15 Minute Speed Cleaning

A friend of mine recently commented that her entire house was a disaster. That all she wanted to do was decorate for Christmas but the house was too messy.

I think we’ve all been there whether living in a studio apartment or 3-story home, it’s easy for the busyness of life to take over and you go into “survive the day” mode and then you look up and everything is askew.

I know it happens to me, oh, weekly? In writing out my response and sharing some encouragement I decided it would be fantastic to post here and give some examples of how I do this.

My own list has a process, a method to my madness because, well, I’m the Systems Gal.

Here’s the priority and a little bit of my rationale:

1. Put on real clothes. No yoga pants. No slippers. Brush my hair, pull it back, hell, put on a little bit of makeup. I usually don’t put on my ring because I know I’m going to be moving fast and getting my hands dirty but otherwise, suit up!

2. Go to Starbucks and get the most potent drink they have. Hot. This is your fuel. Get the disposable cup because right now you don’t need another mug to wash.


3. Come home and go to the kitchen. If the dishwasher is clean, empty it. If it’s dirty, fill it up and run it. While the dishwasher does it’s thing wash and dry ALL of the larger pots/pans that don’t fit. Put them away.

4. Set a timer for 10 minutes and start in the kitchen – it really is the heart of the home and I’ve found that when the kitchen is a disaster I can’t even find the energy to cook and eat meals.

Here’s what I do in the kitchen:
a. Work around the room and clean off all of the counters.

b. Don’t focus on putting things away in other rooms just yet, put away things in the kitchen, maybe use a laundry basket to gather up all the things that belong in other rooms.

c. Wipe down the counters as you go, sweep everything into the sink.

d. Finish by cleaning the sink.

e. Sweep your way out of the kitchen then grab that laundry basket and return things.

Now you’re ready to work on the next room – bring the timer along you’ll have 15 minutes per room and you’ll want to make the biggest impact in that time. The goal here is speed, not perfection.

There are a few strategies I use when working on my whole house.

First, I have “a dump spot” in each room and that’s where my stuff goes when I’m cleaning. So I’ll “dump” the clothes to put away on the dresser top, the office supplies on my desk chair, the rags and cleaning supplies in the bathroom sink.

This ensures that I’m not doing popcorn cleaning which is a little like bouncing around from space to space doing a little bit of work and realizing an hour has passed and the place pretty much looks the same.

With this tactic everything gets “dumped” in the room and then sorted and put away during those 15 minutes.

Now there is one very important rule – once a particular space is clean you can’t “dump” stuff in that room again. So, let’s assume I finished up the office and then found post-it notes, my label maker and Sharpies in the Garage where I was labeling boxes. Each of those things goes into my laundry basket but when I get to the office they get put away.

Second, I have 2 boxes ready at all times for donation and consignment. Next to the donation box is a tracking sheet on a clipboard so as soon as I come across something I’m donating it is recorded on the sheet and goes in the box. Same for consignment.

My third tactic happens before I even start cleaning – I decide what order I’ll go in, typically from the most public rooms to the least used.

Here’s my order today:

  1. Kitchen
  2. Guest bathroom
  3. Living Room/Dining Room
  4. Office
  5. Master bedroom
  6. Guest bedroom
  7. Master bathroom
  8. Hallway
  9. Outside
  10. Garage

The next set of blog posts are going to take you through my house with this method including before/after pics. Be patient, the blogging will take 3-4 times longer than the actual cleaning 😉

The best thing about this process is that you’re going to figure out what things don’t have a home and then you know where your cleaning/organizing needs some help!

Once everything is a little more “done” I can turn my attention to larger projects. This is not the time to pull out your sweaters and reorganize your filing cabinet and sort pasta in the pantry. This is simple, my-house-looks-like-a-tornado-landed emergency cleaning.

Now note that there’s not a whole lot of deep cleaning because I’m guessing that most of your “mess” is in the form of clutter and things in the wrong place instead of actual dirt. I’ll cover what gets cleaned in a follow up post!


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