You love a spotless house—but you don’t want to spend the bulk of your time actually cleaning. Well, fret no more. We talked to seven experts who gave us some of their best methods to make chores easier, more effective and much less time-consuming, so you can have a tidy, sparkling home in no time flat. Even Mom would approve.
In The Kitchen
Circle Your Way Around: Always begin on the right side of your stove, then move clockwise around the room. The stove is typically the dirtiest part of the kitchen, so ending with it keeps you from spreading dirt and grease. (First, soak drip pans and knobs in warm soapy water. By the time you’ve worked your way around, they’ll be easier to clean.)
Sanitize the Sink: It’s hard to believe, but your dirty kitchen sink has more bacteria than your toilet seat. Use a product labeled as an EPA-registered disinfectant, or make your own. To disinfect, clean your sink with soap and water first, then spray a mist of vinegar followed by a mist of hydrogen peroxide, and let air-dry. (Don’t mix the vinegar and hydrogen peroxide together—spray one after the other.) If your sink is stainless steel, make it sparkle afterward by putting a few drops of mineral oil on a soft cloth and buffing. This prevents water buildup, which deters mold and keeps the sink looking clean longer.
Do Dishwasher Duty:: Once a week, shake baking soda on a damp sponge and wipe around the machine’s edges to remove stuck-on food or stains. To clean the inside, run an empty cycle with Dishwasher Magic, a product designed to kill bacteria like E.coli. “During cold and flu season, add a quarter-cup of bleach to the regular dish cycle to kill bacteria,” says Laura Dellutri. The dishes will be safe and sanitized after the rinse cycle is finished.
Love Your Oven: Keep the heart of your kitchen clean by lining the bottom with a nonstick ovenliner. It can be wiped with a paper towel, put in the dishwasher, and reused over and over.
Disinfect the Disposal: To get rid of odors, drop in a cut-up lemon, some salt and a few ice cubes. The lemon deodorizes, and the ice and salt clean away residue. Or try Disposer Care (DisposerCare.com), which is specifically designed for the job.
Crumple Paper Towels…Forever: Use microfiber cloths instead. When wet, they sanitize and clean floors, counters, glass and tile, and eliminate the need for other cleaning products. They’re reusable (machine-wash, hang to dry) and cost about $5 for a two-pack.
Clean as You Go: Linda Cobb suggests filling your sink with hot soapy water as you start dinner. “Place used dishes and pans in the filled sink so they’ll be soaking while you eat,” she says. Also, wipe up any spills immediately—don’t give sauces, oils or spices a chance to sit around.
Zap the Sponge: We all know that sponges can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Disinfect yours every night by squeezing it out and microwaving it on high for a minute. When it’s shredded and smelly, replace it.
Make Doors Shine: Rubbing a teaspoon of lemon oil on glass shower doors twice a month causes water to bead up and roll off. Or, try Rain-X Original Glass Treatment, a car-care product made to keep rainwater off your windshield. Use it twice a year.
Get a Cleaner Liner: Mold and mildew attacking your shower curtain liner? Throw it in the wash with a few towels, which will help scrub it clean, then hang it back up to dry.
Tame the Toilet: Drop a teaspoon of Tang Drink Mix in the bowl. The citric acid acts like a scrubber…and it’s nontoxic, in case the dog takes a sip. Let it sit for a few minutes, then swish and flush. And if you cringe at the idea of getting splashed by toilet water (ugh!), Donna Smallin suggests pushing the toilet brush in and out of the trap before you begin. This lowers the water level, allowing you to safely swish away.
Corral Strays: Keep drains free of hair and clogs by using a product like Drano or Liquid-Plumr to make sure potential clogs are gone, then pour boiling water down drains once a week to keep problem-free. Get rid of those annoying stray hairs on the floor by sweeping them up with a damp wad of toilet paper every morning.
Use Bedtime as Clean Time: While the kids are washing up at night, wipe down the tub, toilet and mirrors, and toss out clutter. When they’re finished, quickly wipe down the sink and floor. Bathroom done.
Cleaning should always be done top to bottom. That way, any crumbs or dust that fall to the floor while you’re working get picked up last. And believe it or not, there’s a right way to sweep.