By Carolyn Forte
Cleaning houseCleaning house, while necessary for all, is a very personal issue. Don't worry about other people's standards. Decide what "clean" means to you and keep house accordingly. Above all, use your time effectively. Here's how:
Identify which tasks absolutely have to be done, which ones should be done and which ones would be nice to get done. Work on them in that order and forget about all others.
Related: Insider Tips from Cleaning Pros
Set Time Limits
You can accomplish quite a bit in several 10- or 20-minute periods. Keep your cleaning schedule flexible so you can change it if something unexpected comes up. Do what you can when you can.
Teach your kids how to fold laundry, vacuum, dust, unload the dishwasher, make their beds and prepare their breakfasts, lunches and snacks. Enlist teens to help with big jobs like washing windows and floors and cleaning cabinets and woodwork.
Related: Nate Berkus' Room Organizing Tips
Make double use of your time - straighten the coat closet while waiting for the car pool; clean kitchen counters while talking on the telephone.
A Family Affair
Set aside at least two hours once or twice a week for cleaning. Write down all necessary tasks on slips of paper and put them in bowl according to difficulty. Every family member chooses from the appropriate bowl. Enforce the rule that everyone helps with some cleaning task during that time.
Related: Declutter Your Kitchen
Wipe up spills as soon as possible. The sooner you clean up, the easier it is to remove stains completely.
•You can keep your house cleaner by preventing outdoor dirt from getting in. Use doormats and boot scrapers. As needed, sweep sidewalks, steps and stairwells leading to your home.
•If you have the space, set up a mudroom, where wet and soiled clothing and boots can be removed and stored.
•To reduce airborne dust, regularly vacuum registers and radiators. Change the filters in your air conditioners and furnace, following the manufacturer's instructions. If you have severe allergies, hire a professional yearly to clean heating and ventilation ducts to reduce dust and molds.
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