Declutter counters, tabletops and floors the day before so you can hit the linoleum running. Forty percent of cleaning time is spent putting away junk.
Sweep entryway lights, tables and lower walls with microfiber cloths or dusters. Use a small spray bottle of diluted cleanser on switch plates, doorknobs and railings. Shake out rugs, then vacuum and mop.
Follow the regimen above, then sanitize germy spots: the faucet, refrigerator-door handle, and salt and pepper shakers. Spray down the microwave and trash can. For grease on top of the fridge and stove, opt for a degreaser, such as Trewax Natural Orange Cleaner.
Get kids involved in a cool drain-clearing experiment: Dump 1/2 cup baking soda, then 1/2 cup white vinegar, down the drain and watch the eruption! Follow with a kettle of hot water.
LIVING AND DINING ROOMS
Disinfect remote controls, dust electronics and blinds and vacuum behind furniture.
Get a little fancy: Louanna Henning, director of housekeeping at luxury hotel Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas, sprinkles bath salts on carpets to lightly scent the room. Let them sit for half an hour, then vacuum.
Strip and wash bed linens, then vacuum dust ruffles; dust and flip mattresses. Combat any lingering scents with an odor neutralizer, says Leigh Gansberg, director of housekeeping at The Carlyle hotel in New York City.
Start with this icky but fun exercise: Screw a black lightbulb into a fixture and behold every speck of dirt, says James Lally, executive housekeeper at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Boston. Toss mats and shower curtains in the wash; launder plastic curtains with a towel to help rub out mildew. Spray the sink, tub and loo with all-purpose or bathroom cleaner. Let sit while you clean the mirror. Use a toothbrush to scour grout, and don't forget to mop.
Work as a pair (one person inside, the other outside) with glass cleaner and microfiber cloths, which don't streak or leave behind lint. By now, the kiddos might be going stir-crazy: Put some cleaner in squirt guns and let them fire away.
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