Doing house chores can take all day — by the time you finish the last one, it feels like it’s time to start over again. Tackle your household chores and save time with these 22 easy-to-implement tips:
1. Include the family
Everyone makes the mess, so everyone should help clean it. In fact, according to a study conducted by the University of Minnesota, the best predictor of young adults’ success in their mid-20s was that they participated in household tasks when they were 3 or 4.
2. Assign tasks
Ensure that nothing gets overlooked by assigning jobs to each family member.
3. Set a clock for 15 minutes
Doing a little bit each day will keep you from spending all Saturday scrubbing.
4. Break house chores into chunks
“Create separate lists for chores that need to be done daily, weekly and monthly,” says Sheila Delson, the certified professional organizer and founder of FREEDomain Concepts. “Maintain focus on just what needs to be done at that specific time.”
5. Develop time awareness
Don’t leave something half done. “Monitor how long each task takes so you can carve out enough time to accomplish each of your goals,” says Delson.
6. Have a space for supplies
“Start by designating one place to store all of your cleaning supplies,” says Colleen Ashe, the founder of Ashe Organizing Solutions.
7. Make a cleaning caddy
“Have a simple bucket or pail that’s easy to fill with supplies, yet small enough to cart from room to room,” says Ashe.
“If you run out of time, at least you accomplished the most important tasks,” says Delson. “The next time, those leftover items become the priority.”
9. Create a check-off system for kids
“Kids love to see their accomplishments,” says Delson. “Offer a reward for a completed list. Make it fun.”
10. Keep it simple
Use cleaning supplies that have more than one purpose instead of one cleaning supply per need — you don’t need separate cleaners for the bathroom and the kitchen.
11. Make zones
Monday you’ll clean the kitchen, Tuesday the bathroom and so on.
12. Eliminate clutter
The less you have, the less you have to clean.
13. Attack the rooms from top to bottom
“And then right to left, just like a professional cleaner,” says Ashe. “Clear all surfaces and floor space. Grab a basket and place items from the tops of furniture and floors into a basket (or two). This makes polishing furniture, sweeping and vacuuming go much faster.”
14. Dust and polish surfaces first
“Vacuum last and avoid redusting your furniture,” says Ashe.
15. Use more than one vacuum
One big vacuum is a good idea, but keeping a few smaller hand vacs in a few rooms will help pick up as you go.
16. Think ahead
Take steps to keep things clean ahead of time — things like adding extra liners to garbage cans and lining the refrigerator shelves with plastic wrap can save you precious minutes.
17. Designate a day for laundry
“Teach the kids that on Saturdays you always strip the beds and sort the laundry,” says Ashe.
18. Empty it
For the sport enthusiasts, get in the habit of emptying and cleaning out sport bags after each use. “Toss the uniforms in the wash and clean up gear (cleats and mouth guards),” says Ashe.
19. Clean as you go
“Teach children to rinse the sink after brushing teeth and empty trash containers when they’re full,” says Ashe. “For these often used spots, consider storing cleaning wipes under the sinks that are ready for a quick clean after baths are done.”
20. Repurpose supplies you already have
Save yourself a trip to the store and use what you’ve got to clean. “I suggest vinegar for cleaning coffee pots, microwave ovens, shower heads and tile grout — to name a few,” says Ashe.
“For barbecue lovers looking to make their grills sparkle, place your grill racks in your self-cleaning oven,” says Ashe. “Set the temp to 500, and set timer for 45 minutes.”
22. Keep it together
Keep items organized. For example, all coffee supplies should go with the coffee maker, so it’s easy to clean up quickly.
Lisa Iannucci is a freelance writer who has written for many magazines and newspapers.