Cleaning Like the Pros

by Jill Cooper

It’s not uncommon for us to get overwhelmed at the thought of cleaning and organizing but it doesn’t have to be that difficult. Here are a few easy tips that will make your cleaning and organizing easier, faster and more pleasant.

  1. Do a big messy job first thing in the day. If you do one larger or more important job right away, it won’t matter as much if the rest of the day is full of interruption. You will have gotten your one thing done and feel good about it.
  2. Spray your cleaning products on your rag. It saves you money and time. When dusting, spray your Pledge on your rag, not on the table you are dusting.When I did professional cleaning, I was repeatedly instructed when cleaning a bathroom to spray the cleaning products on my rags*. This way, I didn’t waste time rinsing and re-rinsing the sink or tub.

    Fast forward 15 years and someone has invented a new product everyone is crazy about – bathroom wipes. People love them because the can just wipe and run. This is the same thing professional cleaners had been doing for years.

    *The only exception to spraying the rag would be if you have bad build up. Then you need to spray the product on the sink or tub and let it soak. If you clean regularly, build up generally shouldn’t be a problem.

  3. Sort your mail. Find time during the day to sort your mail.I usually sort mine the minute I get it out of the mailbox. If that doesn’t work for you, at least sort it before you go to bed.When I sort mail, I make 3 piles:
    1. Junk mail/trash
    2. Bills or things I need to answer.
    3. Things to file.

    I then toss the trash, place bills in an area where I can deal with them and put the third pile by my file box so I can file it.

    This takes me 2 minutes because I don’t thoroughly read things. I’m just sorting and will deal with them later.

  4. Little things make a difference. Sometimes the smallest changes can make a big difference. For example, you are allowed to change the shelves in your kitchen cabinets to fit your needs. If you are storing things in one place and it isn’t working then try someplace else.
  5. Help yourself get motivated. My mom leaves her stove light on in the evening, which gives the kitchen a warm feeling. It also provides just enough light so you can see when you are popping in to get an evening snack. I decided to do something similar so I put a small lamp on the kitchen counter for a soft glow.That counter had always been cluttered but now I am forced to keep it clean because the lamp would show the mess. It is the same type of motivation as having company over to force yourself to clean the house.

    Even something as simple as putting a pretty flower arrangement on a dining room table can help you want to keep it clutter free.

  6. Time yourself. Stop putting off doing things because you think it will take you too long. If your house is an average uncluttered house in reasonable condition, it really doesn’t take that long to do most cleaning and organizing tasks.
    • 15 minutes or less to dust
    • 15 minutes or less to clean a bathroom
    • 15-20 minutes to vacuum
  7. Do It Now. Do those things that only take 30 seconds to one minute to do right now:
    • Hang up your car keys. Don’t carry them across the room and lay them on the table.
    • Hang up you coat. Don’t dump it on a chair or on the floor.
    • Toss your clothes in the hamper. Don’t leave them on the floor.
    • Stop trying to stuff more garbage into the trash can. Grab it and take it out right now! It will take less time to simply take out the trash than it does to keep stuffing.

    There are lots of little things that are easy to do in less than a minute.
    Today, when I was microwaving my cocoa for 1 minute, I noticed that the back of my stove was covered in flour and grime. My first thought was, “I need to give that a good wiping sometime soon.” Duh!! What was I thinking? I quickly grabbed the cleaner and a rag, sprayed it, wiped the stove and polished it with the towel – all before my cocoa was done.

  8. If you don’t have a large laundry room, sort your clothes at the hampers in the bedrooms or bathrooms. Looking at piles of laundry laying in front of a washer can be discouraging and mentally wearing, not to mention the acrobatics you have to go through climbing over the pile as you are loading the washer. I have rarely felt overwhelmed by my laundry because I didn’t have piles of it laying everywhere.The method that has worked the best for me is to have a hamper for each bedroom.

    Each day, I would sort my clothes into 3 piles right there by my hamper.

    If I had mostly dark items, the other piles would go back into the hamper and I would carry the darks to the next room.

    I would sort again, pick up the darks and return the rest to the hamper.

    After hitting all the bedrooms, I would put the darks in the washer and start my first load. Usually one huge armful was one load so this wasn’t hard.

    This sounds more complicated than it is.

    The next day, when I needed to wash another load, most of the whites and lights were pretty much together. I had already sorted them earlier so I didn’t really have much sorting to do. All that needed to be sorted was the handful of clothes that had been added the night before. It would take me about 2 minutes each day to do this because everything was “pre-sorted”.

    As my life changed I have modified this method to fit my circumstances.

    For example, Tawra keeps a hamper in the laundry room by her washer. Sometimes, when I would help her with the laundry, the kids would bring me their dirty laundry. I quickly sorted my 3 piles, placed one in the washer and put the other two back in her hamper by the washer. When the first load was finished, I would grab the next load from the hamper and toss it in.

    If you keep up on your laundry, it will be easy to keep in one big hamper. Doing laundry like this for 7 people was no problem.

What is bugging you the most? Just start doing it. Find a faster or easier way to do it, if possible. Ask us if you can’t figure it out. If we don’t have the answer, one of our readers might.

Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the authors of the Dining On A Dime Cookbook. Dining On A Dime will help you save money on groceries and get out of debt by cooking quick and simple homemade meals. For free tips & recipes visit , sign up for our free Living On A Dime Newsletter and learn to save more!

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