Kitchen Cleaning in Less Than 20 Minutes

Kitchen Cleaning in Less Than 20 Minutes ::

Once a week, I clean our kitchen.  And for the 62 minutes after I’m finished when we’re not in it, all is right with the world.

Having a scheduled time to do this each week is what allows me to walk away from a stove covered in grease and a microwave caked in exploded food.  Because I know that it won’t be like that indefinitely.  Having this routine provides the simultaneous freedom of not being held captive by mess or the guilt to clean the mess.

But as much as I love having a clean kitchen, actually doing it is not my favorite task.  So I’ve had to find a way to do it quickly and get the most reward for the least amount of work. #storyofmylife

Weekly Kitchen Cleaning in a Flash

Wash out the sink

Scrub & rinse the sink.  Put the drains in the dishwasher.

Kitchen Cleaning in Less Than 20 Minutes ::

Wipe Down Surfaces

The verb “wipe down” is very carefully chosen to describe this task.  I use a Norwex EnviroCloth for all of my kitchen cleaning (except the sink…… although as I’m typing this, I’m not sure why….).  Using this cloth means that water and the cloth are the only two tools I need to clean my entire kitchen.  No messing with multiple bottles, sprays, rinsing and all the stuff that takes time that I don’t want to spend on cleaning.

In our kitchen, surfaces include: Window ledge, Faucet, Countertops, Backsplash and Appliance fronts.

Start at the top and work your way down.  Our window ledge is above the countertop, so that get’s wiped off first and the dirt from the ledge is pushed on to the counter.  When the counters are wiped off, everything gets pushed to the floor.

For the countertops, anything siting on the countertop is moved (another reason to keep kitchen counters clear!) and wiped underneath, then moved back.

Our appliances are stainless steel and the Norwex rag works great for those too.  It works best if the rag is rung out well and, truthfully, the Norwex Polish Rag works best on stainless steel because it doesn’t leave streaks.  Oh well.  We live here.  Streaks and all.

Kitchen Cleaning in Less Than 20 Minutes ::

Wipe Down Stove Top

For a gas stove, remove the grates & burner tops and wipe off all of the hardened food.  I scrub what will come off with the EnviroCloth and call it good.  Once or twice a year, when I deep clean the kitchen, I will scrub the grates (with a specific cleaner that is made for the ceramic) and use a more abrasive cleaner for the stubborn spots on the stove top.

Kitchen Cleaning in Less Than 20 Minutes ::

Clean Microwave

This is my favorite hack.  Before wiping anything else down, cut up 1-2 lemons and put them in a microwave-safe bowl (or measuring cup) and fill it with water.  Put it in the microwave for 5 minutes.  The steam loosens caked on food and the lemon smells divine.

Remove the lemon water and wipe out the microwave – remembering to start at the top and work down so that you don’t have to repeat cleaning a surface.

Kitchen Cleaning in Less Than 20 Minutes ::

Kitchen Cleaning in Less Than 20 Minutes ::

Wipe Down Refrigerator Shelves

This is not a full clean out of your fridge.  Just move stuff around as you wipe to get most of the surfaces.  Good enough is good enough in this case.

Wipe Floor Mat

We have a Wellness Mat in front of our kitchen sink that gets picked up off the floor one time a week and this is it.  Once I have no more uses for my rag, the floor mat is the last item that rag cleans.  The Wellness Mat is a non-porous material, so it cleans very easily.  If you have a different kind of mat in front of your sink that requires laundering to get it clean, toss it in the washing machine.

Clean the Garbage Disposal

Remember the lemon water that cleaned your microwave?  It’s not done working yet.  Pour the contents into the disposal and run for a long time with lots of cold water.  The lemons deodorize any residual food smells.  For extra credit, toss in a few ice cubes to sharpen the disposal blades.

Kitchen Cleaning in Less Than 20 Minutes ::

Clean Floors

Now that everything that used to sit on a surface in your kitchen has been wiped on to your floors, it’s time to take care of that.  Sweep (or, in our case, vacuum) the floors.  This is part of my daily cleaning, but on kitchen-cleaning day, if I’m feeling particularly ambitious, I will bust out the crevice tool and get in those hard to reach nooks and crannies.

Kitchen Cleaning in Less Than 20 Minutes ::

Total, this takes 20 minutes (if I’m not interrupted – which almost never happens).

The kitchen is 90% clean when I’m done which is good enough for me for everyday life.  This routine has helped me find the balance between taking care of what we have and maintaining it, but not being a slave to a perfectly clean kitchen.

I enjoy being in our kitchen and cooking a meal for my family.  And when I make a huge mess, I do the dishes and wait until Monday morning to take care of the rest.

Kitchen Cleaning in Less Than 20 Minutes ::

If you’re feeling ambitious and want to deep clean your refrigerator, start here.  Or, get the inspiration for a cleaning routine here.  

Creating a Cleaning Routine

How to Create a Customized Cleaning Routine that Works for You ::

I didn’t used to need a cleaning routine.  When something looked dirty, I cleaned it – and by look dirty, I mean a visible pink ring in the toilet bowl or the ability to write a note in the dust on the shelf.  Not ideal.

After my daughter was born the time gap between seeing the pink ring in the toilet and cleaning it grew dramatically longer than it had been before she was born.  I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated at my inability to keep up with housework.  I’m sure you’ve never been there.  (sarcasm…)

Once I quit my job to stay home with my daughter, I decided that this was something that I needed to do better.  I looked at all kinds of cleaning schedules on Pinterest, but it was hard because no one person’s cleaning tasks are the same as another’s.  The more I looked at other people’s routines, the more I became convinced that the best cleaning plan is the individualized one.  We all have different homes, schedules, number of people in our homes and hobbies, so it’s very unlikely that one person’s schedule would work for the next.

Other people’s lists are a great resource, however.  Instead of using them as my list, I used them as the inspiration to create my own.

How to Create a Customized Cleaning Routine that Works for You ::

How To Create A Customized Cleaning Routine

1 – Identify all of the tasks by writing them down

Start at one end of your house and think through everything that needs to be done in that room/area to make it spotless.  Do this for each room/area.

Do not get overwhelmed.  Writing them on the list does NOT mean that you have to go do all of them right now – or even anytime soon.  It simply acknowledges the task.

I was pleasantly surprised by how short (translation: manageable) my list was.

2 – Assign the frequency for each task (Daily, Bi-Weekly, Weekly, Bi-Monthly, Monthly, Seasonally, Annually).

There are two ways to look at this.  If you’re the type of person that likes to stay on top of things and doesn’t easily get overwhelmed, schedule them more than they actually need to get done (for example, I have vacuum floors as a daily task, when in reality, it should be done 4-5 times a week) and just skip it when it’s not absolutely necessary.

If you’re the type of person who gets overwhelmed by long lists of to-do’s, schedule your tasks less than they need to get done and you’re more likely to do the things on your list.

3 – Identify the blocks of time you have (or need to make) for cleaning

Make this work for you.  If you’re the type of person who likes to do a little bit at a time, then think through your day and set aside one block of time each day for cleaning.  If you would rather get it all done in one fell swoop, then figure out when that time is.

When I was working full time, I had my lunch hour, a half hour in the evening (while my husband did the bedtime routine with our daughter) and Saturday mornings.  Now that I’m home most days, I break it up between Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  As our family schedule changes, so will my cleaning routine.

4 –  Match up the chores with your cleaning times

I mentioned earlier that I was pleasantly surprised by how short and manageable my cleaning list was.  I was even more pleasantly surprised after I assigned the tasks to days.  When I realized that in order to have my house clean all the time (which it never is, but, if I stuck to this routine, realistically it could be), I had to spend an average of a 1/2 hour a day cleaning, I couldn’t believe it.  I thought, for sure, that it would take a LOT longer than that.  And I certainly didn’t think that I’d be able to stay on top of things by having days when I didn’t do anything but my daily chores.

How to Create a Customized Cleaning Routine that Works for You ::

The best part of this cleaning routine, for me, has been the freedom from feeling bad about not doing things.

Because my old “system” – or lack thereof – was reactionary, if I saw something that needed to be done and procrastinated it, I just saw it get worse and felt bad.  Now, if it’s mopping day and it doesn’t get done, I don’t feel bad because I know that I just did it last week and I will do it next week.

How to Create a Customized Cleaning Routine that Works for You ::

Try this out and let me know what works well for you.  Do you have other hurdles when trying to stay on top of this?

And, because I said that other people’s routines can be a good resource, here is my list:

How to Create a Customized Cleaning Routine that Works for You ::

p.s. Read more about my morning cleaning routine and evening cleaning routine.







Trouble Spots: Desk Drawers

Organizing Desk Drawers ::

I wrote a ‘Trouble Spots’ series last year where I asked people what some of their toughest areas to organize are.  Responses included Refrigerators, kids’ closets, Linen Closet, Bathroom Closet & Under the kitchen sink.

Another area people said that they had a hard time with, but that I didn’t write about was Desk Drawers.

I felt like I needed dramatic before and after pictures of the areas I was organizing, and the truth is that my desk drawers just aren’t messy.  *Cue eye roll now*

I’m not bragging.  Organized desk drawers are simply a survival technique for me.  Messy workspaces make me claustrophobic.  Messy desk drawers, for me, means bills don’t get paid, permission slips don’t get signed and no necessary life things that require pen and paper happen.

It’s a dumb excuse not to help you all with it, but that’s what happened.

Organizing Desk Drawers ::

This spring, Emily Ley (creator of the Simplified Planner and author of A Simplified Life) hosted something she called the #ruthlessdeclutterchallenge where she ruthlessly decluttered one room/area in her house each day.  I watched admiringly on Instagram.  And decluttered ZERO rooms along with her.

(To see more about this, follow Emily Ley on Instagram, and check out her ‘Declutter’ stories highlights).

Throughout the process, one of the things that she kept saying was not trying to do everything at once.  By ‘everything’, she meant declutter, clean and organize all at once.

But that’s how I organize.

I’ve always decluttered, cleaned and organized all at once because

  1. It’s more efficient – It seemed to me that the best time to clean out the cupboard was after I’d pulled everything out and the shelves were bare instead of making it a separate task and pulling items out twice
  2. It’s the only way that deep cleaning happens in this house – Who are we kidding?  I’m not going to pull everything out of the cupboard JUST to wipe down the shelves.  It’s just not going to happen.

But what I realized as I heard her give this instruction repeatedly over the course of decluttering her house is that I get overwhelmed at the task and the amount of time the task takes when I’m trying to do it all in one fell swoop.

It was a total paradigm shift for me to think about it from the perspective of ‘What if I just declutter the drawer?  That’s it.’  Instead of feeling like I had this huge task in front of me, I thought “I can do that in less than a half hour”, and what once seemed insurmountable was now an accomplishable task.

I made an uncharacteristically  vulnerable choice and decided to declutter my desk drawer on Instagram Live.  I pressed record and talked through my thought process as I followed Emily Ley’s advice and decluttered my desk drawer.  (I searched the world over to try to find that video to share what this process looked like, but, alas, Instagram deletes live videos after 24 hours, so it is gone).

Per Emily Ley’s Instructions, my desk drawer organization process went like this:

1 – Empty the entire contents.

First things first.  Just empty.  Don’t think, evaluate or make any decisions yet.  Simply take everything out.

2 – Decide what goes back in.

Look at everything all at once.  Doing it this way gives you a comprehensive idea of what you have and then you can make better decisions about what goes back.

3 – Put un-purged items back in

I had drawer dividers that worked and fit well, so I matched the size of my items to the spaces I had in the divider.

Organizing Desk Drawers ::

A lightbulb went off for me when I was finished.  I realized that even though the drawer wasn’t messy before, I still had stuff in there that I didn’t need.  And visual clutter leads to mental clutter, so the more I pare down, the more simple life gets.

Organizing Desk Drawers ::

Going through this process was a springboard for me.  I am leading a group of people through reading Emily Ley’s A Simplified Life and working through her suggestions for simplifying.  Enter here for a chance to win a free copy of the book and read more about our goal to live a #simplifiedsummer.

#simplifiedsummer challenge - A Simplified Life by Emily Ley ::









How To Get Back On Track

How to Get Back On Track ::

Our entire family was hit with a virus a couple weeks back that had each of us down for the count for at least two days.  For nine straight days, at least one of us had a fever.

The first strike came on a Friday morning when my daughter woke up with a fever of 102.  At that moment, the day’s schedule and priorities got realigned.  My entire to-do list that day became caring for my sick little girl.

Three days later, I got the bug.  Friends took care of my children, my husband took care of feeding the three of us who were eating more than chicken noodle soup and my to-do list got ignored.  My only job for the next 48 hours was resting.

Actually being sick is miserable enough.  But the overwhelming nature of it is compounded by not only not getting done what you normally would, but all of the additional tasks that come with caring for someone who isn’t feeling well.

How to Get Back On Track ::

It’s a double whammy.

After more loads of laundry and Lysol wipes than I care to count, two weeks passed and we were all mostly back to health.  Great.  Except that I was overwhelmed at the thought of where to even begin to dig out.

Where’s the ‘Start Over’ button?  

It’s not just sickness that can cause this feeling.  Anything that interrupts your normal routine – even the good stuff – can lead to feeling behind.  More evenings away than normal, work travel, even vacation can get you off track.  And getting back on just seems like too much.

How to Get Back on Track When Life Causes Derailment

1 – Start by making a list of every.single.task that needs to be done

Every single task?! Won’t that intensify the feeling of being overwhelmed?! No.

It’s better to name the tasks and take charge of them then to let them linger in your sub-conscious and nag at you.

Start with the previous day’s list.  If you don’t have it written down, just start writing down whatever tasks are nagging at you.  If you can’t think of anything, walk through your house and write down everything that you see that needs to get done.

Don’t get overwhelmed by this step.  My Grandpa used to always say “It has to get worse before it gets better.”  I think he may have been referring to this exact situation.

How to Get Back On Track ::

 Photo credit

2 – Filter Tasks

Be judicious about what really has to get done.  Real life comes and something’s gotta give.  Read through your list and ask yourself “What gives?”

For me, this was house cleaning chores.  We view cleaning as a way of taking care of what we have (vs. having a clean house to show others).  The floors won’t be destroyed if they don’t get mopped this week.  Fungus isn’t going to sprout on the stovetop if it isn’t cleaned.

In this situation, a dirty house is a constant reminder that some things aren’t the way I want them to be, but that’s real life.

3 – Triage the Tasks by Due Date

Go through your filtered list and separate the tasks into three categories – 1: Overdue 2: Due within the week & 3: No Due Date.

When there’s a lot to do, everything seems urgent.  Doing this helps you see what is actually urgent.

Tip: For things like laundry, which don’t have an actual date, but that need to be done in a timely manner (unless you’re okay with your family walking around naked), assign a due date that is determined by when you will start to suffer the consequences of the unfinished task.

How to Get Back On Track ::

Photo Credit

4 – Schedule Tasks

Take your slimmed down, triaged list and assign each task a to-do date.  Start with the overdue tasks, then move through each category.

According to Finish author Jon Acuff, you double the odds of actually finishing a task if you plan out when and where you’ll work on your goals.  You still might not get everything done, but you’ll get more done than you would have if you sat on your couch and felt bad for yourself.

Be realistic about what you can do in a day.  Don’t prioritize tasks over health – physical, mental & emotional.  If getting all of these things done means not getting the adequate sleep that your body needs to recover, then it’s not worth it.

5 – Give Yourself A Break

It takes longer to get back to “normal” than you think it should.  That’s just reality.

Give yourself time and recognize that no matter how much you cross off of your list, if it comes at the expense of your stress level and recovery – or your family’s – it’s not not worth it.

How to Get Back On Track ::

How to Get Back On Track ::

P.S. Use this list of necessities when someone in your house is sick and use this list when you know someone else that is sick.SaveSave





100 Posts!!! ::

This is the 100th post for Maximizing Days! #allthecelebrationemojis

In honor of that milestone, here are a list of 100 tricks, tips, things I love, and stuff I’ve learned along the way.

Think of it like the Cliff’s Notes for

  1. My all-time, #1 piece of organizing advice for anyone who asks
  2. Being over-prepared can be disadvantageous
  3. The only thing that makes laundry bearable
  4. I would wear these every day if I could.  Right now, I only wear them almost ever day.
  5. How I got my husband to do the laundry
  6. The cleaning tool that gets used everyday in our house
  7. Cleaning a toilet is nasty – make it less nasty with this trick
  8. Seemingly eons ago, I packed a hospital bag for when my son was born
  9. For years, I wished for this every time that I saw it in the Pottery Barn catalogue. Now we have it and it hasn’t disappointed.
  10. Laying in bed when you remember something important?  Don’t get up!
  11. How to make Mondays slightly more bearable
  12. Another way to make Mondays – and all the days – go more smoothly
  13. Under-sink transformer
  14. Most of what I’ve learned about organizing I read here at least ten years ago
  15. No matter how grumpy I am, this sight brings a smile to my face.  Well, this and my kids (unless they were the source of the grumpiness)
  16. We celebrated my husband’s birthday here a year ago.  I want to go back…
  17. The best product for voluminous hair
  18. The second-best product for voluminous hair
  19. So, just what is a capsule wardrobe?
  20. The key to making purging work for you
  21. This makes me long for summer…..
  22. The BEST dresser
  23. How to maintain some order in those aforementioned cavernous drawers
  24. What I learned at the organizing seminar that I taught
  25. Without this, I would get ZERO done every day
  26. These aren’t part of my winter capsule wardrobe, but they’re on my feet 70% of the time
  27. I love my children, but I did not like pregnancy
  28. Next week is my daughter’s half birthday.  Hard to believe this was 6 months ago
  29. Comparison steals joy
  30. How my husband knows exactly what to get me for any and every gift-giving occasion
  31. Target stopped carrying these.  Tears.
  32. Speaking of Target, ours closed. ALL.THE.TEARS
  33. Breakfast.  Lunch.  Supper.  What my kids eat.
  34. Trying to keep my phone as an asset, not a time suck
  35. I didn’t change my son’s diaper on the changing pad until he was at least 6 months old.  Here’s why.
  37. This is when I knew that my husband and I were meant to be
  38. Christmas gifts, card mailing list, meal prep, and Christmas card albums
  39. The best shoes
  40. The other best shoes
  41. Our kid’s birthday tradition
  42. My favorite cleaning products
  43. When to buy containment
  44. This took me far too long to figure out
  45. Can you be organized & have a junk drawer? YES
  46. Toy packaging repurposed
  47. Baby Gear!
  48. Making dishes tolerable
  49. Save money on dry cleaning
  50. No grocery money left? Start here.
  51. Only touch your mail once
  52. I thought these were a waste of space.  Now I’ve learned that they are key to utilizing space.
  53. Become a capsule wardrobe-er
  54. Feeding your infant doesn’t mean you have to buy a new deep freezer
  55. What you need when you’re sick
  56. I should get a commission for how many times I’ve referred this to other people
  57. Why a ‘Monica Closet’ might be what’s missing in your quest to get organized
  58. The trick to an organized leftover container space
  59. The absolute best leftover containers there are
  60. Grocery List Trick
  61. We have one of these in every closet in our house
  62. Be a bright spot in someone’s day
  63. I’ll admit it.  I get up at 5AM.  Here’s why
  64. Every kitchen should have at least one of these
  65. Real-person Container Store success story
  66. Linen closet #1
  67. Linen closet #2
  68. How we’re able to eat frozen pizza all too frequently without feeling bad about it.  Throw some fruits & veggies in this bad boy, and call it a well-rounded meal.
  69. My favorite reads
  70. Sleep later with the time you will save using this
  71. Christmas shop all year long
  72. Contain the kid clothes clutter – what they don’t wear
  73. Contain the kid clothes clutter – what they do wear
  74. My difference-maker cosmetic
  75. Dreaded k-cups.  Love them.  Hate them.
  76. This might actually make you start cleaning.  Might.
  77. We call them Bucket Lists.  Even though it has nothing to do with death
  78. If you have a toddler, run, don’t walk to buy this bad boy
  79. Make dinner without harming your children.  It is possible.
  80. A functional toy room without a single label.  Also possible.
  81. You’re an adult.  Your house can look like it .
  82. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!
  83. Everything except the kitchen sink
  84. I’m so happy that I live in a world where there are Octobers
  85. Is that cheap flight worth it
  86. They’re for more than just magazines
  87. Have an hour?  Then read about how I menu plan here, here AND here.  Brevity has never been my strong suit.
  88. I don’t even do this anymore
  89. Why you shouldn’t fold your laundry on the dining room table.
  90. Bring on the boots!  A Minnesota Winter Capsule Wardrobe
  91. Why every.single.minute of my day is scheduled
  92. Deep vanity drawers are not ideal.  But that’s no excuse.
  93. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said a thousand times
  94. Don’t bother keeping these unless you can access them
  95. My go-to storage container
  96. THIS is how you keep your house neat
  97. Perfection cannot be your goal
  98. You’re never done
  99. Cheapest & best organizing tool
  100. What this really is all about