The half-hour housecleaning guide

Don't have an entire day to devote to cleaning your house from top to bottom? This guide will help you break the task into quick and manageable chores you can accomplish in about 30 minutes a day during the week

Monday: Tidy up

After a hectic weekend, turn chaos into order.

• Go from room to room, returning items to their rightful place.
• Straighten books and magazines; recycle or deal with newspapers, mail and other papers.
• Wipe doorknobs and other well-used surfaces.
• Empty garbage pails.
• Change linens.

What you’ll need: An empty laundry basket (to transport items from room to room), disinfectant wipes and a garbage bag for trash.

Kids can: Tidy toys in their bedrooms and other play areas. Post a list of cleanup tasks for your kids so they’re clear on what needs to be accomplished.

Time-saving tip: Keep the house in order by creating permanent “homes” for items such as backpacks, books, coats, boots, games and toys.

Weekly dusting prevents dirt accumulation — and the need for in-depth cleaning. It also prevents a buildup of sneeze-inducing allergens. Here’s what needs to be dusted, in order, room by room:

• ceiling fans and light fixtures
• blinds and window coverings
• door and picture frames and windowsills
• furniture
• air vents and baseboards

What you’ll need: A microfibre cloth or a damp cloth to trap dust; a handled duster or vacuum attachment to trap or suck up dust from hard-to-reach places; dusting spray or furniture polish and a polishing cloth for wood surfaces (optional).

Kids can: Help to dust lower surfaces. They can also clear away knick-knacks on shelves and dressers in their own rooms and dust those surfaces.

Time-saving tips:
• Dust from top to bottom, to keep falling dust from settling on already-wiped surfaces.
• To remember what you’ve already dusted, go from left to right through the room in a circular fashion.

Now that the dust has settled, it’s time to deal with the dirt underfoot.

• Regular vacuuming of floors and staircases (carpeted and otherwise) will prevent dust and allergens from collecting — plus it adds years of life to carpets and rugs.
• Uncarpeted floors require mopping as well: Every week or second week may be sufficient for high-traffic zones, less frequently in other areas. (Save mopping kitchen and bathroom floors for the days you clean those rooms.)
• Vacuum under cushions on upholstered furniture.
• Run the hose attachment underneath sofas, beds and other furnishings.

What you’ll need: A quality vacuum cleaner, an easy-to-use mop and bucket and floor-cleaning solutions suitable for your floor surfaces.

Kids can: Vacuum their own rooms. Give them the job of vacuuming under furniture too — it’s easier for them to reach than it is for you!

Time-saving tip: Vacuum all bare floors. Once the loose dirt is removed, you may be able to put off mopping.

It’s the job no one looks forward to, but it is a once-a-week necessity. Working from the top down:

• Remove items from countertops and wash; wipe down each item as it’s returned to the counter. (Soak and wash soap dishes, toothbrush holders and cups.)
• Scrub and disinfect sink, tub, shower and toilet (inside and out).
• Wipe down shower door or curtain.
• Remove mould or mildew in tub and shower area.
• Clean mirror.
• Wash floor.

What you’ll need: Toilet cleaner and brush; glass cleaner and paper towels; mould and mildew remover and grout brush or old toothbrush; disinfectant cleaner and clean rag or sponge; mop and pail, plus a cleaning solution suitable for floor; rubber gloves.

Kids can: Soak and wash the soap dishes, toothbrush holders and cups, as well as empty the garbage.

Time-saving tip: More than one bathroom? Delegate this dirty deed by assigning a bathroom to family members aged 10 and up. Rotate bathrooms among family members so you can get in and deep-clean every two or three weeks.

Get the busiest room in the house cleaned up and ready for the weekend rush. Working from the top down:

• Wipe cupboard doors and knobs.
• Clean microwave and countertop appliances.
• Wipe down and disinfect countertops (remember to clean under all counter appliances).
• Clean stovetop.
• Clear the fridge of unused leftovers.
• Wipe front of fridge and freezer, dishwasher and oven.
• Wipe kitchen table and chairs.
• Scrub kitchen sink.
• Mop floor (flush dirty water down the toilet).

What you’ll need: All-purpose disinfectant cleaner and clean rag or sponge; glass cleaner and paper towel for shiny surfaces; mop and pail, plus a floor-cleaning solution suitable for your floor surface; rubber gloves.

Kids can: Help with tasks like loading the dishwasher, wiping counters and putting away groceries.

Time-saving tip: Keep an electrostatic broom in your kitchen to run over your floor and disinfectant wipes to clean other surfaces as needed (rinse food-prep areas with water afterward).

Source: “The Half-Hour Housecleaning Guide” was developed with the assistance of Amelia Mackie, franchise owner of Molly Maid Mississauga South (in Mississauga, Ont.).

Save money and your peace of mind with these eco-friendly, homemade cleaning solutions (courtesy Grassroots Environmental Products, grassrootsstore.com).

Green Carpet Cleaner
Put ¼ cup (50 mL) liquid soap into a blender with 1/3 cup (75 mL) water. Blend until foamy. Smear the mixture on soiled areas and allow to sit for several minutes (the dirtier the area, the longer it should sit). Scrub with a brush. Squirt with vinegar and blot with an old towel.

Green Window and Glass Cleaner
Spray surface with club soda and wipe dry with a lint-free cloth. Wipe again with a dry cloth if needed to eliminate streaking.

Green Oven Cleaner
Spray oven surfaces with water. Sprinkle on baking soda and allow to sit overnight. Wipe down the next day. Wash with soap, then rinse.

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