They say nothing inspires cleaning like an unexpected guest, and I can relate. But whether or not visitors are imminent, we all deserve a clean and tidy home that we can relax in.
In reality, our homes often end up looking disheveled at the end of the day and mess, dust, and clutter build up through the week. As H&G's Solved section editor, I read about lots of different cleaning tips and tricks to make it feel less endless.
I've explained a few tidying techniques below to inspire you to do some winter cleaning even if you just do five minutes.
4 tidying techniques I actually use
They may not all work for you, but trying one new technique can make us more time-efficient. For example, you might find that employing yourself to clean makes it feel less of a chore, or that changing the time of day that you tidy makes it feel much more appealing.
1. The Pomodoro Technique
I don't know how I would tidy my apartment without the Pomodoro Technique, a time management method I came across at Uni that involves 25-minute stretches of focused work and 5-minute breaks in between. Whether I'm at my desk on a Friday morning or cleaning the kitchen before friends come over, I often set a timer for 25 minutes to give me a boost of productivity.
It’s surprising just how much you can do in 25 minutes, and usually, by the time the alarm goes off, I’m in the zone and happy to finish off putting the dishes away or wiping down the counters. I don't like cleaning and tidying, so knowing there is an endpoint really helps. I'd recommend trying this if you just don’t know where to start. It also helps if you often get distracted, as it feels like you're cheating if you stop to look at your phone.
Whether you do several 25-minute bursts with 5-minute breaks in between or just one timed blitz followed by a cup of tea on the couch, it makes cleaning more manageable and spurs you on to whizz through your to-do list. I also like doing a five minute cleaning blitz in three different rooms, setting a timer and breaking down tidying into something really manageable. Because even when I don't want to clean, five minutes is always doable, and turns tidying into a race.
Nothing beats waking up to a sparkling clean kitchen, we can all agree, so a 25-minute closing shift routine is another great way to tidy up before bed.
2. Tidying a room a week
I’ve previously shared how decluttering a room a week helped me to sort out and tidy my apartment – this was especially helpful shortly after I’d moved in when I was finding it hard to get on top of things. It felt like an uphill struggle because I was still finding a dedicated home for all of my belongings, and clearing out a lot of cardboard from purchasing new furniture.
Cleaning can be overwhelming because we think we need to tackle the whole house at once, but slowing down and just focusing on one room can leave us feeling like we have achieved something. Cleaning the bedroom or sprucing up the bathroom instantly makes me feel so much better and restores some order in my space.
3. The early shift
If you're a morning person like me, try cleaning early in the morning so it's out of the way for the rest of the day. With a podcast or music playing and some quiet time before the rest of the house wakes up, tidying early on in the day can be quite therapeutic.
It often feels like we’re simply too busy to clean and we resent spending our free time doing it – a quick tidy on my lunch break or after work is fine, but on the weekend I like to, you know, do stuff. So carving out half an hour one morning a week and even scheduling it into our routines can be a great way to stop the avalanche of mess building through the week. These responsibilities aren't going anywhere, after all.
A quick morning clean can be as simple as sorting, folding and putting away clothes, doing some laundry and giving the bathroom a spritz and wipe down to keep the bathroom smelling great. Although it might be better to leave using the vacuum cleaner until everyone's awake.
4. Keeping a goal in mind
Aside from ‘getting the apartment in a state that’s acceptable for guests’, having a goal in mind helps motivate us to clean.
- Providing a safe and hygienic environment for your family
- Feeling uplifted, not stressed, as you walk through the door at the end of the day
- Self care
- Creating a space you can work in and reach professional goals
Similarly, switching ‘I have tos’ to ‘I get tos’ might sound cheesy but changes our perception when it comes to ticking off domestic tasks when we’d rather be doing other things. As with organizing your home or doing some decluttering, think about why you want to maintain a clean home.
Kurashi at Home by Marie Kondo, $14.90 on Amazon
Marie's new book expands on the Japanese concept of kurashi, or 'way of life,' that she references above. Her teaching invites you to visualize your best life from the moment you wake up until the end of each day, and we're adding it to our basket right now.
How can I make my house look tidy?
There are a few ways to fake a clean house when you don't have time to actually clean it. Placing items in a laundry basket to deal with later and hiding it out of sight, hanging towels neatly, clearing surfaces and straightening the pillows on your couch can all give the impression of a tidy space.
Whether you're facing a big clean or quick freshen-up, start by writing a list with the priority tasks and add to the list as you go. A final tip is obvious but worth repeating: make cleaning as easy as possible by keeping cleaning products to hand.
I always keep a sponge, at Amazon and a cleaning spray in the bathroom vanity so I can wipe down the bathroom sink and around the bathtub quickly. Having cleaning supplies right where I need them is the difference between keeping the bathroom clean and letting the grime build up. Stumbling into the bathroom in the morning to a sparkling sink and freshly cleaned shower makes me feel like I'm on top of things and makes the bathroom feel fresh, inviting and somewhere to happily linger and prepare for the day ahead.
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Millie Hurst is a freelance lifestyle writer with over six years of experience in digital journalism. Having previously worked as Solved Section Editor at Homes & Gardens and Senior SEO Editor at News UK in London and New York, Millie has written for an array of homes brands including Livingetc and Real Homes and was formerly Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home. She has written and edited countless features on home organization, decluttering and interior design and always hopes to inspire readers with new ways to enjoy their homes. She lives in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, and loves to weave nature-inspired decor and nods to time spent in Italy into her own home.
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