By Carolyn Forte
General clutter, from mail to mismatched mittens; wet jackets, shoes, and boots that need a place to go; and tracked-in mud, leaves, and other debris.
1. Remove the mess. Ultimately you may want to reorganize the room, but for today, start by answering, "Which shoes really need to be in here?" (Hint: only winter boots and pairs of shoes for changing into.) So you can clean, scoop the rest, plus jackets, gloves, hats, and socks, into a bin, and deliver them to their owners' bedrooms — or better yet, ask said owners to collect the items themselves. (Another idea: If any of the outerwear needs a wash, run a load now.) Next, grab a tote bag and fill it with newspapers, magazines, or catalogs you've yet to read; recycle the ones you'll never get to. Save a few papers for step 2.
2. Do some footwork. If shoes or boots are sopping, use those salvaged news sections as mats to soak up puddles and catch dirt. Also, crinkle some extra paper and stuff it inside soaked-through footwear — it will absorb odors and help shoes hold their shape.
3. Finish with the floor. Dry dirt is easier to remove than sticky mud, so don't even bother cleaning until the footprints get crusty; then just open the back door and sweep it all out. Wash the floor the fast, no-bucket-necessary way, with either a water-dampened microfiber mop or an all-in-one mopping system like Swiffer WetJet. Zap any scuff marks as you go with a bit of baking soda on a damp sponge. There, don't you feel better?
Make It Easier Next Time
- Mount hooks on the walls so coats, backpacks, keys, etc., all have an official address. Now when you ask the kids to put stuff where it belongs, they'll know what you mean.
- Set out a couple of baskets, letter trays, or even napkin holders to divvy up incoming and outgoing mail. Put out a brown-paper grocery bag for already-read catalogs and newspapers — that way, the whole sack is recyclable.
- If your inside doormat is skimpy, put down a long carpet runner or a small area rug (preferably machine-washable). A larger landing pad means muddy soles and drippy umbrellas won't muck up a clean floor.