Cleaning Shortcuts That Save Time & Reduce Stress



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In case you’ve been reading my cleaning posts and looking at my to-do lists and think I clean all the time, let me clarify:  I do NOT clean all the time.  I am diligent about doing two things daily:

These two things are done pretty much every single day.  But they don’t take long and they make the house look clean.

As far as cleaning, I do the least amount I can get by with but still feel good about my house.  And I take a lot of shortcuts.  For example:

1.       Sweeping, Vacuuming, Mopping.  It’s not necessary to sweep, vacuum or mop EVERYTHING.  I sweep daily but I don’t sweep everything.  The upstairs doesn’t get as dirty so I only sweep it every other day or so (or sometimes less).  If I can’t get to a room for some reason (like a grandkid is napping), I skip it.  Since I sweep daily, I’ll just get it the next day.  And I don’t get under every piece of furniture – I get the main parts.  Sometimes I’m more thorough than other times.  I just do something and something is always better than nothing.

Home Office
Haven’t organized this room yet so it’s still a mess. When I sweep, I just get what I can.

2.       Glass.  You’ve probably noticed on my sample cleaning lists that I have “clean the glass”.  I rarely clean ALL the glass – I just touch-it up.  In this house, there are three front windows.  My dog sits in front of those windows and barks.  And slimes.  So several times a week I clean the slime off the bottom section of the windows.  But I don’t clean the sections that aren’t dirty.  And when we had a sliding glass door, I touched up the parts that had fingerprints but didn’t clean the whole door.  So when I say “clean the glass”, I mean “clean the parts that are dirty”.  Occasionally I clean it all, but not on a weekly basis.

This is Shelby – the slimer!
Dirty Windows
And this is a sample of her work.

3.      Woodwork.  Again, touch-it up.  It’s not necessary to regularly clean the parts that aren’t touched.  The areas that need tended regularly are areas that people touch – doorways, for example.

4.       Couch cushions.  We eat in our living room a lot.  So do the grandkids.  So there are always crumbs.  I have three different approaches to the couch cushions.

  • Thorough.  This means vacuuming the tops, sides and bottoms of the cushions.  Rearranging the cushions for even wear.  Vacuuming the fronts, sides and backs of the furniture.
  • Semi-Thorough.  For this one I vacuum the tops of the cushions and raise them up and vacuum underneath.
  • Quick.  Vacuum just the tops and any other areas that need cleaned.

Most of the time I do the quick or semi-thorough.  I only do the thorough occasionally.

5.       Throw rugs.  I’m talking about the small rugs you have in your bathroom or in front of the kitchen sink or at the entry.  I used to gather the rugs, take them outside and shake them.  Every day.  I don’t do that any more.  I don’t have time.  Now I pick them up, shake them lightly where they are and set them aside until I sweep.  After I sweep, I put them back.

6.       Bathrooms.  I usually clean the bathrooms once a week.  But I do a daily touch-up (mirror, wipe out sink, wipe off toilet and brush lightly) so if I miss a week, it’s not a big deal.  But the bathroom always looks good and it only takes a few minutes.

7.       Dusting.  I try to dust weekly but I don’t always get it done.  When I dust, I don’t move things – I dust around them.  And I don’t get every single surface in the house.

8.       Refrigerator – Outside.   My refrigerator has a fair amount of stuff on it.  When I clean the outside, I just get the parts I can.  When I do serious cleaning, I remove all the stuff and clean everything.   As far as the inside, I try to clean when there’s an empty spot.  I just wipe out that one section.

DISCLAIMER:  During routine cleaning, I regularly take all these shortcuts.  I clean what I can and don’t worry about what I can’t.  But occasionally everything needs a thorough cleaning and I fit that in when I can.  But the touch-ups keep everything in pretty good shape so heavy duty cleaning is pretty easy and not needed as often.

So don’t wait to clean until you can do something perfectly.  It’s only going to get dirty again soon so don’t waste perfect on cleaning.  Do what you can, when you can and don’t worry about perfection.

Do you use any of these shortcuts?  Do you do the best you can or shoot for perfection?

Other cleaning articles are available in the Cleaning Index.


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Born in Kentucky, I am a wife and mom to 1 son and 2 daughters . I have an ink pen obsession, as well as a love for all things planner. I have been married for 10 years to my high school crush. I am a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

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6 thoughts on “Cleaning Shortcuts That Save Time & Reduce Stress

  1. I always like reading how other people clean. I definitely don’t shoot for perfection! Clean enough is good enough for me usually. I seem to go through waves even with my good enough cleaning though and unfortunately, today I have to REALLY clean because I haven’t been keeping up with the good enough cleaning very well lately.

    1. I’m with you, Jean. Good enough is good enough! And I need to do some heavier duty cleaning, too. We’ve been busy and I’ve used the “we just moved and we’re remodeling” excuse to put off cleaning the way I should. I didn’t even realize I had done it until I was on the floor looking for pieces to one of the grandkids puzzles and saw a couple of fuzzballs under the couch and end table. Oops. Better get on the stick before those come flying out at an inopportune moment!

  2. I’m following your model and doing a little every day; my checklist includes vacuum; some days I do the entire apartment (takes about half an hour or 40 minutes) and other days it’s just a 5 minute job on the kitchen (where most of the dog hair seems to end up): It includes bathroom, usually just a quick wipe. I do a slightly more involved cleaning job on some part of the house a few times a week, usually not for more than 20 minutes. And you know what? It really works! The house looks SO much better and while I’m doing these quick little things I also tend to notice other easy stuff like putting something away or wiping off something that got a mark on it or whatever. With a very small time investment I get a big impact! Who knew? Thanks so much Patty! I learn so much from your blog!

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