By Lambeth Hochwald
Sometimes it seems an insurmountable task to keep up with home maintenance. No need to worry. Take the advice of these cleaning experts, who have sketched out 10 quick-and-easy shortcuts that’ll help you fake the fact that you haven’t dusted in weeks:
Instead of thinking of tidying up as a chore, consider that you are simply putting your best foot forward. Those who open the door to regular homebuyer visits must keep their homes in ship-shape. With that mindset, it’s easier to do simple things like scooping up newspapers, putting away the breakfast dishes and wiping down the dining room table. “Create the showcase space you want to come home to everyday,” says Marni Jameson, a syndicated columnist and author of “Downsizing the Family Home” (Sterling, 2016).
To avoid a bad case of ‘grungy kitchen,’ start every meal prep by emptying the dishwasher so it’s ready to fill. Then, before you start cooking, keep the sink filled with hot water and dish soap. “As you finish with a utensil or a pan, drop it into the sink to start the cleaning process,” suggests Linda Cobb, author of the New York Times bestselling, “Queen of Clean” book series (Pocket Books). In addition, use a spoon rest to keep dirty utensils and food from spilling all over the counter.
To keep clean-up tasks from piling up, add some daily chores to your routine that aren’t too hard to follow. Making the bed right after waking up and putting away your toiletries right after using them are simple goals to start. Always hang towels up and put toilet lids down. “If something needs sweeping, wiping, washing or folding, do it that minute, so nothing snowballs,” Jameson says.
Since this room can get really messy – fast – stay on top of it by keeping a microfiber cloth under the sink and using it daily. “Before you leave the house, wring the cloth out in warm water and wipe all the sink surfaces and faucets,” Cobb suggests. In addition, make sure everybody has a place to hang up towels and washcloths and use baskets under the sink to store hair styling tools and products.
If you can’t thoroughly clean a room, don’t despair. Spritzing a favorite home fragrance or light a candle. “If a room smells clean, you’ll feel less stressed that you haven’t had as much time to clean it,” says Leslie Reichert, author of “The Joy of Green Cleaning” (CreateSpace, 2015).
It’s a small thing, but merely fluffing the pillows, straightening the chairs around your table and even putting fresh flowers on a table can make the entire room look cleaner, Reichert adds. To fluff the pillows really well, toss them in the dryer on the ‘air fluff’ setting. “This removes dust and pet dander,” Cobb says. “Just be sure that you’re not overcrowding the dryer.”
There’s nothing worse than a mountain of dust bunnies to make you feel like your house is sloppy. So, after you vacuum your floors, go over high-traffic areas with a dry microfiber mop and your favorite spray cleaner. “This is quick to do and it makes the floors look good,” Reichert says. “When your floors look clean, the whole room looks better.”
If your living room is filled with a mishmash of Legos, magazines and DVDs, consider purchasing a basket (or two) to keep that room looking neat and organized. “I like baskets that are large enough to hold everything,” Cobb says.
Instead of seeing the clutter of multiple coats, boots and shoes when you first walk into your house, keep everything behind closed doors. “Get a toy box or some type of box with a lid to store the shoes and boots,” Reichert says. “Or, install a shoe storage hanger behind a door.”
The next time you clean a room from top-to-bottom, take a picture of it in all its sparkling glory. This photographic evidence is especially helpful if you want your kids to pitch in and clean up. “A photo helps mom or dad show their children how the room should look when they tell them to ‘go clean their room,’” Reichert says.