How to Clean Your House When You’re Too Busy

How to Clean Your House When You're Too Busy

One question that has come up around here a lot over the years is this:

How do you get a house clean when you’re just too busy (or worn out!) to clean it?

I feel your pain on that one.

Even if you have a free day, who wants to spend that day cleaning?

I thought since we’ll be talking about housekeeping here and there over the next few months, I’d share my number one strategy for cleaning even when you’re crazy busy.


Commit to keeping up with the stuff that piles up.

Yep, don’t hate me for saying it, but this means I clean every day. I just don’t clean everything when I’m busy. I let other things go. But I don’t give up on the house and do nothing at all. I just stick to the stuff that piles up every day.

How to Clean Your House When You're Too Busy

I know, cleaning every day seems awful when you’re tired or busy. You might think it sounds impossible if it isn’t something you do right now. And it can feel counterintuitive. If you’re busy, you really believe you don’t have any time to clean. So you don’t. By the weekend, the house is a pit and you’re not in the mood to spend the weekend cleaning. Four weeks later, it’s become embarrassing. A few months later, it’s depressing.

Even when we’re tired and in a super busy season around our house, we’re still committed to keep up with the stuff that piles up. That means the dishes have to get washed after dinner. We will wipe out the sinks every day and the toilet, too, as needed. We will do a load of laundry daily or at least several times a week. I’ll clear the junk off the main clutter hotspots so there are some moments of sanity.

Trust me, when I first tried cleaning this way I thought I hated this plan. I remember thinking OH MY WORD, I’m cleaning all day long now! That was an exaggeration, but in my mind it really felt like it was way too much.

But guess what?

The reason I felt like I couldn’t possibly clean this way was simply because it wasn’t yet a habit.

How to Clean Your House When You're Too Busy

Until daily cleaning was ingrained in my daily routine, I thought all the time about how hard it was! Once I got the hang of keeping up with what I didn’t want to pile up, I stopped giving any of it a second thought. The result became so worth it, the effort seemed to pale by comparison.

That doesn’t mean we don’t drag our feet when we realize we still have to do the dishes before we can head to bed. But we almost always do it anyway. Once in awhile we decide to skip it, but when we do it’s no big deal now because tidiness has become a routine we won’t forget or need to relearn.

So our main rule about daily housekeeping is…we just do it. It doesn’t take much time to clean up the kitchen when you do it regularly. Putting away that pile of clutter on your entry table, or tossing the piles of shoes in a basket will really only take a couple minutes each day. A load of laundry isn’t that big of a deal, you can even fold while you watch TV!

Keeping up with the dailies saves so much time and stress later on that it’s not even a question for us any more! We just do it because it’s worth it.

How to Clean Your House When You're Too Busy

If you’re feeling behind on everything, I still recommend you start the clean as you go plan! Of course everything won’t get done every day, but you’ll feel more in control with what you do accomplish. Plus keeping up on a few things feels more hopeful and inspiring.

If it helps, you could set a time limit you can handle every day, such as I will clean up the stuff that piles up every evening for 15 minutes. It’s not too hard to clean for 15 minutes a day, so a simple goal like this will empower you for success.

PS. Come back here later today for details and an invite to join my Simple Organizing Challenge Group and Launch Team for my new book!

My housekeeping books:

My latest book available for preorder now- Simple Organizing. Amazon or Barnes and Noble

Love the Home You Have (NY Times Bestseller). Amazon or Barnes and Noble

Make Room for What You Love. Amazon or Barnes & Noble

How to Clean Your House When You're Too Busy


  1. Melissa, this is such a great post to start this series with.
    It is an idea I really just couldn’t think would work for such a long time. I don’t know WHY I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. I am a detail person and can make every corner spotless. No dust or grime. For years I would scrub a room from top to bottom, but then leave a pile in every room of things I just didn’t attend to. Those piles really bugged me. I had been retired for three years when I felt I had gone through every room in the house and had it cleaned, but still had that totally unrelaxed feeling. I finally took about two full days and addressed those piles in each room. I decided if they didn’t have a place to go, they were going to trash or donation period. I got ruthless.
    Literally, the house came together.
    The daily cleaning felt right.
    I have worked daily since to address all hotspots and have no piles.

  2. I totally agree. We often feel overwhelmed with what needs to be done and don’t notice how much time we’re spending on social media or watching TV. Most of us really do have 15 minutes to spare. Try doing these four things every day: make your bed, wash the dishes, take out the trash, and do a load of laundry. Even if you don’t do anything else, you can go a long time with a reasonable level of clean. Plus you’ll feel motivated and energized because the basics are in order.

  3. Great post for the busy, busier and busiest person! And Sandy, I agree…those piles!

  4. I agree! Great post and my piles are getting smaller :)

  5. I have to say I’m really good about doing this. My house is always tidy, and I keep the sink clear of dishes, the counters wiped down, the laundry in check, the beds made….that’s just a regular daily thing. Admittedly, yesterday is the first day in as long as I can remember that I didn’t make my bed with the same care I normally do. I felt so ill with this darned cold I could barely manage to straighten the covers and stumble out to work! Today the bed is made once again, which must mean I’m feeling at least a LITTLE better, right?

  6. Love this post!! I haven’t quite got to the point were cleaning every day is a habit yet, but i’m getting there!! Thanks for the inspiration.

  7. Great tips but in all honesty, I feel I was far more disciplined when the children were still at home however being an empty nester now I do have the tendency to let a few things slide but not to the point it is out of control … ☺.

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