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Basic Vocabulary for Brilliant Home Cleaning

May 16, 2011

If you do a quick Google search on how to select the best house cleaning service for your home or office, you’ll find a lot of great tips, questions to ask, the answers you want to hear, and more. But sometimes you can get bogged down in the jargon. Does “clean” mean the same thing to company X as it does to company Y? It’s important to know that different words really do have standard definitions, and it’s important that you ask for clarification when you interview a new company.

Four Levels of “Clean”kitchen

Having made home cleaning my life’s work, I know that “clean” doesn’t mean the same thing to every home owner nor every cleaning company. That’s why it’s so important for you to know the four levels of clean, so you can make sure you are getting the clean you want from the right company!

Clean removing all visible dirt, dust, and residues from your home environment; sometimes referred to as the simple clean
Sanitize removing visible pollutants and protecting your health by reducing bacteria, viruses and fungi; sanitation is the new industry standard level of clean
Disinfect killing the majority of harmful organisms on surfaces that are the most harmful to humans
Sterilize the 100% removal of all contamination, living and chemical; this is what hospitals and laboratories seek

Sanitation is the current industry standard, but many cleaning companies like us are working hard to develop the latest technology to make your home as healthy and clean as possible!

Basic Home Cleaning Activities

MadMizDustingWhen you think about the checklist you might want a cleaning service to follow, you probably break it down into the rooms of your house. After all, that’s how you use your house.

But when we think of how to clean your home, we also think of what core activities we perform. It’s a bit surprise that there are just three basic activities:

Dust dry “washing” using a dry cloth to remove visible dirt, dust, and particulates from a surface
Vacuum dry removal of dirt and dust from carpet, floors, furniture, and other areas using attachments
Wash wet washing using at minimum water but also chemicals to remove less visible contaminants from surfaces

Having such classic and basic techniques also means we’ve worked hard to develop better tools to use to make your home clean and healthy.

Common Tools

henry-vacuum-cleanerThe tools we use today seem to some smaller and simpler and perhaps inadequate compared to the cabinet full of bottles and products eating up space under the kitchen sink.

Abrasive granular cleaning agent that cleans through scouring or scrubbing action
Broom dry brush used for removing dirt, dust, and particles from the floor while standing
Detergent liquid washing agent, best associated with laundry and dishes
Disinfectant liquid agent that kills bacteria
Fabric Filter fabric that attracts and collects dust and dirt
Microfiber Cloth fabric that attracts and collects dust and dirt; used for both dry or wet cleaning
Mop wet washing cloth/head used for washing floors while standing
Vacuum mechanical device that uses air suction to remove dirt and dust from carpet, flooring, furniture, etc.

After years of cleaning homes, we’ve put together what we think is the best set of tools, but each home cleaning company uses its own collection of products and tools. These are some of the basics that you probably have in your home already, maybe even used when it was your turn to clean the house after school on a Friday afternoon; at least, that’s what we did in my house!

Pop Quiz

Like us on Facebook at and take our Cleaning Glossary Pop Quiz! It’s okay, there are no grades, and you can change your answer as many times as you want to!



Book: Protecting the Built Environment: Cleaning for Health (1994)

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