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Friday, April 22, 2011

Best Cleaning and Organizing Apps

Best Cleaning and Organizing Apps
by Brooke Foster

We hunted down some of the best apps for whipping your home -- and your to-do list -- into shape. 

There are thousands of free apps in the iTunes "Productivity" store, but finding one that works for you -- now that's priceless. Here's a guide to some of the most fun and effective cleaning and organizing apps out there. A few will cost you.

organizing apps"Wait, there's an app for that? All this time I was paying a maid!" Photo: Age Fotostock

Custom Hypnosis: House Cleaning Edition, $1.99
Now this is an app we all could use. Custom Hypnosis: House Cleaning Edition uses suggestive music to allegedly hypnotize you into cleaning the bathroom, doing your laundry and dusting. Zachary Taylor, who created the app, has several "hypnosis" apps available for download; his theory is that if you're relaxed, you'll clean more. Surprising, since if I'm relaxed, the last thing I want to do is scrub a toilet. Still, at least one user on MacWorld claims it works, saying that she got caught up on her laundry just listening to the app.

HomeRoutines, $5

To help you keep up with your cleaning and organizing to-do list, HomeRoutines allows you to type in a list of chores and rewards you with gold stars as you complete them. You can separate them into morning and evening tasks, create reoccurring to-do lists and create custom daily lists. To motivate you to clean more efficiently, the app also offers a cleaning plan for your home. One week it will tell you to focus on decluttering the living room, another you'll be disinfecting the bathroom. Best of all, it offers a 15-minute timer to encourage you to get the chore done faster!

organizing appsPhoto: Clean Freak

Clean Freak Cleaning Schedule, $.99
This cleaning app, designed by busy working parents, feels a bit less sophisticated than others I've seen, but for 99 cents you will get a basic helpful to-do list. The app breaks down cleaning projects into small tasks, and you commit to doing at least one everyday. My favorite part: It tells you the last time you, say, wiped down your fridge or washed your sheets.

Green Shine, $1.99

Green Shine may be the coolest app we found. It offers green cleaning solutions for everything from polishing the furniture to mopping the floors. Not only will it tell you how to make a product that is as effective as a commercial cleaner, it also spells out how to clean with it and offers warnings, like "Test this method on a small part of your furniture first."It's a really neat idea, and the app itself seems easy to use. If you don't want to pay two bucks for it, Green Shine offers a "lite" version for free.

organizing appsPhoto: Chore Hero

Chore Hero, $2.99
Chore Hero tries to make cleaning fun through a little friendly competition. Rather than offering up a list of chores to check off your to-do list, the app allows you to assign different tasks to different people in your home. When they finish, say, making their bed, they get "points," and you figure out what those points can be redeemed for. If you're winning, you'll be deemed the "Chore Hero," while those who don't keep up with their cleaning jobs will be "Delinquent." Not sure if it will inspire extra cleaning, but it's worth a shot; the interface is fun enough to engage kids.

Good Housekeeping @ Home, Free
The popular women's magazine offers an A to Z guide to stains and spills. You type in what spilled -- maybe there's avocado mashed in your rug -- and it will tell you how to remove it. There's also a thorough guide to cleaning every surface and space in your home with expert tips from the Good Housekeeping Institute.

100 Uses for Baking Soda
 and Household Vinegar Tips, $.99 cents each

Made by the same developer, these two handy little apps offer dozens of tips for using baking soda and vinegar to make your own cleaning solutions. The 100 Uses for Baking Soda app offers more than cleaning ideas; expect health uses as well. Household Vinegar Tips has over 270 ways to use vinegar at home.

Photo: J's Job Jar

J's Job Jar, $.99 cents
This may be the least helpful of all of the apps I found, but it's certainly the most fun. You can write your cleaning to-do list on sheets of paper in a virtual jar. When you have a few minutes of time, shake your iPhone and the app will randomly select one of your tasks. You can click "OK," "Later," or "Never!" It's kind of a procrastinator's dream. 

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