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I admit I’m not the best at housecleaning. With a full-time job, my painting hobby and now writing this blog there’s not much free time in my schedule. Even when I did have time, cleaning was not on the top of my list. Fortunately, I have a spouse with the same feelings about house cleaning.
Until recently, we had fallen into the habit of cleaning only when one of us can’t stand it anymore. We didn’t feel like we could have people over or if we did it meant … a mad scurry around the house to at least surface clean. We even hired a house cleaner for a few years. This was absolutely delightful until she graduated and moved away. Loved her and loved the way my house felt clean and peaceful when I walked into it on cleaning day after a long day at work.
My husband and I had to figure out how to take care of our own house again. Amazing how easy it is to forget where your cleaning supplies are and how to use them. While we were locating and figuring out how to divide up the chores, we started developing cleaning hacks of our own.
Use fewer cleaning supplies.
We had separate and multiple bottles of cleaner for just about every surface in our home; stone, wood, granite, stainless steel, porcelain, tile, carpet, upholstery. I think the end total was around 30 separate bottles of stuff taking up storage space.
Gather up all your cleaning supplies in one space and cut them all down to the basics. There are cleaners out there that will handle more than one job. Find them, use them. There are also substitutes you can make out of common household ingredients. For example, and this is one of my favorites, glass cleaner. All you need is a spray bottle, water, rubbing alcohol and a drop of dish soap. Fill the spray bottle half and half with the alcohol and water and put one drop of the dish soap in. Shake well. It will clean ALL reflective surfaces without leaving a residue. This includes your eyeglasses! This hack alone replaced almost half of our cleaning products.
Another wonderful product on the market is Bar Keeper’s Friend. You can find it in any grocery or big box retailer in the cleaning supply aisles. My porcelain kitchen sink was scratched and looking dingy and with very little elbow grease, Bar Keeper’s Friend cleaned it right up. It’s a great multipurpose cleaner. However, it is gritty so try it out on a small patch of the surface being cleaned to make sure it doesn’t scratch it.
I think that foamy “scrubbing” bathroom cleaners are a gimmick. Formula 409 does the same job as the foamy cleaners and Sam’s and Costco have it in an economy size that saves you money.
I’ve tried different strategies with my cleaning supplies. I distributed them out to each room I use them in and I tried hauling them around the house in a carrier with a handle. I now have a hybrid system. Since I don’t like running from bathroom to bathroom with cleaners and drippy sponges, I duplicate those items in each room. For every other room, my supplies are in one place.
Declutter your main living areas every day.
Especially on the weekends when most of us have a tendency to have multiple activities. Spend a few minutes at the end of the day putting things back in their place. We both have little quirks in this area. My husband leaves his socks in the living room and I tend to kick off my shoes when I walk in the door. So generally our clutter is a lot of “repeat” items.
If you have two or more levels in your house, I recommend putting a basket by the stairs. Throw anything that doesn’t belong on the level you find it and then haul the basket up (or down) at the end of the day.
The rest of the family also needs to engage in this practice. Otherwise you’ll end up putting away everyone else’s crap and feeling frustrated or not decluttering at all.
Also, declare one small area for each family member exempt from the daily declutter exercise. For me it’s the table in the kitchen where my painting supplies are, for my husband, it’s his half of the office and for my brother, it’s a rolling table in his sitting room. For the kids, set aside a corner of their room This is just practical so you’re not interrupting projects and activities every day.
Do a deep dive on one room each month.
I hated this one at first. I could see it sucking up hours and hours of my time. But I have to admit, after our first deep clean, I was really happy with the results. We also picked the largest area in the house to start with … the unfinished part of our basement. There were boxes down there leftover from combining three households. Much to my joy, I opened one box of books and found all the vintage Sci-fi that I thought were gone forever. By using this tip on the largest area in the house, it’s made the rest of the room seem easy.
So, pick a room. Pick the one that bothers you the most. The one that you look at and just wish it would all disappear so you can start over. Decide where you want the big pieces of furniture to end up then devise a plan of attack around the furniture so you’re not moving pieces more than once (if you can help it). Always clean from the highest surface to the lowest with vacuuming an area dead last. This will make sure you’re not dropping dust into areas you’ve already cleaned.
If you’re really feeling ambitious set aside boxes for items you want to donate or sell. We did this with the basement area just because we knew there were things down there that we didn’t need anymore. Much to our surprise, we ended up with three pickup loads that we donated to Goodwill.
If you take one room every month, then you don’t ever have to spend a lot of time on trying to spring clean the entire house all at once.
Microtasking is your friend
Microtasking is an old concept given a new name. Break your big chores up into small chores.
Along with daily decluttering, which really shouldn’t take more than a minute or so if you do it every day, pick a cleaning task or tasks to do. Dust rooms x,y, and z one day. Dust rooms a, b, and c another. I have microfiber clothes hidden in every single room so I can just grab one and wipe everything down. Throw a single load of laundry in the wash machine. Haul it out and toss it into the dryer the next morning. Dry it the next evening while you’re washing another load. Pick a bathroom, clean the toilet. Do something every day, anything at all, and it will free up time on your weekends.
Put all your cleaning tasks on a schedule
You really didn’t think you were going to get away with no homework, did you? Yeah, I know, scheduling is boring. I get that. I’m not nuts about it myself. But I promise it will keep you on track and your home will be cleaner and more peaceful. I feel calm and happy when the house is clean and organized. It also allows me to focus on the things I really enjoy.
So grab a calendar and your family. Pick a day to do your deep dive first. Make sure it’s consistently on or near the same day every month. Allot four to six hours to it. That’s all. If you can’t get it all done in that time frame don’t worry. The next time you get to that room on your schedule, there will be less to clean.
Don’t forget the seasonal cleaning jobs like window washing. You can break those down if you want to or leave them as a big task.
Then look at all your big tasks that fill up your precious weekend hours. How can they be divided into small chunks? Do the dividing and then start filling in a small task or tasks each day and assign each to a family member. The tasks shouldn’t take up more than a half hour total for all family members combined and this also includes decluttering!
Got It? Ready, Set, Go!
Cleaning doesn’t have to fill hours and hours of your time. A task every day is the key. I hope these five tips help you to get your housecleaning under control as they’ve helped me. Share your tips and tricks in the comment section below!!!
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