Many of our habits are formed at a very young age—and that goes for cleaning habits as well—which is why so many parents want to encourage their kids to clean and develop good habits from a very early age. With this in mind, I want to pay homage to my Mom, who was very picky about cleaning when we were growing up. I often raged against this because I, of course, hate cleaning. However, these things were drilled into me from such a young age that they really have become second nature. So, thanks, Mom!

Be Mindful of Cross-Contamination

I almost want to give my Mom credit for coming up with the term cross-contamination because from a very young age she talked to my sister and I about it non-stop. You see my Mom became a vegan back in the mid-80s and she was really concerned about us using a piece of cutlery, or a serving dish, that had touched meat. The same applied to cooking—she didn’t like to have anything cooked in a pot/pan that had previously cooked meat. So, we were always very mindful about the concept of cross-contamination, whether it had to do with something that was already cooked, or if it had to do with cleaning. So, a great reminder for everyone: always keep cross-contamination in mind, especially with cleaning tools like sponges and cleaning toothbrushes.

clean shower head

After Shower Routine

My Mom would always low-key check the bathroom after anyone took a shower because she was very concerned about mold and mildew build-up. The most important thing in a bathroom is to ventilate while you’re showering, and for at least 30 minutes after. This way, any moisture in the air can be sucked out of the bathroom to avoid it hanging around and creating a breeding ground for mold and mildew. She was also very particular about removing the non-slip bath mat after every shower. If you leave this thing sitting in the bottom of the tub soap scum and all sorts of grimy stuff will build up down there and it will eventually develop into mold or mildew. And finally, she was really big on pulling the shower curtain after a shower. We’re obviously inclined to just pull it open, step out, and move on with our day. What I was always taught was to close the curtain because that allows for proper drying—water will drip from the top to the bottom and not get stuck in the folds.

Rinse The Dishes

My Mom is adamant that dishes be rinsed before they’re put in the dishwasher. Now to her credit, she still does it to this day and whenever I’m at her place helping load the dishwasher (because I’m a good daughter like that), I’ve got to say her dishwasher looks clean and doesn’t smell at all. So, I guess there’s a case to be made for rinsing items before loading. Our dishwasher definitely looks like (and smells like) it gets used, and we’re definitely not the best at rinsing. I do it when I think about it, but I’ve got to say I don’t do it all that often. I’m more about just getting them in there and moving on.

First Impressions

Both of my parents were very adamant that the front entrance of our home had to look neat and tidy at all times. Regardless of what their day was like, they wanted to walk into a clean space when they came home. My sister and I had this habit of stepping into the house, shimmying out of our jacket, school bag, and shoes, and literally just leave it exactly where we dropped it. It was always a battle in our house. I can tell you when I walk into my house and there’s stuff all over the front entryway and it’s scattered and messy, it stresses me out—so I get it. It makes a lot of sense why that was so important to my parents. And to be honest, I am trying my best to be a better person and put my stuff away as soon as I get home and I would say I’ve improved since moving in with my husband, Chad. He would also probably tell you, I’ve improved… I think.

Points of Contact

From a very young age, I remember my Mom taking my sister and I shopping, and if we had to go to the washroom she didn’t want us touching seats, or flushers, and she wanted us to be very careful after we loacked/unlocked the door, and to make sure that we washed our hands really well before we touched anything else. In short, she made us very aware of points of contact and germs from a very young age. Now, neither my sister, my Mom, nor I, are germophobes, but we do have an awareness of germs lingering on points of contact. So, around you house be mindful of things like switch plates, knobs, remotes, and any other surface which gets handled a lot.

Too Much Product

When I started Clean My Space services back in 2006, my Mom gave me all kinds of unsolicited cleaning advice. But one of the things that she told me that I will never forget is: don’t use too much cleaning product! Whether it’s a floor, a counter, or a mirror, you’ll notice that the surface will become sticky (which actually attracts more dirt) if you’re overdoing it with product. I used to think more product equals cleaner. But actually, the truth is you only need enough product—which is most often only a little—to remove the dirt from the surface and then rinse clean. So remember, when you’re using a product, or mixing up a solution, always be careful that you’re not overdosing, more often than not, less is actually more.

using flat weave cloth

Learning The Basics

My parents had my sister and I clean the house to earn our allowance so we spent our entire Saturday cleaning which felt very worth it to us at the time. My parents were thrilled because it was less work for them, so I suppose it was mutually beneficial, but I also kind of resent it. Anyway, that’s for my therapist, not for you guys. The point is, I learned how to use powdered cleansers, cream cleansers, and abrasive products when I was about 8 years old. And of course, my Mom taught me how to do it safely. So, fundamentals like how to use the product, that you should let it sit, how to scrub it, how to rinse it off, and where to use it safely were all covered.

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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.


  1. Hello, Melissa. I am a professional housekeeper, and the habits you disclosed in this post are fantastic!

    However, cleaning is a fascinating chore, and I’m not sure why people are so overwhelmed by it. Also! Never feel bad about hiring a cleaner to clean if it’s overwhelming or feels boring for you.

    I’ve made a career out of giving families more time to spend with their families.
    Cleaners are a time-saving gift, and I enjoy what I do.

    Have a nice day
    Freddy Ibarra

  2. Thanks for all of the great tips. I just discovered your blog and am loving it. Keep up the great work! You’re truly blessed with a such a great mom.

  3. I’ve suspected the re-cycle industry wasn’t ” coming clean ” with us. I live a bit away from Ontario ( Orlando, Florida ), but guess the same thing is happening all over.
    YES, please do a video on the truth about recycling.
    Been a fan for many years… keep up the good work.
    Mike Wall

  4. Not wanting to touch a toilet flusher definitely sounds like a germophobe thing. If you’re going to wash your hands afterwards, why is it a problem to touch a toilet flusher, even in a public restroom? This kind of thinking is how people end up doing crazy things like using their feet to flush which just makes it *dirtier* for the next person. Just wash your hands properly and you can use the bathroom like a normal person.

  5. Thanks Melissa, the information you share is always very helpful. That’s why I started using the JAWS cleaning system. I was having a hard time finding Disinfectant products and this works very well. So thanks for that too. But I did notice the disinfectant refills have less product in them than the other cleaners. I reached out to them about it, and the reason they gave me didn’t sound valid, but it still works well. I just didn’t want to get cheated out of complete pods of disinfectant. Stay safe and be well.

  6. Loved this topic, Melissa. I hope today’s parents are teaching their children at least SOME cleaning habits. Allowance = pitching in around the house is a great tool.

  7. You are very lucky that your mom taught you all she did. My mother taught us nothing. My sister and I did not know how to take care of a house when we left and we did not care either. Then I married a man who did not care,
    both of us had to work 2 jobs,I had 2 babies back to back and the rest was a big mess!!! Now I am retired and living in a house I still do not know how to properly take care of (I know how to dust and vaccum and clean a bathroom but that is about it). When I was raising my kids they were my priority, so at home after my jobs, I spent time with them, cooked a good meal, did the dishes, gave them baths and read books to them at nighttime. As busy as I was those were my best years. Now I am going to learn from you, a little at at time since my health is not the best. But I love your sight. I just have a lot to learn.

  8. Dear Melissa, Ever since I started reading your tips in books and online, my dread of cleaning has been reduced because I’m faster and more efficient. I love the extra-tidy appearance of my home now that I always take care of high dust and cobwebs using my microfibre “ghost and pole” tool. Thanks for sharing the gems of your experience with us!


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