14 Ways to Speed Through Chores

By Amelia R. Farquhar, REDBOOK

From clever laundry tricks to a quick-cleaning kit, find ways to shave minutes (even hours!) off boring household duties. We found these 14 tricks easy and smart ways to save time:

1. "I made a spreadsheet of the grocery items I buy regularly. The first column lists the items, the second lists whether I need them, and the third I use to check things off as I buy them."

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2. "Ask your family to button buttons, zip zippers, and turn socks right-side out before they put their dirty clothes in the hamper, to cut down on folding time."

3. "Have your little ones practice their ABC's by asking them to alphabetize your spice rack. Then you won't have to dig around for what you need."

4. "I borrow my husband's tool belt and fill the pockets and loops with sponges, spray bottles, dust cloths, and even the cordless telephone. Now I fly through cleaning because I have everything I need within quick reach."

5. "Fold and smooth out jeans and T-shirts as soon as you take them out of the dryer (while they're still warm), and you'll save time on ironing."

6. "When putting silverware into the dishwasher, group knives, forks, and spoons together. This makes unloading go much quicker."

7. "I always double up on duties: I unload the dishwasher while I talk on the phone, vacuum the rugs while the washing machine is running, and soak pans in soapy water while our dinner is cooking."

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8. "On my lunch hour, I dash to the grocery store and pick up nonperishables, such as paper towels, soap, cereal, and canned soups, to make my weekend shopping trip go much quicker."

9. "Before trying to remove cheese or sticky sauces from a pan, soak it in cold water, not hot. Cold water hardens the goo, causing it to loosen from the pan and making it much easier to scrub off."

10. "I pack snacks for the kids' lunches in plastic baggies and stow them in the cupboard to save time when making lunches on hectic mornings!"

11. "I spread an old towel under my son's car seat to catch juice-box spills and cookie crumbs."

12. "I have a bill-paying basket that I keep in the kitchen. It's stuffed with pending bills, my checkbook, envelopes, stamps, pens, a calculator, a stapler, and return-address labels."

13. "The quickest way to keep a purse clean: Stash a small Ziploc bag in a side pocket and put gum wrappers, tissues, and scraps of trash paper in it."

14. "I set up a library bin where my kids store their borrowed books and tapes. Now we never have to tear the house apart when it's time to return them."

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