Perfectly Clean {Enough}: Speed Cleaning Tips

I remember it as if it were yesterday.  I was standing at the front desk of our local library checking out an embarrassing amount of books. Every single one of them had the word “clean”  in the title.

The kind librarian lady smiled at me and asked,

“Are you starting a cleaning company?”

Oh, my… no.

I was just a desperate housewife {long before Hollywood put its spin on it…}.


At the time, I was a mom of three little boys and struggling to keep things afloat.  Those were wonderful, exhausting, precious, toys-all-over-the-house days.  I was constantly frustrated with my lack of energy and the seemingly endless untidy house.   I felt like I was cleaning continually,yet the house was in a constant state of mess.

My messy house was making me feel like a mess…

messy house

So I became a woman on a mission –  A “How to Clean Your House as Efficiently as Humanly Possible” mission.  Thus, the mile high stack of books at the library.

I ended up loving the whole research project.  I learned that I certainly wasn’t the only mother who felt helpless and hopeless in the house cleaning department.  And, hallelujah!, they even laid out steps and strategies to make it easier.

It gave me hope…and a plan.

One very helpful book was written by the founder of the Merry Maids Cleaning Company. Think about this:  if you hire a maid, she comes in once a week and cleans your house from top to bottom in an hour or two!!  That was my goal…to figure out how to do that.

In those days, my husband would tote our three little darlins’ to the park once a week while I flew through the house trying out all the ideas I’d been reading about.


Now those 3 little darlins’ are all teenagers.  But, I find I still use many of the speed cleaning techniques I learned back then {usually and especially when company is coming…}  And although this seems like an already verbose post, I’m going to share some of them with you.

1.  Get Dressed {for Success}:  This is different for every personality, but dress the way that makes you feel pretty and perky.  For me, that means showering, fixing my hair, putting on makeup, and wearing something comfortable and casual. If I have frumpy hair and I’m in my pjs, you can be sure that all I’m accomplishing is reading a book by the fire…

dress for sucess

2.  Set specific goals:  Before you start, figure out exactly what you want to accomplish…Is it just one room?  The whole house?  Whatever the end-goal, break it up in stages and have a plan.


2. Move quickly:  Once your plan is in place, get moving!  Upbeat music may help motivate you in this direction.  I actually like to set a time limit that is incredibly unrealistic and then try to reach it.  In doing that, I’ve learned I can accomplish much more in less time than I thought I could.  {For instance:  It only takes 3 minutes to make our bed!}

cleaning lady

3.Finish one area before starting another.   This is probably the most important point of all.  Refuse to get distracted by a new task before you finish the first one.  If you take a book from the kitchen to the living room bookcase, refuse to start working on the messy bookcase until the kitchen is cleaned!  Otherwise you’ll find yourself just working in circles with a million unfinished tasks.

vintage cleaning lady


4. Be realistic.  Don’t expect yourself to be able to scrub every inch of every corner in an hour.  {Also, don’t expect to be a great cleaner while wearing stiletto heels like those pictured above…}One magazine I read recently had an article outlining the “proper” (read “time consuming and labour intensive”) way to clean things.  Then it had the “clean enough” method – outlining time saving solutions that yielded similar results.  My goal isn’t to have a house so spotless and clean we can’t really live in it.  Believe me, we live in it…

I really love the theory that a person should always have their house “company ready” so that if someone arrives unexpectedly, your house would be in perfect order.

I’ll tell you right now, if you’d like to see my house in some semblance of order:

you must call ahead.

And, I assure you – without a doubt – I will be doing some or all of the above speed cleaning tricks…Winking smile

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  1. Rita, you are so cute and I really love reading your blog… you are such a good writer. I totally relate to you with the boys, and the toys, and the sad thing is that I am starting to see just how fast that ‘toys all over the house’ stage passes, and that the boys are growing up. We must set up a ‘coffee date’ sometime soon. 🙂 Oh, and I am LOVING the recipes and tips for filling a freezer! How wonderful!!

  2. We had “The twenty minute clean up” – every night after supper and before baths and stories. Everyone took an area and we RAN to clean up our spot in 20 minutes. Even little ones could gather up toys and put them in the right place. We also had music on. The secret was to have a place for everything that everyone knew and so everything could be put in it’s rightful place. All laundry came down to the laundry room – every night – NO CLOTHES ON THE FLOOR! We had pegs for backpacks which were all ready for school/work before the clean up began. If we found an item that belonged in a backpack, it was handy to pop the item into. We expected rooms to be tidy and school clohes to be layed out before bed. Beds had to be made before breakfast. The house was rarely a disastor and by doing this nightly, the big work on the weekend was much less daunting. Also, “MEAN OLD DAD” was known to pick up clothes and shoes and throwing them in a garbage can in the garage if he found things lying around. This was NOT a popular solution. I should say that both of our kids, perhaps as a subtle rebellion ended up being slobs but are slowly reforming! I believe they remember “seeing the light” and now that they are in their own places, are beginning to realize the benefits of staying on top of things! We can only hope!

  3. What a fun post! I find cleaning particularly challenging with two little ones… but you’re right, it’s amazing what can be done in a couple hours with a plan! I need to put that to use tonight!

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