The Easiest Way to Stay on Top of Housecleaning

Need help with the housework? This one trick is helping me keep my house clean better than I ever thought it would.


Photography from iStockPhoto

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been trying a new technique to stay on top of keeping my house clean. At the end of a busy day, with toys strewn everywhere, a basket full of drooled-on clothes and a kitchen covered in a half-eaten dinner, I can feel totally defeated and overwhelmed by how much there is to do. But I read a suggestion somewhere that is actually working for me, and it might work for you too.

Once my little guy has gone down for the night, I set a 20 minute timer. Twenty minutes hardly seems like a big investment of time, right? I designate those 20 minutes as my cleaning minutes. Once they’re up: no more cleaning. It is amazing what my husband and I can actually get done in 20 minutes—I had no idea. We can usually tackle the toys, the kitchen and the laundry and have time to spare to choose something to deep clean (the tub, or the sinks or the floors, for example). And, I’m not sure what kind of psychological magic is happening here, but I also don’t grumble about the cleaning while I’m doing it, because I know THESE are my cleaning minutes, and when they’re up, I’m done. It’s finite. And it’s beautiful.

Once those 20 minutes are over, we pack up the cleaning supplies and enjoy the rest of our evening, guilt-free.
Try it!

What are your best tips for staying on top of cleaning?

Read more: 21 Ways to Eliminate Clutter

7 responses to “The Easiest Way to Stay on Top of Housecleaning”

  1. Jen Wilson says:

    That’s brilliant! I love that you and your husband do it together. We usually do, too. :) I think I need to implement this 20-minute thing!

  2. Canadian Family says:

    It’s honestly awesome. There are days when I don’t want to do it, of course, but I’ve been able to keep up momentum. I’m often looking for little things to do to fill up my 20 minutes, and thus I get all these tiny, dumb things done that tend to just sit there. Last night, I had two minutes left to fill, so I filled the salt and pepper shakers. So silly, but now it’s done! Let me know how it goes, if you try it. – Megan

  3. Nancy says:

    I think that’s a great idea, I might just be able to get to those things that never get done, but I will wait until the fall when things aren’t so busy, and will get the kids involved. With 4 of us, the house should be in pretty good shape after a few weeks. Thank you for this great, yet simple idea. Nancy :)

  4. Sally says:

    Hey Megan,
    I have a similar method but with an added bonus. I put a bottle of room temperature wine or beverage in the refrigerator and set my stove timer for 45 minutes; a little longer than your timing of twenty minutes. When the timer goes off I have cleaned a little longer and have the bonus of a crisp cold glass of wine(only one and I use white) after I have done my cleaning routine. Having the reward really pays off and that forty five minutes goes by VERY fast. You can use any type of reward; a bubble bath, short film, recorded T.V. program, reading a book chapter.
    It makes cleaning very rewarding and I actually challenge myself to really do more than usual because of the reward after cleaning.

  5. Canadian Family says:

    Absolutely—even better if the kids can get involved. I hope it works for you guys! – Megan

  6. Canadian Family says:

    Sally, I like where your head is at. I also reward myself with wine on a regular basis. Wine AND (lately) an episode of Orange is the New Black on Netflix. ;) -Megan

  7. Ron Cowgill says:

    Before starting this article I want say something myself. As a member of house cleaning Seattle I can say to everyone that cleaning is must not only for your home, but also for your health. Yes if we do not clean our homes then we will be ill. I know people are busy today. So clean your home daily, if not possible then you must clean at least your kitchen and bathroom daily.