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In the early days of my marriage, my husband and I had a discussion about clutter versus dirt. I maintained our house was cluttered. He said it was dirty.
It really didn’t matter, because when it came time to clean, we had to deal with the clutter, and it was not uncommon to spend an entire Saturday cleaning a very small condo.
I’ve come a long way since then. Recently a young friend, just out on her own, asked about how my house was always ready for visitors. She wanted to know my secrets to keep things clean with a minimal amount of effort. They’re not secrets, they’re merely strategies, and here they are:
Get Rid Of The Clutter
As was demonstrated by my husband’s opinion, a cluttered house looks and feels dirty. Even if your thousand piece collection of horse figurines are spotless, they are going to make the room feel crowded. Even if the week’s newspapers are neatly stacked, it is still going to look like trash.
The first step to a minimally clean house is to get rid of the clutter. That means toss newspapers, magazines and junk mail. Don’t let it build up. Find places for things and put them in the places. And if you have a lot of decorations that you are no longer seeing, put some of them away and rotate them.
Clear Horizontal Surfaces
This trick is one I have recently learned and started to use. When people are due to come over, I clear the horizontal surfaces in the room. This leaves a room looking much less cluttered than if things are clustered together.
The easist way to do this is to use baskets to contain objects, and whisk them out of sight when guests are due. Put the remotes in a cabinet, clear off the coffee table, and clear the kitchen counters.
Don’t Clean What Isn’t Dirty…
My mother taught me that there were certain cleaning tasks that have to be done, regardless of whether or not they needed to be done. For her, it was essential that she scrub the floors with ammonia every week. My floors don’t get that dirty, so I damp mop them with a general cleaner every week, and save the heavy scrubbing to remove slightly visible grime in the crevaces for once every year or so.
If something isn’t dirty, don’t clean it. If the mirrors are still sparkling and spot free, don’t waste your time going over them. If dust is only visible after two weeks, don’t dust every week (unless you have to!).
..But Don’t Wait Too Long Between Cleanings
The flip side of this is that you can’t wait until something is filthy to clean it. The amount of effort to clean something that is truly filthy is greater than if you had cleaned it when it just started to look dirty.
Waiting until things are growing from spills in the fridge will take much more effort to clean up than wiping the shelf down when you first notice it.
Learn What Is The Minimum
The other trick to minimal cleaning is to learn what is important. An old college friend of mine, before people were to visit, would reorganize all the kitchen cabinets. She drove herself crazy doing this. My approach is much simpler: focus on the rooms people will use.
This means clean the bathroom they will use, sweep the dust bunnies from the floors, and make sure the kitchen is not filled with dirty dishes (because for some reason people always end up in the kitchen!).
By applying these principles, I find I only have to do about an hour’s worth of true cleaning every week. Rarely does the clutter pick up take more than ten minutes. Do you have any tricks for minimal cleaning? Share below.
Photo by go_greener_oz