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The Cleaning Ninja: How to Clean Your Home in 8 Minutes Flat and Other Clever Housekeeping Techniques

The Cleaning Ninja: How to Clean Your Home in 8 Minutes Flat and Other Clever Housekeeping Techniques

by Courtenay Hartford
The Cleaning Ninja: How to Clean Your Home in 8 Minutes Flat and Other Clever Housekeeping Techniques

The Cleaning Ninja: How to Clean Your Home in 8 Minutes Flat and Other Clever Housekeeping Techniques

by Courtenay Hartford


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Karate Chop Your Way to a Cleaner Home in No Time At All

Hi-Ya! That’s the sound of you—cleaning your home in eight minutes flat. Yes, it is possible!

The funny and savvy Courtenay Hartford takes readers on a journey to work smarter, not harder, and get back to the real life–living they’d rather be doing. Unlike stuffy cleaning books, Courtenay shows readers how to speed clean their homes with clever shortcuts and innovative cleaning techniques, intertwined with her hilarious, down-to-earth banter.

Get your home the sparkly clean you’ve only dreamed about incredibly fast! Make your life easier with tips and tricks and deep cleaning checklists, as well as learn which steps in your laundry routine you can skip to make tackling Mount Dirtyclothes so much speedier. Tackle your roughest cleaning jobs in the dirtiest of rooms with quick, helpful and realistic tips in this fun and easy-to-read guide.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781624143243
Publisher: Page Street Publishing
Publication date: 01/17/2017
Pages: 160
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Courtenay Hartford is the founder of The Creek Line House blog. As an avid DIYer and homekeeping enthusiast, she enjoys showing her readers clever tips for making life around the house seem easy-peasy, as well as fun renovation and decorating projects. As a busy wife, mom of 2 and pet-parent of 3, Courtenay understands all of the challenges of a hectic family life and is passionate about helping people “work smarter, not harder” in their homes. She lives in Southwestern Ontario, Canada.

Read an Excerpt

The Cleaning Ninja

How to Clean Your Home in 8 Minutes Flat and Other Clever Housekeeping Techniques

By Courtenay Hartford

Page Street Publishing Co.

Copyright © 2017 Courtenay Hartford
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-62414-348-9



We've all been there: it's one of those weeks where everything seems to be blowing up in your face, you're just getting through by the skin of your teeth with all of your household tasks, and suddenly you find out that old friends are going to be in town this afternoon. You can't not invite them over for a little get-together and you don't want to miss out on the chance for some fun times, but your house just isn't presentable. Not the "Oops! Forgot to put away these few toys!" kind of unpresentable, but actually kind of gross. For times like these, you need a plan that works and lets you enjoy your home even amid all of the life-living that's been going on in it. Here it is!


It's all about focusing on things that your guests (or you) will notice most, that will make your guests feel comfortable in your home, and that make your home seem as clean as possible. Let's be realistic here — we're not going to be passing the white-glove test any time soon, but we can definitely create an environment that feels clean and welcoming to all those who come through our doors. And if you're just taking a few minutes out of your day to regain the feeling of calm and control in your home to make it feel clean and welcoming just for yourself and your family, well, then, that's a great reason to get this quick-clean list done, too! When it comes to a house that feels cleaner than it really is, your time is most efficiently spent by putting your energy into three things: addressing how your home smells; creating a few shiny, pretty things that will draw the eye; and, of course, removing as much mess and ickiness as possible to make it (hopefully) unnoticeable to the untrained eye.

Since time is of the essence, we'll be focusing on just your most public rooms and the ones your guests will most likely be spending time in. For our purposes today, we'll say that those rooms will be the living room or family room, the kitchen and one main bathroom. You can adapt the concepts that we're going to discuss in this chapter for your home's layout, though. If you need to venture into other rooms in the house to tour your guests around or show them something, well, then, all bets are off. Most people have a few rooms in their house that get a bit crazy sometimes, so don't sweat it too much.


OK. We have eight minutes. We can do this. You can do this. And you're going to. Right now.

We're going to look at our time as eight separate one-minute sessions. First, I'll give you the quick, to-the-point breakdown of how this is all going to happen, then I'll explain each minute in a little more detail afterward.

MINUTE 1: Make the house smell pretty

MINUTE 2: Clear the kitchen counters

MINUTE 3: Clear the kitchen table

MINUTE 4: Clear the junk from the living room

MINUTE 5: Switch out the bathroom hand towel and use it to do a quick wipe-down

MINUTE 6: Quick-scrub the toilet

MINUTE 7: Dust all surfaces

MINUTE 8: Wipe things down

Here's what you'll do for each of these little mini sessions:


Fact: A house that smells clean feels clean. Pretty home scents have a way of magically transforming your mess in other people's eyes from "Oh, wow. This house is a total disaster. Just. Wow," to "Oh, look at this happy, wonderful, love-filled, lived-in home!" Any untidiness that you have will suddenly seem like it's just surface clutter that can and will be cleared away in a matter of minutes rather than an indication of complete and utter neglect for basic living standards. The way your house smells will definitely make a difference. If you have time for nothing else, take care of this first!

I like to keep some scented wax melts, scented candles or air spray (from a reputable company that I trust and not some cheap junk that scares me a little to inhale) ready to go for quickness and convenience, but there are so, so, so many ways to make your house smell fresh almost instantly. Check out "Home Scents that Make Sense" for lots of other options for next time!


Let's hit the kitchen first, since that's where we almost always seem to end up when guests are over, either to sit around the table, or to grab some refreshments before sitting down. Since your guests may be consuming food or drinks in this area, we definitely want to make this area feel as sparkly clean as possible!

We're going to clear the counters first and get rid of anything that might give the impression that you have anything less than a perfect record when it comes to keeping up with those kitchen messes. Let's look at what you have on your counters. Maybe some dirty dishes, maybe some papers, maybe some trash — it could be anything really! All kinds of interesting things seem to find a home on our kitchen counters throughout the course of the day, don't they? Let's deal with that trash first. Grab it. Throw it out. Ten seconds. Done. If your kitchen trash can is full, grab a new trash bag and hang it from one of your cabinet knobs. Don't even bother wasting this precious counter minute on changing out your kitchen trash. You can hide the extra trash bag later if you have time, but really, an extra trash bag in your kitchen is so much better than trash all over your counters, so don't worry about it too much.

Next, the dishes. If you have a dishwasher and it's not full, put your dishes in there. If you don't have a dishwasher, or it's totally full, toss (not literally) all of your dishes into your sink, plug it and start running some hot water over them. Squeeze out a little dish soap into the water. Guess what you just did? You totally hid your dirty dishes right in plain sight! They don't read as mess anymore; they just look like you're in the middle of doing the dishes, like any conscientious kitchen owner would be! Pretty clever, right? The scent of that dish soap will also add a little bit of freshness to the room.

What else do you have for me here? Papers? Miscellany? There are a few things you can do to deal with things like this in a quick-clean situation. And I use the term "clean" lightly here. If you have a basket or some kind of organizer on your counter just for this purpose like I do, stick everything in it and call it done. I use a two-tier wire cupcake stand–type of thing — it works great and still looks pretty on the corner of my counter when it's piled with junk. You also have the option of grabbing an extra basket or bin if you have one handy or you can just try to pile everything in a corner semi-neatly. Hey, it's better than nothing! If things are really out of control in the miscellaneous-junk department, you can also just grab everything and throw it into a bedroom or a closet or the shower and just shut the door or pull the curtain. It's not ideal, but it definitely works in a pinch!


A clear kitchen table is both a great place to sit down with your guests with a cup of tea and some snacks and something that instantly makes your whole room look cleaner. You've heard how making your bed can suddenly make your bedroom appear 80 percent cleaner, and it's really pretty much the same thing with your kitchen table.

The same concepts that you used with your counters apply here, so get to it! Trash that trash, toss those dishes in the dishwasher or sink, and add to the pile you created when you were clearing your miscellaneous counter junk. Easy. Done.


Living rooms are generally made to be pretty, welcoming spaces, so it doesn't take much to make everything seem right in this room. This is probably my favorite room in the house to transform with the one-minute tidy-up because of what a difference only a few seconds of stuff-clearing can make in here. What kind of junk have you got for me here? Toys, clothing, blankets, dishes? Start with any dirty dishes first, set those together near the doorway that takes you toward your kitchen and then move on to everything else. For all the other objects in the room, start with the largest ones first and put away or hide everything that you can. You'll get better at this the more times you work this quick-clean plan, but for now, every little bit helps! You can always toss a blanket over the back of your couch or straighten a cushion later when you walk into this room with your guests.

Next, we'll be in the bathroom, so if you're headed back in the direction of the kitchen on your way there, bring your dishes with you. If not, leave them and come back for them after you're done everything else. You can just toss them into your sink or dishwasher when you have the chance.



Using a wet hand towel to dry your hands after using the bathroom in someone else's house is probably one of the ickiest things out there, so let's make sure that doesn't happen to your guests today. Grab the old hand towel, wipe out your sink and whatever surrounding areas you can get to quickly and put out a fresh hand towel. If you don't have any clean hand towels ready to go, just take a full-size towel and neatly fold it on the counter or lay it over the edge of the sink.


Yes. Do this. You'll be so glad you did. Any type of soap will do. Just squirt a little in the toilet bowl, swish the brush around to remove any stains and then finish up by wiping the top of the toilet tank, the seat and the rim of the bowl with a bit of toilet paper, working from the cleanest area to the dirtiest. Toss it in the toilet bowl, flush and you're done! Now you have a bathroom that's thoroughly unterrifying for your guests to use! There may still be bath toys all over the room, but at least everything that will be physically touched is clean and safe.


It's amazing how removing a little dust can brighten up a space! Move through your kitchen and living room with a feather duster if you have one (or a soft, dry cloth if you don't). For quick dusting, you want to focus on anything in a dark color first, because those are the places that are most likely to show dust. Look at things like dark wood furniture, blank TVs and any light fixtures with dark metal parts on them. You'll be thrilled with what a difference this minute will make overall!


Grab three or four soft cloths and quickly wet them under the tap, which will be much quicker than trying to spray each individual surface down as you go. Start in the kitchen and work your way into the living room, focusing on wiping any surface that your guests will physically touch, like the kitchen table and chairs or the coffee table, to remove any stickiness. Once everything is good there, move on to your favorite pretty, shiny objects. A few shiny things will draw the eye and really distract from any small bits of untidiness that you have left in these rooms, so wipe down your favorite shiny wood furniture, pretty wall clocks, fancy lamps and other favorite decorative objects. Each time a cloth is used on a particularly sticky surface (or just one that happened to still have quite a bit of dust on it), switch out to a new cloth. This will save you from going over the same surface multiple times.

So that's your eight minutes! If you happened to really only have exactly eight minutes to work with, congratulate yourself on what a huge difference you've made in your home in such a short amount of time and enjoy it! If you still have time to spare, use it! Tidy up a few more things here and there, make yourself look a little more presentable or make yourself a quick snack. You've earned it!



Your cleaning-supply area should be among the most organized areas in your home if you're looking to speed up and improve your cleaning game. This is command central for keeping your home clean and tidy (and doing it as quickly as possible), so being able to find everything and having everything you need right there will go a long way toward making your life easier and, ultimately, saving you tons of time.


You'll want to set up your cleaning pantry in an area that's easily accessible and centrally located in your home. Being able to grab what you need right when you need it is a key to success in keeping your home as sparkly clean as you'd like it to be. Basic cleaners and cloths should be easy to grab, right at eye-level, with brushes and dusters just below or above. You'll need a tall space to keep brooms and mops and potentially a bit of extra space for your vacuum cleaner, depending on the model. If this all sounds like a lot to keep in one closet or cupboard in your home, you can definitely store things in several different areas, just make sure that you're making life simple for yourself by keeping things easily accessible and storing items that will be used together in the same spot. If you find yourself bending over a lot or getting up on a chair to grab something that you use every day, then you should definitely try to figure out a new storage spot, as these actions can get just plain annoying over time and will really end up discouraging you from keeping up with your cleaning jobs in the long run.


There are so many cleaning tools and gadgets available these days at nearly every supermarket or big-box store. Some of them are great, and some aren't worth the cheap plastic that they're made from. Of course, if you're like most people, you probably already know this because you've probably tried quite a few of those cleaning doodads and thingamajigs over the years.


You don't need to spend a lot of money on your cleaning tools overall. For the most part, basics will do the job quite nicely. But for some things, like with a feather duster or your vacuum cleaner, it pays to get the best that you can afford to really see those speedy and shiny results that you've been looking for. This is a list of tried-and-true tools and supplies that will really work and get you set up to clean your home quickly, easily and with as little annoyance as possible:

• Soft cotton cloths, such as white terry towels or cheap washcloths

• Microfiber cloths

• Basic large bath towels (reserved only for cleaning)

• Basic corn broom

• Small, handheld dust brush

• Dust pan

• Basic cotton mop

• Dust mop

• Lightweight vacuum cleaner

• Wet/dry vacuum cleaner, such as the Shop-Vac brand

• Bucket

• Scrub brush with stiff bristles

• Steel wool

• Abrasive scouring pads

• Scratch-free scouring pads

• Large sponges

• Box of disposable rubber or latex gloves

• Small detail brush (or a toothbrush)

• Good-quality feather duster

• Squeegee

• Plastic scraper

• Paper towels

• Old newspapers


For convenience, it's nice to have a store-bought cleaner or two in a spray bottle, ready to go when you have a quick cleaning job to do. It's really not necessary at all, though, to go out and buy the entire cleaning aisle at your grocery store. For the most part, you can do a really great, effective job of cleaning your whole home if you have your cleaning pantry stocked with just a few basic ingredients. Using these cleaners along with the right tools and, of course, a few tricks and techniques up your sleeve, will get you far better results than most "miracle" cleaners from the store. There are a few exceptions to the rule that are nice to have for especially difficult cleaning scenarios and I've noted those on the next page:

• Vinegar

• Lemon juice

• Isopropyl rubbing alcohol

• Baking soda

• Cheap olive oil reserved just for cleaning

• Borax

• Basic dish soap

• Natural wax- or oil-based furniture polish

• Basic all-purpose cleaner in a spray bottle for quick cleanups

• Glass cleaner or a homemade alternative

• Heavy-duty laundry stain remover for laundry, upholstery and carpet stain emergencies

• Heavy-duty concentrated cleaner for really dirty floors and outdoor jobs

• Lime and rust stain remover for hard-water deposits

These are the cleaners that are nice to keep in your main cleaning pantry, and this list doesn't include things like laundry soap, fabric softener and dishwasher soap that you'll need to keep in those specific areas of the house.

With these few basic items at the ready, you'll be all set for some housekeeping magic! Your home is your oyster! Let's get to it.


Excerpted from The Cleaning Ninja by Courtenay Hartford. Copyright © 2017 Courtenay Hartford. Excerpted by permission of Page Street Publishing Co..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

How to Use This Book 8

How to Make Your House Look Clean in 8 Minutes Flat 10

Setting Up an Efficient Cleaning Pantry 19

The Everyday List: Tricks to Make Your Life Easier 24

The Single Most Important Habit That You Need to Start Doing Right Away 30

The Cleanest Kitchen on the Block 38

Lightning-Fast Laundry 44

The Stain Trauma Center 50

Ten Things Your Mom Should Have Told You about Housekeeping 56

Blindingly Clean Bathrooms 62

How to Make Your House Look Like You Have Ridiculously Meticulous Cleaning Standards 67

Shine on 74

The Secret Cleaning Robots That You Already Have in Your Home 81

The Great (Or Sometimes Not-So-Great) Outdoors 87

How to Be a Cleaning Ninja 97

Home Scents That Make Sense 105

How to Finally Get Your Act Together and Get Organized Once and For All (But For Real This Time) 110

Checklist: What to Do Each Day 118

Checklist: What to Do Every Month 120

Checklist: Super-Mega, All-Inclusive Deep-Cleaning 125

Acknowledgments 145

About the Author 147

Index 148

Customer Reviews