header image from Pop Sugar
I clean our apartment myself. When the kids were little, I had someone help me clean (it was wonderful!), but when both kids were in school full time and I wasn’t working outside the home, it seemed a little too indulgent to continue to pay someone for something I could do myself. I don’t enjoy cleaning–honestly, who does?–but I have learned a few tricks to make it less onerous. Here are 10 things that I have learned, through trial and error:
1.Take shoes off. Train your family to take their shoes off immediately when they enter the house. Make space by the door for shoe storage, and place a bench or chair where people can sit while removing their shoes upon arrival and putting their shoes on before venturing outside. You will be amazed at how much cleaner your floors will be.
2.Do a load of laundry a day. Make sure the kids and adults have a laundry basket that is conveniently located and train everyone to use it. If you keep on top of it daily, the laundry is very manageable and doesn’t end up ruining a whole day. An added bonus to the daily wash is that you will need fewer clothes. If the kids wear school uniforms like ours do, you can get away with just three sets each.
3.Give the kids chores. Kids can start helping at a very young age, and they actually think cleaning is fun–at least for a while. Our kids make their beds every day, set and clear the table at dinner, take the trash out, keep their rooms tidy and dust, sweep and wet-Swiffer the floors weekly.
4.Keep cleaning supplies in/by each bathroom. I keep a container of disinfecting wipes, a bottle of Windex, and paper towels in every bathroom if there is room and in a nearby closet if there isn’t room. This makes it very quick and easy to give the bathrooms touchups throughout the week.
5.Keep a DustBuster by the door. I use a DustBuster in the mudroom to clean up whatever dirt has come in with the shoes before the shoes come off. I also use it to keep the mats and seats in the car clean. I find that if it is by the door I am more likely to use it frequently.
6.Make a schedule and stick to it. I dedicate particular days of the week to specific chores so that I don’t forget to do them. On Tuesdays, for instance, I vacuum clean all the rugs and clean the bathrooms. On Wednesdays, I clean the kitchen, and on Thursdays, I iron. Sometimes, it doesn’t work out and I have to move things around, but at least I have a plan.I also include entries in my calendar for important but hard-to-remember tasks, such as the once-a-month dryer filter cleaning.
7.Tidy up before bed each night. I like to take a few minutes before going to bed to make sure that the house is neat and tidy. I fold the throw blankets, put TV remotes away, straighten the sofa pillows, and put away any clutter that has accumulated during the day. It is much nicer to wake up to an orderly house in the morning!
8.Instill daily routines. Teach everybody in the household the importance of making their bed first thing, putting away their pajamas neatly, and cleaning up their dishes and place at the breakfast table.Prompt after-dinner kitchen clean-up is an important one, too.
9.Provide places for everything. Have designated hooks for coats, individual baskets for mittens and hats, and a basket for sports equipment, and teach everybody where to put their things. Similarly, have a system to deal with mail so that it doesn’t accumulate and create clutter. I deal with as much of the mail as I can right at the mailboxes in our building’s lobby–discarding (in the recycling bin) the catalogs and flyers immediately–and I bring into the apartment only what I absolutely need. I put these mail items in a tray and deal with them daily. With a little reinforcement at the beginning, it will become part of everyone’s routine to put things away in their proper place.
10.Distract yourself. When you are scrubbing and cleaning, it helps to listen to something distracting–I usually listen to music or NPR, but it would be a good time to listen to a podcast or book, too.
Do you have any cleaning tips to share?