Keeping a meticulously clean home that sparkles seven days a week is the stuff that Pinterest dreams are made of. And while that’s nice to aspire to, it’s not exactly realistic, especially when you factor kids into the mix. After all, where there are little ones, a trail of crumbs, sticky surfaces, and a few errant legos are sure to follow — usually in the room you just cleaned.
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Even though your house may not be magazine photo-ready at all times (and really, whose house is anyway?), that doesn’t mean you can’t keep a home that’s mostly clean and orderly. The trick is finding time-saving or labor-reducing techniques so you can get it done without it taking over your entire schedule. Here are eight cleaning tips straight from busy parents to help you tackle the housework with ease.
When it’s just you or you and a significant other, you can usually get away with saving the laundry for the weekend. But once you have children, the laundry pile grows exponentially. From school clothes and sports uniforms to pool towels and pajamas, one week’s worth of laundry could easily take over an entire day. To avoid the pile-up, make laundry a daily chore. It’s much easier to pop a small load into the wash each day than it is to manage multiple large loads all in one day.
Do the bulk of the cleaning on a weekday(s).
If you’re like most people, you probably save a majority of the house chores for Saturday or Sunday. But the weekend is when you should be relaxing and enjoying some much-needed downtime with your kiddos. By switching to doing the bulk of the cleaning on a weekday(s), you’ll free up the weekend to do just that. Even though you may have to power through a bit of weekday fatigue, you’ll wake up on the weekend to a clean house and a clear schedule.
Clean your baseboards with dryer sheets.
In terms of household tasks that are the least desirable, cleaning the baseboards has to be toward the top of the list. Who wants to spend time awkwardly squatting as you make your way around the room wiping dust and dirt off the bottom trim? That’s why this tip comes in clutch, because once you implement it, you won’t have to clean them quite so frequently. The secret? Run a dryer sheet along your baseboards. The same coating that repels static on clothing will repel dust and dirt along the boards, allowing you to simply vacuum it away.
Put a ball of aluminum foil in the dishwasher.
When you’re feeding a family, having a dishwasher is the ultimate convenience. But over time, it can leave your flatware with a dull appearance. Since no parent wants to squander an ounce of free time to shine their silverware, try this hack. Wad up a ball of aluminum foil, place it in the flatware caddy of your dishwasher, and run it as normal. Thanks to the chemical reaction between the dishwasher detergent and the aluminum, it removes any tarnish, leaving you with sparkling clean flatware.
Make your own dust-repellent spray.
No matter how often you clean surfaces (and with kids, it’s very often), dust seems to accumulate quickly. Rather than using a regular surface cleaner to wipe away dust, try a dust repellent spray instead. Simply combine two cups of water, one cup of white vinegar, two tablespoons of olive oil, and a drop of dish soap in a spray bottle. When you spritz it onto your tables, shelves, and cabinets, it will create a coating that propels dust off surfaces and onto the floor — extending the amount of time needed between dusting sessions.
Keep a squeegee next to your sink.
Do you secretly roll your eyes when your kiddos offer to help with the dishes because you know it’s great to give them some responsibility, but your counters will end up with full-on puddles? You’re not alone. Go ahead and let them help, but instead of trying to soak up all the water with paper towels, look to a humble tool: the squeegee. You can use it to simply squeegee the water spillage back into the sink. Bonus: Some models have bristles on one end, which you can also use to brush crumbs off the counter.
Try this DIY grout cleaner.
For parents, bath time is all about relaxing, but for kids, it’s all about splish-splashing. Even if you’re diligent about wiping down the tub post-bath, your grout is likely to get grimy over time. Though there are products specially designed to clean grout, all you really need is a 2:1 mixture of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. It’s less toxic and less expensive than the store-bought kind, yet equally effective at removing stains and brightening up grout.
Get kids to help clean by making it silly.
Getting kids to help with chores can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. Any task that carries an inkling of boredom has a tendency to create resistance. Enter: silliness. It could be a funny song that you sing while folding clothes, an amusing dance move that you bust out while vacuuming, or silly sounds that you make while putting toys in the basket. By making the activity more fun-based, it captures their attention and increases their willingness to help.