Staying Home

7 Cleaning Habits I Started During Quarantine That I Hope Continue in 2021 and Beyond

updated Dec 14, 2020
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Woman in  kitchen environment, cleaning a stainless steel faucet, some cleaning supplies in the frame

We all did our best this year. Some days were filled with productivity (I made pasta from scratch; a few times!) and other days we couldn’t even mange to do a single load of laundry. And you know what? That was okay! Because everything was different.

Lots has changed this year, but I’d say how — and when and what — I clean is one thing that’s changed the most dramatically. With my entire family at home all the time (and all seven of us are still at home), along with the fact that we’re all trying extra hard to keep a deadly virus away, my cleaning habits have also undergone a total transformation. More to clean plus a schedule change means a cleaning routine shakeup. But, as always, I’ve learned a good deal from being forced out of my comfort zone. 

Here are some cleaning habits I started during quarantine that I plan to continue into the new year and beyond.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

1. Cleaning with bleach

For years, I didn’t even own a single bottle of bleach. I didn’t want it around my young children. I just didn’t want to worry about bleach stains, proper ventilation, and the danger of various chemicals interacting. Once the pandemic hit, though, and pre-mixed, more convenient disinfectants became scarce and limited, I snagged a few bottles of bleach. I appreciate its inexpensive price tag, its effectiveness, and the fact that it’s a reliable disinfectant. I keep it on our highest shelf and I do, of course, use gloves and open windows when I use it. How do I use it? I discovered and have been heavily influenced by Go Clean, and I use their hot water-bleach-Tide solution to clean not only high touch surfaces, but also areas that “could use” some disinfecting, such as bathroom floors. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

2. Regularly wiping down door knobs, light switches, and the areas nearby

Speaking of high-touch areas, I, like the whole country, have begun paying much more attention to our door and cabinet knobs, light switches, and appliance handles. Especially in a house with five kids, these spots are dirty. I definitely cleaned them before, particularly when one of us was sick or during flu season, but now I swipe them far more frequently, hopefully keeping them clean at all times. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. Using disinfecting wipes properly

While I might be disinfecting more than I used to, I’m now doing it purposefully — and correctly. Too often, before the pandemic, I’d grab a disinfecting wipe and use it sort of as a rag to clean things like sinks, surfaces, and baseboards. I’m ashamed to admit it because of the waste involved. Plus the fact that I now understand the importance of cleaning first and then disinfecting. But I’m glad to say that I don’t think I will ever be careless in my use of disinfecting wipes again. Now I only use them to disinfect things that need it, and only when I don’t have a less expensive, less wasteful bleach solution going. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

4. Cleaning everything in one day

This is another new one for me. I used to clean according to a weekly schedule and it worked well for years. I’d knock out a small chunk of the household cleaning every day while the kids were at school and got to enjoy a weekend with little to no chores. But quarantine turned all that upside down. I no longer had pockets of time to myself. With everything going on at home, there seemed to be no time to clean.

My solution? I decided to shift all my cleaning to one day: usually Friday afternoon. It means carving out a bigger stretch of time, rather than cleaning in little spurts, but I’ve discovered that this has its perks. I get to enjoy a house that’s (mostly) clean all at once, and I have an opportunity to get lost in an audiobook. I don’t fret that I can’t get to the cleaning because I know I have a dedicated window to take care of it at the end of the week — and, still, a whole weekend to enjoy a relatively clean house. 

5. Using brushes to clean

This is also embarrassing to admit, but I hardly used cleaning brushes to clean before I started following Go Clean. I had tiny detail brushes and I’d use a larger brush to scrub shower walls and floors, but once I started watching Go Clean’s stories, I realized I was most certainly not using brushes to their full potential and that if I did, so many of my tasks would be so much easier because bristles reach and dislodge dirt that rags just can’t get to. I now have a collection of different-sized brushes that I happily use for a variety of cleaning tasks.

Related: I Added a Power Drill to My Kitchen Cleaning Caddy and Haven’t Looked Back 

6. Involving the kids more

It’s been less than a year, but the amount my kids have grown up and matured through this pandemic humbles me. They’ve endured the switch from in-person to online schooling, felt the lack of friendships, made up for it with sibling bonding and care, and filled their time with lots of LEGO building, re-building, and baking. They’ve also had to take on more responsibility at home and, with a few grumbles here and there, they’ve risen to the occasion.

A large part of this added responsibility has been chores around the house. One weekend during quarantine I made detailed checklists of what I expected to be done for various chores, such as “clean the bathroom” or “kitchen cleanup.” I made three copies (one for each of my older kids), laminated them, and hung them on a ring clip. They have daily and weekly chores, and although they aren’t always done without reminders, cajoling, and some blaring music, they do get them done one way or another. This habit of family responsibility for caring for the house isn’t going anywhere, quarantine or not, and I’m grateful for the jumpstart. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

7. Letting some things go

Quarantine taught me a very valuable lesson: In addition to the loved ones who deserve our time and attention more than the dirty oven, our mental and emotional wellness needs attention too. And, yes, sometimes to the neglect of the floors and at the cost of spotless fridge. I personally need my kitchen to be in some kind of order, but I’ve learned to change my standards about other things. For instance, who cares if the junk drawer is junky or there’s some school stuff on the kitchen table? I can live with these things! I’ve learned to accept some things as they are (at least for a little while), because other things are more worthy of my headspace.

What are some cleaning habits you picked up this year that you hope continue through in 2021 and beyond?