Ever since beginning the daily cleaning challenge, something wonderful has happened. Rather than facing the weekend with a long list of cleaning chores and not enough energy to tackle them, my home has stayed mostly clean most of the time.
You may not be able to run a white glove over all the surfaces, but since I’m homeschooling and running a home with four littles without the help of a cook, maid, or nanny, I’m okay with that. The floors, bathrooms, windows, and once-dusty shelves are getting adequate attention, without domineering my time.
In just 20 minutes a day you can keep your home (mostly) clean by keeping on top of daily stuff, making a list, enlisting the kids, using quality micro-fiber, and setting a timer for 20 minute of focused time.
(Full disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral links.)
A mostly clean home in 20 minutes a day
Keep up with daily stuff
My first housewifely goal is to keep up with the daily stuff. These are the things that aren’t part of my 20 minute cleaning regimen. Things like dishes and sweeping the kitchen crumbs. Several years ago I started forcing myself to clean up the kitchen after dinner before picking up a book, relaxing with my laptop, or anything else. Ending (and therefore starting) the day with a clean kitchen makes a world of difference.
Now on to the actual twenty minutes of cleaning…
Make a list before you start
It’s amazing what you can get done in just twenty minutes with a bit of focused energy. Start by jotting down the most pressing cleaning items. Today my list is:
- Wipe down main bathroom (it’s tiny and easy)
- Wipe down sinks & toilet in master bathroom
- Vacuum under the stairs (it is the kids’ playhouse and is covered in cookie crumbs from a fun weekend.)
- Sweep study floor
Tomorrow I might vacuum the bedrooms and wipe down walls and door frames, which seem to attract grime like mud attracts toddlers. After several days of tackling glaring dirt, I often have a chance to do something less pressing, but still important, like wipe down the fridge or the outside of appliances.
Get the kids involved (or occupied)
One of the chief problems I faced with my once-a-week cleaning day is that it required my children to let me clean for two to four hours. Since I was usually interrupted every few minutes, those hours multiplied fast.
Twenty minutes is (mostly) doable. Rose and Will each have assigned afternoon chores of vacuuming or sweeping. If Meg and Ned aren’t busily occupied with Duplos or books, I can hand them a rag and have them wipe down baseboards. It won’t keep them happy for an hour, but it will let me have a few minutes to focus.
Use quality micro-fiber
After being disappointed with several cheap micro-fiber cloths, I was a huge skeptic. But my friend Melissa convinced me to give these high-quality microfiber cleaning cloths a try. I am hooked.
Instead of smearing smudges around on my front window and looking at it from multiple angles multiple times trying to get the streaks out, I just wipe down the window, rub a polishing cloth over it and am done in two minute. Instead of lugging around all my natural (and expensive) cleaners, I just use my cloth and water, and my house has never been so clean in such little time. (Only I can’t get myself to not use cleaners for my toilet. It’s a mental thing.)
Investing in high-quality microfiber has easily shaved 20%-50% of the time and effort from every cleaning job I’ve used them on.
Set a timer
There’s something stimulating about racing the time. About seeing the minutes tick down to zero. It motivates me and keeps me focused. I know that once that timer rings, my cleaning time for the day is done. That knowledge helps me stay on track and attack jobs I may not love quickly.
If I know there’s a bigger project I’d like to tackle (like the fridge), I try to save it for Saturday and give myself 40 minutes to get it done. Then, on Sunday, I take the day off, because God made the day of rest even for busy moms!
Stop and enjoy
Once the timer rings, I put away my cleaning cloths and hang up my cleaning bonnet. (I don’t actually have a cleaning bonnet, but the image is nice and Poppins-ish, isn’t it?)
Sometimes my list is a bit too ambitious and I don’t get to all of it. Sometimes I notice that I really ought to have added the kids’ shower to my cleaning list. The wonderful thing about devoting just 20 minutes a day to cleaning is that if I don’t have time to finish something today, I can still stop because I know I’ll have 20 more minutes tomorrow.!
Keep your home (mostly) clean in just 20 minutes a day
A clean home doesn’t have to be a distant memory of life before littles. With just a bit of concentrated effort each day, we can each enjoy (mostly) clean homes every single day.