You know that satisfying feeling you get when you crawl into a bed with freshly cleaned sheets? Now, imagine if you could replicate that feeling every single day without going through the headache of putting on a duvet cover. That’s what it feels like to have a tidy house. When you wake up in the morning, you don’t have to worry about spending the entire day doing chores. You can focus on what really matters: the waffles you’ll have for breakfast.
After living in small apartments most of my life and recently making the transition to a 3,000 square foot home, the reality that cleaning was going to become a regular part of my daily routine became apparent very quickly. It’s almost been a year, and I’ve done my best to come up with some low-effort ways to keep our house clean (well, as clean as it can be with a toddler running around).
1. Embrace the clean-as-you-go method.
It’s certainly easy to leave your dishes in the sink rather than place them in the dishwasher. It’s also easy to toss your coat on the nearest side table when you come back from the store rather than hang it up where it belongs. But those small behaviors can create a mess that makes it hard to clean up later when there are so many little things to do. I don’t want to sound like your mom or anything, but then again, maybe your mom is right. If you do things right away rather than wait to do them all later, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and a lot of stress. You also won’t put that responsibility onto someone else’s plate, which is a good rule for roommates to consider.
2. Fold your throw blankets.
We all have a blanket or two that sit on our sofas for when we binge-watch Netflix or cuddle up with a good book. Just like you should make your bed each morning to start the day off on the right foot, try your best to keep these blankets tidy. Fold them or keep them in storage when they’re not in use. If you do the bare minimum and keep your bed and your sofa tidy, it can feel like things are clean, even when they’re not.
3. Contain the clutter.
One tactic that has made a huge difference in giving off the illusion that our house is clean is having aesthetically-pleasing storage bins. We keep these in rooms and areas of the home that get cluttered quickly. We keep one container in our living room for our sofa blankets, one in the living room for our daughter’s toys, and we also set up lots of dollar-store storage solutions in our closets so they don’t clutter as quickly, either. We can find items faster and without having to tear everything apart. Not only does proper storage make the room look more minimalist and clean, but it also makes tidying up a lot easier when you can simply throw toys into a bin and move on to the next chore.
Also, try to avoid clutter in open spaces, like kitchen and bathroom counters. These areas can quickly become overrun with knick-knacks and personal products. Find places for these items in drawers or cabinets that are still accessible and close by to reduce the clutter.
4. Pick a few products for your daily cleaning routine.
One low effort way to keep your house clean is using biodegradable cleaning wipes and a homemade daily shower mist in your bathroom. To lessen the workload for deep clean days, we wipe down our sink and countertop in the bathroom once or twice a week, and we spray down our shower with a daily shower mist to control build-up. These two 30-second tasks have eliminated 30 minutes of cleaning when we do our monthly bathroom tidy up. There are a lot of affordable cleaning tools that can also minimize your cleaning efforts, such as this $3 drain cover I tossed in my Amazon cart one day.
5. Try a 15-minute nightly clean up.
My number one tip for anyone trying to keep their house clean with minimal effort is to get into the habit of doing a 10 to 15-minute tidy up at the end of each day. As parents, if we didn’t take this time each day, our house would be an absolute disaster zone by the end of the week, and this would surely become a point of stress for both my husband and me. If this sounds like too much work, let me assure you that the ten minutes it will take you to wipe down the counters, wash the dishes, and sweep the floor is nothing compared to a two-hour scrub down on a Friday night in or a Sunday morning when you’d rather be enjoying those waffles.
Here is everything we try to include in our 15-minute cleanup:
- Wipe down kitchen counters
- Load and start the dishwasher
- Pick up all toys, papers, clothes, jackets and put them in their proper place
- Sweep underneath the kitchen table
You don’t have to tackle every single room in the house – it’s about maintaining busy areas that get a lot of foot traffic or areas that can build germs quite quickly.
No matter what low-effort cleaning habits work for you, creating consistent tidying practices and buying affordable or eco-friendly cleaning materials are two of the best ways to stay on top of your overall cleanliness. Homes come with a lot of annual upkeep and cleaning that we don’t always consider. If you take steps to incorporate these low-effort tips into your weekly routine, it won’t seem overwhelming when it comes time for yearly spring cleaning.
Alyssa Davies claims she’s not an expert on personal finance — which is why it’s easy for her to explain financial topics without getting too intense. You can find her on her blog, Mixed Up Money, where she proves money isn’t boring (and that it’s also a little funny). You can also spend all day ranting with her about your finances on Twitter.
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