IN THE KITCHEN
The room where you prepare your meals calls for extra attention. Whether it's the countertops or the appliances, attack each area on its own terms.
- Wipe countertops with a damp, textured cloth. Then spray with a food-safe disinfectant.
- Clean as you cook. Fill the sink with hot soapy water and slide in pots, pans and cutting boards as you finish using them. Letting them soak will make washing up much easier.
- Keep counters clear. Lining up all your handy appliances and cute accessories on the counter really amounts to clutter, making surfaces harder to keep clean.
On cleaning day
- Start with the cabinets. Swabbing them weekly with a damp cloth is usually enough for most households.
- Move on to major appliances. Use a spray solvent to wipe away fingerprints and food splatters. Don't forget about the range hood and freestanding items like a microwave or toaster oven.
- Clean the floors. Sweep first, then wash with a damp (not wet) mop. Be sure to get the baseboards, too.
IN THE FAMILY ROOM
The space where your loved ones gather to make memories is also where they make the biggest mess. The key here is to go for comfortably clean, not perfect!
- Make each trip count. Don't let clutter accumulate. Empty cups, old newspapers and candy wrappers have an annoying habit of piling up in the blink of an eye, so grab something that doesn't belong every time you leave the room.
- Knock out knick-knacks. Go with a few large-scale decorative items that make a big impact rather than lots of smaller pieces all over the room. Not only will the space look less cluttered, but dusting will be a breeze.
On cleaning day
- Clear the floor. Throw out trash, toss dolls in the toy chest and put loose coins in the change jar. * Dust with a barely damp cloth. Spray a little wood polish or cleaner onto a microfiber cloth rather than directly onto furniture―be sure to wipe in only one direction, not in a circular motion.
- Vacuum like you mean it. To really pick up a week's worth of dust, go slowly. One trick is to pace yourself just a bit faster than a bride walking down the aisle.