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Mastering the Art of House Cleaning

Maintaining a clean home can be a full-time job, but I don’t know anyone who has the luxury of making house cleaning a top priority on a regular basis. Whether you own or rent, chances are the time you spend cleaning is at the expense of other important tasks, from working to enjoying time with the kids. Mastering the art of house cleaning is an ongoing battle, but simply making an effort to get a handle on things will yield immediate results–results that will inspire you to take charge of the mess. Here are some tips that have empowered me in my ongoing battle for a clean home…

Daily Upkeep

Let me start this section by saying that there will likely be days when you do nothing to clean your home. By setting daily goals, you should not feel imprisoned. Rather, these goals serve as gentle reminders to stay on top of the chores. One question I ask myself each day: Is there any laundry that needs washing? Some days there’s nothing. In fact, when I was in college, I could go longer than a week without doing laundry. If you have kids, one load a day may seem light! But these days, between my colors, my whites, my hubby’s laundry and the extra pet blankets involved in raising a cuddly cat, there’s usually some laundry that needs tending to on a regular basis! [from Morrow & Morrow Corporation]

Folded white towels in a laundry room Mastering the Art of House Cleaning
Folded white towels in a laundry room

Lately I’ve been doing a pretty lousy job of keeping up with the dishes. And we have a dishwasher! The routine: I run the dishwasher, then I fail to unload it for a couple of days while the dirty dishes pile up in the sink. Not a good routine, folks! I’m making a new plan: each day I will either start the dishwasher, handwash larger/more delicate dishes, or unload the dishwasher. [from Miele]

Kitchen dishwasher from Miele Mastering the Art of House Cleaning
Kitchen dishwasher from Miele

I don’t thoroughly clean my kitchen and bathroom surfaces each and every day, but most days, I make an effort to wipe down countertops with a paper towel spritzed with all-natural surface cleaner. At the very least, take a dry paper towel and wipe down wet spots/soapy residue near the faucets. This will do wonders in giving your kitchen and powder room a quick and easy face lift. Plus, it will reduce the amount of time needed to deep clean these areas of the home later! [from Jennifer Weiss Architecture]

Modern kitchen with marble countertops
Modern kitchen with marble countertops

No time to wipe down the countertops? At the very least, clean trouble spots on counters and other surfaces of your home. What qualifies as a trouble spot? A big glob of pasta sauce from dinner, makeup residue on your bathroom countertop, or that big pile of mail you threw on the coffee table when you came home from work. Baby steps… [image from Blue Apron]

Cleaning the kitchen countertop
Cleaning the kitchen countertop

Tackle One “Big” Task Each Day

I can’t say with all honesty that I’ve kept to this next goal, but when I do, life runs a lot more smoothly. What goal, you ask? The goal of completing one significant cleaning task each day. This goes beyond the tasks above. I’m talking about those chores that are not daily commitments, yet if you go too long without doing them, your home simply starts to feel un-clean. Like dusting! Dusting the whole house in one fell swoop can be a tall order. Instead, try dusting one room at the end (or beginning) of the day. This may only take a few minutes, but why is it that we always put it off?! [from Fabulous Cleaning Services]

Dusting the door frame
Dusting the door frame

Remember when I talked about simple countertop cleanliness in the section above? From time to time, your counters and sinks need a more thorough cleaning. Pick one room and go for it. Scrub the sink and get that countertop clean. Really clean. [from ExpressDecor]

Kitchen sink from ExpressDecor
Kitchen sink from ExpressDecor

If I use a sponge to clean my sink, I definitely make sure this is not the same sponge I use for cleaning my pots and pans! Toss it, or disinfect it, using it only for cleaning out the sink again in the future. [from Saucy Girl’s Kitchen]

Clean yellow sponge
Clean yellow sponge

Vacuuming–it’s not fun. If you have pets, you may vacuum every day. I usually vacuum about twice a week (once in the living room/dining room/kitchen areas, and once througout the whole house). On a day that I vacuum, I’m usually not doing too much else around the house–unless I mop. But that’s for discussing later on in the post… [from Timestrip]

Miele vacuum cleaner with Timestrip technology
Miele vacuum cleaner with Timestrip technology

How often do you clean your showers/bathtubs? I haven’t been able to find a shower cleaner (or daily freshener) that I can tolerate the smell of, so I tend to do this job once every couple of weeks. [from Zack de Vito]

Marble bathroom shower
Marble bathroom shower

When I clean one shower area, I go ahead and clean the other. And I make sure I open the windows so the strong cleaning smell can quickly dissipate. Still searching for a non-toxic option that really gets the job done, mold and all. Do you have any favorites? [from Home Garden]

Cleaning the shower
Cleaning the shower

Technically this isn’t a “cleaning” task, but it’s one that requires regular maintenance–plant care. I LOVE having fresh plants and greenery around my home. But it takes some work. And the more work you put into it on a regular basis, the less you have to “clean up” in the future (dead leaves, etc.). So once every few days I take a look around and see if vases need to be emptied and stems need to be clipped. I might cut new blooms from the garden or refresh a vase with water. [from CB2]

Geo vase from CB2
Geo vase from CB2

And there’s nothing like taking the time to water the plants. This typically doesn’t take long, but it does take effort–the effort of remembering! [from West Elm]

Hanging planter from West Elm
Hanging planter from West Elm

Do I check off an item on this list each and every day? I’ll be honest–no. But the more I make an effort to clean during the week, the less I have to play “catch up” on the weekends! Let’s move on to some weekly duties…

Weekly Chores

The cleaning tasks in this section are often completed once a week. If you have time to work on these throughout the week (as in the “tackle one significant cleaning task each day” strategy mentioned above), more power to you! Some of these may fall to the weekend, but there’s no shame in that! I once cleaned my entire house in two hours on a Saturday. But it wasn’t fun, so I’m hoping to spread out the chores a little bit more in the future! The first weekly task to showcase: cleaning the toilet. Not fun, but necessary. [from Paul Rice Architecture]

Tidy marble bathroom
Tidy marble bathroom

I also try and mop once a week. My tile shows dirt a lot faster than my hardwood flooring, so one week I’ll mop only the tile portions of the floor (cutting corners is OK), and the next week I’ll mop everything. [from Trendsfloor.com]

Living room tile flooring
Living room tile flooring

Remembering to clean the mirrors can be tricky–we get good at overlooking the spots right in front of us! But it’s amazing how wiping down mirrors once a week can give your powder room a pristine spa-like look. [photo by Iain D. MacKenzie via Ian Moore Architects]

White bathroom with gleaming mirrors
White bathroom with gleaming mirrors

It also helps to de-clutter your home once a week. I’m talking about clearing surfaces such as the coffee table and your desk. Filing papers away and recycling that growing pile of magazines can do wonders for your space. [from ASAP house]

Home office with clean desks
Home office with clean desks

I talk a big talk, but am I able to follow this routine perfectly? Absolutely not. That’s what weekend catch-ups are for! However, I will say that by simply having a routine to aspire to, I’m a lot better off than if I let a dirty home get the best of me. Here’s to making an effort!

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