spot-treat them.

If you have a removable rug in your space, take it outside and shake it off. If it’s machine-washable, pop it in the laundry for a quick clean. And if it isn’t, use that store-bought upholstery cleaner to clean up any spots or stains. Then, move your rug to the side until after you’ve swept and mopped your floors.

Step 6: Sweep and Mop Your Floors

Use a broom or vacuum to clean up dust and debris. Then, finish things off by cleaning your floors with a mop.

Step 7: Put Everything Back Where It Belongs

Once your space is clean, take a moment to reassemble it. “Fluff those pillows, fold blankets, and clear off the coffee table,” Wirick says.

If you want to keep your space in tip-top shape, she recommends tackling those tasks every day. “Each takes less than 3 minutes, helps the room feel put together, and gets it ready for the next day,” she says. 

How to Deep Clean Your Bedroom

An all-white bedroom with two gold desk lamps
Julian Porcino

Materials:

  • Laundry detergent
  • Upholstery cleaner (optional)
  • Vacuum
  • Duster or damp cloth
  • Broom (optional)
  • Mop

Step 1: Quickly Tidy Up

Take a quick pass through your room, and pick up anything that’s out of place. Throw any dirty laundry in your hamper, discard any trash, and store items on the shelves where they belong.

Step 2: Strip, Clean, and Make Your Bed

  1. Take all the linens off your bed. That means quilts, sheets, duvet covers, pillowcases, throws—the whole nine yards.
  2. Then, put everything that’s machine-washable in the laundry. If something is hand wash-only, now is the perfect moment to hand wash it—this is a deep clean, after all—and if something is dry-clean-only, consider taking it to a nearby dry cleaner.
  3. If you don’t feel like putting in this extra effort, you can always shake off your linens outside to get rid of dust and debris, and you can use an upholstery cleaner to spot-treat any stains. 
  4. While your bed is linen-free, clean your mattress. Vacuum it off, and then, use that upholstery cleaner to spot-clean it.
  5. Once you’re done, flip it over and repeat these steps on the other side.

Many people recommend flipping your mattress every 3 months. If your mattress is made of the same material from top to bottom, this is a great idea. But if your mattress is layered, this obviously won’t work for you.

Step 3: Dust All Your Décor

Try to get all the dust out of your space, using either a damp cloth or a duster. Wipe down every surface you see, clean off your décor, and tackle oft-overlooked spots like air vents, ceiling fans, and crown molding.

Step 4: Vacuum and Clean Anything Upholstered

If there’s anything upholstered in your space, remove the cushions and shake them off. Vacuum the inside of the piece of furniture, and use an upholstery cleaner to spot-treat any stains.

Minimalist bedroom decor

Cathie Hong Interiors

Step 5: Clean and Organize Any Shelves or Surfaces

If there is any furniture in your bedroom, empty it out and clear it off. Then, use your duster or a damp cloth to wipe it down. 

If you were happy with the way the furniture looked before, restock it exactly as it was. If it felt a little cluttered, reorganize it. Blakey recommends reducing the amount of stuff on your dresser, bedside table, and other major surfaces during this process.

“Your bedroom should be a place of rest and calm,” she says. “Eliminating surface clutter will greatly help.”

Step 6: Sweep and Mop Your Floors

And just like that, you’re almost already done. Use a broom or a vacuum to remove dust and debris from your floors. Then, use a mop to finish off your clean.

Step 7: Put Everything Back Where It Belongs

Before moving on, make sure your bed is made and everything else is where it belongs. “Make your bed,” Wirick says. “It helps the room feel more put together, and it gets all of those decorative pillows off the floor and chairs.”

She recommends tackling this task every day to keep your space feeling clean and organized.

How to Deep Clean Your Bathroom

A large bathroom with two vanities, a freestanding tub, and a pink printed rug
Katie Hodges Design

Materials:

  • Laundry detergent
  • Rubber gloves
  • Bleach
  • Sponge
  • Old toothbrush
  • Bathroom cleaner
  • Toilet bowl cleaner
  • Scrub brush
  • Glass cleaner
  • Broom and mop

Step 1: Quickly Tidy Up

Take a second to clear out your space before cleaning. Make sure trash is in the trash can, items are in the appropriate drawers and cabinets, and dirty laundry is in your hamper rather than on the floor. 

Step 2: Throw Your Linens in the Laundry

Laundry tends to take a while, so kick things off by throwing your towels and washcloths in the washing machine. If your bath mats and shower curtains are also machine-washable, toss them in there, too. If they’re not, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to properly clean them.

If you have a shower curtain liner, this is a great opportunity to swap it out with a fresh option. If you’d rather save yours, be sure to scrub it down when you’re cleaning the rest of your shower.

Step 3: Scrub Down Your Shower

  1. Start by taking everything out of your shower and keep an eye out for mildew. You’ll want to tackle this first.
  2. Slip into a pair of rubber gloves—this is a must—and combine 1 part bleach with 2 parts water. Spray this solution onto the mildew, and let it sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Then, use a sponge or an old toothbrush to scrub the mildew. Rinse the bleach off with hot water.
  4. Now, it’s time to tackle more classic shower cleaning. Start by spraying your shower walls with a store-bought bathroom cleaner. Then, give the cleaner 5–10 minutes to work its magic.
  5. Once you’ve let it sit, use a sponge to wipe down your shower walls and use an old toothbrush to scrub your grout.
  6. When your space is looking squeaky-clean, rinse it with hot water. Then, tackle your shower floors and your bathtub if you have one.

Any time you’re cleaning with bleach, you’ll want to make sure your space is adequately ventilated. Flip on your bathroom fan, open your windows, and keep your bathroom door wide open.

Step 4: Deep Clean Your Toilet

Don’t slip out of your rubber gloves just yet—it's time to tackle your toilet.

  1. Start by covering the inside of your toilet bowl with a store-bought toilet bowl cleaner. You’ll want to start at the rim and work your way down.
  2. Use a scrub brush to rub the solution in and let it sit for 5–10 minutes before flushing it all away.
  3. While you wait, you can tackle the outside of your toilet. Spray an all-purpose bathroom cleaner onto every inch of your toilet. You’ll want to get the lid, the flush handle, the top and bottom of the toilet seat—everything. Most bathroom cleaners need to sit for about 5–10 minutes, so be sure to follow your directions.
  4. Once you’ve let the cleaner sit, you can use a dry cloth or some clean paper towels to wipe it away.

Make sure your all-purpose bathroom cleaner doubles as a disinfectant. Germs love to lurk in bathrooms. You want to clean, get rid of dirt, and disinfect (get rid of bacteria).

Step 5: Clean Your Sink

Wipe down the sink to get rid of dirt and debris. Then, spray your all-purpose bathroom cleaner all over your sink. Be sure to get the bowl, the drain, and the handles. Again, you’ll probably need to let the cleaner sit for about 5–10 minutes. After that, you can wipe it down with a cloth or paper towel.

Beautiful bathroom with white sink.

House of Chais

Step 6: Empty and Organize Your Drawers and Cabinets

Empty your cabinets, drawers, and countertops. You’ll want to get all your bathroom items in the same place, so you might want to pull products from your shower and bathtub, too.

Get rid of old and expired items, combine duplicates, and group like with like. If you need easy access to something—like shampoo, conditioner, or hand soap—consider leaving it out. Otherwise, leave the counter clutter to a minimum.

“Try to keep your line of sight as clear as possible,” Wirick says. “It’s easy to leave toothbrushes, hair tools, lotions, and more around the sink, but try to keep it as minimal as possible.”

When decluttering your bathroom, remember to check the expiration dates on your toiletries. “There are lots of charts out there that show you how long makeup and skincare products are good for to help guide you on what to get rid of,” Meg Markland, a professional organizer at NEAT by Meg, says. Even if you don’t spot an obvious expiration date, there are ways to figure out what needs to go.

Step 7: Wipe Down Your Mirrors and Countertops

Now that your bathroom is clean and your countertops are decluttered, it’s time to put the finishing touches on your space. Use your all-purpose bathroom cleaner to wipe down your countertops, and use a store-bought glass cleaner to get your mirrors squeaky clean

Step 8: Take Out the Trash

Round up any remaining trash or recycling, take it outside, and put a fresh bag in your trash can.

Step 9: Sweep and Mop Your Floors

Take one final pass through your bathroom—sweeping it, then mopping it—to leave it in tip-top shape. 

How to Deep Clean Your Closet

A carefully organized closet
Finding Lovely

Materials:

  • Laundry detergent
  • Donation bag (optional)

Step 1: Quickly Tidy Up

Make sure everything that’s supposed to be in your closet is there. Double-check your laundry to make sure all your clothes are clean—and ready to be organized.

Step 2: Remove Everything

Take everything out of your closet. “First, you have to see everything you have,” Blakey says. “This is key because you'll often be shocked to see how much you have that you didn't know you had.” 

Group the items you know you want to keep and the items you know you want to get rid of. Then, establish a system for the maybes. Consider tucking them away, and checking back in on them in a few months. Did you miss them? If not, they might deserve a spot in the donation pile.

“Find a local charity, so you can finally let go of some of the items you have been holding onto,” Markland says. This can make parting with items a little easier.

Step 3: Clean Your Closet

While your closet is empty, wipe down your cabinets, shelves, and drawers, and sweep and mop your floors. This is much harder to do when your closet is filled with clothing.

Step 4: Organize Your Hanging Clothes

Once you’ve decided which clothes to get rid of, it’s time to put the keepers back in your closet. Make sure your clothes are facing the same way on your hangers, and group them by type, sleeve length, and/or color. 

“A quick and easy way to tidy up the closet is to organize your clothes by category, group together longer items on the left, and then cascade them upward toward the right,” Wirick says. “This helps balance out the closet visually.”

Step 5: Organize Your Drawers

Once you’re finished with your hanging clothes, it’s time to tackle your cabinets, drawers, and shelves. Group your clothes and accessories by type, and make sure your clothes are properly folded before you return them to your closet. 

Blakey recommends Marie Kondo’s file folding method for folded clothes. “File folding in drawers will save so much space,” she says. “You'll be able to see everything, and it just looks nice.”

Before moving on, be sure to give all your closets some love. That includes your linen closet, which Murphy and Hagmeyer say is often overlooked during the deep cleaning process.

How to Deep Clean Your Laundry Room

A laundry room with sea foam green cabinets
Whittney Parkinson Design

Materials:

  • White vinegar
  • Sponge
  • Old toothbrush
  • Baking soda
  • Vacuum
  • Soap
  • Dryer vent cleaning brush
  • Duster
  • Broom and mop

Step 1: Quickly Tidy Up

Start by decluttering your laundry room, and make sure your washer and dryer are both empty. If you’re in the middle of doing laundry, finish that up, then circle back once you’re through.

“Let’s be honest, doing laundry isn’t the most fun chore,” Wirick says. But, since it’s basically inevitable, look for ways to make it fun. “Put clean clothes away as soon as possible,” she says. “Set an alarm for items that air dry, and put on a podcast or a show to help make folding more fun.”

Step 2: Clean Your Washing Machine

  1. Start by running an empty cycle. Choose the longest and the hottest setting, and put 2 cups of white vinegar where you’d normally put the detergent.
  2. Once the cycle is finished, create a DIY cleaner using 4 cups of water and 1/4 cup of white vinegar.
  3. Pair this cleaner with a sponge to wipe down the inside of your washing machine, and use a toothbrush to tackle harder-to-reach nooks and crannies.
  4. Run another empty cycle once again on the hottest and longest setting. But, use ½ cup of baking soda instead of vinegar this time around.
  5. Once this cycle is finished, use a damp towel to wipe down the inside of your washing machine, and you should be good to go.

Step 4: Clean Your Dryer

  1. Start by unplugging your dryer.
  2. Then, remove your lint screen and wash it with soap and water.
  3. While it dries, vacuum your lint trap and wipe down the inside of your dryer. 
  4. Then, find your dryer's vent duct. You may have to research your dryer's make and model to find it.
  5. Use a dryer vent cleaning brush to get rid of lint and other debris.
  6. Vacuum anything that comes out, put your dryer back together and run an empty cycle to make sure it works.

Step 5: Dust the Room

Dust can accumulate in a laundry room. So invest in a duster, and wipe down every surface.

Step 6: Sweep and Mop Your Floors

Once you’re finished tackling the major stuff, sweep or vacuum your floors to remove any remaining debris. Then use a mop to get your floors squeaky clean.

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