Before you roll your eyes at the idea of adding more to your already overflowing to-do list, consider this: Taking a few beats each day to check off cleaning tasks, says Carolyn Forte, Cleaning Lab Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute, can actually save you time in the long run, not to mention cut down on harmful germs and bacteria lurking in your home. (An absolute must these days!)
Cleaning these important spots as you go with the right tools — soap and water, a broom, or a quality disinfectant like 3M TB Quat Disinfectant Ready-to-Use Cleaner — before you hit the hay each day will make the weekend workload that much less.
Tidy the entryway
There’s a reason this area of your home is a hotspot for clutter, dirt, and germs: It’s an area trafficked by each and every person who passes through your door. You don’t have to bust out the mop every day to make it feel cleaner — just do a quick touch-up. Make sure dirty shoes and muddy boots are in their rightful place and toss any stray items into a designated catchall. While you’re there, quickly spritz and wipe any surface, like the console table. And don’t forget the doorknob, which is possibly one of the highest-touch spots of the house. For best results, spritz with a product specifically labeled as a disinfectant, let sit for the recommended amount of time on the packaging and then wipe dry.
Wipe down kitchen counters
When you think about everything that touches your countertops — food, mail, car keys, backpacks, you name it — it makes sense they’re similarly prone to a buildup of germs. To keep your kitchen cleaner, give countertops a quick wipe down every day. Like handles, all you need to do is wipe them clean with soap and water, let dry, then hit them with a disinfectant spray. If you opt for wipes, use as many as it takes to keep the surface wet for the required amount of time to disinfect.
Squeegee shower walls
Regular upkeep is the easiest way to beat hard water buildup and grout, says Forte, who recommends running a squeegee over tile and glass doors after every use. This will help dry the wall in record time, which will prevent mildew stains and cut down on cleaning time later on.
Lighten your laundry load
You don’t have to do a load of laundry every day — or even every other day — but by tackling some laundry-related chores every evening you can make your designated laundry day a little bit easier. Task each family member with picking up any clothes before bed, tossing dirty duds into the hamper (pro tip: invest in a bin that has two compartments, one for lights and one for darks) and replacing clean ones on hangers or in drawers. Don’t forget to toss any dish and hand towels into the dirty pile, too. Even if they don’t look dirty, a USDA-funded study deemed dish towels the most contaminated spot in the kitchen. And those small hand towels in your bathroom are similarly soiled, since often multiple people use them more than once per day, says Forte.
Clean dirty dishes
It’s tempting to leave your plate after expending all of your energy on dinner prep, but leaving leftover sauce and crumbs not only makes washing dishes harder the next day (just think about all that stuck-on grime!), it can also attract bugs and other critters. If you really can’t lift another finger, rinse plates and utensils and before calling it quits. This way, you won’t end up with dried-on bits, but you can do the lathering (or run a dishwashing cycle) later.
Give the stovetop a once-over
Since most of us are cooking more, you can save yourself a lot of time and elbow grease — plus eliminate any germs and bacteria caused by food spills and splatters — by giving burners and/or grates a quick wipe down once they’ve cooled. Like dirty dishes, the longer messes sit, the more they bake on and the harder they are to remove, says Forte. In some cases, this type of grime can even affect the performance of your stove. The good news? As long as you have a quality cooktop cleaner, getting the job done is as easy as spritzing, waiting, then wiping.
Sweep the kitchen floor
Before retiring for the day (you deserve it!), give the floor a quick sweep or hit it with a stick vacuum. You don’t have to do the whole house — just the highest-trafficked room, like the kitchen, will do to prevent unwanted critters. Just bust out your broom or something that picks up dust and loose dirt, and you’ll be done in no time at all.
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