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Clean House Faster: Great Cleaning Shortcuts

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By Constance Matthiessen
WebMD Feature

Most people don't enjoy housecleaning -- but they want a clean house. Eliminating germs keeps the family healthier -- and getting rid of clutter can make your house safer and more welcoming. The trick is to find shortcuts to minimize your cleaning time and maximize your cleaning efficiency. Here are some quick and easy ways to make your house sparkle -- so you can get out and enjoy the rest of your life.

De-clutter

We all have our own brand of clutter -- for some people it's newspapers and magazines, for others it's china or historical maps or coin collections. Whatever your clutter of choice, clearing it out -- or at least cutting it back -- will make housecleaning a more manageable task.

Organizing expert Donna Smallin suggests you walk through your home and try to look at it objectively as possible. "If there are things you seldom use and don't need, get rid of them," she says. "They are only taking up space and gathering dust."

If your piles consist of unfinished projects -- paperwork that needs your attention or purchases you want to return -- schedule a few hours each week to whittle them down. If you take the tasks seriously by scheduling them on your calendar and following through, you'll gradually and systematically reduce your clutter.

When you've thrown out or given away everything you can, put clutter you're attached to -- old photographs, for example, or your grandmother's shell collection -- into storage boxes, and put them away. 

Do a Little Cleaning, Often

The experts we consulted agree that it's more efficient to take care of cleaning jobs as they come up, rather than putting them off until cleaning day.

"Maintenance is the key," says Kimberly Beyer, a professional organizer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. "If you clean as you go along, you won't end up with an overwhelming cleaning job at the end of the week."

Smallin agrees. "Clean up messes as you make them," she says. "Toothpaste in the sink is easy to wipe away right after it appears. And spills on the counter will be much harder to clean -- literally -- if you leave them for later."

Smallin, who has written eight books on cleaning and organizing, also advocates prevention measures, like using a squeegee on glass shower doors and walls every time you use the shower. "It's much easier to take 30 seconds every day than to clean up water spots after they're dry," she points out.

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