Real women speak: Cleaning tricks from busy moms

Apr 4, 2011 at 4:29 a.m. ET

A mother’s job is never done. Between late-night feedings, long days at the office, and playing chauffeur, cook and maid to your brood, you’re lucky you have time to sleep at all. When it comes to cleaning, cut yourself some slack and incorporate tried-and-true cleaning tricks from other busy moms.

Happy mom cleaning

1Use those extra hands.

John Heywood got it right when he said, "Many hands make work light." Moms may not have much sleep, energy or time, but they do have access to lots of little hands. Here's how other moms put their kids to work to make cleaning go faster:

  • "With three small children, it's not easy to keep the house clean. I recognized my kids' fascination with the vacuum, and I invested in kiddie-sized vacuums for each child. Not only do they enjoy vacuuming along with me, they ask to do it daily!" -- Caryn Pollock
  • "I try to get all my kids together, set the timer for 15 minutes and get the main areas of the house clean in that time. To help them along, I sweep everything into the middle of each room and then they have to either throw it away or put it away. It works pretty well if you do it every day to have a clutter-free house." -- Selena Treister

2Think efficiently.

Supposedly, multitasking isn't productive, but millions of moms beg to differ. Mother of three Sarah Christofferson agrees. "Really, it's all about efficiency. Doing three things at once is a must. I never leave a room empty handed. As I go from space to space, I'm always grabbing something to bring along and put away. I have no wasted trips. Also, I keep a dust rag and cleaning supplies in multiple areas of the house. That way, they're easily accessible for spot-cleaning when we have a free moment, like when the kids are brushing their teeth."

Use the tools you have available for more than their stated purposes. Busy mom Liz Trotter touts the benefits of using the dishwasher for more than just dishes: "You can load it up with all sorts of items like stove grates and knobs, globes from light fixtures, kitchen sponges and ice dispenser grates." Using the dishwasher this way cuts down on labor and time spent cleaning.

Combine tasks to speed up the cleaning process. For instance, Natalie Streber combines her shower time with cleaning time. "I clean the shower while I'm taking a shower and at the same time I fill up the separate tub and soak it with bleach. After my shower I wipe everything down and I'm done."

3The devil is in the details.

If you dread the time it takes to deep clean your house, you may just need a few tips for speeding up the process. Three ingenious moms share their tips for cleaning up especially tricky situations:

  • "Quickly and thoroughly clean cabinetry molding with a one-inch painter's paintbrush. The fine but stiff bristles quickly knock dust out of the corners and get into nooks and crannies. Follow the paintbrush up with a damp rag to pick up the loosened dust and dirt." – Krista Fabregas
  • "Use vinegar ice cubes to clean stinky food off of garbage disposal blades. Just put one cup white vinegar in an ice cube tray, fill the balance with water, and freeze. When you're ready to clean your disposal, drop a few ice cubes down the disposal and run it. It'll be clean in no time." – Jennifer Taggart
  • "Boil water for five to 10 minutes in a dirty microwave, and it will all wipe clean. Put slices of lemon, lime or orange in the water to give your microwave a fresh, clean smell." – Rosemary Stader

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