Housecleaning Tips

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Work from the top down to keep dust under control.
Work from the top down to keep dust under control. (Image: JackF/iStock/Getty Images)

Cleaning the house may seem like a daunting, thankless task if your humble abode hasn't been cleaned in a while. Rather than giving up before you even get started, break the housekeeping down into smaller tasks to accomplish, one by one, until your home is back to its tidy, clean, inviting state once again.

Precleaning Preparation

Before you can successfully clean any room -- including dusting, washing or scrubbing any surfaces requiring attention -- the clutter has to go. Begin in one room and pick up all items that do not belong on the floor, such as shoes, dirty clothes and objects meant for another room, and place them where they belong. Keep a trashcan and several boxes handy, such as an "elsewhere" box, a "donate" box and an "unsure" box for items that have no specific place. Move to the next room, putting away any items that belong in it, and continue the process. Go over any cluttered desks, countertops and tabletops in this manner as well.

Top-Down Treatment

Tackling each room from the top down, assisted by your friend gravity, helps ensure success so you don't have to re-clean areas you've already addressed. Dust each room, starting with the top edges of the walls and any cobwebs you spot on the ceiling, and working your way downward. This goes for tables, bookcases and wall shelves as well. After you clean other surfaces with liquid-based cleaners, vacuuming, sweeping or washing the floor is the final task. This way, dust or debris not picked up by your duster or dusting cloth is eliminated by the time you're done.

Keep It Simple

Instead of stashing away an abundance of chemical-based cleaners dedicated to specific appliances or rooms, minimize the cleaning-supply clutter by sticking with multipurpose cleaners. White vinegar cleans everything from windows and mirrors to toilets and floors, and even removes mineral deposits from fixtures and shower heads. Invest in quality lint-free cleaning cloths, such as huck towels, that can be used and washed numerous times while staying in usable condition.

Simpler with a System

Keep future cleaning chores under control, once the house is relatively clean, by making sure the messes never become overwhelming. Pick up items that do not belong on the floor or table any time you notice them. Wash dishes at least once a day, or as needed, to keep stacks of dirty dishes from piling up. Rinse or wipe down kitchen and bathroom sinks daily to keep them tidy. If pets share your home, keep fur at bay by using a lint roller on furniture and fabrics each day. A piece of packing tape wrapped sticky-side out around your fingers works as well, or wear a rubber glove and rub your hand over the fabric to roll the fur off in clumps that are easy to pick up and discard.

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