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Everyday Cleaning Hacks

A tidy home has become even more important as we reach a full year of life in a pandemic. From working at home, to stay-at-home orders, to learning from home — our living spaces have taken quite the beating. Now is around the time when many begin spring cleaning. However, a full-on spring cleaning may seem overwhelming — like so much in life at this time. But, there are small, easy tasks that you can incorporate in daily housework to keep your home tidy without too much effort. Here are some easy hacks for general household upkeep.

At the end of the day, after eating dinner and putting away dishes, take a few minutes to wipe down countertops. Ideally, you’d want to wipe down all heavy-touch surfaces in your home, not just the kitchen. But who wants to go around with Lysol spray and a damp cloth to all the doorknobs, light switches, etc.? Wiping down the kitchen and bathroom counters before bed is an easy way to disinfect in between routine cleaning.

Another “end of the day” habit that the whole family can participate in is five-minute nightly clean-ups. Set a timer for five minutes and have everyone pick up and put-away as much as they can. Try to hit your most heavily used rooms and focus on small things, like picking up clothes off the floor or putting away general clutter. This is also a great time to reset the living room by clearing off the coffee table, folding throw blankets, and fluffing up couch cushions. We focus mostly on toys, and my kids are hit and miss on this, but when they’re into it, we try to make it fun and “race” each other. Whether you have kids or not, the five-minute clean-up is about making a space look presentable, no need to get out the vacuum.

Speaking of presentable, it’s been a hard-won practice at my house, but we’re finally at the place where the dining room table is clear. At the end of meals and projects, we make sure to clear off all of the clutter. This way, the table is always ready for the next meal or activity. And to keep the table free of mess, we have an incoming-papers basket for mail, receipts, flyers, and post-its. It all goes in that basket before getting sorted to its rightful place. This helps keep not only the dining room table but the countertops and other side tables clear, and it’s the first place I look when I think I’ve forgotten to pay a bill.

In addition to a paper basket, we also have a general junk basket for collecting miscellaneous items during those five-minute clean-ups above. A junk basket or box works as a catchall for clutter that I’ll sort through every few days to put things in their proper place, eventually.

We also try to keep floors clean by keeping shoes at the door. With a shoe rack right by the front door, we’ve been able to drastically decrease the amount of dirt and debris that would get tracked in if not for this habit. On those blustery days when we’ve adventured out into the woods, we’ll take shoes off on the porch before even stepping in the house. And while my kids prefer bare feet, my husband and I each have a dedicated pair of house sneakers to keep our feet warm and supported throughout the day.

For the bathroom, in addition to cleaning off the sink every evening, we also try to clean the shower after every use by wiping down the tile to keep the surfaces clear of water spots and soap scum. For glass-shower doors, consider using a squeegee to clear away drips that can lead to hard-water deposits. You can also spray daily shower cleaners on tile and fiberglass to prevent build-up before it starts.

From the tub to the toilet, try popping a denture-cleanser tablet into your toilet bowl twice a week. This hack only takes a second, and it’ll save you from having to scrub a dirty bowl. Plus, antibacterial denture cleansers kill 99.99% of odor-causing bacteria, and if there’s one place besides your mouth you want to kill odor and bacteria, it’s your toilet!

Other simple habits for a cleaner house include putting away clothes either in the hamper or back the drawer instead of tossing them on the floor or on a chair. Making the bed first thing in the morning to set the tone for the room and your day. Plus, a tidy bed will encourage you to keep the rest of the bedroom clean.

Lastly, clean as you go. It’s much easier to do a little cleaning now than to make time for a lot later. So, tackle cleaning duties as they arise. Crumbs left after snack, grab the dust-buster. Sauce spilled on the stove, grab a sponge. Putting a book back on the shelf, and you can see the dust, grab a Swiffer.

I used to get so stressed about housework and cleaning, but these habits have helped me take the pressure off of myself. While I prefer a clean house, I also have to remind myself it’s hard to keep a home clean in a world made of dirt, and that’s OK.

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