The 6 Worst Ways You’re Wasting Time When You Clean

published May 10, 2022
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image

When you clean, you want every bit of your effort to count. You want your time to be well spent. And you definitely don’t want to sabotage your own work! Unfortunately, most of us end up unwittingly wasting time when we’re cleaning. Here are the six biggest time-wasters you need to stop doing right now — so that you can make the most of your cleaning efforts. Let’s take a look!

Credit: Rochelle Bilow

1. You don’t clean from the top down.

No matter where or what you’re cleaning, the principle remains the same: Start at the top and work your way down. Otherwise, you’re spreading dirt onto the areas you just cleaned. For example, dust the ceiling fan before you vacuum the rug, and wipe the counters in the kitchen before you sweep the floor. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

2. You don’t soak your pots and pans.

There’s no point in tackling your pots and pans that are caked in cooked-on food without waiting for them to soak first. Soaking them allows the mess to soften, so that by the time you get to it, the job is much quicker. If you don’t have time for a soak, we love Dawn Powerwash, which lifts food messes right before your eyes and makes tough dishwashing jobs go a lot quicker. Spray it on, and let it sit for a bit while you’re washing the rest of the dishes for the best use of your time during dinner cleanup. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

3. You don’t keep surfaces clean.

If you don’t keep your counters and table clean, you’ll inevitably set something down on the mess. And then that mess will get spread around to the pantry or refrigerator shelves. Instead, make it a point to wipe down the kitchen table regularly, but especially before you start a deep-cleaning or organizing session.

4. You don’t declutter regularly.

Clutter isn’t only visually disturbing and stressful — it also makes it harder to clean. You’ll need to shuffle the piles around to get to where you need to clean, and even after you dust or sweep or mop, your space won’t feel clean if it’s still full of out-of-place stuff. Taking care of clutter should be the first step of any cleaning job, so you won’t waste precious time moving it around pointlessly. 

Credit: Sarah Crowley

5. You don’t use your vacuum cleaner to its full potential.

The key to vacuuming efficiently is vacuuming slooooowly. Moving the unit purposefully allows more time for the suction to reach deep into the carpet fibers and pull up as much dirt and dust as possible. You might feel like you’re cleaning harder when you shove the vacuum cleaner back and forth fast and furiously, but it’ll take more time to get a thorough cleaning done.

6. You don’t use a clean sponge or rag around the kitchen.

Experts recommend replacing your sponge about once a week. Don’t even bother trying to disinfect your sponge: it will only kill some of the bacteria on it, leaving the strongest strains behind. Also, make it a habit to also refresh your rags nightly so you aren’t unknowingly spreading dirt and other bacteria around the house.

How do you maximize your cleaning efforts? Tell us your ideas in the comments below.