30 Minutes to a Cleaner House You're getting company in 30 minutes. Your house is a mess. WHAT WILL YOU DO? Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the first session of Housekeeping Tips for Mothers. If you're a Martha Stewart type of housekeeper, this column is NOT for you. However, for the rest of you, this is your chance to learn 15 Secret Shortcuts to Housekeeping that your mother never told you. SECRET TIP 1: DOOR LOCKS If a room clearly can't be whipped into shape in 30 days, much less 30 minutes, employ the Locked Door Method of cleaning. Tell anyone who tries to go in the room that you accidentally locked the door and can't find the key. Of course, the locksmith can't possibly come until tomorrow. CAUTION: It is not advisable to use this tip for the bathroom. Time: 2 seconds SECRET TIP 2: DUCT TAPE No home should be without an ample supply. Not only is it handy for plumbing repairs, but it's a great way to hem drapes, tablecloths, clothes, just about anything. No muss, no fuss. Time: 2-3 minutes SECRET TIP 3: OVENS If you think ovens are just for baking, think again. Ovens represent at least 9 cubic feet of hidden storage space, which means they're a great place to shove dirty dishes, dirty clothes, or just about anything you want to get out of sight when company's coming. Time: 2 minutes SECRET TIP 4: CLOTHES DRYERS Like Secret Tip 3, except bigger. CAUTION: Avoid hiding flammable objects here. Time: 2.5 minutes SECRET TIP 5: WASHING MACHINES & FREEZERS Like Secret Tip 4, except even bigger. Time: 3 minutes SECRET TIP 6: DUST RUFFLES No bed should be without one. Devotees of Martha Stewart believe dust ruffles exist to keep dust out from under a bed or to help coordinate the colorful look of a bedroom. The rest of us know a dust ruffle's highest and best use is to hide whatever you've managed to shove under the bed. (Refer to Secret Tips 3, 4, 5.) Time: 4 minutes SECRET TIP 7: DUSTING The 30-Minutes-To-A-Clean-House method says: Never dust under what you can dust around. Time: 3 minutes SECRET TIP 8: DISHES Don't use them. Use plastic or paper plates and you won't have to. Time: 1 minute SECRET TIP 9: CLOTHES WASHING (EEWWW) This secret tip is brought to you by an inventive teenager. When this teen's mother went on a housekeeping strike for a month, the teen discovered you can extend the life of your underwear by two ...if you turn it wrong side out and, yes, rerun it. CAUTION: This tip is recommended only for teens and those who don't care if they get in a car wreck. Time: 3 seconds SECRET TIP 10: IRONING If an article of clothing doesn't require a full press and your hair does, a curling iron is the answer. In between curling your hair, use the hot wand to iron minor wrinkles out of your clothes. Yes, it really does work, or so I'm told, by other disciples of the 30-Minutes-To-A-Clean-House philosophy. Time: 5 minutes (including curling your hair) SECRET TIP 11: VACUUMING Stick to the middle of the room, which is the only place people look. Don't bother vacuuming under furniture. It takes way too long and no one looks there anyway. Time: 5 minutes, entire house; 2 minutes, living room only SECRET TIP 12: LIGHTING The key here is low, low, and lower. It's not only romantic, but bad lighting can hide a multitude of dirt. Time: 10 seconds SECRET TIP 13: BED MAKING Get an old-fashioned waterbed. No one can tell if those things are made up or not, saving you, oh, hundreds of seconds over the course of a lifetime. Time: 0 SECRET TIP 14: SHOWERS, TOILETS, AND SINKS Forget one and two. Concentrate on three. Time: 1 minute SECRET TIP 15: If you already knew at least 10 of these tips, don't even think about inviting a Martha Stewart type to your home.