Clean and Organize in Five Minutes!

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Clean and Organize in Five Minutes!

Clean and Organize in Five Minutes!

I have always dreaded cleaning and organizing. I was not born organized so I have really had to train myself to do it. Often, my problem staying organized is that I think so much about the thing that needs to be done that I begin to dread it. Here are a few tips I used to change my attitude about the things I dreaded:

Time yourself to see how long it takes to do a chore.

  • Two days ago I cleaned the fridge. It took me two minutes to clean off one shelf. After a child meltdown, I came back and finished. It took me 10 minutes to clean the entire refrigerator and that included three minutes cleaning up a mess from my two year old “helping” by dumping something on the floor.
  • I used to hate to make the bed. Then I timed myself. It takes me exactly 1 minute. Now that I know that, it doesn’t seem difficult at all.
  • It took me five minutes to clean out my “plasticware” shelf. 
  • To clean the bathroom sink and toilet took me just five minutes, including wiping down the floor. Cleaning the tub (removing the contents and cleaning) took another 5 minutes, so it took only ten minutes to clean the entire bathroom!

It really doesn’t take as long as you might think to get cleaned and organized. When you realize it only takes one minute or five minutes or ten minutes to do something, the task doesn’t seem so bad!


Do one thing for five minutes and see how far you can get.

Identify the thing that is bugging you the most and do it first!

Often, we have lots of little things that need to be cleaned, repaired or organized, but we don’t want to deal with them right now. Sometimes it pays to just make the time rather than to keep putting it off.

Our front door is mostly glass and the fingerprints on the front door were driving me crazy! While David was eating, instead of doing the dishes, I ran over and wiped down the door. (It took 3 minutes.) It has been bugging me for days. As soon as I took the three minutes to do it, it was off my mind and I could go on and do the dishes.

cleaning and organizing

I have always dreaded unloading the dishwasher. One day, I timed myself and it takes only three minutes for me to unload the entire thing. Keeping that in mind, it doesn’t seem so bad.

Mike wanted to change the door knob on our front door. It didn’t work correctly and we kept getting locked out. He bought a new door knob, but he was in the middle of another project and didn’t change it right away. One day, after sidestepping it for a while, he decided to stop everything else and change it. It took five minutes. He said if he had known that’s all the time it would take, he never would have waited so long to do it.

Most of the time we spend more time thinking about these things than just taking the time to do it and get it over with! Now walk away from the computer and take care of that thing that is bothering you! 😉


For more easy cleaning tips to make your life easier, take a look at our Keeping It Clean e-books.



  1. says

    I keep a scrub brush with a handle on it hanging in the shower from my shower caddy. While I am showering I put shampoo or body soap on it and scrup down the shower tub and all then I just take down the shower head and rinse it off, and myself :) Everyone in the family knows what the brush is for so they don’t use it. Takes me about 1.5 min. to wash the tub and shower and the tile looks great now and I don’t have to get into the shower with my clothes on and then get in again to clean up. :)

  2. says

    I set the timer for 15 minutes. I can get my whole downstairs picked up and wiped down in that time. That includes wiping down 1 and 1/2 bathrooms, master bdrm, laundry rm, kitchen, dining room, living room, and (sort of) the office ~ that doesn’t always get done :). I don’t dust, and sometimes I vacuum (just quickly in the middle,) sometimes not. Anyway, 15 minutes can make the place look really clean. I do more if I have time, but if not, it is definitely presentable.

  3. Cynthia VanLandingham says

    I keep a small squeegee on a hook inside the shower and a microfiber cloth over by the door. Each time I shower, I squeegee the door and wipe down any remaining water droplets. Because I live in AZ, the water is hard and leaves residue. This remedies that problem and leaves my shower looking great every day. Then, only the walls(2) have to be cleaned every week.

  4. Debbi says

    I have been thinking about publishing a video myself about emptying the dishwasher! Most people miss one key thing about how to empty a dishwasher quickly — start with a clean counter above the dishwasher. then open one cabinet (in my case, the one above th4 dishwasher where we store glasses, plates bowls and saucers,) and unload into that cabinet. There are three other general areas to my kitchen — the other side of the sink, the drawers I am standing in front of, and across the kitchen under the stove. Every time I remove something that does not go into the cabinet above me, I lay it in on the counter, making 3 groups to go to the other areas of the kitchen. then when I’m done with the cabinet above, I pick up the items in one of the three groups and take them to the area they go into in one trip each. (I save the silverware for last.)3 minutes top — usually less!

  5. Gayla T says

    My housekeeping was a disaster until I started doing it this way. I have fibromyalgia and it is so easy to just rest and I was resting to the point I got nothing done. There are times when I still do nothing if a bad flare is raging but I started timing myself loading and unloading the dishwasher and could do both in 5 minutes. I have to go to the kitchen to take my medication and I am seldom so sick I can’t stand there for that tiny bit of my day. I moved into a different house last April and it has a place to put in a dishwasher but it didn’t have one installed. When the house was being restored they put in all new cabinets and counter tops but put them in the same configuration as was in this house that is well over 100 years old. There was not room for the dishwasher by the sink so they put it about 5 ft away. That means that I would have to rinse the dishes and then put them over to the dishwasher. All I could think of was what a mess that would be and how often I would be mopping the floor. So now I wash dishes and find it doesn’t take any longer than using the dishwasher did and I’m not buying that expensive dishwasher detergent. I always made hot soapy water to clean the stove and counter tops so I’m getting my dishes washed in the same soapy water. I put a curtain that matches my window curtains over the space and have some plastic storage shelves on wheels in there for potatoes and onions. I can’t even remember why I thought I neded a dishwasher and I really do a lot of cooking because I have my 3 grands 4 12 hour days a week. I always clean my bathroom in the nude. LOL I already have a cloth that’s wet and I use it to wipe off anything that needs it including the shower area. I too, use an old bath brush for an area that meeds scrubbing but by hitting it every day I don’t have to do too much. I’ve found that it is so much easier to do it as I go along than letting it build up to being a big job. Then I am in trouble. Granny’s big helper just turned three and she really can do a good job dusting and cleaning the TV screen. She loves to spray the cleaner on and just gets tha cleaning cloth going fast dusting. There are times I have to go over it again but usually she does fine. These girls have cooked at my elbow since they were babies on a step stool. Now at 7 and 9 the older two can cook a simple meal with supervision. I’m not ready to sit down in my easy chair while they are in the kitchen but they really do know how to read directions and follow them. The meal tonight was little smokies cooked in BBQ sauce, corn and twice baked potatoes. They cooked the potatoes in the micorwave, cut them in half and put the potatoe pulp in my stand mixer. That made a quick job of mashing the potatoes. They added butter, sour cream and salt, then spooned it back into the skins. The 3 year old got to sprinkle the cheese on top and they melted the cheese back in the microwave. Dessert was cake the 3 year old and her mama made at their house. I really did nothing other than direct and set the table and they loved every minute of being able to cook. When the grandsons are here, they cook, too. Their dads have known how to cook at the same age as my daughter and the DIL’s are thankful for that. The job that they don’t like to do as they get older is run the vacuum cleaner. They all want to do it whan they are too small to do a very good job and now don’t want to do it since they can. With my fibro I couldn’t have the kids here all the time w/out them helping. There are days when we have had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich because I am on the sofa but then they think it’s great fun as we spread an old blanket over the area rugs and have a picnic. I always have paper plates and napkins handy for my bad days and we get through them. My house is never the big mess it used to be when I was sick, before I leaned that the jobs are really all small if you rest in between them.

    • says

      I’m like you Gayla I really don’t need a dishwasher. In all my 60 years this is the first house I have had a real dishwasher. I was really excited to have it at first but now I find I am back to hand washing. There are so many advantages to it. The main one being like you I need hot soapy water to wipe off the counters and stove any way. The other one being even though I had a really nice dishwasher I still found things which had to be rewashed again plus even though I rinse my dishes both ways I found I had to scrub them even more before putting them in the dishwasher so why not just hand wash them if I am going to do that much work anyway. I have known some people who fill the sink up with hot soapy water, wash them and put them in the dishwasher. I couldn’t figure out why they do that. It’s like washing them twice. No wonder some people hate doing the dishes.

    • Debbie G. says

      Dear Gayla … I too have fibromyalgia, but not nearly as bad as you. I was quite encouraged by your post and just wanted to wish you the best. God Bless and keep up the great work you are doing with your family. You should be very proud of yourself. Even with your limitations, you are living life as well as you can.

  6. rose says

    jill .. so true . my mom used to say that if she had to rinse or pre-scrub a dish then why not take the time to just add some soap and wash it.. or better yet …get some hot soapy water in a sink or small tub and let the dishes soak while ur cleaning up the kitchen area/stove and putting all the leftovers in the fridge .. and hten just wash the dishes ..
    i remember a really long time ago they had those over the sink dishwaashers .. u just put everything in the dish drain and the cover it and hten turned on the faucet and at the other end of the faucet was this hose like thingy that sprayed ur dishes .. or soemthing like that .. not sure if it worked or not … does anyone remember that? or had one? .. i always wanted to know if it worked ..
    our new apt doesnt have a dishwasher .. and my son mentioned that .. and me and hubby told him that htere were in fact 3 dishwashers there .. me, him and hubby .. hehehee 😀 ..

  7. Kellie Alexander says

    Haha! I just cleaned my fridge after reading this article. I had to do two steps before I could begin — unload and load the dishwasher (which took less than 3 full minutes!). I have to admit, my fridge was pretty bad, and we have about a million jars in there, so it took me about 30 minutes, but now it’s done and I realize that meal planning is no longer an option — so much in there to get used up!

    Thanks for the inspiration. :)

    • says

      Here are two other articles on how to save on groceries and using what you have and Save Before you Go to the Grocery StoreSave Money on Groceries. This is just one of many articles we have on this very subject. I have said for a long time you can save 50% on your grocery bill before you go to the grocery store by just using all the food you buy and not tossing things out. Many people immediately say I use my leftovers but it isn’t always the leftovers that are getting us it is that stale bag of chips we didn’t get closed properly or that half eaten apple, can of pop or glass of milk that gets tossed.

      Sounds like you are on the right track Kellie. Keep up the good work. We have many many meal planning posts too if you need them.

      • Betty says

        I liked the tip about having a night to eat leftovers – we do this at our house at least once a week – we call them “gotta gos” – for everything in the fridge that’s gotta go!

  8. Stacey says

    I am with you ladies on the dishwashing issue. When I was married still, we had a dishwasher in all of our homes; which was 4 because we were military. I can count on 2 hands how many times in almost 12 years of marriage I used them. I remember using them after something like the flu for the sterilzation. But truth be told a capful of bleach in your dishwater would have done the same thing. I was raised in the south and was raised washing dishes by hand, so for me it’s kind of comforting. I know that sounds nuts, but it’s true. lol. What my mama and granny taught me was to almost always keep a sink full of hot soapy water. Then when you use a dish, wash it, rinse it and put it in the drain board. I do the same thing when I’m cooking dinner, I wash the dishes as I go. This is especially wonderful for the big dinners like Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner; you dont’ want that daunting task of washing alllllll of those dishes after that big meal; it’s not that relaxing a So the fact the majority of dishes are done once we finish eating, makes it more inviting. Gosh I love your website. I have a lot of things I need to work on and with your help, I’ll get them done.

  9. Julie says

    Hi, thank you for these tips:)

    One thing I get a bit confused with US blogs etc is the term clean, such as clean a room. Does it mean tidy as in putting things away or clean as in dusting etc?

    It’s just that here in the UK cleaning means dusting etc & tidying means putting things away etc.

    Also, what is a rag – is it a cleaning cloth?

    Sorry for the questions, I just find the different words confusing at times:)

    Finally, is there a way that I can sign up for your tips?

    • says

      Julie I have said this before but I do enjoy hearing for our readers in the UK. Don’t feel bad about the questions you ask they totally make sense. First we often use the word clean to mean both tidying (putting things away) and cleaning (dusting,vacuuming etc.) interchangeably. We also use the words “picking up” a room in the same way you use tidy.

      A rag is a cleaning cloth but it is usually made out of an old or worn cut up piece of clothing or something like a wash cloth (I think what you call maybe a flannel) – what we use to wash our face and body with. Some of us do call store bought cleaning cloths a rag but technically a real rag is what I just described.

      Most of our tips are for free on the web site for you to check out. We do have a newsletter we put out twice a week for free and if you want to receive it you can sign up on our home page to get it. Look at the top of the right corner right below Search our Site. We too have many e books with a ton more tips on our store page too if you want even more tips.

      Hope this helps answer your questions. Just let me know if something isn’t clear and I will be glad to explain.

  10. Mary Jane says

    This isn’t a cleaning or tidying tip, but it has been a money saver for us recently. We have lived in this house for over 30 years and all of the interior doors are the originals that came with the house. That is, they are inexpensive, unfinished hollow doors covered with a thin layer of panelling. While doing home renovations on our unfinished hallway upstairs, four of these doors were slightly damaged from moving building materials around in a tight space. My husband planned on taking them down, patching them, then staining and sealing them with varathane, as he had done for some downstairs doors several years ago. The result on the downstairs doors was serviceable, and not bad looking. (Certainly an improvement over the original shape of the doors). However, when he started on the upstairs doors, the damage and wear and tear was much worse than expected. We priced out new, inexpensive doors and they were $50.00 each, very cheaply built, and still unfinished. I suggested to my husband that we sand and patch our doors, and paint them with a dark, scrubbable semi-gloss paint. Long story short, we bought two gallons of mistinted paint (paint that others have returned to the store) and did our doors for $3o.oo. They look awesome. Paint covers a multitude of sins. It went so well, and we have enough paint, that my husband is considering doing the bottom floor doors over.

  11. Pat says

    I had to laugh to my self when you talked about putting off a 5 minute job. Years ago ( I’m a senior now) when I was a kid our next door neighbour was visiting my Mom and said ” My son ,Ed, would stay awake all night figuring out how to get out of doing a 5 minute job.” I had forgotten all about that till I read todays newsletter. I could hear Peggy just as clear as if she was in the room with me. Peggy was such a lovely lady, she and Pete her hubby had 4 boys and would come over and visit for “girl time”. LOL thanks for the memories.

  12. Magdalen says

    Eeh how times have changed. Do they no longer cut up old vests and liberty bodices, sheets and towels for cleaning rags? No. We’ve learned to buy them. Norah Batty and Edie Pegden would turn, Julie.

  13. Victoria says

    I’m allergic to soap, so I love my dishwasher. :) At our house, we like to do what we call a “5-minute pick up” every evening. I think the Fly Lady calls it a 5-minute room rescue. My family is large, so when we gather in a room for 5 minutes, it’s actually the equivalent of 45 minutes (more like 40 because the one year old does more playing than picking up). The kids are often amazed at how quickly the rooms are put into order that way. I love not having to do the work all by myself. It’s a great family-bonding activity, too.

  14. Julie Johnson says

    Thanks for the encouragement! I run my dishwasher every other night and
    while I am waiting for morning coffee to finish, I unload as soon as I get up.
    Yep, takes about 3 minutes.

  15. Nicole says

    I do this type of thing all day long. I’m a stay at home mom of twin toddlers (boys) and they create baby tornados all day long so I am forever doing a five minute clean up so it doesn’t get overwhelming. I also do bursts for the bigger stuff (bottles laundry etc) during naptime and before darling husband goes to work.
    I have to say, yes the dishwasher only takes a few minutes but when toddlers want to ‘help’ it can take up to an hour! Which it does butit gets done.

  16. Deborah says

    I have problems cleaning everthing. I have all the different types of arthritus and some other problems. My shower is the hardest to clean, we live in a double wide it is 6 1/2 yrs old. I guess the shower is made out of fiber glass but I can not get it clean. I have tried about everything and I have only so much elbow grease, and that is not much. Can you help me out, Thank you very much for this site I enjoy it. God Bless

    • says

      Deborah I am afraid that it usually takes a lot of elbow grease for fiber glass showers but here are some tips that might help. I don’t know how bad yours is or how hard your water is so I will try to cover different degrees.

      ~ Let the cleaner do the work for you. The biggest mistake in cleaning anything is not letting things soak in the the cleaner so don’t spray anything on and then wipe it off right away. Let it soak.

      ~ Clean it often. I know this is so hard when you have physical problems to do but because most people hate cleaning their shower (I do too) they put off doing it. Staying on top of things makes the job go so much easier. I once had to leave my home for a year and someone else lived there. I cleaned my bath a couple of times a week and everything looked so nice but the person that lived there for the year maybe only cleaned it twice in the whole year. It not only was a nightmare to get clean but it never looked the same. That mineral build up eats away at the finish on the shower and the faucets.

      ~If it is too hard for you to keep up with it you might consider hiring someone like a teen or something to come over even once a week to clean it for you. It wouldn’t cost you much just to pay for them to clean a shower – not as much as say you had a regular cleaning company come in. There is no shame in paying someone to come in and help if you need it and can afford it.

      Now for the actual cleaning

      Mild pr Maintenance Cleaning

      ~ I use Dow bathroom cleaner. Spray the foam on and let it set a few minutes, rinse, wipe with a diaper or squeeze. Since I do this often nothing ever has a chance to build up on it so it easy and I have never had to do anything else. I have never used heavy cleaners or heavy cleaning doing it this way.

      ~Spray with vinegar. You can spray with vinegar and let it set but what would be better is to put the vinegar in a spray bottle with a little shampoo or dish detergent then spray it on the walls. The shampoo not only helps the vinegar to cling to the sides of the walls while it is working to break up the mineral deposits.
      ~ Use a squeeze to clean walls after each shower. I don’t use this because it was so hard to get all the family members to do it but in a one or two person household this might work.
      ~ Magic Erasers work good too but can be expensive although you can get them at the Dollar Store now I think.

      Heavy Cleaning

      ~ You may have to pull out the big guns like Lime Away or one of those products. If you do use these then afterwards be sure to use the above suggestions to keep clean so you don’t have to do this often.
      ~ There are some powdered cleansers that are save for fiber glass. They pretty much are all the same because all they do is just “scratch” the deposits off. You could use baking soda to do the same thing too.

      The main thing I do for prevention like I said before is spraying often with my Dow but you can rub your shower down with boat wax,car wax, or spray some WD40 on a rag to wipe down. This will help repel the water. Be sure of course not to get these on the floor of your shower because it would make the floor slick.

    • says

      Deborah I have accidentally come across something that might help you with your cleaning of the fiber glass. I noticed the inside of the kitchen window above my sink was covered in water spots today and needed to be cleaned. I rarely rarely ever buy window cleaner but I got this can of KPro Eraser glass cleaner at the recycling center and my window was bad enough I thought I would need something extra so I pulled this out and used it. It is a foam and I loved it. Not only did I not have to scrub but the foam stuck to the window doing the cleaning for me and didn’t run off like Windex, vinegar or other liquid cleaners do. What does this have to do with cleaning your shower? Since my shower needed to be cleaned and there were a few water spots on it, I tried it on it. I was amazed at how very easily wiped it off and it sparkled. In all my years of cleaning I have never seen anything like it. Now granted my shower wasn’t really super bad but it worked so good. I thought it might be worth a try for you to use on yours. No elbow grease. I didn’t let it sit long but if yours is extra bad you might let it sit for a couple of minutes.
      Now the only thins is I am not sure where you can buy it. I did find it at an auto parts store called Knipps. Here is a link where you can order it on line from there. The first is what I used and the second is what looks like it might be a stronger version hope this helps.

  17. getforfree says

    I have my older kids to empty the dishwasher and take out the trash. I figured these are the tasks that don’t have to be done perfectly. I tried have them to hand wash the dishes, but they use way too much soap. Loading the dishwasher, I have to do it to make sure it is not overloaded and is not half empty either. I have them feed the dogs too. And of course, they clean their rooms too. They all really like to go to the local library and stay there for a 2-3 hours. I just tell them what chores need to be done before I can leave the house, so they just help me do everything to speed up the process, so they could spend more time at the library. And I get to relax there too, especially knowing that my chores are done for the half of that day. I deal with my garden in the evening when it cools down outside.

  18. Susaninoz says

    I love the time yourself tip. I consider that I am pretty good at all this but that is an idea I’d never even considered. Well done.

  19. Sharon says

    Hi Jill -love your website. My dishwasher died several years ago. I had it taken out and a friend built a cabinet in the space. As I begin preparing dinner I fill one side of sink with scalding hot soapy water. I slide in the days worth of dishes and clean other dishes as I go. When I finish dinner I slip the plates, bowls and utensils into the still hot water. I am done in no-time. One favorite part of this is that the dishes dry themselves in the other side of the sink, I immediately put them away and I’m DONE. The dishwasher takes too much time to run, too much water and too much labor. I am much happier hand washing and out of the kitchen in a flash.

    Now – I have a question – I have a large picture window in my great room where the sun shines through when we get sun – lol – I can’t get it streak free no matter what I use. I’ve tried everything, I clean with lintless cloths, used vinegar water, used “good” glass cleaners. What am I doing wrong? Any suggestions would be much appreciated. That window makes my clean house look like I haven’t done a thing. God’s many blessings to you – Sharon

    • says

      Thank you Sharon. I agree with you in doing the dishes plus I don’t know how many times I have unloaded someones dishwasher and there is still gook on some of the dishes or nasty looking water standing in them. They then have to be washed all over again.

      As far as your window goes you might try a couple of things. Often when the sun is shining on the window it will cause it to streak no matter what you do. I don’t know if this is because the heat causes the cleaner or water to dry faster than you can wipe it off. So always wash windows when there is no direct sun shining on them. I would try this first. If that doesn’t work then I use Spray Away Glass Cleaner. You can find it at wal mart in with the glass cleaners and it is usually on the bottom shelf. It is in a can and a foam. I prefer foam cleaners for most things because they tend to cling to the surface you are cleaning so the cleaner does the work and not you. Of all the cleaners I have tried this is the best. There is one other one which is about as good but it is only sold at a store here in town and most others have a hard and expensive time getting it. So I would try these 2 things.
      If it still doesn’t get it then I’m afraid part of the problem might be the glass itself. I have over the years had a few mirrors and windows that no matter what I did they would streak and since I would clean another window or mirror right next to them and they did alright I have decided some glass just streaks but hopefully these will work.
      Oh one other thing you could try a squeeze but to be honest I don’t have as much luck with those.

  20. Sharon says

    Dear Jill and Tawra: Thanks so very much – I will try the Spray Away Glass Cleaner and the rubbing alcohol. I have the long handled squeeze but it doesn’t work for me either and I learned about cleaning on a cloudy day. The light bulb you turned on for me is the glass itself. My home (Prairie Village, Kansas) is 60 years old this year and I think that is the original glass in the window. I have some antique mirrors that don’t clean well either, so that may be the culprit.

    What I truly love about your website is that you women have both feet planted on the floor. Your writing is like you are visiting with us in our living rooms. Your problems are real and your sharing is truly down to earth and makes the rest of us feel terrific. To be able to share “doable” ideas and concepts is simply wonderful.

    Plus I bake all my own bread. I try to stay away from chemicals as much as possible, as I also have FM and CFS. The bread recipe with one egg is the very best. Thanks so much for that. I will be making that this weekend. That recipe also makes perfect rolls for dinner and small sandwiches.

    Thanks so much for all the help – God’s blessings upon you and your families – Sharon


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