Keep Your House Clean in 20 Minutes a Day

I’m a cleanie, you know, one of those people who can’t stand clutter and whose house is always clean. Maybe it’s a little obsessive but it is how I operate the best. I work at home and I’m here a lot, so it’s important to me to have an environment that makes me comfortable but the cleaning routine also has to be realistic. If it takes too long, I won’t do it daily, so I’m sharing my routine on how you can keep your house clean in 20 minutes a day — or less. Everyone has 20 minutes, right?

To back up a bit, I am not a decorator. I have a lot of nice things in it, but interior design is not one of my talents. Cornhole is apparently one of my talents, but that’s not a marketable skill. I like to have pretty things in my house, but I don’t like to dust anymore than I have to. Who does, right?

This house is probably the first that we’ve purchased where we did it with function in mind, right from the beginning. We hung up hooks to hang up aprons, lined the kitchen with cookbook shelves and really put it together with an eye on flow. The dog leashes are hung by the door into the garage, right next to my raincoat and there’s a place for my rain boots, so in inclement weather, I can conveniently take them for a yard walk. The formal dining room is a gaming area, with a big TV and nice shelving units to house the XBox, Playstation 4, and all the rest of the game machines, so the kids have a nice place to play but still be supervised. Adults also like it when we have a Wii party, as it’s near the formal living room, allowing for easy mingling. We moved the dining table into the informal living area, by the kitchen, so we weren’t traipsing over the ivory carpet with big plates during a dinner party, and again, guests can mingle with us as we cook as that room is attached to our kitchen. A big island was installed so my baking gear is easily accessible; it’s great to have every pan in the world, but if you have to dig it out, are you really going to use it?

Decorating for function over beauty has made the house not only a lot more convenient and enjoyable, but it’s much easier and faster to clean. With my daily routine, I can always keep my house clean in 15 minutes a day, outside of one day a week that takes 25-30 minutes. Here’s how I do it.

First, to be completely upfront, you will need to get your clutter under control and give it a good cleaning once, and then from there, you can start the 20 minutes a day routine. Since most people are doing this at least every week or two, you can wait until your next one and let that be your starting point. If not, you’re not going to feel like the 20 minutes a day is doing it.

Once things are where they belong, and you’re organized, and your toilets are scrubbed for the week, here’s how to keep your house clean in 20 minutes a day — and be ready to bust through it fast!

  • Sunday: Dust your entire house.  This takes about 5 minutes, and I have a decent amount of furniture. (I don’t count polishing furniture in this; we don’t do it due to allergies.) Wipe down your bathroom starting with the mirror, the counter, and working down to the toilet. A batch of reusable soft cloths is great for this. I have 7 blue and 7 green on hand and I use one per day, washing them once a week; I keep a grocery bag hanging near the washing machine so at the end of each cleaning session, I drop the cloth in there. Green is used for everything but the toilets; blue is for toilet usage only.  Carry a trash can and empty all of them into it so you’re only making one trip to the trash can. I then vacuum the downstairs high-traffic areas, which are primarily the pathway from the back door, where the big dog lays, and my son’s room, where the dog sleeps. That takes about 5 minutes. In about 15 minutes, you’ve gotten rid of the dust, cleaned up fingerprints and grunge in areas that everyone uses daily, and vacuumed up the worst of the floor dirt. Spend a few minutes putting things away and if need be, a couple minutes reminding the family that they can put things away when they’re done with them.
  • Monday and Tuesday: Wipe down the bathrooms and vacuum high traffic areas. Spend a few minutes putting things away.
  • Wednesday: This is the day that takes me a little longer, the one day a week where I add in scrubbing the toilets and vacuuming the entire house. I sprinkle/spray the toilet cleaner in, then put it away, letting it sit while I wipe the rest of the bathroom with the proper spray cleaner. Then it’s done its magic and it’s much easier to finish the scrub. I also dust again and empty bathroom trash cans.
  • Thursday, Friday and Saturday: Same as Wednesday.

It sounds simplistic, as I know that it’s a different world when you have small children or babies, but it’s really not hard once you remember each day has a task and you won’t get behind if you miss a day, other than the one thorough cleaning each Wednesday. Dishes are washed after dinner and put away. Mail is touched once until you handle it; go through it and toss what you won’t need and file what you do. Both the husband and I keep a few things in our “zone,” the place where we keep our keys, where I keep my purse, to stash mail we have to handle but can’t do it just yet. A bill, a school permission form, whomever has to handle it keeps it in their stash. Laundry is done almost daily and while I absolutely hate to fold it, letting it sit overnight just means wrinkled clothes and more work straightening them. (I also hate ironing.) We’ve found that if we give ourselves a few extra minutes for the morning preparation, we’re not having to leave things sitting on the counter to deal with later. Get out the the chip bag for a kids’ lunch? Put it back when you’re done. It’s really a mindset that allows you to spend those 20 minutes once a day in a way that you can see the difference and not feel overwhelmed.

Cleaning your house is a chore, and it’s not a fun one, but by attacking it in daily chunks, it never has a chance to get out of control. Leave yourself time instead for those crafts or other hobbies and you’ll also have the space now for it, too!



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