Spring Cleaning Tips That Save Time

BY NANCY MATTIA ON APRIL 29TH, 2017

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Spring cleaning – that household tradition where you tackle tougher, once-a-year jobs like washing curtains, cleaning windows, and getting rid of the dirt behind the sofa – gives your home a fresh start. The ritual dates back to when homes were heated with wood stoves and lit with kerosene lamps, which left the interiors sooty and dirty after a long winter, And that called for a major cleanup, says Donna Smallin Kuper, a certified house cleaning technician and author of “Clear the Clutter, Find Happiness” (Storey Publishing, 2014). While no one worries about kerosene residue today, roughly 72 percent of Americans say they plan to do some spring cleaning, according to the American Cleaning Institute. Here’s how to do it in less time than you think.

Declutter rooms first

All worthy cleaning projects start by getting rid of stuff – the broken lamp, the piles of magazines you know you’ll never read or the dead plants in the corner. “It’s a lot easier and faster to clean when surfaces are clear whether you’re vacuuming, dusting, or wiping,” Kuper says. So declutter first, then clean.

Gather supplies in a basket

Having everything you need, from glass cleaner to rags, in one place means you’ll avoid wasting time getting supplies together. “It’s not only a waste of time and steps but you might get distracted en route!” Kuper says. Also, storing cleaning supplies this way helps you keep track of inventory. “You don’t want to find out that you’re out of tub and tile cleaner when you’re just getting ready to clean the shower and tub.” Get a basket that has a handle for easy carrying.

Give cleaning products a chance to work

They should do the heavy lifting for you and make your part go swiftly. “For example, spray tub and tile cleaner, and let it sit as directed on the label while you clean mirrors and countertops,” Kuper says. “It’s called ‘dwell time,’ and it’s the time needed to penetrate and lift dirt and grime.”

Clean with a trickle-down mentality

Kuper recommends cleaning each room from top to bottom so that you’re working with gravity, not against it, which avoids having to clean something twice. “For example, clean ceiling fixtures and dust tops of tall cabinets first, then dust coffee and end tables, and finish with vacuuming.”

Vacuum before mopping

The pro says that vacuuming the floors removes more debris than sweeping.

Have the family pitch in

They live in the house too, right? Put them to work. From organizing their own closets to wiping down moldings, family members should do their part to keeping the home clean and tidy. Get your kids used to housework on a regular basis, not just once a year, Kuper says. “Even very young children can help. Give them a sock to wear on their hands, spray the socks lightly with dusting polish and have them wipe down table and chair legs.”

Keep your focus

If you dawdle, what should be a 60-minute job could take hours. But there’s a simple way to stay motivated: “Find cleaning products in scents you love,” says Kuper, “and you’ll be more apt to love cleaning – or at least hate it less!” Keeping a to-do list and checking off each completed job could help keep you going too. So is rewarding yourself when the job done with a movie outing, massage or flowers.

Call in the pros

Sometimes it makes more sense to delegate jobs like carpet cleaning and window washing to professional services, Kuper says. “They’ll do the job better and faster than you can and are worth the expense.”

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