Save Time Cleaning - Why Cleaning is a waste of Time

After all the advances in labor saving technology, why is so much time still consumed on housework? Cleaning Time Ralph Keyes (author of ‘Time Locked’) sums it up well – “Nearly every study on time spent doing chores has reached the same conclusion: Labor-savers relieve drudgery and speed tasks; but, on balance, they don’t save time. We no longer haul water, split wood, trim wicks, clean lamps, boil clothes, feed horses or bake bread. But … “ The main reason we still spend so much time on cleaning is changes in society expectations on cleanliness. According to Ruth Schwartz Cowan (in her book “More Work for Mother") while technologies made work easier, “its volume increased: sheets and underwear were changed more frequently, so there was more laundry to be done … houses grew larger, so there were more surfaces to be cleaned”. Further, the TrailEnd website quotes that “…whereas once laundry was done once a week and clothes worn several days before being laundered, modern housekeepers may do laundry every day because family members wear an item only once before washing it”.
What was considered clean 50 years ago may not be considered clean enough by today’s standards. However, are today’s cleanliness standards reasonable? For example, research is now indicating that overly clean houses are actually bad for us. Why? Two arguments are – (i) cleaner houses leads to less germs, and reduced exposure to germs leads to weaker immunity. (ii) the numerous cleaning products we use are leading to a buildup of dangerous toxins in our homes.
Another question to consider who sets today’s cleanliness standards anyway? Given the potential money in the ‘clean’ business, it should come as no surprise that corporate marketing teams have had an impact on these cleanliness standards. For example, apparently, the ‘Cleanliness Institute’ which promoted the use of soap and water in the schools was sponsored by soap manufactures. (Source: Trail End State Historic Site) So in all likeliness much of today’s cleaning is a waste of time.

How can we save time cleaning?

1. Manage your cleanliness expectations to reduce workloads

How often do we really need to clean? Does it really matter if you don’t clean the bathroom every week? Why can’t you re-wear the same shirt you wore last night for a couple of hours?

2. Organise your home to be ‘cleaning-friendly’

For example – buy things that are easy to clean, have an easy to clean floor, keep the house tidy and things in their place.

3. Reduce dirt entering your home

For example – leave shoes at the entrance door, or at least wipe them before entering your home, and tell the dog he lives outside.

4. Avoid perfectionism

We all know people who will scrub and scrub until every item appears to be spotless. However, no matter how hard they try ‘it’ will never be 100% clean. When cleaning, it is best to focus on getting an item to a satisfactory cleanliness level. The more time you spend on cleaning, the marginally less impact it makes.

5. Use technology to save time, not to increase frequency of cleaning.

Don’t be conned into cleaning more often than you need to.

6. Reduce what needs cleaning

The more you have the more that needs cleaning. Remove ‘dust- collecting’ objects, and perhaps consider living in a smaller place with less rooms to clean.

7. Adapt time-saving cleaning techniques

Learn cleaning techniques to save time, and ensure you have the right ‘tools’ for the job.. (There is plenty of scope here for a CraveTime article on this).

8. Outsource

Train the kids or outsource to a cleaner you can trust. These days there are numerous businesses offering quality and competitive housecleaning services.

Related CraveTime articles

  • Cowan, R.S, “More Work for Mother – the ironies of household technology”, p98-9
  • Marcus, C, “The killers within: how our homes are making us sick”, The Sun-Herald, Sydney, 13 Dec 2009, pg42-43.


Cleaning is a waste of time - can't wait to show this to my wife. :)

If you are reading this article, then I suggest you check out a fantastic site to help you implement some of the suggestions in this article.

I've always had a sneaking suspicion that cleaning was a waste of time... Now I have the proof!

Thanks, great article!

Instructions on how to clean your toilet (and cat!!).

1. Put both lids of the toilet up and add 1/8 cup of pet shampoo to the water in the bowl.

2. Pick up the cat and soothe him while you carry him towards the bathroom.

3. In one smooth movement, put the cat in the toilet and close both lids.

4. The cat will self agitate. You may need to stand on the lid and give the cat time to make ample suds. Never mind the noises that come from the toilet, the cat is actually enjoying this.

5. Flush the toilet three or four times.This provides a "power-wash" and rinse".

6. Have someone open the front door of your home. Be sure that there are no people between the bathroom and the front door.

7. Stand behind the toilet as far as you can, and quickly lift both lids.

8. The cat will rocket out of the toilet, streak through the bathroom, and run outside where he will dry himself off.

9. Both the commode and the cat will be sparkling clean

This blog post is great. Thanks for sharing this useful article about how can we save time cleaning..

Believe it or not maintaining your home is the toughest job on the earth. That is why I have high regards for housewives (oh sorry homemaker). New technology needed though.

We are drowning but still we are doing the same thing again and again for so many days and we do not have any idea and that for how long we would have to continue.

Nice blog, it's is really organized I thought at first it empty..Anyway thanks for the info you've post here. it's useful.

Nice blog! Looking forward to visiting your site more often in the near future. Thanks!

whereas once laundry was done once a week and clothes worn several days before being laundered, modern housekeepers may do laundry every day because family members wear an item only once before washing it. Yes so true as this was the case even in my college days but the time has changed.

Not only toxins but also we create some king thin sward particles which lads to dandruff heavily and i was hunted on that disease.

Some people clean too much because they have this phobia on dirt, even for a single dirt. This might be a psychological illness or something, but this can lead to irrational perfectionism among such people.