Sandra Phillips, author of “A Clean Break” shares tips and techniques for getting your house tidy in only 30 minutes.
At the beginning of the day, take three minutes to care for personal things like making the bed (right when you get out of it), gathering your dirty clothes, clearing off your bathroom counter, or starting a batch of your laundry.
At the end of the day, take care of community (shared) things in the house. This avoids the big warrior cleaning assault on Saturday.
Do a 30-minute cleaning blitz WITH children, spouse, and even houseguests. Everyone needs to help, because probably everyone contributed to the mess. Anyone who can “walk and chew gum” is old enough to work, and children respond better when their parents work alongside them. As they get praise, they want to please. And through parent modeling they learn the accepted and proper techniques for housekeeping.
How to do it:
• Turn off the TV, computers and other distracting visual disturbances
• Play lively music to pump up the adrenaline just a notch
• Turn lights on in every area that needs cleaning (then darken the area again as you finish each room, making your way toward the bedroom)
• Take 2 cleaning cloths and sanitizing spray with you
In this order:
1. Kitchen – The kitchen has more objects in it than any other room or area in the house, and the objects are in constant motion as they move in and out of the fridge, microwave, cupboards and drawers. First, transfer every dirty dish and pan into the sink if it’s not already there. Load the dishwasher or wash the dishes. Put away any food and wipe off the counter. Empty the garbage. Use a sanitizing spray to wipe down kitchen skink faucet handle, salt & pepper shakers, and the fridge door handle. These places collect germs off hands which stay active for up to two days—something families don’t want to share.
2. Entry – First impressions are made at the front door—and our goal is to eliminate these visual disturbances. Have a place designated for shoes, bags, coats and anything else that typically gets dropped there. In a quick clockwise pattern, pick up and move everything else into its home. Wipe down the light switches and front door knobs with the sanitizing spray.
3. Family/living room – wherever the family congregates and watches television, or does computer work, there’s going to be a lot of mess. And clutter is one of the chief causes of family fights! So make a sweep of the area with a garbage can to pick up old newspapers, magazines, pop cans, and other discards. Then use a large laundry basket and gather up things that belong in other rooms, like shoes, clothes, books and backpacks. While one person is distributing the errant objects (putting them away, not just tossing in a general direction), another straightens what’s left in the room. Assign someone to clean the TV remotes—a common place for germs to reside that should be cleaned daily.
4. Bathroom – this is the last room in our end-of-day cleaning blitz. A bathroom can be maintained in just 3.5 minutes a day. Gather garbage, hang towels, and wipe off counter with sanitizing spray. Wipe down mirror. Give the toilet a quick outside once-over with a dedicated cleaning cloth so there is no cross contamination. Finally, wipe down the rim of the tub and make sure the shower curtain is hanging freely to dry—so plastic doesn’t mold.
5. Bedroom – it’s already straightened, because you did that first thing in the morning!
What to leave undone:
• Don’t worry about vacuuming or sweeping on a daily basis. People notice out of place objects on floors, long before they notice the much smaller crumbs and dirt. Clean floors as needed—maybe twice a week or less. Make it a standard of cleanliness you adopt, not a schedule for cleanliness.
• Don’t worry about daily dusting. Once a week is sufficient unless you live in the middle of a gravel pit. Instead, concentrate on regularly clearing off all horizontal counters/table areas of things that belong elsewhere. That will make a much bigger visual impact on overall order than a dust-free surface ever could.
• Windows can be done monthly, or even less often. If you really hate window cleaning, hire it done—or close the drapes.