Home cleaning routine 

Dust mop and cleaning rags on wood floor.

Until someone out there introduces a universally free household cleaning service, most of us will continue to tackle the less-than-thrilling task of cleaning our own homes each week. 

Still, you can shave precious moments off your whole house cleaning schedule with this basic cleaning routine for tackling each room in your home quickly and efficiently.

Here's how to get housecleaning done right - and fast.

House Cleaning 101

The way Mom taught you to do dishes - wash lightly soiled cups and plates first, scrub the dinners pans with baked-on food last - works equally well as a cleaning routine for your home's surfaces. 

Scrubbing with murky water or soiled sponges redistributes dirt instead of removing it.

Your house cleaning routine should similarly start in the lightly soiled bedrooms, dining room, and living room. After you've completed those areas - and with a sense of accomplishment - work your way into the more challenging kitchen and bathroom cleaning.

The major culprits found in the bedrooms, dining room, and living room are dust, tracked -in dirt, and clutter. In each of these rooms, you'll use essentially the same method to clean; moving clockwise around each room, working your way from top to bottom.

Clockwise Cleaning Routine

Move clockwise around each room, putting away surface clutter or mislaid items. Stash outside the door any stuff that doesn't belong in the room.

Then dust shelves, windowsills, miniblinds, lamps, tables, bureaus, and TV screens with a clean, damp cloth. (Dusting with a dry cloth can eventually scratch or dull the finish on porous surfaces such as wood.)

When you run out of clean areas on the rag, either get a fresh cloth or rinse the used one clean, then twist it dry to remove any excess water.

Make your mirrors and windows shine using glass cleaner (or a vinegar-and-water solution) and a squeegee.

Vacuum upholstered chairs and sofas, and take decorative pillows outdoors to shake the dust and airborne dirt out of them - or fluff them up with a 10-minute tumble in the dryer. Vacuum-clean curtains or drapes. Change bedroom linens.

Finish each room with a quick surface vacuuming, and spend a few extra seconds vacuuming near the doorways.

Basic Cleaning Products and Tools

Shift into high gear for your cleaning routine by stocking up on essential cleaning products and supplies for the quick-and-dirty jobs that lie ahead. 

Gather cleaners, rags, paper towels, sponge, and scrub brush in the kitchen and bath so you won't have to backtrack between rooms to get what you need.

By keeping a permanent stash of supplies in each of these rooms, you'll always be prepared to tackle those last-minute cleanups quickly and efficiently.

Weekly Housekeeping Schedule

One quick and easy weekly housekeeping schedule is to break down the big jobs into small, manageable tasks, and tackle them day by day. Clean the microwave Monday, the toilet Tuesday. Mop the floors Wednesday, tackle the tub Thursday.

By Friday, your big target areas - the kitchen and bathroom - are nearly done. A few minutes spent Friday on surface duty, and your home is clean - and the weekend is yours.

You can also quicken the pace of your weekly cleaning routine by focusing on a different type of cleaning each week. Choose an all-purpose cleaner this Friday, and spend several minutes spritzing and wiping the main surfaces of your kitchen and bathroom.

Use a disinctant cleaner next Friday, spraying on countertops, in toilets, and in the tub or shower. Then go read the mail or relax; return to flush the toilet and wipe clean the countertops and tub or shower.

Dust this week, vacuum the next. This simple routine means no juggling of cloths and paper towels, switching of spray bottles, or putting away of dust rags as you pull out the vacuum. You focus on just one thing at a time.

If you've got better things to do this week - or can't summon the energy for housework - it's OK to take a break from your cleaning routine. Going two weeks between disinfecting and dusting won't cause any irreparable harm, and taking a rest may do you good.

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