Decluttering and cleaning your home when your days are already full may seem like a constant struggle, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Use these 12 cleaning and decluttering tips to keep your home tidy and organized when you have only small pockets of time.
How to clean and declutter with 10-minute tasks
By breaking down the process into quick, manageable tasks, scheduling regular 10-minute decluttering and cleaning sessions, and using storage and organization tools, it’s easy to keep your home tidy and stress-free.
Tip: Set a timer for 10 minutes and do as much as possible of each task in your allotted time.
Start with the sink and counters. Load the dishwasher or wash dirty dishes by hand. Clear the counters of food items that don’t belong there — they go in the fridge, pantry, or trash. Invest in a set of budget-friendly food storage containers to keep cupboards organized.
Extra time left? Starting on the left-hand side of your kitchen, empty, declutter, and wipe down the inside of a cupboard or drawer. Or start working through your pantry cleaning checklist for just 10 minutes at a time.
Tip: Save a list of your freezer items on your phone. Each week when you meal prep, make at least one dish from one of these items to declutter your freezer.
Make it fun by trying a new recipe. For example, learn how to use frozen cauliflower and surprise your family with a new dish on a Meatless Monday. Start with the food that’s been in the freezer the longest.
Begin with your bedside table, as this is where the clutter often starts.
Remove old books or magazines you’ve already read. Clear away empty glasses, water bottles, kleenex bottles or pill bottles. Dust the tabletop and lampshade.
Extra time left? Move on to your dresser and closet, and do the same — declutter and dust, ensuring everything is organized in a way that makes sense to you. Don’t forget to use under-the-bed storage containers and bins to keep seasonal and/or extra and accessories organized.
Tip: Make this a family activity, with each member decluttering their own room.
Set a 10-minute timer and race to see who finishes first. The winner can choose dinner, the family movie, or the board game for family games night. Remind kids to look under their beds for candy wrappers and any kids’ comic books they’re ready to donate.
3. Living Room
Gather any items that don’t belong in your living room and move them to where they do belong. Then dust off all surfaces, including the TV and other electronics.
Finally, vacuum or sweep the floor if needed (use a steam mop for vinyl floors) — don’t forget those pesky pet hairs.
Tip: Use decorative baskets and storage ottomans to hide clutter.
Entries and foyers can be disaster areas, especially if your family includes pets and kids.
“If I only have 10 minutes to clean, I immediately attack any clutter in high-traffic areas,” says Jessica Haggard, of Easy Homemade Life. “This usually means entryway tables, kitchen counters, and main eating areas.”
Start with the closet. Remove items like old coats or shoes that don’t fit. Place a bowl on your front hall table to collect keys, sunglasses, chargers, and miscellaneous items. Hang up any jackets, hats, or scarves.
Tip: Add a shoe organizer or rack to keep shoes ordered. Add a small dresser to store hats, mitts, and scarves.
Begin with the medicine cabinet, tossing out expired medication and organizing the items left behind.
Next, use your favorite spray cleaner and a soft cloth on the sinks and the bathtub to wipe away grime and remove stray hairs.
Tip: Use an over-the-door organizer to keep toiletries and hair accessories in order.
6. Home Office
The home office can be one of the most challenging areas to keep clean as it often accumulates paperwork and other documents over time. And this is especially true if you have a combination home office and homeschool room.
- First, gather up outdated and unnecessary paperwork and shred it.
- File important documents in a cabinet.
- Then organize your desk and drawers — everything should have space.
Tip: Use a filing cabinet or desk organizer to organize paperwork.
7. Little Kids’ Rooms
Children’s rooms can get messy fast. Once your children are old enough to take items from shelves or bins, teach them to return them when they have finished playing with them. And if you only have a few minutes, here’s how to begin.
- Start with toys, sorting them into categories. Sort one type of toy per bin or shelf.
- Hang up or fold clothing and store it in a drawer or closet.
- Wipe down and tidy bookshelves and other miscellaneous surfaces.
Tip: Use toy bins and shelves to keep toys organized and accessible.
It’s easy to forget about cleaning and decluttering these areas, especially if these are the spaces you use to shove items you’ve cleared out of the rest of your home.
Sara Nelson of Real Balanced suggests using the 10-item method to make a quick dent in the clutter when you only have a few minutes. “I grab a trash bag and find 10 items to throw away. This ensures I declutter some items, and it gives me less time to overthink things.”
Begin with the items that are scattered or sitting on tabletops or even just on the floor. Sort them into piles for garbage pickup, to donate, or to keep.
Next, sort through your stored items with a critical eye. Do you really need to keep them? If not, move them to the garbage or donation piles.
Tip: Use pegboards and wall-mounted organizers to keep tools and equipment in order.
9. Laundry Area
If your laundry area ends up collecting various odds and ends during the week, take a few minutes to tidy it today.
- Remove clothing and other items from inside and on top of your washer and dryer, then spray the exteriors and wipe them down.
- Sort clothes that are no longer worn into three piles. One pile to use for rags or painting clothes, one for the garbage, and one to donate.
- Remove all empty detergent bottles and place them in your recycling bin.
- Empty your wastebaskets.
- Sort clean laundry into piles, one for each family member.
Tip: In a large family, use one laundry basket per person for clean laundry.
Whether you’re growing ornamental flowers, a huge vegetable garden, or a vertical garden, you’ll find many gardening decluttering tasks that take 10 minutes or less.
- Remove dead plant matter and debris from your garden area.
- Weed one flower bed, vegetable garden row, or herb garden row.
- Prune overgrown bushes or trees.
- Repot one potted herb or vegetable that’s outgrown its container.
Tip: Use a garden tool organizer to keep tools in order and within reach.
11. Junk Drawer
Yes, we all have them!
Set your timer for 10 minutes and start going through each item one by one and deciding whether or not it’s worth keeping.
Once you have narrowed down the items to only those you want to keep, sort them into categories (such as office supplies, screws, and miscellaneous items) and find designated spots for each smaller pile.
Tip: Use drawer dividers or small storage containers to keep items in order.
Last but not least, take time to declutter and clean out the interior of your car.
- Start with the glove box and center console, and toss out old receipts, candy wrappers, used napkins, or tissues.
- Use a handheld dustbuster or small vacuum on the front floors and seats.
- Do the same for your back seats.
- Wipe down the dashboard and console with a damp cloth.
- Replenish tissues, hand sanitizer, and any other item you usually keep in your car.
- Check under the seats for anything that may have been left behind or forgotten about.
Tip: Use a car trash can or organizer to keep the interior clean and clutter-free.
With just a few minutes of decluttering daily, you can help keep your home in tip-top shape. Here are some additional tips to make the process even easier:
- Schedule regular decluttering sessions to stay on top of clutter
- Use labels to keep items organized and easy to find
- Donate or sell items you no longer need or use
- Store seasonal items out of sight when not in use
- Use multi-functional furniture to save space and reduce clutter
By following these cleaning and decluttering tips and tackling one room at a time, decluttering your home and keeping it organized won’t seem so overwhelming. Remember, even just 10 minutes a day can make a big difference.
Sarita Harbour is a homeschooling, homesteading mom and a long-time business and finance writer. Sarita created Thrive at Home to help working homeschool moms manage their lives without losing their sanity.
This article originally appeared on Food Drink Life.