House & Home

The Cleaning Cheat Sheet

By Nancy Kalish

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Feel like you never stop cleaning? According to Statistics Canada's 2006 census, 24 percent of women aged 15 and over spent 15 to 29 hours on housework per week and 31 percent of women aged 15 and over spent five to 14 hours on housework per week.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The good news: "Such drudgery is totally unnecessary," says Jeff Bredenberg, author of How to Cheat at Cleaning: Time-Slashing Techniques to Cut Corners and Restore Your Sanity. Follow his tips to make short work of your housework.

Stop Messes Before They Start

Keep dirt outside
Establish a no-shoe rule inside your home, and you’ll prevent all kinds of muck from ever touching your floors. Place a basket by the front door and ask everyone to deposit footwear there.

Cover up
Using washable slipcovers on couches and upholstered chairs won’t prevent spills, but they will keep them from becoming a permanent stain. If you can’t bear to cover up all the time, use the slipcovers on high-risk occasions, such as kids’ parties (think drippy chocolate ice cream and sticky lollipops) or festive gatherings (red wine and salsa). There are so many colours and styles available, you don’t even need to spring for custom-made ones. Just make sure you can pop them in the washing machine.

Get a disposable countertop
Next time you cook something messy, lay out a length of waxed paper long enough to cover your counter. It will keep the counter clean when you grate cheese, put down a sauce-covered spoon or bake cupcakes. Afterwards, just crumple up the paper -- and the mess.

Clean up Quicker

Make appliances clean themselves

  • Food processor or blender Half-fill with water, add a squirt of dishwashing liquid, close lid and turn on. The food will spin off the blades. Then just rinse.
  • Garbage disposal Empty a tray of ice cubes into the disposal, throw in some orange peels, then grind until ice disappears. Any bad smells will go with it.
  • Microwave Heat two cups of water in a microwave-safe bowl on high for five minutes. The steam will loosen cooked-on splatters. Then simply wipe away with a paper towel.

Buy denture tablets
Throw one into your toilet bowl to make stains vanish overnight. The next morning just brush a tiny bit and flush. Denture tablets also remove coffee and tea stains from mugs and get rid of crusty build-up in the bottom of flower vases. Just fill with hot water and drop one in. 

Get rid of pet hair
If you have a dog or cat, you probably also have a sofa or curtains covered with clingy pet hair. To remove it easily, warm a dryer sheet and rub it over the material. This zaps the static cling, allowing the hair to fall off so it can be vacuumed up quickly.

Can it
Don’t waste time trying to dust the crannies of computer keyboards or piano keys. Instead, just give the dust a fast blast with a can of compressed air (sold at office supply stores). This also works on pleated lampshades and chandeliers.

Know when to stop
No matter how much you scrub, certain household items, such as door mats, stovetop drip pans and shower curtains, will never come completely clean. So when they get too soiled, bite the bullet and replace them.

Photo: @iStockphoto.com/Photogal

Nancy Kalish Nancy Kalish has written for many publications, including Parenting, Parents, Real Simple, Reader’s Digest, More, Health, Prevention, Self and Fitness. She is the co-author of the book The Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Our Children and What We Can Do About It.




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