How to Become a Cleaner Person with 5 Small Steps

Let me start this post by saying that I’m not a naturally clean person. I’m good at a lot of things, but cleaning isn’t one of them. Still, I keep trying to ask myself: How do I become A Cleaner Person(tm).

I was many years ago before I had a full-time job, a side job, a social life, and hobbies. I lived alone in near-pristine conditions and spent a solid 10 hours every Saturday cleaning my apartment from top to bottom.

It was sickening.

But now? Honey, I have a LIFE. I’m on the go almost every day and that’s not a humble brag. Could I dedicate my Saturday to cleaning? Probably. Do I want to waste one of my precious rest days on it? Fuck no.

So, instead, I’ve spent my time finding small steps I can take to learn how to become a cleaner person and keep my apartment from looking like Oscar the Grouch’s trash can. As you can guess, little steps are the key.

How to become a cleaner person: Picture of the bottoms of a mop, broom, and dustpan.

1. Set a schedule to clean (like someone who is trying to become a cleaner person)

This is probably the least sexy answer to the question of “How do I become clean??” Just like no one wants to hear that the key to weight loss is diet and exercise, no disorganized person wants to hear that the key to cleaning is to clean.

But it is. Sorry. Build a bridge and get over it. This is how you become a cleaner person!

The best way to do this is to build it right into your day. Do 15 minutes of cleaning right after getting dressed in the morning or coming home after work.

I do the latter. In fact, I don’t allow myself to change into yoga pants or pajamas until I’ve finished my dedicated 15 minutes. Back in the day when I would wake up at 5 a.m. to get through hour-plus workouts, I would start my day off with a 30-minute cleaning sesh (man, I was productive back then).

When you treat cleaning like brushing your teeth and do it every day, it helps.

2. Find entertainment that won’t distract you

I use cleaning as my way to catch up on podcasts I’ve gotten behind on because I’m too busy listening to Queen on my commute.

This is perfect for timed cleaning sessions, too, because you can find a podcast of your needed length and just get going until you hear the outro music.

Obviously this can also work for audio books and, for some people, TV shows. I’m not someone who can split her visual focus between the TV and cleaning, but plenty of people can, so power to you if you’re one of them! Whatever helps you to become a cleaner person!

3. Set a timer and take breaks

This tip came from Unfuck Your Habitat by Rachel Hoffman. The book and website are, by far, the best resources that exist for helping anyone learn how to become a cleaner person.

The basis of Rachel’s advice is the 20/10 system, which represents 20 minutes of cleaning and a 10-minute break. This is necessary because it keeps you from burning out the way marathon cleaning does. It’s also sustainable and something you can do a little at a time. 

4. Don’t leave a room without taking something with you

My parents, who are not clean people yet do their best nonetheless, bestowed this wisdom on me, and it actually works pretty well.

Basically, if you get up to go to the bathroom, look around and see if there’s something from the bathroom you can take with you. On your way back, is there anything from the bathroom you should bring with you?

It’s something small that keeps me from hoarding cups in my bedroom and bathroom and makes putting my shit away less painful.


5. Use your waiting time wisely

Whenever you have an extra minute like waiting for the shower to warm up or the microwave to reheat your food, tidy up around you.

I swear, you will be surprised by how much you can get done in such a short amount of time. Being unnaturally competitive means I usually turn this into a “Beat the Clock” game to see just how much I can get done while the seconds count down on the kitchen timer.

You won’t believe it when you see the results of a few small changes, but I swear, you’ll be glad you gave them a go.

Am I missing anything? What’s your favorite small tip for getting your place a little tidier? Have you learned how to become a cleaner person?

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