Some household chores are so time-consuming that the thought of actually tackling them is overwhelming. Other cleanups sneak up on you when — wham! — you’re suddenly faced with a grimy, gritty mess, leaving you wondering how the heck you hadn’t noticed it until now.
Stave off those icky surprises and the arduous tasks with these easy tips that won’t take hours and won’t require buying crazy expensive cleaning products.
So you’ve lived in your home for a while, cooking in your kitchen often enough that the delivery folks don’t know you by name (yet), and inevitably something has been building — yup, that’s grease on your cabinets. This chore will sneak up on you one day when the light hits them just right (or wrong), or you suddenly feel a layer of … yuck. FamilyHandyMan.com has the perfect answer: Warm sponge, meet all-purpose cleaner. Simply microwave a damp sponge for about 30 seconds, then use it to wipe down your cabinets with a cleaner that contains orange oil.
Do you remember those dish wands that every college student used to clean dishes? With the sponge on top and soap in the handle? Some genius thought to fill one with dish soap and vinegar, making the perfect tool to wipe down the shower daily — eliminating the need to scrub like a maniac once every week or two. This ingenious tip from Lifehacker.com will keep mildew from creeping up on you.
Having a garage is a beautiful thing — no more running to your car in the rain or scraping ice and snow off your windshield. But the dirt, grass, leaves and cobwebs that collect inside a garage over time? Not so pretty. Instead of taking the time to sweep the garage, moving everything out of your way and locating the dustpan, use your leaf blower instead. Presto! Your chore time is cut down considerably, and it gives you an excuse to use a power tool.
Part of the problem with house cleaning is the feeling that all the cleaning has to be done at once, in one massive frenzy that includes sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, dusting … phew! We’re out of breath already! Organizing Made Fun has a great idea to keep that list from piling up, which would normally mean leaving your weekend mornings dedicated to nothing but slaving away in your home. Instead, follow the “15 Minutes A Day” idea and do one thing each day — dust the whole house or vacuum or clean all of the bathrooms — and presto! By the weekend you’re done, and you’ve only spent 15 minutes each day getting one specific chore done.
Hate ironing? Don’t we all. One way to avoid this cumbersome task is to dry your clothes differently. As About.com suggests, don’t overload your dryer; let the clothes have room to tumble, and they won’t wrinkle as much. Also, as soon as the dryer is done, take your clothes out and immediately hang them and smooth wrinkles. This will cut out a lot of creases from forming as they sit piled in the dryer. If you do happen to leave your clothes in the dryer for a while, Woman’s Day suggests adding a damp towel back into the dryer and starting it up for a few minutes. The moisture will help kick the wrinkles out.
Finally, the worst thing to clean in the whole house: the toilet. Thankfully, Real Simple has an easy fix — just pour 1 cup of baking soda in the bowl, let it sit a few minutes, then brush and flush. An additional tip from Martha Stewart: If you have a hard-water ring around the inside of the bowl, pour 1 cup of white vinegar in, let it sit an hour, then scrub and flush.
As a bonus, here are a few quick tips for other household items you may have forgotten about:
Curtains: Use a spray that eliminates odors in fabrics, plus a steamer.
Mattresses: Wash the mattress cover, sprinkle baking soda on the mattress (this will draw out moisture and dirt), vacuum the mattress, then remake the bed.
Furniture: Put cushions on a sheet laid on the floor and vacuum the cushions and base of furniture, says Real Simple. Use a lint roller to collect any remaining pet hair. (You can also use a hydro dry-cleaning sponge found here.)