Everyone’s busy. There’s just too much to do these days. Our lives are filled with gadgets meant to save time and deliver convenience, but they only serve to inspire us to cram more into our schedules.
So how can you keep your house or apartment clean when you have no time?
You could hire a cleaning service. A lot of people do, but they’re expensive, and they never do the kind of job you would do (if you were to actually do it).
Of course you can find lots of quick cleaning tips online, but these are written by and for people with a different definition of “clean.” These tips include filling your sink with tea and soaking it overnight for a special sparkle. Huh?
How about a sink without dirty dishes in it and the smell that goes with them? That’s my goal. Rinse the loose pieces of food down the disposal and vow to scrub off the encrusted bits later.
Most of us do not live in the house you see on TV commercials, inhabited by a thirty-something mom with a ponytail, wearing a twinset and happily vacuuming an expanse of white carpet like a scene out of Stepford Wives. These tips are about quickly expelling the outermost layer of crud.
- Buy lots of wipes and store them unobtrusively in each room. These work best in kitchens and bathrooms where we have lots of water-friendly surfaces, but they can work in other rooms as well.
You can go weeks longer in between real cleanings of your bathrooms if you tidy up regularly with wipes. And it won’t take any extra time. You can do it while you’re waiting for the hot water to get to the second floor instead of studying your reflection in the mirror and contemplating the size of your pores or whether you’re getting a double chin. Just pull out a wipe during this time and wipe down the sink and toilet. They’ll look pretty clean if you keep the shade pulled, and you can give your bathroom the full treatment another day.
Do the same in your kitchen. Don’t stand in front of the microwave, transfixed by times counting down the seconds of your life that you’re wasting. Use that minute wisely! Unload the dishwasher, wipe down the counters or throw out some spoiled veggies that you bought with the best of intentions but then never bothered to cook and in fact allowed to rot in your crisper bin until they resembled a pool of pungent primordial ooze.
- Swiff. Is that a verb? Well, it is now. These dust cloths on a stick do wonders for your floors in under a minute. If you discover some stuck-on crud, just pull out your Swiffer Wetjet.
Swiffer products will not leave your home perfectly clean, but it will LOOK perfectly clean, and that’s your goal right now. You can get down on the floor on your hands and knees and scrub some other time.
- Don’t buy any clothing you can’t throw in the washer and dryer. Laundry is a huge chore. Here in America, where we wash every item of clothing that has touched our skin for more than 15 minutes, we generate mountains of laundry. A family of four can keep a washer running continuously until some of them leave for college.
What makes this job even worse is fabrics that require special care. Hand-wash only. Do not wring. Lay flat to dry. Gentle cycle. Cold. Hot. Tumble dry, no heat. It’s getting to be a real challenge to find two items you can wash together. Throw in all your clothes, close the lid and walk away. Whatever’s still good at the end of the cycle is what you should be wearing.
For those of you also interested in saving money, consider the wisdom of a tip sent in to a Dave Barry column in which the reader suggests saving money on tissues when you have a cold and simply blowing your nose in your dirty laundry, since you’re going to wash it anyway.
If you’re not getting as much satisfaction from these light cleanings as you think you should, if you still feel guilty for not getting out the Comet and some old toothbrushes every week, consider taking off your glasses when you get home the way you kick off your shoes. And install dimmer light bulbs. Everything will look great!