I have always dreamed of having a housemaid. I don't need him or her to wear a uniform and call me sir. I just want the house clean!

I love the trails left over on the carpet from having the vacuum suck the holy Hanna out of it and brush it into submission. I love the look of clean door frames and shiny streak free glass.

My knees get weak when I see a clean kitchen sink.

And would it be too much to ask to have housemaid Billy - either with a "y" or an "ie" - leaf-blow debris from the gutters on the roof?

I want my house spotless so I can enjoy living in a clean space - and I have a lot of living to do.

Clean it fast so that you can enjoy it!

I used to be a fan of the zone clean method, where I go from room to room finishing off part by part. For me this worked because I didn't regularly do the whole house at once. It's too big of a job for me. I would do a room a day and move on to something I really wanted to do.

One day, however, I had to hire a pro service to come into my house and help me because I was way behind and had family coming over. Zone cleaning was not what they did. Margret, the lead, said that zoning was way too slow. Being that they were paid by the job they wanted to be thorough and efficient.

Margret is a proponent of "task cleaning." She believes in taking one job and doing it throughout the house: dusting everything, and vacuuming everything. She said that there is a little more walking to the task method, but that keeps energy up and keeps you from starting to sort through stuff, which is usually not the task at hand.

This is what Margret suggests:

1. Find a logical starting point

where you can station all the cleaning supplies. Don't carry around the things you don't need. The bathroom is a good place to start, and when you start, start high.

2. Pick up the clutter

Put pillows back on the couch, throw away the newspapers and gather the laundry. Sorting through stuff left out is a good job for another day. Box it up and deal with it later or have a family member that is good at sorting and putting away "volunteer" for the job.

3. Dust the light fixtures and the shelves

Move to the next room and dust as well. Dust down the hall on your way through. Dust the tops of furniture and picture frames. Have a pattern that you follow, left to right and from top to bottom or something similar and follow it in each room so that you don't overlook anything.

Dry dusting is better than wet dusting. Remember that dust plus moisture equals mud.

To get rid of fingerprints, dampen a microfiber or cotton cloth with warm water.

4. Clean furniture and fabrics

Use those cool space-age attachments that came with your vacuum cleaner for couches, fabric, chairs, pillows, curtains or furniture covers. Don't make any beds. Let family members do it themselves.

5. Wipe down mirrors and glass

Using a wet cloth and finishing with a dry one won't leave your glass worse than you found it. I hate streaks.

6. Surface clean

by wiping down all surfaces and counters throughout the house, disinfecting as necessary. Be sure to wipe down all places that fingers touch like door handles, light switches, TV remotes and phones. These are the places that people forget, and they really hold germs. Remember the science fair? Gross.

7. Sanitize anything you touch while you are cooking

your evening supper. Microbes such as salmonella and E. coli are transferred to anything you touch. Drawer handles, knobs, cabinets, recipe books, the microwave door handle and push button area are all germ-fests. Wipe down the inside of the microwave, and hit those cabinets and appliance doors.

8. Walk through and spray the appropriate cleaners

on tubs, sinks and toilets. Return and scrub. If you notice that the toilet is in bad shape, spray this down first thing.

9. Sweep, then mop

or scrub the bathroom and kitchen floors, and any other floor that needs it. Margret usually does the bulk of the floor on her hands and knees with a microfiber or cotton cloth and a light cleanser. Some - like me - try to use a sponge mop for the bulk of the job and get on my knees for the hard stuff left over.

8. Vacuuming

means that you are almost finished. Vacuum your way out of bedrooms, down the hall, through the entry and right out of the house. Then, go and get an ice cream cone.

Tips from a pro

: Butcher's Bath Mateis excellent for many jobs. Find this and other great tools at janitorial supply stores. It is easily found with a Google search. Cotton clothing that has seen better days, old towels and dish cloths that are past dish washing days are great for cleaning. Then, toss.

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