Fake It Til You Clean It
When people drop by, here's how to look real neat, real fast. Pick up all the clothes lying around and hide them in a closet laundry basket. Shove dirty dishes in the oven or dishwasher. Smooth a bedspread over your unmade bed. Stash magazines under the couch. And here's where air freshener and Febreze will really save you. A tip for the sink: keep lemon or orange peels, let them dry and toss a few in the running disposal for a nice scent.
The Dreaded Bathroom
Nobody likes this job, but at least, it's small. Make it easy on yourself and buy one of those spray-on bathroom, tub and tile cleaners that do most of the work for you. Just spray it on, let it sit for a few minutes then sponge or rinse it off. It's great for the kitchen sink, too. If you've got nasty hard-water stains in the bottom of the toilet, try -- no kidding - a couple of denture-cleaning tablets. Drop them in, entertain yourself by watching them fizz for about 30 minutes, then scrub out the bowl with a toilet brush. (You won't believe what else you can clean with these things. Google "cleaning with denture tablets" and be amazed). The greatest invention for toilets is that cleaning gel that you squeeze under the rim. Again, let it sit in there for a while, then brush and flush.
Get a mop with a replaceable mop head. Nothing is stinkier than a dirty mop. Rinse it and let it dry completely when you're through with it. If you use a floor-cleaning product and you have pets, read the label and make sure it's safe for them.
One of the worst laundry mistakes is stuffing the washer too full. Soapy water can't circulate through the clothes, and the rinse water can't get all the soap out -- resulting in itchy clothes. Put just enough clothes in to come to the top of the rotating fins. Same with the dryer. Dry one normal load at a time. If there's no bleach dispenser in the washer, add it while the washer fills and let it agitate a minute or two before putting the clothes in. And if your clothes are perma-press, use that setting. Hot water and high heat are tough on fabrics.
You would not believe how fast your ceiling fan blades, the top of cabinets or the fridge and the window blinds develop a thick blanket of dust. Those duster-on-a-stick things work great, especially the ones that angle. Dusting is one of the reasons that people try to keep limits on collecting action figures and other stuff that has to be dusted individually.
Cleaning Makes You Feel Better -- Afterward
Unless you're Felix from The Odd Couple, cleaning isn't your favorite activity. But it's a lot easier if you break it down into chunks. Do one room every week, or organize it by task: Saturday is vacuum, sweeping, and mopping day. Sunday is bathroom day. Monday is laundry day. A clean, uncluttered place is more relaxing than a dirty one.
And One Important Warning
Never, and we mean ever, mix bleach and ammonia together. The gas this produces is deadly. In fact, it's a good idea not to mix cleaning products. If you haven't used a product before, take time to read the label.