Get Your Home In Shape for the Holidays: a Week-by-Week Action Plan

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The holiday season is bearing down on us like a freight train. If your home is not quite ready for the time of year when people show up at your door and expect to be invited inside, now’s the time to get busy. This holiday-readiness action plan breaks down home holiday preparation into a simple five-week plan that’ll have your house in tip-top shape by Thanksgiving Day.

Week One: Cut Down on Clutter in Common Areas

Phase one calls for clearing out unnecessary stuff that collects dust and complicates cleaning in common areas like the living room, dining room, kitchen, and family room. The goal is uncluttered surfaces throughout: countertops, shelves, tables, and wherever else stuff has accumulated.

File or toss out stacks of bills. Recycle magazines that you’ll never read. Donate the box of baking pans that have been sitting in the corner since your mother-in-law gave them to you after she cleaned out her kitchen cupboards (and which don’t fit into yours either).

Look around your space with a critical eye and be merciless. If it’s not useful to you, get rid of it. Things that you don’t need can be used and appreciated by someone else if you donate them to a local community action center or church.

This de-cluttering phase is a fresh start. When it’s complete you’ll be able to clearly spot, and access, the dust on flat surfaces, cobwebs in corners, and dirt everywhere else. It’s infinitely easier to clean and maintain spaces that have minimal clutter, so this first step ensures that your subsequent cleaning endeavors will be successful.

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Week Two: Tackle Dust and Cobwebs in Common Areas

Phase two is the time to clean up accumulated dust and cobwebs that are clearly visible and accessible now that the clutter has gone away. Get out your long-handled, telescoping duster to first tackle cobwebs and dust up high. If you don’t have one, secure an old towel over the business end of a broom. Areas where dust settles and cobwebs form: valances and window treatments, ceiling fans, the top of wardrobes and cupboards, recessed lighting fixtures, and corners where walls meet up.

After all the dust up high has been removed, move on to areas at eye level and below. Target chair rails, lampshades and finials, picture frames and wall hangings, window sills, shelves, door ridges and louvered doors, air exchange grates and covers, baseboards and baseboard heaters.

Dust also accumulates at floor level under appliances like the refrigerator and stove, under beds and couches, and in the corners behind furniture and in closets. Tackle these areas with crevice tools, a dust mop, a broom, or your vacuum cleaner.

Remove as much dust as you can from these typically overlooked areas. Eliminating dust from your ceiling fan and on top of the fridge reduces the overall amount of dust that can be stirred up and re-distributed later on. Once the lion’s share of dust is gone, a little bit of upkeep between now and Christmas Eve will guarantee a dust-free family bash, so Aunt Gertrude will have no cause to cast a critical eye at dust bunnies in corners.

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Week Three: Deep Clean Guest Rooms

If you’re expecting out-of-town guests for the holidays, phase three of your pre-holiday cleanup involves getting guests rooms ready for occupancy. The nature and amount of work involved in this step depends on the state of the rooms: if they’ve become household catchall spaces, the task will be more complicated than if they simply need sprucing up.

Do whatever needs to be done to make them habitable. De-clutter, if necessary, dust and vacuum, freshen bed linens and window treatments. When this phase is completed, your guest rooms will be ready and waiting when Santa Clause and his compadres come to town and you won’t have to scramble at the last minute to unearth the beds.

Week Four: Thoroughly Clean the Kitchen

The kitchen typically sees a lot of action during the holiday season. For this reason, giving the kitchen a good cleanup is the goal of phase four of your holiday action plan.

This is the time to tackle tasks that don’t get done regularly: purge the pantry, re-arrange and re-organize cupboards, clean the oven and the fridge. Really take time to get into corners and underneath furniture.

When you’re done, the kitchen will be in prime condition for holiday baking as well as entertaining visitors. No cringing when Cousin Celia opens your oven door to pop in her green-bean casserole!

Week Five: Give the Whole House a Quick Cleanup

Phase five is the time to whip through the whole house: dust, vacuum, mop, clean bathrooms, and generally tidy up. Pay particular attention to the areas that will be visible to visitors. Since you’ve already de-cluttered, eliminated cobwebs and dust, plus cleaned guest rooms and the kitchen, this phase of the operation should be quick and easy.

Breaking down a big job into manageable segments is the key to successfully achieving any goal. This five-week action plan gets your home into shape just in time for the holiday season kickoff: Thanksgiving. So get busy, stay on track, and allow yourself the luxury of less stress at game time by implementing this preparation plan over the next five weeks.

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon.

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House Cleaning Express: The Quickest Route to a Clean House

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Everyone wants a clean house, but who has time to do the job? Getting your home clean without spending a lot of time isn’t difficult; it just takes a little dedication. This guide will explain how to keep a clean house when your time is limited.

Keep It Picked Up

When your home is free of unnecessary clutter, cleaning is ten times easier. Clutter makes it look messy, breeds dust, and impedes the cleaning process.

Some simple steps to accomplish neatness:

  • Assign every object in your home a space to call its own.
  • Make “putting things away” a habit. When you’re done using the scissors, put them away. When you bring groceries home, put them away. When you get undressed, put your clothes in the dirty clothes hamper. In no time at all, you’ll be putting things away without giving it a second thought.
  • Make each household member take responsibility for their own stuff. Assign each person a basket and place stray items into the basket. If baskets are overflowing, hold the contents ransom until the errant party agrees to deal with their mess.
  • Purge unnecessary items on a regular basis. Keep a donation box in a prominent spot and make use of it.
  • Use baskets, bins, totes, shelves, or whatever tickles your fancy to keep your stuff organized and put away.

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Clean as You Go

Housecleaning is most effective when it’s done on a regular basis. The quickest method by far is cleaning up every day. This doesn’t mean cleaning the entire house every day. This means doing various tasks as necessary so that areas never really get dirty. Daily tasks include the following:

  • Kitchen cleanup: as soon as food preparation is done, areas that were used should be wiped clean. Constantly be alert to the state of your kitchen appliances. If the stovetop is dirty, wipe it clean. If the inside of the microwave has food splatters, wipe it clean. When you begin to notice fingerprints on keypads or handles, it’s time to clean them. None of these tasks, taken individually, requires much time. Spending ten or fifteen minutes each day sprucing up the kitchen means you’ll never have to spend an hour or more at one time cleaning everything.
  • Bathroom patrol: clean bathroom sinks, vanities, and the toilet when you notice that it needs to be done. If there’s toothpaste on the mirror, take a minute to wipe it clean. Squeegee shower walls clean every day so that soap scum doesn’t get the opportunity to build up. Keep rags, sponges, paper towels, and bathroom cleaner under the sink and make use of them as necessary so the bathroom never really gets dirty.
  • Laundry: do it as often a necessary to avoid a huge accumulation.
  • Sweep or vacuum entryways as soon as dirt is tracked inside. This prevents dirt from getting tracked further into the house.
  • Clean pet areas often. Mats under water dishes, pet beds, and other pet-related paraphernalia should be cleaned whenever you notice they’re dirty.
  • Floors: spot clean as needed. If something gets spilled, clean it up before it gets tracked anywhere else.

Commit to a Regimen

On a regular basis, preferably weekly or every other week, make a point of completing whatever other housekeeping chores need doing. When the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry, and pet areas are kept clean on a daily basis, there’s not much left to do. Change bedding, dust, vacuum or sweep, and mop (if necessary). Don’t clean anything that isn’t dirty. An hour or two at most, and your home will be spic-and-span.

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

Tried-and-true cleaning methods and tips are everywhere. The internet and magazines are loaded with cleaning advice. Put it to good use. House cleaning has been around for a long time. Cash in on the experience of others to save yourself time and trouble. A clean house doesn’t have to be a huge hassle, don’t turn it into one.

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon.

Look Ma I’m Cleaning: The “Anyone Can Clean” Guide to Housekeeping

valanceThe ability to clean a house is a basic skill that everyone should have, yet there are many who don’t know where to begin. If you’re a member of this unlucky group, this guide will get you going in the right direction.

Cleaning is neither complicated nor difficult. It’s a skill that improves with time and practice, so if at first it seems like cleaning is hard for you to do or you’re not doing it right, have patience. Once you get the hang of it, keeping your home clean will be a breeze.

Step One: Clutter Control

House cleaning begins by putting away clutter, also known as organizing. Getting organized is a simple process of finding a home for all objects and then making sure to put each object away when it’s not in use.

In order to minimize clutter, it’s also important to purge objects that are no longer needed. Every so often, closets and cupboards should be reorganized in order to make room for new objects in need of a home.

Organizing and putting stuff away is the first step in cleaning because it’s easier to vacuum, dust, and wipe down areas that are as clear as possible. Dust also has fewer places to settle in environments that aren’t littered with clutter.

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Start Cleaning From the Top Down

After getting organized, the next step in the cleaning process is getting rid of cobwebs and dust. Anything up high is done first, including ceiling fans, wall hangings, tops of cabinets and cupboards, etc.

Continuing to work from the top of the room downward, dust window treatments, window sills, chair rails, ridges on doors, lamp shades, furniture, baseboards, and baseboard heaters.

In the living room, den, family room, etc. vacuum upholstered furniture. Flip cushions and fluff pillows.

In bedrooms, change bedding as needed and periodically flip mattresses and sweep or vacuum under beds.

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The Kitchen

In the kitchen, wipe down countertops and backsplashes, stovetop, and inside the microwave. Spot clean table and chairs and cabinet fronts. Clean keypads and fronts of appliances like the dishwasher and refrigerator. Scour the sink.

The Bathroom

In the bathroom, clean mirrors, sink and vanity, tub and/or shower, and the toilet. Tiled walls should also periodically be cleaned. Clean the bathroom often so that soap scum and other grime doesn’t build up.

Finally, in all rooms, vacuum, dust mop or sweep floors and damp mop, if necessary.

Laundry

Laundry can be a big job that’s often easier by spreading it out over time. Rather than letting it accumulate, doing laundry as soon as you’ve got a full load makes it more manageable than facing the daunting task of doing six loads in one day. Plus, you never run out of clean towels using this method.

Cleaning Styles

Different lifestyles call for different cleaning styles. House cleaning can be done every day, once every week or two, or whenever you have time. The key element is doing it. A house that’s never cleaned isn’t a pleasant place to live.

This is a basic overview of house cleaning. The process is made up of many more details, which you can learn about from other blog posts here. Don’t let cleaning intimidate you, it’s not difficult. Just get up, start doing it, and before you know it, you’ll be a cleaning master.

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon.

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The Cleanest House on the Block: How to be the Envy of the Neighborhood

chair backDo you want to know the secret to keeping your home so clean that all the neighbors are envious? It’s quite simple: consistency. Keeping the cleanest possible home isn’t accomplished by spending an entire day cleaning every week. The surprising secret is that the easiest means of achieving cleaning excellence is putting in a little time each and every day.

There are several reasons for this. First of all, it’s easier to clean a clutter-free home. Next, cleanups are quicker when there’s less to clean up. Third, spills and grime are more easily removed before they’ve gotten the chance to dry or soak in. Fourth, regular routines become easier each time they are practiced. Finally, routines are habit-forming. Plus, cleaning a little bit every day ensures that your home will be in tip-top shape every day of the week.

It’s Easier to Clean an Already Clean Home

A house that’s free of clutter is a whole lot easier to clean than one that harbors piles of this and that along with a mishmash of assorted items here, there, and everywhere. Keeping things picked up and put away makes dusting, vacuuming, and cleaning kitchen counters a breeze. Besides, a clutter-free space looks cleaner, giving the impression of excellent housekeeping and attention to detail regardless of the status quo of your cobwebs.

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Cleanups are Quicker When There’s Less to Clean Up

It’s a lot easier to clean up a little bit of dirt than it is to clean up a lot of dirt. Wiping down kitchen counters, sprucing up bathrooms, and quickly sweeping the floor each day only takes a few minutes. Dirt that has been allowed to build up can take hours to eradicate.

A home that’s regularly maintained is easier to keep clean. Why? Removing grime from surfaces prevents erosion and/or deterioration, protecting the ability of the surface to repel dirt. So a regularly cleaned home actually stays cleaner because dirt is less likely to stick.

It’s also easier to spot dirt and disarray in a clean environment. Fingerprints on a glass surface already peppered with fingerprints blend right in but stand out on a surface that’s clean.

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Spills Clean Up Easily When Tackled Immediately

Cleaning up spills, drips, and similar messes as they happen is quicker than leaving them for later, after substances have congealed, hardened, or soaked in. A few minutes spent wiping off kitchen surfaces after meal prep saves time in the long run. Immediately blotting spills on carpeting or upholstery prevents stains and other permanent damage. Mopping up spilled milk right away prevents an ugly mess later on.

Practice Makes Perfect

Performing the same task over and over again leads you to become better at it. Each time you clean inside the microwave, vacuum the foyer, or clean the bathroom, you gain proficiency. Repetition enables you to learn the best means of achieving desired results. Over time, you’ll become a master cleaner.

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Cleaning Becomes Habit-Forming

After a while, cleaning every day will become a habit. You’ll feel uncomfortable if you haven’t wiped up kitchen surfaces after dinner or spot-cleaned the bathroom in the morning. At this point, cleaning will no longer feel like a chore. It will simply be another part of your daily routine, like showering or brushing your teeth. These types of habits are formed through consistency.

By consistently working at keeping your home clean each day, you will have the cleanest house on the block and be the envy of the neighborhood. Best of all, your home will always be in its best possible shape so you’ll always be glad to walk in the door at the end of a long day, soak in the clean, and feel like your home is truly your sanctuary.

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon.

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Clean Your Way Happy

Feeling blah, agitated, unsettled, or just plain sad? Everyone has an off day from time to time. The fix might be as simple as getting up and cleaning your house. Here are some reasons why.

Cleaning is Exercise

Simply getting active improves mood. Exercise stimulates blood flow, combats the blahs, and creates a happy feeling. And house cleaning definitely counts as exercise.

Use the vacuum cleaner to get a strength and cardio two-for-one workout, bend down to dust baseboards for a stretching routine, do a little yoga while you’re on the floor cleaning under beds.

Cleaning not only helps you strengthen and tone, it burns calories. That’ll make you happy, too.

Cleaning Makes You Feel Proud

Not only can exercise improve your mood, but it also gives you a reason to feel proud of yourself for improving your health. Feeling proud makes you happy. Therefore, cleaning makes you feel happy.

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Orderliness Leads to Happiness

Putting away clutter, cleaning closets, and organizing in general tends to make you feel like you’re gaining control over disorder, which leads to happiness. Orderliness also means you can find what you’re looking for when you need it, reducing frustration and increasing your sense of mastery over your environment.

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Cleaning Is a Fresh Start

Cleaning out the cobwebs and dust bunnies can be a fresh start on the day, the week, the month, or the rest of your life. Wash the floor and vow to keep it clean. Tidy up the kitchen and toss out old food, then buy fresh, healthy stuff to replace it. Start over as often as you feel the need, and keep your home clean in the process.

Cleaning Focuses Your Attention

Cleaning your home gives you something to focus on instead of ruminating about why you were passed over for a promotion at work. Distract yourself by thinking about how to re-organize your kitchen to improve flow and efficiency at dinnertime. Tidy up the pantry, checking expiration dates and planning menus with the stuff you have on hand before it spoils.

Clean out closets, planning a garage sale as you go. There’s always more to do around the house, so get busy and distract yourself from whatever is bothering you. Before you know it, you’ll be humming a happy tune.

Cleaning Burns Energy

When you’re feeling restless or angry, pick up a dusting wand and start attacking cobwebs up high and down low. Clean behind the sofa and under the fridge. Work up a sweat and you’ll be feeling better in no time. Burning off the negative energy and replacing it with positive, productive activity improves your mood. Keep going until you feel better.

Cleaning Gives You a Sense of Accomplishment

The sense of accomplishment that comes from completing a job never fails to make people feel good. Admire your handiwork when you finish cleaning your home. Bask in the glow of gleaming countertops. Take a moment to appreciate the fruits of your labor and pat yourself on the back. Cleaning is hard work! Congratulate yourself for a job well done.

A Clean Home Makes People Happy

Finally, doesn’t a clean house just make you happy? There’s nothing quite like that feeling of renewal that comes with a freshly cleaned house. It smells good and looks nice, creating a sense of calm and well-being.

So get up, get going, and clean your way happy.

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon.

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Housekeeping Secrets: Tame the Clutter Monster

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Clutter is one of the biggest obstacles to keeping a house clean. Spaces that are overflowing with objects are difficult to dust, vacuum, and wipe up. Floors can’t be thoroughly swept or mopped when piles of miscellanea clog up open spaces. In a nutshell, it’s almost impossible to eliminate all dirt and dust from areas that are overloaded with stuff.

Habitual tidiness doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but the good news is that tidying up isn’t difficult. The following are some simple steps anyone can take to wrestle the clutter monster into submission.

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Practice Every Day

Practice makes perfect. Making an everyday practice of keeping things in order will, over time, become a habit that requires little to no thought.

Minimal clutter is no big deal. The trouble with minimal clutter is that it often spreads, and quickly becomes more than a minimal issue. The best and easiest way to avoid this problem is to keep things picked up and organized every day.

Keeping possessions organized has many benefits. It not only makes it easier to clean house, but saves time, energy, and frustration searching for lost objects.

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Put Things Away Immediately After Using Them

Done cutting through the packing tape on your Amazon box? Put the scissors back where they belong before they get lost. Done scratching your back? Replace the back scratcher into its permanent home. Putting things away right away means it gets done. Do it now and there’s no need to worry about doing it later.

Find a Spot for Everything You Own

Taming the clutter monster is all about putting your stuff somewhere. Every object should have a space of its very own. Some things can live on countertops, everything can’t.

Every single object you own should have a designated spot where it permanently belongs when it’s not being used. This way, you’ll always know where to put things when you’re done using them and where to look when you need them again.

Find a Spot for Each New Possession as it Enters your Home

Your new Cuisinart Air Fryer is really cool, but where will you put it? Make a space for it immediately on its entry into your home. If it’s sitting in the box in a corner for six months, not only do you not get to use it, but it’s creating a clutter hazard.

If Space is Short, Purge

If you’re finding that there’s nowhere to put stuff, you’ve got too much stuff for your space. Either move to a bigger space or get rid of stuff you don’t need.

Look at it this way: no one can realistically keep track of 40 pairs of shoes, 30 pairs of jeans, or 20 handbags. Weed out what you’re not using and make a donation to a local charity. Someone else can use it and will appreciate it more than you do.

Don’t Hang on to Things You’re Not Using

Don’t keep stuff because you think you might use it some day or you got a really good deal on it or you just like it for no good reason. Things are objects, no more, no less. Objects don’t have personalities, bring good luck, or do much of anything other than sit around waiting for you to do something with them. If it’s not useful and you need the space, get rid of it.

Use Storage Space Effectively

Make maximal use of closets, dressers, cupboards, and space under beds. Leave no space un-utilized when you need it. Don’t leave stuff on top of a dresser when its drawers are empty. Don’t pile stuff on top of the bed in the spare bedroom when you could store it in a tote under the bed.

Arrange things neatly, not haphazardly. You should be able to open a drawer or cupboard door and quickly find what you’re looking for.

Label boxes, if need be. Use clear totes. Store things on shelves according to height so the taller items are in back. Don’t over-crowd things so much that you can’t see everything at a glance. Leave a little room for growth.

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Use Storage Aids

Use baskets, bins, stacking tubs, boxes, or whatever will help you logically store your stuff. Baskets are handy for storing paperwork that’s in transition. Storage tubs come in all shapes and sizes for all types of situations. Collapsible fabric storage cubes are versatile, low-cost, low-space organizing tools.

Be creative and use whatever makes you happy and makes it easy to store and retrieve your things. Your system of organization should be customized to suit you.

Assign a Basket to Each Family Member

Hold all household members accountable for keeping track of their own stuff. Assign each member of the household a basket. If clutter starts to accumulate in common areas around the house, simply deposit items into the appropriate basket. If a basket gets too full, penalize the offender.

Remember that the More Space You Have, the More Space You Fill Up

Finally, remember that we tend to fill up whatever space we have. Don’t go there; become a minimalist. Be realistic about what you actually need. Don’t hang on to unimportant things.

Clutter makes it difficult to distinguish between the important things you need and the irrelevant things that are just in the way. Clutter makes house cleaning difficult. Clutter weighs you down. Don’t let clutter get you down; do whatever you can to tame the clutter monster.

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon.

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Hints for Cleaning Cluttered Spaces

If you’ve read any of my posts heretofore, you’ll know that The Cleaning Pro frowns upon clutter. Clutter makes cleaning difficult, breeds dust, and conceals necessary items. However, the reality is that some people are simply not organizers, and cluttered spaces still need to be dusted and vacuumed and generally spruced up.

So if you’re a member of the clutter club, here are some hints for getting your space to a place that will make cleanups possible.

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Put Dirty Clothes in a Hamper

Don’t throw your clothes on the floor. Put them in a laundry basket or put them away if they’re not dirty. As a last resort, pile them up somewhere, and don’t let the pile get so high that it topples over. It’s impossible to vacuum or sweep floors that are buried in clothes.

Don’t Pile Things Haphazardly

Make your clutter as orderly as you can. Put papers that belong with other papers into piles: bills with bills, junk mail to sort later with other junk mail to sort later, newspapers with newspapers, magazines with magazines. If it’s all in a big pile of nonsense, you can’t find anything, and bills will go unpaid, your car registration will expire, important papers will be forever lost in the abyss.

On a related note, get a basket for the important paperwork that you need to sort through. When the basket is full you have reached your deadline. Deal with it.

Don’t Save Junk

Stop saving clippings, newspapers, magazines, etc. that you will never look at again. If you can’t find anything anyway, isn’t it easier to toss it out now rather than allow dust to settle onto it for the next fifteen years?

Don’t let stuff that’s just plain trash pile up. Move your recycling to the curb or the dump. Old newspapers, magazines, food wrappers, and similar items have no residual value.

Keep Fishing Gear Out of the Living Room

Tools, gardening equipment,  parts for the car belong in the garage or the tool shed or the basement. You can’t pile all your fishing gear in the middle of the living room and expect to be able to clean around it (or live there). I’m sorry, but this is where a line has to be drawn.

Don’t Have Christmas Every Day of the Year

Take your Christmas tree down by the end of January at the latest. Especially if it was a live tree.

Keep the Kitchen Clean

Keep the countertops in your kitchen as free of clutter as possible so they can be wiped off periodically.

Throw out food containers. Don’t save leftovers indefinitely. Go through the fridge once a week and toss out food that’s no good.

Pay attention to your nose and if you smell a funky odor, you need to root out its source. Now.

Bathroom Clutter is a Big No-No

In the bathroom, don’t let stuff pile up on the counters. Put toiletries into drawers or cabinets. If your drawers and cabinets are full, set aside an hour to go through everything and throw out what’s no good. Or put all that clutter into a basket when it’s time to clean. You can’t clean countertops that are covered in stuff, and all that clutter collects dust which, in humid bathrooms, turns into a crusty mess.

Minimize Clutter As Much As Possible

While some clutter is tolerable, don’t let it get out of control. Bear in mind that clutter accumulates dust and there’s no way to vacuum or sweep cluttered areas. Unchecked clutter spreads from corners outward until entire rooms disappear. So do your best to keep it to a minimum so you can move freely enough through your living space to clean (and live).

On cleaning day, do what you can with what you’ve got. Dust ceilings and walls for cobwebs. Dust all flat surfaces and dust over and around any piles of stuff. Clean the kitchen and bathrooms. Follow the advice presented here and do your best. It’s not easy, but it is possible (and necessary) to clean cluttered spaces.

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon.

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Home Cleaning Tips To Maximize Efficiency

vacuum ceiling fanNo one wants to spend hours upon hours cleaning their home. The key to keeping a home cleaning regimen short and sweet is simple: maximize efficiency. By making the most of your time and efforts, your house cleaning routine will be streamlined and you’ll have plenty of time left over to do more interesting things. The following are some house cleaning tips to maximize efficiency.

Begin With a Walk-Through

Before starting to clean, take a quick lap through your home with a laundry basket and large trash bag. Gather up loose items that should be put away and deposit them in the basket. Collect trash, and empty trash containers into the trash bag.

Pay attention to what tasks need to be done, what areas might require extra attention, and what places are in good shape and therefore don’t need any sprucing up. Mentally calculate how much time you’ll need for each area, keeping in mind how much time you have overall to spend cleaning.

Starting off knowing that there’s dog hair all over the sofa in the family room and the upstairs bathroom is a disaster makes it easy to allocate enough time to these areas. This way you know from the start that you won’t have time to vacuum under beds today.

Minimize Clutter

Set aside the basket of lost items that you collected on your walk-through and deal with it later. Picking up and organizing are not part of house cleaning; they are prerequisites. Clutter control should be an ongoing process. Spending an hour picking up and putting away miscellanea before you can start cleaning means you’ll potentially run out of steam before the housework is done.

Working around, or worse, having to shift and replace, clutter while cleaning eats up time as well. Clear surfaces and spaces make cleaning quick and easy. Cluttered surfaces and piles of paraphernalia collect dust and complicate cleaning.

Have What You Need On Hand

Keep your cleaning closet stocked with whatever you need. Penalize household members who make off with the vacuum cleaner or the broom and don’t return it. Having to spend twenty minutes tracking down the mop is an inefficient use of time.

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Wear an Apron or Tool Belt

Keep what you need readily at hand as you work so you don’t have to repeatedly stop to fetch supplies. Wear an apron with lots of pockets, or a tool belt, or carry a caddy with you. Reducing steps reduces time and maximizes efficiency.

Use Minimal Supplies

Use as few cleaning agents and tools as you can; the less stuff to have to tote around and keep track of, the better.

Clean With a Buddy

If chatting with a buddy while you work isn’t a distraction, clean your homes simultaneously and cheer each other on. Exchange cleaning tips. If it keeps you motivated, go for it.

Pay Attention to What You’re Doing

On a related note, don’t allow your mind to wander off while you work. Pay attention to the job at hand. An efficient cleaner cleans only what is dirty, which requires mindfulness as you work.

Think Ahead

Anticipate what’s next as you perform each task and work in such a way as to minimize unnecessary steps.

Don’t Get Sidetracked

Stay focused. If you’re easily distracted by side jobs, keep a small notepad in your apron pocket and make a to-list as you work. If you notice that the fridge needs to be wiped out or the kids’ closets are a mess, plan to tackle these extra chores as soon as your schedule permits, but don’t stop doing what you’re doing now. Completing one job from beginning to end is satisfying and motivating. Starting three jobs and not finishing any of them is frustrating.

Work in a Straight Line

Clean either room by room or in zones, and work in straight lines. Don’t backtrack.

Work Continuously

Don’t sit down. Keep working until the job is done. If you must take a break, time it. When your ten minutes is up, so are you.

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Focus on What Shows

Clean what’s dirty, focusing on areas that stand out. When there’s time, clean the dusty bookshelf in the corner. When there isn’t time because the sofa has to be vacuumed free of dog hair, leave it. The dust will be there next time.

Treat Cleaning Your House like a Job

Cleaning your home is a job, treat it as such. Make a schedule, stick to it, see the job through to the end.

Use an Eraser-Type Sponge

Eraser sponges have many uses throughout the home. Soap scum removal, tough kitchen cleanups, scuffs on floors, and fingerprints on walls are just a few. These sponges save time and effort, both of which maximize efficiency.

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Dust Your Ceiling Fans

Make it a point to regularly dust areas that accumulate dust such as ceiling fan blades, under beds, on top of the refrigerator, tops of cupboards and wardrobes, and any other places that are not part of your regular dusting regimen. Removing as much dust as possible from surfaces means there’s less dust to end up re-circulating in the air.

Use a Dusting Tool

Forget dusting with a cloth; the quickest means of removing dust from surfaces is to use a tool, preferably a microfiber wand with nubs, because this will grab and lock down dust. Don’t belabor the task; working from the top of the room downward, dust ceiling fans and light fixtures, wall hangings, window treatments, window sills and grates, chair rails, baseboards and baseboard heaters. Then tackle furniture and lamps. Work swiftly, don’t backtrack, and make every movement count.

Keep a Spray Bottle of Water on Hand

A damp cloth cleans a variety of surfaces, from wall smudges to water glass rings to fingerprints on switch plates and sticky doorknobs. Avoid having to hunt down a cloth and find a faucet; keep a supply of cleaning cloths and a spray bottle of water on hand as you work.

Work Out a Routine

A regular, consistent cleaning routine works to your advantage in several ways. First, repeating the same tasks over and over increases speed and efficiency (the learning curve). Second, a regular routine gives you the chance to clean everything in your home on a rotating basis. From week to week some tasks can be deferred until next time, and others can get the attention they need right now. Third, working out a system forces your focus onto efficiency; over time your routine will inevitably become more streamlined as you work out the bugs. Finally, by making home cleaning a habit and a priority, it will get done. Period.

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Stay Motivated

Stay motivated by finishing what you start. Each time you successfully complete your cleaning routine, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment. Take a little time to admire your handiwork. This feeling of pride in a job well done will inspire you to take up your broom next week and clean on.

Use the Right Cleaning Supplies and Equipment

Use whatever cleaning agents and equipment make you happy. If you use scented cleaners, be sure the scents make you feel good. Likewise, cleaning agents should do the jobs for which they’re intended, leaving you feeling satisfied that you’ve accomplished something by using them. Your equipment should be easy to use, not frustrating.

Spending a little more money on good cleaning supplies that you’ll look forward to using (or at least not mind using) is well worth the investment. You cleaning tools should be easy for you to use, perform well, and make you feel glad to use them.

Eat Right, Exercise, Get Some Sleep

Cleaning is hard work! Give your body what it needs to do the job. If you feel sluggish and run down, you’re not going feel overly enthusiastic about mopping and vacuuming and making beds. When you feel good and are energized, cleaning is a breeze.

Delegate

Make house cleaning a team effort. Many sets of hands get the job done quicker. Make a chart, assign chores, do whatever gets the job done quickly and efficiently.

Make a List

If you’re the type of person who is motivated by crossing items off your list, write up a list of chores before you start cleaning. Staying on task is very important to cleaning efficiently, so if writing it down helps achieve this goal, go for it.

Don’t be a Perfectionist

It’s a waste of time to try to remove 100% of the dirt from your home. Perfectionism will turn a three-hour job into a six-hour job. The difference between 95% efficiency and 100% isn’t worth three hours of your time.

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Set Realistic Goals

There’s only so much any one person can accomplish within a few hours. Don’t set the bar too high. Set realistic goals that you’ll be able to achieve. Accomplishing goals is motivating. Failing to achieve goals is not.

Don’t Make a Big Production Out of It

House cleaning is labor intensive but not overly difficult. Don’t make it harder than it is. Don’t’ clean what isn’t dirty. Don’t perform elaborate cleaning rituals that make no sense just because your grandma did it that way. Simplify your procedures and get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon.

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Dust Bunnies Aren’t Funny: How To Clean Up Dust in Your Home

dustfanDust bunnies are the Cleaning Pro’s prey. You know what I’m talking about: those globs of dust and debris that form under the couch and in corners. They’re the dead give-aways that their habitat hasn’t had a visit from the vacuum cleaner lately.

Dust is a funny thing. Not in the “ha-ha” way, but in the “it has unusual properties” kind of way. It’s in the air but is almost invisible. Even so, when you inhale any quantity of the stuff you know it from the stuffy sinuses it causes.

If dust is just lying around on top of your hutch, it doesn’t bother anyone. When that same perfectly innocent dust gets stirred up, it can be downright nasty. It makes you sneeze and can make you wheeze. At the end of the day, the best way to deal with dust is to get rid of it entirely.

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Dust builds up in some areas and then relocates itself to others when you’re not looking. So the best approach to eliminating dust is to track it down when it’s settled somewhere and get rid of it then and there. Not giving it the chance to re-circulate stops dust in its tracks. And the more frequently you can manage to do this, the less dust you’ll have to deal with later on.

To track it down, it’s important to understand where dust likes to live. Dust loves to settle down on ceiling fan blades. It likes the tops of cupboards in kitchens and bathrooms and the laundry room; especially the laundry room, in fact. The whole laundry room is a dust trap due to the lint trap in your dryer.

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Dust likes to cling to some electronics; computer screens for example. Dust loves the vent fan in your bathroom ceiling. It likes horizontal window blinds and the top of your refrigerator. Dust sometimes even likes to cling to your walls, if there’s enough of it in the air.

Any horizontal surface is a candidate for dust buildup: shelves and tables and the tops of books, even inside the piano, leaves on plants, both real and artificial, the top sides of picture frames, the ridges on doors, lampshades, finials, light bulbs, and under your bed.light fixture

Knowing where to look is just half the battle. The capturing of dust is equally important. Dust needs to be trapped and locked down so that is doesn’t live to fight another day.

The Cleaning Pro’s weapons of choice against dust: the vacuum cleaner and a microfiber dusting wand. One or the other will do the job. Both used in tandem will defeat the dust bunnies.

The best tactic is to work from the top of your room downward. First use your dusting wand to grab any dust you can. Use your vacuum to suck the dust off of your wand as it becomes saturated with dust. When you’re done, vacuum any leftover dust off the floor.

Knowing where to look and how to capture dust is all there is to it. Repeatedly eliminating dust where it lives will pay off over time. You’ll notice less dust in your air and in its hiding spots. As your dust bunnies begin to die off, they will cease breeding. Before you know it, the hunt will be over!

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon.

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Cleaning Tips: Home Organizing Guide

baskets for storage

Getting your home organized might seem like a monumental task. Most of us have lots of stuff, and it piles up quickly. Once the closets are full and the basement is overflowing, our possessions start to take possession of countertops and corners. And it’s a proven fact that clutter of any type, left unchecked, multiplies on its own.

Having a designated spot for all objects makes it easy to store and retrieve stuff. If you know where it goes, you know where to put it. If you know where it is, you know where to look when you need it.

Organizing, like so many things in life, becomes easier with practice. Yes, some people are just better at it. But anyone can learn.

We have closets and cupboards for a reason. These are spaces specifically designed for organizing things. So you’ve already got the framework you need to get started (assuming you have closets and cupboards). If your closets are jam-packed with stuff you’re not using, this is the root of your problem. You’re using your storage space inefficiently.

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The same goes for dresser drawers and kitchen cabinets and shelves in the garage or basement. We actually use a finite number of items in our day-to-day lives. Don’t hang onto things that are no longer useful to you. These things are serving no purpose in your life other than to weigh you down.

If your countertops and corners are harboring piles of stuff that belongs in closets, cupboards and drawers, you must make room for these objects by purging unnecessary stuff.

Any organizing project begins with the elimination of unnecessary objects. After this step has been completed, whatever you’re left with is then sorted into groups of related items. At this point, you can see what you’ve got to work with. From here, all that’s left to do is figure out logical places to keep things.

For example, if you’re a quilter, all of your quilting supplies should be stored in the same area so you’ll know where they go and where to get them when you want them again. All your home office supplies should be stored in the same space. Tools belong in the garage. Coats and shoes belong in the coat closet, mud room, or in individual closets.

Think of it like this: you don’t store baking dishes in the bathtub. Likewise, don’t store your nail polish in the den. It’s ok to take it there, but put it back where it belongs when you’re done using it.

As you arrange objects, make good use of shelves, totes, baskets, bins, caddies, boxes, and racks. Label boxes with lists of the contents. Keep in mind that your goal is to easily find items when you need them again. This is not an out-of-sight-out-of-mind endeavor.

Arrange objects on shelves so that taller items are in back so you can quickly visually scan the area to find what you need. Don’t overcrowd objects. Don’t pile things up so you can’t easily access stuff on the bottom of the pile, and don’t create hazards.

Also leave room for growth unless you plan to never bring another object home again. Or establish a new policy: for each new item introduced into your space, another item must go.

Once you get the hang of it, organizing is easy. The hard part is keeping possessions to a minimum. Think about what you bring into your living space before you bring it in. Consider if you have the space, where you will put it, and if you really need it at all. Don’t clutter up your space (and your life) with junk that you don’t need.

Staying organized is a continuous process. Put things away when you’re done using them. Find a spot for new things immediately. If you notice piles starting to accumulate, get rid of them.

Designate a basket for each household member and deposit any stray items into the appropriate basket. If the household member doesn’t deal with their basket in a timely manner, hold it for ransom.

Maintenance is the name of the game, and it’s easy if you keep doing it day in and day out. Practice makes perfect and if you keep practicing, you’ll be perfectly organized.

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon.