• Project Adulthood

How to Clean as an Adult

Updated: Apr 3

Growing up, Sundays were the days when my whole family cleaned. Everyone had chores they had to get through. Mine were dusting and cleaning the bathrooms. If I was really unlucky, I also had to water the plants and clean the windows.

Although the whole thing took two hours max, it ruined my day. On the bright side, our house was always spotless. However, when I moved away from home for college, I often avoided going home for weekends. Why? Because I did not want to spend my Sunday morning cleaning.

Having shared my living quarters with quite a few slobs since I can finally appreciate my parents' cleanliness. While I'm nowhere near as tidy as they are (and, let's be honest, never will be), I'd like to think that I do have a solid cleaning routine going -- which you'll find below.

I also want to share a few tips and tricks when it comes to cleaning. Turns out, the average American spends almost one full day cleaning a month. Hopefully, the advice below will help you cut down on the amount of housework you actually have to do.

How to clean

You don't need to clean so long that you turn into a skeleton. Instead, here's a handy checklist.


  • Make the bed

  • Wash the dishes

  • Wipe down kitchen counters, table, sink, and stove

  • Sweep or vacuum the kitchen floor

Every other day

  • Change towels

  • Take out the trash.


  • Change bed sheets

  • Dust (tables, windowsills, etc.)

  • Vacuum

  • Mop the floor

  • Water the plants

  • Do laundry

  • Clean mirrors

  • Wipe down the microwave, coffee maker, etc.


  • Get rid of old food in the fridge.

  • Vacuum the mattress, by the ceiling (watch out for spiderwebs!), etc.

  • Clean the shower/tub.

A few times a year

  • Empty and clean the fridge and freezer

  • Clean the vacuum cleaner

  • Scrub tile grout in the bathroom

  • Clean the oven

  • Clean all the hard-to-reach places like behind the stove, fridge, etc.

  • Clean windows

  • Clean fixtures, like lamps and ceiling fans

Once a year

  • Get rid of expired meds

  • Organize the kitchen cabinets

  • Clean out drawers and closets

  • Defrost and clean freezer

  • Clean the baseboards

  • Wash your duvet, pillows, spreads, etc.

Cleaning hacks

Power clean 15 minutes each day. This will prevent clutter. Ideally, you want to designate a "home" for everything you own so that you can put everything back in its proper place during the day (and, most importantly, at the end of the day). Speaking of putting things back, clean in such a way that doesn't require you to make an even bigger mess, i.e., piles of clothes. Always think: if I stopped in the middle of cleaning, would the room be cleaner or messier?

Clean up as you cook. Wipe the countertop, do the dishes, sweep up... That way, you won't have to deal with a pile of dirty dishes after dinner. Besides, most of the time, all you have to do when making dinner is stir (depending on the dish, of course), so you can save a lot of time this way. By the way, if you wipe down the stove after every time you use it, you'll never really need to clean it.

Layer two trash bags in the bin. When you take out the trash, the next bag will already be there. Your future self will thank you.

Use a sink strainer. Or get one immediately if your sink doesn't have one.A clogged-up sink is no way to start your morning. Also, invest in a suction cup sponge holder -- you don't want your kitchen sponge sitting in gross food water.

Microwave a lemon in water (in a microwave-safe bowl) for up to 5 mins to clean your microwave. Remove the bowl with oven gloves and clean the inside of the microwave. DO NOT microwave water on its own unless you want your microwave to explode.

Keep an open box of soda in the fridge. It'll absorb any nasty smells from old foods. Remember to change it out once in a while, though.

Boil half a lemon with some vinegar and water in your kettle. This will get rid of at least some of the buildup and freshen the kettle.

Simplify your laundry. For example, if you only have 20 pairs of black socks that are all the same, you won’t ever have to match them. Dumping them in your sock drawer is as far as you'll have to go when sorting clothes. When folding laundry, fold the largest items first, leaving socks, underwear, and other small items for the very end. That way, it’ll feel like you’re done with laundry faster.

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