Posted on July 10th, 2018
When you hear the phrase “speed cleaning,” do you feel like you might need a time machine? You’re not alone: Most people neglect bigger cleaning jobs until they morph into a Herculean task. For some of us, even smaller routine tasks (like doing the dishes) somehow pile up, usually because we feel too busy to attend to them. This problem usually comes down to perception, though: Most rooms can be cleaned in under 15 minutes.
When we think of cleaning as taking a long time, we’re tempted to put it off until it really is a daunting prospect. If you flip this attitude around, however, and learn how to effectively speed clean, you’ll soon discover the truth: You can tidy your whole house in about the same amount of time most of us waste on Facebook every day. Here’s how it’s done:
1. Get prepared.
If there’s one irrefutable fact about cleaning, it’s this: There’s absolutely no way to clean a very cluttered house quickly. The more “stuff” you have to move out of the way while you clean, the slower you’re going to go—it’s that simple. Before you start speed cleaning, you’ll therefore need to think seriously about decluttering. Most housecleaning experts recommend getting rid of anything you haven’t used in over a year, unless it has very strong sentimental value or would be very hard to replace. If you’re not willing to get rid of things, consider using a storage facility to keep less-used items and appliances out of your house.
2. Get the whole family involved.
Unless you’re single, cleaning should never be a one man (or one woman) job. One of the most effective ways to speed clean is to allocate different rooms to different members of the household. This way, everything gets cleaned at the same time, and people won’t get in each other’s way.
3. Work from top to bottom.
You don’t need to be a professional housecleaner to know that mess travels. As you clean, you track dust and dirt along with you. This is why it’s important start at the top of your house when you clean. Tidy up the bedrooms and do the laundry first, then wipe away any deposited dust when you clean the floors downstairs.
4. Write down a list of “priority tasks” for each area of the house.
One of the reasons why cleaning feels time-consuming is our tendency to get side-tracked. It’s not unusual for people to start out wanting to quickly do their laundry and tidy their bedroom, for instance, then decide that it’s finally time to organize their drawers and closets. While these choices are backed by good intentions, the reality is that life usually intervenes. Something comes up—like a spouse coming home and wanting to have dinner—and we leave these big jobs half-completed. (Usually without ever getting around to doing that laundry.) By the time we have the opportunity to return to them, the mood has passed. We hastily shove things back into place, then rush through the necessary tasks we should have done in the first place. The end result of this is feeling stressed out rather than accomplished.
Spare yourself this hassle by creating itemized lists of the tasks that actually need to be done in each room, in the order they should be done. Pin these lists where you can see them while you clean, and stick to them. Once you’ve completed the list for one room, move on to the next one—no exceptions.
This doesn’t mean that detail cleaning should never get done, of course; you just shouldn’t allow it to interfere with your day to day cleaning. Make a list of these bigger tasks, too, and set aside a specific date on which to do them. They’re usually best reserved for a Saturday or Sunday when you’ll actually have time to complete them.
5. Set a timer for each room.
Another common slip-up people make when they clean is overdoing it. Once you start to see that fresh, shiny look emerge, it’s tempting to scrub until everything gleams. Unfortunately, if you do this, you’ll probably run out of time to clean all of the other rooms in your house… Meaning that you’ll end up with a perfectly polished bathroom in a messy house.
Most rooms don’t actually need more than 15-20 minutes of cleaning in order to be rendered tidy and hygienic. As such, you should set a timer and limit yourself to this time-frame. Like in-depth organization jobs, intensive deep cleaning should be saved for a completely “free” day on the weekend.
6. Cheat a little bit.
No, we don’t mean that it’s okay to sweep dust bunnies under the rug or just shove everything you’re not sure what to do with into the closet. Taking shortcuts like these will deprive your family of the many health benefits of cleaning. Instead, we’re recommending that you enlist the aid of a professional cleaning service at least once per month. Having a professional do the deep cleaning you simply don’t have time to do yourself will keep your home feeling fresh, no matter what life throws at you. Research also shows that people who already have a clean home are much more motivated to clean, because they want to maintain the positive emotions cleanliness gives them.
Occasional visits from a housecleaner make staying on track with day to day “maintenance cleaning” much easier. They’ll make your speed cleaning go even faster (because there will be no ground-in grime to deal with) and keep you feeling inspired. Remember: There’s no harm in asking for a little help.
The more you practice speed cleaning, the more efficient you’ll become, so don’t worry if you don’t meet all of your time targets right away. Stick with it, and soon enough, housecleaning will be an easy everyday habit, just like showering or brushing your teeth. Good luck!