Cascade Cleaning

I made a mistake in my sudoku while having my morning cup of tea and needed my correction pen. One thing led to another resulting in a tidy bedside table and kitchen bench among other small achievements. Here is what transpired…

  • I went to the bedroom to get the correction pen from my bedside table.
  • There I found I’d left the floss last night, so I put it away.
  • On the bedside table there was also last night’s completed torn out page from my sudoku magazine. There was also a used tissue, and a white gel pen. So I took all four items to the kitchen where I put the trash in the bin the gel pen where it belonged among my craft supplies and set the correction pen aside as I had now discovered more items out of place.
  • We had just finished breakfast and the dishes were on the kitchen bench along with the items I used to make breakfast with. These I stacked into the dishwasher.
  • Then the bench needed wiping. At this point I decided the cloth was getting a little manky and that I would take it to the laundry. I came back, got a clean cloth and wiped down the bench.
  • In the sink were the egg shells and discarded teabags, which I put in the bin.
  • While executing those last two tasks I got to thinking about what I would be doing that day. This thinking also cascaded to the fact that it would be my sister’s birthday next Sunday which coincided with me visiting and I would see her. This reminded me of the tiny blue glass cat I had picked up for her at a thrift shop a while back, which I could now deliver in person. So off I went to the bedroom again to put the cat out where I wouldn’t forget to take it next weekend.

You may all be thinking ~ “Wow! Sounds like Colleen is much less of a tidy freak that we have been led to believe.”. And you would be right. My house is generally very presentable but like most humans I can tend to get slack at times and not clear up everything around me as I go. However I never let it get too out of hand as I do very much like living in an tidy environment.

You may also be thinking ~ “What has this to do with decluttering?”. And the answer to that is, that it is also possible to declutter quite effectively with this method, or even  during the process of Cascade Cleaning. As you go from room to room keep and eye out for items you no longer use or want. You may have noticed that I decluttered the used up page from my sudoku magazine. I also put out that item for my sister which has been lingering for a while in my drawer for the right time or method to get it to her. And since I delight in every item being decluttered, no matter how insignificant, doing so makes the task of tidying actually enjoyable rather than a chore.

Of course all this led to me quickly writing the blog post so as yet it I haven’t even erased the mistake in my sudoku and finished the puzzle I had started. So, if you don’t mind, I will say goodbye for now and go and enjoy that little task.

But before I go I had better include a couple of items I have decluttered during the week. The beanie served its purpose at -10 in Berlin but looks awful on me and probably will never be needed again, so out it goes. And the merino wool undershirt also keeps me warm but I am itchy the whole time so out it goes too. I have no interest in swapping one uncomfortable feeling for another. They will be off to the thrift shop very soon.

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Oh Colleen we must be twins separated at birth! I get a little discouraged when I realize I set out to do one thing and it leads to one more thing which leads to one more thing…but now, ta da!!! I will call it cascade cleaning! It sounds so much better than the phrase I’ve used, which is “piddling around”! Thank you for putting a smile on my face this morning!

  2. I had to laugh Colleen. You sound like me. I don’t often have things out of place but there are times when this kind of thing happens. Sometimes it will take a couple of hours to get back to what I was doing to start with. I haven’t decluttered anything this week. I have been busy with company every day. After my appointment this morning I will have to see what I can find.

  3. Colleen, I am in love with the term “cascade cleaning” because this is exactly how it goes with me. Sounds much nicer than “I have the attention span of a gnat.” 😉 While ironing some of my work clothes last weekend, I realized a bunch of my winter sweaters are old and getting a bit shabby looking. I’m going to do a little shopping this weekend and those old sweaters are going to be gone! I had high hopes for the last federal holiday that I had off (but hubby didn’t) and I didn’t get near the work done I wanted. I have February 20 off for Presidents’ Day that hubby doesn’t and I’m going to have another go at the mountain! As a side note, if my husband would never notice something gone, would I be a terrible person for getting rid of said item??

  4. so glad to see you are human like the rest of us!
    ‘cascade cleaning’ cool term!
    love it!
    regards eema

  5. Lol
    Sounds like what happens to me too
    Glad I’m not the only one!

  6. Hi, Colleen … it’s lovely to have you back. That sure was a snazzy pair of socks you knitted, in fact, those socks would look right at home in a Dr Seuss book!

    Your cascade cleaning (nice description, by the way) story made me think of the cascade of stuff that can come – if we’re not mindful – with the hobbies and sports that we decide to pursue. On the bright side, however, once we decide to stop engaging in an activity that no longer brings us joy, there would also be a cascade of stuff going out the door.

  7. Hello everybody! I don’t have anything to report but hope to make a big effort in the near future. Had to make some home life changes that make me feel I have regressed a bit on previous decluttering but the aim is to find the right level of minimalism to have a functioning home, not the ultimate level that I can push it to.

    Looking forward to the year ahead!

  8. I find myself regularly ‘cascade cleaning’ too, I just never realized I was doing it before!

  9. Hi Colleen, I’m still in a “holding pattern”… I do toss a small item once in a while but not making a ton of progress… Working on my patience to deal with the situation as is for now… We’ve all been sick and I lost a good friend to Amyloidosis in January… I am trying to keep my mind on the good 🙂

    • Hi Peggy, I am sorry to hear of your loss of a good friend. Having just spend almost 4 weeks caring for my mum and dad due to illness the reality of mortality is on my mind right now. I am just so glad that my home will not be a burden to anyone should something ever happen to me.

  10. Hi all, it’s been a while but I feel called to check in and say hi. We’ve had a year and a half of working away a lot from home, being ill, changing jobs and lifestyle and I feel I’m only now – 16 months after leaving my job and retraining (to be a yoga teacher) – beginning to create the space to even start to catch up again – I had previously got to a ‘holding’ place with my decluttering but jings – it feels a bit like here we go again lol. My paperwork slid and stuff just built up but I am happy to say that OH are back on track and we have sold our motorbikes (momentous decision) – downsizing our toy collection – just need to sell our riding kit and a few bits and pieces. We are working on focussing our free time more and are investigating creative solutions to free up our house but not rushing in to everything – impatient me can’t believe how long it takes us to do things these days, lol. We are making a concerted effort to finish bits on the house/ fix bits that need it, clear out paperwork, sell/give away things that are no longer required/ have been replaced blah blah. I’m also working to rearrange my garden and downsize how much of it I actually use and to make nice areas to sit in and enjoy it, rather than knock my pan in all the time trying to grow things..So all in all, a never ending process but it feels rather good to be working on creating less things again 🙂

    • Sounds great fruitcake40. It sounds like you are making the most of life at the same time. And I am thrilled that you have become a yoga teacher. I have only just got back into yoga again, with my daughter-in-law this time, and it is much needed. I would like to do some meditation classes as well.
      I wish you success with all your chores and decluttering.

  11. Eeeexactly like having a bird’s eye on myself, cascade cleaning everything. My mum calls me the hurricane when I do this, from total disaster to very tidy in just a short amount of time. Love your posts, I have decluttered a lot in the last 6 months, but now the real sentimental items are up and I am both ready and not ready at the same time. Things like my divorced parents’ wedding photos, photo albums, trinkets from my childhood bedroom. Easier to keep them boxed up and out of sight, with a lot of joy when I “re-discover” them. But their condition deteriorates each time I do. Will search through for more tips on how to do this in the best way. Thank you for being such an inspiration!

    • Hi Silje and welcome to 365 Less Things. My cascade cleaning often involves a couple of loads of washing as well. When my mother took ill and I went home to bet there for her and dad I did some serious deep cleaning. My dad kept asking if I was enjoying myself and strangely I was. Cleaning always seems more rewarding when I am doing it for someone else’s benefit.

  12. I always did these cascade cleaning and initially, I thought I should just let it be and took some time later to just focus on whole cleaning. Over time I just do it since it makes me move around and I thought “less stuff to clean later” but upon reading this I think I’d do it more.