How To Become a Unicorn and Actually Enjoy Cleaning

updated Oct 3, 2023
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(Image credit: fizkes)

Even if we can’t muster a wholesale change of perspective about maintaining our homes, most of us could use a spoonful of sugar when it comes to the challenge of keeping up with our cleaning tasks. Here are some easy ways to take a little bit of the sting out of it each time you reach for those housework gloves.

Listen to something while you’re cleaning

Nothing makes you forget that you’re doing something you don’t want to do like occupying your mind with something else. And unlike onerous tasks that require brainpower (taxes, paper-writing, meeting that closing deadline), cleaning leaves your mind free.

So crank up Alexa and sing and dance your way through your cleaning chores. Put in those earbuds and listen to your favorite podcast or an audio book. Or, use your headphones or speaker phone and make a phone call to catch up with someone, an out-of-state friend, an elderly relative, or your sibling or parent that you talk to a million times a day anyway. If you don’t want to clean, chatting will help the time fly by.

Need some recommendations?

Clean first thing in the morning

Otherwise known as “eating frogs for breakfast,” if cleaning is your most annoying to-do of the day and you get it out of the way first thing — you win! Not only will you not have it hanging over you, but you can ride that triumphant sense of accomplishment into the rest of your day.

Give yourself a reward

Tell yourself that when you’re done you can have a bowl of Trader Joe’s chocolate-covered peanut butter pretzels, kick your feet up on the back porch with a glass of chardonnay, or celebrate with a bath and that Lush bath bomb you’ve been hoarding. Or simply dangle the carrot of an episode of your latest Netflix series. Giving yourself a treat at the end of a pesky chore — and not allowing yourself to enjoy something you want until it’s done — will make mincemeat out of cleaning time.

And, sometimes, finishing your cleaning chore is its own reward. Check out I Can Get You Addicted to Cleaning.

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Set a timer

There’s just something about a looming deadline that forces us into action, and the sound of a ticking timer might just propel you to move a little faster as you’re tackling that dirty bathroom. Plus, you’ll know empirically that the torture won’t last more than, say, twenty minutes.

Make it smell good

Even if your body has to do something you’d just rather not, you can switch on the happy through your sense of smell. Whether you purposely select cleaning products with scents you love (for me, it’s Mrs. Meyer’s Geranium), or you add a few drops of lavender or lemon essential oil to your homemade cleaning solutions, appealing to your sense of smell will surely boost your mood.

Do it with someone

Friends don’t let friends clean out the garage alone. Grab a pal and have him do it with you. Then swap and help him tackle a cleaning project. Misery loves company, yes, but having a friend’s help might even make the work fun — especially with music and a movie planned for the evening.

Think about why you’re doing it

Why are you cleaning anyway, really? As a full-grown human, you probably don’t have your mother grounding you until your room’s picked up. Maybe you clean because, even though it’s part of being a responsible adult, you enjoy maintaining a clean, orderly environment for both you and your loved ones. Maybe you get a twinge of a sense of accomplishment from putting order into something that you can actually set aright in this crazy world.

Whatever your reasons, bring them to your consciousness and hold them there while you clean up. Remember, you don’t have to clean; you’re choosing to.