Speed Clean: Cut Your Cleaning Time in Half!

A single girl's cheat sheet to a spotless apartment in 15 minutes.

putting dishes into the dishwasher
(Image credit: Lise Gagne)

1. Clean often. The tidier everything is, the less time you have to spend on it. Clean up after yourself: do dishes, wipe up sinks and sweep up messes as you go.

2. Dusting takes only a few minutes, but makes a world of difference. "Put old socks on your hands and dust away," suggests Jamie Novak, professional organizer and author of 1,000 Best Quick and Easy Organizing Secrets. "Then rinse them and use dampened socks to clean areas like the blades of a ceiling fan."

3. "Preparing is half the job," Novak says. She recommends keeping all your cleaning supplies—paper towels, sprays, scrubbers—in one bucket to carry with you throughout your apartment. You will save precious minutes by not having to backtrack to find the Windex.

4. Spot clean. If your entire floor isn't dirty, don't mop the entire thing. Mop footprints and other dirt. Novak recommends cleaning things before they dry—it will make the job much easier.

5. Purge, purge, purge. The less stuff you actually have to clean round, Novak says, the less time it will take.

6. Straighten rather than clean. For example: An entire room will look like it got a facelift when you straighten magazines on the coffee table, pillows on the couch, and line up books on shelves.

7. Do chores on alternating days. Vacuum one day; dust the next. If you spread out tasks, it will go a lot faster in the end.

8. One extension cord goes a long way, literally. Novak says, "Place an extension cord on the electric broom and you can go through the whole apartment without unplugging."

9. Hire a housekeeper once every other week to come and clean floors, windows, walls, etc. It will save you a lot of grief, and all of your cleaning will just be tidying up.