DST: Cleaning shortcuts that'll help you reclaim that lost hour

Consumer Reports News: March 12, 2011 12:22 AM

Sleep-deprived Americans will not be happy to hear they lose an hour of sleep this weekend when, come early Sunday, most of the U.S. sets clocks forward an hour. Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m. local time on March 13, and if this makes you grumpy, try and find ways to save time.

Housework is a good place to start. It can seem endless, moving from a mud stain to a dirty oven and on to a grimy tub. Doing a chore or two a day is easier than allowing them to add up. Make a task list, note how often each needs to be done, then come up with a schedule that spaces them out over the week and month, and make cleaning a family endeavor.

Keep in mind that less clutter means less dusting and polishing (there's a reason minimalists look so happy). Read "How to get rid of practically anything" for ideas. For surfaces you can't see—like the top of a cabinet—put paper down and when dirty, toss. And consider these tips from "How to clean practically anything."

Stop the dirt. A doormat at each entrance collects dirt that  would otherwise wind up on carpets and floors.

Consider storage. Find ways to restore order, such as an attractive crate for shoes and boots near the door. A bathroom looks messy with bottles on the tub edge and around the sink. Shower caddies and shelves can help.

Keep supplies close at hand. Stock the vanity or  nearby closet with cleaning solutions and put a squeegee  in the shower for daily use. A caddy, kept under the  kitchen sink, is great for carrying an all-purpose cleaner (white vinegar is a fine one), glass and metal  cleaners, cloths, and scrubbers. In a two-level home, a vacuum on each floor eliminates some lugging.

Use shortcuts. Take a tip from Europeans and cover mattresses with fitted bottom sheets and add duvets with washable covers. Make the bed by shaking the duvet and  pulling into place. Outside, simplify cleaning by covering  your grill and outdoor furniture.

Strategize. Put open hampers in the laundry room, one for  lights, one for darks, and have family members place dirty laundry in the appropriate one. Keep an in-basket near your back door for items that need to be returned to rooms and an out-basket for dirty dry cleaning and library books.

--Kimberly Janeway

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