Clean As You Go

There was once this period of time in my life where I could devote a solid 3+ hours of uninterrupted time to cleaning my house.  I would go room to room and cover everything from the floors to the bathrooms to polishing all the glass.  Every week!  It was glorious and I felt like the biggest cleaning snob around.

Then came three children.  And 1200 more square feet.  And everything I knew before went out the window so that I wouldn’t lose my mind!

I’m going to share a little secret with you (well secret until now!).  Everyone that comes over says “Your house is always so clean!” Here’s the secret: I keep it “fake” clean.  That’s right.  It looks cleaner than it really is!

What I mean by this is that I keep my home organized and things in their place, but the floor isn’t always perfectly swept. The beds are made, but I only vacuum when I see dirt. And the glass and mirrors?  Well just try not to look at those when you come over.

Since we all have different personality types, the same thing doesn’t work for everyone. I have set up cleaning schedules for some clients, and helped others figure out how to fit cleaning into their lives in a non-regimented way.

If you feel a cleaning schedule is too much for you to maintain, here are some tips for how to “clean as you go.” Though I have a lot of ideas for parents with young children, I have included some for those in all stages of life.

1. Look for opportunities to do two things at once.  Knock out some dishes while the kids are working on homework at the table (and you are on stand-by to help). Clean the sink, toilet, and mirror while your children are playing in the bathtub. Return phone calls while you’re folding laundry or cleaning the glass. Put a bathing suit on your kid, soak a towel with a non-toxic cleaner (like vinegar/water solution), and pull him around on the towel while mopping the floor.  The floor gets mopped and you spend fun quality time with your child. The sky is the limit for what you can double-up on!

2. Take full advantage of extra time you have.  Have an extra 10 minutes before you have to leave for work? Grab the pledge and a rag and dust as many surfaces as you can. Throw a load of clothes in the washing machine when you first wake up, then put load 1 in dryer and load number 2 in washer before you leave for work. Come home on your lunch break to fold load number 1, and put load number 2 in the dryer. Then in the evening you can fold load number 2 and you have 2 loads of laundry completed! Don’t forget to put the clothes away each time too! It takes less time to fold and put away one load at a time than to tackle a mountain of 6 loads of laundry. Are the kids playing well together? Grab the vacuum cleaner and go!

3. Get the family involved. After dinner, assign one chore to everyone at the table. One person washes dishes, another dries and puts them away, another wipes off the table, another sweeps, etc.  This varies with kids’ ages (and how many you have in the house!). Of course you can’t expect your 2 year old to sweep, but find a way to get them involved so that they get in the routine of helping after dinner. Teach your children how to fold and put away their laundry. I taught my youngest to fold wash clothes at 3 years old. Assign one room to each person in the house and “race” to put everything away and straighten up the room. First one to finish gets to pick the activity on family night. This can work for spouses competing against each other, too!

4. Keep cleaning items in each room. Why should you have a “one stop shop” for all cleaning items? Spend a little extra money on the front end and purchase enough cleaning products to store them in each room. Store items used for the room under a cabinet or in the top of a closet. This saves you so much time because all you have to do is grab what you need while in each room and clean!

I hope this has encouraged you and given you some ideas and motivation to get cleaning!  And if you take nothing else away from this, please walk away releasing yourself from the pressure of having a perfectly clean home. Choose your priorities in cleaning, and stick with the biggies first. Add in the things less important to you when you have time. I choose organization over deep cleaning because at this point in my life I can’t maintain both. And above all, remember that relationships come before ALL of this.

Here’s one of my all time favorite pictures of my cleaning side-kick:

Happy Cleaning!


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