Sunday, March 13, 2011

Zone Cleaning: Daily Tasks for Health and Safety

     The beauty of zone cleaning, or at least as I see it, is that we don't have to constantly deep clean every surface in our home on a daily basis.  Instead, I suggest you focus on one room each day for deep cleaning.  The rest of your home, however, shouldn't be entirely ignored.  Instead, perform what I call a daily Health and Safety Sweep.
These cleaning tasks keep you from being overwhelmed or put into danger by an unsafe or unsanitary situation.

Here are the tasks I complete each day on a Health and Safety Sweep of the house.

  • Empty the sink.  Generally, this is accomplished by loading the dishwasher or running a quick tub of soapy water.  If you must do multiple loads of dishes, at least stack them neatly. (5-15 minutes)
  • Wipe down the stove and countertops.  Those little splatters and spills tend to just get crustier the longer they sit, so make it easy on yourself and wipe them up.  Even if you only do this once each day, it'll make things go smoother on your zone day. (1-4 minutes)
  • Wipe up major spills on the floor.  These, along with stray paper, tend to be big safety hazards in my house.  (1 minute)
  • Refill paper towels or hang clean dish towels.  Nothing worse than wiping down the counter with yesterday's icky towel from a spectacular ground beef clean-up. (30 seconds)
  • Zap your sponges.  I either toss them in the dishwasher as I'm leaving the room or I zap them in the microwave for 30 seconds to kill any lingering ick on the sponges. (30 seconds)
  • Check your child safety.  Are there any loose plugs or cords hanging over the edge of the counter? Cold medication left out? A child-lock missing from when a sibling used a cabinet?  A knife laying loose? (30 seconds-5 minutes)
  • Tidy the sink.  Pick up toothbrushes, check for hair in the trap, and just give the sink and faucet a good wipe down.  Don't forget the faucet handles and the pump section of the soap dispenser- where do your think your kids dirty hands go to get clean? (1 minute)
  • Wipe up any water in the floor.  This is an excellent use for that already dirty and damp towel that you're probably going to toss in the basket for washing. (30 seconds)
  • Wipe the toilet down.  Grab a small bit of toilet paper, and wipe off any dust, dirt, or lingering reminders that this is a place for tushies.  Toss the TP in the potty and flush.  If needed, do a quick scrub of the inside with a toilet brush. (1 minute)
  • Check your papers.  There's nothing quite as embarrassing as sitting down to business and realizing that you're out of TP.  Try explaining to your two year old where to find the spare rolls and then actually try to talk them into bringing it to you.  Enough said. (1 minute)
  • Prevent mold in the shower.  This can be as simple as closing your shower curtain to complex like running a squeegee over the tiles and glass door of the shower.  The shower seems to hold on to moisture in your bathroom like a sponge and keep the whole room humid.  Just by allowing the water to run off a closed curtain can make the difference between musty and clean smelling.  Take a moment to spray the shower with a daily shower spray before you move on. (30 seconds-5 minutes)
  • Get the laundry in the laundry room.  Dirty clothes accumulate quickly on a bathroom floor and it's rather embarrassing to me for a guest to see my kiddo's Spiderman underoos kicked into a corner. (1 minute)
  • Shut it.  I've gotten any number of bruises over the years from bumping into a half-open drawer or the knob on my closet door.  Shutting things properly seems to prevent a giant number of things. (30 seconds)
  • Make your bed...later.  Studies have shown that making your bed immediately after waking up may not be such a good thing after all.  Exposing your sheets to air seem to lessen the amount of dust mites and other allergens.  So, yes, make your bed.  But wait a few minutes before you do it. (2 minutes)
  • Pick it up.  While this is more important on the bedroom's zone day, if there's a garment on the floor in a walking path, consider it a safety hazard and pick it up.  Same thing with small jewelry if you have kids running around.  Picking an earring out of a foot or a pendant from the mouth of a child is no fun task. (1-5 minutes)
Living Room/Dining Room
  • Tidy the wasteland.  I'm not saying you have to break out a broom, a vacuum, a carpet cleaner, and a trash can.  However, you do need to do a general sweep of the area.  Dirty dishes, empty pop cans, and other food-bearing items need to be relocated to the kitchen.  Fold up any throw blankets and prop the pillows back on the couch.  Stack up the books and corral the toys. (5 minutes)
  • Water the plants.  Take a moment to spritz the leaves.  Plants make the air feel naturally cleaner, so take the time to take care of them. (1 minute)
  • Clear the road.  Remove anything blocking entrances, exits, and stairways.  On any given day in my house I start the day with a pile of coats, sports equipment, or a laptop case propped against the door.  It takes just a few moments to put things up. (1 minute)
  • Be kind to your hands.  Take a moment to run an antibacterial wipe across commonly touched surfaces- door knobs, light switches, stair rails, and controllers. (1 minute)

      While this list seems long, it can be done with just a few moments spent in each room.  You don't have to go into a room deliberately to tidy it up.  But, if you're going in there anyway, why not check to see if there's anything that needs to be done?  If you'd prefer to schedule it in, feel free- blast some music and get your cleaning groove on.   It's your time. 

     Coming soon: Making a Cleaning Kit: The Tools You'll Use for Zone Cleaning.

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