Our homes are doubling as spaces for both work and play. We’re cooking and eating more meals at home, and spending so much time indoors that we’re having to clean a lot more. And let’s face it, cleaning is hard, boring work that often has to be done every day.
How then do you enjoy a neat, clean space without being overwhelmed by exhaustion and clutter? The secret is to build habits that, over time, become part of your daily routine, making cleaning an easy, stress-free experience.
Make the bed as soon as you wake up
In a much-quoted article, entrepreneur and author, Tim Ferriss lauds the productivity hack that is making one’s bed first thing in the morning. No matter how insignificant the act might seem, it gives you a feeling of control over the chaos and prepares you for the day ahead, he says. If you work out of your bedroom, having a neat, uncluttered bed can help improve focus and productivity.
Through the day, avoid using your bed to store clothes, books, and other items. This not only saves you time spent cleaning up at the end of the day, but it also improves the chances of enjoying a restful night’s sleep on a tidy bed.
Wipe down surfaces as you go
Whether it is the chopping board or countertop in the kitchen; sinks or shower doors in the bathroom, or tabletops and desks, tackle the cleaning of a surface immediately after you have used it. This bite-sized approach to cleaning prevents tasks from piling up and appearing overwhelming at the end of the day.
Put things away as soon as you use them
This is an important rule in keeping things orderly around the house and minimising the amount of spent in hunting for items when you need them. If you have too much stuff and nowhere to keep it, it will pile up and add to the mess.
So whether its clothes, shoes, books or appliances, make sure everything has a designated place in your home and that everything is stashed away as soon as its job is done. Leaving these items outside not only makes your home look messy, but every item out of place is a potential magnet for dust and disorder which only adds to your cleaning tasks.
Sort out the dishes every day
There’s little that crushes your spirit like facing a mountain of dirty dishes. Break down your workload by washing as you cook. Even if you don’t have the time to give every dish the full scrub-wash-rinse treatment, a quick rinse under running water is enough to dislodge food particles and make it easier to clean later on. Deal with cutlery, plates and smaller dishes as soon as you can to minimise the mess.
Share the load
Set up a cleaning schedule and involve family members in the daily clean up. Older children can be put in charge of chores such as putting away washed dishes and folding the laundry while younger ones can assist by keeping their toys and books in order.
Teaching children to clean up after themselves and lend a hand with simple tasks is a valuable lesson. It helps them develop good habits at a young age and appreciate the effort that goes into house cleaning.
Keep it simple
What unites people with clean homes is a steadfast commitment to minimalistic living. This means that they are very careful about what they buy and about the items that enter their homes. They avoid items that have little or no practical use and only end up adding to the mess.
They declutter often and donate or gift away the things they don’t use. While this is a habit to be slowly developed, being mindful of the things one is buying is a good way to keep clutter and dust to a minimum.
Have a cleaning routine
People with clean homes have well-defined cleaning schedules to keep things in order. Not only does this help them prevent dirt and messes from piling up and certain areas of the house from getting neglected, but it also reduces the risk of overcleaning. Prioritise high traffic areas as daily cleaning tasks along with sweeping, mopping and dishes. Schedule laundry, dusting and bathroom cleaning to be done on a weekly basis.
Alternatively, aim to clean a room or two every day of the week so you don’t get bogged down by the activity. As a rule, don’t deep clean your own more than once a month. Making a cleaning calendar and having it handy is a good way to keep other family members looped into your schedule, too.
Tackling similar cleaning tasks together is a good way to get them over with as soon as possible without carving out additional time in your day. Got something cooking on the stove? Use that time to wipe down the counter or organise the fridge. Scrub bathroom tiles or sinks when you’re in the shower and combine dusting with sweeping and mopping.
Make cleaning fun
Cleaning is a daily, repetitive task that can leave you tired and bored. Since most cleaning does not require much focus, it is a great window of time into which you can add the activities you enjoy doing. Listen to music or an audiobook while you sweep or fold the laundry; call a friend when you’re cooking or get your kids or partner to read to you.