Save time with these speed-cleaning tips

WASHINGTON — Dinner is almost ready, the wine has been chosen and gifts have been wrapped. Hosting guests for the holidays isn’t easy, but somehow, cleaning house — and keeping it clean — is one of the most difficult parts.

Here are some tips to streamline the house cleaning process.

For more house cleaning tips and advice on specific rooms, check out Good Housekeeping’s speed-cleaning guide.

Clean top to bottom. Start with ceiling fans and high shelves, work your way down and finish with the floor. You don’t want dust and dirt filtering down onto a clean floor.

Use cooking downtime to clean. A watched pot doesn’t boil so you might as well make use of all the time you have. Clean the kitchen while you wait, venture out farther the longer something needs to cook.

Get a clutter basket or box. Don’t have time to sort out which mail is important, fold clean laundry or look for where something belongs? Grab a basket or a box and round up all the clutter to sort out later on. Hollow ottomans and furniture are excellent for this.

If you can’t get clutter out of sight, tidy it up. Straighten magazines, books and throw pillows, fold blankets.

If space is an issue, make use of hooks. Strategically placed where you need them most, hooks become useful homes to winter jackets, keys, bags. Everything that hangs from a hook is one less thing that needs a shelf, drawer or closet space.

Forget the lint roller if Fido leaves his hair all over the furniture. Put on clean rubber gloves and run your hands over the furniture. If the fabric or material is water-safe, wet the gloves first.

Stop pre-washing dishes. Rinsing your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher doesn’t actually get them cleaner, experts at say. Scrape off food scraps, then stick them in the dishwasher.

Forgo the windows on a sunny day. The heat will cause your cleaner to dry before you can wipe it away and could leave streaks — sending you back to square one.

Remove messes that don’t need to be there. If your mudroom or home entrance is cluttered with shoes, summon their owners and send them back to where they belong.

Shake out and fluff up rugs. If you don’t have time to vacuum, just running a clean foot over your carpet, against the grain, will breathe new life into it.

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