On Simplicity

May 14, 2008

Quick and Dirty Guest Cleanup

Filed under: House & Home,Quick & Dirty — Serendipity @ 5:00 am
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You just found out that company is coming tonight. The house is less than perfect and you’ve got limited time. How should you clean to get the most bang for your limited cleaning minutes? Check out the following Quick & Dirty guide:

1. Hit the toilets. Sure they’re gross, but that’s kind of the point. Even if your house is immaculate, if a guest has to use a dirty toilet, they’re going to remember your house as filthy. It may be unfair, but it’s accurate. So scrub the interior and wipe down all exterior surfaces, especially the underside of the lid. The good part about cleaning the toilet(s)? It’s pretty fast.

2. Light a scented candle in the rooms you’ll be using. By the time you’re done, the fragrance should have time to permeate the room and welcome guests. Easy alternative: open the windows to air things out.

3. Pick up out-of-place clutter. Grab a laundry basket and throw in anything that’s in the wrong place, like toys, shoes, projects, blankets, dog bones, laundry, books, etc. If you’ve got time, return the items to the right place. If not, just hide the basket and put it all back at a later time. Just getting “stuff” off the floor and surfaces can make a huge difference in how clean your house feels.

4. Clear kitchen surfaces. Put the dishes in the dishwasher (or sink), wipe down the surfaces, and get any stray items off counter surfaces. If you’d like it to look great, put away the things that belong on the counter as well, like the toaster, cannisters, or coffee maker. It may be cheating, since those items are going right back on the counter as soon the guests are gone, but it sure makes room look clean without deep cleaning.

5. Dust obvious surfaces with a feather duster. This is not about nooks and crannies. This about major surfaces that guests might touch, like dining room tables, end tables, and shelves at hand and eye level. Feather dusters won’t get rid of the dust, but they’ll get it off the surface quickly.

6. Fluff and arrange sofa pillows.

7. Make the bed, if this is an area guests will see. If not, close your bedroom door and call it even.

8. Clean any urgent floor surfaces, if necessary. If the floor looks “clean enough,” don’t give it a second thought.

You’re done! Relax, pour yourself a glass of wine or tea and kick your feet up. The bottom line: Cleaning for guests is common courtesy that shows respect, but trying to make them think you live in a magazine ad is a disservice to everyone. Now is not the time for perfection; your guests will have more fun if you’re relaxed, so give yourself a break. Also, remember that friends and family don’t expect perfection, and may even get a kick out of seeing how you really live.

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April 17, 2008

Quick & Dirty Closet Raid

Filed under: House & Home,Organization,Quick & Dirty — Serendipity @ 3:28 am

Embarrassing confession #1 (of many to come, I’m sure): I adore cleaning the closet. An orderly closet gives me an incredible feeling of peace and satisfaction. Others, not so much. So, for you “others” who would rather not rhapsodize about your color-coordinated capri pants, here are some short cuts to making your closet more appealing.

Only have as many items on hangers as will fit without being squished. Until you can do this, it’s always going to seem cramped, cluttered, and overstuffed, regardless of how well organized it is. In personal finance, there are two options to building wealth: earn more or spend less. It’s the same basic philosophy here regarding available space: install more or own less. This leaves three basic options: get rid of enough items so that what’s left fits nicely, remove some items from hangers to folded shelves, or install more hanger area. If you’ve got room to install an extra rod, it can be a beautiful thing. If you know that you’ll just find new and interesting things to pack this space, then it may not be a good long-term solution.

Group by clothing item. I have all tops on one side. The other side goes from dresses to skirts to pants to capris. When you need pants, you should only have to look in one place. When you want a top, you don’t need to comb through dresses and nightgowns. Plus, it also cuts down on visual clutter by keeping items of similar lengths together so that long pants or dresses don’t break up the clean line of a row of tops. (Sound crazy? Too bad–it works…) Organizing your closet by item should take less than 20 minutes, so it’s not too much of a commitment, and it’s easy to keep as you unload laundry–just take about two extra minutes to hang things in the right section.

Get stuff off the floor. This is one of those stupid tricks that really works. There’s no real reason why shoeboxes and things can’t just go on the floor–except that it totally ruins the illusion of organization. In my own closet, I’ve used those wire crates that can be put together in different formations (and that seem hell-bent on simultaneously breaking my nails and my will to live whenever I try to take apart and reassemble them…) and put everything from shoeboxes to pants to sweaters in them. I’ve also used cheap metal racking to store shoes bookcase style–that one actually wasn’t my favorite, but it was a decent solution. Also, be sure to take advantage of any space over the hanger rod–if you don’t have a shelf there, install one.

Use hangers of all one color. Again, nothing more than illusion, but it works. As soon as I realized there were 20 different colored hangers in my closet, I really noticed how much visual clutter it added to the closet. Now, I’m winnowing things down to only black and white, though if I could start over without feeling guilty over the waste, I’d go with just white. After all, the color of the clothes should be enough to keep a closet from seeming drab; hot pink and peacock blue hangers are just not necessary.

Keep stacks short and sweet. Even though you may have two or three feet from the top shelf to the ceiling, that’s no reason to stack to the rafters. About four to six items per stack is the sweet spot for me. Even though it may be “wasted” space, if your closet is big enough to accommodate some negative space, then by all means, waste away. If you need every square inch of space in your closet (times three!), then this tip is a good one to ignore for now.

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