Deep Cleaning vs. Standard Cleaning—Here Are the Differences

C.E. Larusso
Written by C.E. Larusso
Reviewed by Asya Biddle
Updated February 14, 2022
Woman wipes down the kitchen table and chairs with cleanser
Photo: SolStock / E+ / Getty Images

Time to get our hands dirty

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You want your house as clean as can be, but what actually distinguishes a deep cleaning from a regular cleaning?

You should perform standard cleanings regularly to keep your house neat and tidy. Fortunately, you only have to worry about deep cleanings, which rid your home of slow-building dirt and grime, a few times a year. This article explores the major differences, whether you’re hiring a local house cleaning service or doing the work yourself.

Standard Cleaning

A standard house cleaning—also known as a basic cleaning or a regular cleaning—consists of all the tasks you should do on a regular basis to keep your house fresh and well-organized. The level of maintenance depends on the size of your home and lifestyle factors. Do you have teenagers who leave their soccer gear everywhere? Or maybe a toddler who can't resist dropping tidbits of their finger food all over your kitchen? Or perhaps you have a pet that leaves fur all over your carpet. Regardless of who lives in your home, the chances are you need regular cleanings to keep it pristine. 

So how often should you clean your house? You should clean your house about once a week to keep it fresh, clean, and comfortable.

For those using or contemplating a professional housekeeping service, the standard cleaning is the lower-cost job that is typically contracted on an ongoing basis. Though the details will differ by cleaning company, a professional standard cleaning will usually include most or all of the following:

  • Sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping floors

  • General tidying

  • Dusting of living room, bedroom, and hallway surfaces, as well as doors, window frames, and vents

  • Cleaning and disinfecting of bathroom and kitchen surfaces, including appliances, the sink, and inside the microwave

  • Making the beds

  • Taking out the trash

Deep Cleaning

Spraying cleaner on white bathroom shower tile
Photo: anthony / Adobe Stock

Now let’s get into the knitty gritty. You know the urge you get to throw open the windows and clear out a winter's worth of dust and grime as soon as the weather warms? That's deep cleaning. You only need to give your home a deep cleaning two or three times a year (phew!). It's the kind of systematic scrubbing you would do when you first move in or move out of a home or after renovating your home.

The job involves attending to all those nooks and crannies that slowly but surely accumulate dirt, grime, and other build-up over the course of day-to-day life—too gradually or too far out of the way to necessitate weekly attention. Whether you do it yourself or pay a house cleaner or housekeeper, a deep cleaning will usually entail all the work of a standard cleaning in addition to the tasks required to more thoroughly spruce up and freshen every corner of the house.

Whether you’re doing it yourself or hiring a pro, some additional tasks entailed by a deep clean include:

  • Removing soap scum from bathroom and kitchen surfaces

  • Scrubbing tiles and grout

  • Cleaning the areas behind and beneath appliances

  • Dusting and cleaning baseboards

  • Dusting the tops of shelves and other furniture as well as fan blades

  • Fully cleaning and washing both sides of all doors

  • Washing windows and cleaning window treatments

  • Cleaning the oven and scrubbing stovetop and drip pans

  • Shampooing carpets

  • Vacuuming and cleaning furniture

  • Wiping down picture frames and other knick-knacks

  • Cleaning mirrors top-to-bottom

  • Hand-washing light fixtures

  • Dusting and washing blinds and shutters

  • Cleaning cabinet fronts

  • Vacuuming and washing all floors, including inside closets

  • Thoroughly vacuuming all carpet crevices

  • Dusting vents

Standard Cleaning vs. Deep Cleaning—Which to Choose?

Bright, clean, open concept living room and kitchen
Photo: bmak / Adobe Stock

There is no apples-to-apples comparison between standard cleaning and deep cleaning. Maintaining the neatness and condition of your home over the years requires that you do both regularly, just with different levels of frequency.

A deep cleaning is more time consuming and, if you’re hiring a professional, more expensive than a standard cleaning, but you don’t need to do anywhere near as often. Ideally, you should deep clean two or three times a year, but—as the nearly universal cliche “spring cleaning” indicates—many people only manage to do it once annually.

“We recommend our customers have a deep cleaning performed at least twice a year.  This frequency ensures that paint, baseboards, windows, etc. are maintained and that your home is safe and free from mold and bacteria. If possible, one should have their HVAC system cleaned on as a schedule as well,” said Asya Biddle, Angi Expert Review Board member and manager of The Dustbusters, a family-owned and operated janitorial company in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Standard cleaning, on the other hand, should be performed weekly or biweekly to keep your home tidy, sanitary, and welcoming to guests. It requires significantly less time and effort.

Most house cleaners will agree to a regular schedule of standard cleanings and deep cleanings that works within your budget. As you’re deciding which company is right for you, a good question to ask house cleaning companies is what kind of frequency they would recommend for your home.

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