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10 Easy Cleaning Shortcuts

admin August 24, 2012

Okay, so, I get asked all the time how I “do it all.”  Well, as most of you probably know from your own lives…I don’t.  It’s not possible to do it all!

One major area that often slides is cleaning.  When it comes down to the wire, unless there’s something I really need to do (cleaning-wise), I will choose spending time with the kids, blogging, cooking, etc. over cleaning.

Now, don’t think my house is filthy.  It’s not.  I do deep cleans a few times a year.  Just a week or so ago I scrubbed all my kitchen counters, and I mean behind all the appliances and everything.  I also keep up with the daily dishes, laundry, etc. — well, mostly.

But I’m not “that mom” who has an immaculate home, whose curtains and rugs are washed regularly (ha), whose bathrooms are so sparkling you could eat in them.  You’ll see crumbs in my carpet, especially in the playroom.  You’ll see toys on the floor.  You might see some dishes on the counter.  I’m okay with that — it’s how things go in a busy household.  I’d rather enjoy life than have an immaculate home.

I do hate living in downright clutter, though.  So to combat my desire to do things other than clean, but not live in a dirty house, I’ve developed several cleaning shortcuts to help me out.

1. Do the Dishes

Everyday I make it a point to do the dishes.  I unload the dishwasher in the morning and load up anything that was left on the counter or in our room after our bedtime snack, and the breakfast dishes.  I load up what I can after meals.  At least my counters are cleared off so my kitchen looks a lot cleaner…and we have clean dishes.  This does not take much time.  It is part of our “morning chores” surrounding breakfast prep.

2. Have Less Stuff

We try to keep only a box or two of toys in the kids’ playroom (and by “box” I mean a large shoe box size).  If they have less of them, then there is less to pick up and keep track of.  i.e. we can clean up easier.  We’re working on getting rid of more and more other stuff too so that we do not have loose odds and ends floating around.  My ultimate goal is “a place for everything and everything in its place.”  I don’t see how else I can reasonably keep an organized home.

3. Do the Laundry All At Once

Over several days, people take clothes off in various locations and put it in different baskets.  I try to wash the laundry usually over two days, and it all stays folded in one room (that we don’t often use) until it is all done.  Then it goes back into the “right” baskets — one per room (three for my room).  Each basket gets carried to its proper location and putting the laundry away only takes a minute or two.  (This is one reason why you will often see clean, folded laundry in house, though, since I don’t always get it done in two days…)

4. Sweep the Floor

No matter how many toys are on the playroom floor, it still doesn’t really look “dirty” if the floor is vacuumed.  I sweep the kitchen floor every couple of days.  I do not mop very often.  I just try to keep it free from obvious junk.

5. Focus on High-Traffic Areas

The last time I vacuumed the playroom was…yesterday.  The last time I vacuumed my bedroom was…I don’t even remember.  It’s pretty common for me to vacuum the playroom at least weekly, but the upstairs, like…never.  (Not never but a few times a year.)  I never sweep bathroom floors, but I sweep the kitchen fairly often.  The bathroom floors don’t get food thrown on them multiple times a day.  I especially ignore the bathroom in my room that no one but me and my husband uses…

6. Clean the Toilet and Sink

In the bathroom, you do not need to sanitize every.single.surface.  Swish the toilet and wipe down the sink area.  That will take less than 10 minutes and the bathroom will look clean.  Save the mirrors, floors, and anything else for a monthly “real” cleaning.  Save tubs and showers for when, you know, you really have to.  My tub is plastic and never looks dirty so it only gets cleaned a few times a year.

7. Skip the “Details”

Every window in my house has fingerprints on it.  I don’t remember the last time I washed the curtains.  The rugs?  Well…I shake them out now and then.  For the most part, these will not actually look that dirty and peoples’ attention will not be drawn to them.  Clean them seasonally, but they don’t need done every week.

8. Use a Microfiber Cloth and “Scoot”

When my floor does get spills or dirty spots (in the kitchen), I don’t get out the mop.  I run a microfiber cloth under hot water, squeeze it out, and toss it on the floor.  Then I use my foot to rub the worst spots until they are clean.  It saves me from having to actually haul out mops, buckets, cleaning solution, etc. but my kitchen floor remains reasonably clean.  I typically use water to clean most things that are not actually “dirty” anyway, and save any chemicals, even “natural” ones for places like the bathroom or the infrequent deep clean.  Kids can even help with this; many think it’s fun!

9. Clean Immediately

If something spills, just clean it up.  It takes two seconds to wipe up juice that splashed on the counter while pouring; it might take two minutes to scrub it off once it’s sticky and dried on.  I have to remind myself of this constantly, for some reason.  (And all our parents, mine and Ben’s, clean up everything immediately and they always have, and they tried to teach us this.  Do we do it?  Nope….  We never learn.)

10. Have a Good “System” In Place

All shoes go into the closet next to the door when we get home.  All coats get hung nearby on some hooks.  There is a laundry basket in the kitchen and almost every upstairs room, and all the clothes go into them when taken off.  There are trash cans in several rooms and trash goes into them.  We are teaching our kids to do these, plus putting dishes on the counter next to the sink or into the dishwasher.  When everyone knows where their “things” belong, then keeping things clean is easier.  I hate tripping over shoes…so we’re being pretty insistent that shoes need to go into that closet when they are not being worn.  The kids are getting better about it.  And we are trying to be examples by doing it correctly ourselves!

These are the ways that I keep my house reasonably clean.  Not wonderful, but acceptable enough that if you were to drop in unexpectedly I wouldn’t feel the need to apologize (much).

What are your best quick-clean tips?

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16 Comments

  1. I love this, Kate! This house is our home, and we like to have it clean enough to feel comfortable in, but it just doesn’t stay perfect the way it did before kids. 😉 I have a lot of the same methods and standards that you have, and that’s what we’re happy with. There are times I feel overwhelmed trying to “do it all”, so it’s very encouraging to get a glimpse into your real-life home! Thanks! 🙂

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    • Thanks Justyn! I’m sort of jealous and overwhelmed by those moms who have this perfect cleaning schedule laid out and they always make it a priority to get to everything. Like, they clean the bathrooms one day a week, the laundry another day (and they do it ALL and finish it that same day), the rugs towels and sheets another day, etc. I love the IDEA but man, in the real world, it just doesn’t work that way, at least not in my home. We all have priorities and they are different and cleaning will probably never be one of mine. LOL.

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  2. I’ve been trying to clean a different area/section each day of the week instead of doing an entire cleaning day once a week. It does take time each day, but overall the house looks/stays cleaner. It’s easier for me to say to myself that I’m goign to clean the bathrooms Wednesday after work vs. dreading having to clean the entire house on a Sunday when I should be relaxing. Great tips. Can we do some tips on how to get the hubbys to help with housework…without sounding like a nag…or their mother. 🙂 He sees the things on my daily cleaning to do list…and doesn’t do them. 🙂

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  3. these are all very good tips. having less tuff is much harder today than when i was a kid 50 years ago. there weren’t so many things–specialized cooking and cleaning things and PAPER.

    but my number one best cleaning sanity key is being nearsighted.

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  4. This is my house to a T! My tub and windows rarely get washed. I mainly try to keep the main living and kitchen area free of clutter and major debris. 🙂

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  5. I really have got to do the separate laundry baskets idea – that is awesome! I always have clean laundry in a pile in the laundry room just waiting to be folded and I stair at it with disdain and dread every time I pass by. Your advice might very well revolutionize my laundry day!

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  6. My tip- have a small house! It takes no time to clean. I will admit I only vacuum upstairs once every few months; it is our bedroom and no one goes there. I also give my kids a spray bottle with vinegar and water. They do windows and floors for me with no complaints (6 and 3). I RO sweep every day because of wood floors, but my kids are starting to help now.

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  7. I do all of this too. Although I have to clean the WHOLE toilet, no idea how they get soo dirty since my husband and I are the only ones to use them. I use daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly checklists to remind me how long is has been since I did some things. I don’t always to all of them, and I don’t stress either–it mainly helps my psyche to check off boxes!!:)

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  8. Some great tips there :); after having a cleaner do my house once a fortnight, we decided to pair it down and just leave it between my hubby and myself and put the $ into a travel fund instead (and have a slightly grungier house). With four of us in the house, I work 2 days p/w and hubby 5 so most things pile up until the days I’m not working (including weekends). I wash everyday those days, and I have three washing baskets which I put the clean washing in at the clothesline (one for us and 2 for our 2 girls). Miss 8 is old enough to pack away her clothes and I do the rest for Miss 3 and Mr N. Each night I do a tidy up as I don’t like waking up to a disorganised house, and again the girls help with picking up their stuff. I keep the bathroom cleaning stuff in a (locked) cupboard and just to a quick once over when I have a moment and a good once over each fortnight (or week, depending on how grommety it has become). Hubby has been known to pull out the vacuum and scrub the loo, I guess he can see it needs doing and just does it, bless 🙂

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  9. 16 years and 10 kids later I still haven’t figured out the “perfect cleaning plan”. I use to live in that constant state of feeling like a horrible mom because I didn’t have an imaculate home. Flylady has been my biggest help in at least starting…. I remember e-mailing her about her first step, “shine your sink!”. “I know step 1 is shine your sink, but what about ALL the dishes?”. She kindly responded, “did I tell you to wash all the dishes?”. So I piled all the dishes to the side and shined the sink.

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  10. 16 years and 10 kids later, cleaning is the thorn in my side. My greatest help to even start to get a grasp on it all was Flylady. My biggest blessing lately is a revelation that I don’t need to be perfect. I look forward to the day that the laundry IS DONE, the dishes stop reproducing, and the floor is less of a tripping hazard…But in it all I’m thankful for ladies who speak into my life, as my wise aunt once said, “I didn’t make an appointment to see your house, I made an appointment to see YOU!”

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  11. I love hearing about how other people’s houses aren’t perfect. It makes me feel a lot better about my house! I too have grasped onto some of the Fly Lady concepts, like making the bed as soon as I get out of it, TRYING to keep the sink free of dirty dishes (but without a working dishwasher this one is really hard), doing a load of laundry every day (twice a week it’s diapers), and the “swish and swipe” – a daily quick clean of the bathroom. I don’t really do it every day, but just the mindset that I can wipe of the counters, mirror, sink, toilet and floor real quick as I’m getting ready for the day has revolutionized my world!

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  12. 1) The single 2nd best thing I’ve done of late is decide to do laundry every day – one load atlease – and fold one load. Now the loads are small and manageable and I know longer hate doing it. I own front loaders that measure the water amount according to the amount of clothing so Saving water is not an issue.

    2)The 2nd best thing – fly ladies – 15 minute room rushes – I can do anything for 15 minutes – and you will be surprised how much progress you can make in 15 minutes of concentrated effort.

    3) I plan my work like I was a general in the army – ha ha- when I get up in the Morming I already know what my battle plan is and armed with my timer I get a lot done.

    4) last but most important I think – The single best realization I’ve had:
    “It’s the silence between the notes that makes the music” – Zen proverb
    I learned the HARD way to PLAN breaks in between. I know now that I cannot do it all so I don’t try – I prioritize, and then do something that I REALLY enjoy even if it’s only for a few minutes. 🙂

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  13. Thank you for being so real! I have a cleaning schedule I (try to) keep up with that only requires me to do a couple tasks on top of dishes & laundry. Being sick and pregnant however, my days look pretty similar to yours 🙂

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  14. I like the way you think! Of course, it is better to have an active life than a spotlessly clean home. These 10 solutions are probably the ones are the most like applying in my home. Most posts I found so far advice on being careful, paying attention to every detail, how important it is to clean, etc., etc. However, you have the shortcuts that really appeal to me and I can see them applying in my home. Thanks, and keep up the good work! I work as a cleaner and I certainly pay careful attention to other people’s homes, but when it comes to mine things are a bit different.

    Best regards,
    Cheryl from CleaningHouseLondon

    Reply

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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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