Stay tidy without sacrificing your schedule.

By Kelsey Mulvey
January 23, 2021
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A clean home should be status quo for everyone, so why is it so hard to make it a reality? In a perfect world, your home would always be in pristine condition. (Not a crumb or dust bunny in sight!) But, no matter how good your intentions are, life always manages to throw a wrench into your cleaning routine. Whether you've had a particularly busy week at work or are juggling a job with parenthood, it's all too easy to deprioritize even the easiest chores. One thing often leads to another, and you're a few spills away from being messy.

The good news is just because you're busy doesn't mean you have to live in filth. To help, we asked a few experts to share their cleaning rules everyone can follow. (Yes, even you.)

Rule #1: Automate When Possible

Wouldn't it be nice to have someone else take care of your chores for you? Well now you can — sort of, that is.

"A new cleaning trend is taking over and it's the use of vacuum robots," explains Natalie Barrett, cleaning expert and quality supervisor at Australia-based company called Nifty Cleaning Services. "A vacuum robot can be used via an app that allows you to schedule cleaning times, set the desired area that you would like the robot to vacuum, and has additional features."

Think of these robotic vacuums as your very own Rosie from The Jetsons. All you need to do is schedule a cleaning—which you can easily do from your phone—and go about the rest of your day. (Psst…you can check out a few pet-friendly models here.) But, why stop at vacuuming? According to Barrett, many options have a moping mode, so they can literally do all the work on your behalf.

Rule #2: Kick Off Your Shoes

Cleaning your home is inevitable and unavoidable; however, you can have some say in how often you need to clean your space. If you're looking for an easy, low-maintenance way to keep dirt and grime to a minimum, leave your shoes at the door.

"Outdoor shoes can leave traces of unwanted dirt including dust, bacteria, and even viruses," explains OP Almaraz, president and co-founder of Allied Restoration, which recently expanded its services to virus contamination. "To avoid constant sanitization of your floors, simply make your home a shoe-free zone and ask your inhabitants and guests to remove their shoes upon entry. This alone can save you so much time on mopping and vacuuming."

While dust, crumbs, and dirt will accumulate, a shoeless home has the potential to keep your space cleaner for longer.

Rule #3: Make the Most of Your Dishwasher

A dishwasher is any busy body's best friend—especially if you're in charge of making breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But while we normally associate the dishwasher with your dirty forks, bowls, and glasses, it's actually compatible with a lot more.

"You can clean your shoes, plastic toys, bathroom wastebaskets, hairbrushes, pet dishes, and more," Barrett shares. "There's no need to worry about taking time to wash most of your belongings when you can let the machine handle it for you."

The catch? You just need to make sure all materials that go into your machine are dishwasher-friendly. That way, you can take the elbow grease out of your cleaning routine.

Rule #4: Create a Home For Everything You Own

As children, our parents taught us that everything has its place: your favorite storybook, go-to stuffed animal, and your favorite dress-up costumes. But as we got older—and our lives got a lot busier—our organization strategy got a little messy. (Literally.) Turns out, our parents were right: That age-old cleaning rule still holds true today.

"In order to maintain a home with an extremely busy lifestyle, it is essential that the home is first set up for success," explains Michele Vig, author and owner of Little Neat Nest. "That means to declutter your home and create organizational systems that you can maintain. Without a system in place, it is difficult for anyone, especially someone who has a demanding schedule, to keep their spaces tidy."

Need some inspiration? Check out our easy, four-step process here.

Rule #5: Start the Clock

It doesn't matter how busy you are, everyone has 15 minutes to spare. Instead of scrolling through Instagram—or, admittedly, hitting the snooze button a few too many times—Vig encourages you to spend that time sprucing up your space.

"Focused15 is a simple technique where you pick a task, set a timer for 15 minutes and focus your mind and body on getting the task done," she explains. "Using this strategy can help you put away items that need to go back to their home and speed clean your home daily. It's an excellent approach to keeping messes at bay."

Fifteen minutes might not seem like a lot of time—especially when you have so much to do—but carving out a little time each day can make a world of difference.

Rule #6: Clean Up as You Go

When you have a super-busy day, adding anything else to your schedule can feel like a tall order. (Yes, even if the task at hand is as simple as dusting your windowsill.) Instead of putting even more on your plate, Barrett recommends tidying up as you go through your daily routine.

"The time you spend taking a shower is ideal for also cleaning your bathroom and cutting down cleaning time. The space is already wet and ready for scrubbing, stain removal, and dirt elimination," she explains. "After you've completed your showering routine, don't be quick to leave the bathroom but rather prepare a cup of vinegar and clean the tiles and the surfaces."

In fact, you can even incorporate cleaning into your wind-down time.

"Do you like listening to music and dancing around the house when you have a few spare minutes?" Barrett asks. "Great, you can still do this and clean at the same time. Just put on a pair of fluffy socks and let them collect the dust and hair laying on the floor."