10 ways to change up your cleaning routine for the better

Whether you’re lacking in time, motivation (or both), ensure a clean streak going forward by changing up your cleaning routine for the better – here’s how

Three images of clean and tidy spaces in a home
(Image credit: Future / Nkuku / Mary Wadsworth)

Chores are a necessary part of running a household, but if you’re spending more time on them than you’d like to, perhaps it’s time to reassess – a few simple tweaks could be all it takes to change up your cleaning routine for the better. 

It’s hard to change habits of a lifetime, we know, but chances are there are savvier cleaning tips you could be employing that will save you time and effort yet yield equally squeaky-clean results. 

According to the pros, the secret to long-term success is to create an achievable routine you’ll want to stick to, rather than hours spent spritzing and scrubbing. Below, they share their advice on how to clean smart, not hard, from time-savvy hacks and essential cleaning tools to top tips on how to make cleaning fun – yes, really! 

Ways to change up your cleaning routine for the better 

Most of us have a pretty negative perception of cleaning. It gets a lot of bad press, we admit, but there’s actually many reasons why spring cleaning is good for your wellbeing. Knowing this and altering your attitude accordingly is the first thing you’ll need to do. 

‘You can’t effectively change up your cleaning routine for the better if you aren't in the mindset that supports that. Go easy on yourself and know that small changes reap large rewards’, says professional organizer James Lott Jr, aka, 'The Super Organizer'.  

A white room with an upholstered armchair and two tall wicker vases

(Image credit: Future / James Merrell)

1. Appreciate the importance of a plan

An ‘as and when’ attitude to cleaning might feel like less work overall, but establishing a set schedule is the more efficient approach. Consider investing in a cleaning checklist like this one from Amazon; assigning yourself manageable tasks and visually tracking your progress can really help you find that motivation to clean, so you’re more likely to stick to it going forwards, too. 

2. Keep a caddy to hand

It’s a small thing, but organizing your cleaning supplies so they’re easy to access can revolutionize your cleaning routine. If you haven’t got one already, invest in a cleaning caddy so you can carry your essentials from room to room. If you live in a multi-storey house buy two – the time you save is worth the expense! 

3. Build better habits

Establishing regular cleaning routine is all well and good – assuming you remember to do it, that is. If you’re struggling to stay on top of things, cleaning expert Toby Schulz, CEO & Co-founder of Maid2Match, recommends ‘habit stacking’. 

‘Clean the microwave while your coffee is brewing, load the dishwasher while your stew is cooking. Wipe some shelves while the laundry is running… introducing a cleaning habit around one you’ve already built acts as a reminder to get the job done, and encourages you to utilize your time to best effect’, he says. 

4. Work smarter, not harder

laundry room with cabinets and shelf

(Image credit: Future PLC)

We’re all for a bit of elbow grease, but there’s no point expending effort where you don’t have to. Consider investing in high-quality cleaning tools and products to maximize efficiency and employ handy hacks where you can.  

‘A cord-free stick vacuum cleaner (the Shark IX141 Pet Cordless Stick Vacuum from Amazon is great for busy households), is so quick and easy to use, plus it cleans a multitude of surfaces. Alternatively, invest in an extension cable for your existing plug-in version; it’ll save you having to swap sockets so often and makes it easier to maneuver around furniture’, says professional organizer Michelle Urban, founder of The Organized House. 

5 Work from the top down

Cleaning a room from top to bottom – quite literally – is a spring cleaning rule professional organizers always stick to, and so should you. Not only does it give you a sense of order to your cleaning routine, but it’ll also stop you having to clean things twice. 

‘It is also best to start with the room that is used the least, and work your way through to the room that is used the most. This will prevent dust from spreading to other spaces’, adds cleaning expert Rhonda Wilson, quality lead cleaner at Fresh Space Cleaning

6. Allow cleaning products time to work

A kitchen utility room with a Belfast style sink in stone, and open shelving above

(Image credit: Nkuku)

A quick spray and wipe may feel sufficient, but it may surprise you to hear that the average contact time needed to fully eliminate bacteria is around three minutes, at least. The extra time spent is worth it; as well as ensuring a hygienic finish, it also makes your job easier. 

‘Spritzing down first gives the cleaning agents time to soften up and break down any stains while you get on with other cleaning tasks. When you get to them, they’ll be much easier and quicker to wipe away’, says Jen Stark, founder of homemaking blog, Happy DIY Home. 

7. Treat stains straightaway

Sticking to a routine is all well and good, but don’t take it too literally! If you see a stain, deal with it there and then. 

‘If you let the stain sit for too long, it can become really tough to remove and may require some harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaning methods’, says Rhonda.

‘Baby wipes are great for quick spot cleaning on surfaces, upholstery, and even clothing. They’re gentle enough to use on most surfaces, and very effective at removing small stains and spills. Plus, they're cheap and easy to find at any grocery store’. 

It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with how to remove common types of food stains from carpets so you can act fast – the same goes when doing laundry, too. You could even go so far as to set up a stain station so you’ve got everything close to hand. 

8. Steer clear of chemicals

Getting rid of dirt and germs is the ultimate goal, but you don’t need to use chemical cleaners to do it – natural solutions, such as cleaning with vinegar, baking soda and lemon, can be just as effective, and are a much safer option, particularly if you’re after cleaning tips for allergy sufferers or organizing a house with children in mind (or pets, for that matter). 

9. Tidy up as you go

If you’re finding your cleaning routine heavy going, a good declutter is probably in order. Minimizing the items you need to clean (and clean around) will save you time and effort, not to mention makes for a happier living space. Rather than wait for the mess to build up again, get into the habit of tidying as you go. 

‘Rather than waste precious time clearing clutter, try living by the ‘one touch’ tidying rule – you’ll save yourself a cleaning headache later if you put things back as soon as you’ve used them’, says Toby. 

10. Get everyone involved

Simple but clever storage solutions. Blankets, towels and baskets in bedroom alcove store.

(Image credit: Joanna Henderson)

‘Going solo can be daunting, so why not make it a group effort? Gathering the whole family to take action and get involved turns cleaning from a chore into a fun activity. Whether it's a scavenger hunt to find toys or a friendly competition to see who can wipe down the most surfaces, it's all about transforming your home together’, says Maria Mooney, cleaning expert at Truly Free, renowned for it's non-toxic cleaning and laundry solutions. 

It can be hard to clean and declutter your home when your family isn't on board, but don’t give up. Introducing children to chores early on is well worth it. 

‘It can be frustrating to invest time upfront, but once kids feel confident in cleaning tasks, it will save you a ton of time later…plus, you can feel good knowing your kids are going into the world with excellent home-care skills for their own homes’, says professional organizer and 'clutter whisperer' Star Hansen


How do I work out my cleaning schedule?

While we can designate some to our less-frequent spring cleaning checklist, there are certain tasks that need to be done weekly, at least. This can be daunting, but knowing how to clean when feeling overwhelmed should keep you on schedule; the trick is to break things down.

Divide the week into tasks; laundry on Mondays, vacuuming on Tuesdays, dusting on Wednesdays etc, or, do it by room; clean the bathroom on Mondays, clean the kitchen on Tuesdays, and so on. Spending 30 minutes each day on your designated task should be enough to keep your house in order day-to-day, but schedule in a deep clean every month or so to tackle any forgotten spring cleaning dirt spots.

It’s easy to stick to what you know, but changing up your cleaning routine for the better could save you a lot of time and effort.... time and effort which could be put to better use elsewhere, whether that be organizing your home with health and wellbeing in mind, trying new hobbies or simply relaxing in your beautifully clean home! 

Contributing Editor

For 10 years, Tara King worked as a Content Editor in the magazine industry, before leaving to become freelance, covering interior design, wellbeing, craft and homemaking. As well as writing for Ideal Home, Style at Home, Country Homes & Interiors, Tara’s keen eye for styling combined with a passion for creating a happy – and functional – family home has led to a series of organization and cleaning features for H&G.