If I had a penny for every time somebody told me they just didn't have time to keep their house as clean and tidy as mine, I would be a very rich woman. Well, richer than I am at least. No matter how many times I hear this claim, it always surprises me. Yes, the people who say this lead busy lives but their assumption that having a clean home takes oodles of time and burdensome hard work leaves me baffled.
I did not always love to clean. Cleaning is something I have trained myself to enjoy and a part of that training has been shedding the negative associations I had with cleaning.
It'll take ages and I'm going out in an hour. I'm exhausted from work and have no energy to scrub my house clean. I don't have the tools I need. My house is such a mess, I'm too overwhelmed to make a start.
Would it surprise you to hear that I spend less than 30 minutes on all cleaning on the average day? Yet my house is always pretty clean. In those 30 minutes or less, I empty bins, do laundry, wash dishes, clean toilets, make beds, hoover carpets, shine mirrors, mop floors, scrub tiles, water plants and polish furniture. Really.
The key to being able to get so much done in so little time? Having a routine. At this point I could walk through my cleaning routines in my sleep (in fact, on more than one occasion there have been sleep cleaning incidents. Who knew that was a thing?)
In January I blogged about the five habits to integrate into your daily routine to stop your house becoming overwhelming (you can find them here: https://www.thetidylifeproject.com/single-post/2018/01/24/Adulting-101). Making the bed, doing the dishes, doing laundry, sorting mail and putting away clothes make up about 10 minutes of my daily cleaning and tidying. As these tasks are broken up throughout the day, I don't even notice them as being annoying chores anymore. They are merely automatic habits, I don't even notice I'm doing - nobody ever claims to be too busy to brush their teeth!
On a daily basis I also do several quick cleaning tasks: clean the toilets (about 30 seconds per toilet to scrub and wipe), hoover one well trafficked area (3 minutes, including setting up the hoover), spray and wipe my shower after I've washed myself (1 minute) and a pre-bed kitchen wipe down (5 minutes) which typically includes cleaning the counters, a quick wipe of the hob and oven doors, as well as spot cleaning any splatters to tiles, floors or cabinets. These chores are so gosh darn quick. They've helped me realise that just doing small things, consistently throughout the day can transform your house into a beautifully clean living space, without hours of arduous toiling.
Now down to the really gritty stuff. Wiping my kitchen counters and doing a load of laundry is great, but what about the bigger jobs? Roughly 10-15 minutes each day is devoted to tackling one area in my home. This is the only part of my day in which I deliberately set out to clean. When I lived in small apartments this would take as little as 2 or 3 minutes, so how long you spend is up to the size of your home and the number of occupants (for comparison, I have a 4 bedroom, 4 public room, large Victorian house).
Remember: perfectionism is the enemy of progress.
My home is not perfect. Not now, not ever. But it is almost always under my control. So when friends question how I get such a perfect space, I know they're looking through rose tinted glasses. The grass is always greener, especially if you aren't the one mowing it!
I am sharing my weekly cleaning routine with you, not in the hope that you will follow it word for word (not even I do that!) but to give you an idea of how you can tackle a seemingly large task in minutes by breaking it down into small increments.
Dark laundry and kitchen cleaning
Wipe counters (2 minutes)
Clean microwave and toaster (2 minutes)
Clean tiles (1 minute)
Clean oven (3 minutes)
Clean fridge shelves (2 minutes)
Hoover floors (2 minutes)
Mop floors (2 minutes)
Light laundry and bathroom cleaning
Clean shower door (1 minute)
Clean shower tiles (2 minutes)
Clean bathtub (2 minutes)
Clean toilet (1 minute)
Clean sink (1 minute)
Clean mirrors (1 minute)
Clean surfaces (1 minute)
Hoover (2 minutes)
Mop (2 minutes)
Towels and living rooms
Plump and straighten cushions (1 minute)
Dust and polish surfaces (2 minutes)
Clean TV (1 minute)
Clean mirror (1 minute)
Hoover (2 minutes)
Clean remote controls (1 minute)
Cleaning rags and bins
Empty all bins (3 minutes)
Empty recycling cupboard (3 minutes)
Take out bins for collection (3 minutes)
Freshen and wipe bins (3 minute)
Catch up and monthly or annual cleaning
Saturday (yes, I clean at the weekends!)
Bed linens and hallway, entrance and stairs
Dust surfaces and skirting boards (3 minutes)
Hoover stairs (2 minutes)
Hoover downstairs hallway (2 minutes)
Hoover upstairs hallway (2 minutes)
Clean bannister (1 minute)
Hand washing / miscellany (e.g. duvets, shoes, coats, etc.) and bedrooms
Change bedding (3 minutes per bed)
Dust surfaces (2 minutes)
Clean makeup brushes (2 minutes)
Hoover (2 minutes)
Cleaning your home doesn't have to take up all your leisure time. Nor does it have to be done every single day. While the above routine works for me, I tried several other strategies before settling on this one. Other people might prefer the so-called "power hour" method in which you race the clock to get as much done in an hour as possible. Others might not like cleaning by room and choose to focus on one task a day (e.g. Mondays are for dusting, Tuesdays are for hoovering).
The most important thing to always remember is that there is no right or wrong way to clean your house. It is enough that you are cleaning it! Congratulate yourself on a job well done and remember: always progress not perfection.
Let me know if you would be interested in more tips on how I clean my home or YouTube videos on the subject. The Tidy Life Project is branching out!