FYI: Here’s which room you should clean first

We’re all about efficiency, baby

A red brush sweeping up colorful confetti on a pink background
(Image credit: Getty)

Okay, so you’re ready to start cleaning. You have your cleaning supplies at the ready, and you’ve wiggled on your rubber gloves. But whether you’re in an apartment or have a whole rental house, it can be tricky to know which room to start with.

Having a method when it comes to cleaning is important, because you don’t want to be wasting your time. For example, cleaning from top to bottom is the best way to go for individual rooms, so you don’t get dirt on the floor after you’ve cleaned it. This is one of my fave ideas, which I found out after speaking to experts about common cleaning mistakes.

One of the best ways to clean efficiently is by choosing a room that you should clean first. I spoke to cleaning experts to find out which room you should choose, how to clean it, and why doing this is important. Basically, your cleaning routine is going to be so much slicker.

Why choosing a room to clean first is important

I’m a huge sucker for motivation — give me a confidence boost (or a li'l snack) and I’ll whizz away doing whatever. By choosing a room to start with, you can boost yourself for the rest of the cleaning process. “Completing the most challenging room at the beginning of the cleaning provides a sense of accomplishment to continue with the rest of the house,” says Ryan Knoll, owner of Tidy Casa. In short, once the hard part is done, it's easy to do the rest.

Not only this, but choosing a room is so much better for time efficiency. “Starting in a challenging room helps establish a better understanding of how long the cleaning process will take, allowing you to manage your time more effectively,” adds Knoll. After all, time is precious, and you probs have more things you’d rather do than clean.

Which room you should be cleaning first

Most experts agree that the kitchen and bathroom are the most important rooms to clean first, because they get the most use and are considered to be “wet” areas. Which sounds gross, but def makes sense. 

Why you should clean the kitchen first

We all spend serious amounts of time in the kitchen— I personally spend more minutes than I'd like to admit staring at the fridge, waiting for food to appear. “It is one of the most-used, high-traffic rooms in the home, and it’s important to keep clean because of the number of surfaces that come into contact with food,” Tonya Harris, founder of Slightly Greener and author of The Slightly Greener Method says. “It’s also one of the most time-consuming rooms to clean, so starting here is a great place before wearing yourself out in another room.”

In terms of daily cleaning tasks in the kitchen, Harris advises wiping tables and chairs, wiping countertops, vacuuming the floor, cleaning the sink, and loading the dishwasher.

She suggests doing a weekly refrigerator purge, too. “I recommend doing this the night before garbage pickup so food doesn't have time to get smelly sitting in the garbage," says Harris. Also, do a pantry purge and microwave cleaning weekly. She loves cleaning microwaves with a castile soap cleaner like Vermont Soap, which you can buy from Amazon. 

Why you should clean the bathroom first

The bathroom is also a great place to start your apartment cleaning process. “It is the room with the most usage, especially for sanitary reasons," Johnny Pallares, owner of De La Rosa House Cleaning. "It collects the most bacteria so you want to keep this room clean to prevent bacteria from sticking.” He says this happens from shower steam falling onto the surface. This, alongside the toilet, can create a real build-up of icky germs.

To get your bathroom looking shiny and fresh, Pallares recommends going from top to bottom, wiping down surfaces, scrubbing the sink, toilet, shower, and finally the floor. “When cleaning the bathroom, use separate cloths for each surface, as this helps prevent cross-contamination between surfaces.”

The bathroom also requires more intense cleaners and disinfectants than other areas of the home — I really like the Method foaming bathroom cleaner from Amazon. “To take it a step further, use a squeegee to wipe down the shower door and walls after each use, as this helps cut down on the water leaving streaks and promoting mildew growth,” Pallares adds. Need one? This is Amazon’s bestselling one.

Basically, you can choose either the bathroom or the kitchen first to start cleaning your apartment. Knoll recommends starting from the room that’s furthest away in the home, then moving forward room by room until you reach the door. “By having a consistent and efficient cleaning pattern, involving moving from the most challenging areas to the less demanding ones, you can streamline the overall process and improve productivity,” he says.

That’s serious organization. Now you know where to start, you can pick up your cleaning caddy and get into the cleaning zone. 

Eve Smallman
Staff Writer

Hi there! I’m a staff writer at Real Homes. I've been a lifestyle journalist for over five years, previously working as an editor across regional magazines. Before this, I graduated from Nottingham Trent University a degree in journalism, along with an NCTJ gold diploma. I love running, decorating my rented Victorian home, and discovering new cheeses.