No-Time-to-Clean Routines

You're busy with your job, overwhelmed by household chores, and about to be smothered by Mount Washmore. Here are some timed cleaning routines that can bring the chaos under control.

30-Second Routines

  • Fold or hang dishtowels and dishrags neatly in the kitchen.
  • Wipe down the kitchen sink.
  • Squeegee the shower door
  • Pull the cover or duvet up on your bed so it looks made.
  • Straighten out the top of your bed stand.
  • When you go to the kitchen for a snack, return dishes and glasses at the same time.

One-Minute Routines

  • While you brush your teeth, use the other hand to wipe down the sink, tub, and faucets.
  • Use the minute while you warm a beverage in the microwave oven to wipe the range or refrigerator door.
  • Take the trash and/or recycling out to the garage.
  • Sweep the kitchen floor.

Five-Minute Routines

  • Turn up the radio and let your kids help you pick up as many toys as they can before the song is over.
  • Pick up all clothing in one bedroom -- put dirty laundry in a basket and hang or put away clothing that is still clean.
  • Take a trash bag and walk through all the rooms on one floor, gathering anything that should be discarded. Put it in the trash bin.
  • Load dishwasher with dishes from sink.
  • Grab a sponge and wipe down the kitchen sink.

15-Minute Routines

Fifteen minute cleaning sessions are a great way to maintain a home in between more thorough cleanings. Make sure you have a cleaning caddy stocked to take with you from room to room (see "Stocking Your Cleaning Caddy" below). Set a timer and when time has elapsed, stop.

Straighten a bedroom: Make the bed. Put away clothing. Gather items that don't belong in this room and put them in a basket to be put away later. Dust from the top of the room down to the baseboards. If there is time, run a vacuum cleaner near the doorway or where dirt is most likely to accumulate.

Clean up the kitchen: Rinse and put any dishes into the dishwasher. Stay current with hand dishes dirtied during the most recent meal. Using a soapy dishcloth, wipe down the range, refrigerator, and countertops. Collect items that have found their way to the kitchen counter and put them in a basket to be delivered to their proper place in the home.

Freshen a bathroom: Using your cleaning caddy, put window cleaner on the mirror and wipe dry. Put toilet-bowl cleaner in the bowl and let it sit while you wipe down fixtures and counters with the same cloth you used for the mirror. Pull the full trash bag out of the bin and replace it. Put loose items away in their proper drawer, cabinet, or shelf. Find items that don't belong in the bathroom and put them in a small basket for delivering to the rooms in which they belong.

Straighten up the living room: Take your cleaning caddy and vacuum to the living room. First declutter. Collect items that belong elsewhere and put them into a basket. Sprinkle the carpet with baking soda. Neatly stack magazines and books. Put pillows and other accessories in their place. Dust as needed. Vacuum the carpet (now that the baking soda has had time to do its work).

General: Take a drawer from any room in the house and organize it, purging items that don't belong there or are no longer useful.

30-Minute Routines

  • Empty and clean the refrigerator. Purge food items that have expired.
  • Remove cushions from couches and chairs in living room and vacuum. Before replacing pillows on couch, vacuum those with a brush.
  • Sweep all hard surfaced floors and mop them. Shake rugs outdoors.
  • On the day before trash day, empty every trash can in the house into a single bag and take it to the garage.

One-Hour Routines

  • Remove dust ruffle and mattress pad from bed and launder. Turn the mattress. Replace dust ruffle and mattress pad, then make the bed.
  • Dust all window sills, wood surfaces, chairs, and ceiling fans.
  • Clean or launder shower curtain. Put bathmats or other area rugs from bathroom in the washer and launder.
  • Choose a closet to clean out and reorganize. Start by completely emptying the closet. Clean closet surfaces. Only return items to the closet that belong there and are still useful. Relocate, discard, or recycle remaining items.

Stocking Your Cleaning Caddy

  • Window cleaner
  • Multi-surface cleaner or homemade solution of vinegar and water,
  • Powdered cleanser
  • Chorine bleach
  • Feather duster
  • Sponges and soft rags
  • Rubber gloves

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