8 smart habits to spend less time cleaning – and instantly unlock more free time

These eight smart habits let you clean less and live more, professional cleaners assure

A integrated kitchen sink with a black tap
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We have all felt like we spend more time cleaning than relaxing at home. There always seems to be a never-ending list of chores that pops up as soon as we try to put our feet up and sink into the sofa. 

While we can't make our home clean itself (although we wish we could) there are some things we could change up that can extend the time between cleans and make our job quicker and easier when we do have to tackle our to-do lists. 

These eight cleaning tips will help you build smart habits to spend less time cleaning and instantly unlock more free time, cleaning experts assure. 

Smart habits to spend less time cleaning 

Of course, to build new positive habits, you need to break the bad cleaning habits that are leaving your home dirtier and harder to manage – whether this is forgetting to empty the dishwasher before bed or neglecting to clean down the shower after use.  

1. Declutter regularly

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Although not a cleaning tip per se, picking up some good decluttering tips will make it easier and therefore quicker to clean up every week, says Eliana Coca, professional cleaner and owner of E.C. House Cleaning

‘By setting aside a few minutes each week to remove items that are no longer needed or used, spaces remain more organized, which makes general cleaning much quicker and more efficient. Less clutter means fewer obstructions when dusting, vacuuming, or wiping down surfaces.’

2. Work from top to bottom

Olive green kitchen cabinets with white walls and white counters

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To make cleaning quicker and more efficient, it helps to get into the habit of cleaning every room from top to bottom to avoid dusting mistakes making your home dirtier

‘Start from the top and work your way down – start with anything higher (cabinets, walls, etc.), work your way to middle surfaces (desks, tables, chairs, etc.), then finish off with floors/carpet to prevent from having to redo anything as everything will fall to the ground,’ suggests Shawn Grant, owner of Clear Facility Services.

3. Get your family involved

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(Image credit: Cohesively Curated Interiors/Carina Skrobeck)

Motivating your family to clean can be difficult, but getting into the bait of not picking up after them and encouraging them to keep their own areas clean will inevitably free up more time for yourself, points out Eliana Coca, professional cleaner:

‘In a household, assigning age-appropriate cleaning tasks to all family members not only distributes the workload but also maintains a cleaner home on a daily basis. For instance, having children put their toys away after playing or assigning a teen the task of managing the dishwasher daily can significantly reduce cleaning time during the weekend deep-cleaning sessions.’

4. Treat stains and spills immediately

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(Image credit: Marco Ricca)

Treating a stain as soon as you spill something might seem like it is interrupting your time relaxing, but it is a little quicker to have a brief interlude to clean up than having to scrub at the stain later on when it has dried. It also keeps your home looking its best for longer, adds Eliana Coca, professional cleaner.

To make this task even quicker, you can set up a stain station with detergent pens or stain removal sheets that you can grab quickly, so you are not hunting through cabinets to find the right cleaning products.  

5. Stick to a schedule

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(Image credit: Martha Brook)

Sometimes we can’t relax because we know there is a task waiting to be done in another room, or we feel guilty for letting an area become overrun with mess. To help combat this and ensure you don’t spend all of your time cleaning, Shawn Grant, cleaning expert recommends getting into a habit of using a schedule:

‘Always have a plan on how to keep your spaces clean. Schedule out when you want to wipe down surfaces like cabinets, walls, and baseboards, then schedule them out into different weeks so you cut down your per-clean time. 

‘Mix these tasks into when you're already doing things that need to be cleaned frequently like your surfaces and floors. This will prevent you from having to do one big clean that takes up an entire day or two. You'll be able to manage cleaning in smaller chunks weekly.’

6. Use smart equipment

Robot vacuum

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sometimes we rely too heavily on our own manpower. Shawn Grant, cleaning expert also recommends getting into the habit of using optimized and smart cleaning tools to ensure the job is done efficiently and properly every time – so you do not have to go back over the same spot later.

‘For home use, we use a robotic vacuum to keep high-traffic areas manageable during the week so those areas don't need frequent deep floor cleans, for example,’ he shares. ‘You should also get the best vacuum, one that has good suction (look for air watts). This will keep you from having to go over surfaces on your floor over and over again. ‘Get a handful of rags so you're not using semi-dirty ones as it will make it harder to clean surfaces and use the right cleaning supplies for the job. Stainless steel cleaner on stainless steel, wood cleaners on wood, Windex on windows, etc. Using the wrong products will lead to a lot more time scrubbing, leaving streaks, or ultimately leaving the surfaces still looking dirty.’ 

7. Clean as you go

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(Image credit: Studio LIFE/STYLE)

By far one of the best habits to build when looking to spend less time cleaning is to clean up as you go – be it wiping the kitchen counters after cooking or always putting your clothes back in your closet after getting ready. It also helps to clean a house when you’re too busy

Ryan Knoll, professional cleaner and owner of Tidy Casa, suggests starting this habit when cleaning a shower: ‘Invest in a squeegee for your showers. These cheap products will help you keep mildew and bath scum from building up on your shower walls. After each shower use the squeegee to wipe down the walls. Getting rid of the water that stands and stays on the walls helps eliminate bacteria, mildew, and scum buildup, helping to keep your shower clean.’ 

8. Do a 30-minute blitz

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(Image credit: Tori Murphy)

Even when working on a schedule, unexpected spots pop up that we need to address. Rather than have them sit untouched for weeks, or spend hours trying to tackle them when distracted, Alessandro Gazzo, cleaning professional at Emily’s Maids, recommends trying a 30-minute cleaning blitz once or twice a week to tackle tough areas quickly and efficiently:

‘You can play some music or a podcast in the meantime, and time will fly,’ they assure. ‘By putting out these “small fires” you save so much stress and you also associate cleaning with something fun, and it stops feeling like a burden with time.’

Although all of these cleaning tricks still require you to spend time tending to your home, building the habit of working little and often will make cleaning feel like less of a chore – especially when you break your days up between cleaning for half an hour, and spending hours relaxing afterwards.  

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.