Holiday Cleaning: Tips for a Guest-Ready Home

holiday cleaning If you think wiping down countertops and fluffing a few pillows in advance of the guest onslaught will land you on Santa’s “nice” list this holiday season, check that list twice. The extreme cleaners (telephone buttons! vacuum brushes! remote controls!) may make you feel like a slacker.

But you can bring your home to sparkling guest-readiness without going overboard. A few tips from the “Times” will keep your home merry, bright, and clean:

  • Scrub your entryway. Wipe down your front door, give the doormat a good shake, and make sure dust and dirt haven’t collected on floors and furniture legs. These are the first things guests will see when they arrive, so keeping them clean will guarantee a good first impression.


How to Clean Your Keurig Coffee Maker the Right Way

cleaning spongeIf you can't remember the last time you wiped it down, read this now.

Keurigs mean you no longer have to think about wrangling filters, water and ground coffee beans every morning. But many of us are probably guilty of not thinking about cleaning it either — and that thing can get dirty. KDKA-TV of Pittsburgh swabbed 28 machines and found more than half contained harmful bacteria. Grossed out? Us too.

We asked Carolyn Forte, director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab, for advice on how to maintain your go-to morning machine. Start by buying the following cleaning essentials, then follow this timeline for how often you should clean every part of your brewer.


It's Official: Microwaving Your Sponge Isn't the Best Way to Clean It

cleaning spongeThere's really only one way to ensure it's good to go.

Many people think microwaving kitchen sponges or throwing them in the dishwasher are the best ways to kill bacteria, make 'em smell better and help them last just a bit longer, but it turns out, not so much.

Sponges that were "sanitized" in the microwave or dishwasher were just as bacteria-loaded as sponges that were never cleaned at all, according to a new study conducted by German researchers from the Faculty of Medical and Life Sciences and Furtwangen University. And if that doesn't make you cringe, this will: The sponges they examined were dirtier than a toilet.


6 quick cleaning tips to get your home spotless, fast

clean kitchenGet household cleaning done in record time with these great tricks of the trade.

Cleanliness may be a virtue but it doesn’t have to involve intensive labour. These quick shortcuts should help get the job done in no time:

1. Halt dirt at the source
Rule number one: don’t wear shoes in the house and you’ll exponentially reduce the filth. Set up an area near the front door and line up your kicks with plenty of room for guests’ shoes so they get the idea.

2. Mix your own cleaner
Use an all-purpose cleaner — you can whip up an all-natural version yourself — and assemble a “cleaning kit” for fast fixes. Include lots of spare rags and a toothbrush for tight spots. Tackle shiny surfaces with your cleaner to make them sparkle (scummy faucets are a turnoff) then wipe down mirrors with wet newspaper for streak-free gleam.

The Fastest Way to Clean Your Bathroom

fall cleaningFollow this routine to make your fixtures sparkle in minutes.

One of the busiest spots in your house, the bathroom is also the place almost every guest visits. So if you start sweating whenever someone asks, "Do you mind if I freshen up/use the toilet/secretly judge your cleaning skills?" just relax. These tricks will get the room looking freshly scrubbed in 15 minutes or less.

1. Grab a bag.

To start, hang a plastic grocery bag on the doorknob as a quick way to gather trash — the easiest way to instantly tidy any room.

2. First, flush.

Next, grab some bleach. Pour a cup into the bowl, and brush around the sides and under the rim. Let sit for five minutes, as you move on to the next task.

5 Things to Add to Your Fall To-Do List

fall cleaningMake sure to prep your home before the weather changes. You probably give your home a deep clean in the spring, but you should also show it some love at the beginning of fall. Here's where to start:

1. Perform a pantry audit.

First, remove all the cans and boxes from the shelves, and vacuum away any lingering dust or crumbs (a lot can build up in just a few months!). Then, inspect each item before putting it back in its place, tossing anything that is expired or past its prime. Consult our shelf-life chart as a helpful guide.

2. Test and clean your smoke detectors.

You already know to put fresh batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors (doing it on the days you change the clocks for Daylight Saving Time is an easy way to remember). But you also need to clean your units, since dust that accumulates can cause them to underperform. Using your vacuum cleaner's soft brush attachment, clean in and around the dectectors' openings. If any are more than 10 years old, replace them.

Housekeeping Secrets to Steal from Grandma

Your grandma had more chores and fewer modern cleaning tools than you do, yet she kept a sparkling house with just a few products, elbow grease, and a hefty dose of common sense. Get your household cleaning tasks done like grandma did with these time-tested ways to keep your home clean and tidy:

Keep up, don't catch up.

Grandma kept after messes every day, and you should, too. "It's easier than saving all your chores for one big cleaning session," says Donna Smallin Kuper, certified housecleaning technician and author of Clear the Clutter, Find Happiness. Get into a daily routine and your house will always look neat as a pin: Make the bed, do the dishes after every meal, and sweep the kitchen floor daily.

Stockpile tea towels.

Instead of using paper towels, invest in flour-sack tea towels. "They're 100 percent cotton so you can dry glasses lint-free, wipe down the stove, or let dishes drip-dry on them," says Becky Rapinchuk, blogger at and author of The Organically Clean Home. "They launder well and dry fast." Grandma-approved bonus: They come in pretty patterns, colors, and embroidered motifs to add vintage charm to your kitchen.

5 Summer House Cleaning Tips

Use these 5 tips to keep your house clean this summer.

Although the weather’s nice and the sun is shining, summer often presents some unique messes. From grass stains to dollops of melted ice cream, summer can be challenging – unless you know the tricks of the trade.

1. Bathroom

Remind everyone to keep a window open or the fan on during every shower to prevent humidity (which is the perfect environment for mold)

Go through what’s in the shower rack and under the sink. Toss out any empty bottles and take inventory of things you need (sunscreen for instance)

Wipe down any surfaces that accumulate moisture right after you use them in order to prevent hard-water stains and mildew

4 Eco Friendly Tips for Fall Cleaning

Fall cleaning is just as vital for a clean home as the more renowned spring cleaning. During the winter, you’ll likely be spending more time at home.

Fall clean-up readies your living space for holiday parties as well as quiet evenings on the couch with your favorite novel. Some tasks, like furnace regulation, need to be handled by a professional. Several other tasks are solely up to you. Here are 4 eco friendly tips to keep your fall cleaning project green!

Green Clean Stovetop and Oven: You’ve Already Got What It Takes

All it takes is a few family meals to turn your once-sparkling stovetop and oven into a frightful mess. The easy solution—reaching for a commercial cleaner—is hardly the green solution, as those products often contain nasty chemicals. If you want to be both clean and green, reach for gentler solutions. Better yet, fashion your own homemade cleaner using items already on hand.

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