You Don’t Need Hours to Have a Clean Home
With so many responsibilities competing for your attention, it’s no wonder housework sometimes gets pushed to the bottom of your to-do list. But a messy house can be more than just an eyesore — it can be bad for your health. Dust mites, mold, bacteria, and viruses (not to mention insects and rodents) can multiply in a dirty house, causing asthma, allergies, rashes, infections, and other illnesses. The good news is that maintaining a clean home doesn’t have to require a lot of sweat and elbow grease. Spending 10 minutes a day can lead to a much cleaner home than devoting an hour less frequently. You can clean faster, have more energy, and move on to more fun activities quickly when you only need to work at it for such a short time. Follow these tips to learn how to clean each room faster and more efficiently.
Take It One Room at a Time
Tackling one room at a time can help you clean faster by improving your focus and preventing you from feeling overwhelmed. Unsure of where to begin? Start with the room used most often. Once it’s finished, you’ll have a sense of accomplishment and be more enthusiastic about moving on to the next room. But make sure you keep distractions to a minimum — no talking on the phone or checking e-mail until you’re done. Try these room-by-room tips to help clean your home.
Few things can ruin your appetite faster than a dirty kitchen, but there are certain tricks you can try to keep it pristine. “Clean your messes up as they happen,” says Allison Perkins, a professional organizer, relocation specialist, and founder of Reclaim in Raleigh, N.C. For example, wipe up stovetop spills immediately rather than letting them harden, becoming a much bigger job to remove. Store items in cabinets so there will be less to clear off clean countertops and shelves before you scrub them down. Keep your dusters, sponges, disinfectants and other cleaning supplies in a portable caddy within easy reach; look for multitasking tools and cleaners to cut down on clutter. Once daily, wipe down counters, sinks, and appliances, take out the trash, and sweep the floor. Make it part of your daily routine to avoid buildup.
The Living Room
The most important tip for easy cleaning in the heart of your home is to put things back where they belong instead of letting them collect in one room. Assigning a “home” to each object — be it the remote, magazine stack, or newspaper stash — helps family members (even small children) clean faster. Then, try implementing this rule: every time a family member leaves a room, he or she must put one item back in its rightful place.
Thanks to the near-constant dampness, the bathroom can easily become a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria. Keep toiletries stashed away in organizers, says Jacquie Ross, a professional organizer and owner of CastAway the Clutter! in Baltimore. Clean this room like you would the kitchen: do a little bit each day, like wiping down the sink, toilet seat, and shower after each use.
The key here is maintaining a sense of order. “Make your bed every day,” advises Lisa Krohn, a personal organizer and life coach in New York City. Put away clean laundry immediately; don’t let it sit. Stash dirty clothes in the hamper instead of on the floor. Store loose change and other pocket clutter in a tray for easy retrieval in the morning. Consider keeping hobby supplies, crafts, and paperwork in another room or designated storage area to keep clutter to a minimum. Bottom line: If you minimize the clutter, you also minimize the dust it collects!
Recruit the Family
It’s easy for cleaning to become primarily one family member’s responsibility, but when aiming for a truly clean home, it’s best to get everyone involved. Children should be in charge of their own rooms and, depending on their ages, other relatively easy tasks such as dusting, vacuuming, or emptying the dishwasher. Give detailed instructions to make sure they know how each chore should be done. Many parents find success by linking chores to allowances and privileges for their children.
Check It Off
Another way to keep up with your cleaning efforts is to use a checklist. “Keeping track of what you have done and what needs to be done will keep you on track,” Perkins says. “It also holds you accountable and helps you recognize the areas you avoid cleaning.” Added bonus: You’ll feel a big sense of accomplishment every time a box gets checked off!