Occasionally I find myself all caught up on household tasks. The bathrooms are clean, the laundry’s done, the bills are paid and the children are content. My first instinct is to shout “Hallelujah!” and go take a nap or watch mindless television, but what I really should do is focus on tasks that don’t get done regularly.
If your life is busy, you may feel some guilt about not getting to things like cleaning blinds, wiping down doorframes and baseboards, and cleaning out cupboards and closets. Deep cleaning keeps a house looking fresh and clean, and should be done periodically. Here are six tips on how to get deep cleaning done without breaking your back or eating up your spare time.
1. Schedule time
Make blocks of time in your schedule for deep cleaning tasks. If you choose just one a week, like cleaning the fridge, and work through your to-do list week by week, you will get it done. Putting a reminder on your phone or a note on your calendar will help you at least think about deep cleaning. Finding motivation to do it might be a little harder.
I like to deep clean when my younger children are otherwise occupied as these tasks take longer and make more of a mess. As a result, I do most of my cleaning on school day mornings or later in the evening. Find what works for you and make it happen.
2. Recruit help
Children can help with some of the easier and more repetitive deep cleaning tasks. I have my kids wipe down baseboards and door frames, dust blinds, reorganize bins of clothes and toys and disinfect light switches and doorknobs. Older children can help clean cupboards, hand mop floors, clean grout, sweep the garage and clean appliances.
Working with a friend to deep clean each other’s homes would be a fun way to get tasks done. I used to help my friend Jan organize her basement, and then she would come help me. Husbands also make good helpers. Having someone to chat with makes the task go by faster, too.
3. Work efficiently
Having the right tools and cleaning supplies at the ready will help you work more efficiently. Gather what you need, dress appropriately and try to work from start to finish. If you only have a small amount of time, break the task up into parts. For example, when I have an extra 30 minutes, I might dust all the downstairs blinds, but leave the upstairs for another day.
4. Make it fun
I admit, it is a little difficult to make cleaning fun. I manage to make it more enjoyable by listening to a fun playlist or engaging audiobook while I work. I also like to have something fizzy to drink. Rewarding myself with a piece of dark chocolate and a half an hour of reading also keeps me motivated. And seeing how clean and orderly your home looks after you finish makes it all worth it.
On a week where I want to get a lot done, like deep clean the kitchen or reorganize all the closets, I put aside some of my regular weekly chores so I can be sure to finish my tasks. Bathrooms can wait a few days, and we all know dusting is almost optional anyway. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by adding more cleaning to your schedule, this is a good option.
6. Hire an expert
Frankly, this is a very appealing idea. If your budget allows, consider hiring someone else to do your deep cleaning. I have professional carpet cleaners and window cleaners come yearly. They do a much better job than me, and I work the cost into my household budget. Another thing I’ve done is to hire a young person at a reasonable rate to do some of the tasks. For about $50, I got several small jobs done, and I was able to supervise the work.
Taking care of a home can feel overwhelming. Deep cleaning often gets pushed aside as we try to keep up on household jobs. Don’t feel guilty if you’re not a perfect housekeeper. Use your time wisely and enlist the help of your family. You all live there, and taking care of your home will make it more enjoyable to live in.
Amy M. Peterson, a former high school English teacher, currently lives in Oregon with her husband and four children. She spends her days writing, reading, exercising and trying to get her family to eat more vegetables.