PHOTO: Gianna Lucci
Think of everything as a grid.
Visualize the space in small areas. Break it up into a grid and everything will be smoother and quicker.
Clean from top to bottom.
Do your floors last. That way you’re not shaking down dust onto anything you’ve already cleaned.
Rely on hooks to keep things organized.
Often putting things away in bins is still too much to ask, so you can make the rule to hang things up with hooks.
Always sponge your shower.
Keep your bathroom as dry as possible to fight mold and soap scum build-up. This will spare you a lot of time while doing the cleaning.
She skips hairspray.
“Dust really loves hairspray, so if I use it, I tend to spray it outside. If you do end up with a sticky, dusty mess in your bathroom, a Magic Eraser can help clean it up.”
She has “house-only” shoes.
“Taking off shoes at the door really helps keep dirt out of your house. In the winter, I walk around the house in slippers, and in the summer I use flip-flops.”
She uses cooking downtime to start cleaning up.
“I love sitting down to dinner knowing that all I have left to clean up is the plates,” says Tanaka. She doesn’t waste time watching that pot boil. As her food is cooking, she starts wiping down counters, rinsing prep tools, and putting ingredients away. ”
She treats stains right away.
“The longer it sits, the harder it is to get it off,” says Tanaka. Ain’t that the truth. Wipe up spills and grab that prewash stain remover as soon as you see a spot — you can spray it on even days before you do another load of laundry.
She keeps clutter tidy until she can toss it or put it away.
“Don’t devalue the smallest tasks, like straightening a pile of magazines, fixing a stack of mail, or folding a blanket,” Tanaka says. “They make your space feel clean even if you don’t have time to really declutter.”
She cleans a little bit every day.
“People get bogged down in the details, but it’s better to look at the big picture,” she says. “I spend 15 minutes every day tidying up, cleaning countertops, and doing other quick cleaning tasks, which improves my mental well-being and makes deep cleans much easier to tackle later on.”
She listens to podcasts while she cleans.
Though Tanaka really enjoys how cleaning is the sort of physical task that offers you time to be totally unplugged (she even calls it “meditative”), it’s also a great opportunity to take in some passive entertainment. “I like to listen to This American Life, Serial, Stuff You Should Know, and a bunch of others,” she says. “Workout music is great, too. You’ll clean harder and you can totally count that as exercise (or at least I think so!).”