With all kinds of things going on in the summer months — kids in and out of the house, swim and slumber parties back to back, out-of-town guests bringing in their baggage — summer can be chaotic. But it can also be fun at the same time, as long as you have a plan to tackle the mess that friends and family can bring. As an interior designer who loves to entertain, I have devised some cleaning strategies to maintain a clean home over the summer break — morning and night.
SET UP A ROUTINE
By chipping away at mini-cleaning tasks during your summer morning and evening routines, you should be able stay on top of basic housekeeping in minutes a day. You’ll find that keeping your home feeling really fresh and guest-ready doesn’t take much effort. Depending on the week, you might want to do them all on a weekend morning — with a great playlist and plenty of coffee, of course — or fit in an extra chore each weekday. Perhaps most importantly, keep important cleaning tools like your vacuum within easy reach. If cleaning your floors or removing dust from a fan requires digging the vacuum out of a cluttered closet and assembling it, you’re far less likely to grab it for a quick clean up.
Make the bed while you are in it. This sounds silly, but it works for all members of the family. Before you get up, stretch out in bed as if you are making snow angels, straightening out the sheets and blankets as you go. You’ve done most of the work of creating a smooth bed with almost no effort. If you are thoughtful about how many pillows you use, you may just be able to throw those toward the head board and voila, the bed is made!
Empty the dishwasher while waiting for your first cup of coffee. Staring at the coffee maker, willing it to work faster? Leverage the lull to clear out the clean dishes from the dishwasher, so it will be ready to go for the next batch of breakfast or lunch dishes.
Do all of your dishes after breakfast. It’s so much easier to quickly rinse off a few plates and cups than to deal with a dirty sink full of dishes at the end of the day. This is a habit that may feel challenging at first but quickly becomes second nature after the first couple rounds.
Start a load of laundry. If you throw in a load of wash right when you wake up, you should be able to toss it in the dryer before leaving for the day. Will dress shirts wrinkle if you don’t fold them promptly? Yes. If you know you can’t stick around to fold and put away clothes, just choose hardy items such as those beach or pool towels and T-shirts — you’ll still have less to do later.
Tidy your entry. Instead of flinging your things down anywhere, take a moment to put everything in its proper place when you come into the house — and encourage the kids to do so, too. Line up your shoes, hang up the towels and wet swim suits, stuff all the balls and trinkets into a basket or tote, and sort the mail. Slowing down as you cross the threshold into your home is also a great way to shed the stress of the day.
Do a quick dinner clean-up. Even if you are exhausted, be sure to run the dishwasher, wipe the counters and stove top, and give the kitchen floor a quick sweep. Take out the trash and recycling, or at least stage it by the door, where you will remember to take it out in the morning.
Clear clutter zones. You know the spots I’m talking about: the places clutter just seems to appear through no fault of your own. Before heading off to bed, encourage family members to take a few minutes to walk through the house, putting things back in their places, paying special attention to those clutter hot spots. Tidy the living room, clear the dining room table and hang up the clothes piled on the chair in bedrooms.
Clean up underfoot. Once toys and shoes from common areas are tucked away in their place, swing the vacuum over hard surfaces, soft carpets and area rugs in the living and family rooms. Waking up to a fresh floor surface is so rewarding.
When making your list of extra chores, make sure you delegate to the entire family–yes, even those kiddos that are on summer break! Choose what makes sense for your lifestyle, home and available time. My list of extras looks like this:
- Clean dusty surfaces: Use the vacuum dust-brush tool or the crevice tool to reach into a tight spot such as window coverings or bookcase areas.
- Degrease small appliances: Wipe down surfaces whenever you get a chance and degrease the rest with a big mug of coffee on the weekend.
- Clean fridge: I tend to clean the fridge before heading to the market.
- Address furniture and bed mattresses: Use the vacuum upholstery tool on fabric furniture and mattresses to tackle both dirt and sand — oh, and cereal too! Use the dust-brush tool on leather furniture.
Now look at your week and decide where it makes sense to tuck these extra tasks in. Otherwise, join in the summer fun — by now, your home should be ready for anything!
Interior designer Kerrie Kelly has won numerous awards for her home design work, and writes about home décor for Home Depot. Kelly is the author of Home Decor: A Sunset Design Guide, a guide to creating and caring for a beautiful home. Home Depot’s selection of floorcare appliances for the home can be found on the company’s website.