I know I’m not the only one who does this: life gets busy and the house gets correspondingly dirtier and dirtier. You don’t want to give up your entire day off to cleaning it, so it gets worse. Pretty soon you’re out of clean dishes, clean underwear, and room in the garbage can. Here’s my surefire multitasking method of getting the whole house back into functional shape again in only two hours, so you can spend the rest of your day off watching The Cosby Show
on Netflix Instant.
- Turn on music. Not mopey hipster music. Not emotionally charged sad bastard music. Music with good pace. For me, the only things that work are showtunes and exercise-paced pop, like Ke$ha. The goal here is to keep a driving beat behind your effort; it will remind you to keep your pace up. Preferably choose a Pandora station or a couple of albums that fit the bill.
- Gather all dirty laundry from all rooms (including dirty kitchen towels, bath towels, bedding, etc.) in your laundry basket and start your laundry cycle. (Community washing machines: start all of your loads. One machine in home: do one load at a time. Laundry off-site: get it piled up and set it by the door. It won’t fit into your two hour time limit, since all cleaning needs to be done on site, but it will help get it out of the way.) Set a timer for the duration of the wash cycle and get on to the next task. Make sure that bedding is in this first round of laundry.
- Gather all dirty dishes and wash them immediately. (If you have a dishwasher—rinse, load, and start the machine. If you hand-wash—that’s okay, just get scrubbing!)
- Once your dishes are washed, either leave them to dry or let the machine do its thing. Wipe down all counter tops and the top of the stove with a wet rag, sponge, or Clorox wipes (my favorite). Put away any food sitting out, toss any obviously spoiled food you see in the ‘fridge.
- By now your laundry timer should have gone off (you’re probably about 1/2 an hour into your cleaning and your laundry is clean and your kitchen is almost done). Switch clothes into the dryer, start the second washer load if you have more to go, set your timer for the longer cycle (my dryer takes longer than the washer).
- Spray down all hard surfaces in your bathroom with surface cleaner. That’s bathtub, shower stall, sink, toilet. Put toilet cleaner in the bowl, scrub down with a toilet brush, and wipe everything else off. Flush the toilet, rinse the shower/tub, and empty the bathroom trash into your larger kitchen can. Re-line the bathroom trash can.
- Shelve all books, stack all mail, and wipe down any remaining tables (coffee table, dining room, bedside, etc.) with a Clorox wipe or wet paper towel.
- If there are remaining loads of laundry to do, your timer should be going off right about now. Switch them over. This is about 1-1.25 hours into the two hours. By now your bedding should be dry.
- Sweep all hard floor surfaces, then vacuum all carpets.
- Make your bed.
- If you have pets, clean the gerbil cage, empty the litter box, and wash the food bowls now.
- Do one final trash sweep through unusual places. My prime suspects are chocolate wrappers in the bedroom and old envelopes from mail in the living room. Re-line all of your garbage cans and take out the garbage and recycling.
- Put any remaining variables away at this point. This can include power cords, knick knacks, magazines lying around, exercise equipment, stuffed animals, whatever. If you have children, this last burst of time is a great opportunity to get them putting away their toys and various clutter.
- Gather your last load of dry laundry and fold all of your laundry and put it away. You should be right at about the 2 hour mark, and at this point your house should be functionally clean. Maybe not sparkling, but it should no longer be making your skin crawl. Congrats!