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Cleaning tips for those who can't stand cleaning

Updated on November 29, 2009
Cleaning doesn't have to be a chore.
Cleaning doesn't have to be a chore.

Taking the work out of housework

There aren't very many people who love to clean, but if you're like most people you'll be absolutely thrilled to have the place looking great, and worthy of your presence. It's the same thing with getting our political system sorted out. So here are some handy tips to taking care of your space, and reminding yourself that you're worth it.

Pick a day to clean

It can be whenever's most convenient for you. You should be keeping up with it throughout the week, but it's good to have a day to make sure things stay up to snuff.

Turn on some music while you work

Something you like, and something upbeat. You'll want to get energized here, and if it's something you love, it's almost like dancing or going out to a club. Actually, it's a party you're throwing for yourself, in celebration of your new living condition. Consider drinking a cup of coffee about a half-hour before you start, too. This will help you to get motivated, and once you get into it you'll get some momentum going.

Use the time to think

While your body's rushing around taking care of the little things, you can be thinking up new Hubs, or developing other ideas. This gets even easier once you get into the swing of things. Making progress in your space is also a great way to feel empowered, and seeing that you can affect your life in positive ways will encourage you as you develop other parts of your life. Your hands might be washing the dishes, but you'll be in a world of your own, figuring out new ways to make your life work even better.

For $100 to $200, you could let a robot do your dirty work.
For $100 to $200, you could let a robot do your dirty work.

The right tools for the right job

Getting the right stuff is important, especially if you hate to clean in the first place. Get a brush with a long handle on it next time you go to the store, and use it instead of a scrubby sponge most people use. You'll avoid getting your paws dirty with peoples' dishes, and can just enjoy the warm water. If it grosses you out too much, grab some gloves too. Window cleaner and a squeegee will take care of those windows and shower doors in a jiffy, and for hard water buildup (like that white stuff on your shower doors) you'll want to use CLR (Calcium, Lime, and Rust Remover). That stuff takes off all the mineral deposits, and if you get it you'll want to use it on your faucets to clear them up too. If you hate vacuuming (and who doesn't) consider getting a Roomba. They're little hand-sized robots shaped like a disc. They'll roll along the floor munching up lint and little bits of trash, vacuuming the place up in no time... and on a schedule! They'll learn the shape of your rooms and where all the furniture is, and keep vacuuming for you before returning to their power unit to rest up from their chores. You can pick them up on eBay for about $100 to $200, and never have to vacuum again. I've used them, they work beautifully.


Get used to not leaving stuff all over your surfaces, like countertops and tables. If you don't let it pile up in the first place, you won't have that pile to wrestle with later on. It's just a matter of getting into the habit. And keep an eye on what sorts of things accumulate on your surfaces, too. A lot of one thing either means that you haven't found a place for that thing to actually belong, or that you never put it there. Designate a place for the stuff you use. If people didn't do this we wouldn't have closets, shelves and drawers, we'd just have a building with all of our stuff in one big heap. If you don't have enough furniture, check in your area for free furniture in their free stuff section. Someone's getting rid of dressers, shelves and cabinets all the time. I wonder who they are? I actually saw a free stuff ad a few weeks ago in my area where a lady was giving away pretty much her entire bathroom: cabinets, sink, tub... as long as you could come in and remove it without breaking anything else. Nice, I guess.

Now, if your surfaces are getting cluttered it could also mean that you're not getting the best use out of your...

Storage spaces

Time to organize! Most people haven't gotten the hang of using their storage spaces very well. As a result, their stuff ends up all over the available surfaces. Those surfaces, like tables and counters, aren't meant to be long-term storage. They're meant to be there to work on temporarily. Otherwise, everything looks cluttered and there's nowhere to work or do anything in your space. So we need to make sure that your closets, shelves, cabinets and drawers are working well for your needs. Here's a general rule of thumb: Stuff you don't use very often belongs somewhere that's less convenient to get to, and the stuff you use the most should be in the most convenient storage spots. This is why houses have garages and attics. Make sure that your premium real estate isn't getting eaten up by ice skates and Christmas decorations... unless it's November. And make sure you're not keeping a lot of stuff you'll never get around to actually using. That broken TV, for instance. Get rid of it.

If you keep a lot of stuff, try this: pretend you're a landlord, and that the stuff in your storage spaces is paying you rent. Do those old TV guides from 1997 really have what it takes to live in your kitchen cabinet? That radio you haven't used since you started listening to music on your computer is probably on unemployment now - can it afford to live on your countertop? Be cruel; be a mustache-twisting evil villain from a 1930's silent movie. And decide what needs to go. Then, consider how much you could get for it on eBay. If it can't pay its rent, and can't even afford low-income housing in the garage, then sell it into slavery on eBay. If nobody on eBay wants it - and this is rare - give it away in the free stuff on Craigslist, or donate it to a community thrift store. If you can't do that, try to recycle it. And if you can't even recycle it for scrap, guess where it goes? Yep, you've got it in one.

Keeping on top of letters and paperwork is easy with the right techniques.
Keeping on top of letters and paperwork is easy with the right techniques.

Dealing with junk mail and scattered paperwork

I've already given this topic its very own Hub, actually. You can avoid ever having to deal with piled-up junk mail and having scribbled notes all over the house, always cluttering up your space and never actually findable when you need them, by checking out my Hub.

Dealing with the dishes

Dishes can become a huge chore. But there are some simple ways to keep that from happening. First off, how many people have gotten in the habit of washing their dishes before they wash their dishes? They scrub and wipe their dishes before they stick them in the dishwasher, because their dishwashers don't do their job. At that point, what's the point of having it? If this happens to you, sell the sucker used and either get one that does what it's supposed to, or use that vital space for something else, like a cabinet.

One of the major causes of dish build-up is that people never know when stuff in the dishwasher is clean or dirty. So they leave it in the sink, naturally. Then it dries out and stuff gets stuck on there, making getting it off a huge chore. I'm going to show you how to shortcut through all that. We used to have a little magnetic sign at our house you could flip upside-down. One side said "Clean", and the other side said "Dirty". When you run the dishwasher through, flip it to clean. When you empty the dishwasher, reset it to dirty. Then, have everyone put their dishes in the dishwasher instead of the sink. Done. No more dishes. Make sure to put them away promptly when they're clean though, or you'll get another backlog again.

If you can't find those little signs in stores, you can pick one up here - it'll save you a lot of hassle in your everyday life. If you'd rather spend some time on it, you can get some magnetic backing and print out one of your own - with your own design and colors - or get another kind of magnet you think is cute. A ladybug magnet, for example, could face up for clean and down for dirty. As long as everyone you live with is in on it, it'll work fine. And then the only thing you'll have to do that comes close to doing the dishes is putting them away, and reprimanding people you live with for leaving dishes in the sink or putting them in the dishwasher with food stuck on them. And that's always way more fun than doing dishes anyway, isn't it?

Recruiting family members

It used to be tough to get the people you live with to actually participate in the housework. It's everybody's job, but nobody seems to want to do it. The internet has arrived to change all that - introducing ChoreWars! Getting your family members to do basic household tasks becomes a breeze when they're transformed in a roleplaying game environment to experience points! Players can level their characters based on the chores they accomplish, and turn ordinary tasks into fun! This is particularly good for children, but people of any age can enjoy it too. It's free to play, as well. Check out what players have had to say about it!

"I sat down with the kids, showed them their characters and the adventures and they literally jumped up and ran off to complete their chosen tasks. I've never seen my 8 year old son make his bed!"

"The house is so completely sparkling clean! All we had to do is make it a competition! The guys are so obsessed with beating each other! Whoever has the most points at the end of the week gets a six pack."

People on the street would love a simple cleaning job.  Helping the homeless isn't just donating a can of strained peas once a year.
People on the street would love a simple cleaning job. Helping the homeless isn't just donating a can of strained peas once a year.

Paying someone else to do it

You always have that option, particularly if it's something you really detest. While lots of maid services offer this, you can get a better rate at GenieTown or Craigslist. Or better yet, use the opportunity to do some good in the world! It may be unconventional, but consider going downtown and making an arrangement with someone who's suffering from homelessness to come in and clean for you. Helping the homeless is more than just donating a can of strained peas at Thanksgiving. They'll be motivated workers, you'll avoid having to clean, and you'll be making the world a better place, all at the same time. You can even schedule a day to meet up with them, and do it once every week or two. Keep an eye on them until you both establish trust, and make sure they understand that if things go missing they won't have that opportunity anymore, and you should both be set. You may also want to check with your friends, because they need cleaning too, and you can all arrange a day. Someone in dire need can have a way to keep alive by cleaning for you and your friends once a week, and you can avoid cleaning once and for all.

So your dishes are done, you have no more scattered paperwork and junk mail around the house, your surfaces are clear and your clutter is either moved into housing it can afford, or sold into slavery. The rest is just cleaning, dusting and scrubbing. Until someone invents robots to do that for us, or you hire someone, you're stuck with it I'm afraid. But consider bringing a laptop or television in with you, and catching up on your videos and TV while you're doing it. A neat alternative would be to use a text-to-speech program to have your computer read a book to you while you do it, or even just an audiobook. Those are great, also for long trips. While your hands are scrubbing, you can be reading.

And finally, consider that dusting and scrubbing surfaces doesn't really take that long. Five, ten minutes per room, tops. The big problem is that you've made it a bigger job than it has to be, and now you're avoiding it so it gets even bigger. Five or ten minutes per room, once a week. It just doesn't get any simpler than that. And you can enjoy living in your space again, having a domestic life that's worthy of you when the rest of the world surely isn't. Take back your living space, and enjoy your time in life!


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    • Satori profile image

      Satori 9 years ago from California

      What a great idea, Susan! I may just have to add that at some point.

      Thanks all, for the wonderful comments. I appreciate your readership.

    • Susan Ng profile image

      Susan Ng Yu 9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      I want a Roomba! :P Cleaning and other household chores are my waterloo. I just hate doing them. I can create a lesson plan from scratch but I can't seem to keep my room spic-and-span (although I most certainly want to). :P

      You know my favorite way to clean my room? I get myself a cleaning buddy! It's much more tolerable when I have some other person doing half the work. :D Haha!

    • caspar profile image

      caspar 9 years ago from UK

      I used to think I was too lazy to do much cleaning (I hated doing it), but then I started listening to audiobooks and now I realise I just found it boring! Now I can whiz through the chores while having a book read to me to keep me from getting bored. My house is much cleaner because I no longer drift off to do something else in the middle of a cleaning session.

      Great hub, Sartori - excellent ideas!

    • profile image

      charmaine_zp 9 years ago

      Great hub!!! Love it!! I'll clean my room now...

    • LatestDud profile image

      LatestDud 9 years ago from Gold Coast (Queensland, Australia)

      Believe it or not, it isn't that bad. I work in a Supermarket to be exact. When I'm in the prep room I'm cutting up pumpkin, watermelon, cauliflower, honey dew, pawpaw etc etc. It's messy and just plain annoying at time, but I enjoy being destructive and getting paid for it - LOL! But thanks for the tips!

    • Satori profile image

      Satori 9 years ago from California

      Thanks for the feedback! Food prep, ugg. If you can listen to an MP3 player, you might want to try an audiobook as well. That'll give you something to chew on throughout your day. =)

    • LatestDud profile image

      LatestDud 9 years ago from Gold Coast (Queensland, Australia)

      Using the time to think and listen to music is how I cope at work - LOL! I am totally spaced out the whole day deep in thought and bobbing away to music when I am in the prep room (I work with Fruit & Veg). Makes the day go a lot faster and I get the job done a lot quicker and with enjoyment! Nice hub! Beats mine. LOL!