Even the best cleaners can find it overwhelming to get started when mess and clutter build up. Looking at a pile of mess or a room in complete disarray can make you want to surrender before you have even started.
That is where the ‘one spot’ cleaning method comes in to help find a way to clean that doesn't feel completely overstimulating, helping to strip back the tasks to a bare essential that might help you to get motivated to clean.
I came across this simple cleaning tip on social media and decided to give it a go to help tackle my overwhelming kitchen. I couldn't believe how simple it made such an overwhelming task seem.
The ‘one spot’ cleaning trick
Cleaning when you feel overwhelmed can seem like an endless circle of trying to tidy up, feeling more stressed, and ending in you abandoning the task – only for the mess to get worse, beginning the cycle again.
The ‘one spot’ method breaks this cycle by allowing you to focus on one thing and one thing only, preventing you from spiraling into stress.
When I fall into these types of ruts, it can feel impossible to get out of them and tidy my home. This was especially true of trying to clean a kitchen over the last week. My small kitchen is almost always cold in winter meaning I don’t want to spend any more time in there than I have to.
The result? Piling dishes, sides covered in crumbs, and a fridge I haven't cleaned out in at least a week. It was overwhelming, to say the least.
When it became nearly impossible to cook due to mess and clutter, I had to do something – so I gave the one spot method a go. The idea is to go into cleaning focusing on only one spot, almost giving yourself tunnel vision. There is no kitchen spring cleaning checklist here, just one task and one goal – clear up one area.
I decided to focus my efforts on cleaning the kitchen sink, the spot that had arguably fallen into the worst mess. Instead of thinking about having to tackle the sink, then clean the fridge and counters, and so on, I just had to do the sink.
Like putting blinkers on a horse, I worked on the sink and didn’t let myself look around the kitchen at any other surface. Starting with the worst area made a massive improvement to how the space felt and, much like my beloved Ski-Slope organizing method where you work on one spot before allowing yourself to move on to the next, it was oddly motivating.
Once the sink was clean and the dishes were washed and stacked up neatly, the kitchen didn't feel as cluttered and the rest of the space felt much simpler to tidy up. One area down, I widened my tunnel vision a little and moved onto decluttering countertops and giving them a wipe-down with an anti-bacterial spray. To avoid getting overwhelmed, I kept this to a quick clean, rather than pulling out all of my appliances. This could always be done another day – at least I was making a start.
If you find yourself still feeling a bit overwhelmed after dealing with one spot, you can always take a break and then try the method again later on another spot, applying the same ‘tunnel-vision’ rule over and over until the room no longer stresses you out.
How can I stop feeling stressed when cleaning?
If you feel stressed when cleaning, consider using tactics such as regular breaks, rewards, and cleaning challenges, and include motivators such as watching a movie or motivational cleaning video or listening to music in the background to help ground yourself and make the task less overwhelming.
Why do I get so overwhelmed when cleaning?
Cleaning can feel overwhelming for several reasons. You may not know where to start, feel guilty for letting an area get messy in the first place, or feel pressure to have a perfectly clean home at all times. When feeling like this, it is important to take a step back and prioritize self-care before trying to clean up again. If it gets too bad, remember that it is okay to ask for help from friends or professionals to help get back on track again.
Cleaning in this way may not be the most rapid method to cut kitchen cleaning times in half, but it sure is ideal when you can’t break through the feeling of being overwhelmed. Now my kitchen has been reset, it is simpler to get back into the routine of doing daily things to keep kitchen counters clear.
Sign up to the Homes & Gardens newsletter
Decor Ideas. Project Inspiration. Expert Advice. Delivered to your inbox.
Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, 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.
What is modern Mediterranean interior design? Designers on the chic yet rustic European aesthetic that's huge for 2024
What is modern Mediterranean design? We ask interior designers to weigh in and share their favorite ways to add this relaxed style into schemes
By Molly Malsom Published
How to grow the contents of your salad bowl indoors – for fresh crops all year round
If you like the idea of growing your own salad crops indoors, check out these easy hydroponic gardening ideas
By Sarah Wilson Published