Sheila Sanborn digs the holidays but dreads the cleanup, especially after the season drops the big one, Christmas.
With all the torn gift-wrapping and empty toy boxes, the living room becomes a small dumping ground. The kitchen isn't pretty, either. Making the family feast invariably leaves greasy stains everywhere.
"It's not a sight to see," sighs Sanborn, a Costa Mesa mother of three young children. "Cleaning up is one of the big [holiday] productions I hate."
Sanborn, 33, knows that getting organized would help make the job simpler, but that's easier said than done: "I'm usually so tired, I can't even think where to begin."
A new book, "Clean It Fast, Clean It Right" ($28, Rodale Books, 1998), gives step-by-step instructions on how to speed up any job around the home.
The 526-page book leaves no mess untidied or grime unwiped. It tells how to manage clutter from the kids' room to the office, and how to clean everything from antiques to woodwork.
There's also a section on what solvents and cleansers to use (ammonia, baking soda, club soda, hydrogen peroxide, even "enzyme digesters," among others) with what tasks.
"Done sensibly, cleaning is an easy habit to incorporate into your lifestyle," claims Jeff Bredenberg, the book's editor. "The payoffs are monumental--not just visually but also in terms of cost savings, time savings, health and self-esteem."
Wow, all that from getting a sparkle? Sanborn is listening.
"Anything that can make it less of a hassle has got to be good for mental health," she says.
As for her post-Christmas headache, the solution might seem easy--just take a deep breath and start throwing the junk away. But Bredenberg stresses that organization--including getting the youngsters involved--can save time.
The first rule is: "Don't put it down; put it away." That means toss the wrapping right after the gift comes out. Also, give kids specific pickup duties and make sure they stick to them.
For holiday and everyday cleanup, Bredenberg has these suggestions:
- Work from a list--and prioritize. If time and energy allow, add chores to the list.
- Don't answer the telephone or give in to other distractions.
- Straighten up the house before the cleaning begins. Clutter makes it more difficult.
- Set a time limit. Having one will keep you moving and on track.
- Reward yourself for a job well done. This is good motivation to get you through the drudgery.
Bobbi Guevinot, who lives in Westminster with her husband and son, frets more over the mess in the kitchen than the one by the tree.
"We usually have family and friends over, [so] I make a big dinner," says Guevinot, 42. "It's fun doing it and celebrating. But after, it's a nightmare in there."
Here are steps for when the kitchen looms like a monster in the corner:
- Check floors, counters and cabinets for stubborn spots, such as dried-on food. Spray them with all-purpose cleaner and let them soak.
- Work to the left or right around the room in an orderly manner. Carry supplies with you so you don't have to retrace your steps.
- Polish appliance surfaces with glass cleaner and paper towels. Wipe doors on the inside and out.
- As you go, clean and polish counter tops. Also, wipe fingerprints from cabinets.
- After the dishes are done, clean the sink. Use a toothbrush around the garbage disposal opening and the lip around the sink.
- Polish sink fixtures.
For true do-it-yourselfers, especially environmentally sensitive ones, Bredenberg explains how to make ecology-friendly cleansers:
- Glass cleaner: Mix half a cup vinegar and 1 gallon warm water in a pump-spray bottle.
- Furniture polish: Mix two tablespoons olive oil and one tablespoon vinegar in 1 quart warm water.
- Toilet bowl cleaner: Pour one cup borax and one-fourth cup vinegar or lemon juice into the bowl; let sit for two hours.
- Drain cleaner: Pour half a cup baking soda down the drain. Then add one-fourth cup vinegar and one-half cup salt. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain.
\o7 "Clean It Fast, Clean It Right" is available at most bookstores, including Barnes & Noble and Borders Books and Music as well as online at http://www.amazon.com. \f7
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Quick Jobs for Free Moments
Put those spare seconds to use. Accomplishing little tasks when you have an extra minute or two can add up to hours of cleaning by the end of the week.
Here are a few examples. Once you pick up the habit, you'll think of many more, says Carol Seelaus, a speed-cleaning instructor at Temple University in Philadelphia and owner of Somebody's Gotta Do It, a professional cleaning service.
- While the coffee is brewing: Clean the refrigerator door or empty the crumb tray in the toaster.
- During TV commercials: Clean the remote control, dust the coffee table, clean the loose change and popcorn out of the couch cushions.
- While the laundry is in the dryer: Tidy the laundry area and cleaning supplies.
- While the cookies bake: Clean the knobs on the stove.