Cut a Three-Hour Clean to 30 Minutes

If you had two or three hours to spare, you could easily spend it cleaning your kitchen, bathroom and family room. They are the most heavily used rooms in your home, and they get dirty fast. Or you could spend 10 minutes cleaning each one and use the rest of the time for something a lot more fun.

The trick to speedy cleanups is to reduce the amount of products you use and to clean only what needs to be cleaned. Unless you’re fanatical about removing dust bunnies from under the couch, make that a monthly chore. Mop the kitchen floor twice a month instead of every week, and allot an extra 10 minutes for that task. Meanwhile, you can do a quick and effective cleanup -- either all at once or a little each day -- in no time at all.

Kitchen: Get Gleaming
The secret to a speedy kitchen cleanup is one of the cheapest products around: plain old vinegar. Either white or cider vinegar on a paper towel can clean and shine the sink, counter and appliances -- including stainless steel. (Don’t use on marble, however. It can damage the surface.) Before you start, clear off countertop clutter, and load dirty dishes into the dishwasher.

Dirty floor? You should have time for a quick sweep. But if you want to mop up too, cleaning expert Donna Smallin, author of Cleaning Plain and Simple and the One-Minute Cleaner (Storey Publishing), suggests checking out the new Bissell Steam and Sweep: “It leaves the floor clean and dry in a few minutes.”

Bathroom: Spray, Wipe and Go

Step 1: Pour 1/2 cup of bleach into the toilet, and let it sit.

Step 2: Spray the shower walls and door with daily shower cleaner.

Step 3: In the meantime, focus on the countertop, sink and mirror. You’ll only need one product for all three, according to Smallin: glass cleaner. For the mirror, use a rag, not paper towel, to avoid scratches.

Step 4: Return to the toilet. Scrub the bowl and under the rim with a toilet brush, and flush.

Step 5: Use disinfectant wipes for the outside and the seat.

You’re done!

Family/Living Room: Swipe and Sweep
Quickly vacuum the floor and sofa cushions wherever you see crumbs or pet hair. (If you can’t see it, don’t sweat it. You can do a proper sweep-up later on).

Clear off the coffee table, but don’t bother with furniture polish or oil soap. Just dampen a microfiber cloth with water and swipe it over tables, lamps and any other surfaces.

And for easy clutter reduction, Smallin suggests tossing items that belong elsewhere into a laundry basket -- and taking it somewhere else to put away!