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Get a Grip on Housework

Want to finally kick the clutter, grime and disorganization in your family's home this New Year? Go for the gusto with these realistic tips

Excited about giving your house a good deep cleaning? Me neither. But maybe you've gotten sick of parking your car in the driveway because the garage has become a dumping ground for your family's odds and ends. And just maybe, keeping your house tidier has even made it onto your New Year's resolutions list.

Whatever the reason, now is the perfect time to get organized, so that cleaning your home isn't a chore – but, instead, an easy part of your daily routine.

Your cleaning bucket

According to Kristi Mailloux, president of the Ann Arbor-based Molly Maid, the No. 1-ranked cleaning service in the United States, having a well-stocked cleaner carryall will save time – and money.

"If you keep all of your supplies in one place, you won't have to keep looking around for products when you could be cleaning," explains Mailloux.

Another advantage: You won't overbuy on supplies, because you'll know exactly what you have on hand. Here's what you'd find a Molly Maid home cleaning professional carrying (Mailloux points out these are the same products you'd find at your local grocery store): window cleaner, bathroom cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, sanitizer.

You should also stock cleaning tools – such as paper towels, rags and scrubbing brushes – in your bucket. Mailloux says that Molly Maid uses microfiber cloths for cleaning because they're better than rags, even though they're pricier. She reasons that consumers will save more on cleaning products if they use microfiber cloths because they require less product to clean more surface area.
I also keep old toothbrushes in my cleaning bucket because they're perfect for reaching behind and between bathroom faucets and for picking up toothpaste residue.

Schedule a little at a time

Cleaning your entire house can seem daunting – and time-consuming. Plus, if you wait until once a week, for instance, your house won't be consistently clean. It will look great for the first day or two, but then it will be all downhill from there. For overall cleanliness (which means unexpected drop-ins won't be embarrassing) and a more manageable use of time, break it down into pieces. Mailloux, who's also the mother of two, reveals how you can get your whole home spotless in a two-week cycle.

Do a quick cleanup every day. Whether you take 10 minutes at night or a few in the morning, make sure everything in your home is put away and dirty dishes cleared.

Tackle one or two rooms per day. Take your time to do a more thorough cleaning in two rooms each weekday. Wipe down surfaces, reorganize clutter zones and vacuum during these deep cleanings. (Trouble zones like kitchens and bathrooms may need a little extra attention every week.)

Take the weekends off. If you follow this schedule, your whole home will get a complete cleaning every two weeks – and you can relax and enjoy Saturday and Sunday!

Clean a room like a pro

Home service professionals have a specific method for cleaning rooms, so they move quickly – and efficiently. Here's how:

  1. Pick up and put away any items that are left out and belong in other rooms.
  2. Bring along a cleaning bucket, so that you have all of your supplies readily available.
  3. Move clockwise, or right to left through the room as you clean. "If you jump side to side, you may miss areas," explains Mailloux.
  4. Clean top-to-bottom. Working down instead of up ensures that you're not leaving behind any dirt that falls down during cleaning.

One note: Mailloux points out that in the kitchen, home service professionals always leave the stovetop for the end. "It tends to be the greasiest or dirtiest part of the kitchen, so we save it for last – so that we're not spreading grease throughout the room."

Leave it to the pros

If you're still not ready to tackle your housework, you may want to hire a professional. Mailloux explains that the price to clean a home varies according to the size of the home and the level of cleanup it requires. Most of Molly Maid's clients have bi-weekly cleanings.

To give you an idea how much these cleanings might cost, a 2,500-square foot home would cost around $95-$105 per cleaning. Keep in mind, the initial cleaning will most likely cost a little more and require more time.

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