It’s said that genius is the ability to see opportunities where others only see problems.
“Working smart” might be something of a cliche to some, but for us, hard work always gets better results when combined with a little preparation and organization. Putting a plan together, having all the tools you need, and getting the help you require for specialized jobs, can ultimately save you time and money as you work on beautifying your home, workspace, or studio.
With the problem of cleaning in mind, we’ve put together a list of 10 tips that are sure to have you working smarter (dare we say at genius level?) in no time.
Tip #1: Make a Plan
It might seem obvious, or even tedious for some, but making a plan for tackling the cleaning duties in your space can keep you from stressing out. Going willy-nilly through your house trying to do three jobs at once is a recipe for disaster or, at the very least, a headache.
Instead, make a list of what needs to get done, and then break that down into individual steps to accomplish each goal. You could break it down room-by-room or go by surfaces and tasks (floors, windows, laundry, etc). Whichever way you do it, getting organized helps take the intimidation factor out of a deep-cleaning project and allows you to allocate tasks to different housemates or family members.
Making a plan doesn’t have to be boring — it just has to get done!
Tip #2: Get Creative
Sometimes the best way to clean is the way you’ve never heard of. As social media influence climbs to new heights, it’s easier than ever to share how and what everyone does to keep their homes clean. We all know that cleaning windows with leftover newspaper leaves a streak-free shine, but did you know that you can use a lint roller to dust? How about that you can clean your blinds with a handheld vacuum? Or that you can use grapefruit halves and salt to clear away soap scum in your tub? There are so many new and creative ways to clean out there — all you need to do is look!
Tip #3: Items First
The first task of cleaning up any space is the simplest one: anything out of place needs to get put away. If there are clothes on the floor, books on the coffee table, or used plates sitting out on surfaces (we all knew someone in college who let that become a situation…), these are the obvious places to start.
Cut back the amount of time you spend cleaning up by instilling a “One Touch” rule. The “One Touch” rule dictates that putting away an item should always take only one touch. For example, say you come home, take your coat off, and set it on the couch. You then walk away, forget about it, and, somewhere down the line, realize you still need to put it away. So you come back to it, pick it up, and finally put it in the closet where it belongs. You’ve now just touched that object twice before even putting it away! End the madness and put items away where they belong the first time. It will not only keep things tidy, but it will save you time in the long run.
Tip #4: Clean Green
Eco-friendly cleaning products and services not only help reduce your overall carbon footprint, but they can lead to a healthier and safer home or work environment. Eco-friendly products and services tend to use gentler (though no less effective) cleaning agents and chemicals, minimizing the risk of adverse effects for your family and your local ecosystem.
Our favorite eco-friendly cleaning tips? Making white vinegar and baking soda your new best friend. From mopping floors to brightening loads of laundry and even unclogging packed drains, white vinegar and baking soda can accomplish just about anything a synthetic cleaner can do without the harmful ecological cost.
Tip #5: Surface Focus
Cleaning surfaces can be the biggest part of your job. If you’re cleaning up your own home, this can mean mopping floors, washing walls, sweeping tiles, and beyond. Many surfaces will need their own specialized approach to get the best clean.
Save time by learning new, fast cleaning techniques for hard to reach surfaces. For example, did you know you can use dryer sheets to clean your baseboards? Attach a dryer sheet to a Swiffer mop and run the padded end along your baseboards. The tacky material will pick up dust (saving you time scrubbing on your hands and knees!) while leaving your house smelling new-laundry fresh.
Hate cleaning the bathtub? We’re all with you there. Instead of scrubbing tiles by hand, grab a traditional mop and bathroom cleaner. Standing outside of the tub, apply the cleaner and use the mop as normal on the tub’s surface. Not only will you save yourself the pain of having to clean from the inside of the tub, but all you have to do to clean up after is rinse the tiles and mop inside the tub, and then move on!
Tip #6: Make It a Team Effort
Don’t let yourself get stuck cleaning a whole communal space. Ask for help or, better yet, find ways to make cleaning fun for your family or group of housemates. Have kids? Turn picking up their belongings into a game! First kid to fill their assigned basket wins a special prize! Live with housemates? Consider having a clean-while-you-drink after work party where you share a bottle of wine and crank the tunes while you wipe down the kitchen. Just you and bae? Put on a movie and turn date night into a stay-at-home cleaning adventure.
Tip #7: Be Prepared To Throw Things Out
Clutter can be a mess of its own kind. Even if your space is “clean” trying to hold onto too many things at once has a way of making any space feel smaller. As you declutter your space, don’t be afraid to throw out anything that doesn’t seem to have a place. If it’s not working or simply isn’t serving you anymore, consider donating it to a new home.
Need some motivation to move things out of your space? Look into buyback programs from your favorite retailers for items you have that are still in good condition. Shops like H&M, Apple, and even Amazon offer opportunities for you to exchange your old items for store credit or straight up cash!
Tip #8: Identify the Tough Spots & Reward Yourself
Some jobs are everyone’s least favorites. Whether it’s the bathroom, basement, or the kitchen, some spots will always be a pain. Instead of suffering through, consider setting up a reward for yourself to happen during or after your dreaded cleaning project. Hate sweeping but love M&Ms? Allow yourself to snack on them as you work your way around the house. Does cleaning the kitchen make you want to rage? Give yourself a break and promise yourself takeout from your favorite restaurant after your kitchen counters are sparkling clean. Just because cleaning sucks, doesn’t mean you need to pay for it emotionally!
Tip #9: The Right Soundtrack
Whether it’s the news, an audiobook, your favorite Netflix show, or that new trending artist, finding the right soundtrack for cleaning can keep your energy and attitude up. With the array of streaming services at your fingertips, cleaning can also be a time to discover new music, catch up on that binge-worthy show, and give you something to think about while you work.
Tip #10: Know When to Call It
If you’re hoping to clean every room of your house, top to bottom, in a single afternoon and then do the windows, gutters, garage, and yard — you’re probably out of your depth a bit. While it can seem like a copout to hire out your cleaning needs, knowing when to ask for help is the best cleaning tip we can give you. When it all feels like too much, either hire a team or prepare to be disappointed. Not all deep-clean jobs can get done in one day, and there’s no shame in letting yourself have the time to recuperate and relax before you finish up a big cleaning regimen.
In general, working smart when you’re cleaning means setting goals and being able to adapt or forgive yourself if things don’t go perfectly. Still, we’re confident that with these tips, and a bit of elbow grease, you can have your home or space looking as pristine as you’ve imagined it.