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Doing a thorough, deep clean of your whole home can take several hours -- hours you don't always have available. Make the most of your valuable time with faster, smarter solutions for getting at those places  where germs, dust, and allergens lurk.

20-Minute Bathroom Blitz

Once your children are old enough to sit safely in the tub and play for a bit, you can toss in a variety of bath toys and get the bathroom sanitary -- if not sparkling -- during 15 or 20 minutes of tub time. You’re still within arm’s reach should any water mishaps occur. All you need is some distilled white vinegar to clean and kill most bathroom germs without having to worry that the kids tub will be inhaling harsher chemicals.

  • The toilet. Toilets are where most of our bathroom germs come from -- urine is actually sterile, but feces are decidedly not. Flushing can send all kinds of bacteria, germs, and fungus into the air. Pour about two cups of white vinegar or disinfectant into the bowl, and then use a spray bottle to spray more onto all the hard surfaces of the toilet (including the rim and handle). Let it sit about 10 minutes while you handle one of the other tasks. Then wipe down the outside and scrub the bowl with a toilet brush.
  • The sink. Spray your sink with vinegar and wipe thoroughly. Don’t forget the handles and faucet.
  • The shower. If you have a glass shower door, regularly spraying it with vinegar prevents residue from building up.

 

20-Minute Kitchen Cleanup at Breakfast or Lunch

If you’re like most busy moms, your kids eat at least one meal in the kitchen sitting at the counter or island or in a breakfast nook or dining area nearby. During the 20 minutes it takes them to eat, you can tackle a fast kitchen clean-up that will leave everything more healthy and hygienic.

  • Spray all hard surfaces -- countertops, sink, cupboard fronts, taps, and faucets -- with a disinfectant cleaner (or distilled white vinegar) and let it sit for 10 minutes.
  • Do a fast purge of the refrigerator. Dump leftovers that are more than 2 days old and other foods that are past their expiration date. Check the crisper drawers and toss withering lettuce and moldy strawberries.
  • Replace old sponges.
  • Take out the trash. Before you put a new bag in the trash can, spray down the sides with cleaner and wipe. Bags often leak or overflow and bacteria can collect on the bin.

Ask the kids to put their dishes in the dishwasher when they are finished eating (or help them, if they’re little). Then spray the kitchen floor with disinfectant cleaner or distilled white vinegar and let them use dirty dish towels to wipe it clean. Toss the dishtowels in the next load of laundry.

10 Hidden Allergy Hotspots

Do dust mites and mold lurk in your home? See where they hide.
See slideshow