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Speed Cleaning

Speed Cleaning. Jeff Campbell and the Clean Team.
Dell Publishing, New York, 1997. 196 pages.

Imagine this, if you can: your home is now perfectly de-cluttered and re-decorated.  You have no unfinished renovation projects creating chaos.  You have a dream: to clean your house like the professionals do.  Jeff Campbell to the rescue!

More and more people, it seems, want to attack a project in a professional manner.  We don't want to muddle through like amateurs!  "Old fashioned cleaning is time-consuming."  Let's see how the pros attack the home.

Speed Cleaning lays out a plan for systematic, professional-style cleaning.  No inspirational or autobiographical material on reclaiming your home and life: just clearly described systems in this small, thoughtful book.  The illustrations are absolutely brilliant (and charming to boot): right-to-left diagrams for cleaning systematically; pictures on where to spray the cleaning solutions; charts on team cleaning: how to organize a couple or a group all fired up to clean.  Let's go!

I bought this book because I too want to learn the "trade secrets" of a group of professionals "who clean an entire house in 42 minutes or less, start to finish."  Campbell offers a "system that makes every move count."  Do you ever look in dismay at a dirty house, and wonder, "How should I begin?"  You begin by getting dressed and preparing your cleaning caddy.  As in other books from professionals, there is an emphasis on professional tools (available of course directly from The Clean Team: I checked out their website: and they offer everything but the kitchen sink).

Learn to focus: "Pay attention. Everything else will fall into place if you do."  This advice really touched me: as I am easily distracted and often rush around the house in all directions at once.  "Work around the room once. Don't backtrack."  Yes!

Almost half of this book is devoted to managing outside cleaning services and choosing environmentally-friendly products.  A long summary of the material is translated into Spanish (so you can instruct your Latin American cleaning lady on how to be more efficient).  This book is nothing if not thorough.

The biggest drawback for me was the emphasis on Speed.  I have always been put under the gun at work: deadlines, due dates, time-lines.  I'm tired of trying to Beat The Clock (an old 1950's game show, by the way): "Keep track of your time. Get a little faster every time."  This "Clean Team Rule" immediately put my back up.

Furthermore, in my humble experience, very few people tackle any project at home without interruptions, except perhaps in the middle of the night.  A professional cleaning person can spend the whole day totally focused, doing absolutely nothing else.  You and me, on the other hand, have to run errands, answer the phone, organize the dinner, take care of the laundry, and so on.

I know in my inner heart of hearts that "being an expert is a morale booster."  I wish that I too could work "smarter and faster — not harder."  For now, I like to look at the pictures, read the thirteen "Clean Team Rules."  And dream...


Housecleaning isn't going to go away, so practice.  Practice and be fast, and then do something much more fun or satisfying with all the time you saved. ~ Jeff Campbell, Speed Cleaning