9 Small Cleaning Resolutions That Will Make a Big Difference in 2017
This story originally appeared on Realsimple.com.
When it comes to keeping the house neat and tidy, don’t make sweeping resolutions you’ll abandon long before it’s time for spring-cleaning. Instead, break those dreaded jobs (doing laundry, scrubbing the tub) down into small chores you can squeeze in here and there. These tiny changes to your routine will help keep the house clean and orderly—with minimal time and effort.
Make Your Bed Every Morning.
You’ve heard this one since you were a kid—with good reason. “A made bed will help even the most cluttered of bedrooms look tidier with very little effort,” says Jolie Kerr, cleaning columnist and author of My Boyfriend Barfed In My Handbag… And Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha. “It really does make a psychological difference in how you feel about your home.” Sure, laundry might be piling up in the hamper, or a little film of dust might be visible over the dresser, but a neat bed means you’ll be less apt to notice those things (and maybe even more encouraged to tackle them), while a messy bed can mentally highlight other problem areas. Added bonus? People who made their beds every day were nearly 20 percent more likely to report getting a good night's sleep, according to one National Sleep Foundation poll.
Open the Refrigerator Before You Take Out the Trash.
Add this simple step to your trash-day routine: Before you tie off the kitchen trash bag, do a quick scan for old leftovers, produce, and deli meats, or anything else that has passed its prime and needs to be pitched. “While you’re in there, make note of what looks to be on its last legs, and make a plan to use that food in the next day or two, before it goes to bad,” Kerr says. This adjustment helps to ensure your fridge doesn’t start to smell, cuts down on food waste, and guards against that sinking feeling that comes with finding a moldy container of leftovers immediately after you’ve taken the trash outside.
Let Your Cleaning Products Do the Work in the Kitchen.
Believe it or not, deep cleaning the kitchen shouldn’t require a ton of elbow grease. “The truth is, we usually don’t give cleaning products enough time to do everything they can, including lifting grease,” says Melissa Maker, creator of Clean My Space. Pre-treat all your surfaces with a multi-purpose cleaning spray, then walk away for at least 10 minutes. When you come back to clean, you’ll be wiping—not scrubbing.
Clean the Bathroom Once a Week.
“Scrubbing the bathroom isn’t high on most people’s chore list, but trust me, cleaning it regularly makes the job so much less gross—and so much less time-consuming,” Kerr says. Steady maintenance helps keep mildew, mold, bacteria, and soap-scum from building up, so regular cleaning is quick, easy, and much less daunting. Finish the job in under half an hour: Clean the sink, scrub the tub and tile walls, clean the toilet, then give the floor a quick wipe-down (a dry Swiffer will do the trick), and, lastly, use glass-cleaner on the mirror. Voila!
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But Wipe Down Your Bathroom Surfaces Each Night Before Bed.
Automate your bathroom cleaning routine even further with this nightly step, which can be accomplished in just a minute or two. “Keep a container of disposable, biodegradable wipes under your counter, and each night, before you turn out the lights, give the surfaces a quick clean,” says Maker. Hit the sink, countertop, and faucet: “Every morning you’ll walk into a fresh-looking bathroom, and when it comes time to actually clean the sink, you’re not dealing with a thick layer of toothpaste, hair, and dust.”
Lay Down a Silicone Oven Liner.
This smart addition to any oven does the same thing for cleaning the appliance that Silpat mats did for cleaning cookie sheets; in other words, it renders the task nearly obsolete. Opt for a dishwasher-safe silicone liner that you can trim to the size of your oven, and place it below the lowest rack to catch any drips or spills—then easily wipe them away.
Buy Cleaning Products in Scents You Actually Like.
Hate the harsh smell of your bathroom spray? That’s only going to make you dread the task of scrubbing the tub more. If you enjoy the way a cleaning product smells, you are much more likely to use it on a regular basis. (Same line of thinking applies to these pretty cleaning tools, too.) Weed through your supplies and discard any with scents you truly abhor before replacing them with lightly or pleasantly scented solutions. Looking to expand your tool kit? Cleaning products by Mrs. Meyers, Better Life, and Method all pass the not-too-obtrusive smell test.
Load All Your Trashcans With Multiple Liners.
Apply this kitchen trick to every bathroom, office, or other areas with a wastebasket. Line the bin with four or five bags in one go, so the task of taking out the trash is exactly that. When you notice any one receptacle getting full, you can snatch the top bag on your way out of the room without needing to dig through the pantry for a replacement.
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Soak Pots and Pans Before You Sit Down to Dinner.
It’s tempting to vacate the kitchen (and start eating) the minute dinner’s ready, but take 30 seconds to survey the stove and countertop before you dig in. Plate your food, let your family dish up, and transfer any leftovers to glass or plastic containers, ready for the fridge. Fill any pots, pans, or casserole dishes with warm, soapy water, and let them soak in the sink or on the counter while you eat to cut down on cleanup after the meal.