There are a lot of 'cleaning' shortcuts you can use to avoid dirt and clutter from piling up – and it will. The solution (and a great resolution for the New Year) is to take a piece-meal approach to cleaning. The professional house cleaners at MOLLY MAID provide these tricks of the trade:

1. Clutter-less: Take care of clutter as it happens. Each time you come in or go out of a room, slow down for an instant and do a sweep with your eyes. Is there something out of place? Can you toss the newspaper into the recycling bin? Can you grab the mittens sitting on the dining room table? Removing just one out-of-place item and putting it where it belongs will make a difference.

2. Bathroom Blitz: Leave a cloth and washroom spray cleaner in an accessible spot in the bathroom (under the sink, for example). Once a day, tidy countertop items and give the sink and vanity a quick wipe.  

3. Mirror Magic: Take five minutes and clean the most prominent mirrors in your house (including bathroom mirrors and any mirrors in the front hallway). 

4. Clean Spills when they Happen: You know what happens when you spill coffee or milk on the counter or floor… and you leave it. The stain hardens and gets tougher and tougher to remove. Clean up spills when they happen. It will take just a minute or so to clean up, while a dried one will take much longer.

5. Dust be Gone: If you notice cobwebs anywhere (usually in ceiling corners or hanging from a light fixture), grab the feather duster or an old dish towel and get rid of them.

6. Sweep Regularly: Spot sweep floors and hallways on the main floor every day (choose a time when you can sneak in this chore… while the coffee is brewing, for example). If your dining room is not carpeted, we recommend sweeping under the dining table as well. Don't forget the entranceway so you won't be tracking dirt through the house. Then, vacuum at least once a week.

7. Get Rid of Paper: Sort the mail when it comes and put what you don't need into the recycling bin. The same goes for newspapers and magazines. Better yet – switch to the digital version.

8. Clean as you Cook: Your kitchen will be clean for a lot longer if it's a house rule that anyone who cooks has to clean up after themselves. But here's the thing – cleaning as you go makes it that much better. Fill up the sink with warm, sudsy water and rinse and wash cooking utensils, pots and bowls when you're finished using them. Wipe counters after you put the cookies into the oven. Peel vegetables over the compost container. It's really satisfying to put a just-cooked dish or baked pie on a clean counter!

9. Use Doormats Inside and Out, Front and Back: Stomp your feet on the doormat before you go into the house and you will knock a whole bunch of snow, dirt and dust off your footwear. Teach the whole family to do this – and to remove boots and shoes too. All you have to do is shake out the doormats a few times a week.

10. Protect your Floors: Whoever invented felt pads for the bottom of table and chair feet should get a medal – pads protect hardwood floors, and they act as dirt and dust catchers too. Put felt pads on the bottom of all furniture that sits on hardwood. A few times a week, go around and clean them off.