Posts Tagged ‘Fly Lady’

Crisis Cleaning


I can testify that this really works.

I have used this FlyLady method many times.  It helps me maximize my time and the rolling schedule keeps me motivated.  I needed to crisis clean more often when my kids were younger (and at home), but I still use the frame when a holiday is approaching and I need to get my cleaning done and out of the way to focus on the rest of the holiday preparations.  If you haven’t visited FlyLady’s site, treat yourself to her Flying Lessons here.  I offer her crisis cleaning method in her own words.

  1. Get dressed to shoes, have your hair fixed and face washed and makeup on (if you use it). Don’t question this — just do it. Put on some good working music. Not too fast, just slow and steady. Peppy, but not aerobic. Light a candle that has a good scent or put some spices on to boil on a very low heat.
  2. Set a timer and spend 15 minutes in the kitchen.  We are going to start in our kitchens, because as the kitchen goes, so does the rest of the house. If your sink is not clean and shiny, then shine it first, then you can fill the sink up with hot soapy water and start to clear off the left and right counters. Empty the dishwasher. When the timer goes off, stop what you are doing and go to the living room.
  3. Set the timer again and do 15 minutes of cleaning off the coffee tables or picking up toys or newpapers. Concentrate on one thing, not all of it. Get a laundry basket and put the things that don’t belong in the living room in the basket. Take a garbage bag with you, too. Start throwing away the trash. Don’t get caught up in the guilt we have about recycling this stuff. Just bag it up for now. As you get your home in order, there will be plenty of time to recycle. For now, we are focusing on getting the home presentable. You can’t do this if you are hyperfocusing on sorting and recycling, so get over this perfectionism attitude. When the timer goes off, head back to the kitchen.
  4. In the kitchen, set the timer for 15 more minutes and continue to work on clearing the counters. Don’t get sidetracked and attempt to clean out a cabinet. We’re only doing surface cleaning here. We’re making your home presentable, not perfect.
  5. Now, take a break and walk around and look at what you have accomplished in just 45 minutes. Set the timer for 15 minutes and drink a cup of tea or coffee or whatever you love and just relax. When the timer goes off, you are back in work mode for 15 more minutes.
  6. This 15 minute session is in the bathroom. Clean the bathroom sink first, swish the toilet, then pick up towels and dirty clothes and put them in the hamper.  Once again, don’t get sidetracked and start a load of laundry. You need a clean bathroom before you need clean clothes! The laundry will come later.
  7. When the timer goes off, you are back in the kitchen for 15 more minutes. After the counters are cleared, sweep the floor and wipe down the countertops and appliances. We can do anything in 15 minutes! Keep working until the timer goes off. Then you go to the living room once again.
  8. In the living room, continue to pick up and put away. Once everything is in its place, vacuum and dust.
  9. Every 45 minutes, take a 15 minute break. Rotate around the house every 15 minutes. Do you understand this?

FlyLady concludes, “Adapt this schedule to fit your physical limitations and children’s needs. But, you get the picture: stay focused on one job for 15 minutes, then move onto another. You are going to be so surprised at how much you get done in a day’s time!

“The timer is your best friend. You can do this. Now turn off the computer and get to work!”

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As I cleaned my tubs today, I thought it might be time to humble myself and share my three-day process for cleaning my bathrooms (yes, three days).  I’ll leave it to my sisters to decide who I am talking about when I speak of my cleanie-sister.  I’m sure it will boggle her mind to know that it takes me three days to clean my bathroom.  What can I say?  It works for me.

I actually won a bridal shower prize once by describing the horribleness of cleaning the bathroom—all the different jobs and cleaners and tools that are needed to do one small, distasteful room.  Maybe my revolutionary system came by Fly Lady’s trick of pecking away at our tasks by setting a timer for 15 minutes and putting heart and soul into the job for that short time; maybe it came by an interruption that caused me to stop my odious chore mid-way.  Whatever it was, cleaning bathrooms has not been nearly as daunting as it was in my earlier housekeeping days.

My three-day system does two things for me.  It helps me begin and it helps me end.  When I know that I only have to do my tubs today, I am much more willing to get started.  After that, having already begun, and having gotten the very physical job of scrubbing the tubs behind me, I know that I am nearer to a clean bathroom than I was yesterday, and with a little more effort the next couple of days, I’ll have a pretty clean, sparkly bathroom soon.

I have found it works for me to keep all of my bathroom cleaning supplies in a caddie under the sink of my main bathroom.  If we had bathrooms on several floors, I’d keep a set of supplies for each floor in a bathroom there.  In this way, supplies are near the task for day-to-day maintenance (see below).  I do all the bathroom tubs in the house on Day 1, all vanities/toilets Day 2, etc. carrying only the necessary cleaning items for that day from room to room.

Below, are my routines for thoroughly covering the bathroom.  This is just one way that bathrooms can be done, it is not a law.  Really, whatever works for you…works.

So without further adieu, here is the main frame:

Day 1: Tubs
Day 2: Vanities and Toilets
Day 3: Floors

_____     _____     _____



Mildly abrasive cleaner (ex: Softscrub);
Clean sponge with a scratch-free abrasive side;
Soapscum Remover and/or Mold & Mildew Remover (ex: Tilex)

You need to get in there with bare feet.  Wet the walls down.  Put Softscrub onto sponge and work all surfaces except the two-foot, front of the tub.  Work top to bottom, doing a panel-at-a-time, working around the surround.  Rinse all surfaces, making sure the Softscrub gets rinsed off.  Step out of the tub and on hands and knees, scrub that two-foot tub-front and the floor of the tub.  Rinse.

I don’t do my chrome yet as I’m not using that product today, but I will take my sponge and wipe the tops of picture frames and quickly wipe down my door panels.  I also check to see if the shower curtain or doors need a spray down with either of the Tilex sprays.

Change out bath towels and shower wash cloths.


Mildly abrasive cleanser (ex:Softscrub);
Sponge (same as above);
Old toothbrush;
Windex and drying cloth;
Anti-bacterial wipes (ex: Clorox wipes);
Toilet bowl brush

Anti-bacterial spray (ex: Lysol Bathroom) with baby wipes can replace Clorox wipes;
My favorite cleaning cloths are simply white washcloths that come in a package of, maybe, 12/$2.50 at WalMart or the like.  I wash them in hot water with Biz bleach and our socks.

Vanities—Softscrub the porcelain and put a bit on the toothbrush to clean around fixtures and the caulking; rinse and wipe clean.  Quickly run sponge around baseboard tops to remove dust; rinse out sponge.  Wipe down vanity top and doors (NOTE: Softscrub will leave a film that is hard to clean off the flat surface, so use sparingly; a counter spritz of Lysol Bathroom cleaner first may be desired).  Windex the mirror, light fixtures, and chrome fixtures on sink and in tub. (NOTE: Sometimes I’ll run out into the adjoining master bedroom to do the mirrors there or wipe the picture frames in the hall outside the main bathroom, etc., since I already have a damp cloth ready to be used.)

Toilets—Use Clorox wipes on tank cover items, then, put on gloves and wipe all porcelain surfaces (tank, lids/lips, and body).  I use about 4/toilet.  These wipes must be thrown, not flushed.  Even though the floor will be cleaned tomorrow, use wipes on the floor around the toilet, because as Jeff Campbell says in his book Speed Cleaning, it is preferable to be “on our hands and knees, eyeball to eyeball with the toilet, only once.”  Wet toilet bowl brush and drizzle Softscrub around it; scrub inside of bowl.  Flush to rinse out brush.  (NOTE: I leave brush lid cocked and I drain the holder several times to aid drying before storing for good.)

Change out hand towels and wash cloths near sink.


Vacuum cleaner with attachments;
Floor cleaner (ex: Mr. Clean);
Small bucket;
Floor cleaning sponge (NOT the sponge used Days 1 and 2);

Put rugs outside to be shaken; clear floor of all items.  Vacuum floor, using attachments to get into corners and small spaces.  Put some Mr. Clean in bottom of bucket and fill with hottest water possible.  With gloves and floor sponge, get down on hands and knees and starting at the farthest point away work towards the door.  While floor is drying, empty garbage and replace with clean bag; shake rugs outside if possible, and/or vacuum rugs inside (then vacuum floor underneath when rugs are lifted).  Replace all floor items.


Fly Lady suggests a Swish and Swipe each day in our bathrooms.  When using a bathroom, take inventory of its state.  If needed, do a quick wipe of the sink or the mirrors; empty the garbage; sponge flat surfaces in the tub; brush the toilet bowl; do a quick vacuum (perhaps when vacuuming adjacent rooms in the house); etc—whatever needs attention.  Mostly, just be aware of your space and deal with small jobs before they get larger.

I know my three-day system forfeits that one glorious day of an all-clean bathroom, but I gain a cleaner bathroom in the long haul as I am more willing to get started and do so more often.  Also, instead of just that one day, I get three days of clean smells in there.  I have found that my work really doesn’t devolve very much during the three days, so I get a pretty good looking bathroom in the end and am left with time and energy to accomplish other things in and around this otherwise tedious chore.

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I thought this was good.  I think it had its genesis at Fly Lady.

The question?  Does this bless my home?

I’m really trying to clean out as many cupboards and closets as I can this summer.  I’m using Fly Lady’s suggestion of 15 minutes/day (and it’s surprising how often I am encouraged to go a bit longer, just because I made myself start with that shorter commitment.)

My husband is good at encouraging me to “get rid of it” (at least if it’s my item in question), but sometimes two heads are not better than one.  I’ve been pecking away at my laundry room.  This is the room in our house, when in question, you’ll hear…”Just put it in the laundry room for now.”  [Unless it’s for a college student’s apartment or brought home during the summer from college, then it goes into the “college room”…which is a post for another day.]

Well, I had amassed a small corner of items that we’d stored for years and years and had not used in years and years.  I was so proud that I had overcome all the practical reasons for keeping the items.  I wanted advice though from my husband on how best to get rid of them.  However as I went through each item, telling him what my first intentions for the piece had been, somewhere in the middle of my descriptions of how it would have made our lives better, I convinced my husband.  Then it was Dana telling me I’d better not get rid of that, and it doesn’t take too much space, and “let’s see if we can get x-part for it or have it repaired…”  As you’ve probably guessed, nothing has been thrown or given away yet.

The solution may be to just go on my instincts and not discuss it with Dana until it’s too late to go back, but I have a seed of uncertainty that was planted a few years ago.  It is really one of the few dark Fly Lady moments I have had.  It may have been during a “27 Fling Boogie” which is really just a call to get a big garbage bag and quickly go through your home and throw away 27 items (don’t ask me why 27 is the magic number).  I think we all have 27 items in our homes at any given time that could be thrown–old magazines and shoes, mugs, flyers, mail, gifted resin figurines from the dollar store…

However, that unfortunate, dark day I got caught up in my zeal.  I threw away my silk flower wedding bouquet which I had used to decorate a cabinet.  It had gained a dust layer and so in my fervor, I tossed it in my bag and let it go to the dumpster.  A couple days later the garbage men came and took it away and a few days after that I heard of a product to clean silk flowers.  I am still sorry when I think of it and it has been probably ten years since.

I wish I had had this list of questions before me that day.  Not only is this a great list for helping to discern those items that really are not dear to us and should probably be discarded, but on that fateful day, it probably would have helped me realize my wedding flowers were not in the same place in my heart as the resin figurine.  Here’s the list of questions for responsible “flinging.”

Do I love it?

Do I use it?

Does it make me smile?

Does it have a home?

Do I have another one like it?

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I promised yesterday to share the website that helped me overcome my C.H.A.O.S. (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome).  It was at this site that I first learned my “condition” even had a name and that, as you know, is the first step to recovery.

FlyLady.net (FLY–Finally Loving Yourself) was the site that afforded me my first real housekeeping break-through.

Fly Lady (Marla Cilley) has a similar story to mine…to many of yours, I’m guessing.  Her break-through came with the simple commitment she made to end her day with a clean and cleaned-out sink.  Her book, Sink Reflections, is her personal story and contains some of those first lessons that are the bedrock of her wonderful approach to housekeeping, de-cluttering, and self-keeping.  Her website includes links to her Fly Shop as well as links to other on-line life coaches (i.e. style, diet and meal planning, etc.), but her site stays pretty true to its tagline:  Your personal on-line coach to help you gain control of your house and home.

Marla offers gentle guidance in developing housekeeping routines which she calls FLYing Lessons.  “Shine your sink” is her first lesson, but also foundational are directives to get dressed down to your lace up shoes, swish & swipe your bathroom daily, declutter 15 minutes a day and take regular breaks.  She guides the newbie in what she calls Baby Steps, 31 lessons (a month’s worth) to begin FLYing.

Fly Lady has divided the home into zones and her followers are given daily email to-do lists, called Flight Plans.   Each zone is given a week’s attention, getting through all the zones in a month.  This week’s focus is Zone 3—The Bathroom and an Extra Room.

There is so much more to this site, though, than just zone cleaning—

* Detail Cleaning check-off lists for the zones;

* Weekly Home Blessing Hour;

* FLYing lessons for Payroll SHEs (working Side-tracked Home Executives) ;

* Control Journals;

* Habit of the Month (this month, drink your water);

* Anti-Procrastination Days – days to tackle those put off projects;

* Crisis Cleaning schedule;

* Fly Kids Challenge—a daily task for children to manage their own spaces [See my “Teaching Work” shortcomings (see June 13 post)]

I rarely go to the site these days, though, and my daily Fly Lady e-mails often end up in my computer’s trash.  This is only because so many of her teachings have been internalized and have already done good service in giving structure to how I approach my own home now.  Unless it’s an infrequent Crisis Cleaning for company, I rarely clean my whole house or floor in one day.  I break down the house into manageable areas and progress throughout my home.  I even break down my bathroom chores into a three-day process which helps me not d-r-e-a-d those duties like I used to.

“You can do anything for 15 minutes” is one of Fly Lady’s most famous quotes and the one that most affected me.  Marla taught me the trick of literally setting a timer for 15 minutes and pouring myself heart and soul into a targeted area (whether zone work or a “Hot Spot”).  It is really a marvel how much can be done in those quick 15 minute bursts.

Some other encouraging Fly Lady quotes include:

* Not housework, but home blessing (“This is my home and I deserve to have a wonderful place to live, this blesses my home, and my family and me!”)

* Housework done imperfectly still blesses my family.

* You can’t organize clutter; you can only get rid of it!

* I don’t have to be perfect to be loved and my home does not have to be perfect to be lived in.

* What doesn’t matter just doesn’t matter!

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