Short On Time For Housework? Tasks To Do Now (Plus What Can Wait)

Cleaning Tasks To Prioritize

While I do share a lot of cleaning tips and advice on my blog, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I always have a spotlessly clean house. (I’m sorry if this admission shatters anyone’s illusion that my home must always be immaculate!)

I do like to keep things clean, but like anyone else, I don’t always have enough time to stay on top of it all. During really busy weeks, I’m lucky if I can find 5 minutes here or there to tidy things up!

Whether it’s housework or any other job, sometimes you realize you have a lot to do, but not a lot of time to do it. In these cases, it can be helpful to prioritize your cleaning tasks by deciding what needs to happen now and what can wait til later, and I hope to simplify that process for you in today’s post!

Decades of experience have taught me which cleaning tasks I can skip over and which ones I need to make time for, and I’ll be sharing those with you here today. I think you’ll find that knowing how to prioritize cleaning tasks helps make hectic times a little more manageable! :-)

Related:  9 Chores To Skip If You Hate Wasting Time

5 Cleaning Tasks You Can Skip (And 5 You Shouldn’t)

✘ Skip It:

Cleaning Chores You Can Skip

1. Mopping

Mopping the floors can almost always wait when you’re short on time. If there’s a really sticky or grimy spot somewhere, you can always give it a quick spot cleaning with a microfiber cloth or a Magic Eraser.

Cleaning Chores You Can Skip

2. Scrubbing The Tub Or Shower

It’s easy to fret over the state of the tub or shower in the guest bathroom when you have company coming, but why not just close the shower curtain instead if you’re pressed for time? Chances are your guests either won’t know or won’t care that your tub or shower isn’t super clean.

(If you have glass shower enclosures like I do, you might feel a bit more self-conscious about your less-than-clean shower coming under the scrutiny of your guests. Rest assured that even if they can see that it isn’t perfectly clean, most guests still won’t notice or care!)

Cleaning Chores You Can Skip

3. Laundry

Unless you’re down to your last pair of clean underwear or socks, laundry can usually wait for a day or two. Skip it if you’re in a hurry, because it’s more energy-efficient to wash larger loads anyway!

Cleaning Chores You Can Skip

4. Dusting

A little dust never hurt anyone, so don’t bother pulling out your duster if you’re short on time. When you do get around to dusting, use a dusting spray to help keep your furniture dust-free afterward. (Using a good spray can help turn dusting into a once-a-month job!)

Related: The Best Ways To Tackle Your Most Dreaded Cleaning Chores

Cleaning Chores You Can Skip

5. Washing The Windows

If you’re washing your windows a few times a year, you shouldn’t have to worry about doing it more often than that. I’ve put this particular job off for months at a time, and ultimately it just isn’t that big of a deal. (I do like to make a point of cleaning them in the spring to let more light in though!)

✔ Don’t Skip It:

Cleaning Chores You Can Skip

1. Making Your Bed

I’ll happily put off certain chores, but one that I refuse to skip is making my bed. I make my bed every single morning without fail because it makes my bedroom look more put together, which in turn makes me feel more put together! (I can’t explain why—it just does!)

Cleaning Chores You Can Skip

2. Wiping Down Countertops

Taking a minute or two to wipe down your countertops every day can make a big difference in how clean your home feels. At the end of the day, grab a damp cloth to quickly wipe down your countertops, dining table, and coffee table, and you’ll never be sorry you did!

Cleaning Chores You Can Skip

3. Dishes

In my opinion, it’s never worth it to skip the dishes! Raising four kids taught me the hard way that the dishes just don’t ever stop piling up. It’s tempting to put them off in the moment, but that mountain of dishes will only get taller!

Cleaning Chores You Can Skip

4. Vacuuming

This is one of those cleaning tasks I haven’t been great about in the past, but I’ve been making an effort to be better about vacuuming more frequently. Because in reality, it doesn’t that that much time or effort, especially if you have a decent lightweight vacuum.

Vacuuming regularly goes a long way toward make your home feel cleaner! It also helps prevent dirt from getting ground into the fibers of your carpet.

Cleaning Chores You Can Skip

5. Putting Dirty Clothes In Your Hamper

Skipping laundry for a few days is understandable when you’re busy, but there’s always enough time to get your dirty clothes into your hamper or laundry basket! It keeps your floors tidier and saves time when you do get around to starting on your laundry.

Which chores go on your “skip” and “don’t skip” lists when you’re pressed for time?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Homekeeping Tips

  • We have a glass wall that encloses our shower and have managed to keep it clean and shining by using a squeegee on it after every shower. After 13 years it still looks like new..

  • Great ideas. At our house I’m doing good if can get my sheets washed every other week. A habit I learned from my mom. I asked her about her opinion once. When. your from a big family like ours is – certain things just weren’t going to happen. And these days we have allow time for doing stuff our family in the area.

  • Vaccuuming regularly really does help get the dirt out of your carpet. But as a suggestion, slow way down while you do it. Move too fast and you only lift the individual fibers so you only think it is clean. Give your vaccuum time to do its job and you will remove a lot of the silica and dirt in the carpet. That silica has a microscopic edge that over time and traffic will cut into the fibers in your carpet. You will see it most easily in the traffic pattern and how it begins to look matted down. I have a 5-HP central vac system and I still slow way down compared to other people, especially in the traffic patterns. I also have 39 yr-old carpet that seems new in a lot of areas. It is the time spent, not the horse power of your vaccuum that matters.

  • I love the Windex Outdoor cleaner, but have found that this works well as an inexpensive refill for the Windex Outdoor bottle. I use it at least once a year on our windows.

    3 Tbsp. liquid dishwashing soap 
    1/4 Cup Ammonia (Optional for extra cleaning power and degreasing) 
    1 Tbsp. anti-spotting agent (Jet Dry) 
    Put soap and anti-spotting agent into the spray bottle attachment for your garden hose. Add ammonia if desired. Fill bottle to top with water. Attach sprayer. Use just as you would Windex Outdoor.

  • Regarding laundering bed clothes. I have one set of sheets for each bed. Each week they get laundered, dried and put right back on the beds. No folding, no storage. Some people just like to change up the colors and designs. I don’t care about that. I can’t see them when I’m sleeping anyway. I just don’t want to spend time folding and it frees up space in the linen closet.

    • I do the same because I hate folding sheets. We do keep one set of extra sheets for both beds because you never know if someone might be sick in the night & need to change the sheets so they can lay back down. Both beds are different sizes too, so that’s why an extra set for each bed. If they were the same size I’d just keep one extra set of sheets.

      • In the guest bedroom, I don’t put sheets on the bed until company is coming. There is one coverlet for every day & one for company as well. Anyone else have a dog or a cat that sleeps in the guest room on the bed? This way, I know guests have fresh, clean sheets and quilt sans kitty hair.

  • I thought so too! I’m definitely a bed maker. I make mine as soon as my feet hit the floor. As for changing the sheets, once a week for me!

    • I always turn down the duvet to air the bed for a couple of hours before making it. We sweat a lot in the night and it needs to evaporate, not be trapped in.

    • Back in my truck driving days I would occasionally see a random driver polishing his truck with Pledge, of all things. I finally saw a guy that worked at the same company I did at the time doing it one day, and proceeded to ask him what the heck he was doing. He said that polishing the paint & chrome with Pledge allowed any dust that accumulated while the truck was sitting still to simply blow right off once he started rolling. He said he learned that trick from a New York City garbage truck driver. I used to have to deliver there occasionally, and they have some of the shiniest trucks you’ll ever see outside of a truck show. Pretty amazing considering that they make multiple trips to landfills on any given day, and that’s one place that’s always dusty in dry weather. So, in conclusion, I guess you could polish with Pledge, and in between just turn all your fans on high and open the windows to touch up between polishings.

  • One task I would include on the list is cleaning the toilet bowl and toilet. I put the cleaner in the bowl and do the other tasks then when they are all done come back and clean the bowl. Makes the bathroom fresher I think and only takes a few minutes.

  • Really good ideas. About the dusting spray, what is your thought about using your formula for diy anti static dryer sheets to repel dust? I’ve been experimenting and so far I like it. I use ionic air purifiers so don’t get much dust to begin with but so far so good. Thanks again. Love your site!

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