My father always says there is sheer laziness and there is smart laziness. The first one is not an attractive trait while the other one is about finding the most efficient and effective way to cut down on your work load without neglecting anything. I am all for smart laziness and like Dad, I am pretty good at it. Utilising this ability makes staying organised a much simpler task.
Sometimes the most efficient method is obvious to us while other times we need to be taught, and the best way to learn is to have an open mind. I tend to be the kind of person who having no desire to spend more time on unpleasant tasks than necessary, can usually figure out an efficient method quite quickly. While others whose special talents lie elsewhere might need a little help with this. I have a bad habit of assuming that everyone shares this strange talent and neglect to share this insight believing it is common knowledge.
With that in mind I am going to share with you my weekly housecleaning routine and some photos showing what some areas of my home look like once I done. Don’t get me wrong I do no love housecleaning – I have not gone quite that mad yet – but I do love a clean house.
The first seemingly obvious rule of my household cleaning is – if it isn’t dirty don’t waste time cleaning it. Below is the routine I follow keeping rule one in mind at all times and using my microfibre cloth cleaning methods of course.
Going room by room…
- Put away anything that is out of place
- I dust all surfaces that don’t need wet cleaning not forgetting skirting boards, wall art and door recesses
- Clean all glass surfaces not forgetting TV and computer screens
- Wipe scuff marks off walls, if any.
- Wipe out microwave.
- Wipe down all surfaces including any marks on cupboard doors and cook top. (I move anything on benches and clean the area under them)
- Clean toaster, kettle and cutting board.
- Clean sink/s including splash back
- Clean bath, shower, basin and toilet.
- Dust window sill
Once all these tasks are done I vacuum all floors and then mop the hard floor areas.
You are probably looking at this list and thinking what’s so efficient about that, it sounds like hard work to me. But the trick to this is that aside from wiping down the kitchen benches after preparing food and perhaps a quick sweep of the kitchen and entry floor if they get too messy, I do not repeat any of the above tasks until the next week. And because I hate cleaning the shower so much I only do it every other week. Once the routine has become habit you find you whip through it in no time because you don’t have to think about it. I usually start cleaning my 3 bedroom, 1 study, 2 1/2 bathroom house at about 8am and am done by lunch.
Of course there are chores that need doing constantly like cleaning the dishes (thank God for dishwashers), laundry and cooking but that’s life. I only periodically clean above the fridge and kitchen cupboards, the oven, the objects in the display cabinet, windows and outdoor areas etc.
Of course the key is to stay tidy and organised in the between time. This doesn’t mean slaving everyday. It just means spending that fraction of time it takes to put things away after you have finished using them. It also means knowing where everything is at any given moment, which isn’t hard once you are organised.
Here’s the clincher, the not so common sense moral to this whole story. You will actually waste more time and effort rummaging around in your mess trying to find things and trying to perform tasks amidst a mess than you actually would if you just kept it tidy. Things get lost and broken in a mess, so it can also cost you money and create clutter. I suppose it just depends on what you want to spend your time and money on.
ITEM 289 OF 365 LESS THINGS
One for the donation box. This program is now way out of date and we are mostly an Apple family now. Maybe some else can use it.
5 Things I am grateful for today
- A visit with my parents – Even though it will be brief it will still be nice to see them.
- Laptops – Their portability comes in handy when you are trying to get a blog post out and you are running out of time to catch a train for an overnight stay. I may not need to take it but the option is there if I do.
- All that life has given me – I have really had a very fortunate life and I should never take that for granted.
- I am finally getting over my cold
- Being Thin – I don’t take any credit if for it I think it is just the way I was made and it actually does simplify life in many ways.
Use this button to link to Day 287 The future of 365lessthings and have your say on what direction you would like my blog to go in once the 365 days are up. Don’t be shy, I really would like your input. Once you are there just leave a comment. Thanks!
Wow! I am so impressed by those pictures! And I took no offense at the title… it actually made me laugh out loud.
Believe it or not, this kind of information is REALLY helpful to a person like me. I had another revelation the other day. I opened the drapes in the front room and the cord broke. So I had to take them down to replace the cord and they were just disgustingly dirty. I then noticed a tag which said that they were machine washable! Drapes can be cleaned?!?! Who knew? I’m sure you knew, but I had no idea that drapes could be cleaned. I guess I thought that you had to bring in a special company to clean them, or take them to the dry cleaner or something… (I’ve actually never been to a dry cleaner so I don’t really know how it works). I certainly never witnessed drapes being cleaned as a child, so I guess I just assumed it couldn’t be done.
Seriously, I’m starting to think that I just lack certain pieces of basic information since cleaning was just something my mother didn’t do! The routine you describe above got done MAYBE once a year as I was growing up, and usually it was me doing it, because I just couldn’t take the “disaster zone” anymore. In fact, now that I think about it… I don’t think I ever saw my mother mop a floor. I don’t actually own a mop… I’ve always just gotten down on my hands and knees to clean it when it got really bad… I’m guessing it’s easier with a mop?
So, at the moment, my porch is full of stuff waiting for various FreeCyclers to come take away, the kitchen is still clean (well, judging by the photo of your kitchen I’m sure it wouldn’t measure up to your standards, but it’s clean by my standards!), I’ve washed four sets of drapes, and have three more to go.
I’m starting to suspect that there are many other things that can be cleaned… like throw rugs and pot holders… I think I’m gonna buy myself a mop. Any suggestions as to what kind to get?
Thanks again for the remedial cleaning tips!
I am coming back tomorrow to reply to this comment when I have more time to do it justice. So until then I just want to say you are doing a great job so far but don’t try to go to fast as I wouldn’t want you to burn yourself out. Goodnight.
Rebecca, I must say that a microfiber mop pad that attaches to the mop head with a velcro-type attachment has to be the best kind… economical and eco-friendly also. I love mine and since purchasing one several years ago, I’ve enjoyed how fast and easy it is to mop up the floors. I use a little vinegar in warm water as a cleanser. When you’re done, you just remove the pad and wash in the washer unlike the Swifter mop pads that you throw out and keep replacing. My first one was from Don Aslett’s site cleanreport.com. LaterI bought a larger one at another online site. I use the smaller size for the bathrooms and the larger one for my kitchen, dining area, and hallway. It does a great job.
Di and Rebecca,
sorry I never did answer this question but Di I right. That is the type the I use I included a link in my microfiber post and will repeat it here for you. Sabco Flat mop. If they don’t sell them in the US I am sure you will find something similar.
I am in awe. When I saw the photos at first I just assumed they were marketing photos you’ve down loaded from the internet.
I have two cleaners who come once a fortnight and whip through my place in a hour. It has made me wonder whether I could get things done in two hours, but I seem to have enough trouble keeping the place tidy. I think putting things away after you are finished is the key.
Thanks for this post – it makes me realise that it actually is possible to have a nice home without spending all day everyday working on it.
I wish it looked like that at the moment but I have returned home after being away overnight and my son isn’t one of my converted blog followers unfortunately. I believe leading by example doesn’t pay off until they leave home. Better late than never I guess. 😉
I hired cleaners once when I had a neck injury and even though I was happy with the job they did I wasn’t inspired to continue with their service when I recovered.
If we don’t enjoy doing things, we learn to do the cleaning and cooking quickly and efficiently. People tell me I’m a good cook; I tell them it’s because I don’t like to cook, so I learned to do it as well and fast as possible thus providing less pain. Cleaning is the same.
Dishwashers! Love ’em! My sister in law calls hers the marriage saver.
Thanks for sharing your tips!
don’t even get me started on cooking. I used to enjoy cooking until I was blessed with two fussy eaters. They don’t get that gene from me, I’ll eat just about anything you put in front of me. Finding easy delicious recipes that everyone likes has been the key to survival in that war.
I think shower cleaning deserves its own post ;>p
Er, that emoticon didnâ€™t morph into what it was supposed to. Letâ€™s try this: :p
Okay, giving up on the emoticon, but not on the post about cleaning showers!
how you tease me! Have I not mentioned how I hate cleaning the shower. You know, I think you are right though so keep your eye out as I will write about it soon. I am sure there will be more anger toward false advertising than actual helpful hints but I will try to behave myself. Maybe if I put a little effort into researching this subject I may learn a few things myself. Give me a couple of weeks to investigate and I will put something together of worth.
Those rotten emoticon, I keep trying different combinations of keys myself and can’t come up with much more than 😉 and 🙂 . Maybe someone out there will read this and help us out.
Really and truly I am not trying to drive you round the twist with that request – shower doors are my worst cleaning problem, so I look forward to any products, methods, or shortcuts you may bless us with!
I know you weren’t trying to drive me round the twist and any help with this subject would have to be a blessing to all. I will get on to it before the end of the day and hopefully have a post up real soon. I appreciate you giving me a subject to blog about.
I’ve got kitchen envy big time!!!! Oh for a range hood like that. I’ve always had small, make-do kitchens. My current one has the cleaned-off counters, though, which makes everything easier to clean.
Looking forward to seeing more on the topic.
I love it when I sit down for lunch after my weekly housecleaning is done and just enjoy the feeling of cleanliness around me. Even the air seems to be cleaner.
I live in a town house complex and some of the neighbours have had to have their range hoods raised to a higher level because the tall husbands kept knocking their head on it. We wouldn’t want to discourage the husbands from working in the kitchen because of the threat of head injuries. 😉
Betty Jo says
Colleen your home is gorgeous, especially that kitchen! As you know by now, I love, love, love white and I love your kitchen. I actually houseclean on a schedule, certain rooms on certain days. In between I pick up and keep things where they belong unless being used. The fact that I’ve decluttered, and will continue to do so, helps everything to have a place. So my house is always tidy and I don’t have to worry if someone unexpected knocks at the door. I like the smart laziness idea! â™¥
Hi Betty Jo,
contrary to my approach with my decluttering, when it comes to housecleaning I prefer to get it over and done with each week as quickly as possible. I like to do it as soon after the weekend as possible because that is usually when the house gets the heaviest traffic and most likely to get in the most mess. Just after Christmas this year I was alone in the house for two weeks and boy did it stay tidy and clean then. I much prefer the company though even if they are a little messy.
Hi, Colleen…You have a beautiful home-love that kitchen!
I agree with you that the key is to keep things picked up, having a place for everything and putting everything back in its place.
My poor hubby was never taught to be organized when he was growing up, and it’s a challenge for him now, living with me who’s a stickler for making sure every item has a “home”, instead of just dropping or piling things everywhere.
He wastes a lot of time searching for items he put down “somewhere”, but can’t remember where. It’s such a huge time saver knowing where everything is (as long as you can train everybody in the home to put things away when they’ve used them).
I’d like to encourage Rebecca too. If you’re teaching yourself how to clean/declutter/organize, you’re doing a good job, and you’ll have your own system, one that works for you, in place before you know it.
When so many women left the home to enter the job market, and the schools cut out Home Ec classes, that left a lot of young people having to figure out these things for themselves, instead of having somebody teach them how to do it.
I’m 54. My mother was at home, and we had Home Ec at school, and 4H Club each week after school, so I had plenty of opportunities to learn the homemaking skills that aren’t often taught any more.
I give a lot of credit to the younger women that desire to have decluttered, organized homes for their families, and who are on the Internet learning the skills to do it. 🙂
I just thought I would share a dirty little secret with you. When I was young I shared a bedroom with my sister and it was always a mess. One day my mother actually through all the stuff that was lying around out the window. My mother loves to tell this story but I must have cared so little about it at the time that I don’t even remember it happening. The rest of the house was always tidy though so my mother did her best to set a good example. I think that working retail at an early age was the catalyst the started me on my neat freak path. So I suppose I am proof that we can all learn and change.
Thank you for encouraging Rebecca. She is obviously making an effort to get herself organised, clean and tidy and that should be applauded. I hope she finds that the advantages far outweigh the effort and is encouraged to keep it up.
Wonderful observations, Becky. And kudos to Rebecca, as you say, for her hard work, and I might add her humour and openess on this topic, too.
Thanks for all of the encouragement. Progress report: Day 3 (or is it 4?) and the kitchen is STILL CLEAN! This has to be some sort of a record for me. Re-arranging to clear up counter space made a HUGE difference. I’m discovering that a clean kitchen with counter space is a whole different thing from a clean kitchen that’s still cluttered. Seriously, I stewed up a batch of tomatoes from the garden today and it was SO much easier! I got done in less than half the time it usually takes, and cleaning up was actually easy! I think I’m getting hooked.
I actually did have one home economics class in junior high and it has proven to be a real life-saver. Too bad they didn’t teach any cleaning skills. But I do LOVE to cook… I suppose in a funny way I got started as a rebellion against my mother. How’s that for turning the world upside down!
And speaking of my mother… I think I had a bit of a double whammy in that department. Not only was she a single mom raising 2 kids in the 1970’s… when there really wasn’t the kind of support in place for single moms that there is today, she was also a bit of a hoarder. I recently saw a TV show called “Hoarders” and some of the houses on that show bore a somewhat unsettling resemblance to the house I grew up in.
But I’m gonna keep pluggin’ away at it! I gave away another pile of stuff on Freecycle today. And HOLY MOLY! I totally couldn’t believe how quickly people snatched up the junk that I posted. I sort of felt like maybe I was enabling someone else’s clutter issues… but I suppose that’s their problem!
You must be having a busy weekend. With all that cooking, cleaning and Freecycling there aren’t too many hours left in the day. I am so impressed with your progress and you seem to be enjoying the process and seeing the benefits of your efforts. You are such a quick learner which just proves you always had it in you but were just never shown the way. If you need any more pointers I will be happy to help.
Cat's Meow says
Thanks for sharing the pictures of your home! It looks lovely!
One of the things that inspired me to de-clutter and journey into minimalism was my obvious lack of organizational skills. It was okay when I was single and I could have as little stuff as I wanted, but when there was the matter of another persons belongings, I was overwhelmed. It never got the way I wanted in my perfectionist mind, so why bother at all? it didn’t occur to me that we could reduce the amount of stuff we BOTH have, and work out a solution together. Since having a kid and living in a one-bedroom apartment, things got really messy and I decided I couldn’t live like that anymore. I’m spending a lot of time at home with my daughter and it HAS to be a place where I feel good and relaxed, and isn’t causing me needless work in moving stuff around and trying to cope with it all.
Hi Cat’s meow,
this particular sentence really struck me from this comment – It never got the way I wanted in my perfectionist mind, so why bother at all? This is often a factor in how people end up in a cluttered mess. Expecting such high levels makes them give up because they can’t do it perfectly so it’s no use trying. Quite often hoarders are perfectionist which seems to be contradictory but it makes sense when you understand this side of the situation.
We can often get resentful when those around us do not conform to the way we want things. We then find it difficult to articulate a sharing of our feeling on the matter. We tend to focus the conversation on the physical side of the clutter rather than relate our feeling of sadness that the other person can’t or won’t make an effort for the sake of our happiness. They haven’t realised that it is as much about the mess as it is about their neglect of your needs.
A home should always be a safe and happy haven and that takes more than the efforts of one member of the household to achieve.
Amen to that sentence – that’s how I let things slide, only in my case it was because I never had the block of time to do the perfect job, therefore I’d just wait until I did. Guess what? I never, ever got enough time from that point on. So I’ve had to learn (am still learning) to break down the jobs and do them bit by bit, and to be satisfied with “good enough” a lot of the time. Great point!
settling for second best is sure better than not bothering at all. I have just spent 20 minutes in the garden. I trimmed a couple of bushes and weeded a 2 yard section of another bed. I am satisfied with that for today and I am a little closer to having a neat garden for spring planting.
Hi, Cat’s Meow…It sure is a challenge when another person’s belongings come into it.
I married a man who is the king of “collectors”. The amount of stuff he can bring home is absolutely mind-boggling to me, and I have to work overtime sometimes trying to stay ahead of what he brings home.
During our early years together his clutter was the cause of a lot of stress for me because I felt like I was suffocating being surrounded by so much stuff.
I’m happy to say that these days he’s getting much better about not acquiring so much, and I no longer feel like I’m suffocating.
He’s even starting to join me in my regular decluttering projects. 🙂
Ha! I’ll bet my Ex could give your husband a run for his money in the collector department! We had a 2 bedroom apartment which literally barely had room for us to walk in it. There were boxes piled floor to ceiling with utter junk (pardon me, I mean precious collectible items).
The thing that always got me was that he wasn’t collecting things that had any value, it was T-shirts, and beer cans and basically any promotional item with a logo and a date printed on it! AAAAARRRRRGGGHHHHH!!!!! He’d come home from the store with a six pack of Pepsi that nobody was allowed to touch because it was a “collector’s item” that would be very valuable some day!
He bought a house shortly after we split up, and I’m afraid to imagine what it must look like!
Cat's Meow says
Getting my husband into de-cluttering was great! He was never inconsiderate of me and he wasn’t a big junk collector- It was just that I was a minimalist and a perfectionist and the two of us combined had too much stuff for the available space. And I had my clutter collecting moments, oh definitely. Reading a book on de-cluttering was an eye opener – I realized I wasn’t crazy, that too much stuff really CAN feel suffocating..
Hi Cat’s Meow,
it is so much easier and less stressful when your partner is on board with you when it comes to decluttering.
I am constantly reminded how suffocating stuff is when I visit other peoples homes and it’s not even my stuff. I love my space and I am finding more of it all the time. In fact I think I just found a big chunk of it in the garage today. As luck would have it there is a bulk waste pick-up in our suburb in a couple of weeks so that is the perfect time to get rid of big junk. I can hardly wait.
Colleen, I can so relate with the suffocating feeling when I visit other people’s homes. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by the over-abundance of stuff and other times it’s also the lack of organization and cleanliness. I get this almost uncontrollable urge to grab a trash bag and start throwing things out. My husband and I always breathe a sigh of relief when we return to our clean and uncluttered home.
Thank you for posting pics of your own clean and pretty home. Is that a pic of your house with the cute picket fence on Flickr? I think my soul could live there easily.
no the house with the little picket fence isn’t mine. It is cute but and there a lots of similar cute homes in my neighbourhood. I took that photo because it is directly opposite to the dump in the next photo on flickr. I thought I might use both photos one day to show how someone else’s clutter/laziness affects not only them but the people around them.
I am getting in late to this discussion, but here are some of my thoughts.
On being lazy: My girlfriend calls it “conserving her energy.”
I recommend the book “Speed Cleaning” by Jeff Campbell and The Clean Team. They teach a very specific and systematic way of cleaning, which I found valuable. I’m not boasting that I am a great protege of theirs – I am not – but the clear explanations of how, exactly, to tackle every area was very valuable to me. Rebecca, this might really be your friend.
I like the shower product KaBoom. It is supposed to be environmentally kind, and it dissolves soap skum in the shower. You spray it on, leave it for a bit, scrub it off (I use a brush like a toilet brush, so I can stay on the outside of the shower but still reach), then rinse. It has a distinctive but not unpleasant odor. You do not have to scrub hard, as the scum much weaker after being KaBoomed. (Oh I hope I’m not creating false advertising that will irritate all of you, but I like it. It does not do in mold, though. That’s another problem all together.)
You are certainly right about cleaning systematically. Once you have a routine down the cleaning process flows smoothly and it is over in no time. To be familiar with method that best suits your home the job becomes quick and easy. Here is a good example of this. Have you ever done someone else’s ironing or even ironed something new you have just bought? It takes a couple of times ironing an item to learn its personality (for want of a better word) an know the best way to go about the task in the future.
The one problem I have with those cleaners specific to showers is that they all need to be rinsed off. I find that to be the most awkward step of the whole process. I do not have one of those hose type shower heads in my upstairs bathroom so rinsing is a real pain. I have found that this has been a problem for me in most houses I have lived in. For all that extra effort rinsing they don’t seem to be any better at cleaning in my opinion and you have to ask how toxic are they if ” rinse thoroughly” is an essential step in the cleaning process. That is why I don’t use them.
To rinse the shower, we either 1) take a shower and splash all over the walls while we’re in there or 2) use one of those rididulously large drink cups you get at a theme park, fill and toss. I keep the cup with the cleaning supplies.
I honestly don’t think anything bad would happen with this product if you didn’t rinse. It would probably negate your cleaning, but not eat away at your tile or chrome.
I have used your rinsing method and several others not to mention doing it naked so as not the get my clothes wet but I am not convinced that it is worth the effort. You are probably right about it not needing rinsing it is likely just the company that makes the product covering there derriÃ¨re so to speak.
A few months ago I started using your site as my homepage, so I could get decluttering inspiration every time I logged on. Previously my homepage was a political site, which had me bouncing around from depressed to super-cynical to very pissed off. I was well-informed, though.
Thanks for showing the pictures of your home and going over your cleaning methodology. It seems simple for you, and it does sound that way. But I know it’s only simple because you have already decluttered and because it comes naturally.
Your first step, “Put away anything that is out of place,” is where I am now. It will take me weeks before I’ll be able to clean our small 3br/1ba home in only 3 hours with that as my first step. Yet I feel I have something to aspire to, and some steps to help me get there. And, of course each day I get rid of something.
It’s always getting better. Thanks very much.
I used to have a cleaning lady, and it took me a whole day to tidy (i.e. pick up all our clutter) before she could clean. It was an incredible source of stress. A tidy house is a big improvement on every aspect of home life.
how lovely it is to hear from you. You sound like an avid reader of my blog so I am surprised we haven’t heard from you before now. I am sure you have plenty of good input to add to our conversation so we would love to hear from you more often in the future.
There is nothing wrong with being at the first step, we’ve all been there. You are also right that it seems to come more naturally to some than others and that is why I am here to help. If you have any questions feel free to ask either by leaving a comment or contacted me more privately through the Contact Colleen page at the top of my blog. Don’t forget I have been at this task for almost eleven months now so have faith that you will get there in the end.