How to Clean Your House in One Day

There’s surface cleaning — the chores that you do on a weekly basis — and then there’s deep cleaning, where you move the furniture to discover what’s hiding underneath it, sanitize the fridge, clean out the closets, and throw out all the excess clutter you’ve accumulated over the past few months.

We only do a deep clean a couple times a year (that’s why spring cleaning has a name all its own), and it’s a formidable task.

While this post won’t make your deep clean any less formidable, it will help you clean more efficiently. So get your broom, mop, and trash bags ready, readers — it’s time to scrub-a-dub-dub your abode until it sparkles…and do it in one day. (See also: 8 Tasks You Shouldn't Skip During Spring Cleaning)

1. Pick Up Products in Advance

Before you start the clean, think about the products you’ll need — cleaning products, rags, sponges, etc. — and have them at the ready. But first, go through your bottles to make sure you have enough supply. Your day of cleaning will go much quicker if you have everything you need opposed to having to stop in the middle of it to run to the store to replenish the supply. You don’t have to go overboard, either. You know that the “multipurpose cleaner” you have works just as well in the kitchen as it does in the bathroom; you do not need products that are marketed for specific areas of the home. Cleaner is cleaner, no matter which area the label claims.

2. Make a List of Specific Areas That You Want to Tackle

When you’re in the zone, it’s easy to forget about certain areas that you want to tackle. To avoid this problem, make a list of tasks, like cleaning under raised furniture (all kinds of stuff collects there out of your sight), deicing the freezer, and wiping down the blinds. When you’re concentrating on the big picture, you can forget about the little items, which will extend your cleaning time if you have to go back.

3. Wake Up Early

You can’t do a deep clean — and stay motivated — if you start at 11 a.m. I know that most cleans like this take place on the weekend, but make a conscious decision to set your alarm to get up early. You'll also finish earlier, leaving more time in your evening to do something you actually want to do.

4. Separate All Washable Items and Put Them in Piles

Before you begin, go through each room, strip all the linens, and put them in piles to be washed. Making this one of your tasks to do all at once will reduce the amount of time you’ll spend having to remove linens in piecemeal. Another thing to keep in mind — keep an eye on the washer and dryer. You don’t want a load sitting in the washer for three hours when you can wash two more loads in that time.

5. Concentrate on One Room at a Time

This is one of my biggest problems when I’m cleaning. I take an item that belongs in another room to that room but then start cleaning something in the room to which I brought those items. That’s totally time consuming. When you plan to clean a certain room, stick to that room. If you find items that belong elsewhere, put them in a pile and take them there when you’re ready to move on to the room in which they belong.

6. Delegate Responsibilities to Other People Who Live With You

Have a spouse or kids? Honey, you are not their maid. A deep clean is a group effort. All parties who live in that home contributed to the mess, so it’s only fair that everyone lends a helping hand. Of course, they’re probably not going to clean as thoroughly as you will, so choose to delegate surface tasks to them. You’ll still have to deep clean those parts of the house, but at least you’ll save some time since you won’t have to pick up dirty underwear from the floor.

7. Turn Up the Music

Don't clean in silence. Plug in your iPod and crank up the jams. It’ll keep you motivated and get you in a good mood. Plus, who doesn't like to shake their booty while their washing the dishes? It's much more fun that way.

8. Put Pressure on Yourself

My trick is to plan a big party. I do not want my guests coming over to a house that isn’t in pristine condition. When I know that people are arriving at a certain time, I’m more motivated to move my butt so I can beat the clock. This is a tad counterintuitive, because you’ll have to clean up after the party too, but at least the big things will be done; all you have to concentrate on the next day is the surface stuff.

9. Enlist Outside Help

Ask a friend or two to come over and help you. Granted, this won’t be easy (it’s sort of like moving; coincidentally no one you know is available that day), but you may be able to convince your pals to get down and dirty by providing an incentive like a small fee or dinner and drinks afterward. While I generally don’t advocate paying for something you can do for yourself, the truth is, cleaning sucks — and good help is hard to find; I’ll take whatever I can get that's within my budget.

Have other ways to breeze through a deep clean in a day? Let me know in the comments below.

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Guest's picture
Lisa D

Challenge yourself by setting a timer before you start each room. It'll help you stay more focused on the task at hand...knowing there's a time limit. Also, save yourself from doing double work. Remember the laws of gravity! Start at the ceiling and work your way down. Any crud that falls to the floor can be cleaned up at the end.

Guest's picture
Thrifty Writer

I totally agree. I can whip through while cleaning rooms when the clock is audibly ticking!

Meg Favreau's picture

Wake up early -- YES. I don't know how people can start cleaning late in the day. I'm also a big proponent of having people over to force myself to clean.

Guest's picture

I'm guilty of getting distracted when trying to focus on one room at a time. Next time I'm cleaning, I'll definitely try your tip of putting everything that goes to a different room, into one pile to deal with later.

Guest's picture

Regarding #8...........Have your place presentable but NEVER clean before the party - it's a waste of time.......Instead focus on having a great time with friends eating good food..........And then clean

Guest's picture

A cleaning product I have found that saves time and money is the Holy Moly cloth. I use it to wipe mirrors, windows, my computer screen and found that it gets the job done without streaks or chemicals. All I use is water. It's also nice to know I'm being gentler to the Earth too.

Guest's picture

I love this! Our rule is to have a get-together once each month to ensure our house doesn't get too bad. It still looks like crap most of the other time, but it looks less crappy as each month goes by!! Great article, thanks!

Guest's picture

I am on the verge of getting a housekeeper. Our home is large and never clean all at once. It is quite depressing to get most done, only to have it undone by family members...

Guest's picture

Wake up early! Yeah, I'm guilty. I got a lot of plans and schedule in terms of cleaning, but when I wake up the next morning, it seems that everything is unattainable and I have the tendency to postpone. But this tips are great help. I should concentrate at one room at a time so that I won't get tired thinking of the things that I haven't done yet.