I realise this might come off as a bit of an unpopular opinion, but I like to clean my home. At least, I like to do certain things around the home that can be classified as cleaning.
I dislike dusting, but I love to vacuum. I love doing the dishes. I like ironing. I like doing the windows. I like doing the floors. I don’t quite enjoy doing the bathroom, but that’s only because I need to keep bending down to wipe under things. I even like cleaning the oven.
I happen to find cleaning soothing. It lets my mind wander and keeps my body busy, and I find the combination is very good for my mental health. Plus it keeps me active and gives me something to do, something I very much needed during lockdown.
However, I am naturally not always in the mood to clean. There are days when I just want to get it over with, especially when the weather is nice and I’d rather potter around in the garden.
When you don’t feel like spending a couple of hours with a mop and duster in hand, try to employ some of my time-saving house-cleaning tips. If you turn them into a routine, you’ll hopefully find you don’t dread the task as much anymore.
Set an actual timer
For starters, you might want to consider setting a timer for yourself. You don’t have to clean for two hours (or even an hour) straight. Alot yourself some time, let’s say 20 minutes, for a room. The time limit will encourage you to work faster, as you’ll want to beat the clock.
This will prevent you from dilly dallying around, and help you focus on the actual work at hand. You can then take a break, or set a new timer for the next room.
Clean as you go
If you are the kind of person who tends to leave a mess behind, trying to change this habit can cut down on your cleaning time significantly.
When cooking, wipe the surfaces and wash the dishes right now, as opposed to after the meal. Wipe the bathroom tiles after you get out of the shower. Dust the TV and your computer every day.
These tiny bursts of cleaning will prevent a lot of dust, water stains and general clutter from piling up, and you’ll have a much easier task ahead.
Do your piles every day
And if you, like me, leave piles of things around the house, make sure you tackle them every day. The sorting alone can take up an entire hour of your time if you do it all in one go.
For instance, we have a bottom of the stairs pile. It used to live on the actual stairs, but we have since acquired a basket (this one, in fact) that fits all of our miscellaneous sh*t.
If there is something in the basket, you can’t go upstairs without taking at least one item with you. So, spare glasses, chargers, batteries, books, everything you can’t be bothered to climb the stairs for right now can await transportation in a similar spatial solution.
If you make clothing piles, piles of items to sort through, piles of skincare to try – don’t let them sit around all day, as they will come back to bite you in the, well, behind.
Don’t clean everything
This might sound counterintuitive, but hear me out.
I used to do most of my cleaning on Saturdays. This involved going over the entire house, top to bottom, and doing everything from dusting to scrubbing.
There is a better way to do it though. If you break all of your tasks down, you can tackle them throughout the week, which will actually result in a lot of time saved. You are much more efficient if you do 20 minutes every day, than if you need to do everything in 3 hours straight. You get tired, after all.
If you’ve just cleaned the bathroom two days ago, you don’t need to give it another thorough clean just because you’re vacuuming in the rest of the house today.
You may however feel that this means the house will never be actually 100% clean and tidy, and you are right. But, you will be compensated by the fact that you will have a new area of your home to marvel at every day.
Multitask more cleverly
I was about to go on a tangent about multitasking being a myth, but I’ve managed to restrain myself just in time.
I’ll try to sum up my fifth tip as: don’t try to do three things at once, but do let something work, settle, empty or rest while you do something else. Example: fill the dishwasher and let it work, apply toilet cleaner to your toilet, oven cleaner to the oven, and load the washing machine.
You will have to time this exercise well, as you don’t want to leave any harsh chemical cleaner on any surface too long. If you use natural cleaning agents, or something very mild like this Botanical Origin cleaner that I love, you won’t have to be as careful.
Find the right microfiber cloth
I find microfiber cloths the best ally you can have. I know they are not exactly the most sustainable, but I’ve had mine for years and I have yet to throw one out. These are not quite the ones I have, but they seem pretty similar, so I assume they will last just as well.
Bamboo might be a really good option to look into too (these seem particularly lovely), if you are in the market for something more sustainable and eco-friendly.
You want a cloth that absorbs very well, and that will also attract dust and not merely spread it around. There is nothing worse than dusting with a poor-quality cloth that does nothing but move dirt from point A to point B.
Dust before you vacuum
I also highly advise that you do the dusting first. Technically, you might want to clear up any clutter beforehand, ensure everything is in the right place, and then get the duster out.
If you were to clean the floors first and then do the dusting, you’d merely need to do the floors twice, and no one wants that.
Always work from top to bottom, even if there appears to be little to no dust on a surface. Even the best microfiber cloth or one of those feather-like contraptions will scatter some of it around, and while you won’t notice it today, you will start to notice it tomorrow.
Another great way to save some time is to ensure you have a clean area to work with when vacuuming. This means lifting any runners from the floor, moving the slippers, perhaps lifting the chairs up on the table? It will take a bit of prep, but if you can seamlessly go from one room to the next without having to move any furniture around, you can get it done in under 10 minutes (unless of course you live in a mansion).
Store cleaning products where you need them
I also find it’s much easier to clean if you have everything you need within arms reach. While we do have a utility room, I actually keep spare cleaning products there.
The under-sink cupboard in the kitchen stores all of my kitchen cleaning stuff. This saves me the time from getting the oven cleaner or a new sponge if I need it.
There is a shelf in the bathroom cabinet for all the bathroom-related stuff, and I only need to go into the utility room to pick up my all-surface cleaner. That is also where the vacuum cleaner lives, of course.
Have multiples of everything
It might seem a bit wasteful, but you are going to end up using all of those cloths and cleaners anyway. You don’t need to have a full-on doomsday stockpile, but a spare of everything will come in very handy.
When I open a new anything, I add it to the shopping list. Since the pandemic, we have also started doing a lot of our shopping on Amazon, so I just keep adding things in my basket for a couple of weeks or so, and then place one large order. This includes practically everything cleaning- and home-related we tend to purchase regularly.
Just make sure you use the oldest items first, as you don’t want them to go out of date. And I do still recommend giving a new product a sniff in-store before you order it online, if possible. If you are as affected by smells as I am, you might end up with a lavender-scented toilet cleaner you have to rehome as soon as possible.
Invest in a Vacuum Cleaner
The tools you use will directly impact the amount of elbow grease and time you also need to invest in keeping your home spotless and clutterless. Which is why I am the biggest advocate of making an actual investment in your vacuum cleaner.
Since I love washing dishes I don’t put as much stock in dishwashers. Washing machines I have a very neutral relationship with too. But the vacuum cleaner needs to be top of the line (within your budget of course), and it needs to help you more than it frustrates you.
We have the Shark NZ801UKT, and I love it to bits. It’s not cordless, which is what I would ideally want, but that is its only fault. It is light, it is powerful, it moves from surface to surface, it can fit under the sofa, it’s amazing.
Sidenote: if you can recommend an amazing cordless vacuum cleaner, I’d love to hear your recommendations.
I hope I have managed to point out a few hacks you can implement in your cleaning routine that will make it more manageable.
And if not, just try to do what I do – think of cleaning as a moving meditation, and let your mind rest while your body works away.