This article is from Heloise at


Rather than save up chores, I live by the philosophy “Clean as you go.” In fact, I often multitask while I minitask! So the next time you’re chatting on the phone or waiting for a TV show to start, look around the room (or check the list on the following pages) and see what quick job you can tackle. That way, the mess won’t build up.

Don’t stress about the mess! Learn how to keep it clean, room by room.

The kitchen

1. Wipe up spills in the refrigerator as soon as you notice them, and if you have time, do the rest of the shelf or any gloppy jar bottoms.

2. Go through just one refrigerator or pantry shelf and toss anything that’s past the expiration date, that you’ll never use again or that’s less than a single serving.

3. Toss the jumble of unused takeout disposable containers, glass jars and condiment packages you’ve collected.

4. Wipe fingerprints off all the kitchen cabinets.

5. Cut time when polishing the floors: Apply the wax with a long-handled paint roller.

6. As you cook, rinse dirty utensils, pots and pans and put them in the dishwasher. You’ll have the kitchen in good order when you sit down to eat, and you’ll have less to clean up after dinner.

7. Ease the weekday morning rush by setting the table for breakfast before you go to bed. Put out cereal boxes, sweeteners and other nonperishable items. Prepare the coffeemaker and set the timer.

8. If the dishwasher’s not full, add burner covers or small shelves from the refrigerator ”” anything that needs washing.

9. While you’re talking on the phone or waiting on endless hold, clean out five to seven unwanted, unused things from the kitchen junk drawer or pantry or your purse.
The bathroom

10. Store a floor duster with disposable cloths in a closet near the bathroom. It will be easy to grab the duster and go over the floor during the week.

11. If you use disposable makeup cloths to wash your face, rinse and reuse them to quick-clean the sink, counter or floor.

12. After your family finishes brushing their teeth or shaving, use a dry terrycloth hand towel on the mirror and bathroom faucets to wipe away spots of lather so they won’t build up.

13. Before getting out of the shower, clean the stall or tub and tiles with a squeegee.

14. After you flush the toilet, sprinkle 1/4 cup of baking soda into the wet bowl. Take your shower and then give the bowl a single scrub. Flush to rinse.

The family room

15. Go through magazine and catalog piles and discard outdated issues, three or five at a time. Toss junk mail daily.

16. Vacuum just the high-traffic sections of the floor or carpet and do the other areas later.

17. Before you go to bed, do a fast pickup: Put remote controls in a basket, tidy newspapers and loose papers or put them in the trash, clean off the coffee table, plump pillows and fold throws.

18. When you’re done vacuuming the floor and baseboards, use the upholstery attachment to dust one bookshelf.

19. If your children’s plastic toys look dirty, grab the worst two or three and clean them with a wet wipe or a paper towel moistened with rubbing alcohol.

20. Quick-clean artificial flowers with the upholstery attachment of the vacuum cleaner.

21. To freshen throw pillows, put them in the dryer, one or two at a time, on the air cycle.

22. Vacuum lamp shades (turn off lamp before you dust) and the back of the TV.

The laundry room

23. To avoid a huge weekend laundry day, try to do at least a couple of loads of towels or clothes during the week.

24. Cut laundry time by presorting items into baskets labeled towels, jeans, darks, lights, etc.

25. Before you do a load of wash, wipe off the front and sides of the washer and dryer with a damp cloth (then launder the cloth). Clear the lint filter with a comb.

26. Organize freshly washed linens into sets: Fold flat sheets in half the long way and then in half along the long fold (repeat fold for wider sheets). Do the same with the fitted sheets, laying each on top of a folded flat sheet. Fold the matching pillowcases in half (the long way too), lay them on top of the sheets and roll everything into one neat set. Stack on shelves; each family member can grab the set for his or her bed.
The bedroom

27. When vacuuming the bedroom, take a few extra moments to clean under the bed so the dust bunnies won’t multiply.

28. While you get dressed in the morning, check your nightstand or dresser top and pick three to five items to toss out (ticket stubs, empty perfume bottles, for example). Clean the phone with an alcohol-based wipe or go through one drawer in your dresser, weeding out items you no longer wear or want.

29. Shorten the stack of bedside reading material by moving items you want to save back to the bookshelf or file cabinet and getting the rest ready for recycling.

30. If you don’t have time for a thorough dusting, go over curtains, mini-blinds and the headboard with the upholstery attachment of your vacuum.

31. To save steps in making beds, store an extra set of sheets under the mattress. If you have a sofa bed, store linens and a bed pillow inside one of the pillow shams on the couch.