Cleaning Basics – A Simple 2 Part Cleaning Routine

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If you love to clean then this post probably isn’t for you, unless you enjoy a good laugh at those of us who hate to clean. Cleaning actually makes me crabby. At about minute 12 of dusting I start to get irritated and think, “This is never going to be really clean and in a couple of days it will just be dusty again…grrrr.”

I read the magazine articles and blog posts that talk about cleaning your house in 30 minutes. I SO want that to be true. After all, even I can muscle it out for 30 minutes if it means the whole house will be clean. Anyway, I read these articles and hope that somehow, in 30 minutes once a week I’ll be able to get my house clean. I like a good experiment, so one day I even timed myself just to see.

The cleaning experiment…

The particular article I was reading that day said you could speed clean your house in 30 minutes. Now granted, this wasn’t a deep cleaning of any kind, but that’s O.K. I was hoping this method would work. So I took the tips the author shared, got my cleaning tools together (one of the tips) and started the timer. Dusting – 21 minutes. Uh oh, that leaves me only 9 minutes to do the rest of the house.

Trying to move a little faster I grabbed my dust mop and started on our hardwood floors which we have in almost all our rooms. I was moving pretty quickly, despite the cocker spaniel who thought this would be a good time to play with the mop. Time – 16 minutes and a few seconds.

Dang! Now I’m over the time limit and haven’t done the bathroom yet or anything in the kitchen except the floor. I still needed to vacuum the carpet in the family room as well. So much for 30 minutes to a clean house. That author must either move like a bullet train or have a pretty small house. 

It was a Total Fail!

Like I said, I get kind of crabby when I clean and if I know I’m going to be at it awhile it makes it worse. This isn’t anything new for me. I’ve always been like this. Over the years I’ve found a 2 part routine that keeps the house clean and minimizes my cleaning angst.  This isn’t rocket science, because really, how many different ways are there to clean a house?? But I thought I share it with you just in case it helps you simplify your cleaning routine. 

(FYI – If you’re interested in easy recipes that let you make your own homemade cleaning supplies that work great but are more environmentally and budget-friendly, I’ve got a link to six simple recipes plus free printable labels for them at the end of the post.)

3 Quick Tips – angst minimizing ideas before we get to the routine: 

Tip 1– AUDIO BOOKS! Yes, you can “read” your book while you clean (or cook or exercise for that matter). It makes repetitive chores much less painful for me. Listening to music or a podcast or NPR or whatever radio show might help you. Find what works for you. I can tell you audiobooks make my cleaning A LOT more pleasant. Check your local library. Ours has thousands of titles available and I can check them out using the Onedrive app without even going to the library! 

Tip 2 – Let your cleaning products do the work as much as possible. If you are using a spray on product on a horizontal surface, or on a tub where it doesn’t matter if it runs down the walls, spray it and let it sit and dissolve dirt and grime while you tackle a different cleaning chore. {Just make sure it’s safe for that surface.}

Tip 3 – Try splitting your housecleaning into 2 separate days if you usually do it all in one day and it seems overwhelming that way. When I split it into two days I know that I only need to spend 30 minutes or so each time and for some reason that helps my mindset. 

This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. That means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission. Don’t worry though. It won’t cost you a penny more! You can read my affiliate disclosure here. 



Now – onto the actual cleaning routine… 

Cleaning the "dry rooms"

Part 1 – Cleaning “Dry Rooms”

(Bedrooms, living room, family room, etc. – about 40 minutes for my house)  

Dusting and Doing the Floors 

A key to cleaning that the pros always talk about is cleaning from top to bottom.  That way you knock high dust and dirt down to the floor as you go and then vacuum or dust mop it up at the end.  

I find it helpful to start at the door to a room and work my way around clockwise. That way you cover everything without backtracking and you stay focused on the next thing right in front of you (a great rule for simplifying and de-stressing your life as well!). 

So following the top to bottom rule, start with dusting. I like the Swiffer dusters, even though I am trying to get away from one use products.

Many people swear by microfiber cloths. I would love to get on that bandwagon, but the more I read about microfiber plastic fibers polluting our oceans, killing fish, and if you eat fish that plastic getting in to your food supply, the more I figure I better stay away from those as well. Every time you wash the microfiber cloths (or your microfiber clothing), more microplastics go down the drain and have the potential of ending up in the ocean.  

Environmental Compromise

So, even though they end up in a landfill, I’ll stick with my Swiffer dusters for now as a compromise. 

After dusting all the rooms in the house by that process (top to bottom, start at the door of the room and go around clockwise) it’s time to do the floors.  I have mostly hardwood floors and we don’t have a lot of crumbs or big messes anymore so dust mopping on a regular basis works well for me. Using a Swiffer mop on them works pretty well. I use the dry cloths mostly, and just use the wet cloths on the tile in the bathroom.

Recently I found that although there isn’t that “electrostatic” charge to them, using old sections of white cotton T-Shirts stuck onto the Swiffer mop (and cut for that purpose) works pretty well, too. Hooray for reusing old stuff rather than throwing it away!   I can then wash those cloths and not add to the landfill problem.

Then it’s just a quick vacuum over the carpeted floor in the family room and the two rugs by the back and front entry and I’m set. That’s it for “Cleaning Part 1” (approximately 40 minutes). 

cleaning the "wet rooms"

Part 2 – Cleaning “Wet Rooms”

(The bathrooms and kitchen – about 30 minutes in my house)  

In the bathroom, spray down the sink, counters, tub/shower area with this easy vinegar water mix  

Normal Spray Cleaner Recipe

1 c. white vinegar + 1c. Water + 10 drops lavender essential oil 

Just put it all in a spray bottle and shake it up. {IMPORTANT NOTE:- If you have a marble or granite countertop in your bathroom DO NOT use the vinegar spray on those, because vinegar’s acidic properties could eat away at the finish. Be sure your “all purpose” spray is friendly to your surfaces.} 

I keep a bottle of this homemade cleaning spray in my bathroom along with a roll of paper towels for quick clean-ups throughout the week. I keep another bottle of this in my kitchen so it’s handy as well. 

Miracle Spray Cleaner Recipe

In another spray bottle, I have what some people call the “miracle cleaner.” To make it put one cup of 1 of heated white vinegar and 1 cup of blue Dawn dish detergent into a spray bottle and shake. If you find your usual vinegar mix isn’t working on something try this out.

I don’t know if it’s a miracle but It’s pretty awesome. Spray this mix into the toilet, up under the rim, the dish detergent helps the cleaner cling to the sides of the bowl and let that sit to let the cleaning products do some of the work! 

Next, spray the mirror with the vinegar & water spray and wipe with a paper towel. Use that paper towel from cleaning the mirror to quickly wipe off any lotion bottles, etc. sitting on the counter to freshen them up. 

Wipe off the counter and wipe down the tub and sink with a cloth or a nylon scrubbie if you have any hard water deposit build up like my tub tends to get. By now the vinegar in the toilet bowl has had time to do its work. So do a little scrubbing with the toilet brush and flush.

Grab the bathroom garbage if it’s full and line the pail with the bags stored in the bottom of the pail (love that trick – bags are always handy). Wet mop the floor starting in the corner farthest away from the door. Tip: Dry mop your bathroom floor first for better results when you wet mop. 

Onto the next bathroom, and repeat until you run out of bathrooms. 🙂 

For kitchen cleaning –

Start by boiling a cup of water with a slice of lemon or some lemon juice in the microwave and let it sit. Don’t have a lemon? No worries. Plain old water will steam clean your microwave pretty well, too. 

Declutter as needed including putting any stray dishes in the dishwasher, putting dishes left in the drainer away, and stacking or sorting random bits of paper (mail, coupons, appointment reminders – where does all this stuff come from?!?) into their appropriate slots or the big slot in the trash can.

Spray your newly decluttered countertops, and the stove top with the vinegar/water spray and let sit. 

Sink Detailing 

If my sink is looking pretty good I just go ahead and spray it with the vinegar spray and do a little scrubbing with an old toothbrush to get any gunk that’s hiding around the faucet or in any nooks and crannies and also to help get rid of those hard water deposits. No need to rinse yet. Let the vinegar do its work.  If you’ve got a lot of hard water deposits or other issues try out the miracle cleaner mentioned above. 

Wipe down your counter tops and stove top with a soft cloth while your sink soaks in its vinegar spray.   Give a quick spray to the front of your oven and wipe clean. 

Spray the fridge handles and front of the refrigerator and wipe and then a quick wipe of the top of the refrigerator with the damp cloth. If the window over the sink has gotten splashed I’ll give that a spray with the vinegar/water and take a quick swipe at that as well. By this time the moisture from the lemon water has done its work on the inside of the microwave and I am able to just wipe out any spills or splatters with ease. Spray and wipe the front of the microwave and the top. Wipe out the sink. Take out the kitchen garbage. Wet mop your floor and call it good.  

And Presto (well, almost presto) – your house is clean. 

Are there things that didn’t get cleaned with this routine? Sure. I don’t do windows every week (ha! is that an understatement!).  I didn’t wash the sheets or do laundry in this plan. Those all happen on a different schedule. But for basic house cleaning this 2 part method works well for me. I can get pretty much everything done in 60 – 75 minutes total (counting both days), depending on how well I have kept up with clutter and the everyday chores. I follow this cleaning routine regularly and find my house is cleaner overall and I avoid the dread of cleaning because I broke it down into 2 manageable chunks and have a plan to follow.   

 This 2 part cleaning plan I’ve outlined works well for me. What works for you may be a little different based on your house and your family.  The important thing is to have a plan and implement it regularly so that the job doesn’t become overwhelming and you are free to focus on things that you enjoy! 

FREE BONUS! Don’t forget to grab your homemade cleaning recipes and free printable labels here! The cleaners work great and they make me feel much better about what I’m using in my home.

Have a few too many things to dust and clean around? Check out Decluttering for the Overwhelmed – Even Baby-Steps Will Get You There

and 31 Things to Declutter in 10 Minutes or Less

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Looking for ways to make your life less stressful and more peaceful and positive? Check out The Seven Days of Simplicity Action Plan! Readers are loving it!


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