This 1 Simple Technique Is The Secret To Making Cleaning Your Home Less Miserable

<span class="copyright">Rockaa via Getty Images</span>
Rockaa via Getty Images

Hate cleaning? You’re not alone.

Keeping your living quarters tidy can be tiring, tedious and stressful. Maybe that’s why a staggering 78% of respondents in a recent Taskrabbit survey said they’ve gotten into a fight with someone about household chores.

Unfortunately, unless we can somehow pull a Snow White and convince a gang of woodland creatures to scrub down our homes, we’re stuck doing it ourselves. So what can we do to despise it less?

That’s what we — Raj Punjabi and Noah Michelson, hosts of HuffPost’s “Am I Doing It Wrong?” podcast — asked Patric Richardson, the beloved “Laundry Evangelist” and author of “House Love: A Joyful Guide to Cleaning, Organizing, and Loving the Home You’re In.”

Listen to the full episode by pressing play:

“When you buy cleaning supplies, you also buy candy,” Richardson said, laughing. “You call it your ‘cleaning candy,’ so you only eat it when you clean.”

The cleaning king noted that if we treat ourselves with something special while we do our routine, it makes it less miserable, and can even give us something to look forward to.

“You’ve said that you like a Diet Coke when you’re going to clean,” Michelson said. “I used to buy myself an iced coffee that I would have while I cleaned.”

Creating a playlist, saving a new podcast episode for cleaning day, or cueing up one of our favorite shows or movies while we straighten up can also make it less laborious.

“It used to be that cooking was a chore, and people dreaded cooking,” Richardson pointed out. “Now there are stores and magazines and books and channels all devoted to cooking, and the only thing that happened is we just, we got the right tools, so we decided it was fun.”

Having those “right tools” — and keeping them nearby — can make cleaning easier and more convenient, which means we’re more likely to do it.

“One of the tips in the book is ‘Put the cleaning products where you need them,’” Richardson said. “If your cleaning kit is in the basement and your bathroom is on the third floor, that’s not really going to work. So make a cleaning kit that... can be on your third floor and readily available.”

Richardson recommends having a few cleaning kits in different parts of the house filled with everything you might need.

“[My cleaning kits include] a spray bottle of vinegar and water, a spray bottle of vodka, a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol, a glass cleaner, some sort of all-purpose cleaner, and dish soap,” he said, emphasizing that he prefers using natural products for almost all cleaning. “Then you’re going to find some brushes and some flour sack towels.”

Richardson says the acid in vinegar, which he uses on most surfaces ― and the alcohol in vodka, which he uses to clean stone countertops since vinegar can damage them ― work just as well or even better than the chemicals in most commercial products.

He also suggests investing in a stick vacuum, which he called “a game changer.”

“I recommend you have at least one per floor,” he said. “I mean, if I could, I would have one in every room at my house. When I see them at estate sales, I always buy them, because the thing about a stick vacuum is, it’s cordless, so you just keep it charging, and because it’s so lightweight and so easy, you’ll just grab it and use it.”

Richardson argued that unlike older, bulkier vacuums, which can be a ton of work to set up and operate, stick vacuums are simple to use, which will inspire us to reach for them more often.

“You just instinctively grab it when, you know, you spill chips, and so everything just stays cleaner because it’s so easy,” he said. “It just becomes so intuitive to just grab it when you have a little thing.”

One of our favorite tips from Richardson involves how long we spend cleaning — and giving ourselves permission to just do a little bit at a time.

“I think when you look at it and you’re like, ‘I’m gonna have to spend three hours cleaning today,’ who wants to do that?” Michelson asked. “It’s daunting!”

“You know how long a podcast is, right? You know how long a [TV show] is ... You can also just commit to that amount of cleaning time,” Richardson said. “And if you tell yourself, ‘OK, when I’m done with the podcast, I’m done with cleaning, and I’m going to be good with that,’ there’s something very satisfying [about that].”

Richardson even provides 10-minute playlists in his book customized for different rooms of the home, which he says encourages people to just clean for two or three songs and then quit. “You can do anything for 10 minutes,” he told us.

Michelson offered another bite-size approach.

“I don’t even know who taught me this — maybe my mom — but when a commercial comes on, and a lot of people are now getting more commercials even with on Hulu and Netflix... that’s two minutes,” he said. “Do something for two minutes... clean up the counters, do whatever, and then go back and watch your show again. If you do that four times, that’s eight minutes of cleaning!”

Richardson agreed that setting and sticking to a time limit could be the one simple yet life-changing technique that resolves many of our issues with cleaning.

“The people who’ve told me they have trauma about cleaning have usually said... ‘It took all Saturday and I could never do anything with my friends,’ and I’m like, did you just need to put a time limit on it?” he said. “And then when you decide, ‘When I’m done listening to the podcast, I’m done cleaning, and that’s it,’ [you’re freed]. And if it means that the living room doesn’t get vacuumed, then guess what? The living room doesn’t get vacuumed. Only God sees under the sofa anyway. It’s fine.”

Richardson offered up lots more brilliant advice, from a shockingly easy way to deep-clean the microwave to his ingenious method for cleaning the bathtub. Listen to the full episode above or wherever you get your podcasts.

Make sure to subscribe to “Am I Doing It Wrong?” so you don’t miss a single episode, including our investigations of the ins and outs of tipping, how to apologize or vanquish your credit card debt, how to find love online or overcome anxiety, tips for online shoppingtaking care of your teeth and pooping like a prosecrets to booking and staying in a hotel, how to deal with an angry personcooking pointers from celebrity chef Jet Tila, shocking laundry secrets, the tips and tricks for cleaner dishes, getting your best workout, surprising showering mistakes, the secrets of understanding your cat and more.

For more from Patric Richardson, visit his website and get his new book, “House Love.”

Need some help with something you’ve been doing wrong? Email us at, and we might investigate the topic in a future episode.