Do you ever put off cleaning your home because it’s such a boring way to spend the day? Some of us would rather spend an afternoon in the dentist’s chair or listen to a bunch of fourth graders practice the recorder. But what if you could make cleaning more fun, so you’d actually enjoy the process? With the right strategies, it’s possible!
Next time you’re trying to talk yourself into cleaning, try one of these tricks to make cleaning more enjoyable. They may not turn you into someone who looks forward to cleaning day, but they’ll certainly make it less of a chore.
1. Start Small and Specific
I spent years struggling with cleaning perfectionism, which manifested as an all-or-nothing approach. That mindset believed cleaning time meant cleaning the entire house, which felt so overwhelming that I’d avoid it altogether. Then I learned to start small and specific, and everything changed.
Focus on small and specific messes to make cleaning more enjoyable and have a significant impact on your comfort at home. Instead of thinking about clutter everywhere, concentrate on specific tasks like the heap of wet towels on the bathroom floor, the pile of dirty dishes in the kitchen sink, or the shoes near the front door. Tackling these tasks helps you avoid feeling overwhelmed and may even motivate you to keep going.
2. Tune into Entertainment
When I clean, I find my hands are busy, but my mind wanders. Being someone who loves creative problem-solving, cleaning gives my brain time to puzzle through issues. But sometimes, my thoughts take a negative turn, and what started as a simple chore day quickly turns into an intense session of rage cleaning. If that happens to you, it can make you put off cleaning to avoid a negative mood.
A great way to make cleaning more fun—and to avoid that negativity—is by keeping your mind entertained while you do it. Whether it’s your favorite true crime podcast, an audiobook, your favorite reality TV show, or a bouncy playlist, let it distract your mind white your hands do the work. When your brain is entertained, you’ll find cleaning time goes much faster.
3. Gamify the Process to Make Cleaning More Fun
Make cleaning more fun by turning it into a game or competition for both kids and adults. Set a timer and challenge yourself to clean quickly, or compete with family members to finish tasks first. Adding competition speeds up cleaning and makes it more enjoyable.
When my kids were young, they’d often complain so much about doing chores that it often felt easier to do things myself. But that wouldn’t teach them responsibility or cleaning skills. So, we turned cleaning into a game. Even now, with my youngest post-college and living at home, we have competitions just to make cleaning chores more enjoyable.
4. Reward Yourself
I’m a firm believer in using treats as an incentive, and it turns out that science supports my belief. As Gretchen Rubin explains in Better Than Before, giving ourselves treats helps us feel cared for and rewarded, two things adulthood often seems to lack. Without them, we wind up feeling resentful and wind up suffering cleaning burnout.
So, after a cleaning session, treat yourself. It could be a favorite snack (ice cream, anyone?), a nap, even a phone call to a friend you enjoy chatting with. Knowing there’s something to look forward to at the end of your cleaning sesh can be a great way to make cleaning more enjoyable.
5. Use the Right Tools for the Task
Many of us hesitate to invest in quality cleaning equipment, because we’ve wasted money on expensive gear in the past that didn’t live up to its hype, or because we think it’s better to make do with what’s on hand. But using subpar cleaning supplies means we wind up spending more time doing the job and sometimes even then the results aren’t very good.
I used to have a vacuum cleaner that was heavy to carry and awkward to use, so I’d put off vacuuming until I couldn’t stand the feel of my floors. Replacing that vacuum with something lighter and more manageable led me to use it more often, which meant less dust everywhere.
6. Enjoy Some Company
Chatting with a friend or family member can make cleaning more enjoyable. I have a dear friend who lives overseas, and we often “body double” by connecting on FaceTime or Zoom as we clean our homes. This not only motivates us but also adds a fun element as we chat and entertain each other. If you don’t have someone nearby to invite over, this virtual approach or simply using cleaning time to catch up on phone calls can be a great way to make chore time feel less tedious.
7. Visualize the Result
To make cleaning more fun when you’re not in the mood, visualize the result. Engage your creativity by picturing a clean space that doesn’t yet exist and then work to make it real. Imagine the details: the floor’s appearance, the surfaces, the decor placement, and the scent. It’s like previewing a movie trailer of your final result. With that image in mind, you can make cleaning more enjoyable as you bring your vision to life.
8. Embrace the Zen
Embracing the Zen of cleaning turns tasks into a chance to find mental peace and engage in self-reflection. Consider the simple act of washing the dishes: the repetitive motion can ground you in the present, giving you a chance to connect your body and breath while you immerse yourself in the moment. This can be a very helpful practice if you’re experiencing stress or anxiety, as it increases positivity while decreasing anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed.
9. Make it a Workout
We all know the benefits of exercise, but sometimes it’s difficult to find the time for it. A great way to make cleaning more enjoyable is by turning it into workout time. Wear a fitness tracker, set calorie or step goals, and tackle cardio-intensive tasks like washing walls or mopping. Even lighter tasks contribute to non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), promoting health.
Remember, one of the easiest ways to make cleaning more fun is by making it short but sweet. If you only have ten minutes, that’s okay, and it still counts: use the time to do a few small, specific tasks. Every bit helps, and you’ll feel better for making progress. Who knows? Once you use these tricks, you may find cleaning is so much more enjoyable that you actually want to do it more often.