So you can’t coat the kitchen with Teflon and train the pets to stop shedding. Before sending the entire family (including Fluffy) to live with Grandma, try one of these neat strategies.

By Real Simple
Updated April 04, 2014
Woman vacuuming roof at night
Credit: Christopher Silas Neal

I Sealed My Garage Floor

In my former home, the cement floor generated a large amount of fine dust, which got tracked indoors. So when my family moved into our current place, I went to the local hardware store and an employee helped me pick out a garage-floor paint to serve as a protective layer. I couldn’t believe how much less dust there was to sweep up compared with before.

— Nessa Memberg. San Tan Valley, Arizona

I Don't Store Cleaning Supplies in One Spot

Keep sets of supplies in satellite locations around the house so you can quickly wipe down surfaces. Ever since I started this system—for example, stashing spray cleaner and paper towels in the bathroom cabinets and dust cloths in desk drawers—I don’t have to deep-clean nearly as often.

—Alyson Lewis, Locust Valley, New York

I Use Rugs On Top Of Carpet

The carpet in our home’s high-traffic areas used to get incredibly dirty, so I layered decorative throw rugs and runners on top of the carpet, figuring that those are easy to vacuum or wash when soiled. This has made a big difference. Before I was using carpet cleaner once a month. Now I have to use it only once a season.

—Kellie Butler, Center Line, Michigan

I Keep Doormats At Every Entrance

“Leave more at the door” is my motto to keep our house clean. I place a mat on both the inside and the outside of the front and back doors. The amount of dirt that collects on the indoor mats is proof to me that this method works wonders.

—Rosemary Beauvais, Houston, Texas

I Never Take Items Upstairs If They Belong Downstairs

My one big rule is, never go upstairs without bringing along an item that belongs upstairs, and vice versa. Since I have three kids, there are always toys to take down or laundry to carry up. This rule saves me from having to do bigger house cleanups as frequently.

—Jessica Kaufman, St. Anthony Village, Minnesota

I Leave The Dining Table Set At All Times

Here’s why: My husband and two boys used to unload mail, keys, schoolwork, and random items, such as cuff links, onto the table, treating it like a dumping ground. A set table gives everyone the perception that the house is clean, and they are surprisingly more mindful of not messing it up. I have to dust the tableware from time to time, but that’s a small price to pay.

—Ruby Silvious, Coxsackie, New York

I Clean Baseboards With Dryer Sheets

My secret to a dust-free house is cleaning baseboards with dryer sheets. I attach the sheets to a Swiffer sweeper and run it over the baseboards about once a week. The coating from the dryer sheets repels dust, which means less work for me later. Plus, they make the house smell nice.

—Kate Murtha, Clayton, New Jersey

I Brush My Dog Outside Every Other Day

Sweeping or vacuuming constantly used to be the only way to manage the “hair bunnies” caused by my furry shepherd mix. Then my husband started brushing the dog outside every other day instead of only once a week. Nowadays the dog sheds a lot less in the house, and I’ve been able to drop the strict regimen.

—Patty Williams, Live Oak, Florida

My Family Does a Power Clean Every Day

My kids and I do a 10-minute power-clean every day. We make it a game. I set the timer and turn on dance music, and we clean as much as we can in that quick spurt. The kids put their toys away, while I focus on the one area that has been bugging me the most, like the kitchen cupboards. Then we do a fun activity afterward as a reward.

—Melissa Rielly, Juneau, Alaska

I Bought A Compact Stick Vaccum

I used to put off vacuuming because dragging the heavy-duty appliance out of the closet was such a pain. Then I bought a compact stick vacuum that fits right behind my living-room cabinet. I vacuum the room for five minutes every night. The floor is so much cleaner with hardly any effort.

—Andrea Reed, Chicago, Illinois

I Finally Managed Missing Socks

One thing that was making my house appear unkempt—and driving me bonkers—was random socks scattered everywhere. My solution was to assign each of my three kids one mesh laundry bag exclusively for socks. They know to put all their socks in there, and when it’s laundry time, I just throw the bags right into the machine. No more stragglers!

—Solana Henneberry, Alameda, California

I Bought Machine Washable Curtains

Vacuuming our curtains used to take up a lot of time, so we replaced them in every room with machine-washable versions. These days I just have to throw the curtains in the laundry once in a while.

—Jean Cook, Cary, Illinois

I Found a Way To Remind My Kids To Wash Their Hands After Snack Time

When my now grown kids were little, I was perpetually removing the gooey spots that their fingers left on the walls and the furniture. So after snack time, I started saying the silly phrase “Hands up like a doctor!” It reminded my children to not touch anything before washing their hands.

—Karen W. Scott, Midlothian, Virginia