Sep 9, 2011

How to clean a room in ten minutes.

When you are in a hurry to make your home - or just one room - neat and clean, try these steps. I hope you can complete them in ten minutes, but it depends on the scale of your room and what obstacles you face. To make this work, you need to have cleaning supplies and solutions at hand. I make 'green' cleaning products with water, vinegar, borax, olive oil-based liquid soaps, and add fragrances to some. They are stored in clear spray bottles under the sinks on each floor so I don't have to go far, and re-fills are easy. Bring out your dusting cloths, vacuum, mops or other cleaning equipment, so everything is within reach before you start. Start with the main rooms. If you’re having guests and you’re trying to clean before they arrive, concentrate on the rooms they are most likely to see - and up close - such as the living room, the kitchen and the bathroom. Leave bedrooms and other rooms until the end and clean them only if time allows.

  1. Start in one corner of the room, and move in a circle around the room, picking up any items on the floor, tables and counter, and chairs as you walk along, including nick knacks and anything out of place. For large or joined rooms - like a kitchen/family room combination -  divide the room into squares and complete everything in one square before you move on.
  2. Put things away as you move around the room or - if they belong elsewhere - place things into small piles, one for each room where they belong. I often start with two laundry baskets in-hand so I can load them and easily carry clothes and shoes to the bedroom, or mail and newspapers to the office area. Target and Walmart sell folding fabric totes that work really well for this chore. 
  3. Pick up each little pile and take it to its own room.  There is no point making a pile, unless you have to walk to a different room. Don't do anything with the pile until you are ready to clean that room.
  4. Apply your cleaning solutions. Use those solutions that can be sprayed on and require no scrubbing. The you can start with the right cleaner for the surface, spray on and move on to clean somewhere else while you wait for it to work.  This is great for greasy counters, scuff marks on floors, and letting cleaners work on grout. For living rooms you may just need to dust, but this helps if you have to wipe a window, glass display items, and non-wood surfaces. 
  5. Wipe up all sprays.
  6. Dust the furniture, starting with anything that is dark wood, as dust shows more clearly on dark surfaces. Don’t use a dry rag; instead, use a wood cleaner - Murphy's is great if you dilute with water -  or simply use a wet rag in warm water and a mild soap. Cleaning this way will prevent dust from flying around the room as you clean. Some Swiffer products work well on dust, but their disposable nature is costly and an environmental disaster since they are nor recyclable. Old towels, diapers, dishrags and underwear work well and can be washed with regular laundry as needed.
  7. Now clean wood or other non-carpeted flooring. If you had a stain in the grout or a scuff mark on the floor, having given your solutions time to work should make this step a wipe-up one.
  8. Vacuum after you dust, otherwise the dust will settle and you'll have to do it again. Nothing will give a better impression of a clean room than freshly-vacuumed rugs. Buy a perfumed vacuum powder to improve the overall air smell of the room as you clean. Don’t bother vacuuming the curtains but DO remove pet hair from the upholstery.
  9. Spray a bit of fragranced room spray in the air - something seasonal is great - and voila, you are finished.