8 Tips to Speed Up Your Weekly Cleaning Routine

posted by Andrea | 05/3/2016
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cleaning routine

In general, I truly do not mind cleaning. It’s not my most favorite activity ever, but it’s not my least-favorite either.

And since I usually do most of my cleaning when kids are sleeping, or otherwise occupied, it serves as a good opportunity for me to zone out and perform the monotonous tasks without much mental energy required (these days, I’m learning to be thankful for tasks that require small amounts of mental energy!)

Of course, I love the end results of a clean house, but even with several other things on my to-do list, it’s not difficult for me to carve out a little time to spray, scrub, swoosh, sweep, swipe, and shine.

That said, I’m not willing to spend long hours just to get a clean house. I’m always looking for little ways to speed up my weekly cleaning routine… here are a few that work well for me.

1. Declutter first.

I’m not sure if this is really a “cleaning chore” for me or simply a “way of life” — but I know that cleaning goes exponentially faster when my home is less cluttered.

Although I try to keep the house regularly picked up and organized, I do always take a few minutes to declutter a room before I clean it.

At the very least, I would suggest putting all the clutter from one room into a large clothes basket so you can clean the room faster and without worrying about moving things around. Ideally, once you’re finished cleaning, you will put the contents of the basket away!

2. Only clean what’s dirty.

I’m getting better at this one as I have more children!

I used to clean everything every week, even if it wasn’t really dirty. Now, I only clean what’s dirty… and sometimes I even leave the dirty (and especially dusty) things until I have the time to tackle that space.

Bathrooms, kitchen counters, and floors are my main concerns — if those areas stay relatively neat and clean, I don’t feel like I need to spend a lot of time in other areas of the home.

3. Set a deadline.

Although I try to keep up with the cleaning all week long — doing various small tasks here and there, I usually try to do the majority of my “weekly cleaning” on Friday afternoon so it’s done BEFORE the weekend.

About a year ago, I realized that I did NOT want to spend any amount of time on Saturday cleaning, organizing, doing laundry, etc. So I decided to try and finish everything on Friday… and I did!

It made the weekend seem more free and available, with fewer to-do’s for me to cross off.

Since then, I’ve used Friday night as my self-imposed deadline to have the floors vacuumed, the bathrooms cleaned, the laundry washed and put away, and the kitchen cleaned.

Of course, that won’t work for everyone’s schedule — but the idea of setting a deadline for your cleaning tasks really does help to speed the process along. Even something as simple as setting a timer for 20 minutes to make sure you don’t end up spending too much time in one area of your home is a great motivator to work quickly.

Also, while I personally don’t stress about keeping my house perfectly clean for company, I know many people who regularly invite friends or family over for dinner, and then use that as their “deadline” to have the house clean. If it works — I’d say go for it!

4. Use fewer cleaning supplies.

I completely decluttered my cleaning supplies a few years ago and now I only use a handful of my favorite products…which actually does speed up the process.

Also, I implemented a “bathroom cleaning bucket” a few years ago. It has worked SO well to corral everything I need to clean our bathrooms all in one spot. Plus it means there are no cleaning supplies in the bathrooms (where my crawling children always seem to gravitate!)

If you really want to minimize and simplify, I’d suggest buying a few containers of disinfectant wipes and using those on all your surfaces (I may or may not use this as my quick-cleaning method from time to time!)

bathroom cleaning bucket

5. Hire help.

We don’t hire anyone to do our regular weekly cleaning — but we DO hire professionals to do some of our deep cleaning.

We have carpet cleaners come in once a year to professionally deep clean all our carpeting. We also hire someone to power wash the exterior of our home, garage, and outbuilding every other year. A few years ago, we hired a company to clean our roof (what a transformation!)

I have thought about hiring out our house cleaning, but haven’t done it yet. I guess, since I don’t mind cleaning, it’s not as challenging for me to make the time to do it.

If you don’t particularly love cleaning, I would highly suggest figuring out a way to either hire it out, trade responsibilities with a friend or relative, or even clean WITH a friend. I promise it will go a lot faster (and be more fun) with someone else to chat with.

A few years ago, a friend of mine got married and received the gift of 6 cleaning visits from a local professional cleaning service. She decided to have that company come once a month for 6 months and do all the cleaning tasks she hated. It was SUCH a great gift for her, and a good idea if you’re looking for a unique wedding or birthday gift!

6. Use overnight hours.

I know there is some controversy about letting appliances run while you’re gone or while you’re sleeping, but I almost always use overnight hours to help speed up my cleaning routine.

I regularly set the dishwasher to run during the night so all the dishes are clean when we wake up. I also set the washing machine to run overnight so I can quickly throw everything in the dryer when I wake up (I use the delayed setting so the clothes aren’t wet all night).

To me, it almost feels like I’m cheating the system (in a good way) when I can wake up to clean dishes and one load of laundry all ready for the dryer.

7. Do one activity at a time (instead of one room).

I used to clean one room from top to bottom and then move to the next room. Now I do one activity at a time (throughout the entire house) and then move onto the next activity.

For example, I’ll grab a dust rag (and usually give Nora and Simon something to dust with too) and dust the entire house all at one time. Then I’ll get the vacuum out (Nora and Simon pretend to vacuum using some of our extra vacuum attachments) and vacuum the entire house.

I guess I don’t know for sure (I’ve never actually timed it) but it seems to speed up the cleaning process when I’m only focusing on doing one activity at a time.

Also, this changes how I write my to-do lists. Instead of writing “clean the living room”, I’ll write “vacuum the house” one day, then maybe “dust the house” another day.

This might not work for every family or every home, but I do feel like I move faster and work more efficiently when I clean this way.

8. Remember… it’s JUST dirt and dust.

While I certainly don’t want to offer up more excuses for anyone to put off cleaning, I do also want to point out that (for the most part) a little dirt and dust won’t hurt anyone.

Of course, if you let the laundry and cleaning pile up week after week, you will probably be pretty stressed out and spend A LOT of time playing catch-up. HOWEVER, you most likely won’t run into any major problems if you skip dusting for a week, put off scrubbing the shower another week, or leave the sheets on the bed for a few extra days.

While I’m greatly in favor of “doing it now” versus waiting until later, I’m also aware that “life happens” and sometimes things don’t go according to plans. Sometimes, it just might make sense to skip a cleaning task for a week or two in favor of making more time for something else.

(Yes, I did just suggest putting something off until later! I’ve come a long way over the past few years, haven’t I!)

These are a few things I do to speed up my weekly and monthly cleaning routines…

Do you have any other quick-cleaning tips?

cleaning routine

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42 comments

  1. Emily

    05/03/2016

    I think I may have already shared this but I implemented a home blessing day every Friday at our house. We set aside the schoolwork and assign specific cleaning tasks (bathrooms, floors, toy pick up, put away laundry Etc) to each child and myself. Sometimes I’ll pair up kids (my older girls each help a younger sibling put away their laundry) or they’ll work independently. Like you said, it’s so nice to go into a weekend with a clean house. It also takes the pressure off during the rest of the week (we still pick up things and do little cleaning jobs as needed) and I can get other tasks done knowing that the house will get a good scrub down on Friday. I’m trying to teach my children the why behind having a clean home and a big part of that is to bless each other as a family and others who may come into our home with a home that is a delight to be in. Thus the reason for the title “home blessing day!”

    PS we have an old dishwasher so we use it as white noise at night 😉 you literally cannot hear each other speak if you’re in the kitchen while it’s running!

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  2. JoDi

    05/03/2016

    Oh my goodnes, I almost forgot my favorite quick cleaning trick! I clean the shower when I’m showering. I keep an extra mesh scrubbie in the shower just to clean it. I squeeze a bit of my body wash on it and wipe down the walls and floor, then spray rinse them with the shower head. (I have the removable type of shower head on the long hose so it’s easy to rinse everything down.) I do it once every week or two, and there’s never any need to do more than that or use harsh cleaners to keep the shower clean!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks JoDi! I actually do the same thing — I clean the shower while I’m in it! Someone once told me I should be ashamed of myself for “wasting” water while cleaning the shower — but it honestly goes so much faster this way!

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  3. JoDi

    05/03/2016

    You’ve come a long way baby!

    Your cleaning bucket looks very similar to mine. I have a couple of extra things in mine that I don’t use weekly but that come in handy from time to time like a magic eraser for marks on walls and an old toothbrush for crevices. I’m a “one task at a time” cleaner too. I do bathrooms first, then dust, then vacuum and clean the foors. The kitchen is sort of its own zone that gets cleaned constantly as I’m cooking and cleaning up each day.

    The only other tip I can think of that makes cleaning quicker for me is to have a long-handled lambswool duster for dusting where the walls meet the ceilngs, above the door jambs, window trim, curtain rods, and anthing else up high. It takes less than a minute to swipe everything that’s up high in the room once a month or so and keeps the dust from building up and turning to grime.

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  4. Jenny

    05/03/2016

    I live in a fairly small space (650 square feet) and clean on Thursday night. That way the place is nice and clean when I get home from work Friday night and I don’t have anything to do on the weekend. I also find that I’m less likely to decide I need takeout on Friday night if my place is clean vs. if its a mess takeout seems like the best option.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Love this Jenny — and yes, I totally agree that cleaning before the weekend make the weekends seem that much more enjoyable!

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  5. Lou

    05/03/2016

    Amazing how we can loosen up a bit with each additional child, isn’t it?!
    I love your wit and wisdom, Andrea! So much common sense, (that seems not common these days), in your writings! I’m enjoying watching you parent and your babies grow. Keep up the good work!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for your kind words Lou!

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  6. Katie

    05/03/2016

    I grew up in an area where electricity rates were discounted at night so it’s second nature to me to turn the dishwasher on as I go to bed – it also keeps the noise down if you don’t have one of the super nice silent ones! We also had our hot water heater on a timer so it was only on at night – makes you double think how long your hot showers are, and reconsider if you really need hot water for that load of laundry if you know you have a limited amount of hot water.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Wow — that’s cool. I’ve never heard of electricity rates being discounted at night, but that would definitley be an incentive to use those overnight hours!

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  7. Wilma

    05/03/2016

    my biggest tip would be to use the little bits of “waiting” time: wipe the counter while on the phone, clean the bathroom while the kids are in the tub (and then clean the tub when you are in the shower), etc. and don’t go for perfect–i do 80% of the job in 20% of the time, most of the time.

    i do not have a cleaning day. i don’t spend much time cleaning, but i do little bits all the time. it seems to work. i also am an *aspiring* minimalist (with three young kids), so i do not have a lot of clutter.

    and i splurged and bought a dyson slim vacuum (a rechargeable one). one or twice a day, i use the six minutes on maximum charge to vacuum 1/3-1/2 the house (usually the main ares). seriously, in six minutes i can vacuum most of the main floor! (we have a bungalow w/ a full basement).

    so my advice would be to use the little minutes you have to clean/tidy, and not to sweat making the house perfectly clean, because usually good enough really is good enough 🙂

    and finally, my goal in life is no carpets ever. floors are so much easier to clean 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    YES! It’s amazing how much you can accomplish in small chunks of time here and there! Also, I hear you on the “no carpets ever” — but Dave insists on some carpet when we have crawling babies 🙂 Someday, I’ll get all hardwood floors!

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  8. kathy w

    05/03/2016

    Your house always looks so clean and straightened. I was wondering if you have a vacum sweeper you would recommend. I have a Kirby and it is such a hassle changing from out the different tools on it, that I just dread using it. Thanks for a another great article.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Kathy — I have a relatively inexpensive Hoover vacuum that I like. They don’t last as long as the more expensive Dyson (at least not in my opinion) but they do work well and come with lots of easy-to-use attachments.

    We actually used to have a Kirby but sold it because I didn’t like how heavy and clunky it was to take around (so yes, I can relate to why you dread using it)

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  9. Debbie

    05/03/2016

    I often have cleaning and laundry as part of my To Do list for Saturday. Last week I cleaned all the toilets and sinks on a Friday night as soon as I came home from work and eaten my dinner. This little thing freed up my Saturday so much (at least in my mind) because then I only had our master shower to clean. I do agree that this probably wouldn’t work every Friday but when our Friday nights are free I’m making sure to get some things done that evening instead of doing it on Saturday. I also discovered Norwex cleaning cloths and I definitely love using it to dust and clean mirrors and windows. I didn’t have to use any cleaning sprays at all and they were sparkling clean. I could also use the cloths for the kitchen counter but I still have a hard time accepting the fact that I can use the same cloth to wipe the counter, dust, and wipe windows without rinsing it with soap. So I’ve been using it just to do dusting and mirrors/windows.

    I like your one cleaning bucket idea. I thought about doing this but I don’t know if I’ll like the idea of carrying the bucket upstairs or downstairs to do the cleaning. Instead, I have a cleaning bucket in the downstairs bath, and the two upstairs bath. This way if I see something needs to be wiped or cleaned I can just do it without having to get the cleaning bucket where its being stored.

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    Andrea Reply:

    It’s it crazy how something as simple as cleaning the bathrooms one day earlier can make such a difference in your weekend!

    Also, I actually do keep a container of sanitizing wipes in every bathroom for quick clean-ups, spills, pee on the seat incidents, etc. I use those in between the regular cleanings when I use my bucket 🙂

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  10. Amy

    05/03/2016

    I too implement the overnight hours tip! Dishwasher and washer/dryer! It really does save time. It’s taken me alt of years to realize my home doesn’t have to look like no one lives in it! I’ve made peace with a bit of clutter or dust here and there, but one thing I cannot stand is crumbs on the floor! My husband, on the other hand sometimes can’t let go of the fact that we do not live in a model home. What’s funny about that is that he will “straighten up” OVER the dust/dirt! I’m the opposite. Give me a bit of clutter rather than dirty any day! He’s gotten better about it, but I refuse to spend my entire life cleaning rather that living! One huge reason why we downsized our home to just 1400 square feet 2 years ago!

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha! I’m in the same camp with your husband — I’ll take a little dirt and dust as long as it’s clutter-free (although I really can’t stand a dirty floor!) 🙂

    I’m sure it felt great to downsize your home and your cleaning needs!

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  11. Kellie

    05/03/2016

    Love these tips, Andrea! Thank you! Just wanted to express my love for Norwex too. i don’t sell it or anything – I just love them! It’s the easiest, most minimal cleaning system – and no chemicals! Andrea you would love them – check them out.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I know, my sister also loves Norwex and I’m sure their products are fabulous! I have so many friends and family members who swear by their clothes — I just haven’t switched over yet. I feel like they are so over-priced and just “trendy” right now — which makes me want to boycott them (I know, it’s ridiculous, but I’m stubborn like that!) Also, I really dislike any products and companies where you have to have a “party” to order something. Just let me go online and buy it whenever I want without needing to invite friends to try to earn free stuff!
    Sorry!
    I know their stuff is amazing because everyone tells me. Someday, I will switch over 🙂

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    wilma Reply:

    Actually…and I don’t mean to be contrary :), but you CAN just go online and order Norwex stuff. That’s how I do it. I also don’t like trendy stuff, but the glass cloth works like magic (I have the glass cloth, the cleaning cloth, and the mop; the mop was a gift). Even if you would not get anything else, I would also recommend the glass cloth–you can use whatever cloth to clean the mirror/glass (no cleaners required), and a few swipes of the glass cloth gets it smudge free!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    well OK then! I did not know you could buy Norwex without a party 🙂
    That said, I already have a glass cleaning cloth (not Norwex brand) that I use to wipe over windows and glass to get the streak free. I’m not sure what brand it is but I got it as a wedding gift and have been using it for 10 years now! I’m guessing the Norwex brand is just as good (if not better) then my cloth — so yes, it is amazing!

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    wilma Reply:

    any cloth that’s worked well for 10 years is an amazing cloth 🙂

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  12. Christine @ The (mostly) Simple Life

    05/03/2016

    I like these tips! Since I work outside the home, I try to not have extra chores to do on weeknights when I’m tired. My deadline is to have laundry and dishes done and groceries bought by the end of the weekend.

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  13. Martha Landon

    11/01/2012

    Hi, I just discovered a way to refill my automatic scrubbing bubbles shower spray cleaner with my home made shower cleaner. I had an old turkey baster in which the bulb has a tiny hole in and I was getting ready to toss it. I had also taken down an empty Scrubbing bubbles shower spray cleaner bottle and was trying to figure out how to unscrew the top so I could refill with vinegar and Dawn or vinegar and Simple Pine. I happened to have an “ah haa” moment. I took out a cup and poured some vinegar into it, picked up the vinegar into the turkey baster and placed over the hole in the screw on cap of the Scrubbing bubbles solution. I squezzed gently and lost very little vinegar. I then put some Simple Green into the cup and did the same thing when I had the bottle about 2/3 full I then added some water to fill the bottle and went to spray clean my bathroom walk in shower. It works better than the solution in the bottle originally in my opinion. Just thought I would share a turkey baster recycle reuse tip.

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  14. Sarah Burnes Heiner

    10/24/2012

    I love your cleaning tips. I am excited to start implementing them into my daily routine.

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  15. Annie

    03/03/2012

    We have laws in Qld Australia that require the installation of smoke detectors in all homes, which does provide some peace of mind. Apparantly the sense of smell is absent in most people during sleep.

    I run my washing machine at night, too, Andrea, and hang up in the morning.

    I have a rectangular bucket with a handle which I take from room-to-room with all of the required cleaning products.

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  16. Amie

    03/03/2012

    I would not run the dishwasher or washing machine over night. I’ve had several friends with disaster stories….dishwasher overflowed and they had to rip up the floors, another friend had the washer never stop running water for several hours, they had to repair floors and walls, so much water damage, they had to live in a hotel with two toddlers for two months. NEVER leave those machines running unattended!

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    Amy Reply:

    I have first-hand experience with that. My family and I were living at my mom’s while we were renovating our house, and one night we turned on her washing machine before we went to bed. I will never forget the feeling of that wet squishy carpet on my feet as soon as I stepped foot in the living room the next morning. Ooooohhhh, it was awful. The hose had disconnected from the washer during the filling cycle so water poured out ALL night. Fans and dehumidifiers everywhere. Those next few months I said, “Never again will I run the washer OR dishwasher unless I’m home and awake!” But do I do it now 2 years later? Absolutely! All the time. It’s too convenient not to. I’ll just keep saying a little prayer…

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  17. Lori

    03/03/2012

    I have discovered Norwex cloths. They anti-bacterial and awesome. I clean my whole house with the enviro-cloth and the window cloth is amazing on windows, chrome,mirrors, etc. Only use water, no more chemicals. Actually enjoy cleaning now. Check out their website. Worth every penny!

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  18. Living the Balanced Life

    05/02/2011

    Sometimes I think one of the hardest things is just to get started. If I can get started, I will usually keep going, but taking that first step can be the hardest! I do agree you need to declutter first, but if that will delay you actaully cleaning, then just start cleaning!
    Bernice
    The weekend edition of Living the Balanced Life

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  19. Lauren

    04/27/2011

    scary note about running the dishwasher and dryer overnight…recently a reader of another blog sent in a picture of how her dishwasher caught fire overnight. thankfully she was up late but still a scary reminder that we probably should run these appliances overnight.

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    Heather Reply:

    Very good reminder. My parents had the same problem. My mom had started the dishwasher first thing in the morning and went back to bed for a few minutes. When she got up an hour or so later, the hallways were filled with smoke and she found her dishwasher on fire. Fortunately, no one was hurt but there was extensive smoke damage throughout the house and the kitchen counter was scortched, had it happend in the middle of the night, it could have been much worse.

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    Lacey Reply:

    I saw that on Young House Love too. I’m too paranoid to run it overnight now — but it sure was convenient!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yikes — you guys are freaking me out now!!

    I ALWAYS run my dishwasher over night and have never had a problem. Maybe I’ll have to be a little more careful now!

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    Catherine Reply:

    I get my kids to help load the dishwasher (and straighten up the kitchen) immediately after dinner and run it then. That way the dishwasher is finished by the time I go to bed and I empty it in the morning as well. Well, on most days this happens…… 🙂

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    Patty Gardner Reply:

    I did an article on my blog about the dishwasher issue. There have been lots of reports of dishwashers catching fire – all brands. I used to run mine at night but I don’t anymore. I’m okay with running the washer except I don’t have a timer – but never the dishwasher.

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  20. Kelly

    04/27/2011

    Sorry, I commented in the wrong place before! I have a question about your supplies pictured — what do you use the cornstarch and the alcohol for? Never seen those items in cleaning supplies, so I’m wondering what I’m missing! 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    Hey Kelly, I use the cornstartch and rubbing alcohol for my homemade window cleaner — you can find the recipe here. Also, rubbing alcohol can work good as a disinfectant.

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    Kelly Reply:

    Thanks, Andrea! I will give that a try. I have used rubbing alcohol for getting sticker residue off of mirrors (I have three girls that love putting stickers on their mirrors). So I’ll add these to my cleaning supplies. Thanks again!

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  21. Heather

    04/27/2011

    Great ideas! I love streamlining my cleaning routine. I have 4 bathrooms, when I clean them, I clean all the toilets, then all the sinks, counters, etcs. I have found that it is much quicker than cleaning one bathroom top to bottom and then the next. I agree with the idea of only cleaning it if it is dirty. It seems that the toilets ALWAYS need to be cleaned, but the shower in the seldom used basement bathroom can be neglected for months at a time and still looks great!

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    Kelly Reply:

    I have to admit I’ve never tried this approach. I always do each room and move on. I’ll have to give it a shot!

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