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Housecleaning HackJune 6, 2007

I have this new thing I do that has me so excited. And it has to do with housecleaning, so it probably won't excite you the same way, but oh man, it's effective.

I just haven't had enough hours in the day recently, and I haven't had any TV time, or any Wii time, or any real DOWN time -- every hour off is scheduled and busy or filled with sleep. So the house has been.... well, let's just say we have hardwood floors, but it's been feeling like carpet under foot.

So I've done this thing, this very little thing, which helps me clean house FAST. I mean, in one hour, I can get most of the house presentable for company. In two hours, the mirrors are shining and the dining room table is polished. But we rarely have two hours, do we?

Here's what I do:

I get a notecard and a pen, and walk (quickly) from room to room. I physically enter each room and write down in detail what I want to accomplish in this quick cleaning run. If there are clothes next to the bed and I want them moved to the laundry area, I write that down - "bedroom, pick up clothes." And so it goes.

Water inside plants.
Water plants in front yard.
Change sheets.
Dry towels.
Put away dry dishes.
Wash dirty dishes.
Clean stove.
Clean toilet.
Mop bathroom.
Baking soda carpets.
Hang up clothes.

Then the best part -- I swear I just love this part so much it's kind of sick -- I go over my list and number the worst ones first. Number one is the chore I hate the most. On this list, I think it would be changing the sheets. Number two would be doing the dishes. Number three would be cleaning stove.

Then do them in THAT ORDER. You really only have to number the things you hate to do. I like to water, I like to put away dishes, I like to fold clothes (although I hate to hang them up), and everyone knows I LOVE LOVE LOVE to vacuum with my Dyson (one of the best things we've ever bought), so I don't number them.

But with every dreaded chore completed, the chore you hated most is already done, and only fun lies ahead. And you get to cross things off! Quickly! We all love to cross things off lists, don't we?

Next weekend, I'm going to clean out my yarn room -- that yarn in bags is, indeed, not kitten proof anymore, and I've bought some clear plastic bins. And my books are out of control. And my clothes are out of control. I think I will use my notecard method.....

What are your do-stuff-fast cleaning hacks?


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One word: iPod.

Or a good radio or CD player or whatever else you prefer. I blast some high-energy music on my iPod while I clean, and it makes cleaning much less painful and tedious. My current favorite cleaning music is old-school Michael Jackson or new-school Christina Aguilera.

And... well let's just say that when somebody else walks in on you doing the moonwalk while folding laundry... yeah, that's a priceless moment. :)

1. Toss things into office
2. Close door

I'm trying really hard to get out of this habit. We just cleaned out the office and the room is usable again!

Ohh, I love checking things off of lists. Thing is, I am perpetually making lists- for EVERYTHING. Lists of lists. I think I will try to consolidate some lists, and number them using your approach. =) See if that helps... Lists prove less handy when I don't actually DO what they tell me to. You are a smarty, fo sho.

I have to admit, my revolutionary housecleaning trick is a little thing I call Not Caring. For those of us with tidy natures, this is a hard one. It took me several months to break the habit of hating myself for not having done the housework.

My mantra is, "Just because the house isn't clean, that doesn't make you a bad person."

My test for housework is, will something bad happen if I don't do this? For example, I give the hardwood floors a once-over with a damp mop weekly, because the dust makes my allergies bad. I do the laundry on a regular basis, because one really DOES need clean clothes.

Cleaning the stove, toilet, and bathroom floor, though? Eh. If the worst-case scenario is "it's not clean," I'm inclined to put it on the "never mind" list. Time's short, you know?

When I walk into a room, I just deal with the first thing I see. If there are socks under the sofa, then I go through that room and pick up ALL the laundry and dump it in the hamper. If I go out to the bar and the first thing I see are dirty coffee cups, I take ALL my dirty dishes into the kitchen. Once the mess is sorted into the right room, then I can start cleaning. But tidying is a HUGE step towards getting my house presentable.

I am now just exhausted by reading about your system. I can only imagine how much better your metabolism is than mine...

My best tip is to stop using all extraneous sheet, i.e. the evil top sheet. Just fitted and duvet covered feather bed. Done.

ON days when I notice that things are getting a bit to cluttery for me...I set a timer for 15 or 20 minutes and I go to town cleaning up as much as I can do in that time...when the timer rings...I'm done...

When I need to get things done quickly I have a hard time keeping my focus; I just end up flitting from room to room and I can't get anything really done. So I take the amount of time I have to clean, divide it by how many rooms need to get some treatment, and I set the kitchen timer. I work in one room until the beep, at which point I move on to the next. I'm always amazed at how quickly I can get a room tidy just by focusing my attention.

Maggie uses my method, although I throw things in the guest room. Sadly, I cannot walk in there anymore. Soon guests are coming, and I will HAVE to do something, and there aren't any other rooms in which to throw crap.

I just stick to one room at a time, that way I don't get distracted by chores I see in another. Plus it's easy to clean up one room, and see results fast.
Then I just vacuum every rug in the end. Oh, and I like my Swiffer Wet Jet for my floors. The Swiffer rules!

I make a list of what needs to get done. Do a few things, get bored, then go grocery shopping, my favorite. Then I cook, hopefully. And cross that off the list, cause I like to cheat and put things on the list like 'eat lunch' and 'get mail', easy stuff! Makes the list not seem so chore-y. Your technique would fit right in, I'm also a fan of getting rid of the not-as-fun-stuff as fast as possible and saving the best for last. So does that mean that you also eat cupcakes 'upside down'?

I hear you on the hardwood floors feeling like carpets. My trick is called Friday evening clean out, grab a beer and the gloves and go at it. In a couple of hours we have the house done and a whole weekend to look forward to.

Well, I work from home...so on one hand, I like it to be clean so that I'm not lounging around in a pigsty while I rock the command line. My main trick is to pick up one thing that doesn't belong there whenever I leave a room, like taking a coffee cup into the kitchen.

The thing I hate to do the most is vacuum, and as we have three cats, it needs to be done often. Maybe I need a Dyson too...y'all sound like housewives from 50's TV commercials. I'm imagining you dancing around from room to room in cute little sundresses and kitten heels, singing while you vacuum (with hair that DOES NOT MOVE, of course).

My method is that when I walk into a room I find the biggest and baddest task and do that first. I mentally stack rank them from largest job to the smallest and go for it. Or I say screw it and do none of it!

i love love love your idea and will be trying it out very soon! we just bought our first home and i've sworn that we are going to leave our lazy ways in the old apartment and turn over and new leaf w/ a cleaner, more organized home that doesn't take days to become company-ready! your plan of attack sounds like a perfect one and i really appreciate you posting it...seriously...you're my cleaning hero right : )))

I spend as little time as possible, usually before someone's coming over, and just go for the most bang for the buck. No one will notice the crumbs under the toaster. Stuff the papers in the desk & close it. Pull the comforter over the bed.

My linoleum and wood floors suck, but I do like to vacuum!

This is AMAZING. I totally need to do this - I used to live in a single room apartment but everything was still CHAOS. This would totally help :)

I love washing dishes but hate vacuuming. At all the restaurants I've worked at, washing dishes was my favorite thing to do. We should make some sort of arrangement! hehe. Just kidding. I just wish I loved to vacuum more..

How funny is this. I pretty much do my "chores" in the same manner. I write them all down and start from the least favorite or what needs to be done the most, which are usually one in the same.

What if you truly hate housekeeping chores of all kinds? Then what?

If you like to race the clock, you can get a stop watch and or some kind of little alarm (like an egg timer) and set yourself a time limit in which to accomplish each task.

I make lists for getting things done all the time, not just for housecleaning. To the point where I will write down "Take a shower" and "wash hair" because then I can cross two things off when I'm done. Add "brush teeth," "wash face," "take asthma medication" and you see where I'm going with this. According to my list, I get a ton of stuff done before most people get out of bed.

Purple Dyson?
I love love love mine.
I have two Labs - The purple Dyson has saved my life and my home. Worst chore = HANGING UP AND PUTTING AWAY CLOTHES. I would much rather use them out of the basket.

My house (the little one I'm working on selling, which = more cleaning) is a cape cod style that is actually built in a sort of spiral. The master bedroom is at the top, and the kitchen is at the bottom. I start at either the bottom or the top and work my way to the top/bottom. When I reach the other end, I quit.

The other thing I have trouble with is clutter. When I relax in the evening I don't feel like taking my dishes to the sink or putting my knitting/books/ipod/magazine away. When I go to bed, I leave them where they are, but then I do a little sweep of the living room each morning and try to tidy up. It only takes a couple of minutes, but it keeps the sock needles out of the hands of the 17mo old.

My worst chore: cleaning the floors. we have hardwoods, linoleum (yuck!) and carpet and they all need different treatments. I try to do one of them each week, that way they're not all disgusting at once. In my dreams, there's someone to clean them for me.

"if you want to see me, come on over. if you want to see my house, call ahead."
as far as cleaning hacks: i clean in 15 minute sections, and my ipod has been so great for this because i don't have many podcasts on there that are that short, so usually i clean for 30 - 45 minutes now. i may adapt the list writing though because yes, crossing things off lists is *the*best*. i 'pick up' first so that it looks better, then the jobs i hate most - mopping. ah, clean home, now i'm inspired to rock around the house. too bad my ipod has to be charged, i guess i'll continue reading my favorite blogs :)

Energetic music helps. I do first the stuff that I would be embarassed to not have done, and leave for last the things I don't mind apologizing for.

When I make a list I leave it where my husband can find it and give a hand.

We're having houseguests next week so thanks for all the tips!

A bottle of windex multi-purpose cleaner and a roll of paper towels. I know, it's a waste of paper towels, but a huge time saver. That and a swiffer duster and I'm set.

A bottle of windex multi-purpose cleaner and a roll of paper towels. I know, it's a waste of paper towels, but a huge time saver. That and a swiffer duster and I'm set.

and I could save LOTS of time by not double posting

I might try this -- I hate cleaning, yet I've found that the house does not clean itself. (Didn't Quentin Crisp say that after seven years, a dirty house doesn't get any worse?)

I have to "trick" myself into cleaning, using a combination of the "timer" method mentioned above and, when my brain is on to that, the "clean during the commercials method" and, when my brain is on to that, the tell-yourself-having-a-messy-house-doesn't-make-you-a-bad-person-method, also mentioned above, and when my brain is on to that, the "throw everything in the den" method, also mentioned above. Phew!

TMK did something similar to what you mentioned, only without the prioritizing, and she wrote the items on sticky notes, by room, and then stuck the notes up in each room for reference.

Dang it all. Now you have me thinking that my yarn room needs to be straightened up. Sunday, I'll do that Sunday. Tomorrow I have to clean the truck so I can move the boy home from college for the summer.

My twenty-year-old vaccuum cleaner has DIED. I'm SO getting a Dyson. My partner just doesn't know it yet.

And if you start vaccuuming the house in cute little sundresses and kitten heels, somebody better be taking pictures and posting them here. Because this, I have to see.

I've tried the timer thing, but I still sit in the middle of the pile o' shit and read stuff...

My aunt once told me to always shower before cleaning the house when we're having company over. That way you're clean, even if you're still shoving things under the furniture. That is my only housekeeping wisdom. Which is fairly sad...

I think my new favorite fast-cleaning thing would be to invite you over to my house!

What would it take? I've got chocolate. I have yarn (o wait - you can't have that).... I have chocolate!

I am the world's third worst housekeeper, and with a husband who thinks "cleaning" involves putting the laundry on the floor and waiting for the laundry fairy to come get it, things are usually fairly vile Chez Lapin.

Plus, you know, the working 40 hours a week at Job #1, sometimes a couple of shifts at Job #2 and the new store and oh yes, the six year old daughter ... time is very limited.

If and when I get time to clean I have two things that work.

One, if the kid is helping me (ie, picking up clothes and toys) I set the timer. She's only six so I set it for max ten minutes. You can get a lot of shit picked up in ten minutes. And when it's over, it's over and everyone can go watch TV (well, except for me, who has to do another ten minutes).

The second thing is if I'm alone and really NEED downtime but the house really NEEDS not to be condemned. I choose a number. Some days it's four, sometimes seven, sometimes even ten. And I go into a room and have to do TEN things. ie, in the kid's room, I pick TEN things up off the floor. In the kitchen, I wash TEN dishes. Etc.

Little steps is what works for me. I no longer have the luxury of a full-day cleaning blitz but at least those two things make it possible to walk across the floor without breaking my neck.


A box of the wipes for my Swifter in every room helps me keep the floors pretty clean. Of course, with all hardwood floors a quick sweep is really all it takes. Plus I vacuum them periodically with the shop vac and damp mop them. (I have old hard wood floors with cracks in between them.)

And I work on one room at a time. The bedroom is finally clean and organized. The living room is next. Plenty of yarn in there.

And are you sure that you are brave enough to tackle the yarn room? I think I will go and get some new cabinets first for the stash. And please show before and after pics fo the yarn room.

I use a FlyLady trick: Set a timer for 15 minutes. Clean hard. Set it for 15 again, do something you like to do (relax, watch TV, knit, whatever). Repeat till it's all done.

It always amazes me how much I can actually get done in 15 mins.

I like your idea, too, though!

It's not so much a hack, but any home with pets benefits from a Swiffer. I get tired of pulling out the vacuum everyday, yet with a 5-year-old and a dog (and let's not even begin to discuss the husband), I need a quick clean on the kitchen and den every day. That swiffer thing really picks up the dog hair!

I always do the worst first, too. Makes it look better the further you go, instead of increasing The Killer Dread (different from teh Killer Dred).

I tend to do an low-level mental shift on certain weekend days. All day, as I pass through the house, I make sure I do something - for one pass, I'll have the lambswool duster out (way better than feathers, plus I actually love using it) and will dust everything I walk past (including our Bay Area ceilings, aka spider farms). On the next pass, I gather all the dishes and take them to the kitchen. On the return, I fill the dog's water dish and throw out the morning's coffee filter. On the next pass, I move the pile of mail from the front room to the office. Etc.

The fun jobs are wielding the purple Dyson (yeah baby), shredding documents, watering plants, any step of laundry except putting it away, and, yeah, dusting. The hated: loading the dishwasher, sweeping the driveway, making up the couch (I canNOT get throw pillows not to look pathetic and squashed), and clearing the dining room table. I hate that stupid dining room table!

Mine is simple: Hire a maid! I can't be bothered with all that cleaning mumbo-jumbo. Doesn't work for me.

PS: I'm back in the land of the blogging! It's good to be home. And homo...

I tend to clean only when someone is coming over... so I usually make sure I invite someone over regularly enought to keep the house clean! (The lower floor at least) My bedroom is another story... no one but me and my hubby go in there! So it's always a mess.


My tip: have less stuff and store the stuff you have to have carefully so that it can't get dusty. Think minimal and make your cleaning as easy and streamlined as possible. I'm hanging out for one of those pod bathrooms that doesn't have corners or awkward to reach places!

I am happy with lots of things "Flylady" teaches. Our appartment is so much better than before and I don't have to clean until I am exhausted!

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