I Tried the “5×5 Cleaning Method” and It Revolutionized My Routine

published Jul 10, 2023
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Kitchen before using 5x5 cleaning method: things on countertops, disorganized, messy
Credit: Shifrah Combiths

I love testing out new methods for keeping my home clean. There are ones that tackle tricky cleaning tasks, like using this TikTok-famous cleaner on grout, and ones focused on clutter-clearing strategies, such as trying the OHIO method. Anything that helps me achieve a tidier home with less time and effort? I’m here for it. Recently I came across an intriguing method with a catchy name, the 5×5 system, and I couldn’t wait to try it.

Quick Overview

What Is the 5×5 System for Cleaning?

The 5×5 system was developed by The Secret Slob. You pick five rooms or zones in your home and spend five minutes cleaning each one. This means you’ll be cleaning for 25 minutes in total.

What Is the 5×5 System for Cleaning?

Developed by The Secret Slob, the 5×5 system is straightforward: Pick five rooms or zones in your home and spend five minutes cleaning each one. The zones are similar to the FlyLady’s zones for cleaning, however, instead of dedicating a week to different zones, you’ll be devoting five minutes to cleaning each one a day.

Although it may seem like nothing substantial can get done in five minutes, this couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve put this method to the test, and it’s amazing how big of a difference five minutes of attention can make in any space. 

Credit: Shifrah Combiths

How I Used the 5×5 System to Clean My Home

I chose to use the method in my bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, guest bathroom, and family room. Here’s how it went.

  1. Bedroom: The bedroom currently has a mattress for my daughter in it because we have a houseguest, and it’s particularly messy because I’m getting ready to go on a trip. Plus, it’s summertime, which means a lot less time to keep up with chores while the kids are home. Although I wasn’t able to clean in five minutes, I still had enough time to reset the room. 
  2. Bathroom: Our primary bath is also where we bathe our two youngest children. And again, summertime. Both of these factors mean the bathroom gets messy fast and often. (Also, please excuse the paint patches; I’m color testing.) In addition to a pretty clean bedroom, my bathroom plays a big role in my state of mind as I get ready for the day or wind down for bed. Five minutes reclaimed the space.
  3. Kitchen: The kitchen is the most central and used part of our home and it turns into a disaster often. In just five minutes, I picked up as much as I could. The effect is outsized for the amount of time I spent. I did have some extra time after this five-minute burst, so I spent another few five-minute bursts cleaning this space. The method pushed me past the overwhelm and gave me the motivation I needed to get the area picked up and cleaned. 
  4. Guest bathroom: I used my five minutes to clean this space. I straightened up the items in the shower, wiped down the mirror and countertop, and cleaned the toilet. Then I did a quick swipe of the baseboards with a rag. Big difference. 
  5. Family room: The family room also gets messy quickly and frequently, especially for a family of seven. In five minutes, I was able to place the throw pillows nicely on the couch, put the blankets in the basket (or toss the ones that smelled like dog in the laundry room), put books back on the shelves, and wipe down the trays on the ottoman. After this, I still had time to quickly run a vacuum cleaner over the carpet. 
Credit: Shifrah Combiths

The Benefits of the 5×5 System

After testing the 5×5 method in my own space, I can heartily recommend it. Here’s why.

  • It makes you super efficient. Knowing you have just five minutes to get something done in a space presses the gas pedal on efficiency. Having the parameter of five minutes ensures your efforts are focused and intense, which produces visible results even in such a short amount of time. 
  • It gives you momentum to clean for longer — if you want. The system works if you truly only have five minutes. But if you have the flexibility to spend a bit more time, starting with five minutes often gives you the momentum you need to continue picking up or cleaning a bit longer. 
  • It allows you to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. On the other hand, there are many times, especially in less frequented rooms, that five minutes is plenty to finish the room. Maybe there are only a few things to straighten up or put away and the room is already clean; in just three minutes the room is exactly as you want it. 
  • It allows you to reset the house in less than half an hour. Applying this method to five rooms in the home allows it all to be reset in less than half an hour. This kind of quick pickup does wonders if you’re feeling like “the whole house is a mess” and can put you in a frame of mind to relax and enjoy your time at home. 
  • It motivates you to do short bursts of cleaning more often. Having the option to clean for just five minutes — and knowing that that has an impact — will inspire you to reach for this cleaning tool often. You’ll work short bursts of cleaning into your routine, and your bigger cleaning sessions will become shorter and easier. 
  • It’s flexible enough to allow for various types of cleaning. The flexibility of this method is among my favorite aspects of this strategy. You can adapt the method to suit whatever needs to be done in a certain room at that time. You could practically build an entire cleaning routine from daily five-minute blocks! 
Credit: Shifrah Combiths

Final Thoughts

Creative cleaning strategies are all about making the time you spend cleaning as smooth and productive as possible, and the 5×5 method is one of the best I’ve tried. It’s become my go-to cleaning strategy and I’m excited to maximize its potential.