5 Expert Cleaning Tips for When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

5 Expert Cleaning Tips for When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

Grab a trash bag and pick up just the trash; ignore everything else. When you’re done, simply set the bag down and pick up a laundry basket. Put all the laundry in the basket and then set that down. Next, take any dishes to the sink and leave them there for now. After that, put away all the items in the room that have a place, and make a pile of the things that don’t. Once that’s done you can either spend some time finding permanent homes for the stuff in the no-place pile, or you can simply set that pile aside in a basket, bag, or bin for another day. Then you can take out the trash, start a load of laundry, and do the dishes.

The genius of this method is that it relieves the decision fatigue of trying to pick up each item and individually make a bunch of choices about it; it gives your brain multiple little finish lines to feel good about, and the room becomes tidy very quickly, which prevents you from feeling discouraged.

I’ve personally also drastically cut down the time it takes to tidy up by putting a full-size trash can, laundry basket, and “odds and ends” basket in each area of my house—all of my bedrooms, bathrooms, living areas, and even the kitchen have these three containers. It makes tidying a breeze and makes it easier to maintain the space because you’re encouraged to chuck trash or toss dirty laundry in the basket in the moment, so it doesn’t pile up.

3. When it comes to cleaning supplies and schedules, keep it simple.

Your grocery store’s cleaning aisle can be overwhelming, but housekeeping doesn’t have to be complicated. Instead of stocking your cabinets with an arsenal of specialty products, I recommend keeping it simple by purchasing a cleaning caddy and getting three to four multiuse cleaners. My cleaning kit, for example, has Dawn Powerwash ($5, Target) for sinks, the stove, and the microwave, all of which can get especially grimy; a mild multipurpose cleaning spray for bathroom and kitchen surfaces; and glass cleaner for mirrors and windows. It’s also a good idea to have a disinfectant handy for when you need to clean surfaces that have been in contact with potential contaminants like bodily fluids or raw meat.

If you search the internet for cleaning schedules, you’ll find no shortage of colorful calendars with long lists of tasks for each day. If you’re already in the habit of cleaning a lot, these can be helpful planning tools, but if you’re like me (and, I’d argue, most people), they will probably just make you feel even more overwhelmed. Don’t worry as much about how often something “should” be cleaned, and focus more on building a cleaning rhythm that works for you.

For example, you could assign each room in your home a day and try to clean at least one thing in that room on that day. That way, you can clean as much or as little as your time and energy allow. If you just get the toilet done on Bathroom Wednesdays, you can check that room off your list. If you have the time and motivation to add the sink and bathtub, great. Would you ideally be able to clean everything as often as experts say you “should”? Sure. But frankly, that’s not realistic for everyone all the time, and one clean thing is better than none.


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