Actually, It’s Sometimes Better to Clean Slowly — Here are 4 Ways to Figure Out How
A quick speed clean of the kitchen counters and sink can result in that immediate gratification you love, but some areas of the house need more time and attention than that. You might have noticed those are the places you’ve been avoiding the most. Maybe the garage looks like it’s going to be a week-long project, so you save it for next spring. Or the basement seems so daunting that you feel you’ll need Marie Kondo herself down there with you for hours, days, years.
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Identifying the areas of your home that need extra time and attention can help you actually make that time by changing your expectations about how long they will take. Pam Clyde, president and professional organizer at BritLin Cleaning says, “Cleaning can be more time consuming than we think, and some underestimate how much time is actually needed.” She shares that some obstacles to cleaning include procrastinating by thinking we “work better under pressure” — like right before guests arrive — and also not knowing the most efficient ways to clean our houses.
Here’s how she recommends identifying those areas that need some extra time and TLC.
Set a timer.
If you can’t tell which rooms will take ten minutes, versus two hours, it’s time to find out. First, Clyde recommends some light tidying up before starting the actual cleaning process of “scrubbing dirt and grime away.” Then, she recommends timing yourself cleaning each room when you aren’t under pressure, to see how long it really takes.
“How long did one room actually take you? Did you get distracted or were you able to stay focused? Were you moving your arms and legs at a rapid pace or were you scrubbing in slow motion? Sometimes just being conscious of the speed at which we scrub can save us tons of time,” says Clyde, pointing out that having fast-paced music on and no phones around to distract you can help.
Distinguish between the initial deep clean and maintenance cleans.
If you can, Clyde recommends starting by having a professional deep-clean your home to give you a fresh starting place, and then either complete biweekly cleanings yourself or have the house cleaner return on this schedule. Whichever route you go, understand that an initial clean isn’t how long it will take the next time, especially if it’s been a while since the room has been truly cleaned.
“The first clean will take up to four times as long as a room that was just cleaned two weeks ago,” she says. “So give yourself some grace, take the time to deep clean each room, then make a plan to keep things in tip-top shape.”
Make a chart.
Chore charts aren’t just for kids. Clyde recommends one to help you decide the day of the week when you can set enough time to clean the whole house (adding up your room totals from step one above), or divide up which room or two you will do each day.
“There is no right or wrong way but whatever plan you choose, stick to it,” she says. The chart can also include assignments for kids such as who will do the dishwasher, wipe down the table, sweep crumbs, tidy the living room, and other jobs.
Work top to bottom, and in sections.
For the rooms that you notice take longer to clean after your timing activity, ensure that you are following a top to bottom process, as dust settles towards the ground as you clean. Clyde recommends dividing up the room mentally in quadrants, or sections, and only cleaning what’s in your first section before moving on to the others.
“Pick a section of the room to start with, like the first wall to the left of the door. As you move about the room, clean everything in front of you before moving to the next slice or wall in that room,” she says. “Don’t forget things in the middle of the room like a coffee table.”
This piece is part of Go Slow Month, where we’re celebrating taking your time, taking a deep breath, and taking a step back from it all. From deliberate design ideas to tips for truly embracing rest, head over here to see it all.