House Cleaning Tips: The 13 Rules of Speed Cleaning

excerpt from Speed Cleaning
by Jeff Campbell and The Clean Team

Don't spend more time cleaning your house than you have to. Here are 13 indispensible tips from the authors of Speed Cleaning

Rule #1: Make every move count. Work around the room once, working from left to right, from top to bottom, from the back of the object to the front -- all with no backtracking. To accomplish this you must carry your supplies with you. We've designed a unique Cleaning Apron for this task that will spare you all those aggravating, time-wasting trips searching and retrieving your supplies.

Rule #2: Use the right tools. Give away those cleaning gadgets and TV wonder gizmos to your enemies. To clean quickly and efficiently you need real, professional-style, proven-in-the-field tools.

Rule #3: Work from top to bottom. Dirt follows the laws of gravity just like anything else. When you start at the top and work to the bottom, you won't be constantly re-cleaning surfaces with dirt from above.

Rule #4: If it isn't dirty, don't clean it. Think about it. How often do you spray and wipe an entire cabinet front or refrigerator when all that's really dirty are the fingerprints and smudges around the handles? Remember too that vertical surfaces get less dirty than horizontal ones. You'll want to clean entire surfaces periodically of course, but you really don't need to during your weekly routine cleaning.

Rule #5: Don't rinse or wipe a surface before it's clean. That means don't stop and wipe off the surface you are cleaning just to see if it's clean. You'll only have to start over again if you're wrong. Learn to check as you're cleaning by "seeing through" the gunk to the surface below. Likewise, once you've reached ground zero, stop and move on.

Rule #6: Don't keep working after it's clean. Once you've reached ground zero, stop! You're cutting into VLT - Valuable Leisure Time. Rinse or wipe and move on.
Rule #7: If what you're doing isn't going to work, then shift to a heavier-duty cleaner or tool. You'll get very good at knowing which products will tackle which trouble spots. The point is, don't keep scrubbing and scrubbing when the dirt won't budge. Move up to a stronger cleaning agent or tool.

Rule #8: Keep your tools in impeccable shape. Worn out tools just slow you down and make you repeat steps. And they can also scratch surfaces.

Rule #9: Repetition makes for smoother moves. Always put your tools back in the same spot in your Cleaning Apron. You don't want to have to go looking for them or fumble around in your Apron trying to find something.

Rule #10: Pay attention. You can move better when you're focused on the task at hand. Don't think about vacation plans or fume at your spouse. Do what you're doing. Concentrate on cleaning.

Rule #11: Keep track of your time. Try and get a little faster every time. Create a chart for yourself and plot your progress.

Rule #12: Use both hands. Finish one step with one hand then begin the next with the other hand. Or wipe an object with one hand while the other one steadies it. Half your work force is idle if you only use one hand.

Rule #13: If there are more than one of you, work as a team. It goes without saying that cleaning will get done faster if there are more of you cleaning. Learn how to "Team Clean." Divide up the jobs systematically and stay vigilant about things that can speed up or slow down your partners' progress.

About the Author:
Jeff Campbell founded The Clean Team cleaning service in San Francisco in the late 1970s and wrote five books on the subject of housecleaning, the most famous of which is Speed Cleaning. The Clean Team web site details the rules of controlling clutter, the rules of Speed Cleaning, and offers a cleaning FAQ database and Speed Cleaning products.