And others of us who may have a little more control over our house (ie: the kids have moved out!) even then we would like a clean house, but don’t necessarily want to spend hours upon hours cleaning it. We have other things in our lives that are important to us that we want to spend time on besides cleaning.
Just as we talked about how we shouldn’t be productive just for the sake of being productive, we also should get better and better at cleaning, but not so we can just do more and more of it. We should get better at cleaning and get it done to the level that we are each comfortable with, so that we then my have time to move on to do the more important things in our lives (hobbies, creative work, family time).
To help you with this, I am going to give you 10 steps to clean your house fast. It won’t be perfect, and it is not a substitute for an occasional deep cleaning and decluttering. It will however, help you feel like you are getting somewhere and you wouldn’t be terribly embarrassed if someone came to the door. Keep this handy for those times when someone calls and says, “I was in the area and thought I’d drop buy, see you in 15-20 minutes?”
10 steps to make your house presentable
1. Grab a trashbag. This is one of the best tools for crisis cleaning! Quickly scan each room for newspapers, school papers, food trash, receipts, packaging, etc, and stuff them in the bag. Do this for the entire area you need to clean, whether it is just the living room and kitchen because someone is dropping by, or the entire house. DO NOT GET DISTRACTED. Do not “clean” anything else at this point, just gather trash.
2. Another quick scan of each room, pick up any dishes as you work your way around the house, depositing in the kitchen sink. Do not bother washing now, unless your dishwasher is ready for them to be put directly in.
3. Grab a box or another bag. This 3rd sweep of the area to be cleaned is going to be for items that you know can be discarded or donated. This is not a deep declutter, but this is the McDonald’s toy your child got last week and has lost interest. The sweater that had a small hole you thought you might mend so it is sitting by your chair for weeks, the pair of shoes by the door that no one can even wear anymore. Don’t open cabinets or closets for this clean, just scan the things that are lying around that are no longer useful to you.
4. Now that the extraneous stuff has been removed, grab a laundry basket and start in the first room. Toss anything in the basket that belongs in another room. Do not go deliver it now. Straighten pillows, cushions, towels, rugs. Put books on shelves, stack magazines, throw toys in toybox.
Move to the next room, take anything out of the basket that belongs in the current room and put it away. Repeat the process above in this room. Continue to move from room to room filling and emptying the basket, and straightening as you go. If you feel you must, grab a dust cloth or a Swiffer and go at it. (If you really hate dust see: 2 tips to tame the dust in your house)
5. Vacuum the living areas of your house. Do not do the kitchen yet.
6. Using a bottle of windex, clean any obvious fingerprints around door handles. Enter each bathroom and do the following: spray the inside of toilet bowl and bottom and top of seat with windex. Let sit. Spray counter and sink. Let sit. Clean mirrors. Close shower curtain and straighten rug and towels. With towel, wipe sink and counter using a little water if needed. Then swish toilet bowl with a brush, hitting the lid as well. Use a towel to wipe seat dry. (This whole process should only take 5 minutes or less!)
7. Now for the kitchen. If you did not already do steps 1, 2, 3 and 4 in the kitchen, do so now. Stay focused. You are not “cleaning” yet. Step 4 will have you putting things away in the kitchen, things that should not be sitting out. Piles you may have. Now is not really the time to go through these piles. You can put them in a basket or box and go through later.
8. Load dishwasher with dirty dishes and run. If they won’t all fit, stack remainder beside sink. Fill sink with warm, soapy water. Wet a cloth and begin cleaning the appliance fronts, tabletops, the countertops and cabinet fronts, if obvious dirt shows. Depending on how big your kitchen and how dirty, you will need to rinse and wipe again until clean. Only dry anything that shows smudges like black or stainless appliances. Wash rest of dishes by hand and dry and put away.
9. Sweep or vacuum kitchen. Move large items out of the way, such as chars, highchairs, dogbowls, etc. Empty trashcan into outside can.
10. Mop floor. I personally like a string mop. I used a foam one for years, but went back to string a few years ago. I want to also give you a secret. I only mop my entire floor a few times a year. In between my moppings, I spray and ammonia based cleaner, such as windex or 409 on the floor. I get a mid-size old towel, dampen halfway and “mop” floor with towel and my feet. I clean the traffic areas and any possible spills. I have a LARGE kitchen and no kids at home so this works for me. Consider if it will work for your situation. I recently came across this Steam Mop and thought how wonderful it would’ve been to have when I had little ones. Who am I kidding? I’d STILL like to have one!
Let me just add in here, that if you have children that are at least elementary age, have them work with you in this process. Teach them what you expect and then they can take over some parts for you. Again, it won’t be perfect, but YOU won’t be doing all the work, and they will be learning important skills, including teamwork!