How to Power Clean


Everybody cleans, but smart people power clean. You can significantly reduce the time you spend cleaning your home by following these steps. You'll need to invest a little preparation time, and then keeping your home clean and sparkling can literally be a matter of moments a day.

Things You'll Need

  • A medium-sized bucket
  • Cleaning supplies (see Step 1)
  • Broom/vacuum
  • Mop
  • Paper and Pen
  • Fast-paced music
  • Timer

Prep Yourself and Your Home

  • Go shopping. That's right, go shopping. This is the easiest part of the preparation, so enjoy. You need a few cleaning essentials: all-purpose liquid cleaner concentrate; an anti-bacterial liquid cleaner concentrate; two spray bottles; paper towels or cleaning rags; a soft cloth or sheepskin mitt; a good, slanted broom or a dust mop; large garbage bags and bucket to hold it in.

  • Set up. Mix up all-purpose cleaner in one spray bottle, according to the package directions. Mix up the anti-bacterial cleaner in the other, according to its package directions. Stow your spray bottles, your cloth or sheepskin mitt and some of your paper towels or cleaning rags in your bucket, along with a stash of those garbage bags.

  • Assess. This is one of the most important steps, so don't skip it because there's not enough action! Room by room, walk through your house and answer these questions: 1) Is there clutter in this room? 2) What needs to be cleaned regularly in this room? and 3) What needs to be cleaned occasionally in this room?

  • Make a list. From those 3 questions above, jot down a list of the rooms that have clutter in them; then make a list of the regular cleaning chores for each room; then a list of the occasional cleaning chores for each room. You should end up with 3 lists: a Clutter List, a Regular Cleaning List and an Occasional Cleaning List.

  • Declutter. Clutter is the enemy of power cleaning because every bit of clutter costs you time. So, using your Clutter List, take an afternoon and go room-by-room through your house and clear the clutter. Throw away or recycle the stuff you can't use anymore; put away the things that have been left out, and give away the things you don't want anymore. If you can't devote an entire afternoon to this process, give it half an hour to an hour for a few evenings until you get through. Remember, though, the longer you take on this, the harder it will be. Speed is your friend here. Arm yourself with a few garbage bags and boxes marked "Give Away" and be merciless!

Power Clean

  • Review your Regular Cleaning List. This step is necessary the first few times you power clean, but then the process will become so routine you'll be able to compose sonnets in your head while you're power cleaning. At first, though, take a few moments to review your list. Only clean what's on the list! That occasional cleaning can bog you down.

  • Turn on some fast-paced music and set a timer for 20 minutes. You may take longer, depending on the size of the house and how adept you are at cleaning. But make 20 minutes your goal. The goal of power cleaning is to get through, not to get perfect. You can always go back later and take care of details.

  • Start at one end of the house and work your way to the other. Don't run from room to room with the dust cloth. Follow 2 directions: top to bottom and left to right. Bucket in hand, go to the door of the first room. Get your dust cloth or sheepskin mitt. From the door, go to your left and dust from top to bottom all the way around the room until you get back to the door. Follow that pattern for every room.

  • In every room, dust first, then wet clean (all-purpose or anti-bacterial) as needed on other surfaces, then empty the trash into one of your large garbage bags, then sweep or vacuum the floor, then mop if necessary.

  • If there are other general cleaning tasks, work them into your pattern at a logical point, and follow the same routine every time. The key to power cleaning is to be consistent and quick. Consistency trains your muscles and memory so you don' t have to think and decide about your next action. Quickness keeps you from getting distracted so you can be through before your timer goes off!

Tips & Warnings

  • Designate a particular day (or more than one day) every week to do your power cleaning. You can also break power cleaning up into more than 1 session: downstairs on Monday, upstairs on Tuesday, etc.
  • Treat your occasional cleaning like your regular power cleaning, just don't do it as often. Designate a time on the weekend or a once-a-month day to get through those tasks. Be consistent and quick with them, too.
  • Be sure to store your bucket of cleaning supplies, as well as the cleaning concentrates, high up out of the reach of children.

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