How to make cleaning house less tedious

Of all the domestic duties, I loathe cleaning. For me, it’s unrewarding because as soon as everything is clean and shining, it immediately starts sliding back towards filth. That kind of Sisyphean struggle is too much of a real-life metaphor for me. Having said that, I enjoy living in a clean house. And I recognize the importance of taking care of one’s living space, furniture and possessions, and so I clean. But I use all of these tricks to make cleaning the house less tedious and that helps me get through it.

By the way, I know there are people who enjoy cleaning and I sincerely envy you – what’s your secret? Will you share it with me in the comments?

If you missed it, be sure to check out How to Make Cooking Less Tedious.

A person looks with dread at a vacuum, post about making cleaning less tedious

Since cleaning is definitely something I do from necessity, not pleasure, here are some of the ways I’ve made cleaning easier.

1 – Pick a day or time for regular chores, like vacuuming, dusting and cleaning the kitchen and bathroom.

Yes, that’s pretty basic and also pretty rigid. But it works. It works because it’s really easy to put off something you don’t want to do. But if you’ve decided Thursday night is when you’re going to vacuum and Saturday is when you’re doing to scrub the kitchen and bath, it’s a lot easier to roll up your sleeves and get it done.

There are some tasks that need to be done daily or at least very often. With chores like these (wiping down counters or sinks, sweeping the kitchen, etc) it’s usually easiest to fold them into the routine of some other task. Wiping down counters as you’re cooking or during post-meal clean up is the easiest way to make sure they get done often. Yes, it will add some time to your daily work, but it’s better for both your hygiene and your schedule to keep up with those sorts of chores.

2- When you’re setting up your weekly chore plan, spread things out.

If your schedule allows it, spacing the regular chores out over the week can remove the dread of losing a whole day to house cleaning. It can be a lot easier to commit to 20 or 30 minutes of daily chores than a huge block of time. OR, flip that. For some people, having little daily tasks might be a nightmare. If that’s you, then give yourself permission to do all of the ‘big cleaning’ in one chunk of time.

The point here isn’t to follow MY schedule. It’s to find a way to incorporate regular cleaning tasks into your schedule so they just become part of your routine. Only you know what will work best for you. And don’t be afraid to keep tweaking the plan until you get it right.

3 – Prioritize.

This might be polarizing. But decide where your actual household priorities are. If you don’t really care about a little dust or streaky windows, then those might be chores you skimp on or do less often. Obviously there’s a line between “I can live with a few spots on the mirror” and “I haven’t wiped the mirror off in years so I can’t even see my reflection”.

Most of us have a finite amount of time and energy. If you’re not overly bothered by something and it’s not a source of conflict with others in your house nor an actual health hazard, it’s ok to do it less often.

4 – Delegate.

If you live with other people, consider if everyone is pulling their weight, if they are able to. Evaluate this during a calm moment when you can be objective. Rather than in an angry moment when you’re wondering why you’re the only person who apparently knows how the vacuum works. Even if you and family or roommates have previously made plans for sharing household work, it might be time to reevaluate it. Perhaps some chore has started taking more time or energy or maybe someone has been shirking a bit. There’s no harm in revisiting the division of labor and making sure it’s still equitable for everyone.

Note that even if you’re feeling like all the cleaning falls to you, that may be perception rather than reality. Try to hear other’s concerns with an open mind, if they voice them. It’s easy to get caught up in anger or frustration when household chores come into play, so proceed calmly and cautiously and make sure everyone has time to speak up and time to process the conversation.

5 – Keep everything you need to clean in a logical spot.

Logical for you. For some people, that’s going to mean all of the cleaning supplies live together and for others, it might mean smaller stashes around the house. For example, I keep rags, scrub brushes and cleaner under the bathroom sink. It’s much more likely that I will wipe the sink out it if I don’t have to go find a rag. It’s also a lot easier to just get to the task at hand if everything is right there and ready to go.

The one thing I’m sure of is that no one has ever found cleaning house easier when they had to do a 15  minute supply hunt every single time. A bonus to this is that you’ll know when you’re running low on something, so you can add it to your weekly shopping list.

6 – Don’t use cleaning supplies or tools you hate.

Ok, so I  will never love any vacuum. But once I bought one that I didn’t hate, it made this loathsome task less awful. Likewise, if you don’t like the smell of a certain cleanser or your scrub brush annoys you, try other options. And make sure your tools and supplies are actually getting the job done. You’re going to hate vacuuming much more if you’re using an underpowered or poorly working machine or the wrong attachments. And if a bathroom cleaner is only so-so, it’s going to make scrubbing the shower harder.

7 – Clean as you go.

I know I said you should set up designated times for chores, and I stand by it. But I also know that taking note of stray items or a random dust bunny and dealing with it can make The Big Clean later easier. The great thing about this is you don’t have to apply it all the time. If you’re having a hectic week, leave the dust bunny alone until it’s time to do your heavy cleaning. But on days when you have a little time or energy to spare, spot tidying can help things move along more quickly.

8 – Hire help.

So for many of us, this isn’t an actual option and that’s ok. But if you’re in a position to pay someone for household help, go for it. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to have a weekly cleaning service, either. It might just mean you have someone do a really deep clean a couple times a year. Or maybe you hire a service to wash your windows. It’s worth exploring options for outsourcing some tasks, at least some of the time. There’s nothing wrong with hiring extra hands to save yourself time or take a dreaded task off your plate.

9- Purge, organize, replace and rearrange. 

Honestly, I’m pretty far from being a minimalist. I like collecting lovely things to much to ever be able to Kon Mari my home. But my grandmother used to call knickknacks “dust catchers” and I can understand why she refused to be burdened with them. There may be things in your home that you don’t like or don’t use but that create work for you. If that’s the case, see if you can ditch those, or at least stash them away so you don’t have to clean them.

Limit things on display to just items you absolutely love and keep the rest  in cabinets or closets so you don’t have to dust as much. Try fewer rugs if you’re not into vacuuming. If your couch is a cat hair magnet, consider using a nice blanket to catch the cat hair. Blinds are notorious for being hard to dust, so think about a different option for protecting your privacy or blocking light if you can.

Sometimes it’s not cleaning the items themselves that’s the issue, it’s that they make cleaning other areas harder. Floor cushions, for example, might not require much work themselves but if they make vacuuming the rug harder, it could be time to relocate them or retire them.  If your coffee table is a dust and grime magnet because it’s covered in art books that are a pain to move, it could be time to thin the display.

Reconsider What’s in Your Home

We all have certain ideas of what should or shouldn’t be in our homes but you are not obligated to have things you don’t want or need making more work for you.

Finally, think about downsizing your home, if that’s an option. The larger your dwelling, the more there is to clean. If your needs or priorities have changed, a smaller home might make sense and could cut your cleaning time down significantly.

None of these ideas mean you have to purge everything and live in a spotlessly clean tiny home. But sometimes stopping and really taking stock of how we’re living and why we’re living the way we are can lead to important discoveries and drives positive change.

10 – A “don’t” – I try not to give ‘do nots” because I think people can and should look at their situation and weigh the options until they find the best path forward for themselves. With that in mind….

Perhaps as you’ve read this post or my previous post about Making Clean Up After Dinner Easier, you’ve thought I’m overlooking an obvious option: disposable or single-use items. I’m not overlooking them. In general, they’re a waste of both money and resources and most of them will be clogging up landfills (best case scenario, considering how much of our garbage ends up in the ocean) until the sun explodes. Don’t try to save yourself time or work by using  wasteful paper and plastic products, at least not on a regular basis.

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