7 Resolutions for a cleaner new year

Since the holidays probably got you into the groove of making lists and checking them twice, why not continue that effort with a house cleaning list for a cleaner New Year?

Relax. A cleaning routine needn't consume your life - or even a big chunk of your time - in 2022.

Even if you abhor a vacuum (or a broom or a mop), you can do it right - and fast!

There are simple yet effective techniques for cleaning every room in your home at lightning speed. 

Here are seven resolutions to tackle in the days, weeks, and months ahead for a cleaner new year.

1.   Resolve to Make Cleaning a Family Affair in 2022

Resolve to get the rest of the household in on the job, too. Yes, even tiny hands can be a big help around the house - even if it only means having children put cups and dishes on the kitchen counter after dinner.

Granted, getting kids to help with cleaning isn't easy. Besides, how much help can you realistically expect from a child? The answer depends on the child's age. 

Preschoolers can put away dishes and playthings; grade-school children can wipe up spills, make their beds (well, if you don't count the scrunched-up sheet underneath the bedspread, that is), and clear the table.

Teenagers can clean their rooms, help with kitchen cleaning, dusting, vacuuming and more. And adults, naturally, should evenly divide the workload. The compromise approach usually works best.

So, with resident help and a firm resolve to come clean this year, you can make 2022 a cleaner new year for you and your family.

2.    Daily Tasks for a Cleaner New Year

Yes, a few daily housecleaning tasks can fit into even the busiest of schedules. Get into the habit of cleaning up as you go. After all, a clean and well-maintained home runs smoother and requires fewer expensive service visits.

You can spare yourself long weekends of scrubbing away at accumulated grunge by spreading out the more significant cleaning tasks over the months ahead, which translates into more time for the things you enjoy - family and friends.

  • Pick up nightly. Resolve to put everything back in its place before you head upstairs to bed for a cleaner new year. Waking up to a tidy home can do wonders for your psyche in the day ahead!
  • Stay ahead of the mess. Wash dishes or put them in the dishwasher after each meal. After all, who wants to come home to a sinkful of dirty dishes?
  • Think prevention in your everyday activities. Squeegee the shower walls after each use to keep soap scum from building up during the week.
  • Have hang-ups. As in your towel. Don't bunch it up; hang it open to allow it to dry quickly and thoroughly.
  • Leave the shower door open. After showering, open the shower curtain or leave the shower door ajar to allow fresh air in. This will keep mold and mildew from getting a toehold in these moist places.

3.    The Weekly Housecleaning Routine

Until someone out there introduces a self-cleaning home, most of us will continue to tackle the less-than-thrilling task of cleaning our homes each week.

Still, you can make the weekly routine more pleasant and shave precious moments off your overall cleaning time in the process.

Vacuum carpets weekly. To suck up all the dirt and dust hidden between the fibers, you'll need to spend about 20 seconds or so going back and forth over each area of a carpet or rug.

If someone in your home has allergies or asthma, you'll want to be meticulous about this task.

Resolve to dust the right way. Don't just move dust from one place to another - capture and remove it. The feather duster your mom may have used sent dust into the air, but the dust eventually settled back down where it came from. 

Today's more effective tools of choice: a vacuum attachment to suck up the dirt and allergens, or simply a dampened clean cloth to which the fluffy stuff sticks.

Sanitize the toilet. Squeeze toilet-bowl cleaner around the inside of the bowl and under the rim.

Use a long-handled toilet brush to swish the cleaner around the bowl, under the edge, and as far into the trap as possible. Let it sit for several minutes. Flush to rinse.

Tame soap scum. The soapy buildup makes for unsightly baths. Spray the shower or tub and sink with a tub, tile and sink cleaner. Allow to sit for several minutes and break up the tough stuff; wipe dry with paper towels.

Change bed linens weeklySend bed linens for a spin in the hottest water safe for the fabric, add fabric-safe bleach (either colorfast or chlorine).

4.    Monthly Housecleaning Routine for a Cleaner New Year

Set aside an hour or so on the first (or second, or third, whichever is easiest) Saturday each month to tackle these necessary cleaning details. It's the key to a cleaner new year.

  • Disinfect germ collectors. Disinfect trash cans, especially those in the kitchen and bathroom, with a 3/4 cup of bleach solution to a gallon of water. Rinse thoroughly, and dry with a clean cloth or paper towels. 
  • Clean and maintain the refrigerator. Those foggy fridge shelves need a bath every month or so to keep your refrigerator looking and smelling fresh and clean. Remove the shelves and place them on a towel and allow them to adjust to room temperature before cleaning. Then, put them in a sink with warm water, a drop or two of hand dishwashing liquid, and gently scrub with a nylon scrub brush or sponge.

5.     Resolve to Do Seasonal Cleanings This Year

Spring into cleaning action at the start of each season. You'll find your home looks better and runs smoother with this quarterly cleaning routine:

  • Wash windows thoroughly, including the sills. Let the sun shine in through the seasons by keeping your home's panes sparkling. Call in a pro if you have a home with more than a single story, unless, of course, you're handy with a ladder and don't suffer from vertigo.
  • Clean the refrigerator. Accumulated dust and lint can reduce cooling performance. Remove the toe grille and vacuum with the machine's cleaner hose nozzle to clean the coils.Pull the refrigerator away from the wall and vacuum or sweep away lingering lint, dust, or stray crumbs that have settled there. 
  • Clean fridge door gaskets. Remove them, wash the surfaces with a sponge and warm water (add four tablespoons of baking soda per quart of warm water), rinse and dry with a soft, clean cloth. Apply a light film of petroleum jelly to keep the gaskets pliable.

6.    Semi-Annual Cleaning

  • Clean carpets and upholstery. Fabrics that have absorbed six months' worth of dirt, body oil, and germs will need a deep cleaning to get them ready for the rest of the year's wear.
  • Turn mattresses. Vacuum surfaces of mattresses and turn them over.
  • Clean blinds. Wipe clean mini blinds and send washable curtains into your machine's spin cycle. Can't wash yours? Call a professional upholstery cleaner or send them to your dry cleaner for professional crispness.

7.   Annual Housecleaning

  • Make doormats welcoming. Shake 'em, wash 'em, swat 'em with a broom. Give them the most robust buffing treatment they can take. They're your front line against tracked-in dirt, so keep them fresh enough to function at peak efficiency.
Gloved hand scooping leaves from roof gutter.
  • Inspect the chimney. Have the chimney inspected for creosote buildup and cleaned, if needed, at least once every couple of years.
  • Vacuum ducts. Vacuum heating vents and ducts (including toe-kick floor heaters) keep air circulating freely and save energy.
  • Sweep up. Prevent roof leaks and expensive repairs by sweeping leaves and debris from your roof.
  • Clean up. Help your energy-efficient bulbs shine: clean those ceiling light fixtures. A few minutes with a stepladder, an all-purpose cleaner, a sponge, and a polish cloth will give new light to your life.
  • Clean ceiling fixtures. Remove dust and dirt from ceiling fans and air-conditioner vents with a cloth and a vacuum with a soft nozzle attachment. 
  • Wash up. Wash walls, cabinets, baseboards, and woodwork. The walls may not look as if they need a bath - after all, dust and soot fall to the floor, right? Most of it does, but just enough clings to vertical surfaces to warrant an annual bath with a sponge and hand dishwashing detergent.
  • Seal up. Reseal wood floors to prevent scratches and scrapes from marring the wood. 

It takes just a few moments to create a cleaning schedule that will yield a houseful of spotless results - and a cleaner new year ahead! And you'll find that when your home sparkles, you shine, too. Happy 2022!

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