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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Melissa McClone: Cleaning on Deadline

Last month, a reader asked how I handled it all—family, writing, house, laundry, etc. I'd love to say effortlessly. I'd really love to say I have someone who cleans my house for me. I'd love to say anything but the truth.

What's the truth?

When I'm busy, especially with writing, something has to give, and that's the house. There are times when I've let things go completely for months due to a combination of illness and deadlines, but the fallout (as you can see in the before and after pics) is too hard to deal with. 
So I've found a few ways to keep the house liveable while on deadline or caring for sick kids or dealing with some other curve ball being thrown at you. Emphasis on liveable. f you're into white glove cleaning or a neatnik, stop reading now. By many standards (including my mother's), this wouldn't pass muster or be considered cleaning. But it works for me, so thought I'd share for others who find themselves with too much going on and the housekeeping falling by the wayside.

Years ago I discovered the Fly Lady. It wasn't long before I unsubscribed to her notices because the constant emails on what I should do around the house drove me crazy. I also had a huge issue with her saying to get dressed first thing each morning. One of the perks of being a writer is being able to write while wearing pajamas. But a couple of her ideas made sense to me then, and I still use them though I have no idea what she calls them. I seem to remember snazzy names for things so check the site if you want her official take on the tasks.

This is my Keep the House Liveable daily list:

1) Do the dishes
If the kids did what they were supposed to the night before (unload, load and start) then I skip this step. More often than not the sink looks like it had a party overnight, and it's up to me to clean up. But this is always the first thing I do if it hasn't been done. Nothing like an empty sink to start your day. The kitchen just looks better. The Fly Lady sure is right about that!
2) Put in a load of laundry
With two adults and three kids in the house, I can't afford to miss a day without doing a load, sometimes two. With three swimmers in the house, we go through many towels, too! By doing a load in the morning, I've got a big item crossed off my To Do list. Of course, folding is another matter. I don't mind wrinkled clothes and the cats like to sleep on the pile on the bed, so folding is one of those things I save for when I'm talking to someone on the phone or the pile gets so high the peak deserves a name!
3) Clutter Buster
In five minutes or less, I pick up any paper that can be recycled or whatever else can be thrown away. Sometimes I spend the time going through the mail if I haven't.
If there's something left out in the Great Room or kitchen that doesn't belong, it goes in that person's crap baskets, something I learned about in this article. You can read about me implementing them at our house here.
This step is key for me and why my office in the pics above became a nightmare. Clutter is one of those things that I can overlook and even picking up for five minutes can make a big difference when it's time to get back to your normal routine.

4) Spot Clean
I'll take five minutes to 10 minutes, to spot clean whatever needs it most that day whether that's the kitchen counter, bathroom, table, walls, shelves or floors/carpets when the dust bunnies are more the size of hares.
The key to doing this quick is having the right equipment handy. For floors: broom, dustpan, Swiffer, vacuum cleaner (depending on what the floors/rugs/carpets needs it.) For dusting: a feather duster makes it easy-peasy. For surface cleaning: I have two spray bottles that I've filled myself. One contains a mixture of vinegar and water. The other is a mix vinegar and Dawn dishwashing liquid. This will pretty much tackle anything I need it to and is inexpensive to make.
So in just a few minutes, I can do the bare minimum while life is crazy-busy to keep the house from being a total hazard. Then once things slow down I can get back on track and do some real cleaning.

Do you have any cleaning tips you'd like to share? Comment below and I'll pick one winner who will receive a fleece throw, chocolate, hot chocolate, bookmarks and an autographed book!

If you'd like to know more about me and my books, check out my website.  You can also find me at my Facebook page.

73 comments:

Laurie G said...

Wipe down the shower walls with a squeegee after every use. I hit the walls and shower/tub base with a spray bottle of beach about once a week to keep mold away. I take two showers a day.

Whenever I eat an orange I throw a piece of the peel into the garbage disposal and grind it up. The drain smells better.

Baking soda in the fridge for odors

I put aluminum foil under our old fashioned stove top burners and under the bottom coil in the oven. It makes cleanup easy. Don't let the foil touch the coils.

Melissa McClone said...

Great ideas, Laurie G! I love the orange peel tip! Would have never thought of that myself!

Jane Nelson said...

I don't have any quick tips I can think of. But I do make sure in hectic times to keep the dishes down and the counters and stove wiped off. I like the idea of crap baskets! I think I'll try that and see how it works here! Thanks for he hint! :)

do it yourself kinda girl said...

I don't have any great tips. Except maybe to put all the counter clutter in a basket and haul it to my room before company arrives. ;-)

Shari said...

I keep Clorox wipes in the kitchen and each bathroom. Quick swipe of counters and toilets daily.

Texastarz said...

I am the same way during tax time, everyone knows to give me space and time!

katie Schlauderaff said...

Since I have two kids, 4 and 7 months, I feel like a "clean house" might be just a vague memory for a few more years. I do have two separate baskets for toys to use as a quick cleanup at the end of the day.

Jean MP said...

I use a basket at the bottom of the stairs and top of the basement stairs to toss things in that have been brought up and down during the day, then empty them later, saves running up and down the stairs constantly.

Tanya Guthrie said...

Great tips! I am honestly not a cleaner by any means! The one thing I started doing that has really been helping me is when I'm cooking and already have to be in the kitchen I take the couple minutes in between stirring or waiting for the water to boil to work on loading/unloading the dishwasher.

But really I usually start something and then get sidetracked... start cleaning the counters and end up sorting the pantry. I usually end up with several half done projects.

susieqlaw said...

I keep cleaning supplies nearby...and seize the moment. After I shower, I spray the walls down with Method or Honest bathroom spray. Usually in the morning, I quickly clean the bathroom sink and toilet.

I keep multi surface spray in the kitchen to wipe down the counters when I get a chance.

My apartment building has a trash chute! Awesome! So, I can take the trash out regularly on my way out the door.

I have learned to prioritize. Since I live alone, as long as I wash my work clothes, I am okay. However, I have enough towels and sheets to go a few weeks and catch up when I can.

I am a free-spirited person, so it helps to have cleaning supplies nearby!

Janine said...

I really don't have any tips. I just do it every morning as a habit because I tend to get very lazy in the afternoons.

girlygirlhoosier52 said...

When his kids were young, my FIL would pick up all the stuff that they had been told to do during the day and lock it in his closet. Then when someone started whining about where was their xxxx he charge them a fee to have it returned...

Julie Dixon said...

I really don't have any quick tips but for me, keeping up with the dirty dishes is top priority.

Jean said...

Handle a paper just once - when i bring in the mail I immediately sort it into recyle and bills to be paid and put them away.

Mindy Shayler said...

I don't have any quick tricks! I just try to make sure to pick up for at least 10 minutes everyday so things don't get completely unbearable.

Mindy Shayler said...

I don't have any quick tricks! I just try to make sure to pick up for at least 10 minutes everyday so things don't get completely unbearable.

Connie said...

Decluttering is the best way to start the cleaning process. When things are out of the way, you can quickly dust. A fast sweep of the floor is good until you can the vacuum and mop out. Even with just my husband and myself, I don't let things get messy. It doesn't take but a short time in the morning to put things in order. Keeping up with it is key.

Moran V said...

If I don't have time to clean the all house I make sure the kitchen, toilet and bathroom are clean. I also try to clean the house in 2 days- dusting and sweeping the floors one day and the next day I wash the floor with water.

Amber Kolb said...

Start from the top of your house and work your way down. This has always worked well for me. I also turn on my favorite tunes to keep motivated. Thank you for the giveaway :)

kissablysweet1 said...

One thing we've started doing recently for sheets is putting the flat sheet, pillow cases and the fitted, inside the pillow case. That way we never lose them. When cleaning, an all purpose cleaner makes it easier to go from one surface to another.

Robin Driscoll said...

I so needed to read this. I have let my house turn into such a mess and I desperately want to clean it up to make it nicer to live in. Your tips were very helpful. Thank you.

Brenda Rumsey said...

With a family of 3 adults, 3 teenagers with busy schedules, people are quick to just lay things down and forget about putting them away. So I have a each of the teens a basket in a central location. As I walk through the house during the day I pick up items and drop them in the owners basket (dirty clothes, cards, headphones, etc). When they come home from school, after a snack and drink, I send them to their basket to put those things away. LOL...the baskets have less items than they use to, which is a good thing.

Laney4 said...

Lots of great tips here. Yes, emptying the dishwasher, filling it up again, and then getting those pesky pots/pans/etc. done by hand make an incredible difference on how we and others see our home. Yes, handling paper once is a good tip - I have a shredder tucked in-between my La-Z-Boy chair and end table in my living room so I can shred anything with my name on it immediately when sorting mail, and I have a box in the kitchen where I throw paper (without names on them) and empty cardboard boxes for recycling day.
KEEP (other) THINGS NEAR WHERE YOU USE THEM. I redid my kitchen back in 1998, converting the closet to a pantry. The bottom shelf is deeper and holds two recycling bins, which are emptied and cleaned weekly. Gets stuff off your counters and floors immediately (rather than waiting to put in outside bins later).
CONSIDER YOUR SPACE LIKE PRIME REAL ESTATE. Keep things you use most often close at hand and others farther away - especially in your office. Less clutter means less/easier cleaning.
LISTS help me tremendously, whether of things to do now or later, or things I've done that I need to record - I often keep a "running" notepad in my pocket (as my husband and I share the cell phone, so I can't always temporarily record there).
HAVE COMPANY OVER OFTEN, as it pushes you to clean your house.
SET A TIME LIMIT, as you work faster during that time, thereby getting more done. When I worked part-time outside the home, I always got more done in my rushed two hours in the morning and rushed two hours in the afternoon than my coworkers did when working full-time hours. (It was a great office job, as I dropped my kids at school, worked, picked kids up for lunch, worked, and drove them home from school, all done for the day - at least there, as I still had a home typing/editing business for the evenings too.)

Donna E said...

Afraid my place looks much like your before pictures. I just do NOT like housework. Laundry I really never minded. I did have somewhat of an excuse (at least to myself) when I was working. Now I'm not, but still don't get things done. So no, I haven't any tips.

petite said...

Tackle the kitchen first, counters, sinks and then floor etc. bathrooms next and after that one room at a time. Dusting first, then vacuum.

Michelle H. said...

Hi Melissa! Great office makeover. Love how you used all the Thirty-One products...the bold bloom print is my favorite!
I have a couple of tips. First, having kids in the house means having spills in the fridge. I use plastic placemats on the shelves. If there's a spill, it's easy to just swap out the dirty one for a clean one. Then, I can clean the dirty one when I have time. Another tip involves those loner socks. I put all the single socks in a cube on the dryer. Every month, I sort the socks. If a sock still doesn't have a match, it goes into my cleaning supplies. My son's socks are a perfect fit for the Swiffer sweeper. Now I don't have to buy the swiffer dry cleaning cloths!

traveler said...

Get rid of extraneous and old items, clothing, household things and stuff that is useless. Then assess your priorities with the importance of how clean and tidy each room has to be for you. Start slowly and get organized. Cleaning, dusting, mopping etc. Once thing at a time and it will get there.

Angelina Linan said...

I don't use my dish washer for washing my dishes but I do use it to store and dry my dishes. Run it once a week to keep it fresh for when we do the dishes and put them in there to dry. I don't like having a dish basket on my counter and I am a mother of 4 so its easier (and neater on my counter) to let them dry without taking up space.

Tamara B. said...

When I finally break down and do a deep cleaning of the bedrooms, and closets I always have empty boxes handy so the items that are not used or gently used anymore I can box them up to take to out local shelter to donate.

Jen Rey said...

I don't really have any quick tips. But I like to always be stocked up on cleaning supplies so they are handy when ever I need them. Great tips! I'll be sure to try some of them!

cancerjanus said...

Use Swifter Dusters pads with your hand to dust surfaces like the open shelves, the table, desks, etc. Dust just sticks to them and you can basically dust the whole house in under half an hour.

Dawn said...

I spray vinegar in my shower after every use. This keeps the hard water from leaving rings. Also, I do the dishes every evening so I don't have to wake up with a dirty sink.

Tanya Phillips said...

Wow your tips are great because now to train my husband to do them. I actually miss cleaning now that I can't do it. There was nothing more satisfyingly my that a great clean. Mind you would be messy an hour later.

rondadoug said...

I find that if you can get everyone's cooperation in helping to keep the house picked up...it's much easier to keep clean...A place for everything and everything in it's place...I CLEAN 1 room a day...Make the bed as soon as you get up. Keep the bathrooms clean as you use them...squeegee the shower, rinse out the sink, wipe off spots on mirrors and vanity top...only takes a second. And if you use a dish, cup, plate...whatever...it goes in the dishwasher...not in the sink.

miriama said...

I have a solid rule: One thing in, one thing out. New shirt? Something goes. Except food of course. LOL And I try to never leave a room without grabbing something to go with me. I sort the mail the minute it comes in the door. But..somehow..I still have clutter. It's part of having family and I'll keep them. :)

mel.anu said...

I use a lot of squeezy bottles with cheap mixes in to help -

Bathroom - Bleach, bicarb and dawn sprayed after the shower help keep mildew away & tiles clean

Kitchen - Bleach, liquid detergent and water for all surfaces - just a quick spray and wipe down. The bleach also helps to disinfect as well as clean.

General Odour 1 - Always clean stove top, ovens and fridges with bicarb, soap, vinegar mix

General Odour 2 - Because stuff like Febreeze can be expensive, choose your favourite fabric softener - mix with water and put in a squeezy bottle and use around the house on sofas, curtains, duvets etc. It will keep the house smelling fresh without breaking the budget and will not harm your fabrics.

Windows in or outside - I hate windows but again a spray of vinegar and either toilet / kitchen tissue or an old newspaper make day to day touch ups easy and quick!! Then just pray it doesn't rain lol!!

Nicole Laverdure said...

I don't have any great tips for you Melissa! The only advice I can offer you, is that I share the housecleaning with my husband. He's the cook at home and loves to use lots of pot and pans lolll .

Karen B said...

I keep a large paper grocery bag near my front door - out of sight - for newspaper, magazine and mail recycling. Another is under my sink for can, glass and plastic recyclables. Taking a full bag out to the garage and reclying bin is so much easier than doing it daily.

Lil said...

We use the two hands/arms full rule when moving from one room to another in the house. You and the rest of the family, fill hands/arms full of things to put away as you make your way to wherever you are headed. It can be putting a book on the shelf in the room, the bills to pay on your desk along the way and the mugs from the coffee table in the kitchen for washing when you are for example on your way to fix a snack.

mrsnoah said...

I keep cleaning supplies in each bathroom so I am not running around after cleaner or sponges when needed. Thanks!

Necta Nelson said...

My motto is if you can't tackle your place every room every day so do one good cleaning one day of all rooms and follow by every day cleaning a different room . Also bed must be made that's a priority because people will be quick to notice that your bed isn't done. Plus it makes the room neater quicker. clorox wipes to wipe down bathroom counters. Dishes are a must do immediately at least for me..I try to do breakfast dishes as soon as i'm done because i tell myself lunch is next and they dishes will pile and than dinner,,,ughh my motivation to do dishes right away. Make sure to change your sponge from time to time or sanitize by placing a damp sponge in yourmicrowave for a minute or 2 dont have a microwave you can put it in your dishwasher with hot water that will help too sanitize it as well Take a couple of minutes minutes to do a quick sweep around the house and mop as needed, in my house with 2 lil guys its like every other day.

Necta Nelson said...

I love how you recluttered everything and put in nice colorful or eyecatching recycleable bags or totes. I use bins and mark them

LChippy76 said...

While cooking Dinner I will Tidy up the Kitchen.....Loading or Unloading Dishwasher - Clear Off & Clean Counters, etc. After taking a Shower, I will take a towel to wipe down the entire Shower. Make my Bed as soon as I get up. ( I know some of these may have been mentions earlier.) I use to have Fly Lady on my Computer....But like Melissa stated "LOTS of Emails"!! ;) Melissa, I enjoyed your Pics & your Ideas - some were NEW, & some I knew but forgot!! THANKS for Sharing!!! (Y)

Gwen said...

If you have a dish with baked on food, let it soak with a dryer sheet in the water for about 30 minutes and the food wipes right out.

Pauline Frost said...

I'm like the before pics but on my days off I still don't get things done. I will read or relax after working and since I live alone I don't clean much until I know someone is going to stop in for a visit. I do dishes about every two or three days since I have to hand wash them

Aurora Borealis said...

Have baskets for each room and as you go through common areas toss items into appropriate baskets then take the basket when it should go to put items away

barbara macaskill said...

Great tips! I totally agree about an empty sink makes the kitchen look and feel so much more welcoming and refreshing! I also vacuum daily! We have wood floors and our dog sheds so much that I feel like I have to step up to go into a room if I haven't done my vacuuming! Days that I am unable to vacuum are rough!
I am housebound 99% of the time so getting dressed is only something I do on the rare days that I leave the house! I even go to the mailbox barefoot and in my nightgown. Of course, the nighties I wear look like maxi dresses so I can get away with wearing them even when we have company which is also rare unless it is my son and grandsons or parents.
I am lucky that hubby has taken over most of the household chores but whenever I am able to I pitch in and surprise him!
Thanks for the chance to win one of you awesome prize packages and for the tips!

Quilt Lady said...

Swiffer dusters are really handy, I also have the swiffer vac and mop, very handy for quick clean ups. My laundry we sort the clothes it three hampers and that helps a lot with the laundry. Will start my laundry tomorrow and do some cleaning, with all the snow we have it doesn't do a lot of good to do a lot of cleaning because of tracking in snow. So I am just hitting the high spots right now.

mindy1414 said...

I try to get at least one thing done everyday even if it's just something small like wiping down the refrigerator door handles (they get really messy in my house LOL). Sometimes that one small thing is all I get done but some days one thing leads to another and I get several things done. I am happy either way and it just makes me feel better overall. Sooner or later it will all get done but enjoying life everyday is the most important.

dstoutholcomb said...

Clean top to bottom and vacuum last. Try to keep an empty sink when possible. and teach the kids to clean!
Denise

Jessica M said...

Clean at the end of the day, not the begining because my kids will have it destroyed a thousand times during the day

dusty katt said...

Baby steps. Set small goals for yourself so you don't feel overwhelmed. It takes "I need to clean this huge mess in the living room" and turns it into "I need to clear the coffee table". I find this makes things manageable, especially when I'm having a depressive episode. I also find that I feel better for having something done and that encourages me to carry on and clean up the end tables as well.

catslady said...

If you have more than one floor, I always have a small basket ready when I think of something that needs to go up or down for when I do make the trip - if I waited, I would surely forget lol.

Mary Preston said...

I tend to have a loose schedule for cleaning. Each day I like to do an area. This breaks the house cleaning into manageable tasks. By having a regular go at things it never becomes a big job.

Dawn Hagan said...

Very helpful ideas

Vickie Raynor said...

Whoever does the dishes has to wipe everything down in the kitchen, i.e., refrigerator, appliances, counters.

Sabrina Joy said...

Dishes become a drag every once in a while when I just don't have the time. But when they're all piled up into a mountain, then it's an even bigger drag to get over. If the dish pile is small or manageable enough, I do it. To me, I feel that it's better to do constant small piles every other free chance I get than one grueling big one. At least, for me it works.

I try to multitask a lot. In between few moments of cooking where I can let the food go without me or while laundry is going on, I try ti already have a quick list to tackle. Even if it's just organizing them once for a day and then putting them away completely tomorrow.

jcp smith said...

I keep a box or bag for Goodwill for read books, clothes I don't wear, etc. by the door. Thanks for the giveaway.

Rachael B said...

I have a couple of rooms that look like your "before" pictures. I have trouble with paper clutter. I have tried the "only handle it once" rule, but I never seem to master it. I don't really have any cleaning tips, except that I line my baking sheets with aluminum foil so that it is easier to clean.

Deanne said...

With 11 of our 12 children still living at home the house is NEVER all clean at the same time. Before I go to bed at night I do all the dishes. It's wonderful to wake up to an empty sink. I empy the trash cans in the bathrooms and the kitchens, yeskitchens. We have a kitchen and a Summer kitchen. Keep the edges of the rooms clean, they tend to accumulate stuff. We have nice storgae shelves in the basement . Once a week I go through the kids toys for broken or toys they no longer use and throw out or giveaway. My kids get time for doing chores. Each chore is worth time and they use that time to play video games.

Melissa McClone said...

They've worked for us, Jane!

Melissa McClone said...

Good idea! I try to keep all the mail together and papers from school, but mainly in a pile. Some container would be good!

Melissa McClone said...

Haha, those wipes have saved me when company was going to drop by!

Melissa McClone said...

Oh, I can imagine that is a crazy time for you!!!!

Melissa McClone said...

I hate to tell you this, but it only gets worse as they get older! At least with my three! But baskets helps.

Melissa McClone said...

That's a lot like my baskets!

Melissa McClone said...

Good idea to multitask when you're in the kitchen! That way things to pile up! Thanks!

Melissa McClone said...

Wonderful ideas! I'll have to check out the bathroom sprays. I need something for our shower!

Melissa McClone said...

I've found doing it first thing works for me best. Or I don't get it done!

Melissa McClone said...

That is a great idea!!!!

Melissa McClone said...

Great idea! That way you start the morning off with a clean house, too! You are my winner Jessica! Please contact me via my website at www.melissamcclone.com or PM my facebook page www.facebook.com/melissamcclonebooks. Thanks!

Melissa McClone said...

Love all these cleaning tips. As soon as I have a few extra minutes I'll be back to comment as well as paste them into a document so I can access them more easily! Thanks!

The winner of the giveaway is Jessica M! Please contact me via my website or PM my facebook page. I left the urls under your comment! Thanks!

Jessica M said...

Thank you!!! Sent you a pm via facebook!!