Living alone has its perks, like having the entire apartment to yourself, but it also means there's no one to share the burden of household chores with. It's easy to let things slide and convince yourself that you'll tackle them "tomorrow." However, procrastination can make today’s mess tomorrow’s stress.
You may hate chores because they’re time-consuming, or simply because they’re a burden when your plate is already full. That’s why I’ve created this collection of tips and tricks to help you manage chores effectively, save time cleaning, and create an efficient routine to tackle chores solo.
Creating a chore routine doesn't have to be rigid or overwhelming. Let’s be honest – schedules are tough to stick to when they’re self-imposed. Life happens, last-minute plans come up, and you don’t ever want to turn down plans just because you have to do laundry. If you already have a negative relationship with chores, it may be time to shift your perspective. Consider setting aside specific days each month to vacuum your apartment or a bi-weekly power hour dedicated to deep cleaning your shower. The more you do something, it will become a routine. Once straightening up the pillows or blankets becomes a habit, it’ll feel less like a chore.
Having a plan, no matter how loose or strict, is a powerful way to hold yourself accountable and develop good habits. Whether it's making your bed daily or ensuring there are no dishes left in the sink overnight, small, achievable goals can make a significant difference. If you like to cut corners (quite literally) like me, you don’t need to tuck in every sheet corner or fluff every pillow. Draping the comforter and straightening your pillows is a good place to start!
1. When you notice the first signs of dirt, like rings in the toilet bowl or mildew rings from your shampoo bottles, address them immediately. Remember, prevention is better than an overhaul. Committing to yourself that you will clean serious messes when you first notice them will prevent small tasks from escalating into big problems.
2. Another manageable goal to set for cleaning while living alone is to commit to doing one “big” or irregular chore a week. This could be dusting fan blades, cleaning out your fridge, or windexing your windows. By spreading out these daunting tasks throughout your month, you won't need to dedicate an entire day to deep cleaning.
Living solo means you have to be your own helping hand while cleaning. Purchase a $20 cleaning caddy to keep your supplies organized and easily accessible. Dishwasher pods and dish soap should be kept together under the sink, and microfiber cloths and sponges should be stored in your bathroom vanity. This setup allows you to complete similar tasks in one go without searching for supplies.
The worst part of cooking is cleaning up your mess. That’s why you should always clean as you go. While you’re waiting for something to boil or brown in the oven, use those extra 10 minutes to clear your workstation. By the time you’re ready to serve yourself a well-cooked meal, it’d be like a sous chef had been helping you all along. In addition, any oil or grease on your stovetop should be given a quick wipe-down after you eat. By then it would have cooled down, but it won't be hardened grease yet. No need to whip out the rubber gloves – any 15-second task you do now can save you 30 minutes of scrubbing later!
If you consider grocery shopping a chore rather than a fun errand, I have a tried and true way of making a run to the store hassle-free. Meal planning (not to be confused with meal prepping) is a great way to take control of your schedule and save time. Sit down for 10 minutes and create a list of meals you enjoy making and assign them to each day of the week. Don’t feel shy about planning for take-out nights either! The key is to tailor your meals to your daily commitments. Save labor-intensive recipes for days with more time and opt for quick ones when you're busy. Have some backup options for your meals in case it’s not what you’re craving. The meal planning is just an outline, feel free to adjust and adapt as needed!
Once you’ve planned your breakfast, lunch, and dinner options, this will make grocery shopping a breeze. You can go the extra step to write down ingredients for each dish, but you may find it easy enough to walk into the store with a simple game plan so you can shop more efficiently.
Laundry can be a pain. Waiting around for hours is a necessary evil if you don’t want your clothes to get wrinkled. While it can be time-consuming, there are ways to make it more manageable. If you know you won’t be wearing a few items for a couple of days, try air-drying them instead! You can cut the time it takes to do laundry in half by skipping the drying cycle altogether. Especially if you live in a studio, a foldable drying rack that can fit snugly in your closet would be a great investment.
If your floor space is limited, you can place shirts and sweaters on hangers to dry. This makes it easy to place clothing items directly into your closet after a couple of hours or overnight. Plus, when you live alone, you can hang your wet clothes wherever you like! Air drying will save you money on utility bills, is an eco-friendly option, and will make your clothes last even longer.
Grime, grease, and dust are not the same as a mess. A mess would be clothes on the floor, a junk drawer overflowing, or your kitchen utensils still sitting on the drying rack. 5 minutes of straightening up each room can help maintain a clean appearance. Everything should have its own place and should be put back right after you’re done using it. If you have too many items without a home, it may be a sign to declutter your space. Donate, discard, or organize items that you no longer need. Still not sure how to? Read our list of decluttering methods here.
Challenge yourself to complete a specific chore in a set amount of time. Setting a timer can make tasks feel less tedious, and it can also help you stay on track. Challenge yourself to complete other tasks while your washer or dishwasher is running. If you’re stuck at home waiting for it anyway, you might as well be productive! When your clothes are done, so are you.
Whether you know it or not, housework can be great exercise. 20 minutes of physical activity a day, even if it’s cleaning, is good for your mind and body. If you didn’t get your steps in, clean with a purpose and turn work into a workout. To make these tasks enjoyable, pair them with something you love – listen to music, catch up on your favorite TV show, or put on your headphones and listen to a podcast.
Another unique idea to make cleaning more fun is to create a “Wheel of Chores.” Type all the tasks you need to get done on a digital wheel like this one, and leave it up to chance. While unorthodox, this method has garnered millions of views for @melitsmoi on TikTok. You can watch this video to see her method and humor, but there are plenty more creators on TikTok that have followed suit!
If you turn the chore hurdle into a habit and incorporate a bit more fun, it can take the pressure off of having to vacuum or scrub your counters any time you see a crumb. Start small, stay consistent, and soon you'll find that maintaining a clean and organized living space on your own is not only manageable but can even be enjoyable.