15 Small Cleaning Tasks That Are Big Time-Savers (They’re So Satisfying)

published May 9, 2024
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Collage of house organization
Credit: Photo: Sarah Crowley, Shutterstock; Design: Apartment Therapy

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Cleaning isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. Doing just a few small tasks each day or every other day can have a cumulative effect on your home. The best part? When you do have time for a more complete clean, you’ll likely find that there’s less to do. That means you’ll have more time for yourself, so bring on the self-care session or other fun and relaxing things you’ve been depriving yourself of for the sake of a clean and tidy home. 

Before you decide on how best to spend all that extra time that won’t be spent on cleaning, here is a list of 15 small tasks with big rewards.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

1. Organize the junk drawer.

Now’s the time to open your junk drawer and start organizing. Chances are you’ll be getting rid of more things than keeping, so there’s the bonus of having more space for things that might be cluttering up your countertops. 

2. Break down boxes for recycling.

If you regularly get packages delivered, this could clear up your entire space in 10 minutes. Pro tip: If you have regular deliveries, schedule them a day before recycling pickup in your area. That way you won’t have to stare at empty basket boxes for too long. 

3. Revamp the utensil drawer.

You may need to purchase a new organizer that makes better use of the space currently. Ideally, you’ll want easy access to the flatware you use every day, along with some room for cooking utensils. But if your spatula is getting in the way of your forks and spoons, buy a container that you can keep on your counter for those larger cooking tools. 

4. Remove expired food from the refrigerator or pantry.

Time this task before your next grocery haul and you’ll have room to place your new items when you get home or have them delivered.

Credit: Photo: Sidney Bensimon; Prop Styling: Anna Surbatovich

5. Scrub the stovetop.

Employing elbow grease can be cathartic — especially when the result is a bright, shiny cook surface for your next meal. Make sure the surface is cool before you start. Opt for a cleanser that does some of the work for you, then clean with a damp sponge or cloth. 

6. Clean out a work bag or purse.

Get rid of all of those gum wrappers, tissues, dried-up pens, or whatever else has been lurking in your purse or work bag that you no longer need. Use a zip pouch to organize the small things so they don’t get trapped at the bottom of your bag. You’ll be so happy when you can find everything you need instead of digging through your bag.

7. Dust surfaces in your car.

Save vacuuming the carpets and seats for another day. Instead, wipe down surfaces with a microfiber cloth or car cleaning wipes. Be careful with wet wipes on the steering wheel, as they can make surfaces slippery. 

8. Make your bed.

It’s amazing how quickly a made bed can transform the look of a room and make you feel good too.

9. Pick up items from the floor.

It’s easy for shoes and clothes to form heaps on the floor, but do make sure they make their way to a hamper or closet ASAP. Not only does it tidy the place, but it’ll also make vacuuming later so much easier. 

Credit: Mark Lopez/Getty Images

10. Clean mirrored surfaces.

You deserve a spot-free reflection as you brush your teeth or get dressed. Spray mirrors down with the glass cleaner of your choice and wipe to get a streak-free shine.

11. Wash a load of towels.

Ever notice how quickly you can fold and put away clean clothes when they’re all the same thing? Towels especially make laundry day a breeze. To ensure you have a full load, gather up your dish towels and washcloths, too.

12. Gather magazines and return books to the shelves.

Avid readers know that this task alone could transform a space in minutes. If you’ve run out of room on your shelves, corral reading material into a rolling library cart or basket. And if you’ve been shuffling around the same magazines without even opening them, it might be time to rethink your subscriptions. 

13. Organize your home workspace.

A clutter-free desk or home office will make you more productive, plus it will save you time now that you don’t have to hunt for items that are “hiding.”

14. Disinfect the kitchen sink.

Fill up your sink with hot water and your choice of disinfecting cleanser. Let it soak for a bit, then drain the sink. Let it air-dry or wipe down with a dry microfiber cloth.

15. Clean your shower head.

Fill a plastic bag with a 1:1 solution of water and distilled white vinegar. Attach it around the shower head so that it’s submerged in the liquid. Let it soak for a bit to remove the buildup, then brush the head with a soft toothbrush. Turn on the shower and let clean water run through.

If you have the time and energy, feel free to stack some of these tasks. Once one spot is clean, it can be motivating to keep going if you want to, but even if you only do one of the things on this list, you can still feel like you accomplished something.