8 Ways to Accidentally End Up With a Clean House

updated Jul 12, 2021
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In an ideal world, your perfectly blocked schedule would give you all the time you need every day to get it all done. And work, chores, hobbies, and family life would jive in a harmonious synchrony that unfolds day after perfect day.

Except that’s impossible. (And maybe even a little boring?)

The truth is there’s never enough time to get it all done. I’ve worked from home for years, so I’m very well acquainted with the pull between non-stop chores that need to get done and professional deadlines that won’t wait for the laundry to get folded and put away first. When different duties call and clash, I try to find a way to get some chores happening in the background while I take care of my other responsibilities.

Here are some ways to “clean” while you’re busy doing something else, and “accidentally” end up with a cleaner home than you started with.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

Disinfect the kitchen sink

I periodically disinfect my kitchen sink, one of the dirtiest spots in most homes, by filling the sink with water and adding some bleach. Let it soak while you’re doing other things. Then drain and let air dry.

….and disinfect other random objects, too

While you’ve got that sink full of bleach water going, you can toss other items in for a quick de-germing bath. Grab things like plastic cutting boards, water-safe toys (including bath toys), your toothbrush cup, plastic hair brushes and combs, travel mugs, the water basin from your coffee maker, or whatever else will fit.

Set up a baking soda paste for your oven

When tackling particularly grubby surfaces, it’s often best to let your cleaning solution soak into the dirt before you scrub manually. You can put this into practice by letting a baking soda paste soak into your oven’s baked-on mess, then coming back hours later to scrub—or even just wipe—it away.

Run a load in the dishwasher

If you’re lucky enough to have a dishwasher, put all your dishwasher safe items in the dishwasher and run it. You can even include a few surprising extras like the microwave turntable and your dish drying rack. It seems obvious, but even the sound of it running in the background will make you feel accomplished.

Soak your oven grates with dryer sheets

Draw a bath for your metal or enamel oven grates (or do it in the sink if they’re small enough, or your sink is big enough). Place your grates in the tub and fill it with enough warm water to cover over them (if you have exceptionally dirty items, lay a shower curtain liner down first). Then throw a few fresh dryer sheets in the water with them. When you come back a few hours later—or even the next day—use the sheets to gently scrub down the grates and they should look as good as new.

Attack soap scum all around the bathroom

Your bathroom is another spot where you can turn time into cleaning leverage. Set up some solutions all around the room to penetrate your scummiest bathroom spots: Try letting a bleach-and-baking-soda solution penetrate mildewed grout in your showers, allowing a soap scum cleaner to sit on your shower doors and fixtures, and letting faucets soak in a vinegar bag to loosen gunk.

Wash and dry loads of laundry

This requires a few minutes of prep work to gather and sort your laundry, but once you have all your dirty loads in a queue, washing and drying them can be done in incremental, short breaks while you’re doing something else. If you do your laundry away from home, maybe you can take your home activities, like hobbies or bill-paying, to the laundromat.

Run self-cleaning cycles

Some of your appliances may have self-cleaning cycles. Your oven may have one that runs on a super high temperature to help burn off stuck food. The washing machine and dishwasher may also have self-cleaning cycles. Tossing in a cleaning pod like this one for dishwashers or this one for washing machines adds extra oomph.

What household tasks do you intersperse into your day?