5 Tips to Make Cleaning Easier

I like my home clean and orderly.  Kyle likes his home to have that “lived in” look.  (Translation: piles of shoes, stacks of mail, dishes in the sink, towels dropped on the floor, etc..)  It is the largest ongoing battle in our relationship, and I am losing.  So living on my own while I work in Montana has been lovely, because I once again live in an orderly paradise.

Cleaning is my cardio and my stress relief.  When life feels chaotic, I can clean up my kitchen and feel like I restored a bit of order to the world.  Here are my best cleaning tips for busy professional women.

First. If it can hold still, it can be vacuumed.

I achieve a Zen-like calm when vacuuming, and I believe that with the proper tools and attachments, you can vacuum anything.  I use the angled tool to clean crumbs off the counters and stoves (before I wipe them down).  I clean the baseboards, the blinds, the ceiling fan, the hair from the bathroom sink, etc. with my vacuum.  I also like it for cleaning the inside of kitchen and bathroom drawers.

I own this Dyson Animal Vacuum and the companion Stick Vacuum.  The stick vacuum is perfect for stairs, for cleaning up around baseboards, and quickly cleaning hair off of the bathroom floor.

Second. Keep Windex wipes in every bathroom.

If you like a clean home, built up filth is your enemy.  The grime in the sink.  The spit on the mirror.  Combating the scourge means staying on top of it.  And the easiest way is to keep the wipes at the ready.

I buy these compostable vinegar-based cleaning wipes from Aunt Fannie’s.  They have a lovely citrus and mint fragrance.  Just wipe down faucets, sinks, toilet-seats, handles, and mirrors twice a week to stay on top of the grime.  Also, if you struggle with hardware stains on faucets, use wax paper to clean that up with ease.

I also keep Pledge wipes in my nightstand so I can quickly dust on Saturday mornings after I make the bed.  Dust built up too thick for traditional dusting?  Grab a dryer sheet.  They’ll clean up even the thickest dust.

Third. Create a ‘system’ for worn clothes.

My biggest source of clutter is worn clothes.  I come home at the end of the day, change out of my suit, and toss the pieces onto any chair available.  Or I used tom before the system.

If I intend to re-wear a piece of clothing, I leave the hanger out on the dresser top.  This way, I can just put it back on the hanger when I take it off.  It’s really cut down on the clothes clutter.

If I don’t intend to wear it again, I put it into either the dry cleaning hamper or the washing hamper.  I like these woven rope baskets as hampers.  The best place to buy hampers is usually at a discount store like TJ Maxx.  I like this lidded hamper because you can keep your dirty laundry concealed.

Fourth. Purge the piles of mail and clutter. 

Walk through the home section of any store and there are plenty of decorative bowls, trays, and baskets for sale.  They’re designed to corral clutter, but often, they become just a receptacle for mess.

On the first day of every month, I grab a trash bag and purge old mail, tchotchkes, trinkets, and trash from the places where they live.  Doing it on the 1st ensures that I start each month fresh, and it helps prevent the mess from building up.  I use this simple storage container for mail, and I love a decorative basket, but sometimes the things you use to organize can also be cluttered.

Fifth. Consult the Internet.

Some things are just persistently dirty.  Cloudy glasses, the ring around the toilet, the scale in the coffee maker.  For these tasks, the wisdom of the Internet cannot be beat.  Good Housekeeping, Martha Stewart and Real Simple can help you solve those hard to clean problems quickly.

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  1. LHW says:

    I struggle with how to efficently mop. I have tile, hardwood and a small stone area on the first floor of my home. I’ve tried a steam mop, vaccum/mop contraption with multi-floor cleaner, special cleaner for each surface and am not happy with any of it.

    March 19, 2019/Reply
    • Belle says:

      I liked my steam mop. But honestly, I vacuum all of my floors and use the Click n Clean. It’s basically a souped up Swiffer.

      March 19, 2019/Reply
  2. Christina says:

    These are really smart recommendations, thank you for sharing. I’m not what we’d call, ahem, a natural born cleaner – though like you, I’m now very particular about my spaces. Some of these things just plague me. I will be implementing a number of these tips!

    March 19, 2019/Reply
  3. Nadine says:

    When you turn to the internet, I suggest googling with the name “Jolie Kerr” as well as your key words. She’s a cleaning expert (like, has-a-podcast-about-cleaning level intense) who has written articles about all kinds of stubborn stains.

    March 19, 2019/Reply
    • Jess says:

      Second this – Jolie is hilarious.

      March 19, 2019/Reply
      • GF says:

        Thirding! Jolie is hilarious and an amazing resource!

        March 20, 2019/Reply
  4. KateL says:

    I hang damp workout clothes up to dry in the shower and keep in separate hamper in the bathroom. This plus a UV air filter in the bathroom keeps damp odors at bay.

    It took me embarrassingly long time to figure this system out.

    Also a fan of squeegee for glass shower doors.

    March 19, 2019/Reply
  5. Kelly says:

    Your mail trick is excellent. I’m going to try that one…after I dig my way out of three months of piled up mail.

    And it’s probably time for me to invest in an additional hamper.

    March 19, 2019/Reply
  6. Melissa says:

    I don’t have a lot in the way of dry cleaning, but I do have two hampers. One for the majority of my clothes (mostly dark, all cold wash), and one for sheets, towels, cotton undies, and things that can be washed in hot. Makes it really easy to squeeze in a load when I have a little time – no sorting. I also hang anything damp to dry prior to putting it in the hamper. Dank towels are the grossest.

    March 19, 2019/Reply
  7. Melissa says:

    Two more vacuuming tricks. First, there is a proper way to vacuum. Pull back the vacuum slowly and do a criss-cross pattern on the floor. Second, when you are washing your sheets, run the vacuum over the bed to pull up all the “goodies” from the bed.

    I keep a small basket of wash rags under the bathroom sink and in the kitchen so I can wipe down the counters and be a bit more environmentally friendly.

    Finally, I keep laundry baskets in my room and in my kitchen that are specifically for sheets, towels, and wash rags. When it comes to laundry time there is no sorting and I can run everything on hot. It also helps me cycle out my face washcloth and body washcloth (I am anti loofa) more often.

    March 20, 2019/Reply
  8. Nel says:

    One cleaning lesson that I picked up awhile back was that mess is a symptom that something in your house isn’t working. For example – a messy bedroom full of worn clothes means you laundry or closet system needs to be redesigned. Bags ending up on the dining room table, along with mail, and other misc? It means there’s a problem with the entryway/mudroom or front closet. Once I looked at persistent messy areas as a symptom, it helped me focus on making small fixes that were surprisingly effective at combating everyday messes.

    Also – Marie Kondo. The idea that all you things have a home has revolutionized the tidiness of our bathroom and kitchen. Those little boxes are shockingly effective.

    Anyway, fix the root cause of the mess : )

    March 20, 2019/Reply
  9. L says:

    I know this isn’t really the point of this post, but as an inherently messy person who loves to be in a clean space, I’ve just bitten the bullet and gotten regular house cleaners.

    It forces me to tidy up before they come, and it’s always so blissfully clean after they leave.

    Plus when you consider the cost of cleaning products and tools, and the time it takes me to do a (not great) job cleaning, it really is worth it.

    I had good luck trying different cleaners via Amazon Home Services, and then hiring the ones I liked the best separately to come on a regular basis.

    March 20, 2019/Reply
    • Belle says:

      If that’s what works for you, do it.

      March 20, 2019/Reply
  10. kcv says:

    I struggle with getting my husband to appreciate cleanliness (basics like you mention, picking up clothes, bringing dishes to the kitchen, taking out smelly trash). The most frustrating part is his complete lack of respect for the fact that it really bothers me.

    I read an article about a divorce that was supposedly due to the fact that the spouse didn’t pick up after himself. The wife characterized it as a lack of respect about something she truly cared about, and it bothered her mental state. That really resonated with me.

    His response is, “it doesn’t bother me. It only bothers you, so that’s YOUR problem, therefore you’re in the position to fix it.” This results in me grocery shopping, hiring a cleaning lady (thank God), running errands, paying property taxes, basically everything that we have to do as an adult. Anyone else struggle with this?

    March 20, 2019/Reply
    • Belle says:

      Yep. Kyle expects a medal when he picks up after himself. He also wants to know why I can’t get over it. So I picked a few things I would let go of, and a few things I would not bend on. We’re still working on it…

      March 20, 2019/Reply
    • Caitlin says:

      This still seems to me like a lack of respect issue. Let’s say you really hated the taste of mushrooms, but your partner persisted in making/buying food for the two of you with mushrooms. “Well it doesn’t bother me, that’s your problem” wouldn’t really fly here, right? You share meals and you a share a space.

      My partner is an extremely tidy person, and knowing it bothers them is enough to make me clean up after myself. I really, really don’t want to pass online judgement on anyone’s relationship, but I don’t think you should just acquiesce and live with a messy space if it bothers you, or have to do 95% of the cleaning. That doesn’t seem fair.

      April 2, 2019/Reply
  11. Julia says:

    A couple of years ago I finally bought a Roomba robot vacuum cleaner. Love it! And yes, I also hired a cleaner who comes every two weeks. My husband is a fantastic man, but his mom took care of everything when he was growing up so he didn’t know anything about cleaning a home when we got married. We both work long hours, and I didn’t feel it was fair to me to take on so much stress about keeping our apartment clean. I feel like having a cleaning service and a robot vacuum has actually improved my mental health.

    March 20, 2019/Reply