Mere Minutes a day vs. Hours on the Weekend
Must you spend an entire Saturday cleaning? The fast answer: No. Follow our minutes-a-day shortcuts and you'll never waste a weekend scrubbing and mopping again. We consulted with David Bowers, author of Dad's Own Housekeeping Book, and Laura Dellutri, author of Speed Cleaning 101, for a foolproof, free-up-your-time guide to getting--and keeping--the entire house clean in just minutes a day.
In the kitchen:
Every night, take 5 minutes after dinner to:
■ Wipe down counter and stovetop (2 minutes).
Run a damp cleanser-treated microfiber cloth across the counter using horizontal overlapping strokes, and spot-clean spills and grease on the stove (including under the burner rings) and in the microwave.
■ Sweep the floor (3 minutes).
Look around: If you spot coffee grounds, cookie crumbs, or pet hair balls on the floor, grab a hand vacuum or flat Swiffer-style sweeper and give the floor a quick once-over, starting in the farthest corner and working out toward the door. Wipe wet spills with a dampened paper towel.
Every 2 weeks, take 13 minutes to:
■ Dust walls and cupboards (4 minutes).
Use a half-damp microfiber cloth (Dellutri says H2O and microfiber are all you need to tackle 90 percent of household surfaces) to spot-dust walls and cupboards as well as door and window frames.
■ Clean out the fridge (2 minutes).
Spot-clean Mysterious spills on shelves and inside drawers with a damp microfiber cloth.
■ Wipe down surfaces (3 minutes).
With a cleanser-treated cloth, wipe down the counter, sink, stove, and fridge (including handle) using overlapping horizontal strokes (no redundant circles!). A grout brush and lime-scale remover will nip grit and grime around the faucet.
■ Clean baseboards and floors (4 minutes).
Sweep baseboards with a Swiffer or dry microfiber mop, then sweep the floor, starting in the farthest corner and working out of the room. Spray cleanser on the mop for an I've-been-mopping- all-day shine.
In the bathroom:
Every day, take 3 minutes after you shower to:
■ Spray tub, tile, and shower curtain/doors (30 seconds).
Let a shower spray fight all-over scum while you get on with your day.
■ Spruce up the sink (30 seconds).
Grab a paper towel from under the sink and run it across the vanity and sink bowl to clean up toothpaste, powder bronzer, or whatever you may have left behind.
■ Wipe down the toilet (1 minute).
If the toilet is showing telltale signs of messy aim, use a disposable disinfecting wipe to give the throne a royal wiping-down.
■ Spot-clean the floors (1 minute).
Use a paper towel or rag to wipe around the tub and toilet, and below the sink where dust and drips gather.
Every 2 weeks, take 14 minutes to:
■ Disinfect the toilet (1 minute).
Maximize the disinfectant in your multisurface spray by letting the cleanser fight germs and bacteria while you work the room. Spray the toilet--from the commode (don't forget the flusher) to the base.
■ Clean the sink (2 minutes).
Again bucking the "spray your cloth" rule, spray sink fixtures and surfaces. Let the cleanser disinfect while you spray a microfiber cloth and clean the bathroom mirror using horizontal overlapping strokes to prevent streaks. Then, use the cloth to wipe down sink.
■ Shape up the shower (5 minutes).
Spray tile with multisurface cleanser. Let it eat away lingering soap scum while you quickly scrub the tub (target the sides and the floor) with a scrub pad and a dab of cream cleanser (like Soft Scrub). Wipe shower tiles with a clean, damp microfiber flat mop, then clean shower door with a microfiber cloth.
■ Finish cleaning the toilet (3 minutes).
Sprinkle a mild powder cleanser inside the bowl. (Never mix cleansers in the bowl or on surfaces--this may cause noxious fumes.) Use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe away the cleanser and buildup on the surfaces you sprayed seven minutes ago. Now, grab your brush--the two minutes you spent shining up the john just shaved off half your scrubbing time.
■ Sweep and mop floor (3 minutes).
Tackle dirt in hard-to-reach areas--behind the toilet, under the sink--with a microfiber cloth. On entire floor, do a dry, then a wet, once-over with a flat microfiber mop. No scrubbing necessary!
In the living room:
Every night, take 3 minutes before bed to:
■ Clear away clutter (2 minutes).
Tie up newspapers for recycling; stash magazines and remotes.
■ Spot-clean the floor (1 minute).
If the day brought tracks of debris through the room (leaves, pretzel crumbs), use a hand vac to get rid of messes.
Every 2 weeks, take 12 minutes to:
■ Dust ceiling fans, bookshelves, walls, and windowsills (2 minutes).
Use a microfiber extendable duster or an ostrich-feather duster (ostrich feathers are dirt-trappers too) to dust ceiling fans, blinds, light fixtures, and bookshelves. Then swipe walls and windowsills with a damp microfiber cloth.
■ Tidy the tables (5 minutes).
Swipe coffee tables and other surfaces with a damp microfiber cloth. (Keep a dusting cloth tucked away in a drawer in an entertainment center or an end table so it's easy to find.) Straighten surfaces as you go; whenever you pick up an item, dust the surface where it sat, then the spot that you're moving it to, before you set it down.
■ Sweep baseboards; vacuum or sweep floor (5 minutes).
Run a dry microfiber mop along baseboards to remove dust and pet hair. Continue sweeping noncarpeted floors with the microfiber mop. For carpets, vacuum the room. Employ the golden cornrowing rule: Push the vacuum all the way up one side of the room, turn, and walk back down the next row--it covers more carpet area in less time.
In the bedroom:
Every day, follow basic living-room maintenance plus take less than 2 more minutes to:
■ Make the bed (1 minute).
Pull up the covers and fluff the pillows.
■ Unclutter the dresser or bureau (30 seconds).
Straighten up dresser top, then use a microfiber cloth to pick up any errant dust or hair.
Every 2 weeks, take 6 minutes to:
■ Change the bedding (3 minutes).
Wash sheets in at least 130-degree water (set dial to "hot") or pour in a detergent additive (Dellutri recommends De-Mite Laundry Additive, $13.99, natlallergy.com) to kill invisible dust mites lurking in your linens.
■ Vacuum or sweep the floor (3 minutes).
The 5 Golden Rules of Speedy Cleaning:
1. Spend 5 minutes a day tidying the main rooms of your home. A day's worth of dirt is easier to tackle than a week's accumulated mess. Then, every two weeks, do a quick, keep clean.
2. Keep your cleaners handy and organized. Stash a set of tools and cleaners under the bathroom and kitchen sinks, so you don't have to lug them around for quick touch-ups.
3. Embrace microfiber technology. The intricately woven fibers trap fine dirt and liquid--rather than pushing it around like other cloths.
4. Work efficiently. Apply cleansers to your mop or cloth, rather than directly to floors or counters, so you don't spend more time cleaning up product than spills. And use long side-to-side strokes (cornrowing) with your mop, vacuum, or cloth on floors and surfaces to avoid repeat cleaning (which happens when you move in circles), says Dellutri.
5. Clean each room from top to bottom, dry to wet. Knock dust and dirt from high places down to low places. And always dust before mopping and drywipe before cleansing. You'll just be moving debris around if you wet-clean first.)
1. The oscillating head on the SonicScrubber ($13, sonicscrubber.com) lets you clean buildup around your faucet and dried drips in the fridge without breaking a sweat. Pick up an extra one for your bathroom, too!
2. Use Method Daily Shower Spray ($4, methodhome.com) and you'll never have to scrub your tile again. The nontoxic ylang-ylang-scented formula is safe to spritz near your loofah.
3. Dump a capful of Kaboom's Bowl Blaster ($4, kaboom.com) into your toilet bowl, and its foaming powder will rise to the rim, breaking down stains (even hard water) while you tackle other tasks. Ten minutes later, just flush (no brushing!) and go.
4. Put more leverage behind high-powered bathroom tasks with the two-foot-long Clorox Bath Wand ($10 for starter kit, $3 for soap-filled disposable refills).
5. To keep toilet bowl cleaner for longer, try the Scrubbing Bubbles Toilet Gel. All you do is stamp it to the side of your toilet bowl and every time you flush, the gel releases cleaning agent.
6. For quick cleanups, keep a canister of durable disposable wipes in the bathroom and kitchen. Try Clorox Disinfecting Wipes ($4 for 35) in lemon, orange, lavender, and fresh scents; or Method's "scentalizing" wipes ($4 for 30, methodhome.com) in grapefruit, cucumber, or lavender.
7: To clean stubborn mold/mildew stains or general grime in your shower, used Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner with bleach. Just squirt liquid around the bottom of your shower and on the shower floor and let the cleaner do the heavy work for you.
8. The Mohawk FloorCare Essentials Hard Surface kit ($40, mohawk-flooring.com) comes with a wet/dry microfiber mop and a nontoxic, soapfree spray that shines any hard surface. (Other soapy cleaners leave behind a dirt-attracting residue.)
*Most of this info was adapted from a Redbook magazine article featuring David Bowers, author of Dad's Own Housekeeping Book, and Laura Dellutri, author of Speed Cleaning 101, for a foolproof, free-up-your-time guide to getting--and keeping--the entire house clean in just minutes a day. Some products and ideas were added by me.