10 Ways to Clean Smarter, Not Harder

So you can save your time and energy for other things.

There are those among us who love to clean. But for the rest of us, cleaning is just a necessary task to maintain a healthy home and have presentable clothing. Whichever category you fall in, making the process easier will either free you up for other pursuits or give you more time to clean! Follow these tips to clean smarter, not harder.

01 of 10

Make a plan.

Every household is different, so create a personalized cleaning schedule that works for you for each room. Write down the tasks that need to be done daily, weekly, monthly, or seasonally. Cleaning one room or finishing one chore each day is much easier than trying to do everything at once.

RELATED: The Ultimate Cleaning Checklist

02 of 10

Let cleaning products do the hard work.

There are very few miracle products on store shelves. However, plenty of good ones just need time to work. Take a minute to read the label. Almost every cleaning product should be applied and allowed to work for five or 10 minutes (to begin cutting through the grime) before you start scrubbing.

03 of 10

Store cleaning supplies within reach.

It may seem wasteful to buy multiples of the same cleaning product, but you'll save yourself time if you keep often-used supplies and tools in the rooms where they will be used. No more backtracking for that forgotten duster.

Plus, you'll be more likely to clean if everything you need is right at your fingertips.

04 of 10

Choose multipurpose cleaners and tools.

  • Look for all-purpose cleaners that can be used for counters, floors, and walls. You don't need dozens of specialized cleaners to have a clean house.
  • Use microfiber cloths that trap dust instead of paper towels. A damp microfiber cloth will shine most countertops without having to use a cleaner.
  • Invest in a combination vacuum/mop like the Shark Vacmop Pro that can take care of multiple types of flooring and messes.
  • Use a clothing lint roller to clean lampshades, capture crumbs on carpet, and collect pet hair on furniture.
05 of 10

Start at the top and clean down.

In every cleaning situation, start at the top of the room (or the item) and work your way down. This will prevent having to reclean a surface because of drips or scattered dust. Always clean the floors last, working from the far corner of the room out the door so you don't leave footprints on the freshly washed floor.

06 of 10

Keep the dirt outside.

Place a doormat outside every entrance door and another just inside. Trapping the dirt before it spreads makes cleaning much easier. Even better, have everyone remove their shoes at the door.

07 of 10

Follow the one-touch rule.

When you pick something up, don't put it back down until you've dealt with the problem.

  • Keep a recycling bin right by the entrance to catch junk mail.
  • Hang up clothes after wearing them or toss them directly into the hamper.
  • Never place dirty dishes in the sink. Either put them in the dishwasher or wash them right away.
  • File or toss paperwork, magazines, or newspapers as soon as you have read them.
  • Keep a donation box in every closet to catch clothes or items you no longer need. Toss anything unusable.
08 of 10

Give everything a place.

Is there a spot for everything? If not, it's time to declutter. More stuff means more to clean. An empty kitchen counter is much easier to clean than one that is full of small appliances, papers, keys, and toys. Consolidate half-used products and toss the ones that have expired or that you no longer use.

09 of 10

Clean as you go.

In five minutes or less, you can toss expired food from the refrigerator as you clean up after dinner. Then, take out the trash.

Clean the shower and bathroom sink after you finish using them (storing a squeegee and cleaning spray near the shower will make this a natural part of your routine). Every small completed task helps keep the house clean and prevents you from feeling overwhelmed.

10 of 10

Stop scrubbing.

Cleaning that requires a lot of elbow grease can often be made easier by adding time, heat, or the right tool. For example, when scouring a burnt pot, try deglazing the pot (adding water and heating it on the stovetop before scraping away the burnt bits). Similarly, stuck-on food may be difficult to scrub off a baking sheet using a sponge, but a durable silicone pan scraper can remove the burnt-on bits quickly. Our how-tos can help you find the fastest, most efficient method for every cleaning task.

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