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10 often-overlooked cleaning and organizing jobs that take 10 minutes or less

Sure, it LOOKS neat and clean. But what messes are lurking behind those doors and in the drawers?

If you’re like me, when you clean up you prioritize the parts of your house that can be seen from the front door. But you don’t always get to those hidden-away corners, cubbies, and sometimes entire rooms that outsiders don’t see as much. Problem? You still see them, and it can be downright demoralizing to deal with clutter and mess every time you open a cabinet, door, or drawer.

And if you’re a lot like me,  you’ll also recognize that it’s not really that you don’t have time to deal with these nooks and crannies; it’s more that when 10 minutes of free time land in your lap you aren’t always sure what to do with them, so you wind up spinning your wheels, wasting most of the time you’ve “found” wondering what to do with it.

Lists are our friends! They help give us direction so that when we find ourselves with time on our hands, we don’t fritter it away. I have “lists of 10″ all over my house so that when I find myself with a little extra time, I can just glance at the list, choose a task, and act.

Here’s a list of 10 to get you started.

10 overlooked cleaning and organizing jobs that take 10 minutes or less:

  1. Wash your silverware tray and re-stock it, this time with the forks and spoons separated and the knives pointing in the right direction, unlike the way your kids like to stock it, which tends to look like the morning after a drunken dishwasher party.
  2. Check the cupboard or drawer where you keep reusable plastic containers. Is it a disaster? Take a few minutes to match lids with containers, nesting smaller containers inside larger ones, if possible, to save space. If this area is so out of control that you can’t even tell if you have lids to go with each container, seriously consider scaling back. How many leftovers will you ever have at once?
  3. De-clutter one surface in your home. Bring the recycle bin with you: my guess is 75% or more of the clutter is paper; and probably 90% of it can be tossed immediately.
  4. Take the trash can into the bathroom and scour the medicine chest. Put everything out on the counter and wipe down the shelves (unless you’ve had major spillage, a few squirts of cleaner and a WP wipe-down will probably suffice.) Put loose Band-Aids back in the box, toss expired medication, group things like fingernail clippers and tweezers together.
  5. I’m guessing there’s a place in your home where orphan socks go to die. Some of these socks may have been around for years. Scrutinize each sad, single sock. When was the last time you saw its mate? If it’s been more than a month, chances are good the other is not going to materialize in the wash. Toss the sock.
  6. Grab a microfiber cloth and dust all your electronics: your computer screens, television, cable box, DVD player, stereo, speakers. Hit the backs of monitors and cords, too.
  7. How’s the inside of your freezer looking? Are there mysterious packages of meat covered with two inches of frost, nearly-empty Ben & Jerry’s, or perhaps some frozen breastmilk that’s not gonna get used, considering your kid weaned a year ago? Toss liberally, and if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll uncover some not-too-ancient steaks for tomorrow’s dinner.
  8. When was the last time you paid attention to your windowsills? Grab a bottle of gentle all-purpose cleaner (I use a 50:50 vinegar/water solution) and a washcloth or rag and hit as many sills as you can in ten minutes. This is a dirty job, so take a few extra rags with you.
  9. If you have a high-efficiency washing machine, you’re supposed to be cleaning it every so often – which you probably can never seem to remember until you’re standing in front of it with a load of laundry and no extra time. Now’s your chance. Grab a tablet of Affresh (an HE washing machine cleaner), toss it in the washer and set it to “hot”. While you’re at it, make sure the lint trap is cleaned out on your dryer, empty the trash can in your laundry room, and wipe down those laundry-room surfaces.
  10. Speaking of laundry baskets, are yours scattered about the house – perhaps lost in kids’ bedrooms, still with clean, folded clothes inside? Take a few minutes to go around the house and collect all the baskets. Place the folded clothes on your kids’ beds, and shriek gently remind your young offspring to put the clothes away like you already asked them to do fifteen times. If any of the baskets have broken handles, are collapsing, or have giant holes that allow socks and underwear to escape on the way to the laundry room, take this opportunity to get rid of them – but not before you write “new laundry baskets” on your shopping list.

Just think – if you “find” 10 minutes a day for 10 days, you can make it through this whole list without feeling like you’re spending all your time cleaning. But don’t stop there.What are some other cleaning and/or organizing jobs you can do in 10 minutes or less?

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