When it comes to cleaning, the little things really make a difference. If you only have 10 minutes to spare, whip through one of these six extreme-cleaning tasks to purge your home -- or, at least, one part of it at a time -- of dust, dirt and grime. They’re guaranteed to leave you feeling lighter, healthier and a whole lot cleaner.
Shower fixtures and knobs build up mineral deposits and mildew without your even realizing it. When you have just a few minutes, try a trick from Michele Samuels, a Mill Valley, California, resident: "First, make sure white vinegar won't damage the finish of your shower head and knobs. Then, unscrew the fixtures and soak them in vinegar. I use full strength and put the showerhead in a container filled with white vinegar, but you can use one part vinegar to three parts water if you're worried about the vinegar on the finish." After soaking the fixtures, use a toothbrush to scrub the dirt and grime away. The whole process only takes a few minutes, and you'll love how clean your bathroom feels.
If you take a quick walk around your house, you may notice that your light fixtures are dusty and filled with dead bugs. All this extra grime affects the quality of light in your home, so giving them the occasional clean-out can do wonders for ambiance. Simply take the fixture down and rinse it out before replacing it. Michele Samuels notes, "If you still use incandescent bulbs -- which burn hot -- turn off the lights at least 15 minutes before you take the fixtures down so they have time to cool off."
Cleaning the crusted-on microwave food-splatter is one of those tasks most people want to avoid. It's nasty, and the dirt is well hidden, so it's easy to ignore. Rather than trying to scrub the crust off using old-fashioned elbow grease, use a trick from Maureen Smithe, the brains behind HomeMadeMothering.com: "Place a medium-size bowl filled with equal parts water and white vinegar into the microwave and set the microwave for five minutes. When the buzzer goes off, leave the door closed for a minute or two to let the steam penetrate all the icky goop. Open the microwave and carefully remove the bowl, then use a damp sponge to gently and easily remove the gunk." In about eight to 10 minutes, you'll have a sparkling-clean microwave with very little effort.
Woodburning fireplaces build up ash fast, and that ash can contribute allergens and affect the air quality within your home. Grab your broom, dustpan and vacuum to sweep out the ash. A good cleaning should take only about 10 minutes.
Everyone has a few junk drawers (or maybe junk closets) where items without a set destination tend to accumulate. "Pick one drawer a week, take out all the items you never use, and put them in a cardboard box. Whenever you use one of the items, put it back in the drawer," suggests Ginny Snook, chief organization officer of California Closets. If items remain in the box at the end of the month, donate them or throw them away.
If you're not up for a monthlong process, just ask yourself when the last time was that you used any of the items in the box. If you can't answer, or it's been longer than a month, toss it. All in all, each drawer should take you 10 minutes or less to sort, organize and purge.
Pet beds and pillows
If you're tired of all the pet hair that's been building up on your pet beds for months, toss them in the dryer for a 10-minute makeover. The drying process will shake some of that hair loose, depositing it into the lint trap for easy removal.