How to Get Your Whole House Clean in Two Hours or Less

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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!)
  4. 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.
  5. 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).
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Sweep all hard floor surfaces, then vacuum all carpets.
  10. Make your bed.
  11. If you have pets, clean the gerbil cage, empty the litter box, and wash the food bowls now.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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!
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19 Comments How to Get Your Whole House Clean in Two Hours or Less

  1. Avatar of bricoramabricorama

    This is great! If I’m cleaning bathroom/kitchen, I usually get a Swiffer wet wipe and hit the bathroom first (I live with 3 other girls, so it’s hair galore. I usually clean the major clumps of hair off the pad and throw it away) and then I hit up the kitchen. If there’s a lot of lose debris I get out the broom. Or I just swiffer it into the corner and pretend its not there.

    Also I listen to a lot of The Specials when I clean.

  2. Avatar of Jane DizzleJane Dizzle

    Awesome possom!

    I like to start with laundry too — bed linens first, like you said; a nice added benefit of having the bed made right away is that you can use it as a surface for folding your other clean laundry or you can use it as a stacking and organizing surface that won’t interfere with sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping. Plus, making the bed is really satisfying, you get a visible result so you feel like you accomplished something right away.

    I feel naughty for talking about housework on a women’s blog, so to counteract the excitement I just expressed over doing laundry, I’m going to sing “I Am Woman” to myself for the next twenty minutes :)

    Thanks for the helpful checklist — I’m going to try it this weekend.

  3. Avatar of mxandbmxandb

    I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before: START LAUNDRY WITH THE BEDDING!
    My mind is already blown by #2.

    Also, fun step:  put the toilet bowl cleaner in the toilet the night before – just spray it all up in there before going to bed.  When you wake in the morning, it will have “soaked” and scrubbing is either not necessary or super easy.  And you’ll have a ‘fresh’ bowl before 7am (assuming one gets up before 7am)  I use Clorox and don’t have to actually scrub, it just dissolves away. :D

    (system note: I think with my office’s last round of updates, PM is coming in more easily – yah!)

    1. Avatar of Meghan Young KroghMeghan Young Krogh

      Yes, basically anything you can do in advance to decrease your actual cleaning time is ++++. For those with small children or pets, it might not be super feasible to leave cleaning chemicals on surfaces overnight, but it’s a great idea otherwise. :)

      And: I know for a fact that the Editors Who Reign Over All have been tinkering with a crap ton of features that affect the site’s loading time, just to make it faster. Sounds like the combination of your office upgrade and our tinkering has created a superfast powerful Persephone engine! Pomegranates optional.

  4. Avatar of DormouseDormouse

    One of my past roommates inspired me with the “power hour” (or power half hour, if you’re short on time). The basic idea is to clean/organize/pick up as quickly as you can, with no breaks, and to power through an hour or half hour of work. It is amazing what you can accomplish in that amount of time if you just stick to it.

    But, I’m a big fan of multitasking and getting some things started–like laundry or dishes–first so that those tasks will be done by the time I finish other ones. :)

    1. Avatar of Meghan Young KroghMeghan Young Krogh

      When I do daily cleaning, I do it by room so it doesn’t get overwhelming, but if the whole house is filthy, I find doing it by task helps me to focus, and helps no one room to be too overwhelming.

      1. Avatar of CherriSpryteCherriSpryte

        Sometimes I find doing things by task counterproductive, as I frequently get all “hey, the kitchen is sparkling! i have accomplished something! i can always close my bedroom door when i have guests!” and then i quit halfway through.

        Also, related, I am going to try this tomorrow, after work, except I’m giving myself 4 hours. We shall see how this goes!

        1. Avatar of Michelle MillerMichelle Miller

          Oh my goodness, I am the same way. I’m always looking to reward myself and stop the good work I’m doing.

          That’s why this method seems appealing to me. Might help to keep the ball rolling on the chores.

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