House Cleaning in a Busy World

Many years ago I worked for a number of little old ladies whose house-cleaning styles could only be termed “old school”. While I learned a lot from these very interesting women, their methods were, at times, redundant bordering on ridiculous.

I recall one lady in particular whose mantra was “there’s no need to make a big production out of it,” which was oddly contradictory to the elaborate procedures she insisted I follow in carrying out the cleaning of her home.

She wasn’t the only one. Many of these ladies went far out of their way to make extra work for themselves (and me). I can only hypothesize that their overly-complicated cleaning rituals were borne of the boredom from which many housewives suffered before it became common for women to have careers outside the home. They were overachievers ahead of their time.

Don’t Make Work for Yourself

Fortunately for me, not only did I learn a lot about house cleaning from these women, I learned a lot about not making work for myself. As a result, from the start of my long tenure as a house cleaner, I have constantly analyzed the processes I use on the job and streamlined wherever possible.

To my way of thinking, efficiency trumps the elimination of every granule of dirt when efficiency takes half the time and eliminates 98% of the offensive material anyway. That extra hour and half of labor simply isn’t worth the pursuit of the other 2% of grime that no one cares about.


For example, washing floors by hand is usually unnecessary. By first picking up all dirt and other loose matter with a vacuum or broom and then using the correct type of mop that’ll get into corners, floors will stay just as clean and well-maintained as they would from scrubbing on hands and knees.

Additionally, cleaning floors frequently and on a regular schedule guarantees they never become so dirty that scrubbing is required. This principle applies to housecleaning across the board. Regularly performing the cleaning basics like dusting and vacuuming removes dust from the air, decreasing the time you’ll have to spend removing dust from all the nooks and crannies where it typically settles.

What this means is that you’ll be able to sometimes skip dusting baseboards and door panel ridges and the top of the refrigerator. This means you’ll only have to dust window blinds once a months instead of weekly. You’ll be free to only occasionally dust off the top of the refrigerator. You get the idea.

By frequently performing the jobs that are basic to cleaning, you save yourself time in the long term. Modern day cleaning is all about figuring out which tasks to spend your energy on and which tasks to eliminate from your rotation. In this busy world we don’t have time to devote to superfluous cleaning.

Don’t Clean What Isn’t Dirty

This cleaning evolution has made obsolete those chores that are unnecessary. For instance, my little old ladies were big into cleaning windows in the spring and fall whether they needed it or not. But really, if they aren’t dirty, what’s the point of cleaning them? There’s nothing to be gained.

Washing curtains is another chore that isn’t necessary all that often. My ladies would take down and wash curtains when they washed windows, regardless of whether the curtains were actually in need of laundering.

Nine times out of ten, if they’re regularly dusted off, curtains either need no attention or can be quickly vacuumed free of any type of dust. Which brings us back around to simply doing the basics regularly, and the rest kind of takes care of itself.

The “don’t clean things that aren’t dirty” rule extends far and wide where house cleaning is concerned. Rooms that no one ever uses don’t need to be cleaned every week. Areas that don’t get dusty, floors that see no action, kitchens that aren’t used, are all things that don’t need to be cleaned more than superficially.

Save your time for where it’s needed when you clean your home. There’s no point spending an hour dismantling your ceiling fan to clean it in the sink when a five-minute session with an inverted dust mop will remove 98% of the dust, no disassembly required.

Why bother taking your entire refrigerator apart and spending an hour and a half scrubbing each crevice with a toothbrush? That, my friends, is a huge waste of time. Use a microfiber cloth and some warm, sudsy water to wipe clean all surfaces right where they live. The only parts that need to be removed are those that will clean up more quickly in the sink.

Don’t use elaborate processes when it’s not necessary. Blaze your own path. Do it your way. Save your valuable time for things that are more interesting than washing all your storm windows in the bathtub when you could have done the job in half the time using a bucket of water and a sponge.

Think Critically About Your Process

Thinking critically about your cleaning procedures might even make cleaning seem a little more interesting. There’s challenge in finding a more efficient means of achieving the result you’re shooting for.

Avoid doing things a certain way based on habit or because your mother taught you to do it that way. Don’t behave like a throwback to a bygone era. Cleaning a home is hard enough work. There’s no need to make a big production out of it.

Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon.