If you wander your home like a nomad each time you need a particular cleaning agent, stop doing it now. Keep a bucket under every sink with the bare essentials. My essentials are antibacterial wipes, glass cleaner, a spray with bleach, and a scrub brush.
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It’s scientific fact, people. Your kids need a little dirt and dust in their lives. Here’s how to make it simple. Just stick a duster or dusting cloth in various locations around your home. I have one in my nightstand drawer and in the top shelf of my desk, and I keep them in the top drawer (i.e., where little hands still can’t reach) of the kids' dressers.
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This is a no-brainer, but something that’s often overlooked according to Jenna Mahoney, author of Small Apartment Hacks (Ulysses Press, 2013). Set up cleaning appointments. Jenna likes to keep her cleaning to one single day a week, but says if it works better for your family, you can break it up (vacuum the whole house on Monday, mop on Saturday when the kids can help, wash all bed sheets on Wednesday).
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Keep a squeegee, spray bottle, and toothbrush in the shower. Squeegee the doors (if you have glass) daily or spritz the shower curtain with shower spray. You can find some great DIY shower sprays like this one or buy one like Tilex. Once a week, douse the toothbrush in a bleach solution and clean caulking between tiles, as well as mold and mildew stains.
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There’s no need to dust every little nook and cranny of your home every few days. So stick to the most important surfaces (what health organizations call “high touch surfaces”) like the kitchen counter and bathroom fixtures and door knobs. Worry less about the other stuff. Your daughter’s Polly Pocket collection can wait for another day.
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This is when cleaning can seem like a blur. You want to conquer the kitchen floor, but everyone’s shoes are all over the floor, toys are scattered everywhere, and inexplicably there’s someone’s Mickey Mouse underwear stuck to the refrigerator (oh wait, that’s never happened to you?!). Give everyone in your family a bin with their name on it. Dirty, muddy cleats that need cleaning, those go in one bin. Random stuff that was left in the car goes in another bin. You can sort later. Clear the decks and start cleaning.
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If you don't have one invest in a mini vac! This has literally saved me hours of sweeping up. Play-doh bits, crumbs, Cheerios, begone!
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These are your friend, people. Spray your kids if they get in your way. Spray the cat. Spray the counter when it’s icky. Spray your shower. You can make yourself an easy vinegar and water solution that cleans up almost everything, or find your own favorite DIY recipe for super spray-dom.
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Are you breaking out the family ladder and teetering around the shower head in an attempt to clean the mildew in between those little grooves? Stop it now. When I read this (method #3, in particular), I had an awakening. Take a plastic bag, fill it with vinegar, attach it to your shower head with a rubber band, and leave it like that for eight or more hours. Voila---sparkling clean shower head!
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Make lemonade---just kidding! But seriously, lemons can help with lots of random cleaning projects, and they smell good. Use a lemon and kosher sea salt to scrub hard-to-clean pans or your wooden cutting boards. Scrub lemon on faucets and fixtures to make them shine and to remove pesky hard water stains. Finally, squeeze lemon into a spray bottle, add some vinegar and water, and use the concoction to spot clean any number of counter-top messes.
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Here’s my favorite hack from a mommy friend. Start with two sets of fitted sheets on your bed. In a week, peel the top layer off, switch out your flat sheet with a fresh one, and you’re in clean sheets again.
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Guess what? You can toss them in the dishwasher! And here’s a bonus: You can stick stuffed toys in the washing machine. Use a gentle cycle.
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I love this life hack from Apartment Therapy. Grab some Play-doh (Silly Putty works too) and simply dab the glitter up!
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Okay, even if it’s pricey, you can save time worrying and cleaning your upholstery by buying a sofa or loveseat with removable slipcovers. More importantly, the slipcovers should be machine washable. My family loves our KIVIK loveseat from IKEA. It has survived two bouts of the family stomach flu and lots of spot and deep cleaning.
image: Getty / Blend Images - KidStock
Maybe you think only people with long-haired cats need a good lint brush. Not so! These are so great for cleaning your lampshades, curtains, and even the odd fuzzy laundry disaster.
image: Getty / Thomas J Peterson
As I mentioned before, a toothbrush can work wonders in between tiles or on grout and caulking when used with bleach. Put some toothpaste on your brush (not the same one you use for brushing your own teeth, of course!), and you can clean jewelry and tennis shoes.
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Apparently, sweeping went the way of land lines. Brooms are for your grandma. If you really want to clean up those crumbs, grab your mini vacuum (i.e., Your New Best Friend!) to nab stray dust bunnies and lint. If all else fails, you can always try the Baby Mop.
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Not so, says one of my favorite mommy bloggers, Jen Simon. After hearing about this hack from a friend, she indulged her five year old’s flare for cleanliness, and they used dryer sheets to rub down all the baseboards in her house. Apparently, dryer cloths repel dirt and dust on crown molding and baseboards, which makes sense because they help remove annoying fuzz and static cling from your clothes too.
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I’m not talking about those magic wall erasers. I’m talking about the real deal, those pink guys you had in school. If you are still not clear on why these babies will save you time (and money repainting your home), see the above image. Let’s just say Daddy was on duty that day in my house. A good heavy-duty eraser can clean off pencil marks, scuffs, and washable crayon spit-spot!
image: Getty / Jose Luis Pelaez
Here’s an easy trick. Take a bowl, fill it with water, drop a few lemon slices into it, stick it in your microwave, and run it for about five minutes (until water is steaming and boiling). The steam helps loosen gunk so you can quickly wipe the surface clean.
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If you don’t own an apron with pockets, get one! I know a mom who uses one pocket for trash she picks up and the other to collect little toys and items to put away later. You can stow a duster in a pocket or anything else you might need as you move from room to room cleaning and picking up odds and ends. (I am loving this one in red gingham!)
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Another mom friend learned this trick from a cleaning professional. Clean each room from top to bottom. Dust cabinets, lamps, light fixtures, dressers, etc. first and then work your way down to counters, tables, and surfaces. All crumbs, dust, and dirt will float to the floor as you clean. Finally, give the room a good vacuuming or mopping.
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Using Clorox bleach to clean counter tops in high traffic areas like your kitchen and bathrooms will not only render them visibly spotless, but the bleach will also sterilize and sanitize. This is a great thing to do a few times a month during cold and flu season!
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Baking soda was seriously created by the gods. It is a great thing to stick in your fridge to keep stuff fresh. It can be sprinkled on spilled milk (and how many times does that happen with kids?!) to help get the smell and possible stain out of carpets and upholstery. It can even be added to your favorite detergent to freshen up the laundry.
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