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Get a "Clean" Head Start

Your house is a disaster area: Laundry's piled on the floor, toys are clogging the stairwell, and the handwritten game of tic-tac-toe on the window is anything but washable. Your options: a) run away, b) protest, c) invite someone over. Correct answer? C. For our clean-sweep moms, it's the unconventional methods that work best.

Do it now
Pitch junk mail into the recycling bin as soon as it arrives. Fold clean laundry right when it's done. Put everything in its place the minute you're done with it to avoid a big cleanup job later on.
 -- Jana Bell, London, OH

Peer pressure
Invite a friend over every two weeks or so. The prospect of other people seeing your messy house will encourage you to tidy up.
 -- Diane Sadak

You go, grill
Use the grill year-round to make dinner if you can. The best part? No stove, pots, or pans to clean up afterward.
 -- Sylvia Wood, Saratoga Springs, NY

Pocket it
While doing housework, wear an apron with large pockets. Put it on over your clothes to guard against stains. Stuff the pockets with those wayward items that need to be put away.
 -- Jennifer Anderson

A little at a time
Rather than clean the house in one giant sweep, try doing it in 10- to 15-minute spurts. Next time you catch your baby quietly playing on her own, sneak away to clean the bathroom.
 -- Jessica Mandell

One day, one room
Dedicate half an hour to cleaning one room every day instead of cleaning the whole house on the weekend.
 --Erin Doland, Washington, DC

Upward mobility
Put everything that needs to go upstairs in a pile and haul it up in one trip. You'll save yourself some time and energy.
 -- Wade Costello

Fresh-start Fridays
If you work during the week, devote Friday nights to cleaning the house. It will clear your weekend for more fun things.
 -- Karen Freid, Rahway, NJ

Hands off
Invest in a cordless headset telephone so you can tackle chores while you talk.
 --Shannon Harris

White noise
Vacuum when your baby is sleeping. The noise may soothe a cranky baby while sucking up those dust bunnies.
 -- Jennifer Anderson

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