Homemaker Hacks for the Cleaning Impaired

by Carrie Howe February 16, 2016

I hate cleaning. There, I said it. Aside from the sporadic cleaning sprees that are sometimes inspired by either houseguests or the desire to procrastinate on something else, cleaning is never on the top of my priority list. That said, I also love organization; I wish I had the energy to actually fulfill all of the planning and organizing dreams I can come up with. It’s hard to find a balance in this love-hate relationship. I may be the only one who harbors this resentment toward cleaning, but just in case I am not, here are some homemaking hacks I have discovered for the cleaning impaired:

Plastic Tubs

 If you have children put down what you are reading right now and go buy plastic bins or tubs – 8 or 10 of them if you can. I used to stare at my living room in pain wondering who was going to clean up the legos, tinker toys, blocks, and vehicles that were strewn all over the floor and if we were ever going to fit all of them into the cabinet. But then I discovered the beauty of plastic tubs – designate one for blocks, one for anything with wheels, one for stuffed animals (or just throw anything wherever it fits) and clean up takes approximately 10.2 seconds, especially if the kids help (what toddler doesn’t like throwing things into a bucket?!). Plus they look pretty nice stashed in the corner of any room. Gardener’s Supply carries these awesome Tubtrugs but you can often find them at your local hardware or home supply store too. Go nuts, buy a bunch of colors. Have your kids choose their colors so they get excited about them too! I promise you, they are worth their weight in gold.

Top-Layer Waterproof Bed Pads

This one’s especially for parents of potty-trainers or night time bed-wetters. You know that feeling – its 3am and your preschoolers comes in to say “I had a leak.” You groan audibly as you either kick your spouse to say that it is his or her turn or feel a nudge on your shoulder indicating it is in fact your turn. You trudge down the hall and gather all of the energy you can possibly muster to take the sheets off. You consider having your kid sleep on the mattress because it takes that much work to re-make the bed, but then you realize you can’t wash the mattress so you begrudgingly install a new set of sheets, praying that the blanket didn’t get wet too. Only to do this all over again the next night. Stop changing sheets! My favorite bed pads, Brolly sheets, are installed on top of the bottom sheet and cover just the section of the bed where your kid’s torso falls. They tuck in on either side and when they get wet you just pull it off the bed and voila, you’re back to sleep. Even better, buy two so you can put a fresh one on and ensure you won’t be washing the sheets in the morning anyway.

The Swiffer (or something like it)

 Vacuums are heavy, people. I don’t want to have to get my full-sized vacuum out unless I’m ready to tackle the whole house and that just doesn’t happen very often. A Swiffer Vacuum is great for cleaning between actual vacuuming (if you even do that at all). This is an especially relevant tip for those with have either: a) pets who shed; b) lots of wood floors; or c) children who insist on dropping crumbs on the floor. This should cover almost all of you. You’ll read reviews saying that the battery doesn’t last long. They’re right. But the point of the Swiffer is to do a quick 5-minute sweep before that unexpected guest shows up, not to spend a half-hour cleaning (who does that?). Extra credit if you get your kids to enjoy using the Swiffer!

House Guests

There is no better fail-safe way to make my husband and I clean the house than to invite house guests over. This inspirational decision motivates us (and sometimes our kids too) to whirl through the house like Publisher's Clearinghouse will be arriving any minute with their cameras. Paperwork that has been sitting out for weeks miraculously finds a home; the stack of books that has been strewn across the floor tripping us gets organized into the bookshelf. This strategy doesn't work if you force all of your crap in the closet and hope the door stays shut; but it does work if you do all of those things you realize you could have been doing all week but were just too lazy to get around to. Space those guests out and you've got yourself a long-term strategy!

When all else fails, hire (or barter for) a cleaning company/person.

Do you have the ability to add a few hours of income-generating work to your plate doing something you actually like doing (or at least hate less than cleaning)? Alternatively, can you think of anything on which you spend about $70/month that you could give up? If you can do either of these things, you might be able to afford to have a cleaning company or person come in once a month to do a good deep cleaning on your bathrooms, maybe even mop your kitchen floor. Better yet, do you have a friend who likes cleaning and hates something that you happen to enjoy doing? Maybe you can barter two hours of cleaning in exchange for three take-home meals, or for mowing your neighbor’s lawn. We all have our strengths; its ok to trade them. This may also apply to your spouse or child; tonight my husband folded laundry while I did the taxes. Also, see above; consider your cleaning person a house guest for whom you have to tidy up. If you have other ideas for this messy mom, I’m all ears!

Carrie Howe


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