Most of us put a good deal of time into running our households. There are always floors to vacuum, bathrooms to clean, and garbage to take out. Other than hiring a maid, there is no way to do away with all these activities. However, a little planning ahead can drastically reduce how much time you spend on some of these activities. This is a list of simple time- and work-saving ideas for your home.
Minimize soap scum
It seems that soap gets everything clean except shower walls. In your bathroom, soap becomes the dirt you are trying to remove. However, some soaps stick more than others. I recently tried an experiment with different types of soap and noticed a very big difference in the amount of soap scum left by various brands of soap. Dove soap seems to be about the best brand for keeping your shower clean. Also, if your bars of soap seem to disappear from having water run over them, move them somewhere else in the shower or switch to a liquid soap in a bottle.
Welcome mats that work
Years ago I worked as a waiter. I noticed that thick industrial mats in the entry seemed to get dirt off shoes much better than anything we used at the farm where I grew up. So, I bought my mom several of these thick rubber mats. The difference was very noticeable. A lot less dirt and mud made it past the entryway and into the house. While the mats were very expensive, they are still in nearly new condition 15 years later, whereas the previous mats needed to be replaced every few years or so.
Take your shoes off
Michigan has a very high concentration of people from Dutch descent. One of their customs is not to wear shoes in the house. I’m not sure how that started. Maybe it’s because wooden shoes are so uncomfortable. However, it has a marked effect on the life of carpet. Given the snow and mud that accumulates during the winter, the “no shoes” custom means a lot less time spent cleaning the floors.
Get off mailing lists
Every piece of mail you have to handle costs you time. If you can stop mail at its source, it saves you time and reduces the amount of waste you produce. If you have no intention of ever buying from a catalog, do yourself and the business a favor and ask them to take you off their list.
Throw stuff out (or give it away or recycle it)
Less stuff means less clutter and less clutter means less to pick up. Reducing the amount of stuff you have can make a big difference in how long it takes you to clean up. When you have less stuff and better storage for the stuff you still have, your house won’t get as disorganized because it is easier to keep everything put up and away.
I’m not suggesting that you throw out all of your furniture and sit on the floor, but do you really need 5 balls for your cat or dog? How many ink pens do you need to keep in your house? How much time would you need to spend ironing if your closet wasn’t stuffed full of clothes that you never wear?
I expected more from this article…….
Mark Shead says
Mike – What were you expecting?
These are good tips. Having three kids make these tips and others like it that much harder though. Thank you for giving me something to work with Mark.
Mark Shead says
Well hopefully they will make it easier–not harder.
Dominic Brown says
Taking your shoes off is standard in most of the industrialized world—in fact, I think it’s only in the US that people wear shoes indoors. Certainly the average Canadian would be aghast if someone traipsed into their living room wearing outdoor shoes. Perhaps that’s a result of our snowy winters? Hmm…no, the same is true in the British Isles, which are merely rainy. I doubt weather in Europe is any more inclement than in North America—so it’s just a cultural matter.
For myself, I find the combination of wearing-shoes-indoors and wall-to-wall carpet altogether disgusting—can you imagine the crud collecting just beneath the surface, where the vacuum cleaner can’t get it? Yeech.
Mark Shead says
Hm. I hadn’t really thought about the carpet thing. You are right. That is pretty disgusting!
Ms T says
The whole taking shoes off is particularly true in Asia as well (think Japan).
I think this article is great b/c most of my “agonizing” work IS the floors. Thanks for the “dutch” hint, which by the way IS true, my sister in law married into a Dutch family and they always take their shoes off when they get into a house. It has to do with cleanliness and “godliness” I think. : )
Also, clutter is a huge problem for myself and my family. I can see, in areas where there is none, it looks “clean” even when it isn’t.
Richard | RichardShelmerdine.com says
Nice article. I can see you coming really far and going leaps and bounds with the service you deliver in the next few months. You can see it from the way you write.
My family is from West Michigan and we’re purebred Dutchmen (though my parents moved to da UP after marriage and I was raised in the EUP)….but I had no idea until reading this post that taking your shoes off was considered a “Dutch” thing! It seems like pure common sense to me!
Yuck. Just think about all the chemicals, residue, pesticides that you’d be traipsing through the house if you left your shoes on.
I’ve lived all over the Great Lakes region and am now in Colorado….and I am trying to think of anyone I’ve ever known who actually wears their shoes around inside and finds it okay if their friends do too…..
As far as soap scum goes….soap is in general so bad for your skin. Cut down on soap scum by just scrubbing yourself down in the shower without using soap. Unless you work a very dirty or labor intensive job, you do not need to be lathering up every single time you shower. Scrubbing with a pouf, a washcloth, or a loofah is more than enough to wash away the dead skin, dirt, and sweat from an average day.