Everyone needs these housekeeping hacks to save them time and effort – even in this day of modern conveniences. It seems our busy lifestyles have increased along with the conveniences, and we all need help! Read on to discover household tips and tricks to save you lots of time in some unexpected ways.
In this season of life with young children, time for household chores is always in short supply. I recently started thinking, “What can I do to make running my household a bit easier?” Below are 13 of the best ideas for spending less time on chores and more time with your loved ones!
1. Fold less laundry.
Yes, you heard me.
Underwear was my first no-fold experiment. I thought, “Who cares if this looks wrinkly?” Turns out, it’s so tight and stretchy it never looks wrinkled.
I gradually stopped folding washcloths and kitchen towels, too. Just stick ’em in the drawer, and no one will be the wiser. At this point in life, wrinkle-free towels aren’t really my priority.
If yours won’t fit in the storage space unfolded, try using a storage bin for clean towels. I have one drawer for towels and one for rags, so mine fit fine.
Kid’s towels and blankets don’t need to be folded either!
Awhile back, I read this post about a mom who stopped folding her kids’ clothes. I decided to try it. Turns out, kids’ clothing items are so small they fit in drawers flat and really don’t get very wrinkled.
When putting away their laundry, I just lay each item flat and make one stack of shirts, one of pants/shorts, and one of PJs for each child. Then I put them in the appropriate drawer.
I still fold mine and my husband’s t-shirts and pants. If I could figure out a way around this without them looking super wrinkly, I would!
2. Cook meat in bulk.
Y’all, I really hate cooking meat. Raw meat is gross! I wanted to figure out a way to do it less often, so here’s what I came up with.
We mainly eat ground beef and chicken. I started buying them in 5 pound packages, cooking it all at once, then dividing the meat equally into 5 jars or bags (a pound per container) and putting them in the freezer.
I like to use mason jars for this purpose. Just found these chalkboard lids for your jars for identifying those random freezer foods. I want some! Check them out here.
I also LOVE these plastic lids for my mason jars, since they won’t rust in the freezer. Also – is it just me, or do those lids with rings get really annoying? Not a fan of having to locate two separate pieces for one lid.
I always opt to freeze food in glass when possible, since plastic bags and containers can leach chemicals into your food. Mason jars are the perfect solution! I especially love the wide mouth jars for freezing – easier to get the food in and out. You can freeze absolutely anything in them, from homemade broth to fruit to nuts. Just pop the jar in the sink and let it thaw for a couple of hours before use.
For the ground beef, I chop 3-5 onions (depending on the size), then add all the meat and brown it. Drain off the grease and it’s done! Divide it into your jars and freeze.
This is so versatile. You can add a jar of cooked meat to spaghetti sauce or casseroles, put in taco seasonings and beans for Mexican night, or make a quick chili with it. The possibilities are endless. You could certainly cook it without the onions, but we like them and it also stretches the meat a little further.
For the chicken, I buy 5 pounds of breasts and lay it all out on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, add S & P and whatever seasoning you like. Bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes or until done. Then chop it up and put it in bags. I like to add mine to casserole and Alfredo sauce. Shout out to my sister Stephanie for this tip.
These days, I’ve been even lazier and just buy the grocery store rotisserie chickens and shred them up!
This shortcut saves me so much time and I can throw dinner together in a snap. It is an especially great idea for when you’re pregnant and cooking meat is a huge challenge. Get your husband to help you with this once every couple weeks and you won’t have to deal with it.
3. Wash Fewer Dishes.
Say whaaaaa?? How can I possibly stop washing dishes?
I did not own a dishwasher until my first baby turned one. And before then, not a single paper plate graced the dining table (that I remember). Honestly, I don’t know how I did it! But I know I spent a LOT of time at that sink that could have been spent cuddling my little one.
After my second was born (and post-dishwasher), I embraced the beauty of the disposable plate, bowl, and cup. I used to feel a twinge of guilt throwing all that garbage away. Not anymore! Listen to the reasoning of Jeff Bredenberg in How to Cheat at Cleaning:
Washing a load of dishes in the dishwasher uses up several gallons of water and the energy to heat that water, plus it requires the use of cleaning chemicals, which get flushed away with the water. If the use of disposable plates and cups allowed you to run your dishwasher every other day instead of every day, you would save at least 1,600 gallons of hot water per year.
You can still be environmentally-friendly too – there are biodegradable options available! Check these out!
I’ve also noticed that I cook at home more often when I use paper plates. When the dishes are piled sky high, I’m much more likely to say, “Let’s order a pizza tonight.” So really, using paper plates has helped us save money and be healthier by eating out less!
If using disposable plates gives me more time to play with my kids, indulge in a hobby, and embrace life, I’d say the trade-off is definitely worth it Ditch the guilt… AND the dishes!
Here’s another post on dishwasher tips to make doing dishes faster + more efficient.
4. Embrace Online Shopping.
You’ve probably jumped on the online shopping bandwagon to some extent. And with so many stores now doing free grocery pickup, your time spent at the grocery store is easy to reduce!
The past 3 years, my Amazon Prime membership has been worth every penny. The money I’ve saved on gas, the stress I’ve avoided by not having to shop with my kids, the fun of shopping in my jammies – none of these are to be overrated.
The fact that they have pretty much everything you could ever need (with the exception of perishables in most places) is pretty cool. The prices are comparable to what you would pay at the store, without the work! I love getting vitamins, supplements, and natural products there. I’m also a pretty big Kindle book junkie.
5. Simplify your cleaning products.
Use only a few cleaning products so you can pare down and simplify. For example, diluted castile soap can be used for most things from body wash to hand soap to veggie wash. Here’s an article about 18 different ways you can use it.
Have one basic all-purpose cleaner (add some tea tree essential oil for messes that need to be disinfected). That’s really all you need! Here’s my basic citrus vinegar all purpose cleaner – it’s great for almost anything.
6. Try ‘Cheat’ Mopping.
I don’t know about you, but mopping is one of the things in my house that seems to never get done. If your floor looks bad but you don’t have time to do a full mopping job, keep reading.
My mom taught me this brilliant hack I like to call ‘cheat mopping’:
Spray the offensive spots on your floor with cleaner. Then, wet a rag in hot water and wring out. Use your broom to push the rag around the floor and scrub away those dirty spots. Rinse out the rag as needed. So much easier than lugging around the mop and bucket mess!
For an easy-to-use mop when you actually want to get the job done, I highly recommend the Rubbermaid Reveal spray mop with washable mop pad.
7. Use Magic Cleaning Erasers.
If you haven’t already embraced the power of the magic eraser, now’s the time to do so! Their name says it all. If there’s anything you have difficulty cleaning or want to save time scrubbing, try them. It works great on soap scum in the shower, stains on walls, ground in dirt on floors, etc.
8. Get the Kids to Help.
Keeping kids focused can be a challenge, but if you spend a little time up-front teaching them how to clean, it can be a life saver. There are lots of things kids can do. Here’s a helpful post by Your Modern Family for determining age-appropriate chores.
Mamas, I need your help here. I’m woefully behind in getting my kids to help with cleanup. What’s your routine? I’d love to get some ideas in the comments section.
9. Freshen Stinky Laundry.
You know that moment when your laundry is just on the verge of mildew stink? It’s been left in the washer for a while, but not long enough to develop full-blown nastiness. It feels like a waste to wash it again.
Try this tip: Pour a little distilled white vinegar on one of the clothing items before throwing it all in the dryer. It will freshen the load right up!
A word of caution: Don’t use too much vinegar, otherwise your kids may end up smelling like a salt & vinegar chip (guilty).
10. Stop Ironing (almost) Everything.
Ironing stinks. Whoever said that clothes had to be wrinkle-free had it out for us mamas. Life is too short!
So be smart when you are clothes shopping – try to get wrinkle resistant items if possible. You can also do the “shake and fold” method my friend Louise told me about. If there is something that needs to be wrinkle-free, take it out of the dryer immediately, shake, and fold or hang.
11. Utilize Your Dishwasher for Other Things.
Yes! It’s great for cleaning small plastic toys, toothbrushes, combs, makeup brushes… the possibilities are endless. Just make sure it’s something that won’t melt in the high heat. Here are some creative ideas from One Crazy House on how to use your dishwasher to clean household items.
12. Keep Your Fridge Clean.
Did you know the fridge is one of the worst offenders when it comes to bacteria? Guys, I’m AWFUL about cleaning my fridge. I really need to work on this area.
Can’t wait to try this idea from The Virtuous Wife: Line your refrigerator shelves with Press ‘N Seal Saran Wrap. Just replace when they get dirty – no scrubbing necessary!
13. Declutter + Establish a Cleaning Routine.
Finally, one of the best cleaning ideas you can implement is to simply have fewer items. Less stuff = less time spent cleaning and organizing. I’m in!
After moving 4 times, I’m super easygoing about throwing stuff away now. I used to keep everything! Now, I find it freeing to toss items out. It’s breathing space for your mind. Donate items to a thrift store or keep boxes in the basement or garage until you host a yard sale.
A regular cleaning routine is something I need to work on. It takes less mental energy to do the same chores at the same times – you just do them on autopilot and listen to music or let your imagination wander. It can actually be fun.
Top Tip: The absolute best book for establishing a cleaning routine is Sink Reflections by Marla Cilley, a.k.a. the FlyLady.
This book is so entertaining! I’ve actually read it several times, sometimes just for fun – she’s a great writer and has very clever ideas. I like that the FlyLady is a recovering messy person. She writes from a perspective of someone who is naturally disorganized and gets overwhelmed with cleaning (like me).
Her approach is all about baby steps, and her plan is very easy to implement and change the way you keep house. Check it out!
What are your favorite time-saving housekeeping hacks? I’d love to get some new ideas!