Don’t waste precious minutes (or hours) on housecleaning tasks that have little reward — here are 9 chores you can feel free to shirk.
Scour the kitchen, scrub the bathroom, vacuum the living room, and then get ready to do it all again. Sound familiar? While some things may need a daily scrubbing (we’re looking at you, kitchen counters), there are other chores you can do less often or stop doing altogether, whether you’re renting an apartment in Tacoma, WA, or a house in Knoxville, TN. Starting today, take these tasks off your to-do list.
1. Dusting bookshelves
Instead, align the spines of your books flush with the edge of the shelves, says Donna Smallin Kuper, a certified housecleaning technician and small-space expert. Employing this tactic eliminates that little ledge, which is a prime spot for dust to collect in your home. And while you’re at it, skip the weekly furniture polish too. Every two to three weeks is plenty. (Unless you have dark furniture, on which dust may be more noticeable.)
2. Drying dishes by hand
Allowing dishes to air-dry is way more sanitary than using a towel. Another alternative: Use paper plates and cups every other day. If you run your dishwasher every other day rather than every day, you’ll save at least 1,600 gallons of hot water per year, according to Jeff Bredenberg, author of How to Cheat at Cleaning. Bonus: Using paper plates will keep you from spending time loading and unloading the dishwasher as often, and if you shop wisely, you can find ecofriendly options and potentially recycle them too.
3. Vacuuming entire rooms
“Vacuum the high-traffic areas frequently,” says Smallin Kuper. For other, less-used spaces? Once a week is all you need. And stop wearing your shoes indoors, which will significantly cut down on dirt.
4. Washing clothes after one wearing
Most clothing (except for underwear, of course) doesn’t need to be washed every time you wear it. Unless it’s stained or you sweated through it, put it back in your drawer or closet for next time.
5. Cleaning stains from plastic containers or utensils
Stop scrubbing those stubborn food discolorations and try a tip from Smallin Kuper: Leave these dishes out in bright, direct sunlight, either outdoors or indoors. Stains will disappear. Magic!
6. Removing oven spills
Use an oven liner or line the bottom of your oven with aluminum foil to catch food drips and spills. Pull it out, toss it in the trash, and voila! A clean oven, no scrubbing or self-cleaning cycle needed.
Look for wrinkle-resistant clothes or try this trick: Remove clothing immediately from the dryer, then fold or hang it. Or opt for a dryer with a steam setting, which will de-wrinkle most things for you.
8. Folding underwear
They don’t wrinkle, so there’s no need to fold them. Just toss them in a drawer and you’re done! If you simply must have a little more organization in your drawer, try stacking them flat instead, or test out a faster, more efficient technique like the Kondo Method.
9. Scouring the bathroom
“Give up long, hard cleaning sessions by cleaning more often before grime and grunge harden,” says Smallin Kuper. Rinse the bathroom sink after brushing teeth and use a squeegee on glass shower doors and walls. If getting elbow-deep in your toilet bowl makes you cringe, use a deodorizing product like 2000 Flushes, which will keep your toilet bowl sanitized for up to four months. (You’ll still need to give the rim a swipe with disinfectant, though.)