10 Best Tips for Anyone Who Wants to Spend Less Time Cleaning

Yes, it's absolutely possible to control your mess without letting it control your life. Find out how you can streamline your chores and create more time for yourself.

This content is paid advertising created in partnership with ILIFE. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.

  1. Seek Out Shortcuts

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    Seek Out Shortcuts

    You don't need to choose between having a clean home and having a life. If dusting, scrubbing, and vacuuming are taking over your spare time, shake up your cleaning routine with some smart shortcuts. These next tips will help you speed through your chores so you can devote more hours to hobbies, gym classes, meditation, or just catching up on well-deserved sleep.

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  2. 1. Enlist a (Robotic) Helper

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    1. Enlist a (Robotic) Helper

    As the saying goes, many hands make light work. Helpers will speed any chore along, but especially those tedious tasks like vacuuming and sweeping, which may involve rearranging your furniture so you can clean everything.

    The good news is, you don't have to hire a weekly maid service to cover every square foot of your house. Instead, assign the task to an automated cleaning assistant like the new ILIFE A9 robot vacuum (available on Amazon for $279.99 regularly or for a discounted price of $181 on Black Friday). While the A9 roams the floors in search of dust and debris, you can knock out the laundry or other chores and cut your total cleaning time in half. Or, schedule the A9 robot vacuum to do its thing while you’re at work or running errands so you can return to spotless floors. It operates via a remote, smartphone app, or—if your hands are full—voice control, thanks to the A9's Alexa-compatible speech recognition.

    Plus, you won't need to worry about the A9 getting derailed on the job. This three-inch-tall vacuum navigates handily between hard, flat surfaces like tile or hardwood and low-pile rugs, and it maneuvers under and around most furniture like a pro.

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  3. 2. Keep Supplies in the Most Convenient Location

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    2. Keep Supplies in the Most Convenient Location

    Jobs always go faster when you have the supplies you need handy. Keep kitchen cleaning supplies stocked in the cabinet under the sink and bathroom cleansers inside a drawer to the vanity. Likewise, line the can with three or more new bags, layering each one on top of the last. That way, there will already be another clean bag waiting for you right where you need it—and one less step the next time you take out the garbage, saving precious time when you’re in a hurry.

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  4. 3. Time It Right

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    3. Time It Right

    Some cleaning tasks are best tackled at certain times of day or in certain weather, so schedule those accordingly to avoid the need for do-overs. For instance, ammonia-based window cleaners evaporate quickly when the sun is shining, which results in streaky windows and repeated washings. You’ll complete the task more quickly—and get better results—if you wait for a cloudy day to clean the windows.

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  5. 4. Set and Stick to Limits

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    4. Set and Stick to Limits

    Remember, you don't have to clean the whole house in one go! In fact, you'll spend less time cleaning by staying focused and working on one smaller area at a time. So, make a short list of cleaning priorities and stick to those specific areas.

    Smart cleaning tools can help you focus on the task at hand. For example, you can easily cordon off sections of your home that you don't want your ILIFE A9 robot vacuum to clean just yet. Simply position one of its Electrowall modules just outside an open door with the signal transmitter pointing across the doorway, and it will create an invisible boundary that the A9 will vacuum up to, but not past. When it's time to clean, the vacuum will map out the accessible space and meticulously sweep and suck up dirt and debris from only every inch it can reach.

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  6. 5. Let Cleansers Work While You Sleep

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    5. Let Cleansers Work While You Sleep

    Some cooking appliances require that cleansers soak for several hours to remove grease, which might leave you sitting around for just as long waiting to finish a job. Or, worse, your kitchen is out of commission during the day for cleaning (and perhaps even the tub where its grates or knobs are soaking, too). If you don’t want a delay, start by soaking overnight.

    Many of today’s commercial oven cleaners are designed to be applied to the interior of a cold oven and left on for a few hours to allow the cleaner to dissolve baked-on foods. Apply oven cleaner as recommended on the packaging before you go to bed, and then close the oven door. In the morning, the mess will wipe off with ease.

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  7. 6. Read the Instructions

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    6. Read the Instructions

    Even the most straightforward household task goes more smoothly if you simply follow instructions the first time. Loading the dishwasher is a great example. While people debate about the best way to load a dishwasher, most manufacturers recommend alternating the direction of forks and spoons to keep them from “nesting” during the cycle and trapping food particles between the utensils. If you take the time to load about half of the utensils with their handles up and the other half with their handles down, you won't have to waste time rewashing flatware by hand when the cycle is finished.

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  8. 7. Loosen Grime Before You Begin

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    7. Loosen Grime Before You Begin

    Don't waste your breath scrubbing caked-on stains around the house when you can get a head-start. Heat or steam may help loosen the hold of anything from poster adhesive that is still stuck to the wall to stubborn food and grease inside the microwave. Afterward, wiping away what remains will take hardly any time at all.

    To steam the grimy kitchen appliance, place a microwave-safe bowl filled halfway with water in the center of the turntable, closing the door, and bringing the water to a boil. Then, turn off the microwave and leave its door closed for 15 minutes. When time's up, the steam from the boiled water will have partially dissolved the food stains so that you can wipe it all up with a paper towel.

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  9. 8. Never Start a Job on Empty

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    8. Never Start a Job on Empty

    Preparation is the key to a speedy, successful cleanup. You can’t run the dishwasher without detergent, nor can you scrub the sink without a sponge. The lack of either necessity will inevitably slow you down. 

    Fortunately, when it comes to keeping your floors clean, you never have to wonder whether the battery on your ILIFE A9 vacuum is full, and you don't have to waste time waiting around for it to recharge. When the A9 finishes with your floors (or when its battery starts running low after as many as 120 minutes of use), it automatically returns to its docking station to charge up for the next cleaning. Find a spot along a wall where the A9 won’t be in the way, and it will always be charged and ready to roll when you need it.

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  10. 9. Do a Little Every Day

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    9. Do a Little Every Day

    A bit of proactive daily cleaning helps keep your home tidy, and nowhere is this more the case than in the bathroom. You'll spend fewer days (and less elbow grease) scrubbing soap scum from bathroom surfaces if you prevent it from forming in the first place by spritzing around a little cleansing spray every time you hop out of the shower. Mix a cup of hydrogen peroxide with a cup of rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle, and then add one tablespoon of liquid dish soap and two tablespoons of dishwasher rinse aid. Don't forget to shake the bottle to remix the ingredients before each use.

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  11. 10. Tackle Chores in a More Efficient Order

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    10. Tackle Chores in a More Efficient Order

    Scaling back the time you spend cleaning can be as simple as strategically rearranging your to-do list so that the messy stuff comes first. Certain chores may inadvertently create more mess for you to clean up. When dusting, for example, you're bound to stir up dust particles and brush some to the floor and possibly dirty the freshly cleaned floor. 

    Rather than make your A9 robot vacuum do twice the work, you'll finish your chores faster if you dust first. Take a feather duster or microfiber cloth to furnishings, baseboards, blinds, wall hangings, and more before you send the A9 on its vacuuming rounds.

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  12. Don't Miss!

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    For the handy home improver, few pleasures compare to the joy of a well-stocked workshop. Take a look at this roundup of some of the best and most essential tools for DIYers of every stripe, and see which items might be missing from your own home improvement headquarters.