If you've ever thought there must be an easier and faster way to clean the house, you were right.
There is. By adopting the principles of a system called "speed cleaning," you can shave time off your chores and end up with a cleaner house.Speed cleaning is a term coined by Jeff Campbell, owner of a house cleaning service in San Francisco and author of several books and videotapes on the subject.
Cathy Faust, home economist at the Shelby County Cooperative Extension Service, uses Campbell's materials and others to teach classes in the quick cleaning process.
In a nutshell, speed cleaning is a set of techniques for cleaning a house room by room; going from the top to the bottom and from back to front.
Because every move should count, keep all supplies with you, either in a caddy you tote, an apron with lots of pockets or a rolling cart.
"We all clean according to our own habits," said June Marshall, who took the class recently. "What I learned is it's important to be organized."
Several women said staying focused on one room at time helps them save steps and time.
"Doing one room at a time is better than jumping from room to room," said another class participant, Alice Kliewer.
And, yes, it appears that women still do most of the cleaning around the house. According to research at the University of Wisconsin, women did on average 14 more hours of housework each week than their husbands. That's excluding child care.
In the video Faust plays during the class, Campbell demonstrates how to work a room.
Beginning at a logical point, such as the sink in the kitchen and the tub in the bathroom, begin cleaning, moving to the right as you finish one spot and move on to the next. Go around the room once, without backtracking, saving the floor for last.
For dusting, design a path through the house and work right to left in each room.
Campbell favors using a feather duster, which he regularly taps on the side of his leg to dislodge the dust.
When ready to vacuum, follow your dusting path. Invest in a 50-foot heavy-duty extension cord so you plug in the vacuum cleaner only once.
Use the right tools and keep them conveniently placed. Campbell advocates a special apron with pockets for storing scrub pads, sponges, brushes, wiping cloths and single-edged razors, and two hooks on the side to hang spray bottles of liquid household cleaners.
"Some people feel encumbered by the apron," Faust said. "I know I do. That's why I prefer the tea cart."
If a cleaning product or tool isn't working to dislodge the dirt, don't waste too much time scrubbing with it, Campbell says. Move on to a heavier duty item.
Another timesaver: Keep your tools and supplies in impeccable shape.
When you first adopt the speed cleaning process, Faust said, it's fun to keep track of the time you spend in each room. "Then you can set goals to increase your speed."
Faust suggests using a kitchen timer when you start each new room.
Enlist other family members to help. The sooner the cleaning is done, the sooner you can move to "VLT" - valuable leisure time.
Campbell likes to divide cleaning chores into several categories - weekly cleaning tasks or what might be called light cleaning and heavy duty chores, sometimes dubbed spring cleaning.
While doing the weekly cleaning, do not get sidetracked into doing less frequently needed chores such as refrigerator or oven cleaning.
"The No. 1 obstacle to speed cleaning is dealing with clutter," Faust said. "We suggest getting four boxes - one for throwaways, one for items to keep, one for things to give to charity and one for items you seldom use but feel emotionally attached to."
The emotional attachment box should be stored away and considered a year later. At that time, many people will find themselves ready to part with the stuff.
The Internet is filled with help for messies, clutterers, indecisives or the disorganized. You can pick the least offensive name for your affliction.
Members of organizations such as Clutterers Anonymous and Messies Anonymous use a 12-step method to control their problem.
One Web site is maintained by Michele Lambert, author of "Lighten Up! Free Yourself from Clutter." While some clutter experts deal with the psychological factors that lead to messiness, Lambert focuses on behavior.
"I help people get to a place I call `ground zero,' " Lambert said. "It's where everything in your environment is aligned with your needs."