Speed Up Your Clean RoutineForget elbow grease. These expert tips, innovative products, and clever gadgets can help you spiff up your home in no time—there's even a mop that'll wipe the floor for you!
SAVE TIME IN THE KITCHEN
GRANITE COUNTERTOP: Linda Cobb, author of The Queen of Clean housekeeping books, raves about CLR Stone Cleaner ($6; shopclr.com). "It's amazing," she says. Instead of scrubbing granite down with soap and hot water to remove stuck-on grime, a simple spray and wipe with CLR will shine your counters in seconds.
OVEN: If your casserole runneth over while baking, sprinkle a generous amount of salt on the spill immediately, recommends Kadi Dulude, owner of Wizard of Homes, a New York cleaning service. "It minimizes the burning smell and makes it easier to wipe off once the oven cools down."
STAINLESS-STEEL SINK: It's a home-bar essential, but club soda will also shine up your stainless-steel sink in half the time of a powder cleanser, says cleaning pro Joey Green, author of Joey Green's Cleaning Magic. A club soda containing sodium bicarbonate, like Canada Dry, acts as a solvent and leaves behind no residue. Saturate a soft, clean cloth and wipe well.
SAVE TIME IN THE LIVING/DINING ROOM
BASEBOARDS: Woodwork and door frames can be difficult and time-consuming to swab. Enter the aptly named Baseboard Buddy ($19; baseboardbuddy.com). With a nylon pad that attaches to an adjustable handle, this smart tool lets you "stand up and fly through this tiresome job," says Cobb.
CHANDELIER OR CEILING FAN: Take your vacuum to new heights with the Vaccuflex ($15; vaccuflex.com), a set of four flexible tubes that attach directly to your machine. The added length allows you to really get at hard-to-reach ceiling fixtures, says Cobb.
LAMP SHADE: Forget hauling out the vacuum to remove dust from unpleated lamp shades. Just swipe a lint roller over the surface, says Julie Edelman, author of The Ultimate Accidental Housewife. Bonus tip: The roller is also great at plucking crumbs off countertops.
WINDOWS: The next time you wipe them down, finish up with a coat of Rain-X ($7; sears.com), says Green. It prevents dirt from adhering to glass -- and you from having to do windows as frequently.
SAVE TIME IN THE BATHROOM
BATHTUB: Give soap scum the slip by rubbing a thin layer of baby oil along the grime line on the sides of your tub. (Be careful not to spill any on the bottom, so that you don't slip.) "The oil prevents dirt from clinging to the surface," says Edelman. The upshot: no need for an arduous deep scrub later.
MILDEWY SHOWER CURTAIN: Don't waste time trying to wipe off the mildew by hand. Instead, launder the curtain or liner in your washing machine with hot water, a couple of old towels, detergent, and 1 cup white vinegar, says Cobb. As soon as the washer stops, gather up the curtain in a towel and rehang it immediately to remove wrinkles. "It's the abrasion from the towels in conjunction with the cleaners that really does the job."
SINKS AND FAUCETS: To minimize heavy-duty bathroom cleaning, stash a microfiber cloth ($12/6; reuseit.com) under the sink. Wet and wring out the cloth, then wipe down the sink and faucets -- no cleanser necessary. "It takes seconds, the bathroom always gleams, and your more in-depth cleaning later will be faster and easier," says Cobb.
SAVE TIME ON THE FLOORS
FLOORS: For mopping that's as easy as flipping a switch, invest in the Mint Plus ($299; shop.mintcleaner.com), says Edelman. The motorized mop uses GPS technology to navigate your room -- and it doubles as a broom when all you need is a dry sweep.
CARPET STAINS: Now you can skip a labor-intensive shampooing, thanks to Bissell Stomp 'n Go ($5; bissell.com), says Edelman. Unwrap the pad and step on it (wet side down) to release the cleaning agent. Let it sit for 30 minutes and watch stains disappear.
cleaning & organizing: bring order to your home
Counter space. No matter how big the kitchen, you hardly ever hear anyone complaining that there's too much of it. Especially in a compact kitchen, clear counters are a precious commodity worth fighting for. Luckily, there are lots of smart storage ideas that can help you reclaim lost counter space. Here are 16 great solutions that are just begging to be a part of your kitchen expansion. By Tracy Anderson
So, you think your house is clean? Well … you might have to think again! If you're like most people, there are areas that you never even think about cleaning, unlikely places where dirt, dust, and germs may be lurking. Even if your home has its share of "dirty little secrets," you're not alone: A 2012 survey sponsored by Kenmore found that nearly half of Americans -- 49 percent -- say they cut corners when vacuuming by skipping areas underneath or behind furniture, and clean only when they see visible dirt on the floor. Because identifying the problem is the first step toward a cure, here are some commonly overlooked areas of the home that should be added to your housekeeping regimen -- and some tips on how to maximize your cleaning efforts.
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Far too often, grass gets the short end of the stick. We trample on it, force-feed it fertilizer, and cut the poor stuff within an inch of its life — all while doting on our roses and tomatoes. But focus your attention on sod for a second, and its design potential will sink in.
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This polar vortex of a winter is finally starting to thaw out, which means only one thing: Spring cleaning is upon us. As we get ready to deep clean our homes and reorganize our garages, it's time to consider your wardrobe. Your closet--probably overflowing with clothes you no longer wear--needs to be cleaned out. Clearing our your wardrobe can be a daunting task, usually causing anxiety about what to keep and what to toss. When it comes time to editing your wardrobe, it can be difficult to part with particular pieces. If you haven't worn an item in a number of months or it doesn't fit, a good solution to tossing is to consign items. Who doesn't love the idea of putting a little cash back in your wallet while making room for fabulous new pieces? Check out these 11 tips that will help alleviate the stress of spring cleaning and make room for those fresh pieces your wardrobe desperately needs. It's time to shake off those winter coats and shimmy into some spring dresses. By Corri McFadden
The kitchen is often the heart of the home, but for small-homeowners and apartment dwellers, it can also become the bane of your existence when space is at a premium. To maximize every inch of precious countertop, check out these 12 essential items that will make your life in the kitchen less cluttered.