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    Clean House Faster: Great Cleaning Shortcuts

    Change Air Filters Regularly

    Replace the air filter in your furnace every three months or so. A clean filter will catch more of the dust and particles in the air, and minimize wear and tear on your furnace. A clean filter also reduces the energy your furnace consumes, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

    Use Your Dishwasher More

    Your dishwasher offers a variety of cleaning shortcuts. Many pots and pans can go in the dishwasher (check the label first), as can refrigerator shelves, drawers, and ice trays. Beyer recommends putting sponges in the dishwasher to sterilize them for reuse.

    Put Clothes Hampers All Over

    If you place clothes hampers in every bedroom and bathroom in your house, you're likely to find fewer cast-off clothes and towels on the floor -- even if you share your home with teenagers.

    Let Cleaning Products Work

    Difficult cleaning jobs will be a lot easier to accomplish if you give your cleaning products time to kick in. For example, if you apply oven cleaner and then go make a few phone calls, burned-on grease and gravy stains will be far easier to wipe away when you get back.

    When it comes to oven cleaning, Beyer recommends prevention: she uses an oven liner to catch spills. These inexpensive liners, which can be trimmed to fit any size oven, are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.

    Smallin recommends pouring toilet bowl cleaner into your toilet before you go to bed at night, so it will be simple to wipe and flush the next morning. "As I like to tell people, you can clean your toilet while you sleep," she says.

    Keep Dirt Outside

    Eighty-five percent of the dirt on your carpet is tracked in from outside, says Smallin. She recommends placing a doormat outside the door and another one inside, to keep as much dirt as possible off floors. You may even want to establish a "no shoe" policy in your home to keep dirt out. (Keep a selection of cozy slippers on hand for your guests.)

    Get Help

    Even if you can't afford a regular housekeeper, you may want to periodically hire a cleaner to give your house a deep cleaning. "If you feel like you can't get on top of the mess, it's worth it to invest in a good cleaning," says Smallin. "A cleaner will probably charge more for a one-time job, but if you start out with a really clean house, it's much easier to do daily and weekly maintenance."

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    Reviewed on January 14, 2010
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