Cleaning has never been my favorite. I love to organize but cleaning….not so much. I’ll let you in on a secret. I’ve actually let some rooms in my home go when I’m busy and just can’t get around to doing a whole-house cleaning. I try to push the limits to figure out how little cleaning I can get away with in these spaces because, of course, these are rooms that guests don’t see like my bedroom or our home office. As I write this there’s a community of dust bunnies under my bed and I can write a book on the surfaces around my bedroom.
That may sound bad but this is what happens when we get busy and aren’t motivated to clean in the first place. But no matter how organized your house is if things are dirty, you’re not going to feel good about it.
And no, it’s not laziness. I just hate cleaning in general. It’s not because of the physical effort involved. I would much rather do laundry or weed my garden all day long. I’m not sure why I dread cleaning so much. It’s probably because I get bored and it’s so mind-numbingly repetitive.
Thankfully, I’ve come up with a few shortcuts to make cleaning seem less overwhelming and more bearable.
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1. Distract Yourself
Cleaning isn’t exactly mentally stimulating. Let’s face it, for most of us, it’s pretty boring. And for me, boredom is just too painful to put up with for long. I try to give my brain something else to do while I’m cleaning. Listening to music works. I also like to listen to an audiobook or set my computer in the room where I’m working and have some Youtube videos playing in the background. Any distraction is fine as long as I’m not focused on what I’m actually doing.
2. Set a Timer
If the idea of cleaning feels like you’re giving up valuable time make sure that time is limited. Set a timer for 15 or 30 minutes. This way you know that the dreaded task won’t go on forever. You can talk yourself into doing almost anything as long as you know you don’t have to do it for very long. Usually, things get a lot easier once you get started. And the satisfaction of creating a cleaner room usually replaces the dread of the cleaning itself.
3. Be Consistent
I fought this one for the longest time. I figured if a room was dirty I would just clean it, right? Nope, that system didn’t work at all. I never remembered when I last cleaned anything and I would end up going too long in between cleanings. This meant things got really bad before I noticed and then it just became overwhelming.
Consistency is key here. A little every day is way easier to pull off than a lot once a week. You may actually spend the same amount of time cleaning but it’s much more doable when you spread the effort out over the week. Think about it, would you rather clean for an hour a day or for seven hours all in one day?
4. Create a Cleaning Schedule
I knew that creating a plan for cleaning wouldn’t be easy for me. Not wanting to recreate the wheel, I searched cleaning blogs. My favorite by far is Becky’s blog at Cleanmama.net. She has a great cleaning schedule that breaks tasks out for each day of the week. And if you sign up to her email list she’ll even send you a monthly calendar with cleaning tasks included.
I have to admit that I don’t follow Becky’s cleaning schedule exactly but it’s what I based my schedule on and I like giving credit where credit is due. Becky includes a day for rest but for me scheduling in time to clean has to be a daily habit. If I do it every day, I won’t be tempted to turn that rest day into two days or three. And once I schedule it, then it just becomes a part of my routine that I don’t even think about it. It’s become as automatic as brushing my teeth or showering.
Here’s my modified schedule:
- Monday: Clean one bathroom– I have four. Let’s get real, I’m not doing all of them in one day.
- Tuesday: Dust the entire house -This is totally doable.
- Wednesday: Vacuum floors– I focus on two floors of my home each week, I always do the first floor and then I alternate between the basement and bedrooms every other week.
- Thursday: Mop floors– I alternate between the three floors of my house each week.
- Friday: Clean one bathroom– This is usually the powder room on the first floor.
- Saturday: Clean one or two bathrooms– My kids’ bathroom is the one I focus on this day. If I have enough energy, I’ll clean the basement bathroom too. If not, I skip it because it doesn’t get used all that often anyway.
- Sunday: Pet areas– I have small pets and this is usually the day I reserve for cleaning cages, litter boxes, and my turtle’s fish tank.
And that’s it. I follow Becky’s recommendations for all the other tasks but for my home the above is just far more realistic.
Start with a cleaning template and tweak it. Or create something of your own. Either way, having a schedule may give you the extra motivation you need to stick with it.
5. Use Gadgets
Having lots of extra stuff makes me kinda anxious. However, when it comes to cleaning I’ll try anything if it promises to make cleaning my house even just a little easier. I’m always looking for the latest cleaning gadget. Even if it shaves just a few minutes off my cleaning time it’s usually worth it for me. I’m not suggesting you spend a fortune on cleaning tools but if you can afford them and it saves you some time, go for it.
Here are the things I’ve splurged on that help me lighten the load:
We bought a Roomba vacuum a few years ago. I don’t use it for every room in my house but I really like it for bedrooms because it works well in smaller, enclosed spaces. As long as I remember to keep it charged it saves me just enough time to make cleaning my floors a little less overwhelming.
Another favorite is my Shark cordless vacuum. I love it so much I even wrote a post about it. It’s nice and light so I can carry it around the house without much effort. Plus, I really can’t overstate the awesomeness of not dealing with a cord when you’re vacuuming. If you clean your floors regularly, a good cordless vacuum can be used for weekly cleaning and can make things a lot more pleasant. Just keep in mind that for really dirty floors you may need your heavy-duty, corded vacuum.
And last but not least, my O-Cedar mop and bucket have been life-changing. The O-Cedar bucket is just fun to use. It’s so cool I even have my kids begging me to help with the mopping. You just pop the mop in the wringer and let your feet do the work. It saves a ton of time not to mention my hands and back.
6. Get Your Kids To Help
I started giving my kids chores as soon as I felt they could handle it. When they were little we started with easy tasks like dusting and putting away their toys. Once they got a little older we moved on to laundry and mopping.
Having your kids help with the cleaning is a good idea for obvious reasons. The main one is that it takes some of the burden off you. But also, teaching your kids about cleaning and responsibility are good life lessons. You don’t want your kid to be the one that goes off to college but comes home every weekend to have you do his laundry.
And even if this concept is completely new to your family, it’s really not hard to introduce gradually. Just have them do one task at a time and stick with it. Offer rewards if that helps (extra computer time, snacks, money, whatever).
7. Reduce the Clutter
This may seem fairly obvious but it’s worth pointing out: the less you have, the easier it is to clean. The more furniture you have, the longer it’s going to take to vacuum or sweep under it. The more decorative stuff you have, the longer it will take to dust. I could go on but you get the idea.
Our TV room doesn’t have much in it. We have a couch, a TV, a TV console, a side table, and a plant. I can literally clean this room in under 15 minutes. With so little to fuss over I can dust, vacuum, and mop in almost no time at all. And because I know how great it feels to have so little to do in this room, I try to minimize the other rooms around the house as well to cut down on my cleaning time.
8. Let Go of Perfection
This is more of a mindset shift. We all have a certain standard for how clean our home needs to be to feel comfortable and not embarrassed if someone comes over. But if you have kids you know that your home just isn’t going to stay as clean as it used to.
Lowering your standards of cleanliness doesn’t mean you need to live in filth but it may mean having a more relaxed approach. Maybe the floors don’t need to be mopped every week in low traffic areas and having a bit of dust on a few surfaces isn’t the end of the world.
How much imperfection you’re willing to put up with is a personal choice but it’s definitely something to consider. It’s ok if your home isn’t perfect as long as you’re happy with the state of your home most of the time.
Cut Yourself Some Slack
We all get busy from time to time. And the busier you are living life and making memories in your home, the less time you’ll have for cleaning. Just remember to allow for this.
Spending time with family and friends should take priority over cleaning. So if the cleaning slips a little, let it. And don’t beat yourself up because your home isn’t as clean as usual. The reality is that no one is going to judge you as harshly as you judge yourself.
Unless your house is a complete disaster, remember that your guests come over to enjoy your company and probably won’t notice all the things that seem so offensive to you.
Implementing even a few of these tips should go a long way toward making cleaning a little easier and less of a chore.
Do you have any super helpful tips of your own? Drop them in the comments. Until next time, happy cleaning!