5 Cleaning Hacks to Keep You Sane (No Matter How Crazy Life Gets)

By Marilee Nelson |

featured image: 5 Cleaning Hacks to Keep You Sane (No Matter How Crazy Life Gets)

Keeping a home clean and picked up can get overwhelming fast. Especially if you have kids, pets, a busy job, a side hustle or you just don’t love cleaning all that much - we get it! Given what we know about how a cleaner home impacts our health and the health of our little ones, we make it a priority. However, it took us some time to figure out how to get it all done, which is why we’re so thrilled to share our five favorite cleaning hacks that can restore your sense of sanity, peace and order... no matter how crazy life gets!

#1: We learned how to habit-stack

If you haven’t heard of habit stacking before, we’re about to rock your world. This simple practice makes keeping the house cleaner near-automatic, plus it can be applied to every other area of your life. Bonus: it’s a great skill to teach your kids!

In a nutshell, habit stacking is a form of implementation intention that lets you piggy back new habits on old habits to make getting stuff done a no-brainer. It works by taking advantage of the strong neural networks your brain builds around existing habits or established skills. Instead of going through the time, effort and brain training required to create a neural pathway that supports a new habit, you simply tack on your desired new habit to an established one. 

How is this accomplished? By creating a phrase, or list that goes something like this:

  • When I do this, I… fill-in-the-blank.

Here are a few examples of how you can use this to get more cleaning/tidying done without a lot of extra effort:

  • “When I blow dry my hair, I clean the bathroom mirror, sink or counter.”
  • “When I get a glass of water before bed, I also rinse out the sink to prevent impurities from building up.”
  • “When I start the dishwasher, I scald the dishcloth and sponge to prevent the build up of germs.”
  • “When I empty the trashes for trash day, I also clean out the fridge.”
  • “When I go to get the mail, I sweep and tidy the front porch.”

How much simpler can this get?! Try it and you’ll be amazed how it decreases the amount of cleaning chores that pile up while increasing your productivity across the board.

#2: We use vacuuming as a form of self-care

Since vacuuming is one of the more time-consuming (and boring) cleaning chores, we schedule it during a time we can also indulge in a podcast, audiobook or music. That way, we get some stress-relief and self care out of the deal whilst ridding our homes of dust and other toxins. Learn which vacuums we love, and why, in Is Your Vacuum Polluting Your Home? Here’s How to Fix That Plus the HEPA Difference.

#3: We’ve found ways to reduce dust

Dust is one of those things that we just can’t get away from. That’s because most of it comes from our own bodies via excrement of dust mites and skin, and from our household items. It may also harbor a variety of toxins including heavy metals, VOCs, SVOCs, bacteria, viruses and other pathogens. Although we can’t eliminate dust completely, there are ways to reduce it so you don’t have to dust and vacuum as much. 

  • Declutter - the less stuff you have the less dust you’ll have. There are many different ways to go about this, but we love Marie Kondo’s tried-and-true method. 
  • Use microfiber cloths - their tightly-woven fibers trap the tiniest dust particles that cotton cloths or paper towels miss 1
  • Use a HEPA vacuum, which will completely remove dirt and dust instead of re-exhausting it back into the air.
  • Wash your sheets at least once a week, otherwise they become a hotbed for dust mites.
  • Change your air filters regularly. Experiment with changing them every 1-3 months, and consider using Filtrete filters which are not treated with antibacterial chemicals.
  • Open your windows daily, this keeps fresh air flowing through the house which discourages the build-up of dust.
  • Invest in a high-quality air purifier. This is especially important in bedrooms and high-traffic areas. Get our brand recommendations here.
  • Don’t neglect your ceiling fans! They can rain down a ton of dust if not cleaned every couple weeks.

#4: We get rid of boxes as soon as we unpack them (or at least by the end of the day)

Thanks to the explosion of online ordering, receiving packages isn’t quite as euphoric as it used to be. Sure, we’re excited to get what we ordered… but it also means we have to deal with yet another cardboard box. You could put off dealing with it by chucking it into the basement or garage. But cardboard boxes can harbor a variety of mold 2 chemicals, germs, bacteria, pesticides, insect eggs, and other toxins 3 you do not want in your home. Plus if they hang around they’ll increase dust.

The solution? Deal with them right away using your handy habit stacking tip from above: “When I receive a package I… unpack, break down, recycle it and wash my hands promptly.”

Note: If you’re mold-sensitive, you may wish to do this all outside.

#5: We keep our cleaning caddies and tools clean and simple

When kids come into the picture, you realize your old routine of tackling all cleaning on the weekends wasn’t going to work anymore. Thus, we must adopt more of a family-friendly clean-as you-go approach. This only works well if you keep your cleaning supplies and tools organized and clean! For example, there’s no point in vacuuming your sofa with a dirty attachment or trying to mop the floor with last week’s used microfiber mop. The same goes if your cleaning supplies are all disorganized or strewn throughout the house.

To avoid these hurdles, we take a few minutes to wipe down and replace our cleaning tools when we’re finished so they’re ready for us next time. We also keep a centralized cleaning caddy in the laundry room with all our Branch Basics cleaning products and extra bottles of Bathroom and Streak Free in each of our bathrooms, for easy access while bathing the kids or doing hair. A little organization on the front-side makes all the difference to busy parents.

The Branch Basics cleaning system was designed with this in mind: one non-toxic concentrate to replace all the toxic cleaners in your home, bottles and instructions provided, just add water. To learn how to clean your cleaning tools with Branch Basics, check out our User Guide.

Need more real-life non-toxic cleaning hacks?

There’s an old myth that says: if you don’t clean with chemicals you’ll have to clean more often. That is simply not true. The reality is, when you commit to creating a healthier home by using non-toxic products and #TossingTheToxins, you should need to clean less because your home will harbor less dust, germs, pathogens and indoor air pollutants.

To learn more about our low-stress, non-toxic cleaning tips check out our Cleaning Tips and Tricks page and How To Set A Stress-free Cleaning Schedule You Can Live With.

Marilee Nelson

Marilee Nelson is an Environmental Toxins expert who has spent nearly 30 years advocating for the chemically-sensitive and chronically-ill. She is a Board Certified Nutritionist, Certified Bau-Biologist and Bau-Biology Inspector and specializes in Food As Medicine. She has helped thousands of families and individuals identify, heal and recover from toxic exposures and is on a mission to revolutionize the way American families view their health.