If you're the type who considers the act of maintaining an organized (and spotless) home a waste of time, prepare to have your world rocked. "Clean people" know that you don't have to devote hours upon hours to keep your living space from becoming a chaotic mess. You just have to adopt a few simple habits that can be painlessly incorporated into your daily routine. We caught up with Jolie Kerr, author of "My Boyfriend Barfed In My Handbag...And Other Things You Can't Ask Martha" (Penguin, 2014) and our favorite expert on all things clean, about the foolproof ways to avoid a life lived among cat-sized dust bunnies. These tips can't completely undo a lifetime of bad habits, but they're a very easy start. We'll take it room by room.
In The Bedroom
1. Make your bed on a daily basis.
Right after you get out of the bed. Not "I'm about to go to sleep, so I'm going to make my bed now." Kerr has already debunked pretty much every excuse you'll have about why you shouldn't make your bed. Instead, we'll briefly rattle off the benefits of doing so: It makes the room look neater, it keeps your comforter from your probably-not-vacuumed-recently floor and it is one less thing you'll have to do at night. If you're truly lazy, Kerr has given us her blessing about simplifying your bedding to just a comforter, a bottom sheet and a few pillows. You won't have to do anything more than re-position your pillows and comforter.
2. Throw your clothes into a hamper, not on the floor.
If you're using a laundry bag, stop. If you're using your floor as some sort of giant hamper or closet alternative, definitely stop. A proper hamper is where dirty clothes go, immediately, until you can get them into the laundry. Obvious? Yes. Unnecessary advice for many? No.
In The Living Room
3. Straighten the stacks of stuff on your coffee table.
Embrace the inevitability that spare books and magazines, however endangered both of these things are to the digital revolution, will all find their way to your coffee table. But a pile is OK, says Kerr, as long as it's neat. Same goes for spare pillows and blankets (simply fluff and fold, respectively). It doesn't even take a minute to do.
4. Dust. We're completely serious.
It'll cost you maybe 5 minutes of your time, but makes a big difference. Kerr recommends using a dryer sheet, which "picks up the dust, but also leaves behind a coating that will help repel dust for just a little bit longer."
5. Quickly vacuum.
After all, the dust has to go somewhere. Get a lightweight model and it won't be such a chore.
In The Kitchen
6. Wipe down the sink after doing the dishes.
A quick wipe-down with Windex and a rag is enough. This will remove any lingering nastiness leftover from washing away the evidence leftover after last night's Chinese food binge.
7. Give counters a once-over with a Magic Eraser. (Especially if you have a cat. They wait until you go to work, then spend the day rolling on every available surface.
You can use the generic kind, but it's easier to refer to these cellulose sponges as Magic Erasers. You might normally think of them as the only thing that'll remove the weird scuff on the wall that's been unresponsive to typical cleaners, but these sponges work miracles when it comes to stuck-on food stains and other kitchen mysteries.
In The Bathroom
8. Wipe down the sink after your morning (and evening) routines.
A microfiber sponge is tough enough to tackle toothpaste, but gentle enough to not scratch a porcelain enamel sink. This quick move is especially important for the gentlemen out there, who tend to leave behind a devil's confetti of tiny little beard hairs.
9. There's no delicate way to put this: Vacuum up fallen hair.
Kerr is adamant about keeping a small, handheld-type vac in the bathroom, expressly to pick up any hair that might have decided to depart one's head during the grooming process. This one's especially important for the ladies (and longer-haired gentlemen) out there, who tend to leave behind a disenchanting trail of hair.
Bonus tip for straightening iron users: Press the (unplugged) iron on a slightly damp towel.
It'll help loosen any baked-on styling product residue. Again, we can't say it enough: Unplug the flat iron before doing this.
10. Spritz down the tub with a daily spray cleaner after showering.
Step out of the shower, then spray away. Then go about the rest of your day.
Are you a "clean person"? What are your painless daily tricks for keeping chaos at bay?