You know how cleaning is on your to-do list, oh, every day of the week and somehow never manages to be checked off? Before you know it, it’s not just cleaning the soap scum off of your glass shower door, suddenly your whole darn apartment or basement needs a major cleaning job, and you just don’t have the time to tackle it. Before you despair or resign to living in a slum-of-a-house, know that you can keep a clean house and have a life too. “Speed cleaning may sound impossible—but it’s not,” says William Cotter, CEO and founder of Happy Cleans, a home cleaning company in Oklahoma City. “If you’re smart, strategic, and come prepared with a plan, you can make it happen. It’s a skill worth mastering, and may prove helpful when you’ve got guests coming over on short notice.”
To optimize your time, implement cleaning strategies and shortcuts. “The products and tools you use and the right techniques and planning beforehand will play a significant role and can easily reduce your cleaning time,” says Steve Evans, owner of Memphis Maids, a house cleaning service in Memphis.
Ahead, cleaning pros chime in with 10 top tips to get your home sparkling in 120 minutes or less.
Tip 1: Strategize
Handle speed cleaning with two primary methods. Start with the broadest and widespread areas—whether it’s a messy wraparound countertop or a playroom that imploded with toys—then tackle the details. Alternatively, you can go room to room, tidying and cleaning in each designated space along the way. “There’s no perfect recipe,” Evans says. He recommends combining both strategies for the most effective house cleaning. For the quickest sprucing, choose a task that can be done in several rooms, like vacuuming and sweeping, and then do it in one swoop. Although the house won’t be perfectly prim, not having crumbs everywhere is a noticeable difference.
Tip 2: Set a timer
Set timers to keep you motivated and the cleaning routine moving, recommends Alex Varela, general manager of Dallas Maids, a house cleaning service in Dallas. For example, if you have four big tasks—clean a glass stove top, vacuum, dust, and declutter—set four consecutive timers for 30 minutes (you can also divide them up as a 25 minute timer for cleaning with a 5 minute timer to wrap up).
Tip 3: Start soaking
To make the most impact in under two hours, soak up a storm. “It’s important to have tasks in the works while you’re already doing one,” says Jelina Saliu, president of Safely, a plant-derived and non-toxic line of home cleaning and fabric care formulas based in New York City. Sort small removable fixtures, forgotten hand towels, dishware, and utensils into bins of warm water and a capful of Safely Universal Cleaner. For a “mega-soak,” Saliu recommends using your tub for washable shades and blinds. Set aside as you work on the rest of the house. As things soak, run your dishwasher and washing machine to double up on your cleaning session.
Don’t forget to clean your toilet. “Before starting to clean other spaces, pre-treat your toilet,” Cotter says. “Pour the toilet cleaner into the bowl, close the lid, and let it sit for at least 20 minutes.”
Tip 4: Tackle flat surfaces
If you have a limited time frame, Varela advocates for cleaning flat surfaces. People notice whether those are clean or not right away, Varela says. Decluttering, wiping away dust and smears, vacuuming, and even mopping floors makes a big impact in the shortest time.
Tip 5: Clean your entranceway
Speed cleaning for guests? Do this first. “Remove or organize shoes and other random things lying around on the floor [in the foyer],” Cotter says. Then do a swoop clutter pickup by walking around the house with a large basket for tossing in dirty clothes, toys, and random knickknacks.
Tip 6: Don’t get sidetracked
Throwing out the garbage? Important. Wiping down countertops? Important as well. Ditto for putting misplaced items back where they belong or stored out of sight. But if time is of the essence, organizing your makeup collection can wait. “Prioritize what’s important,” Vanesa Amaro, dubbed TikTok’s Queen of Cleaning, says. “Hold off cleaning household items like your garbage can or anything that can be cleaned once a month.”
Tip 7: Use multitasking products
Optimize your tools. Regular vacuums can be turned into handheld vacuums to help with dusting and save you time in the long run, Evans points out. A multi-surface steam cleaner can tackle floor tile grout, bathroom shower tiles, and the stubborn stains on your stove. Austin-based Amaro, who partners with Clorox, likes using Clorox Multi-Surface Cleaner + Bleach on a variety of surfaces from sealed granite to stainless steel throughout the house without worrying about switching products.
Tip 8: Turn on the tunes
To supercharge your cleaning efforts, play music. Take this CLR brands’ survey, which found that 80% of Americans listen to music while cleaning, and 52% of those respondents have special music for cleaning or say that music is important to their cleaning routine. Scientific research also shows that music has been found to exert positive effects on physical activity in spheres such as enhancing physical performance and reducing perceived exertion. Find an upbeat cleaning playlist on YouTube, Spotify, or make your own. Varela’s go-tos include 80s hits Another One Bites the Dust by Queen and Eye of the Tiger by Survivor. Cotter is also a fan of Queen, opting for Bohemian Rhapsody when he scrubs. Amaro often listens to music from Selena Quintanilla and Los Ángeles Azules when she cleans.
Tip 9: Call a friend
If energy-boosting music isn’t your thing, calling a friend as you scrub might work for you. You’ll be amazed at how much faster the time goes when connecting with a loved one on the phone, Saliu says.
Tip 10: Distract with aromatherapy
Even if you don’t get to cleaning everything, a scented candle will give your space an air of cleanliness. You can also burn a palo santo stick for 10 minutes. “Let the pleasant scent fill your home and eliminate any nasty smell lingering in the air,” Cotter says. “Your house will smell so good.”