Sparkle & Smile

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Green Cleaning Tips and Tricks

Marie Stegner’s Five Task Tidy-Up


Cleaning. As much as we hate it, we hate even more when it doesn’t get done. For me, there is nothing better than coming home to a clean house. But with such a hectic schedule these days, it’s hard to set aside a large block of time to clean.  Devoting half my day to cleaning always feels like a monumental task too, but I know that stress and scattered thoughts always come with a messy house.

Just last month my goal was to thoroughly clean the main floor bathroom, living room and kitchen.  I set up my cleaning supplies and started cleaning the living room.  After my third interruption and my third attempt at trying to get back into my cleaning routine, I ran out of time.  I had no choice but to move the cleaning task on to the following week’s list instead — no big deal. What a surprise I had when my oldest son walked through the front door after swimming practice with six of his friends, each one of them needing to use my messy bathroom!  I was mortified!

From that point on I told myself that I have to find time to clean, even if it is only a few minutes a day.  My goal was to keep my home looking tidy so that, when unexpected guests arrived, I wouldn’t be embarrassed.

I accomplished this goal by creating my Five Task Tidy-Up plan.  I realized that if I can keep up with a basic routine of five tasks, five minutes each a day, things won’t get so out of control and my home will look good all of the time.  Plus, I don’t have to worry about devoting half my day towards cleaning.  This basic routine has changed my life!

The most important thing was to get myself in a simple rhythm of daily upkeep in my home.  Once this was accomplished, the other tasks didn’t seem so overwhelming.  Setting a shorter time for the job at hand also kept me focused on moving quickly through the process and completing the task rather than getting lost by distraction.

Of course, keeping my supplies stocked up and easily accessible always helps.  I keep my all-purpose cleaner, my glass cleaner, and a few microfiber cloths under my kitchen sink cabinet, and my microfiber mop and HEPA vacuum in the kitchen closet.

The basics of of my Five Task Tidy-Up are as follows:

  1. Clear the clutter on countertops and off the floor.

    Make a home for bills, paperwork and mail on a desk or countertop so it is not spread all over the counter or table.  Clear the sink of breakfast dishes. (This won’t take long if you load the dirty dishes from each meal shortly after). Have a box in the dining room for donations, a basket in the hall or kids’ rooms for toys and belongings, a laundry basket in the laundry room for dirty clothes, and a box in the garage for sports equipment and outdoor toys. It shouldn’t take longer than a couple of minutes to walk around and put clutter into these designated baskets. Then, throughout the day, as you enter one of these rooms, you’ll have everything that needs to be put away in one convenient place.

  2. Dust off tops of wood furniture with a microfiber cloth.

    Dust off hanging lights and knick knacks.  Use a dry paintbrush to help dust off hard to reach areas.  Clean pet hair off upholstered furniture by placing a rubber glove on your hand and wiping up the hair. This sounds like it would take a while, and your first go might. But if you do it regularly, it won’t take nearly as long.

  3. Wipe all noticeable fingerprints off doors, walls, glass tables and mirrors.

    Use a pre-prepared mix of vinegar and water to clean areas with a microfiber cloth, and then wipe dry with a separate cloth. Again, I know that’s a lot of surfaces, but just walk around and wipe where you see something.

  4. Sanitize your surfaces.

    Throw some vinegar in the toilet bowl for a quick sanitizing clean of all your kitchen and bathroom countertops.

  5. Vacuum floors and area rugs with a HEPA vacuum cleaner.

    This one will come the closest to busting your five-minute-per-task limit, but if you keep it up, it will get easier and easier. No time to vacuum your hard floors?  Grab your dry microfiber mop and quickly brush over your floor, making sure you pick up all noticeable crumbs and dust.

The best part about my Five Task Tidy-Up is that, once you make it a habit, it will feel like you hardly ever clean, but your house always looks great. Share your experiences with the Five Task Tidy-Up in the comments below, or tell us how you keep your home neat and tidy!

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