10 Mini Cleaning Tasks You Can Start (and Finish!) in Under 3 Minutes

published Dec 16, 2023
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Cleaning of the house and apartment.
Credit: Getty Images/ Ekaterina Goncharova

TikTokers are cleaning their home in the time it takes to wash and dry their sheets, but am I the only person unsurprised by this? It takes two hours to wash and dry bedding. Of course, they can clean their apartments with that much focused time. It’s satisfying to watch the transformation, and habit stacking (“I clean whenever I wash sheets”) is a smart practice if you can do it, but the idea of two uninterrupted hours to clean feels like a luxury to me right now. 

In my reality, I throw my sheets in to wash and then I juggle three work-from-home jobs, chauffeur my kids around, start thinking about a dinner plan, and, somewhere in there, maybe I remember to move the sheets to the dryer. 

My laundry time is already spoken for, but here’s the time I do have available: my microwave minutes. Instead of bemoaning the fact that I don’t have two hours, I want to see how much cleaning I can do in the time it takes to reheat leftovers — in under three minutes. I’m calling it a micro-clean. 

Here’s how my day went.

Credit: Meg Asby

Morning Rush: 3 Minutes

While microwaving oatmeal, I unloaded a full dishwasher and (literally) ran a bag of compost to the bin outside. This quick clean set me up for a clean-as-you-go day, with no overflowing compost or backlog of dishes waiting for their turn in the dishwasher.

Lunchtime Sprint: 3 Minutes

While my burrito bowl got nice and toasty, I started a load of clothes and folded a pile of bath towels that had been languishing on a chair for a week. I ran out of time to deliver the towels to the bathrooms, but the situation was much improved. 

Credit: Meg Asby

Afternoon Coffee Fast Break: 1.5 Minutes

While reheating my afternoon coffee, I moved the laundry to the dryer, and delivered those towels to the bathroom, finally completing the cycle on a frustratingly stalled task.

Dinner Dash: 3 minutes

In the time it took to heat the ramen my children chose over the butter chicken I made from scratch, I was able to wash the last of the dinner prep dishes and clean the glass doors to our deck. 

Credit: Meg Asby

Movie Night Popcorn Flash: 2 Minutes

Does reminding my children to clear their plates count as cleaning? I think it does. While our movie night popcorn cooked, the kids rinsed the dishes and I wiped the dining table and countertops. In the last seconds before the microwave dinged, I managed to turn on the dishwasher for the night. 

Micro-Clean Moments for the Win

I might not have two uninterrupted hours to clean my entire home, but the few microwave minutes I do have make a big difference. Today I unloaded and loaded the dishwasher, moved the compost outside, started and finished a load of laundry, folded and put away a pile of bath towels, washed dishes, wiped down counters, and even cleaned glass doors (that’s 10 tasks!). It only took a little intentional habit-stacking to make it happen. 

For my next micro-clean day, I think I might choose a theme: How many windows can I clean using only my microwave time? How many rooms could I dust? How many high-traffic areas could I sweep or vacuum? Maybe this is my key to *finally* completing a weekly cleaning schedule