…the fastest possible routine for maintaining a sane, yet tidy, existence.

Busy families are busy.

That’s pretty obvious. But what it means is that even though I’m super diligent when it comes to cleaning, sometimes schedules don’t always align. Sometimes little people don’t nap as long as they should. And sometimes, big people nap when they get the chance!

Checking in with a professional cleaner, we were given the inside scoop on how cleaning your space can be a simple, quick solution. In a typical space (say, a two bedroom condo with in-suite laundry), this whole routine can actually take less than an hour. Obviously this routine has to be adjusted for bigger spaces, but if you’re on your own and short of time this will work for you as long as you keep up the ritual. If you’re with someone and can delegate some responsibilities, this system will knock things out in record time.

First, dishes must be washed after every meal. This is non-negotiable. The dishwasher is your enemy in this regard, because if you’re alone you’re more likely to treat this appliance as an extra cupboard. Don’t. Look at what you used: a frying pan, a spatula, a plate, a knife and a fork. We’re not talking two hours of cleanup here. Our pro cleaner has this tip:

“Wash your dishes as soon as you’re done eating. It’s actually faster than loading and unloading the dishwasher. Leave the breakfast dishes in the dish rack to dry when you go to work, but dry and put everything away when you wash the supper dishes later.”

“Everything” means the dish rack too. The recommendation is that a clean kitchen has nothing on the counters, including cleaning supplies. You should be ready to cook at a moment’s notice (or at least appear to be ready), not having to first clear a space to prepare.

This is also one of the better rules of good hosting, by the way.

As for the rest of the routine, follow this procedure once a week, and even if you do need an occasional touch up for a party you won’t have to spend hours getting ready.

1. Know your garbage day.

When’s garbage day for you? Do this routine the night before garbage day, so you’re sure to have everything packed away and ready to take out in the morning (or as the last step in the cleaning process, if you’d rather just get it over with). There’s no point in doing a cleaning routine that allows for garbage to sit around in a bag for the better part of a week.

The last thing you do in every room is take out the garbage.

2. Start with the bedrooms.

Strip the beds and throw the sheets in the washing machine. While that’s going…

3. Dust in the bedrooms.

Dust all the flat surfaces in the bedrooms, including the tops of door frames. Start at the highest level and work your way down, always moving in the same direction. Using a feather duster is actually more effective than a dust cloth, simply because you’ll be vacuuming later anyway.


4. Vacuum the bedroom carpets.

This is obviously the next step. If you don’t have rugs or carpets, vacuum anyway to get those dust bunnies from under the bed before wet mopping the floors.

5. Clean the mirrors and windows.

If you have glass in your room, this is the time to give it a shine. Check things like door knobs, light switches, and sliding doors on closets for finger prints and smudges (the glass cleaner on your cloth will usually take care of these areas).

6. Move on to the bathroom.

Use the duck thing and squirt the inside of the toilet bowl. Clean all your surfaces, then brush the bowl (with a toilet brush, silly).

Of course, when the washing machine stops, move the sheets to the dryer. But don’t stop in the middle of cleaning a room to do it.

“You want to keep pace and momentum going,” we’re told. “So if the washing machine stops, just finish the room you’re working on. Then switch the sheets over to the dryer.”

Ready for the kicker? You do exactly the same thing–the first five steps–in the living and dining rooms. When you’re finished with all of your rooms following this sequence, pull the sheets out of the dryer and make the beds. That’s it!

Our expert tells us that following this sequence, an average two-bedroom apartment or condo takes less than an hour to clean completely, assuming your dryer is fairly new and gets the job done quickly. If you have a multi-story house, it’s actually possible to break this up over several sessions (maybe Saturday for the bedrooms, Sunday for the kitchen and other rooms). The key is to not get bogged down. If your cleaning takes more than an hour to do in one shot, you’re less likely to make a habit of it. But if you can do, say, three rooms in half an hour after dinner; or even while dinner is cooking; you’re more likely to make it a routine.

Oh, and you have to do your regular laundry more than once a month. But that’s what weekends are for, right?


aWhat are some of your best tips for speed cleaning your home under a time crunch? Let us know in the comments!

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