Everyone has that one friend whose house is always spotless. Somehow this super chick keeps it sparkling even with her 2 tornado children, working mom schedule and small zoo of house pets. She clearly must have a hired team of housekeepers, a carpet cleaner on speed dial and an organizer living in the basement. Due to Covid lockdowns, increased working from home and kids home for the summer, we all feel the struggle to keep up on the housekeeping. So, it is time to start sharing some of “her” secrets so we can all have a little stress-free sparkle in our homes.
I, by no means, am an expert or consider my own home to be the super tidy model home that we were referring to above, but my sister does jokingly call my house “the museum” and I do take pride in keeping a mostly clean, tidy, and organized home. Now that I am a mom of an 18-month-old, a furry dog baby named Henry Ford and pregnant with number two, I have learned some tricks to help me stay on top of housekeeping without a huge, concerted effort. I also consulted with other moms whose homes I revere as spotless to see what hacks they leverage to share with you (and to steal personally).
These hacks, tips, and tricks are not sponsored by any brands or companies. If a specific brand is listed, it is because that product specifically is found to be the most helpful. Some of these may be obvious to you. In that case, great! To some, that tip will be new to them and can potentially change their life. I also want to point out that some of these are not necessarily the best cleaning option, but they give the desired effect. You’ll see what I mean as you read on.
- These multi-use cloths are a mom’s dream come true. Instead of reaching for a disposable paper towel every time a small spill happens, grab one of these babies, wipe it up, rinse it off, and hang it back up for the next time you need it in approximately 2.7 minutes.
- Microfiber also touts that it kills bacteria off surfaces and does it without harmful chemicals. This is great for stone countertops too!
- My favorite thing about these is that I can use the same cloth to wipe my countertops, the cabinet faces, the appliances (magically, those sticky finger marks immediately reappear) and to dust trinkets and other surfaces all in one quick (emphasis on quick) sprint around the kitchen.
- Add a mirror-specific microfiber cloth to the mix and really take your quick cleaning up a notch. I keep one on each floor in the bathroom to quickly wipe off water marks between uses. This good habit keeps mirrors looking spotless all day every day.
Keep a “sink rag”
- Water splashes all around the sink during every use leading to a messy look and, with time, create hard water deposits and other yucky grime. There is a simple solution! Keep a washcloth-sized rag or towel draped over the front of your sink AT ALL TIMES. After each time using the sink, quickly wipe up the water spots off the counter, rim of the sink and the faucet. This instantly cleans up the look of your kitchen and bathrooms and leads to less deep cleaning later on since there isn’t any stuck-on grime and calcium.
- “Yeah, that sounds great, but my husband and kids won’t go for it.” This is any easy thing to get the kids (and hubby) involved in cleaning on the reg. It will be a struggle at first, but like with anything, consistently reinforcing that wiping up after sink use is the expectation will pay off in the long haul. Before you know it, everyone does it out of muscle memory. Even if all fails and you are the only one using it, that will still make a huge difference in the appearance day-to-day.
- I use a simple white washcloth, but feel free to go the extra mile and use microfiber to ensure you aren’t spreading around bacteria.
Rinse the sink out
- While we are on the sink topic, simply rinse the sink out while you use it. This will prevent build up of fallen hairs, food particles, toothpaste, etc., keeping your sink looking freshly cleaned with almost zero effort.
- This is how we keep the small zoo’s shedding controlled between vacuuming. Along with tracked in dirt, grass, and lord knows what else. You can set a timer to have it run when you’re gone each day or run it while you’re home to watch the cat run away in terror. Either way, at most all you have to do is hit the power button and setup its sensors to keep it in specific areas of the house (if that is what you want to do).
- “Robot vacuums are expensive.” They sure can be! But the good news is there are so many brands offering different price points and features, Amazon Prime Day has amazing deals, and there are used options on Facebook Marketplace for a steal.
- Have two+ levels in your home? Us too. I move it upstairs when needed, but mainly leave it on the main level as that gets the most traffic. Some ambitious folks get one for each floor!
Swiffer duster and mop
- I have tried so many dusting products, but time after time, my ride or die dusting partner is the Swiffer duster. Now, she isn’t perfect, but she really is my personal favorite. So many people are unaware of this fluffy dust magnet, and that needs to change! I love how easy it is to replace the dusting head when it is dirty, it does the best job picking up all the dust and dog hair and it quickly and easily navigates around decorations and various surfaces. I keep one on each level of the house for easy access. When I start to see dust gathering, I whip her out and tackle it before it’s an issue. But when I do have a cleaning day, the duster is in my cleaning caddy for full room dusting use.
- There are other variations of the Swiffer Wet Jet, but I stick to what I know. I never use the Wet Jet to actually mop my floors. I do not think that is an effective cleaning tool for deep cleaning floors. However, I LOVE the Wet Jet for quick spills and messes. I keep mine in a closet right off the kitchen in the mudroom. Keep it close to where the messes happen for easy grab and go cleaning. Got a little spilt milk? That’s nothing to cry over. Just bust out the mop, spray using the solution in the mop (they make a wood floor safe solution too) and wipe it up. Being pregnant, this helps so much.
- These are both great options for kids to get involved! Which leads me to #6…
Get the kids involved early and often
- As a newer mom, I leaned into my friend’s advice on this one. Those moms who love a clean home also love to share the responsibilities. Of course, how you involve the kids will depend on their age. To keep it simple (maybe in another article we can go into more depth about this by age group), have your kids help with the things they are capable of. For example, if your toddler can understand commands, have them put away their toys before naptime and bedtime to start building the habit. For the bigger kids, hold them accountable for little things like making sure their laundry lands in the hamper, dishes in the dishwasher and making their bed in the morning.
- Teach by example! If your kids see you leave an empty glass on the counter, they will think it is okay to do so too. If you don’t make your bed in the morning, why should they? If the kids see you using the sink rag, they will be more likely to adopt doing it too. You get the idea.
ABT – Always be tidying
- One of my favorite pieces of advice on cleaning I ever heard was to always leave the room with something to put away in another room. At first, it took reminding myself to do this. Now, it is such a habit that I literally do not notice when I do it. For example, getting up off the couch to go to the bathroom? Grab your empty can off the coffee table to throw into recycling in the kitchen on the way to the bathroom. Heading upstairs to put the baby down to nap? Grab the hair bow she took off this morning (after a solid 5 minutes of keeping it on) and put it away before you put her down. This style of small tidying goes a LONG way in the end and takes almost no concerted effort since you’re already heading in that direction. This also prevents the dreaded pile of stuff on your stairs and kitchen table waiting to get put away.
Just go through the damn mail already
- Mail. Why do we still have it? My husband is notorious for bringing the mail home and dumping it on the counter. I could leave for a few days and the pile will be right where he left it when I return. My tip: Just go through it immediately. Earth shattering, I know. Recycle what you don’t need (so most of it) and act on the things that require it. I tend to immediately toss the unwanted pieces and take action on the mail that needs it while I cook (while something is in the oven, etc.) or after the kid is in bed, but almost always before I go to bed. This will prevent the dreaded pile of mail on your kitchen counters equaling a tidier looking home.
Clean while you cook
- Assuming your recipes aren’t Master Chef complex, cleaning up while you cook is a great way to reduce a mess without added time. Waiting for the chili to simmer? Wash the cutting board and hand dry to get it off the counter now. Waiting for the chicken in the oven? Put all the prep dishes away into the dishwasher. This helps prevent the overwhelming “did we use every dish in the house to cook dinner” feeling when it is time to cleanup. This will also hopefully assure that you never skip the post-meal cleanup leading to a pile of dirty dishes in the sink.
Make the bed every morning
- This is kind of a “duh” tip, but I’ll be honest, I’m probably the worst with this one and aim to do better all the time. Though this task is a pain in the rear when you’re groggy, haven’t had your morning coffee yet, and the kids are stirring in the next room, this is one of the more impactful “low-effort” things you can do to keep your house looking tidy. You don’t have to do a full turnover service with chocolates on the pillows but reset the comforter and pillows to get it looking “fluffed.” As the focal point of any bedroom, even if there are some things tossed on the floor, a messy nightstand, and an unvacuumed floor, an unexpected guest will only notice that your bed is made. Making your bed in the morning is also said to start your day off on the right foot in terms of productivity and starting your day in motion.
Use your laundry hamper
- Also a “duh” tip, but amazingly one of the most overlooked. One way to keep yourself and your family in check with getting their dirty laundry in the hamper is to keep the hamper in a place that makes sense. If you undress in the bathroom before you shower, have a hamper there. If you undress in your closet, keep the hamper there. Simple. It is also okay to keep a hamper in multiple places like one in the bathroom and one in the closet. You can also create a system in your house where if something doesn’t make it into the hamper, it “disappears” for an unforeseen amount of time. My mom used to do this to me as a kid growing up and boy did it work! This one seems to be effective for husbands when they are wondering where their favorite Packers shirt went before gameday. For the kids, if you’re a household with allowances, every time you see an article of clothes on the floor, deduct $.25 from what they earn.
Do rounds after bedtime
- We are all EXHAUSTED by the time the kiddos are all tucked into bed but doing a final sweep around the house before you go to bed is so effective! And if you’ve been following these other tips, it shouldn’t take much time at all. This is when I put away remaining loose toys, take care of the unattended to mail, and do any final dinner cleanup. I love the accomplished feeling I get from doing this before relaxing for the night.
Really this comes down to keeping things in their place and making things look clean at their surface. When you have the time, deep clean and make it count, but in between then and now, keep it simple and stay sane. The tiny bit of effort you put in by following these tips pays off in dividends day-to-day and helps reduce the time you spend on actual cleaning days. I can already see the sparkle in your homes, Lake Country mom!
Do you have any of your own tips you want to share? I would love to make a 2.0 version of this list with your great ideas included!
Would you like more lists like this for other topics such as tips for getting your kids involved in cleaning, a guide to deep cleaning your home, cleaning guides by the room, etc.? Have an idea or request of your own? Let us know what topics you’d like to read more about.
Hey mamas! I’m originally from Minnesota, but you’d never know it (Go Pack! Go!). I moved here in 2010 for college and never turned back. Both of my parents are from here and almost all my extended family lives in the area. I spent most of my summers and holidays here, which has always made Wisconsin feel like home. I live in Hartland on a beautiful 3-acre lot with my hubby Ross, 18-month-old Adelynn and our rescue baby Henry Ford. I am also pregnant with #2! I’m very excited to bring a “new mom” perspective to LCM and to share on some of my favorite topics like cleaning, fitness, history and eating. I tend to be self-deprecating and sarcastic, so if that’s your jam too, we’re going to have some fun together!