Minimalist Housework – Clean with as Little Work as Possible

minimalist housework

“Few tasks are more like the torture of Sisyphus than housework, with its endless repetition: the clean becomes soiled, the soiled is made clean, over and over, day after day.”

– Simone de Beauvoir

I don’t know about you, but I hate housework. As a result, over the years I’ve developed some minimalist housework methods so my home is pretty clean without a lot of work.

Housework Avoidance

The first set of tips involves avoiding as much housework as possible while still having a relatively clean home.

  • Have less stuff.
  • Don’t be obsessive about cleaning. Find your “good enough” points (plural because this is likely to vary depending on whether it’s just your immediate family at home or you’re hosting a dinner party).
  • Try to keep counters, table tops and other flat surfaces clear. This includes the floor. It’s much faster to wipe counters and vacuum floors if you don’t have to move a bunch of stuff first.
  • If you have collections or other knickknacks you aren’t interested in decluttering, keep them on shelves with glass doors, in memory boxes or otherwise not open to the air so they don’t get dusty.
  • Take off your shoes at the door and wipe your dogs’ feet before they come in. At the very least, get good quality doormats inside and outside each door.
  • Calendar yourself for maintenance tasks. Keeping your grout properly sealed, for instance, will make cleaning it a lot easier.
  • If you’re remodeling or buying new stuff, choose easy-to-clean surfaces.

Clean More Often

OK, this would seem to contradict the last set of tips, but cleaning more often is a minimalist housework practice, because it saves time in the long run.

  • Always wipe up spills immediately.
  • I find pans are often easiest to clean while they’re still hot (don’t burn yourself!). Alternatively, soak them while you’re eating.
  • Have some downtime while you’re waiting for something? Clean the top of the stove while you wait for the microwave to beep or wipe down the counters while you wait for your coffee to brew.
  • Clean before things get really dirty. Otherwise, instead of dusting the mini-blinds, for example, you may have to take them down, soak them in the tub and scrub them.

Think First

  • Don’t just randomly start cleaning things. Make a plan. Always clean top to bottom (because of gravity – dirt falls down when you clean). Also, get all your cleaning supplies together before you start.
  • If you like to clean a little at a time instead of in one huge cleaning spree, calendar yourself for certain jobs. Clean the kitchen on Mondays, the bathrooms on Tuesday, dust on Wednesday, and vacuum on Thursday, for instance.
  • Don’t assume you already know the best way to clean something. Often, there’s a much simpler way than lots of elbow grease. If you have a difficult task, ask friends or do an Internet search before you get started.

Make Cleaning a Joint Activity

  • Get family members to do their part. Obviously a fair allocation of chores will depend on your family’s circumstances and the age of children, but each person should at least do basic cleaning up after themselves, such as putting dirty clothes in a hamper, not on the floor.
  • For major cleaning projects, have cleaning parties with friends. Try getting together to do a deep clean once a year at each person’s home or, if you all live nearby, having monthly or weekly cleaning parties.

Change your attitude.

  • Follow Thích Nhất Hạnh’s advice and use housework time to meditate.

You do not have to be a monk or living in a monastery to practice mindfulness. You can practice it anytime, while driving your car or doing housework. Driving in mindfulness will make the time in your car joyful, and it will also help you avoid accidents. You can use the red traffic light as a signal of mindfulness, reminding you to stop and enjoy your breathing. Similarly, when you do the dishes after dinner you can practice mindful breathing, so the time dish washing is pleasant and meaningful. You do not feel you have to rush. If you hurry, you waste the time of dish washing. The time you spend washing dishes and doing all your other everyday tasks is precious. It is a time for being alive. When you practice mindful living, peace will bloom during your daily activities.

  • Listen to music or audiobooks while you clean.
  • Talk to a friend on the phone (easy enough with a Bluetooth earpiece).
  • Writing a book? Agatha Christie said, “The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes. ”

What minimalist housework methods do you employ?


4 thoughts on “Minimalist Housework – Clean with as Little Work as Possible

  1. A Swiffer duster. Picks up all that dust other methods often just push around. Then you throw it away and install a new one. Mine has an extending handle so I can dust high and low including the floor. Quick and easy.

    • Yeah, dusting can be a lost cause unless you actually get rid of it. I was thinking about getting a Swiffer mop for the laminate floors we’ll have, but making some reusable washable covers – however I don’t know if there’s a way to make a reusable duster that actually works the way Swiffer dusters do. Any readers know?

  2. I love a clean house but hate cleaning. 🙂 The only way housework gets done cheerfully here is if I have upbeat music playing while I clean.

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