We scoured the cleaning universe, inspected the latest and greatest products, and spoke with experts to find useful shortcuts that will make your spring-cleaning job easier. Because who wants to spend more time than you need to cleaning?
1. Wax on, wax off. It's amazing, and frustrating, how quickly showers get dirty after you've cleaned them -- especially if you live in an area with hard water. Allan Gourlie, owner of Quick'n Brite Inc., recommends a little wax to keep it cleaner longer. Yes, wax. Once you get your shower clean, wax your tiles with car wax and the water won't stick to it so it will stay cleaner longer. Brilliant.
2. Drop a little denture cleaner into your toilet. The folks at Molly Maid have discovered that denture cleaners like Polident can work wonders on stained toilet bowls. Since they are made to clean porcelain, it makes sense. So rather than scrubbing stains like crazy, just drop in a dissolving denture-cleaning tablet and let it go to work. After a bit, flush and enjoy your sparkling bowl.
3. Tuck a lump of charcoal under each car seat. Got a stinky car? Place lumps of charcoal underneath the seats and they will absorb the stinky odors without you having to lift a finger (and without the headache-inducing scents that come from the likes of Christmas trees dangling from the review mirror). Just make sure you don't use bricks with lighter fluid on them or your car will smell like gasoline.
4. Employ a robot. We live in the 21st century; why not embrace it? Get a robot like the Dirt Devil Whiskers or Mint Cleaner to dust, sweep and vacuum your floors while you put up your feet or tackle another, more hands-on task.
5. Point, click and outsource a task. Hesitant to tackle a task, like re-grouting, on your own but unsure where to turn? Hire a trustworthy, tested pro to tackle your task by using RedBeacon.com. This free online site (and app) helps you find trusted, local home pros, read reviews, get free price quotes and book appointments -- all without the hassle of calling around. Plus, it's great to know that anyone you hire via this service has taken an oath -- and if they don't deliver, RedBeacon will cover you up to $1,000 to make sure your job gets done right.
6. Install antimicrobial doormats. Most of the harmful toxins, allergens, pesticides and pollutants in our homes enter on the bottom of our shoes. Reduce the amount of tracked-in dirt you have to deal with along with all the other nasty stuff by placing an antimicrobial doormat, like a Dr. Doormat or Amazing Mat, at the most-trafficked entrance to your home.
7. Use microfibers and skip the bucket and water. You can ditch those buckets and stepladders to clean the walls this spring because technology has finally caught up with the cleaning industry. Leslie Reichert, The Cleaning Coach, showed us new microfiber mops that can clean walls with just a spritz of water.
8. Host a virtual yard sale. If you have a lot of stuff lying around and want to get rid of it but just don't have it in you to host a yard sale, try a virtual one. Online services like Gazelle or Guzu will buy your old electronics from you at a fair price so you don't have to worry about getting hassled by the con artists lurking on auction sites. And a new online service, Tradepal, lets you sell and trade items like books, jewelry and accessories with your Facebook friends (and friends of friends) because the best people to trade with are people you know.
9. Turn on your microwave. Sabrina Soto, host of HGTV's "The High/Low Project" and author of "Sabrina Soto Home Design," has a simple fix for dirty microwaves. Put 2 cups of water and half a cup of white vinegar in a microwave-safe bowl and pop it in for about 3.5 minutes on full power. After it's done, let it sit for a few minutes so the steam can penetrate the grime. Remove the bowl carefully and wipe the microwave clean.
10. Do an all-hands-on-deck clutter zap. It's amazing how much more you can get done when everybody pitches in. If you have roommates or live with family members, take a cue from this mom of four who tackles clutter quickly with a "clutter zap." Set your egg timer for 10 minutes and mandate that everyone pick up and put away at least 10 items. The more people you have on deck, the faster your house will go from messy to marvelous.
(The writers are co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stressed women get organized. Send ideas and questions to yourlife(at)getbuttonedup.com. For more columns, go to scrippsnews.com.)
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