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How to Clean Your House in Five Minutes

How to simplify your house-cleaning duties

How to simplify your house-cleaning duties

Simplify Your House Cleaning!

Our schedules are more packed than ever, and most of us (me, for one) have trouble finding time to clean the house. In our minds, we need several hours to tackle every room, clean it thoroughly, go over everything, and put things away. It's tiring just thinking about it!

I'm finding small pieces of previously wasted time to help me keep on top of things at home, and the more I discover these stolen moments, the more I'm putting them to good use. Here's how it works.

You can get a lot of cleaning done if you utilize those little moments of wasted time throughout the day, and this article will show you how.

You can get a lot of cleaning done if you utilize those little moments of wasted time throughout the day, and this article will show you how.

How to Stop Wasting Time

Here's how to identify wasted minutes:

  • In the bathroom: How much time do you spend standing aimlessly in your bathroom waiting for the shower to warm up? Those minutes are valuable, as you will see below.
  • In the kitchen: Do you have something in the microwave? Waiting for that cup of water to get hot can drive you crazy (it's amazing how long two minutes seems when you're standing around). Did you put water in a pot to boil? Use that time for something constructive.
  • In the living room or den: Commercial time on TV is not just for chowing down on snacks. You can target a task and get it done in time to see the next round of insults on your favorite variety show, and you won't miss a beat.
  • On the phone: Yes, really. How many minutes do you spend on hold? Get a speakerphone and put that time to work for you.

These small chunks of time add up during the day. So many small household tasks take only minutes to complete, but we tend to block out a large portion of time to devote to them. Sure, you might need an hour or more to tackle heavy cleaning, but think how much more willing you will be to do that if you're recapturing wasted minutes every day for the smaller, annoying tasks.

Quick Ways to Clean a Kitchen

Needless to say (but I'll say it anyway), be sure to wash your hands before touching food when you have a few minutes in the kitchen to clean a bit while you're cooking.

  • Unload the dishwasher: I can usually unload my dishwasher in 90 seconds or so, about the time it takes for my water to warm for herbal tea. I feel so in control after getting back that wasted time, and I don't spend all morning dreading the 'get up and unload the dishwasher' thing.
  • Clear off and wipe down the counter: You can do this in the time it takes to boil a pot of water or microwave some veggies.
  • Load the dishwasher: Are you waiting for that second cup of water to boil? Load the dishes in the sink and get them out of the way during that 60–90 seconds of wasted time.
  • Clean the sink: Another job that can be done in only a few minutes is cleaning the sink. If you're warming a can of soup for the kids, scrub the sink for a minute or two while it comes to a boil.
  • Toss out the junk in the fridge: Got a pan on the stove that's still heating up? Check the vegetable bin for those things that are growing hair and toss them out. You might even have time to swipe a sponge around on a few shelves. You're right near the stove, so you can still keep an eye on the stew.
  • Sweep the floor: Another job that we dread, but it really only takes a few minutes to sweep up the latest crop of Cheerios collecting under the table.
  • Empty the trash: Don't you hate watching the trashcan get full, just knowing you need to empty it and put in a new liner? You'll feel better when you take care of that odious chore while the toaster is heating up your morning bagel.
Waiting for water to boil is the perfect time to load or unload your dishwasher.

Waiting for water to boil is the perfect time to load or unload your dishwasher.

Make Quick Work of Cleaning the Bedroom and Bathroom!

We spend more time than we realize waiting for the bathtub to fill or the shower to warm up. These tips work, whether you're in your grown-up bathroom or running water for the kids' baths.

  • Clean the toilet: Don't you hate doing toilets? Use your shower-water warm-up time to get that done and forget about it for a few days.
  • Clean clutter off the counter: You're standing around anyway, waiting for the shower to warm up or the bathtub to fill, so put those minutes to use and make your counter neater and cleaner.
  • Scrub the sink: It really takes only a minute or two of quick scrubbing to get toothpaste, loose hair, and other junk out of the sink and make it shine.
  • Make the bed: If your bedroom is right next to the bathroom, make your bed quickly while the shower is warming or the tub is filling. This is especially useful for those who take morning showers before work. You'll come home to a neater bedroom that afternoon.
  • Gather the dirty clothes: Get them out of the hamper and ready for the laundry. Or pick them up off the floor. It takes just a minute or two.
  • Put clothes away: Put folded clothes in drawers, or hang up the outfit you wore and tossed on the chair yesterday.
  • Toss out the oldies in your cabinets: This is actually fun. Bite the bullet and get rid of the tubes and jars of stuff you bought years ago. Force yourself to be ruthless and make a self-bargain that you'll throw out as much as possible in that 2–3-minute window of time while the shower warms up. You'll recapture some shelf space, as well as those wasted moments.

Things to Do During Commercial Breaks

The 3–4 minutes of commercial time is almost a goldmine for the quick-cleaning strategy. You can do a lot in those minutes, and you'll get your body moving in a bit of exercise rather than using the time to find more snack food to stuff in your mouth.

  • Make your bed: I know, that's not in the living room. But an average commercial break gives you time to go to the bedroom, strip the sheets and put on a clean set, and still get back before the break is over. If you have more than one bed to make, or you have to track down the sheets, do it in two breaks. You won't feel as guilty about your TV time, and you'll feel like you won a little victory.
  • Load the laundry into the washer: You have enough time to go get a load of laundry, put it in the washer (or change a load from the washer to the dryer), program the cycle, and start the load.
  • Dust the end tables and coffee tables: Grab the dust rag, clean off the magazines and cups of whatever sitting on the end tables, and dust them while the commercial is on.
  • Run the vacuum cleaner: Sounds boring? Well, it's boring anyway, so you may as well use those wasted three minutes of commercial time to run it and get it over with. If you need to move furniture, do part of the vacuuming on one break, shove the vacuum to one side of the room, and catch the rest of the floor on the next break.
  • Mop the kitchen floor: This might take more than one break, depending on the size of your kitchen and how much the kids spilled on the floor this week. But you can probably knock it out in a few commercial breaks. Since you're in the living room or den, the kitchen floor will have time to dry before you go in there again (save calories on food breaks, too, by encouraging you to stay out of the room while it dries!).
  • Clean the half-bath: Chances are, if you have a half-bath, it is near the living area. Clean it during commercial breaks, and you won't resent having to tackle it. How much time does it take to clean one sink and the toilet, anyway? Not that much, when you think about it.
Put a load of laundry in the washing machine during commercial breaks to save time!

Put a load of laundry in the washing machine during commercial breaks to save time!

Clean Your House While on the Phone

When you call your bank, credit card company, cable company, or any other place of business, you can spend a ton of time on hold. If you make conference calls from home, you're also probably spending time listening to others rather than presenting your material. Grab these minutes and use them!

  • Get a speakerphone: If you don't already have one, get one now! You may not want to have your calls on the speakerphone once a conversation begins, but you can surely use the hold time to do other things while you're waiting. And waiting. And waiting.
  • Sort papers: Get rid of clutter and paper by using those minutes to clear away some piles of junk mail or other stuff you're sick of seeing.
  • Fold clothes: If you know you're in for a long wait, grab your latest load of clothes from the dryer and start folding. It will feel like a small victory to get those minutes back and use them for your own benefit.
  • Do kitchen chores: Look at the list of quick things you can do in the kitchen and do one of those while you're waiting on hold.
  • Organize your pantry shelves: You can straighten out a shelf or two while you listen for the customer service line to answer. This is a task you can forget about and put aside and return to at a later time. Just close the door and come back to do the rest later.

How Many Minutes Have You Recaptured?

Once you get the knack of using small chunks of time to tackle the many small chores you dread, you'll have a sense of freedom and control over your time. You can more easily find time to address the bigger chores, rather than wasting time with the little things that can easily be done with your recaptured minutes.

As you learn more about the five-minute cleaning strategy, you'll think of even more things you can do in those 1–5-minute pieces of time that were wasted before now! Add up the time you've discovered, and see how many more hours are in your week.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2012 Marcy Goodfleisch


Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on December 09, 2013:

Hi, Vista! You made me smile, picturing your efforts to coax along your dogs' body functions! I'll bet you could do a book on the shortcut tips you've learned, by the way. The celery trick is new to me; I may try it. Aside from being Eco-friendly, it might also help avoid that awful dry air we get indoors in the winter, since the celery would sort of hydrate things, perhaps?

Thanks so much for dropping by and commenting!

Vista15 on December 08, 2013:

Thinking of Anne Marie's remarks about freshening or deodorizing... I have 3 cats, so I do NOT burn candles. Somewhere along the line I learned about putting celery in a vase and sitting it in the kitchen. It absorbs odors. A lot of times I only buy celery for this purpose. It's cheaper, too. (I was doing this before I even had cats.)

Anyway, I am a former maid/cleaning lady, and I used a LOT of shortcuts that would equate to these little multi-tasking tips. I also clean while cooking. I wash/rinse each dish I use so the kitchen is clean when I sit down to eat. Of course, I know it's different when you are cooking for a family...

I had to laugh at using commercial time. I have dogs, too, and I used to take them out on commercials. I always said, 'Hurry up now, we're on a commercial. They KNEW what I meant, too! Now I no longer have a TV, but I still have one of the dogs. He's almost 16. At least now I'm usually watching something on You Tube, and I can hit pause. Well thanks for letting me rant. Good, good Hub!

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on November 20, 2013:

Hi, Anne Marie - you make some good points about the difference in deep cleaning and doing smaller chores. I like your ideas about the candles and opening windows; that definitely freshens the whole room, once you have tackled the bigger things! Thanks for reading and commenting!

Anya Brodech from 130 Linden St, Oakland, California, 94607 on November 19, 2013:

This is a great hub, with nice little tips on how to break down cleaning into small tasks. The only downside is that I'm not nearly quick enough to speed clean like that. I like to clean things completely and take my time, so it looks extra good. But at the same time I know how to "mini-clean" in preparation for guests/unexpected visitors: put the dishes in the dishwasher, clean the countertop, wipe down the bathroom sink and countertop, windex the mirror, put away any embarrassing/personal items like dirty laundry or that pile of bras on your bed you left out while getting ready earlier, etc. Oh and light a candle or spray some air freshener like febreeze and/or open the window for a little bit so the place can air out a bit

Anna Marie

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on July 01, 2012:

Thanks, Carol - so glad you like the ideas here! It does sort of make you feel less trapped when you approach it in small chunks of time. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

carol stanley from Arizona on July 01, 2012:

Obviously this is a popular article. It is great and for busy people it is perfect to take care of all the little things. It is a sad thing that two minute afte we clean something..if often needs it again. However you have a way of making cleaning efficient and getting the job done. Thanks for a great article.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on March 28, 2012:

Thanks, Sharyn - breaking it down into small tasks has helped me feel much less overwhelmed when I look at a major job (the garage, for example). Instead of thinking I need to do it all (a big habit of mine, and a bad one), I just decide to go through a few boxes, or tackle one nasty corner. It's helped make me a saner person. (Please don't tell me if I am wrong on that part! I love the delusion of sanity!).

Sharon Smith from Northeast Ohio USA on March 28, 2012:

Excellent tips Marcy! I always tend to think that I have to do everything as a "big project." And then I end up not even starting because there isn't enough time to do it all. I really need to break it in to "small chunks" and just do it. Thanks for the inspiration!


Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on March 24, 2012:

Lol! I think I need to avoid our Public Broadcasting System, or it will ruin my long-range cleaning strategy! Thanks for reading and commenting, Keri Summers! I got a laugh from your remarks.

Keri Summers from West of England on March 24, 2012:

Great stuff, just came here via MT's favorites. Now I know why my house is always untidy - it's the BBC's fault (no add breaks) and also even our commercial channels have fewer ad breaks than US. Seriously I'm better inspired to use those little time vacuums productively. Thanks for the encouragement!

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on March 19, 2012:

Thanks for the honor, Millionaire Tips! I'm so glad you like the hub, and I appreciate being included in your favorites!

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on March 19, 2012:

Thanks, Victoria Lynn! It works for me, so far, as long as I don't take a detour to the refrigerator for a snack! Thanks for reading and commenting!

Shasta Matova from USA on March 19, 2012:

Hi Marcy, Congratulations on being on my favorites list for the week ending March 18. This hub helps us find time, and who couldn't use more time in their day!

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on March 18, 2012:

So true, Marcy! I need to follow these guidelines, and maybe I wouldn't be such a messy person! haha. I actually have been doing better, as I have been focusing more on stuff like this. Many votes! Good job!

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on March 18, 2012:

Thanks, alocsin - I'm glad to know that! I appreciate your comments, and I hope you get some helpful ideas from the hub!

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on March 18, 2012:

Millionaire Tips brought me here through her latest selection of top hubs. Excellent ideas -- it breaks the daunting task of house-cleaning into manageable pieces. Voting this Up and Useful.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on March 16, 2012:

Thanks so much for the kind words, pmmcray! I agree - it sure saves the expense of buying new clothes when you cut down on the snacking during commercials. Thanks for reading and commenting!

pmccray on March 16, 2012:

I just love your hubs. I use some of these especially the commercials between my favorite programs a good constructive use of time and looks better on the waistline. Voted up, marked useful, interesting and book marked.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on March 15, 2012:

I'm so glad to hear this, Susan! Let us know if you find other little time chunks we can recapture!

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on March 15, 2012:

I love this hub! When I'm on the phone with my mother in law I find I can get an entire meal prepared :) I've never thought about doing anything while the commercials are on TV other than staring at them blankly.

I'll be back for another read of your awesome hub.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on March 14, 2012:

Thanks, Millionaire Tips - I'm so glad you like the hub!

Shasta Matova from USA on March 14, 2012:

These are awesome tips to use those wasted moments to clean our house and not have to spend hours and hours cleaning. I will try to do more of that since I hate spending all day cleaning.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on March 13, 2012:

Thanks, Ripplemaker - I appreciate your comments!

Michelle Simtoco from Cebu, Philippines on March 13, 2012:

Yes using the small chunks of time makes cleaning easier I think :) Thanks for this tip.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on March 12, 2012:

Thanks for reading and commenting, Hypnotherapy-Guru! I'm so glad you liked the hub.

Hypnotherapy-Guru from Idaho on March 12, 2012:

Great tips!

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on March 11, 2012:

Awwww - thank you, Charles! It's nice of you to mention it!

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on March 11, 2012:

Hi, Stephanie - yes, it's incredible the amount of things that can be done (or can be tackled in stages) in just a few unused minutes. I'm so glad you enjoyed the ideas; thanks for reading and commenting!

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on March 11, 2012:

phdast7 - doesn't it feel great when you have a little victory over the wasted moments? I felt rich once I figured out how to do this! Thanks for reading and for your nice comments.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on March 11, 2012:

Hi, Tarajeyaram - I'm so glad you enjoyed the hub, and I appreciate your comments!

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on March 11, 2012:

Hi, Kathleen - thank you for reading and commenting! Clutter is one of my biggest challenges. I'll send you good vibes and here's hoping we both get the best of it!

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on March 11, 2012:

I agree, Uninvited Writer - when I think of it as one big job, it wears me out before I even start. Thanks for your comments!

Charles Hilton on March 11, 2012:

What? It's your birthday? Happy birthday, gorgeous! :-)

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on March 11, 2012:

Hi, Sunshine! Thanks for the kind birthday wishes! Let's tackle this stuff one commercial at a time!

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on March 11, 2012:

Thanks, Acaetnna - I'm so glad you enjoyed the hub! Yes, I greatly prefer avoiding long hours of drudge, if possible!

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on March 11, 2012:

Hi, FordeAhern - oh, I so love that look when it's all done and in order! Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on March 11, 2012:

Ha! I've had a cat like that, Flora - they're too cute to get really upset at them, but they sure demand attention (my friend had a cat that wouldn't drink water unless it was flowing from the faucet!). Thanks for reading and commenting, and thank you for the sweet birthday wishes!

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on March 11, 2012:

Thanks for your kind SHARE, prairieprincess! I'm so glad you enjoyed the hub and found it helpful!

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on March 11, 2012:

LOL! I want some of whatever she's taking, too, Bobbi! I get tired just watching that video, but it is cute and clever!

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on March 11, 2012:

Thanks, Cloverleaf - I can't wait to see some of the hubs you create with those found minutes! I enjoy your work!

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on March 11, 2012:

Thanks, Charles! Your comment about our multi-tasking lives is spot on. I do wish people wouldn't do that in the car, though - I steer clear of the multi-taskers who are reading books, reading maps, putting on make-up and eating their entire breakfast while driving on the freeway.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

Stephanie Henkel from USA on March 11, 2012:

Great time saving ideas! I practice a few of these already, but I like the idea of cleaning out the refrigerator while waiting for the microwave. It's amazing the little tasks we can accomplish in a couple of minutes.

Theresa Ast from Atlanta, Georgia on March 11, 2012:

Great suggestions for making use of wasted time and making the often onerous task of cleaning and organizing less difficult. I started doing many of these things out of necessity and desperation when I was in graduate school. I had three preteen boys at the time and a husband who worked two jobs. Part of survival was training my boys to be responsible for several tasks each week and to seriously pickup after themselves. BUT I learned to do an awful lot of things in 2-4 minute increments because that is all I had. Great Hub. :)

tarajeyaram from Wonderland on March 11, 2012:

Marcy - great advice and tips. I am bookmarking this hub. You hub is great for anyone. Thanks for SHARING.

Kathleen Kerswig on March 11, 2012:

Very useful hub for me! Thanks for all of the suggestions. I struggle with keeping things picked up so I think it's time to actually take some of those suggestions. I'm glad I saw this today. Good job!

Susan Keeping from Kitchener, Ontario on March 11, 2012:

Excellent advice, housework doesn't need to feel like a huge job

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on March 11, 2012:

Excellent tips!!! I like the commercial breaks idea! Haha!

Happy Birthday!:)

acaetnna from Guildford on March 11, 2012:

What brilliant advice. Some otf the things that you've suggested I already do, but there is so much more advice here. I guess the best advice is always to do little and often and avoid a big clutter that eventually involves hours of work. I definitely like to be organised and I hate to waste precious moments. Thanks for a great hub. I shall be back again to read more of your hubs, in the meantime have a great day.

FordeAhern from Broadford, Co. Limerick. ireland on March 11, 2012:

Great hub, thank you. I am knackered after reading it, isn't there so much to do in a home. You know I love doing it and in the evening looking at the end result. Voted up and useful.

FloraBreenRobison on March 10, 2012:

Ah, if only my cat wold let me clean the kitchen without feeding her and giving her fresh water every time I go in there. :) Some rooms are easier to clean quickly than others.

Happy bithday, Marcy.

Sharilee Swaity from Canada on March 10, 2012:

These are some great ideas! It gives hope that one can do so many things in 3-5 minutes. Voted up, awesome and useful! And I have shared this with Stumbleupon, too.

Barbara Purvis Hunter from Florida on March 10, 2012:


I would like some of her vitamins, that was a cute video, with a sweet baby.

I enjoyed your hub, and I always do more than one chore at a time. Like talking and eating---seriously--your hub will help many to stay clean and green inside and out.



Louise Fiolek from Calgary, AB, Canada on March 10, 2012:

Hi Marcy, by keeping organized and putting those wasted minutes to work you've just given me back so much time - thank you! I need all the time I can get to write hubs for this month's challenge :)

Charles Hilton on March 10, 2012:

These are great suggestions, Marcy, and I've been been using some of them already, because, like you said, modern life keeps us busy, and multi-tasking is the only way to really keep up with the chores.

Voted up and interesting and useful. :)

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on March 10, 2012:

Hi, teaches12345 - your post made me laugh; I think the video would take me a week, too! The headset is a great idea! Good tip. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Dianna Mendez on March 10, 2012:

We can certainly use these suggestions to save time around the home. Good video post and so funny. That would be a week's worth of work for me. Whew! The best time saving idea I have is my phone headset. I can chat and still get housework done. Voted up!

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on March 10, 2012:

I know what you mean, Sherry - I try to be careful of what I tackle while something is on the stove! Thanks for reading and commenting!

Sherry Hewins from Sierra Foothills, CA on March 10, 2012:

I am already using many of these ideas, I rarely have several hours to spend cleaning the house. One pitfall I have run into with the multitasking, if I try to do it while I'm cooking I can get distracted and burn the food. Thanks for a great hub, voted up and useful.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on March 10, 2012:

Thanks, homesteadbound - I hope you find more of your valuable time; we love the great hubs you produce in those moments!

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on March 10, 2012:

Thanks, AEvans - I've been amazed at the wasted minutes I've discovered through thinking about this. I hope it works for you, too! I appreciate your comments.

Cindy Murdoch from Texas on March 10, 2012:

This is a great way to keep the house clean and organized without even realizing you did it! I love it! This is a great way to grab back those wasted minutes.

Julianna from SomeWhere Out There on March 10, 2012:

Very useful! I am going to implement some of your ideas. I realize now, more of my time can be utilized while others things are transpiring. Thanks for the tips! Thumbs up and shared! :)

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on March 10, 2012:

Hi, Crystal - thanks for reading and commenting. I understand the overwhelmed feeling, and have often felt that way. It's amazing how different it feels when you tackle a smaller task than 'clean the whole house' presents. You feel like you accomplished something, but you don't feel like it ate your entire day. Hope these ideas work for you!

Crystal Tatum from Georgia on March 09, 2012:

I love this! I'm always complaining that I don't have enough hours in the day, and frequently leave tasks undone because I feel so overwhelmed. These ideas are also a great way to break tasks down into more manageable chunks and feel less overwhelmed. Cleaning for three or four minutes sounds doable to me, but cleaning for three or four hours, or even one hour? I'd rather not. Thanks for this.

Marcy Goodfleisch (author) from Planet Earth on March 09, 2012:

It's great that you're able to have help for cleaning, Anamika - so many people cannot afford that. I imagine your organized list of what to do helps make certain your house stays the way you want it to stay.

I'm glad you liked the hub, and I hope it offers help for busy people who can't find enough minutes in the day.

Anamika S Jain from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India on March 09, 2012:

Very useful Hub! Personally, I do not have to get my hands dirty doing the cleaning work. I have given specific tasks to my maid for every day of the week apart from the normal daily cleaning and dusting. I want my home clean,shiny and organized all the time and my maid does a good job at maintaining my home that way.