Hurray! Lydia’s ears seem to finally be on the mend and I’m back with a real Tips and Tricks Tuesday post for you this week, complete with cute kid pictures of Alethea cleaning things. (Apparently I’ve never made Lydia clean anything… there are no pictures anyway. Typical youngest child getting away with stuff, I’d say.)
And now to start with a disclaimer…. these are tricks I’ve been using lately to get and keep my house clean and organized. I feel like I’m getting more efficient at getting stuff done around the house and that, in general, the level of organization is going up in my house over time, which is a fantastic feeling. So this has been working really well for me and I thought I’d share, but I’m sure there are about a bazillion other ways one might proceed to clean one’s house, so no hard feelings if these tips aren’t right for you. Promise!
Okay, so here’s tip number one, a quick and easy one too, I call it… On the Move Cleaning. So if your house is like mine, and there are constantly projects going on and you have kids (or a husband) who may or may not always put things back where they belong, things can progress from ‘not that bad’ to ‘pretty awful’ to ‘total disaster’ in the blink of an eye. One thing I do that takes hardly any time at all to prevent the ‘total disaster’ state is to clean as I’m moving through the house.
It works like this, say for example it’s breakfast time and I’m in the kitchen and realize that I need a box of cereal from the storage room in the basement, instead of just running downstairs and grabbing the cereal and coming back up, I take two quick seconds to look around my immediate area and see if there is anything that belongs in the basement that I can take with me. Ah ha! The tissue paper I bought at Target yesterday is sitting on the counter waiting to be stashed. I grab the tissue and run down to the storage room, take another two seconds to toss the tissue paper into the tissue paper bin, grab my cereal and exit the room.
But wait, I look around the family room and notice that somehow, mysteriously, one of the kitchen dish towels has migrated down there. I grab the towel, head back upstairs and toss the dirty towel into the kitchen laundry basket in the mudroom. I then proceed back to the kitchen to make breakfast.
While typing that out makes it sound pretty involved, I’ve been doing it long enough that I barely even think about it anymore and it adds only seconds to whatever primary task I’m doing at the time. And while it doesn’t mean we never have to do big ‘pick ups’ around the house, it does help maintain a margin of order in the midst of the chaos.
Tip number two is what I like to call Zone Cleaning. Unlike On the Go Cleaning, which I use when I’m in the middle of something else, Zone Cleaning is what I do when I’m actually attempting to completely clean and declutter a space.
Here’s how it works… when I have any chunk of time (five minutes or two hours, the amount doesn’t matter), I pick an area in my house proportionate to my time allotment and clean just that area or zone.
Like the other day, I had finished giving the girls their bath and knew I had about an hour until I needed to start making lunch. The upstairs didn’t seem too messy so I figured one hour was about what I needed to clean all the carpeted rooms upstairs (ie. three bedrooms, the hallway, stairs and the master closet). By the end of the hour, we had made the beds, picked up everything off the floors, folded and put away the two baskets of clean laundry and vacuumed all the carpet by following the two rules of Zone Cleaning: 1) Don’t Leave the Zone and 2) Put Everything in its Place.
Any object out of place gets picked up and evaluated, does it belong within the zone? The Clifford book on my bedroom floor… it doesn’t belong there, but it does belong within the zone, so I walked it over to Alethea’s room and asked her to put it on her bookshelf. The pair of mittens on the drying rack in the closet? They were done drying and aren’t stored upstairs, therefore they belong outside the zone and are put into the ‘out of zone’ basket to be dealt with at the end of the cleaning session.
This cleaning method works for me because it keeps me focused or ‘in the zone’ if you will, so I don’t start out cleaning the bathroom and end up distracted cleaning a whole other part of the house. It also works because it’s flexible. If I have five minutes I can zone clean a kitchen counter or a shelf in the closet. If I have a couple hours, I can get a whole floor of the house done.
So there’s my efficient cleaning tips for the day and now it’s your turn. What tricks do you use to save time and work quickly while you clean? Do share!