We’ve all been there — barely surviving the morning rush hour of making lunches, signing permission slips, and searching for matching socks. Then after a busy day at work and school comes the evening whirlwind of homework, dinner, and maybe a few minutes of downtime.
That leaves most of us with no time to keep our home tidy, much less clean.
But if your New Year’s resolution is to have a house that doesn’t send you into a shame spiral when friends drop by, read on for our dirty ... er, clean half-dozen: simple, quick habits that will make it look like someone slaved over your house all day.
1. Keep cleaning supplies handy where you use them
Face it: There’s no way you’re going to trek downstairs to grab some cleaner to wipe off that toothpaste glob; you’re going to leave it there until it hardens into cement. That’s why Laura Smith, founder of All Star Cleaning Services, keeps a spray bottle of all-purpose cleaner and a stack of cleaning cloths under all her sinks in the bathrooms and kitchen, so she can wipe up any little spot or spill she sees before it becomes a big mess that requires elbow grease — and time.
2. Clean the shower while you're showering
You’re standing there rinsing your hair, so why not do a once-over of the shower walls? Smith finds one of the best products for keeping the shower clean is natural dish soap, because it is designed to fight grease — which, surprise, is mostly what’s in the soap scum lining your shower walls.
“Give the walls a quick once-over with soap and a sponge a couple of times a week, then use the showerhead to rinse, and continue on with your shower," she says. And always wipe down those glass doors when you are finished to keep streaks at bay.
3. Clean as you cook
This is the best way to avoid a huge headache at the end of a meal, which you know you’re going to want to walk away and leave, says Janice Stewart of Castle Keepers House Cleaning. Even if you need to keep both eyes on the burners, at least fill your sink with soapy water and stick the pots, pans, utensils, and other cooking items in to soak while you eat.
4. Run the dishwasher at night
Yes, even if it’s not quite full. That’s so you can empty it first thing in the morning so it’s ready for action.
“Train your whole family to put dishes directly in the dishwasher, which keeps the sink clean and the counters clutter-free,” Smith says.
5. Embrace spot cleaning
Remember that it’s the whole chore that will wear you down, so deal only with what absolutely has to be taken care of that moment.
“One fingerprint on the door of the fridge is not a reason to clean the whole fridge,” Stewart says.
6. Keep surfaces clear
“Flat surfaces collect clutter like a paperclip to a magnet,” says Jessica Samson, spokesperson at The Maids. They’re also what you see as you scan the room, so when you have clutter on flat surfaces it seems like it goes on forever.
“The more you can keep tables, floors, beds, and countertops clear, the cleaner and more spacious these areas feel,” she says.
The biggest clutter culprit is paper, so don’t let it pile up. Recycle unnecessary mail the minute it comes in, and create a filing system for the rest of it.
For six more habits you should adopt, finish reading the original article, "12 Habits People With Clean, Organized Homes Have in Common," on Realtor.com®.