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Clean your house quickly and easily with professional strategies and free up time you can put to better use.
When your surroundings are disorganized or messy, you pay the price in time.
And when you follow all the cleaning rules to keep your house neat and tidy, you pay the price in time.
Unless you have the ability to pay for a housekeeper to do it for you, chances are you’re the one who shoulders most of that work.
How many hours a week do you spend picking up toys and carelessly tossed magazine, folding laundry, dusting, washing surfaces, cleaning toilets and mirrors, sweeping and washing floors, and … well, it’s endless isn’t it?
Repetitive chores are part of a routine we set for ourselves but our routines aren’t always efficient, especially if we do them the same way we’ve been doing it since our mothers taught us.
The materials in our homes are different than those of 20 or 30 years ago. Cleaning products are different and so are cleaning tools.
That means that old methods are no longer necessary.
To clean your house quickly, you have to start thinking about cleaning differently.
I created a meal planning system for myself (see How To Use Meal Planning To Save Time And Money and get my system to use for yourself for free) to make everything food-related easier and quicker.
I also studied how professional cleaners worked their way through a house to get so much done (and thoroughly done) in such little time. I looked closely at how they used cleaning products and tools and then combined them with my own tidying habits to come up with a system that keeps my home mostly tidy and reasonably clean.
There will always be days when boys are flinging themselves onto the sofa and spreading snacks and drinks on the coffee table and squashing my pretty pillows while playing video games.
My dog sheds and between vacuuming, it’s not uncommon to see fur tumbleweeds rolling into corners.
My house is a place where people live and make messes. It’s a shelter for our family, not a showroom.
That said, I don’t think or work well when I’m surrounded by a mess. So keeping things neat is important to me and I just like knowing that everything is clean.
My Cleaning on a Time Budget system is two parts.
What I Do Between Cleanings
Even though I think of it as keeping the house nice after I clean, what I do between cleanings is really the key to how I can do my housework fast and save a lot of time when it’s time to actually clean.
I have a daily routine to keep the clutter and “look” of the house the way I want it. It only requires a few minutes in the morning and evening. Make adjustment for your own family needs.
- Make the bed. Teach your children to make their beds. Making the bed immediately lets you see what else in your room needs attention.
- Quickly sort clothes laying around. Put them in the laundry basket or hang them up. Put shoes away. Done!
- Walk through the living room. Straighten pillows and fold blankets. Pick up anything late night teens might have left around. Grab and keep moving.
- Get your breakfast going, unload the dishwasher and reload with late night glasses, pans or anything left out. Spray and wipe the counter when you’re done.
- Keep a spray bottle of ½ water and ½ your favorite surface cleaner in every bathroom. Each time you use the toilet, quickly spray the interior of the porcelain and use a toilet brush to swish it clean. When you do this every time, there will never be a gross built up mess. And your bathroom will stay smelling fresh every day.
- Here’s the most important thing. As you walk around your house, be on the lookout for things that need to be picked up or done, and do it. A strand of thread on the carpet, a tuft of dog hair in the corner, the dog water bowl is dry, a piece of paper half under the sofa, a sticky spot on the floor of the kitchen you notice as you walk through … STOP. Grab the thread and the dog hair and toss. Spray the spot on the floor and wipe it down quickly. Fill the dog’s water bowl even if it’s a kid’s evening chore. If you don’t train your eyes to see the small things, you won’t notice a mess till it’s much bigger and needs more work.
- Clean the kitchen and all the pans and tools you use while making dinner as you go. Don’t wait till after dinner to clean the kitchen. Most meals require several steps and the use of pans and bowls. Wash out a bowl as soon as you’ve moved its contents into a pan. Don’t just soak it, Wash and dry it quickly and put it away. Do the same for the pan unless you are serving directly from it. Wipe down the cutting board and counter when you’re done prepping. These small multitasking actions will leave you with very little to do after dinner.
- Set up for the morning. Load the coffee pot with filter and coffee. If you find you’re out of one or the other, it’s easier to know the night before that you have to plan on a stop at Starbucks on your way out to work.
- Take a minute after watching TV with the family to put away the remotes, straighten the sofa cushions and get everyone to pick up their shoes and other items.
- Choose and lay out your clothes for the next day. If you find a stain or something that requires repair, it’s easier to make a change now rather than in the morning when you’re rushed. And you can put your dry cleaning by your purse for drop off the next day.
2. How I Clean
I have my Speed Cleaning Checklist attached at the end of this post but I want to give you a few reasons why I think it works.
When I talked to cleaning professionals about their tips to cleaning quickly and thoroughly, they always gave me the same answer.
- Let cleansers do the work for you.
No matter what cleaning products their clients prefer, they all work if you give them time to do their jobs.
Most people cleaning their homes will spray cleanser on a surface and immediately wipe it off.
Although it looks clean, removing the cleanser quickly leaves a lot of the bacteria and ground in dirt behind, even if it can’t be seen.
Giving the cleansers a few minutes to do their job also makes it much easier to wipe away the mess rather than scrubbing at something that hasn’t been broken down yet.
Just as soaking a pan with baked in, hard to remove, food makes it easier to clean later, so do every surface of your house. Don’t be in a rush, get surfaces covered in cleanser and go do other things while they get their job done. Come back to a quick wipe and you’re done!
- Have a system for organizing your stuff.
You have baskets or bins for children’s toys and you can organize office equipment, household cleaners, and filing system on your computer and mobile devices in the same way.
Do the same for other things in your home. Put a book back on its designated shelf once you’ve read it. Refile computer documents into the folders you’ve assigned them to. Don’t have folders? Make them. Computers are deceptively able to hold thousands of files and never let you find them again. Create a simple organization system you can understand and file all the PDFs and important digital files you have. Do the same with your emails. Trust me, you’ll be so grateful for it when the bank calls for proof of something you have an email receipt for.
Invest some time in creating organization systems that work for you.
Using something and then returning it to its place gives you control and the ability to work quickly because your tools are always where they need to be.
Use phone hold times to do some of this organizing whenever you have a chance.
Developing a habit of using a tool and immediately putting it back where it belongs will save you countless minutes every time you work.
My Speed Cleaning checklist is set up to do everything in a couple of hours, but I rarely have a “cleaning day.”
I find it easier to group rooms and do them on different days of the week.
The bathrooms are all done on Thursday. We have a 2 story house with two bathrooms on the first floor and three on the second. I just follow the spray and walk away approach at the first one and work my way up. Then I go back to the first bathroom, wipe everything down and do the floor, on to the second, etc. It takes me about a half hour to do all of them.
When the kids are away at college, I clean the kitchen once a week. When they are “in residence,” I do it daily. I also have no problem with having them do it.
I don’t have a laundry day. And I don’t separate colors and whites. At least not once I’ve made sure that new items are colorfast. I do a load 2 or 3 times a week. I put it in before dinner and fold while watching TV. Easy peasy.
The living room stays pretty neat except for the dog toys that cover the floor. People who visit my house unexpectedly think I have a toddler! When I’m expecting company, the toys are put in his basket and I vaccuum. When I’m not, I just pick them up in the evening and it starts all over again the next morning. I really don’t care.
Choose your level of comfort.
Don’t let other people bully you into what your home should be.
If you’re only happy if everything is neat all day and clothes left out give you hives, then adjust your cleaning routines to achieve that.
If you’re fine with a certain level of disarray but want things underneath the clutter to be clean, make that your priority in your schedule.
Here’s a picture I took just now over the top of my computer.
There’s a large college student sprawled on the sofa, cords dangling over the top of the sofa, piled up books and magazines on the ottoman.
I know without looking that the seat cushions are half off the sofa.
The rug needs to be vacuumed and I’ll do it tomorrow.
That big empty wall reminds me I need to frame my pictures from Spain and get them up there. Hmmm … maybe this weekend.
I don’t care.
The room is lived in but comfortable.
I would gladly welcome anyone into my home without making a single adjustment.
Use my Speed Cleaning methods any way you want and adjust them to fit your home and your schedule.
Here’s my Speed Cleaning Checklist. It’s yours to download to help you clean your house quickly and get on to other things.
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