This post was first published in July 2008.
While I was scraping dried food bits off my seven-month-old son’s Bumbo the other day, I was reminded of the best universal cleaning hack there is.
Clean it right away.
If I had wiped off my son’s Bumbo as soon as he finished spreading his meal hither and yon, it would have hardly taken any elbow grease, and at most, it would have killed two minutes of my time.
Instead, I chose to wait until later that day, which meant I had to roll up my sleeves, use the scouring pad, and devote ten minutes of time I could have spent emptying the dishwasher, folding a load of laundry, or reading a blog post.
A few minutes of time can really add up when it comes to managing our home.
Which is easier, rinsing and loading your dishwasher right after dinner, or scrubbing off hardened bits of food the next morning? What about folding and hanging a freshly dried load of laundry, or folding wrinkled shirts that will then need ironing in order to wear?
It’s so easy for all of us to breathe huge sighs of desperation when we think of the day’s chores ahead of us. But consider how long — really — your typical daily chores could take, on average, if you did them right away.
Here are a few from my day:
- making the bed – 1 to 2 minutes
- decluttering the bathroom counter after getting ready for the day – 1 minute
- wiping off the bathroom mirror and faucet from water marks – 10 seconds
- clearing the dining table from the meal (especially if everyone brings their own plate back to the kitchen) – 1 to 2 minutes
- unloading the dishwasher – 3 to 5 minutes
- loading the dishwasher – 5 to 10 minutes
- wiping off the dining table – 1 minute
- wiping off the kitchen counters after cooking – 2 minutes
- throwing away items after using them (envelopes, wrappers, etc.) – 5 seconds
- putting the magazine back in the basket after I’ve perused it – 5 seconds
You get the idea. I just wonder how many minutes — or hours — I sometimes spend cleaning things that could take mere seconds or minutes if I did them right away. Add to that the reduced stress, the lessened physical output, the visual peace, and the increased space earned from a home cleaned quicker, and I’m sold.
I’m going to work on getting better at cleaning as I go.
Set a timer for 15 minutes and see how much you can get done in your immediate environment. If you’re currently surrounded by clutter in your living room, that’s an obvious choice. I’m not asking you to rearrange your day’s schedule – just spare a tiny handful of time.
Step back and review your decluttering job. Does it look better? Does it make you feel better?
As soon as I post this article, you better believe I’m getting up to empty the dishwasher.
What are some daily chores that could be cut in half if you did them immediately? Have any tips on quick cleaning?