Time-Saving Cleaning Tricks Inspired by ‘Get Your Sh*t Together’
Cleaning sucks. I'd rather be reading. But I want to live in a clean home. I do not want to spend a lot of time cleaning it. Ergo, I've developed a few cleaning tricks, hacks, cheats or whatever you want to call them, so I have more time to read. I’m not proposing that you live some sort of hyper-scheduled life where you rush through your day and reading is just another task on your to-do list. That being said, if I can borrow time from a monotonous task like cleaning so I can spend a little more time doing something I love, I’m going to and you should too.
I got my first inclining that cleaning is a huge, hopeless time sink when I listened to Get Your Sh*T Together by Sarah Knight. Knight says “There are some folks out there who claim it’s possible to tidy once and remain tidy once and remain tidy for life. But I have to say, I call bullsh*t.” According to Knight, the only way to keep your house clean is to clean it regularly. And it is, but you don’t have to clean the whole house perfectly every time you clean. And if you can live with a little mess, have I got some cleaning tips for you. Let’s be honest, living with “a little mess” is probably better than the way you’re living now. (No offense, I’ve just been alive for the past three decades. I know how busy you are.) Barring “get a cleaning service,” here are my time-saving tricks for cleaning your home.
First, know that your kitchen and bathrooms are the only places in your home that actually get dirty (usually). Also, clutter and dirty floors make your home look messy. Like Knight, I recommend starting with a clean house. Do whatever you have to do here. Hire a professional. Use your vacation time. Coerce your family members to help. It doesn’t matter how you clean your house, just get it done. It will be hell but I promise you’ll only have to do it once, the marathon clean that is, not cleaning in general.
Deal with Your Clutter
Make sure everything has a place. This may entail donating items and restraining yourself from buying things you don’t need.
Pick up your house once a day. Again, it sucks but if you don’t keep up with your stuff you will bury yourself in it. Ok, that’s a little dramatic especially if you don’t have kids. But if your surfaces are clear and you don’t have piles of stuff everywhere, your house will look clean even if it isn’t. If you do have kids, I find it helpful to have one area of the house that doesn’t need completely picked up every day. I don’t understand how those little stinkers make such a huge mess in such a short period of time!
Clean Your Bathrooms the Easy Way
Use baby wipes or compostable cleaning wipes to wipe down your toilets and sinks. When I use spray cleaner and towels to clean, it takes me twice as long to clean the bathrooms. I’m not sure why. A few words of caution: don’t use antibacterial wipes, and make sure you throw the wipes in the composter or trash. Do not throw wipes in the toilet even if they claim to be flushable. I’ll admit that wipes are not the most environmentally friendly way to clean your bathroom, so don’t clean it often. Win-win, right?
A damp rag goes a long way on counters and tubs. Unless you let your counters and tubs get super dirty, a damp rag is all you need to wipe them off.
Don’t worry about toilet cleaner. If you make it a personal policy to scrub the toilet with the toilet brush every time there is a mess, you rarely need to use toilet cleaner. You'll have to have a toilet brush in every bathroom though.
Take Care of Your Floors
Don’t wear shoes in your house. But don’t get too worked up if other people do. Keeping your house clean is less important than making your guests feel comfortable and welcome.
Don’t bother mopping hardwood often. You’ll have to mop occasionally in the winter or when it rains, but other than that, don’t worry about it. Vacuuming hardwood without the beater on is the fastest way to clean hardwood. And don't forget to put rugs on both sides of your doors to keep the outside mess from spreading all over your beautiful floors.
Seal your grout. If you have tile floors, make sure you seal the grout well. I'm not talking about one coat of water based sealer but at least two. If you seal your grout, a little cleaner and a dish brush will go a long way. But wait this is supposed to be easy and quick, right? Sorry, there is nothing easy and quick about grout. If it’s in your shower, scrub the grout with a dish brush and dish soap. Rinse. No time for sealing? No shortcuts here and if anyone claims to have one they are lying. Low-traffic, tiled areas can get away with a good mopping every few weeks with a microfiber mop instead of scrubbing.
Get a Roomba. This might seem like a ridiculous waste of money, but it’s not. If you are even reading this post, my guess is that you don't vacuum every day. But don’t all the little kitchen (or kid) crumbs make you crazy? The Roomba takes care of those. I run mine most days just to clean up the kitchen. The Roomba doesn't replace a weekly vacuum in high-traffic areas, but it does keep your high-traffic floors clean enough for drop-in visitors. It does replace a weekly vacuum in low traffic areas. Woohoo! Seriously, get a Roomba.
Keep Up with Your Kitchen
Do the dishes and wipe down your counters, cooktop (if you use it), and sink after every meal. It sucks but it only takes 10 minutes (5 minutes if you’re my husband and are trying to prove a point). This is the only thing you have to do to keep your kitchen looking good. If fingerprints make you crazy, give your appliances a quick wipe down too.
Don't waste your money on cleaners. You don’t need any special cleaner for your kitchen, plain old water or water and a small amount of dish soap will keep everything sparkling.
More Tricks to Make Your House Look Clean and Save You Time
Make the bed. A made bed instantly makes a bedroom tidier.
Skip dusting. You will have to dust eventually, but if you change your air filter regularly and don’t have too many people or animals living in your house, you do not have to dust every week or even every month. And your baseboards probably only need an annual wipe down. Ok, I haven’t cleaned mine in two years.
If you see a mess clean it up. Grumble and curse while you do it if it makes you feel better, but clean it up. The only way to avoid marathon cleaning sessions is to clean regularly. Good thing regularly is a subjective term.
Use multiple laundry hampers, one for each load so you never have to sort laundry again. I’m a bit anal when it comes to laundry, so I have six hampers. They are in sets of three so they don’t take up too much room, but you might have to have a walk-in closet for this kind of system.
Speaking of regular cleaning, Knight claims that if you clean regularly it will simply “become part of your routine just like watching the Today Show or trimming your nose hair.” And although I am totally on board with her anti-guru logic, she might be wrong here. Cleaning will always be a chore, pun intended, no matter how “routine” you make it. The only way to make cleaning suck less is to clean less. So, if you find that you can live without some of these steps, go for it! I know that all of my tips seem like a lot of work, but it only takes me about an hour to completely clean my home, which I do once a week. I spend a little time everyday to declutter, wipe down the kitchen, and make the beds.
Execute my tips any way you choose. If you want to clean in spurts followed by short breaks, do it. If you prefer to get everything done at once, do it that way. If you want to spread everything out across your week, you can do that too. You’ll enjoy your books more when you read them in your clean and peaceful home. And hopefully, I’ve helped make your cleaning routine efficient enough that you have more time to read! Don’t forget, you can also listen to audiobooks like Get Your Sh*t Together while you clean. Now I want tips from you! How do you cheat when you clean?
Get Your Sh*t Together: How to Stop Worrying About What You Should Do So You Can Finish What You Need to Do and Start Doing What You Want to Do (A No F*cks Given Guide)
By Sarah Knight
Little, Brown and Company. 304 pp.