Just like busy, working mom Roseanne, most of us don’t have hours to devote to cleaning the house and getting it in order every week. Yet the bulk of the housework probably falls on the woman’s shoulders. In fact, according to the Labor Department’s 2011 American Time Use Survey, nearly 83 percent of women say they do an average day of cleaning, versus 65 percent of men.
Luckily, there are ways to keep a home clean and tidy without becoming a slave to these chores. Let these tips from the pros help you do it in less time and a lot less stress!
Create a schedule. Instead of taking on the entire house every day, follow advice from Kristl Story of TheBudgetDiet.com and devise a cleaning schedule where you work on one task each day. For example: Monday – clean bathrooms; Tuesday – change sheets; Wednesday – dust; Thursday – dust; Friday – vacuum.
Stop dirt in its tracks. Always remove shoes before entering the house, says Caroline Blazovsky of My Healthy Home in Whitehouse, NJ (www.healthyhomeexpert.com). “It keeps you from bringing in excess dirt, debris and bacteria from the outside.” She also suggests forgoing carpeting and opting for hardwood, tile or easy to clean flooring. “If you must have carpet, invest in a high end vacuum. They have better filtration, like HEPA, and contain the dirt better when vacuuming.”
Make the beds every morning. “Even if there are other things lying around, the room will look much, much cleaner,” says Ruth Soukup of Living Well Spending Less Inc.
Empty the dishwasher every night. Make a habit of emptying the dishwasher before you go to bed. The morning’s dishes can then be put directly into the dishwasher instead of cluttering the sink.
Delegate. Unless your children are toddlers, they should be helping with chores around the house, says Story. Kids can make their own beds, clear the table, dust and do other small jobs around the house.
Try the “10 minute tidy.” For 10 minutes, everyone has “all hands on deck,” explains Bonnie Joy Dewkett, a certified professional organizer. “You can play music, set a timer, do whatever you want to make it fun and fast. Everyone scurries to clean or put away as much as possible during this time.”
Clean as you cook. “No one wants to spend 30 minutes getting the kitchen back in order after dinner,” says Karen Hoxmeier, founder of MyBargainBuddy.com. “I wash dishes, pots, and pans and wipe counters as I go. At the end of the meal, only plates, cups and utensils need to be washed or put into the dishwasher and my kids help out with that.”
Rotate toys. When you have kids, your house can look like Romper Room after a tornado. To keep children’s toys under control, Hoxmeier invested in several storage containers and labeled them Legos, Blocks, Dress-Up, Puzzles, Crafts, etc. “We then took on the task of sorting their toys and putting the containers on a rotation schedule, letting them each choose one box at a time. Every two weeks, they could swap their box for one outside the rotation. Another perk: They always felt like they had new toys!”
Do a little at a time. Becoming organized and then staying that way is a process that takes daily maintenance, says Melinda Massie, owner of Organizing with a Side of Fabulous, a professional organization company in Fort Worth, TX. “In the beginning while you’re cluttered, spend 5 to 15 minutes a day, every day, getting rid of clutter and anything else that is no longer serving you. This helps cultivate the daily habit that will keep you successfully organized for life.
Start at the bottom. If you are sorting a pile of papers, start at the bottom of the heap, since most of that has passed/is old, says Dewkett. And stop wasting time sifting through piles of junk mail altogether by going to DMAchoice.org (it’s free), and remove your name from credit card mailings, catalogs and other junk.
Create a command central. “I have a cork board in my kitchen with four index card across the top, which organizes what I need to do with what: Pay Now, Call ASAP, Pay Later, File,” explains Robin Wallace, founder and creative director of Thrifty Vintage Chic. You can also do this for your kids’ school work and after-school activities.
Donate unused items. Once a year, go through your house, room by room, cupboard by cupboard and closet by closet, says Hoxmeier. “Get rid of anything you have not used in over one year. Donate usable items to charity. Recycle or throw away things that cannot be used.”
Make organization a habit. At the end of every day, take a few minutes to reset the home. “What would only take 5-10 minutes of daily work morphs into an hour or more if you put it off until the weekend,” says Massie.