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
Think of this as your ultimate cleaning checklist: Easy ways to get your kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, living room, laundry room, and patio in tip-top shape for spring.
Beautiful on the outside, functional on the inside.
Living with limited square footage? From seating that can be tucked away easily to a grater that folds flat, you'll need these home essentials for your small space. By Sarah Yang
According to feng shui (pronounced “fung shway”) principles, a messy closet can indicate a messy life. If you’ve been thinking about decluttering your life, check out these simple and basic things you can do to tidy up that chaotic closet. You know the one.
Tackle these small tasks with big impact to give your house a mini face-lift. Lou Manfredini, Ace Hardware's home expert, lends his know-how.
Before you break out your rubber gloves, get a reality check on these old wives' tales.
If you thought the shower was the one place you could ignore your phone, think again.
From the best straighten-up strategies to the right way to wash windows, we share our favorite advice for keeping your house in tip-top shape.
Homeowners may find themselves short on storage space. They can, in theory, pack less-used items into garages or closets, but there's much to be said for storage that's handy, easy to access, and subtle—like these 10 clever ideas for stowing away everything from blankets and pillows to pet food and knickknacks. By Jennifer Noonan
Try out these clever storage and organization ideas to make the most of space in your kitchen. By Dominique DeVito
Easy ways to get your house in shape for spring.