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Mon, Nov 20, 2017 09:16 AM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue

Get the dirt on cleaning house


ARH
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01/10/2007 - There's no need to succumb to cabin fever this season. By making the most of time spent indoors, a person can take on all of the chores usually pushed aside when the weather is nicer.

Now is the perfect time to tackle indoor organization and cleaning projects. Is your home office busting at the seams with haphazard paperwork? Is your bedroom turning into the store-all for Halloween and Christmas decorations that never quite made it back into the attic? What about the closets ... are they hiding some deep, dark secret clutter? While the wind is a-blowing outside, pull on those industrial strength latex gloves and get ready to fire up the cleaning supplies. Here are some tips for success:

Zero in on the target — When organizing, it's a good idea to get tunnel vision. If you focus on all of the things you have to accomplish in general, you probably will not even start one task. If the entire house is a mess, start by doing one room at a time — the one that will offer the most instant gratification — or even one quadrant of a room at a time (kitchen pantry). Breaking down organization into smaller chunks of work ensure the entire task will be more manageable.

It's in the bag — A shopping or trash bag can be your best friend as you do a run-through of the room. There's likely to be items here that really belong elsewhere. Place all errant things in the bag (or trash if they are truly garbage). Don't bring out-of-place items to where they belong just yet. Otherwise you may get overwhelmed or sidetracked with another project. Simply keep them in the bag until it's time to move on to another task.

Keep cleaning supplies on hand — It's much more time-efficient to keep cleaning supplies on your body or near to your area of attention. For example, you may want to stow a sponge, roll of paper towels, container of abrasive cleanser, toilet brush and tile cleaner spray under the sink of each bathroom. Having all the tools close by will make fast work of straightening up. Another idea is to create a cleaning toolbelt. Stock a carpenter's toolbelt with glass cleaner, dusters, rags, etc., and wear it as you move around cleaning and organizing. If the toolbelt doesn't appeal to you, use a rolling cart, backpack or other storage device that can move with you from room to room.

Delegate chores — Each member of the household (who is old enough) can be responsible for one area of the house, either their bedroom or the room they frequent the most. Having help and knowing that you don't have to worry about that area of the house can help you better focus on your own tasks.

Break habits so cleaning will be easier next time — Are you a pack rat? Or do you "organize" so well you actually forget where you put things away? Own up to your faults and strengths and make strides to change bad habits. This can lead to less frustration and work in the long run. For example, if you like to keep bills and other important papers filed away, do so right after you pay them rather than letting them all pile up in the home office. After all, it's easier to put off filing a large stack of paperwork than smaller, more manageable piles.

Splurge on attractive cleaning tools or organizational items — Sure it may seem like a luxury, but if you're enamored with a specific "wonder wand" or nuts and bolts tray, go ahead and indulge. If you are excited about the organizational or cleaning product, you may be more inclined to use it. Make a day of shopping at a store that specializes in organizational supplies, or just browse through the aisles of your favorite discount center. Have a plan of action and buy the tools for the job.

Use space effectively — Store items you use frequently in closets or drawers that are easily accessible. Seasonal or infrequently used items, such as that giant coffee urn, can be kept in the basement, attic or garage. If closets are cluttered, consider revamping with any of the closet organizational systems available. These can add shelves, extra rack space and more to a variety of closet sizes. If cabinet space is at a premium, consider hanging pots and pans from a suspended or wall rack. Spices and other baking supplies can be stored in decorative spice racks and bins on the counter. In storage closets or the garage, attach hooks and clips to walls that can keep mops, brooms and other items off of the floor and neat.

QUICK TIPS TO KEEP IT CLEAN

Make your work even easier by employing these handy strategies for keeping dirt at bay.

1. Prevent excessive dust buildup on plastic surfaces such as televisions and stereo equipment. Run an anti-static dryer sheet over the surface. The sheets contain ingredients that prevent static and will in turn help turn down the magnetic attraction these electronic devices have with dust.

2. Prevent hard water stains and excessive mildew on bathroom tiles. Apply a thin coating of furniture polish or automotive wax to the wall tiles (do not apply to the floor of the shower or tub!) after cleaning. The wax will help repel the water and other grime.

3. Throw dusty curtains into the dryer on the no-heat setting to refresh them and fluff off the dust. The lint trap will collect the dust bunnies and other particles and subtle wrinkles will be removed from the curtains.

4. Pour cleanser or another cleaning product in the toilet before you go to bed at night, allowing it to sit overnight. In the morning a quick swish with the cleaning brush and a flush will get rid of dirt.

5. Use both hands while cleaning to be more time efficient. Think Mr. Miyagi in "The Karate Kid": Wax on, wax off.

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