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Your New Year household cleaning plan

Tiernan McKay is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colorado. Her writing has appeared in magazines such as Alive!, Occupational Health and Safety, Restaurants and Institutions, Tampa Bay and Arizona Woman. Right now, she is either ridi...

Quick and easy cleaning

Oh, to have a full-time cleaning lady! Every mom dreams about it at one time or another. But for most of us, hiring a cleaning crew to regularly tidy up our homes is not an option. This year, combat the effects of clutter on your life by developing an easy-to-follow house cleaning schedule.

woman with mop

With the hectic schedules we keep, maintaining a presentable house is a big challenge. Still, it is possible to keep your house neat and tidy with minimal effort, provided you're willing to plan just a bit. Up for the challenge? Read on.

No more CHAOS

Many moms adopt a scurry-to-clean-up strategy when the mess gets unbearable or when guests are due to arrive. Although this strategy can be acceptable in the short-term, it causes unnecessary stress and makes housework miserable. "You want to always feel like you can ask a good friend in," says Leslie Reichert, a green home keeping expert with over 20 years of experience. "You don't want to live in CHAOS -- the Can't Have Anybody Over Syndrome. Your house doesn't have to look like a showroom, but if you have systems in place, you will never be caught off guard with your underwear next to the front door!"

Get started

If you feel overwhelmed when you face your family room or kitchen each day, you're definitely not alone. Rather than giving in to that overwhelming feeling, make the decision to get started...now. "Start with de-cluttering," suggests Rachelle Strauss, otherwise known as Mrs. Green of the Little Green Blog. "Anything that you have not used for a year, you don't like or doesn't work can be sent to a new home. Small baby steps taking consistently over time lead to success."

Develop a routine

If you are a sporadic cleaner, you'll never be satisfied with the results and will always be trying to get ahead. Set yourself up for success by developing a routine...and sticking to it! What are some practical strategies moms can use to develop a plan of attack? "A routine is a mom's BFF," says Stephanie Vozza, author of The Five-Minute Mom's Club: 105 Tips to Make a Mom's Life Easier. "A well-run household has daily tasks, weekly tasks and monthly tasks." Write down your particular needs, categorize them and stick to the schedule to ensure maximum sanity.

Clean speedily

Whenever a task becomes tedious, we'll find every excuse to avoid it. Reichert has some tips to help you clean faster and more efficiently:

  • Have everything you need in a caddy with you in every room.
  • Wear an apron. Professionals like carpenters and electricians wear one - we should too.
  • Pick one room and concentrate on it. You work on one room at a time, when you have time.
  • Work in a circle and don't retrace your steps. My mantra is "top to bottom - back to front."
  • Use new technology like micro fiber to make cleaning fast and easy.
  • Teach your family that everything has a place - and they need to put it there.

An example

Need some inspiration? Check out Vozza's weekly cleaning schedule:

Daily

  • First thing in the morning: Unload dishwasher. Do one load of laundry. Make bed.
  • Before bed: Wipe down kitchen counters. Load/turn on dishwasher. Pack lunches. Set coffee pot.

Weekly

  • Monday: Clean bathrooms
  • Tuesday: Vacuum
  • Wednesday: Clean kitchen
  • Thursday: Dust
  • Friday: Vacuum and mop
  • Saturday: Project such as dust baseboards, clean a closet, dust ceiling fans, etc.
  • Sunday: Strip and wash linens

Read more about quick cleaning

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