Cheat Your Way To A Clean House | Anyclean

updated: 21/05/2024

A happy woman

In her classic book Superwoman, Shirley Conran claimed that housework constantly expands to fill all the available time plus half an hour.  Hands up to everyone who has found that one to be true!

Now that my hand is down again and touching the keyboard, I can say that it’s important to find a few “cheats” to help tame that housework monster and stop it from devouring you, your relationships and your spare time.  Here are mine…

A woman holding a happy face balloon

The “Don’ts” Of Fast Housekeeping

  • Don’t bother sorting the washing into lights and darks or by colours.  If you continue this to its logical extreme (and, when you think about it, if you sort by colours or even light and dark, you have to realise that blue could taint red, and pink could taint yellow, even though they are equally light/dark/coloured), you will end up sorting things into 22 or even 24 piles – delicate and ordinary for each of the eleven primary colours recognised by the English language (or twelve if you want to separate indigo and light blue into separate colours, as they do in Spanish and Russian.  But then, if you speak Welsh, blue, green and grey, all go in the same pile… Enough semantic linguistics!).  Most things are colour-fast, except ethnic fabrics and one or two cheap towels.  Soak them in a bucket if you’re unsure about finding out, and only sort into lights and darks if one of these items is in the wash for the day.
  • Don’t bother drying dishes and putting them away. Leave them in the draining rack to drip dry, with a tea towel over the top to keep off the flies. People will probably empty the rack for you, as taking a plate, cup, or spoon off the shelf is easier than getting it out of the cupboard.
  • Don’t bother ironing unless it is vital. If you line-dry items, they don’t get very wrinkly anyway, and if you hang things up straight away, they won’t wrinkle.
  • Don’t put it off for too long.  Housework gets worse the longer you leave it.  Do a little bit every day, and you won’t end up with the horror of having your entire Saturday taken up with housework.
  • Don’t get a long-haired pet.  They shed everywhere and need continual grooming.

The “Do’s” Of Efficient House Cleaning

  • DO use bubble baths rather than bath oil.  They clean the bath and avoid the dreaded bath ring—mostly!
  • DO encourage children to do their bit in tidying up.  It makes life easier if you can find your kids chores they enjoy doing.  For example, my seven-year-old daughter likes washing the dishes because she gets to play with all the foamy bubbles.  Other popular chores include cleaning the bathroom (you get to go in the bath with your clothes on), anything involving a mixture of baking soda and vinegar (fizz!), anything involving spray-on bottles, and feeding pets.  They won’t do a perfect job, but they will do a good job.
  • DO restrict kids’ toys to one part of the house or designate one part as a “no toy room.” This will save a lot of fights and broken treasures (and impaled feet—some safety organisations say that one of the most common injuries in the house involves pieces of broken toys inflicting puncture wounds on bare feet and/or becoming embedded in feet).
  • DO use tablecloths.  If you have kids who spill things (and adults spill things too – like the beetroot last night), it is much easier to whip off a tablecloth and toss it into the machine than to sponge and scrub off sticky items from bare wood.  Breakfast cereals are particular offenders, as they spill easily and dry solid (and who has time to police and clean up spills in the morning rush out the door for everyone?).  Most stains wash out fairly quickly in cold water, but seeing as the most common food stains are red (beetroot, tomato ketchup and red wine), common sense suggests that red tablecloths are the most practical.  They look lovely, warm and friendly, too.
A neat living-room with a sofa and a bookshelf

Even More Useful Tips For Quick Home Cleaning

Sometimes, you just can’t be bothered doing in-depth home cleaning, even though today is your day for giving the house a good go-over. You could hire a professional cleaner to come in and do the dirty work for you once a week. Or you could do the bare minimum and cheat. It’s incredible how much better the whole house looks if you try these few simple tips.

But remember—these are cheats for when you’re pressed for time, too tired, or facing a crisis. (They’re also good to bear in mind if you have visitors coming at short notice and you haven’t cleaned for a while.) You will need to give the house a proper clean at some stage and keep doing it frequently. This is basic hygiene, so you don’t continually come down with foul infections and bugs.

  • Great advice from old-fashioned housekeepers is that the whole house looks better if the kitchen floor is clean. After five minutes of vacuuming in the kitchen and the main living area, get rid of the worst dirt on the carpet. If you have a loose rug on top of the carpet or hard floor, don’t bother vacuuming underneath it this time (you will have to do this if you are cleaning the house properly).
  • Making the bed instantly tidies up the bedroom, even if the floor has odds and ends over it. Tuck the sheets in nicely, pull up the covers (a duvet or continental quilt makes things easier), and arrange the pillows straight, and it lifts the whole tone of the room.
  • Grab any stray face flannels and hand towels to give the bathroom sink a quick go-over. Use these dry to buff the taps (and to remove the worst toothpaste splatters from the mirror) and wipe up the worst of the soap scum. Then, put out a fresh hand towel to replace the dirty one you used.
  • Use damp loo paper to wipe the worst off the toilet seat (get it damp in the basin, not the toilet—this is about cheating, not about slovenliness). Those little blocks that you drop into the toilet tank, which turn the water blue and wash as you flush, may not be the best natural cleaners, but they hide a multitude of sins.
  • If you have a lot of stuff that still needs to be put away, borrow a cleaning tip from a ten-year-old: shove the lot under the bed or in the cupboard to be sorted out later. Parents of ten-year-olds take note of where to check during a room inspection.
  • Avoid major clean-ups in a rush by cleaning little and often. A little bit of mess that builds up in a few days is forgivable. A major mess that has been left untouched for weeks or even months is always disgusting.

About the author 

Nick Vassilev

Nick blogs about cleaning. He is a cleaning expert with more than 25 years of experience. He is also an NCCA-certified carpet cleaner. Founder and CEO of Anyclean.