We’re a small family of three with 2 cats, living in a 110 sq meter HDB. Everyone brings and creates their own mess in the house.
My cats would occasionally vomit and poop somewhere in the house. My kid would often dump her toys on the floor and spread it across the house. (Click here if you’d like to know how I stay sane when cleaning the house with a toddler).
My husband (who doesn’t help with chores!) will keep on piling the dishes in the kitchen and constantly leave glasses, utensils, etc., and on random surfaces. I, on the other hand, am trying to fight the urge to burn down our house.
So how to clean a messy house in one day, in 6 hours or less, without imploding, you ask?
I share my ways below:
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Prepping on On How to Clean a Messy House In One Day
Now is not the time to declutter your kid’s toys. Now is also not the time to organize all your towels, cutlery, documents, etc.
Priority now is to do a general cleaning of the house – that’s it. We’re not going to declutter, we’re not going to organize, we’re not going to arrange anything. We are just going to do a general cleaning of our dear old messy house.
I know it’s hard as you’d probably want to arrange and organize but you can do that later or for another day, after the whole house is clean.
Just like any tasks, you have to pencil it in, in your calendar and make sure to absolutely commit to doing it.
Make it into a routine. If, say, you’ve decided to clean the house every Friday, do that every Friday. If you’ve decided to do a general cleaning every 2 weeks and a light cleaning in between, then do that. Just commit to doing it, schedule it.
Make sure as much as possible, that no can and nothing can disturb you
If it’s possible, ask your spouse, your in-laws, relatives or friends to pick up the kids and keep everyone out for at least 6 hours.
Put your pets in cages, don’t let them walk around freely in the house. It might be harmful for them to lick a freshly mopped floor, especially if you used some special floor cleaners. Plus, you don’t want them walking around after you’ve just finished mopping the floor.
If it’s not possible and your kids are all big enough to understand instructions, tell them to stay first in the last room you’ll clean and give them all the toys, books, iPad, snacks that they need, just to make sure they stay there.
If you have babies, put them in their cribs.
For toddlers, hopefully, you have a baby-proofed room with a baby gate on it and just put them there. Provide them with all the toys that they’d want and check up on them from time to time.
Start as early as possible
Think about it – the earlier you start, the earlier you’ll finish. So don’t delay the inevitable. Start it the minute you have free time. You don’t want to still be cleaning when it’s already dinner time.
Play some music/ podcast
Playing music or listening to a podcast makes cleaning more fun and less tedious, for me that is. I usually play some music when the vacuum is on then turn that off and play a podcast for quieter activities like wiping the kitchen counter, mopping the floors, etc.
My music entertains and energizes me while I learn a lot of new stuff from listening to my podcasts, all while cleaning the house at the same time.
Start the laundry
Throw a batch of dirty clothes in the washing machine before starting to clean.
That way, once you’re finished cleaning a room or two, you’ll be finished with that first batch.
Then put that in the dryer and start another round of laundry.
Take out the trash in all the rooms and throw them out
You’d want to do this first before cleaning so you don’t get the floor dirty again, when you’re lugging away the trash and something falls from it.
I usually put some big plastic bags inside the trash bins around the house, making it easy to just tie off the edges and carry them altogether outside for throwing.
Grab another bag and go around the rooms to quickly scan and pick up any trash. Collect all the bags and throw all together outside.
Prepare your tools
I usually have 2 microfibre cloths that I use for wiping – a damp one and a dry one. I also have a fabric spray for our couch, then of course the vacuum cleaner and a mop with a pail.
I take all of those out and put it in the first room that I’m going to clean.
I also take out all the bathroom cleaning tools and put them in the bathroom that I’m going to clean first, which is usually, the guest bathroom.
All my cleaning tools are now out and ready – vacuum is plugged, mop is on the pail, pail has water mixed with a cup of floor cleaner, I have my fabric spray cleaner, my microfiber cloths and my surface spray cleaner, one for the the usual hard surfaces and one for my kid’s playmat.
And now, I’m ready to clean.
Have a system for cleaning
Our house has 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a living/ dining area and a service balcony. And oh a storage closet. It may not be a lot for some people but for one tired mama, that’s a whole lot of room to clean!
So I became quite methodological with how I navigate the rooms to clean. As one, I don’t want to step over and dirty up areas I’ve already cleaned and two, I want to maximize my time cleaning as thoroughly as possible.
My system is, after mopping the living room/ dining area, while waiting for the floor to dry there, I go to the service balcony and clean and mop that area.
Then while waiting for the floor to dry there, I clean the kitchen.
Then I step out of the living room/ dining area, where the floor is already dry and clean, and go to the bedrooms next.
And so on and so forth.
I’ve hired some help before in cleaning the house when things get a little busy. Maybe because they’re not familiar with the house but I really don’t like it when they have to step over a freshly mopped floor to clean another area of the house. Then go and mop that floor again.
For me, it’s just inefficient to do that so better to just have a lay of the land, as they say and plan out how you’re going to clean the rooms, which room you’re cleaning first, etc.
Start with the hardest room to clean
The hardest room to clean for me, is the living room/ dining area.
It’s the hardest to clean because one, it’s big and two, there’s just so many toys, pet stuff, furniture and clutter in it.
I feel like when I finish cleaning this room, a major weight has been lifted off my shoulders – mentally and physically.
It makes me feel so motivated to continue cleaning the other rooms and makes me feel like I’ve accomplished cleaning half of the house already when I’m finished cleaning this room.
Break down tasks per room
In general, cleaning tasks per room fall under the following:
- Clearing – take everything off the floor, put all the stuff on the table/ on top of the drawer inside a container, etc. Anything that would hinder you from doing the next tasks, clear it and put it away or put it inside a container. Then just put them back after mopping.
- Dusting and wiping – applies to all rooms – windows, tables, chairs, drawers, cabinets, pet cages, etc.
- Vacuuming – I vacuum our sofa, the chairs (we have cats) and of course, the floors.
- Mopping – Floors, of course.
The bathroom is an entirely different matter as I mostly scrub and rinse there.
Breaking down cleaning tasks makes the whole thing less overwhelming. Instead of thinking – holy shit, I have to clean the whole house – you’ll be thinking – oh, I have to clear this room first of toys, I can easily do that!
So step one – clear first, step two – dust and wipe, step 3 – vacuum, and so on. You won’t even realize it but you’ve already cleaned an entire room!
Do batch cleaning for rooms that are easier to clean
Batching is a process where you group and do tasks that have more or less, the same process.
Say for example, instead of finishing cleaning one bedroom after the other, what I do sometimes is, I vacuum all the bedrooms in one go. Then I mop them, one after the other.
You can also try batching general cleaning tasks. So instead of cleaning the living room, then the dining room, etc, you can clear everything first in all the rooms. Then dust and wipe all the rooms, then vacuum, etc.
Personally, I only do batching in bedrooms sometimes, they’re easier and quicker to clean.
I don’t really do clean batching for the whole house as I like feeling I’ve already ticked off a big task in my list, which is cleaning the biggest room in the house. It gives me that sense of accomplishment when I’ve already cleaned off even just one room.
If I do batching, I won’t immediately get that sense of satisfaction until I’m totally finished mopping all the rooms.
But if you prefer batching, then go for it. Go for a system that’s easier and manageable for you.
Those are my tips on how to clean a messy house in one day. But if you want to know how I personally clean our house in less than 6 hours, read on below.
Tips on How To Clean A Messy House in One Day
Before I start cleaning, I make sure that the laundry is running and the trash is already thrown out. My cleaning tools are near me, I play my favorite podcasts or music then I start cleaning.
Living room/ Dining Area
For the living/ dining room, I start by dumping all the toys in my kid’s room that’s just right beside the living room.
I dust off and wipe the tables, cabinets, TV console, drawers, windows, chairs, pet cage.
I then put up every random thing that I can find (while dusting off), either on the dining table or in a plastic bag that I’ve prepared for trash (or cat’s vomit/ poop).
Then I vacuum the sofa and spray a cleaning product on it.
Now I can vacuum the floor. I don’t wait and vacuum the entire room though then mop the floors.
What I usually do is I’ll vacuum one end of the room (living room area only, under TV console, under sofa, under my kid’s table, etc.), then mop it.
Then I’ll vacuum the middle of our living/ dining room then mop that. Then by the time I’m finished vacuuming and mopping the other end of the room, I’ll have that sense of satisfaction knowing that, hey, just like that, I’ve finished cleaning the biggest, hardest room to clean in the house!
I then leave that room alone and go to the next area, which is the service balcony.
Our service balcony is just right outside the guest bathroom, which makes it easy to get a fresh round of pail water with another mix of floor cleaner.
We have a washing machine, a dyer on top of it, a big cat litter box, 3-4 huge bags of cat litter pellets and a large unused standing fan in our service balcony. There’s only enough space around the washing machine and for walking to the bathroom, if I’m being perfectly honest.
What I usually do is I take out the bags of cat litter pellets, then do a quick dusting of the washing machine, dryer, fan and a little chair there where I place the powder detergent.
Then I vacuum the small area. I start with the nooks and crannies and tight spaces around the washing machine. I move around the cat litter box and vacuum the rest of the floor.
After which, I mop.
I then throw out the used pail water and replace it with some new water mixed again with floor cleaner.
I then go out of the bathroom and mop again while walking back to the kitchen (which is just beside the service balcony). I walk backwards, mopping the floor that I stepped on while walking back to the kitchen.
We have an adequate kitchen. Most will probably find it small but I find it cozy – almost everything is within reach.
I clear things out first, like this small sort of table for drying the pots and pans, my husband’s numerous juice drinks, the cat food, etc.
I then dust and wipe everything – kitchen counters, floating shelves, cabinets, tables, etc.
Then I vacuum and mop the floor.
Now I can go out and walk around to the living room/ dining area as the floor is dry and then I start cleaning the bedrooms and bathrooms.
TIME SPENT: 2 hours
Next to clean are the master bedroom and my kid’s bedroom. The other bedroom is my husband’s man cave. I don’t touch that room as there’s a lot of equipment and man toys there, eg. swords and arrows (I know right?!) and I told him, I don’t want to injure myself cleaning his room. So I don’t clean that room.
The bedrooms are relatively easier to clean. I start first by putting back all the toys that are from the living room/ dining area.
Then I take out the 2 containers of toys and books in my kid’s bedroom, out in the living room.
Then I dust and wipe the window, stand fan, table and cabinets.
I then take off all the mattress protector, bedsheet, pillow cases, bolster cases and dump them outside the room. I put all the pillows, bolsters on top of the table.
The mattress is on the floor (my kid refuses to sleep in her crib when right after her 1st birthday, so I opted to co-sleep with her on a mattress on the floor as it was safer for her), so I lift the mattress first and make it stand by the wall.
Then there are playmats surrounding the mattress, so I lift those too, make them stand then spray and wipe them clean.
I leave them standing while I vacuum.
Then I mop the floor.
Then just like that, the first bedroom is done.
It’s also the same process with the master bedroom. I clear out all the things on the floor and the table, dust and wipe, remove bedsheets and pillow cases then vacuum and mop the floor.
TIME SPENT: 1 hour
I go first to the guest bathroom and start clearing away all the things inside. That bathroom is usually filled with some containers with sensory toys, things that we don’t usually use like pails, basins, my daughter’s old baby bath tub, etc.
But after I’ve taken those out, that bathroom is so easy to clean as it’s way smaller and there are less things to clean there, than the master bedroom.
I wipe the mirrors, spray and scrub the toilet, wipe and scrub the walls, scrub the floor then rinse everything. I can usually finish cleaning this room in less than 20 minutes.
The bathroom in the master bedroom on the other hand, is much harder to clean.
As one, it’s bigger and two, there’s so much stuff to clean there, like my kid’s bath tub, my kid’s own small toilet, stool and large basin for my kid to play with, my kid’s toys, etc.
Not to mention, all our toiletries, shampoos and what not are there. Plus there’s a glass wall and door separating the shower area from the toilet area so that’s another thing to clean.
In the master bathroom, apart from wiping, spraying and scrubbing the usual bathroom parts (sink, toilet, shower head, glass wall and door), I also have to clean my kid’s tub, toilet, stool and basin.
We also have one huge and one small anti-slip bathroom floor mat, which of course, I also need to clean.
I alway start cleaning my kid’s stuff first then I take them out and place them on a rug outside.
Then I clear out all the toiletries, shampoos, body wash, etc. which I place in my kid’s basin, which I take out and place on top of my kid’s stool.
Then I pretty much go through the usual process of cleaning the bathroom – wipe, spray, scrub and rinse.
TIME SPENT: 1 hour
Nope, I’m not done yet.
I then check the laundry and put the clothes in the dryer and run another batch of dirty clothes in the washing machine.
I start arranging all the toys in the living room and will sometimes do a toy rotation.
I then do a quick organizing and arranging of all the other stuff in the living room/ dining area, kitchen.
Then I wash the dishes and wipe the kitchen counter and gas stove.
I now go to the guest bathroom and start arranging and putting back the stuff I took out.
Then I proceed to the master bathroom and do the same arranging of bathroom items.
Then I take a bath. I want to take a bath first before I finish off the bedrooms. I don’t like touching the clean bedsheets and pillow cases while I’m all sweaty and dirty.
After which, I put clean bedsheets, pillow cases and bolster cases on the master bedroom.
Then I go to my kid’s bedroom, put down the mattress on the floor and put a clean mattress protector, bed sheet and also the pillow cases and bolster cases.
And that’s it. I’m finished for the day.
TIME SPENT: Less than 2 hours
Takeaway on How To Clean A Messy House in One Day
I used to clean our house in one day before, when I was still looking for a job.
But now I have a part-time job which usually ends after lunch hours, I break down the general cleaning in two days.
I clean the living room/ dining area, service balcony and kitchen in the first day, then clean the 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms the next day.
I do it this way, as I want to still have the time and energy to cook dinner (I do it every night) and play with my kid when I pick her up from childcare.
For the rest of the cleaning, like the microwave, the fridge, kid’s toys, etc., I do those in the other days.
And there you have it. I hope these tips will help you manage and clean your entire home in an efficient manner. No more crying out in frustration, asking “How to clean a messy house in one day!”
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