I Tried Cleaning One Room a Day, and I’m Never Going Back

published May 11, 2024
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Kitchen before and after cleaning.
Credit: Shifrah Combiths

My husband and I have been busy lately, so when the weekend comes, we don’t want to do much of anything except relax. Some people might find cleaning relaxing, but I’m not one of them. So except for cleaning the bathrooms — a non-negotiable for me even when I’m at my laziest — I’ve let the past couple of weeks go by without cleaning the rest of our home.

When I put my mind to it, I can clean our entire 1,200-square-foot Cape Cod home in a few hours. But in my attempt to reclaim weekends only for hobbies and other fun stuff, this means I have to carve out that amount of time to clean on a weekday instead. 

Or did I? I realized I was approaching cleaning as an all-or-nothing proposition, forgetting the fact that I have indeed cleaned just the bathrooms without so much as touching a microfiber cloth to another surface. What if I tackled one room per day instead of the whole house? I’d still eventually have a clean home, just one room at a time. So I decided to do it. Here’s how it went.

Credit: Shifrah Combiths

Monday: Bathrooms

I have two full bathrooms that I clean weekly, so I figured why not bang out both in one day? I was finished with both in just under 30 minutes — yes, that includes the floors, too. Was I speedy because I’m already on a regular weekly schedule with bathroom cleaning? Probably, but I’m not letting that undermine the joyful pride I felt in finishing off a major cleaning task in such a short amount of time.

Tuesday: Bedroom

I have some pictures that I’ve been meaning to hang on our bedroom wall. I also want to wash the curtains. But this experiment was not about decorating or deep cleaning — it was just about getting my house mostly clean and back in order. So I popped in my earbuds and started a new audiobook. About 25 minutes later, I was almost too engrossed in the story to realize that I had dusted, tidied, and vacuumed the room.

Credit: Shifrah Combiths

Wednesday: Living Room

Our living room is pretty tidy except for our sheet-covered couches, which is where our dog likes to spend most of his days. I removed those sheets and put them in the wash, thoroughly dusted and vacuumed the living room, then dry-mopped the hardwood floors. I rearranged a few books on our already tidy bookshelves. Later, when I finished laundering the sheets, I zapped the couches with our handheld vac before tucking them in again. It all took almost 30 minutes.

Thursday: Kitchen and Dining Room

The kitchen is the heart of our home, and we try our best to keep it fairly clean daily. Still, it needed TLC. I moved dirty dishes and cups from the sink into the dishwasher and took the empty sink as an opportunity to give it a good scrub, after which I replaced the sponge. Next, I put some things away that had been cluttering the countertops. I wiped down the surfaces, the handle on the refrigerator, and even the top of the recycling pail. I vacuumed and mopped the floor.

While the kitchen floor dried, I took on the dining room. I finally dealt with the packages that were piling up and recycled some papers and old magazines that cluttered the table. I vacuumed the area rug and floor, then I went over the floor again with a dry mop. Boom. Two major rooms of the home were done in under an hour.

Credit: Shifrah Combiths

Friday: Office

I consider myself very lucky to have the opportunity to use the second bedroom as an office/Peloton studio/walk-in closet. But if that all sounds like a lot to put a room through, you’d be right. And now was the day to do something about it.

While I could spend an entire day decluttering and reorganizing, I reminded myself that this was just a regular cleaning session. I set a timer for 30 minutes and played some jazz music to keep me on task. I picked up shoes from the floor and returned books, cosmetics, and office supplies to their rightful places. Then, starting by the door, I went clockwise around the room to dust and tidy.

Did some things get thrown in a drawer or closet? Absolutely. But you know what else happened? In 30 minutes, I had a clean office once more, including vacuumed floors and dusted surfaces. My desk is even tidy — for the moment, at least. 

Saturday and Sunday: No More Rooms

By the time the weekend rolled around, I was shocked: I had run out of rooms. I was able to finally enjoy it guilt-free for the first time in a long time. 

Cleaning one room a day was a big success for me. It didn’t seem like I was cleaning all the time, as I had feared, even though I did clean for five days straight. By focusing on one room at a time, I learned a few things about my cleaning habits — both good and bad — and I was motivated by my progress so I looked forward to cleaning a different room the next day.

This strategy is one I’d like to maintain, although I can imagine that I’ll get behind at some point, which is OK. At the very least, I feel like I’ve reclaimed a nice, clean home in a short amount of time.