Life gets so busy and it feels like my house turns into a disaster zone in an instant. While I try to only focus on the parts of my house that make the most difference, I’ve also created some tricks for myself to keep things from getting too far out of hand. These quick cleaning tips, tricks, and rules have made a world of difference in keeping my house tidier and making me feel less overwhelmed.
1. The “10-Second” Tidy
My family picked this one up from a kid’s show my sister used to watch, The Big Comfy Couch. In the show, Loonette, the main character, makes a big mess throughout the show. Towards the end of the show, she asks, “Who made this big mess?!” Upon realizing she made the mess, she does a “10- Second Tidy” to clean everything up.
While we can’t speed up time to clean up the house in a mere 10-Seconds, my family started to do a nightly “10-Second” tidy before heading to bed. I’ve continued this in my own home.
This isn’t the time for deep cleaning, it’s a time to pick up things that are out of place and put them where they belong. This includes things like throwing away junk mail, putting shoes back on the rack, putting electronics back at their charging stations, picking up socks off the floor, etc. I aim to clear off my kitchen table, kitchen counter and tidy the living room.
This should take 5 maybe 10 minutes. It’s a quick tidy, so you can wake up to a clean house.
2. No Dirty Dishes Overnight
This is pretty self-explanatory. This is one I don’t love doing, but I do it for Future Jo because I like waking up to a clean kitchen. I do it for the future reward.
Also, dishes are always easier to clean right after they were dirtied. If you wait overnight they start smelling and the food gets caked on. No bueno.
Take 5-10 minutes and clean up any dishes stacked up, future you will thank you.
3. Clean as You’re Cooking
One of my other favorite tricks to keeping up with the dishes is to clean while I’m cooking. Waiting for a pot of water to boil? Clean dishes! Reheating something in the microwave? Clean dishes! Don’t let those pockets of time go to waste!
I also try to clean as I go while I’m cooking. Rinse out colanders right after using them. Wash pots when you’re done. Rinse your measuring spoons and cups after you’re done. Don’t let food settle on your cooking gear, it just makes it harder to clean later. At least give them a quick rinse, you can wash them more thoroughly later if that’s your preference.
4. Set a Timer
I don’t think most of our cleaning tasks take as long as we think they do. Next time you’re folding laundry, set a timer and see how long it actually takes you. I bet it’s not as long as you thought.
In the same vein, you can also tell yourself you’re only going to spend 5 minutes on a task. You can set an actual timer and see how fast you can get it done. For me, just telling myself that I’m only going to do it for 5 minutes is good enough to get me started, I don’t need to actually set a timer.
5. Make Cleaning Fun
I know, fun and cleaning don’t usually go in the same sentence, but I learned this one from my college roommates. Our apartments had monthly cleaning checks, so inevitably we’d have a mad-dash cleaning frenzy the day before checks. We had a designated Cleaning Playlist that we would all rock out to while we cleaned.
Though I’m mostly cleaning solo these days, I still try to make it more fun by listening to music, a podcast or an audiobook. It’s entertaining and helps distract you so the time goes by faster.
Sometimes when I’m busy in the kitchen and my husband wants to hang out with me, he’ll pull out his portable speaker and start DJing for me. We’ll inevitably have to have some dance breaks, but it definitely makes the job more fun.
6. Create a Cleaning Schedule
Make a list of all the things that need to get cleaned around your house and then break them up throughout the week. I’m a big fan of doing a little bit every day.
Don’t waste your entire Saturday cleaning your house from top to bottom (unless that’s your jam, then more power to you!), break up your cleaning into 15-30 minute chunks that you can tackle each day.
Lastly, unless you’re living alone, there are other people in your house helping to dirty it up. Put them to work I say! This can be a little trickier with a spouse with an unpredictable chronic illness, but start small. My husband’s official duties that he’s in charge of are garbage- both collection and putting the bins out on the curb- and emptying the dishwasher.
They’re nothing massive, but they’re 2 fewer things I need to keep track of in my brain. And of course, if my husband is having a down week, I can jump in and do them for him, but for the most part, he makes it happen.
Don’t let your house make you feel overwhelmed, there are simple tips, tricks, and rules to help you stay on top of things. Do a nightly “10-Second” tidy and wash your dishes every night so you can wake up to a clean house. Use pockets of time while you’re cooking to tidy up your kitchen and nearby areas.
If you feel like a task takes soooo long to do, time it and see how long it actually takes you. You’ll probably be surprised by how short the time span actually is. Crank up the tunes and make cleaning more fun! It’s a great distraction that’ll help the time fly past.
Create a schedule to divide up your house cleaning throughout the week. Just 15-30 minutes each day is all you need. And delegate! You’re not the only one living in your house. Discuss with your husband what you can start handing off to him. It’ll be one less thing on your plate and one less tab open in your brain to keep track of.
The goal is a cleaner house without increasing stress!