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5 Tips to Make Cleaning Less of a Chore

5 Tips to Make Cleaning Less of a Chore

If you’re one of those magical humans that love cleaning, have tons of energy to spare, and find scrubbing your slimy shower super satisfying, this list is not for you, but please feel free to enjoy our library of cleaning how-to videos while the rest of us have a little chat.

OK, now that the perfect people are gone, let's have a real talk. Cleaning is hard, sometimes it can be downright gross, and worst of all it literally never ends, as the moment you finish some well-meaning toddler (or overgrown child in the form of your spouse or roommate) comes barreling through all your hard earned sparkle.

'As frustrating as it is, though, you really can’t abandon the task all together, as your physical and mental health demands at least a reasonably clean environment. Even if you hire a professional service, they can’t be there every day to take care of the never ending basics that wear even the most motivated of us down sometimes.

While there is no silver bullet to making cleaning a delight every day, these tips will make it as tolerable and efficient as possible even on lousy days, which is no small feat given the starting point.

1. Create a Cleaning Caddy

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is as true for your health as it is for cleaning. If the act of cleaning overwhelms you, the key to helping you do it is making it as easy to get going as possible.

Buy a plastic caddy and fill it with everything you need to do most basic cleaning tasks, so it's easy to grab and go without having to pull stuff together. For most people that kit should at least include:

  1. a disinfecting all purpose cleaner that cleans glass
  2. a bathroom cleaner spray
  3. a neutral pH floor cleaner
  4. a few scrub brushes and scrubby backed sponges
  5. some microfiber towels
  6. a microfiber duster.

Depending on your home, you might need to add an acidic abrasive powder for hard water or a specialty cleaner for surfaces like leather, but don’t bog it down with too much. The goal is that it’s easy to lift and store on a shelf for a grab and go solution whenever inspiration strikes.

2. Let Your Laundry Basket Double as A Focus Barricade

Life comes at you fast, so most people end up multitasking during virtually every moment of the day, whether it’s cooking dinner while checking email or putting away misplaced items while trying to clean.

Try as you might, it is far too easy to get distracted and forget where you left off cleaning every time you leave to put something back where it belongs.

Instead of getting spirited away by side quests, let your laundry basket protect you from yourself AND make you more efficient. Simply put the laundry basket at the doorway of the room you are cleaning, so everything that you find that doesn't belong in the room goes in the basket as you work.

Once the room is complete, bring the basket to the next room and repeat, till you finish the amount of cleaning you intended for the day, only then will you carry the basket around like Santa Clause, gifting each room all their missing items in one efficient swoop.

3. Let Your Senses Supply the Serotonin

Sadly, just as some find working out energizing, like those lucky gymaholics, some people just don’t like cleaning. There’s no dopamine reward for all that scrubbing, so training your brain to be motivated to do it can be far more difficult.

The trick is to insert things your brain DOES enjoy into things it doesn’t to trick your brain into associating the feeling of doing the stuff you love with the stuff you don’t. Spring for the really good smelling cleaning products (or some fragrance oils to sprinkle into your old tried and trues), to make cleaning more pleasurable.

Upbeat music with a driving beat will keep you clean faster and keep your energy up. Listening to music you like releases happiness chemicals like serotonin and dopamine, helping you get through this clean and teaching your brain to associate cleaning with enjoyment in the future, making motivating next time even easier. Even investing in some soft and comfy cleaning gloves can make the work feel less icky and make cleaning feel less like a chore.

4. Eat Your Cleaning Elephant One Scheduled Bite at a Time

The biggest mistake people who don’t like cleaning make about it is putting it off till the backlog of undone work becomes an overwhelming and unconquerable nightmare. If you’re cleaning for 4+ hours at one time and you're not a cleaning professional, you’re doing it wrong.

Divide your home up by room, determine how often those rooms really need to be cleaned, then group that work into digestible chunks (ideally one hour, max), and then create a rotation and put it on your calendar.

Instead of cleaning for hours and hours on one exhausting weekend, it might be a 30 min block everyday or one hour every other, whatever works with your lifestyle and other commitments, so you're never exhausted or overwhelmed. Let Alexa, Siri, and all the other AI nagging women in your life remind you which block needs to be addressed which day, set it to a time you’re usually free, then just grab your caddy from #1 and get cleaning!

5. Separate Housekeeping from House Cleaning

Housekeeping is the returning of order, house cleaning is the removal of soil. Professionals get through a whole suburban house in only 4 to 5 hours because they don't let themselves get distracted by putting stuff away.

When you clean, just focus on dirt removal and leave misplaced things where they are, either by just putting them back neatly (or use the basket trick from #2), so you don't get pulled into a side quest like folding laundry or organizing your freezer when you're supposed to be cleaning the stovetop.

If you use a professional cleaning service, staying on top of housekeeping is actually the best kept secret to making your professional cleaning as cheap and effective as possible. The more things are put away, the more time your cleaner can spend removing dirt and grime instead of trying to neatly display your clutter.

Bonus tip within a tip, the more homes you create for your stuff, the easier it will be to housekeep. If you find your surfaces constantly cluttered, it’s because you’ve made putting stuff away too hard. Baskets, bins, shelf dividers and trays all go a long way to break up disorganized cluttered spaces and make putting things back where they belong instinctive.

If your items don’t have a home, they’re bound to roam like vagabonds around your space, so stop leaving them out in the cold and make them a place of their own.

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