Hi everyone! This is the last in our Beginner Series – Living on Your own. If you’re just joining us for the first time, you catch up on parts 1 – 4 here.
Let’s face it, most of us don’t like cleaning. But it’s essential if you want to keep your house happy and afloat, and if you want to keep yourself healthy (all those germs can make you ill) and somewhat sane. It doesn’t have to be a chore that keeps you from enjoying your life. If you do a few small things daily, you can avoid the Saturday cleaning marathon.
Begin by asking yourself the question “what is the minimum that I need to do daily to keep my home running?” The following are a few things that take only minutes a day and will save you a lot of time (and elbow grease) in the long run.
- Shower: Clean your shower while you’re in it. Before you shower, spray the tiles with all purpose cleaner. Once you’re done showering, give the tiles a quick wipe with a cleaning sponge or cloth and then rinse them with the shower head. If you have glass shower doors, invest in a squeegee and squeegee the doors after your shower. It only takes a few minutes and you’ll save yourself at least 20 minutes on your day off.
- Toilet: After your shower, give the toilet a quick swoosh with the toilet brush and wipe the bowl and seat with a sponge. Your toilet will always be clean.
- Basin: Once you’re done brushing your teeth, wipe the basin and surrounding area with a sponge.
- Hang Your Towel Up: Towels left on the floor start to smell really quickly – uugh! :
- Make Your Bed: If you have a fitted sheet and a duvet, this is just a matter of pulling up the duvet and straightening your pillows. There’s nothing better than getting into a made bed at the end of the day.
- Laundry: Keep a laundry basket in your bedroom. When you undress, instead of dropping your clothes on the floor, drop them into the laundry basket.
- If you have a dishwasher, run it before leaving for work. Make sure it’s full – this will save on your water and power bill.
- If you don’t have a dishwasher, rinse your coffee/tea cup and any breakfast dishes.
- Just before you head off to bed, do a quick pick up of things that don’t belong in that room.
- Put any dishes, mugs/glasses in the sink or dishwasher.
When I first learned to clean my own place, I thought Saturday had to be an all day clean-a-thon. I didn’t really have any idea of how to spread out the chores during the week so weekends could be reserved for larger projects or even, you know…fun! Now I clean in 20 minutes a day — every day — and things just seem to take care of themselves. At the end of the Tips & Tricks is a glimpse of the schedule I use.
You don’t have to do everything at once, and even if time seems short, if you can manage at least one task a day, things should start work themselves out. Here are 5 tips to make cleaning a success.
START AT THE FRONT DOOR
The less dirt, clutter, useless paper etc. that comes into your home, the less time you spend cleaning and organizing. Your front entrance is like a filter for the outside world and can consist of:
- a doormat – wiping your feet on a doormat keeps the dirt out
- coat hooks or hangers – these provide a place to hang your coat, hat, umbrella, bag, dog leash, etc. and underneath is a place for your boots or shoes
- a landing strip – this can be a small table, a few crates as in the picture above, or a hall tree. Somewhere you can set things down and sort the mail and a place for your keys, sunglasses and other things that need to leave the house when you do.
- If you the space, keep a recycling box by the front door and throw all unwanted paper into it before it even comes into the house.
DO YOUR DISHES AFTER EVERY MEAL
No-one really wants to do them. If you cooked the meal (see Part 3 of this series on Meal Planning) then it makes it easier if you wash/clean as you go to save yourself a mountain of dishes at the end of the meal. The same goes for taking out the trash. I must admit that this one is still a big challenge for me. I place it by the front door and take it out in the morning when I go to work.
If you have a washer and dryer at home, do a little bit each day – or every couple of days. That way you don’t feel bogged down by 50 towels and smelly socks! If you take things to a laundromat, sort clothes as you go so things are easier to load into machines when you get there. Fold them before you come home so you aren’t dumping baskets out on your sofa or bed and they can go straight into drawers and closets. Not feeling it? Treat yourself… to a laundry basket. It’s the little things … 🙂
PLAY MUSIC OR SING
When I clean, I put on what I call ‘cleaning music.’ Sounds weird, I know, but playing upbeat music makes it more fun and it seems to go by faster.
SET A TIMER
Set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes and that way, when it sounds, you know exactly how much time you have left. If you find yourself off task it’s easy to get back on track.
Each of these tasks shouldn’t take more than about 20 minutes a day:
1. Surface clean living room and kitchen. Wipe counters and surfaces, pick up stray items, dust, sweep/vacuum
2. Clean bathrooms – toilet, shower/bathtub, floor, walls, mirrors
4. Surface clean “extra” rooms – basement, office, entry way
5. Surface clean living room and kitchen
6. Clean bathrooms
7. Clean all interior windows
8. Sweep and vacuum all floors in the house – including the stairs
9. Surface clean bedrooms
10. Deep clean living room – mirrors, baseboards, dust pictures
11. Clean bathrooms
12. Clean out closets. For tips on how to organize your closets, click here
13. Surface clean “extra” rooms
14. Deep clean bedrooms – organize/declutter drawers, clean under the bed, tidy closet, dust artwork, fans, lights, mop/vacuum
15. Surface clean living room and kitchen
16. Deep clean bathrooms – clean inside drawers, inside of trash cans, tops of mirrors, tile, mop
17. Clean all door knobs, phones, entertainment equipment (remote controls), switch plates, banisters and other things that are repeatedly touched.
18. Clean out the refrigerator, take stock of food, organize pantry
19. Clean entryway, sweep porch (if you have one), clean out car (if you have one
20. Surface clean living room and kitchen
22. Surface clean bedrooms
23. Sweep and vacuum all floors in the house
24. Clean linen closet, straighten towels, sheets
25. Surface clean living room and kitchen
26. Deep clean kitchen – scrub appliances, wash trash cans, base boards, wipe down and straighten cabinets
27. Surface clean bathrooms
28. Surfaces clean bedrooms
29. Clean one item you’ve been meaning to get to and haven’t – deep clean your oven, wipe down all light fixtures, tackle a particularly messy area
30. Sweep and vacuum all floors in the house
You can also add chores that need to be done monthly or quarterly like cleaning the carpets or drapes.
I find that if I sit down after work, then nothing will ever get done, so I fill the first 20 minutes of my time with quick cleaning. Doing this will build good habits and help you stay on top of things without feeling like it’s a huge chore!
Do you have anything to add to the list? What cleaning tasks would you add? Let us know in the comments below.