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Clean and Declutter in 7 Minutes

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Clean Routine
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  • Vacuum high-traffic carpet areas twice per week—even if they appear spotless. It's a slam-dunk time-wise compared to vacuuming a truly grubby carpet.
  • Use a treated cloth (such as a Swiffer) on your hardwood floors and stairs in between regular vacuuming or wet-mopping. "The cloths get rid of all those dust bunnies, as well as cat hair and dander," says Miyo Amaral Bonvolanta of Chicago.
  • Do a "good enough" job now. Many chores aren't worth doing perfectly every time. If the shower stall or tub needs cleaning, do a quick-scrub or use a shower spray that cuts soap scum. Save surrounding tile and floors for a big cleaning day.
  • Use disposable moist cloths for fast bathroom wipe-downs. Hit the sink first, then the toilet tank lid, seat and base.
  • Before leaving the house in the morning, scatter Tang crystals in your toilet bowl and swish it around with a brush. "When you return home, swish again and flush for sparkling results," advises Maia Gibb of dustingdivas.com, a site that promotes nontoxic cleaners.
  • Start clearing out the junk drawer. The entire job could take hours, but removing items such as loose string or small papers will chip away at the mess a little at a time.
  • Jane Boursaw of Traverse City, Michigan, lets laundry build up in one huge basket. But on wash day, she saves time by sorting everything into separate piles—light and dark clothes, towels, sheets—before starting the first load. "That way I can just grab a pile and toss it in the washer without having to stop and sort between each load," she says.
  • Cultivate cleaning rituals. Amaral Bonvolanta runs her dishwasher at night before bed and unloads it every morning while making toast for the family.
  • Do a quick tidy-up last thing at night. Re-shelve books, stack magazines and put hobby-related materials back in their proper places. Drop clothing from the day in the hamper, and make sure your keys are where you'll expect to find them in the morning.

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