Simple Cleaning Strategies for Busy People

Sneak mini cleaning tasks into your daily routine to stay on top of basic housekeeping.

Some housekeeping books read like a lovely daydream. Imagine having the time to dust under the furniture, rotate mattresses like clockwork and clean the refrigerator coils. To be honest, I can't recall the last time I did any of those things, and I refuse to feel bad about it. When your days are booked, it makes zero sense to hold yourself to professional housekeeping standards. That's not to say, though, that keeping a clean home is something unattainable by those with busy lives. Having some sort of regular cleaning and straightening routine helps give a satisfying order to our lives, and it ensures things don't get so far out of hand you spend all day cleaning just to bring them back to normal.

Here are some simple, fast ways to set up a routine and keep your home fresh and clean every day.

Set Up a Routine: Morning, Evening and Extras

By sneaking in mini cleaning tasks during your normal morning and evening routine (see specific tips below), you should be able stay on top of basic housekeeping in minutes a day. When time is really short, this is all I do. But keeping your home feeling really great (even company ready) doesn't take much more effort.

Look at your schedule and decide when you can fit in a handful of extra chores. Depending on the week, you might want to do them all in one go on a weekend morning (with music and plenty of coffee) or fit in an extra chore each weekday.

Kerrisdale Design Inc, original photo on Houzz


Make the bed while you're in it. This sounds silly, but it works. Before you get up, stretch out in bed as if you are making snow angels, straightening out the sheets and blankets as you go. Voilà! You've done most of the work of creating a smooth bed with almost no effort.

Tip: Have trouble keeping your cleaning routines on track? Try an app. The HomeRoutines app helps you schedule cleaning by zone.

Empty the dishwasher while waiting for your first cup of coffee or tea. Do you usually stare at the coffee maker or kettle, willing it to work faster? Use the time instead to clear out the clean dishes from the dishwasher or draining rack, so it will be ready to go for the day.

Do all of your dishes after breakfast (and every meal). It's so much easier to quickly rinse off a few plates and cups than deal with a sinkful at the end of the day. This is a habit that may feel burdensome at first but quickly becomes second nature.

Whitten Architects, original photo on Houzz

Start a load of laundry first thing (and it can be in the dryer before you go to work). If you throw in a load of wash right away when you wake up, you should be able to at least toss it in the dryer before leaving for work.

Will dress shirts wrinkle if you don't fold them promptly? Sure. If you know you can't stick around to fold and put away clothes, choose hardy items such as towels and T-shirts; you'll still have less to do later.

Use shower steam to your advantage. Take a few seconds to wipe the sink and mirror in the morning after your shower, and the warm steam will help things along. A quick swipe with a microfiber cloth is all it should take for things to look sparkling fresh.

Tip: Keep a mini cleaning kit in the bathroom so you don't have to scramble to find the supplies you need.

ZeroEnergy Design, original photo on Houzz


Tidy your entry. Instead of flinging your things down anywhere, take a moment to put everything in its proper place when you come into the house. Line up your shoes, hang up the coats, stuff all the mittens and things into a basket or tote, and sort the mail. Slowing down as you cross the threshold into your home is also a great way to shed the stress of the day.

Do a quick post-dinner cleanup. Even if you are exhausted, be sure to run the dishwasher, wipe the counters and stove top, and give the kitchen floor a quick sweep. Take out the trash and recycling, or at least bundle it by the door, where you will remember to take it out in the morning.

Clear clutter hot spots. You know the spots I'm talking about: the places clutter just seems to appear through no fault of your own. So, before heading off to bed, take a few minutes to walk through the house, putting things back in their places, paying special attention to those clutter hot spots. Tidy the living room, clear the dining room table and hang up the clothes piled on the chair in your bedroom.

Four Chairs Furniture, original photo on Houzz

Extra Tasks

When making your list of extra chores, go easy on yourself. Choose only what makes sense for your lifestyle, home and available time. My list of extras looks like this:

○ Vacuum and/or mop floors

○ Wipe dusty surfaces

○ Degrease small appliances

○ Clean bathroom

○ Clean fridge

Now look at your week and decide where it makes sense to tuck these in. For instance, I tend to clean the fridge before heading to the market, wipe down surfaces whenever I get a chance and do the rest with a big mug of coffee on the weekend.

This article originally published on

For related content see:
Kick Off 2017 With a Whole-House Decluttering Day
Beautiful Bedding Makes Making the Bed WorthIt
Streamline Laundry Day With a New Hamper

Categories: Home Grown