As a busy mom, I have a whole lot going on at any given moment. Sometimes, I’m not able to keep my house as clean as I like. But I have found that I’m much happier when my house is clean and organized, so I try to dedicate some time to getting the job done. I’ve found that following these ten cleaning tips and tricks makes things much easier for a busy mom to maintain (and keeps her a whole lot happier!).
10 Cleaning Tips and Tricks for Busy Moms
1. Unload the dishwasher and start a load of laundry first thing every morning.
Empty your (clean) dishwasher and start a load of laundry while your first cup of coffee brews each morning. I learned this tip from my friend Whitney at Simplifying Family. If I do these two things first thing every morning, the rest of my day seems to run much more smoothly.
2. Keep wipes everywhere!
Put biodegradable butt wipes by every toilet (because, let’s be real, kids almost never do a good enough job wiping with toilet paper alone) and pleasant-smelling multipurpose cleaning wipes (or paper towels and your favorite cleaning spray) under the kitchen and bathroom sinks. This makes it easy to wipe down countertops daily.
Keep hand sanitizer wipes in your car. Most seasoned moms keep baby wipes in their cars long after their children have outgrown the diaper years, but the savviest moms also keep hand sanitizer wipes in their cars for cleaning kids’ hands before inevitable in-the-car meals and for regular cleaning of germ-prone areas like their cell phone, key fob, stereo, and steering wheel.
3. Make cleaning more accessible for your kids so that they can help you!
Buy a stick vacuum. (I like this Eureka one.) Get your kid(s) a decent quality, small broom and dust pan set, and teach them how to sweep! One of my daughters actually thinks this is a super fun activity. I also keep Mr. Clean Magic Erasers so that they can help me clean walls and baseboards, the Clorox Toilet Wand in their bathroom so that they can clean their own toilet without touching anything gross, and microfiber cloths in the laundry room so that they can dust low furniture. All of these are relatively safe for kids to use with minimal supervision!
Line your trash cans with plastic grocery bags. This way, your kids can easily collect the trash from every room in the house and carry it to your kitchen or outside trash bin! This is a great use for the endless plastic bags you accumulate from those weekly Walmart grocery pickup orders.
4. Use separate baskets for each person.
Keep a clutter basket for each kid in your living room or on the stairs. At the end of the day, it’s your kids’ (or husband’s) job to take their basket to their room and put their own items away, once they’re old enough for this task. (See number 3.)
Buy a separate laundry basket for every family member. (Or at least for every bedroom.) I learned this one from Jen Hatmaker. It makes sorting clean clothes so much more efficient, and it makes it easier for your kids to put away their own clothes. (Once again, see number 3.)
5. Get a vacuum and mop you enjoy using!
This is one of my biggest cleaning tips and tricks. I used to hate vacuuming but I am obsessed with my Shark Rocket. It’s powerful but also super lightweight and easy to maneuver. My mother-in-law just bought a newer, cordless version, and she’s in love. My Rubbermaid Spray Mop is also a keeper, because I can constantly wash and reuse the floor pads and refill the sprayer with any amazing-smelling cleaning liquids I want.
6. Make a cleaning schedule, and stick to it, within reason.
Pick one day of the week to clean bathrooms, one day to clean the kitchen, and one day to sweep, vacuum, and/or mop floors. (If you have shedding pets or messy toddlers, you may need to pick two or three days a week to clean floors. But you already knew that. Sorry.) This schedule may go out the window during times of illness or holidays, but if you can generally follow it, you won’t be left scrambling to clean up before company comes over.
7. Clean out your fridge once a month and your pantry every three months.
Take everything out, wipe down all shelves and surfaces, and toss out any expired or soiled foods. Donate non-perishable items you won’t use anytime soon to your local food bank. I’ve found that using clear plastic bins to sort and label the foods in my fridge and pantry and having disposable or washable liners inside my fridge bins and drawers and on my shelves speeds up this process significantly.
8. Clean out your closets and cabinets once a year.
Focusing on only one closet or cabinet at a time, take everything out and sort items into categories. Throw away expired medications, toiletries, and makeup and any clothing and shoes that have stains or holes.
Donate clothing and toys that your children have outgrown but are still in good condition to friends or family with younger kids, or sell it in a consignment swap. (You can mail your used bras to Free the Girls, a nonprofit that provides employment to survivors of sex trafficking.)
If you’re having trouble deciding which items to purge, you can always use Marie Kondo’s “spark joy” method if it works for you, but I prefer to ask myself, “Would I buy this again today?” It really helps me make a decision if I’m struggling.
9. Wash your curtains and bed pillows every three months.
We wash our sheets and towels frequently, but we tend to forget that our curtains and pillows accumulate dust and other debris quickly. Running them through the washer and dryer every three months keeps dust mites and other allergens at bay. Be sure to dry pillows on hot with a few tennis balls or wool dryer balls to fluff them. Pay attention to laundry labels on curtains, and you may need to hang them up outside or iron them after they’re clean to get rid of wrinkles.
10. Keep your appliances happy with regular maintenance!
Clean out your dryer vent every six months to keep your dryer running efficiently. Otherwise, lint will build up in the line, and you’ll eventually have to run the same load of laundry through the dryer multiple times to get it dry. Nobody has time for that!
Run a cleaning pod through your empty dishwasher to prevent buildup and wipe down the inside of your oven and microwave every other month to keep food and grease from accumulating.
I hope these cleaning tips and tricks for busy moms help you keep your house cleaner without losing your sanity!