January 15th, 2007

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5 Cleaning Tips for Incorrigible Slobs

Due to hard work and determination, and the fact I was left alone for quite a few hours, in fact from about noon onward, I got my main room (kitchen, dining, living area) and the guest bathroom cleaned up. While I was at it, I compiled some cleaning tips in my head, to help people like me who don't clean every day, but are always dealing with "crisis" situations, like say a room engulfed by clothes, an impassable living room carpet, dishes in places they really, really shouldn't be, etc.

5 Cleaning Tips for Incorrigible Slobs

1. Bag It Up
Facing a room that is such a total disaster you can't figure out where to start? (Example: You can't put your books away because your bookcase is covered in clothes and you can't put away your shoes because the shoerack is dismantled in a corner.) A great trick my mom taught me, when I was a kid as just as much a slob as now is to bag it up. Here's how: Get some garbage bags, big shopping bags, whatever you have to spare, and go around the room and put everything in bags. Everything -- clothes, papers, books, jewelry, shoes, toys, CDs, whatever. Keep using up bags until all surfaces are uncovered. Now you can go dust, wipe, sweep, mop, etc., and nothing's in the way... and except for the bags, your room is looking cleaned up and you get an immediate sense of relief. Now all you have to do is go through each bag and, one by one, put your stuff away. It's so much easier to do when you have a sort of clean slate to start with. And as far as I know, this is a method that works on even the worst slobs.

2. Ready, Set, Go!
One trick I came up with a couple of years ago is using a timer. I use either an egg timer or the timer on my microwave. What I'll do is decide I have 20 minutes, 40 minutes, or however long to clean a certain area, like say the bathroom or the kitchen. Once I set the timer, the idea is to keep going and get it all done at once -- rather than dragging it out over three hours by indulging in interruptions like watching TV, playing with the cat, reading the paper, going out to lunch, etc. It's sort of like a game show if you really get into it. Probably good exercise, too. This method doesn't always work, because if you're truly incorrible like me, no mere clock is going to keep you from procrastinating if you're determined, but it's worked for me on numerous occasions and I'd recommend it.

3. Listen, Don't Watch
Something I figured out just within the past couple of months is that if you want entertainment while you clean, it's much, much better to listen to something like a CD or the radio than the listen to something visual like TV. I always used to flip on the TV or something while I cleaned and it's totally counterproductive, because I end up constantly stopping what I'm doing to watch the TV. Sometimes it's because you have to see the screen to know what's going on, but often it's just because I'm looking for an excuse not to clean. However, if I put on a CD, I don't stop cleaning and stand in front of the stereo -- I clean! The best thing for me to use as my accompaniment is Classical or something wordless, because that way I don't stop cleaning to go lip sync or dance. I think audiobooks or audio language lessons would work well, too, though so far I haven't tried it.

4. It's Magic!
This isn't a method tip but a product tip: Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. As soon as I saw the ads for this, I was desperate to see if it really erases stuff. It does! So if you have scuff marks on the floor, metal marks on your wall, scuzzy looking door or whatever, the Magic Eraser will rub it right out. I recommend this for slobs because with this tool you can get rid of messes that've been sitting a long time and you can also do some "detail" cleaning that helps make you rooms look that much cleaner.

5. Atmospheric Lighting Does Wonders
If you've picked up and/or cleaned but you know things aren't really totally spic and span (like my main room right now, ahem), remember that atmosphere lighting can cover a lot of flaws. Dimmer light? Candles? Small table lamp? They can help a lot -- help you enjoy your almost-perfect-but-not-quite newly clean room and pull a fast one on visitors, who will think the place is as neat and tidy as it appears!