Speed-cleaning expert (and maid service owner) Debbie Sardone says that cutting your cleaning time in half starts with a system. That means cleaning the house in the same order every time: Working one room at a time, starting and finishing at the same spot in a room so that you don’t waste time running back and forth.
“To get the time down, you have to be consistent—that’s the whole premise,” Sardone says. “You do the same thing every time you clean, so it is a routine. The routine is the method, and that is an inherently better way to clean because the speed comes from the method instead of from hurrying. You really can clean your house in half the time. It’s not a gimmick.”
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2Clean Top to Bottom, Left to Right
Don’t start a room by wiping the coffee table, then clean the blinds, and seeing the dust from the blinds coat your newly clean coffee table. Sardone says to start at the top of the room, such as dusting a ceiling fan, and work down to the floor to eliminate redundant work.
Likewise, cleaning left to right ensures that you cover the entire room instead of darting from place to place.
“Most people see something and clean it, then they look up and see something else and clean it, and the dirt falls down on what you just cleaned,” Sardone says. “If you work top to bottom and left to right, you’re working once instead of cleaning areas you’ve just cleaned.”
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3Squeegee Windows for a Streak-Free Finish
Can’t get the shine you want with Windex and paper towels? Author and speed-cleaning expert Laura Dellutri’s weapon of choice is a professional-grade window squeegee, which starts at about $12. Place a drop of dish soap in a gallon of water, wipe it generously on the window with a cloth, then squeegee it off. “Go top to bottom and wipe the blade each time at the bottom,” she says. “You’ll get a window that is streak-free.”
If you don’t want to use a squeegee, Dellutri recommends a glass cleaner and a microfiber cloth. When wiping with the cloth, use horizontal strokes and move from top to bottom. Don’t clean a window by rubbing in circles, which can leave streaks, and avoid wiping the glass with newspaper or paper towels, which leave a residue.
4Keep Proper Tools at the Ready
Having all the tools and cleaning products you need at arm’s-reach means you won’t waste time walking back and forth to the cabinet under the sink. Sardone recommends wearing an apron, or even a carpenter’s tool belt, and filling the pockets. This might be hard with several large bottles of cleaner, but you don’t need large bottles—pour the cleaners into small spray bottles that are easy to carry. You can also place your supplies in a caddy or a bucket to stay organized and save time.
“If you hired a carpenter and he went up and down a ladder every time he needed a nail, you’d never tolerate it,” Sardone says. “You want him to have everything with him. You can do the same with cleaners.”
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The best way to keep a clean home is to stop some problems before they begin. For example, Dellutri recommends using a shower cleaner, which costs less than $4 for a trigger bottle, to prevent grime and scum buildup in the bath. “You can spray it on and walk away,” she notes. “Every time you take a shower, spray it on to prevent having a dirty shower. Spray it on, rinse, and walk away. You don’t have to wipe or anything.”
6Dust Without Spraying
Feather dusters work great for cleaning blinds, pictures, nooks, and other areas. Sardone likes ostrich feather dusters, which start at about $10, because the feathers tackle the dust and the large quills don’t fall out of the handle. “You want a high-quality feather duster that will fit in your back pocket,” she says. The duster works well for routine dusting, but for heavy buildup, you’ll need to vacuum or use a cloth, then use the duster every two weeks or so after that.