How to Make Your House Feel Clean Even When You Don’t Have Much Time

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How to Make Your House Feel Clean
How to Make Your House Feel Clean

As any Lazy Girl knows, housework is the pits. Now, I know there are those of you out there that LOVE to clean.

But I am a Lazy Girl.. so that is not me. Yet even Lazy Girls can’t have a gross home.

If I was not a Frugal Girl, too, I would have a housecleaner.  I had a house cleaner come out one time because I got a Groupon.  It was AMAZING.  Here is the thing, though.. she was here for 4 hours, FOUR HOURS, and did not even finish.

I don’t have time to spend 4+ hours cleaning the house (and not even be done).  Although, my hubby would really like it if I would (but that is another story).  I also don’t have the money to have a house cleaner come out a a couple of a month.  Believe me, I looked into it.  It’s not cheap.

So, alas, what is a lazy girl to do?  Well here a few tricks to help you house feel a bit cleaner, without taking 4+ hours or costing an arm and a leg.

And depending on how lazy you are feeling you can pick and choose or do them all.

1. Pick up all the junk.  Kids (and adults, but we won’t talk about that) make BIG messes.  Grab a bin or basket and throw in all the kid’s stuff.  I put their stuff in the hall for them to put away.  My rule is if you leave it there overnight, it will not be there in the morning.  Surprisingly, it works most of the time! (As a note, pare down the kid’s stuff… they really don’t need 50 toys, a few will do.  But we will talk about that in another post))

2. Vacuum. I don’t know if it is in my head, but just vacuuming makes my house feel 50% cleaner!

3. Do the Dishes.  Yeah, I hate this one.  This is one area where I am the Laziest.  But a sink full of dishes REALLY makes the house feel dirty.  My husband HATES this but my secret for getting it done fast is to do as little rinsing as a can.  You need to rinse off the big stuff because that can clog up your dishwasher.  But other than that, I just stick them in.  Sure a few things need to go through again, but I would rather do that then stand there rinsing.  But that’s me.

Also see: How to Fake a Clean House.

4. Make your bed.  Nothing fancy, just pull up your bedspread and arrange the pillows.  Your bedroom will feel much cleaner.

5. Toss the junk mail in the trash right away.  I don’t know about you, but I am consumed with papers.  Do everything you can to get rid of immediately.  When you check the mail stand next to the recycling and just toss any junk.

6. Light a Candle.  Yep, if the house isn’t REALLY clean at least it can smell like it is.

What are your best tips for quick cleaning? Leave us a comment or two.

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  1. Karil says

    For me, tidy is 90% of the clean feeling. I’m now an empty-nester, but when I had kids, I made basic rules that included no dropping things on the way in. Only one pair of shoes at the door per kid (4). Don’t move on to another activity until you’ve put away the last one. I don’t use any storage where I can “see into” in my living areas. When the kids were grown, I found out it wasn’t just them making the messes, BTW…rude awakening. I do the articles list pretty regularly…and am a “lazy girl.” Clutter free is key! I “clean” for company!

  2. Felicia says

    Baskets – Decorative Boxes
    Everything looks less cluttered if it is tucked into a box or basket: shoes by the front door, scarves and gloves, mail, magazines, TV controllers, you name it. Someone is coming over last minute – grab and few if the baskets and throw them into the closet.

  3. Peggy says

    I had a penalty jar. 25 cents for each item left out of place. My house was almost perfect all the time. Kids and parents would get called out and money went into the jar. We actually took a vacation to Sea World on the penalty jar. Worked great. Kids gone now and hubby not a picker upper but at least not picking up after the kids too.

  4. says

    I am the same way with dishes!! And we don’t have a dishwasher! But they definitely make the house seem clean when they are done. Every once in a while when they are COMPLETELY done and stay done for a few days, the house seems clean. The rest of the house is pretty much picked up, just needs organized, but those dishes!!! Aaaahhh!! One thing I am good at though is tossing junk mail right away. We don’t even have credit cards, so if we received something from Discover or Visa, straight to the garbage. I open things from Mastercard since that is the name on our debit cards, but it’s usually just junk too, nothing to do with our debit cards.

    • Gina says

      Instead of throwing away the credit card junk mail, open it, place the insides inside their return envelope and mail it back to them! They’ve even paid the postage for you to do so!

      • Rk says

        That won’t make the companies send less offers to you. The credit card companies make over $50 billion annually on transaction fees, so they can afford all the meaningless return postage sent their way.

        Why not do the environment a favor and recycle your paper?

  5. says

    I agree having an empty sink can make quite a difference. I try to live by the “use it, love it or toss it rule”. It is my attempt to keep my house decluttered. The key word is “attempt”.

  6. says

    I am seriously choking on my coffee reading this!!! I came down stairs for my morning coffee, looked around at the mess from my 4 children and decided to light a candle!!! If it smells good its clean right ;))))~thanks for the tip!!!

  7. Carole says

    I totally agree about vacuuming and getting the dishes out of the sink. If I don’t have a full loadofdishes, a friend showed me getting the dishes into the dishwasher (even if not run till the next day. This hides” the dirty dishes.I also rinse the same as you and wash a 2nd time if necessary. My kitchen really looks clean when I scrub the sink with scouring power and rinse well. Amazing how clean it looks! Also, cleaning the counters of small appliances and cooking utensils in crocks makes everything look cleaner (hide in cubbords). Vibegar is a great cleaner. Add to dishwasher with the soap to get dishes cleaner. Put it in a cup with half water in microwave and heat till it steams to clean gunk off inside. I read on line to put vinegar and baking soda inside toilet, it will bubble. let it sit about 15 minutes. Swish toilet brush and see extremely clean toilet! Same is supposed to clean tub, I haven’t tried it yet.
    Don’t leave dirty laundry outside of a hamper. Make sure you fold laundry and hang up clothing as soon as it comes out of the dryer, even if it is put inside a laundry basket to put away later, asap.

  8. Mary says

    I totally agree and my go to items for a quick clean is wash dishes…have kids pick up and vacuum the living area….clear countertops and tables… take out trash and steam mom the floors. The three areas that people see when they come over is the living area the kitchen and most important the bathroom so if you keep those areas managed u “feel” cleaner although if someone stepped into the kids rooms they would quickly see that it’s all a disguise lol

  9. Dawn says

    I have an iRobot Roomba, which I run in a different part of the house every day while I’m out. That also really cuts down on the furniture dusting because there’s less dust on the floors, so I do a quick dusting once a week or so. Junk mail gets put in the paper recycling bin immediately; dishes go straight into the dishwasher, which is switched on after 7 pm (my electricity provider has time-differentiated charges). Countertops (kitchen and bathroom) are kept as clutter-free as possible. My yet-to-be-resolved pet peeve is getting my daughter to not leave her shoes at the front door (different shoes every day, and the mess accumulates!). Any suggestions?

    • Brandy says

      Put a whicker basket by the door…tell her to put them in there when it gets full…dump it inside her door. This way at least if she doesn’t put them away they look neat and organized and are quickly disposed of if company is coming over. If you can’t beat her…work around her :)

  10. Lisa says

    I like to clean my kitchen (& bathroom) sink with a damp rag and baking soda; non abrasive & cleans & deodorizes, even the garbage disposal as it washes down the drain. :) <3

  11. Elyse says

    One of the best tips that has worked and really de-clutters the house is: if it takes less than two minutes to do it, then do it. Its amazing how much stuff u really put off that doesnt take that long to do

  12. mandy says

    man i wish i could get away a night with no dirty dishes ! dishes are done every night clothes everyday saved as soon as they come out dryer floors mopped carpet vacuumed nothing laying around n hubby still thinks its a mess! even the dog gets bathed every other day and clean bed as well

    • Janeen says

      Great ideas! Ask hubby to list 4 things that would make him happy. Include as many of those when able. Perhaps “service” is his love language? :D

  13. Dawn Kanehl says

    We have wood floors and 3 dogs, which equals a ton of hair! I discovered that a dry Swiffer works well when I don’t have time to mop the floors or vacuum.

  14. Loring says

    A good tip that I am trying to follow is to use all my time wisely. If you are heating something up in the microwave, put away a few dishes. If you are running a bath, wipe down the sink and counter. Whatever. You get my meaning. The other brilliant thing that really got me thinking was to make SENSE of your storage. If the kids always dump winter gear on the floor by the door, then maybe the adults should store their coats in a different closet and allow the kids the closet by the door. Not fair, I know, but if the stuff will never get where it belongs and you are tired of whining about it, do what’s practical. Look around and see what is always left out. Is there a place to store it right there? Can you put it in a basket there and at least make it look nicer or hidden? We put a small garbage can under a side table in the living room, and a larger one in a corner of the bedroom. It just made sense. You see where I’m going with this. What can you change to make more sense of your storage and hide your clutter?

  15. Anna says

    i have 2 kids under 10. We created a 10 minute playlist (Eye of the Tiger, I Will Survive, and Another One Bites the Dust) and when things start getting out of hand during the week, we turn it on right after dinner. It works beautifully and the kids see it as a game. It keeps me from spending my entire Saturday cleaning and we enjoy the rest of our evening. 4 people cleaning for 10 minutes really makes a dent in the mid-week mess.

  16. Stephanie says

    I keep stashes of bacterial wipes under my counters (kitchen & bathrooms) for the ever-so-quick wipe down when there’s a hint of grime. It’s not green, it’s not frugal, and it’s not deep cleaning, but it’s the “lazy girl’s” method of keeping the hotspots tidy. I keep pillows fluffed and blankets neatly folded on the couch to give the living room a tidy feel (amid a plethora of toys, believe me). Same with the bedrooms: somewhat straightened comforters with arranged pillows. Friends consider my house clean, when I’m inner-snickering because I know where all the hidden dust bunnies are.

    • Jeny says

      Do just one load of laundry at a time. Washer, dryer and then put away and decide if you want to do a second. Much less stress!

    • Rita says

      Before I start I gather all my hangers and hang them off the rack above my washer and dryer. I usually hang all my items up as soon as they are dry. I painted a wooden rack with 6 pegs and hung it on the wall near my laundry room. I can pull them out, hang them immediately, done. My dear husband is wonderful to fold everything else that needs it.

    • Judi says

      My coffee maker is on the counter on top of my dishwasher. I empty the top rack while cup number one is brewing, the bottom when cup number two brews. I hate that job. Once it’s done, I enjoy filling it because the kitchen counters and sink are clean!

    • Donna says

      I hang all my washing onto coat hangers while wet and hang the hangers on the clothesline. I have no folding and almost no ironing.

  17. says

    Laundry: Putting away the washing is equally annoying, especially if your drawers and cupboards are already over flowing with stuff, leaving little room for your clean clothes. The only way to take care of that problem is to toss out anything that is ill fitting, too big or small, stained, or that you don’t really like or wear.
    As for the folding. There is only one way to do folding and that is while you are taking it off the clothes line, you fold it into your basket. While taking it out of the dryer you also fold it into your basket. By not doing it this way, the clothes are getting creased as you take them from the dryer. They are also piled up into a giant mess when left unfolded, who wants to ever tackle a giant mess? Just fold them as you take them out, and then immediately put them away. Its the only way. This link leads to a post that will not only show you laundry routines, but how to fold fitted sheets and t shirts the easy way. How to keep your machine clean and dryer, a laundry stain chart and anything else you’ve ever wanted to know about laundry.

  18. Jo-Ann Haddix says

    Regarding laundry folding: Buy a Flip and Fold. T-shirts and towels look so neat and are easier and less bulky to store. I like to listen to music while I work. Also, when I’m talking to someone on the phone, I can get so much work done and don’t even realize till I look back all that I have accomplished. Especially mundane chores.

  19. Tracy says

    I do what I call ‘commercial cleaning’. You get up in the morning, turn on Lifetime channel or HGTV and clean during commercials. You know what task you are going to do when the next run of commercials come on, get up immediately and do that chore. You are NOT allowed to pause the tv, this only makes for longer sitting periods. You’d be surprised at how much you can get done in an 8 hour period with only cleaning during commercials. But by the end of the day when everyone else is coming home from work or school the house will be clean :)

  20. Rhonda O'Day says

    Best tip i have ever found on Pinterest that has made my life Sooo much easier, is keep one of those kitchen sponges that has the hollow tube you fill with soap, in your shower. Fill the tube with 1/2 dish soap and 1/2 vinegar. Scrub a little bit of your shower every time you are in there, and rinse. your shower is always clean, and you never have to do a big scrub down again. I started this when we put in a new shower about 1 1/2 years ago, and it looks as good as the day it went in !

  21. Pam Ballard says

    I make my bed every morning. Clean my sink whenever its dirty. Luckily I have a dishwasher and I put each used dish immediately into the dishwasher, like a storage container, rather than the sink. I scrape the plates but don’t usually need to rinse. I never scrimp on dishwasher soap (cascade pods) so dishes are always sparkling. No dishes are in the sink.

    Laundry folding. It’s my challenge to smooth each piece to reduce the need for ironing. Then I fold and smooth and roll or shake and put immediately to hanger. I have one drawer in my dresser designated as “ironing drawer”, and for things that need ironing are rolled and put away, to be handled in an ironing session, separate from laundry.

    When I do an ironing session, I set up the board in a room with netflix and do a murder she wrote marathon, after I get the hangers I need and bring in the contents of the “ironing drawer”. Pretty soon all the ironing is done and hanging in the closets and the board is put away.

  22. linda roberson says

    So many good suggestions here that I enjoyed reading!!! I make myself unload the dishwasher in the morning while breakfast is cooking. I also pretty much do a load or two of laundry daily. I agree with the candle idea but I use the bath & body plug ins. When things start smelling nice it seems cleaner & gets me more motivated. I read if you get the dishwasher & laundry started & it makes you feel like you’re getting something done. I thinks its true. I also use scents with both of those so to hear the machines running & scents filling my home makes me feel good!!!

  23. WandaL says

    Train your kids! It is for your benefit as well as theirs to help around the house. I am the grandmother of nine with two more on the way. I have three beautiful daughters who are wonderful mothers. I speak from experience. A chores chart is awesome.
    The one (maybe two) chore(s) that always made me feel better in the midst of chaos was to do my dishes AND wipe off/declutter the countertops. It is up to the individual to decide, but pick one or two things that make you like your house and do them religiously. You will be happier for it, I promise!

  24. velvetanne says

    I’m a lazy girl too. :) All of you are so organized, I enjoyed reading your tips so I don’t have any real tips – I wasn’t very organized when my girls were growing up, I had priorities – my girls came first and house was never shiny. Single now but I have a great relationship with my girls and don’t remember the house at all. Forced downsizing through the economic crisis, although painful at the time was the best thing that ever happened to me – i love having less, less to clean and manage. I look around everyday at what can be tossed out.

  25. says

    I have one rule for organization that works for EVERYTHING in my house. Everyone thinks my house is so clean. It isn’t, but here’s the tip: Don’t put it down. Put it away. If you do this your house will look tidy and everyone thinks it clean. If you don’t have a place to put it. Create one. Make a file cabinet your friend. Make a file for everything you want to keep. I even print or strip recipes from magazines and file them. We all have so much paper stuff! Recycle what you can and get rid of what you don’t need.

  26. wendy says

    My mom always did this when I was a kid and never understood why, she would clean the bathroom mirror and make a bucket of pinesol. The whole house would smell clean even if the bucket never left the bathtub (where she would fill it). I get it now and miss it, even though I d in nt clean the floors with pineal there are days my whole house smells like it :)

  27. Stephanie says

    I use a fabric softener sheet and wipe it across everything baseboards, door frames, etc to help repel dust so I don’t have to dust as often …don’t like a steamy mirror use that anti fog on it like you do for your car windows (works great on glasses too) I don’t burn candles anymore I use electric warmers I am a clean freak lol but will cut my time down as much as possible :)

  28. Tricia Spice says

    Thanks for those tips! Yes, a yummy fragranced candle can do wonders in making the house feel nice and clean. I have been investing more in baskets from the dollar store. I decorate them so you can just put things in the baskets should an unexpected visitor come by to say hello. They really do come in handy and truly are great at organizing. I hate folding and putting away laundry but my husband has solved that for me. He just dumps all the clean clothes on our bed so I have no choice :) Love that crazy man!

  29. Laura says

    I am the Queen of Clutter. You may bow now. It’s just innate, can’t seem to get it under control. So I use the 5 minutes or 5 things rule. I have to clean each cluttered or dirty area in my house for 5 minutes or deal with 5 items. Works for me, and I usually get carried away and finish the job I have started, running over 5 minutes or 5 things.

  30. Wendy Shaw says

    When cleaning set a stop watch and set it to 10 mins per room. As soon as the alarm rings get out of the room and move on. Prevents dawdling and procrastinating.

  31. Donna says

    I watch that T.V. show Hoarders. All of a sudden, I start cleaning like crazy. I don’t know if it’s guilt or just that I don’t want to EVER go there!

  32. Amber says

    Best tip I can offer: for a nasty, grimy bath/shower, clean with toilet bowl cleaner! I think I discovered this in college when I was either too lazy to drag out more than one cleaner or ran out of regular bathroom cleaner. I don’t know if it works with all toilet cleaners or all showers, but I use Lysol (can’t remember which one right now sorry… the stuff is blue and it clings really well). It cuts through the grime like a dream! Just squirt in shower, use sponge to spread a layer of it all over, allow it to sit a few min (5 minutes? maybe longer if its really bad?), and come back and wipe with sponge and rinse! Done! Little to no scrubbing! :D

  33. Kelsey says

    A duster mop with a micro fiber head and spray… Just spay the floors and do a quick mop without having to get a bucket and all that fun (and messy) stuff. My favorite is the Bona system. I just throw the microfiber in the wash with my towels. Easy!

  34. says

    Wow, I love all the tips. I too, uses candles, wash dishes daily, but hate- hate folding and putting away cloths. Yes, I have a son starting 8th grade this coming week.

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