I swear by the one-tool cleaning method to clean my home in less than an hour

My dad taught me this trick to clean a house quickly when I was a kid, and I still swear by it today

A wooden crate of cleaning tools
(Image credit: Evgeniia Siiankovskaia via Getty Images)

When it comes to cleaning and tidying my home, I love efficiency. Anything that gets the task done quickly with minimal effort and zero distractions is a win for me. 

While I have tried several different cleaning tips for work, I always go back to the same one when deep cleaning my home – the one-tool cleaning method – and I have been using it since I was a kid, helping to clean the house for a weekly allowance. 

This is why I love the method my dad taught me so much and how you can use it at home.

One-tool cleaning method

The one-tool cleaning method is an approach that allows me to walk around the house with one specific cleaning tool, let’s say a dusting cloth, and get rid of dust in every room before going back and picking up the next tool, such as the vacuum cleaner, and vacuuming every space, etc. 

This is vastly different from the room-by-room approach or the different day, different room schedule, where you would typically take all the tools you need into one space, clean that space from top to bottom, and then move on to the next area and repeat.  

A lasy using a cloth and spray to wipe down a make up desk

(Image credit: Getty Images)

My dad taught me this method when I was a child, and my only jobs were to dust and vacuum the living room, my bedroom, and the dining room – three really easy spaces to introduce me to help around the house. 

My process today is not too dissimilar to back then. I always start by putting things away (nowadays, I use the Ski Slope organizing method to help declutter and organize room-by-room) before going around with a duster, then a polish or anti-bacterial, and then the vacuum. I also typically work from the upstairs of the house to the downstairs, always starting with each tool in the same room (my bedroom) and methodically working backward towards my kitchen, where I can put essential cleaning tools back away or in the washing machine as needed. 

As someone who values being able to crash on the sofa or go out with friends in the evenings, this approach means I don’t have to split my cleaning tasks up, and I can instead bash them all out in an hour or so one day at the weekend – usually as part of my Sunday reset.  

There are a few caveats to this method, however. When I moved out and had to work with a whole house rather than just three rooms, I made a few changes and exceptions to help keep my home hygienic. 

Firstly, I largely omit cleaning the kitchen and cleaning the bathroom from my one-tool method – and for several reasons. Most importantly, these spaces are usually dirtier than the rest of my home and require tougher or more specific cleaning products to deal with grease or bacteria. As such, I still work on these spaces individually, usually getting both rooms in top condition before tackling the rest of my house so that I can still vacuum them when I go around with that tool.

Secondly, with more rooms on my roster, I now take multiple clothes with me when dusting or polishing furniture around my house. This is to avoid spreading dust and germs from one room to another.  

The benefits of the one-tool method

A set of natural cleaning products made from sustainable materials like bamboo

(Image credit: Getty Images)

There are several benefits I have found from using this method rather than working room by room. 

First, given that I deal with my whole house in one sitting, cleaning doesn't feel like it takes up as big a portion of my life. Cleaning little and often and working in a different room each day of the week means I never escape from it – and it is not a realistic schedule to maintain if you just want to have some downtime. 

Next, avoiding task switching within one room and instead completing one task at a time leads to fewer distractions, helping to reduce decision fatigue and make cleaning less tiring. I know I am in that space to do one specific thing, so I can mindlessly clean or vacuum without the temptation to ‘just do a quick declutter’ or ‘I need to dust this corner, then I will finish vacuuming,’ etc.

Finally, this approach helps me tackle spaces that are otherwise neglected when I work room by room. My hallways, for instance, are regularly forgotten when I attempt to clean a different area daily. When I am walking around with my duster with the sole purpose of dusting everything, however, all the trims, picture frames, and side tables get a good clean. Similarly, my stairs are always vacuumed – something I would willingly put off if I were already tackling other tasks like disinfecting. As a result, my home is a lot cleaner and stays a lot tidier. 


What is the one-hour cleaning method? 

The one-hour cleaning method is a quick, distraction-free housekeeping trick where you dedicate just one hour at the start of every day to restoring order in your home. This could mean working in one room to declutter, tidy up, and dust, or it could be that you run around your whole home with the vacuum cleaner. After the hour ends, you move on with your day, knowing you have started it with a good productivity boost.  

What is the correct order to clean a house? 

When cleaning a house, the order you work in will vary depending on your house needs and if one room is a lot dirtier or messier than another. However, generally speaking, it is a good idea to start in spaces such as the bathroom or kitchen – the powerhouses of the home that build up grime far quicker than other rooms. This ensures the most important areas are dealt with. Then, you can move onto the living spaces, such as bedrooms and living rooms, before finishing with the less used but just as important areas, such as offices, garages, and hallways.

If you also feel daunted by having to clean every day and find it difficult to get motivated to clean, working with one tool at a time can be the perfect solution. Getting everything done at once, in one big chunk may sound intense, but it is arguably the best way to clean when feeling overwhelmed as it minimizes task swapping and allows you to switch off as you work.   

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.