The 20-10 Method for Cleaning Your Home

by emilysmaids - September 7, 2021

The 20-10 Method For Cleaning Your Home

Keeping your home clean and organized is not easy. One of the hardest challenges is to create a mindset that allows you to declutter and clean for long hours in the first place. That is, if your home is a real mess and you have a lot of work to do. If you hire a cleaning service, you’re good to go. But what if you want to tackle this on your own and don’t know where to start? Here’s where it comes into play the 20-10 cleaning method.

Rachel Hoffman created a strategy to help people avoid feeling overwhelmed or burned out after a cleaning spree. It’s called the 20-10 cleaning method and, in fact, it’s not revolutionary by any means. Let’s take a look at its predecessor as well as guidelines so you can apply this method for your daily cleaning and organizing (or even your spring cleaning).

The 20-10 Rule: Pomodoro Applied to Cleaning

There’s a technique for increasing your productivity called the Pomodoro technique. It’s based on the classical kitchen timer with a tomato shape. This strategy consists of setting a timer for the time you should be working or studying and the time you should be resting. This creates combinations such as 25 minutes of work and 5 of resting, 45 and 15, 52 and 17, and so on.

Applied to cleaning, you have the 20/10 method! It’s the same principle: organize, declutter, or clean for 20 minutes or rest for 10. Of course, you can adapt this to whatever you want. The goal is to set a timetable to follow through.

In the long run, you’ll feel less burned out because you’ve been resting from time to time and didn’t spend 4 hours straight cleaning and decluttering.  On the other hand, it will create a structure that won’t let you work for 5 minutes and rest for 5 hours (yes, that happens).

You can start with the 20/10 timer and adjust as you go. What you want to achieve is consistency and set reasonable standards: it’s not worth it changing it to 45/5 if you’re going to quit after the first try. Start slow and work your way up.

Pomodoro Timer Emily's Maids

What Can You Clean In 20 Minutes With the 20-10 Method?

Now you might be asking yourself: what can I possibly achieve in just 20 minutes? And the reason this might seem like such a short time is that it’s meant to be used as a day-to-day cleaning routine. You’re probably not going to declutter your entire closet in 20 minutes. But here are some things you will be able to do:

Make your bed. This is not supposed to take you any longer than 60 seconds. Any more than that and you’re probably doing it wrong. Remember that you’re not looking for perfection here, you’re looking for consistency. Plus, if this is the first task you do in the morning, it will set you up for accomplishing bigger tasks throughout the day.

Organize your house.  What you want to achieve here is to bring back everything to its original place. Empty coffee mugs on your desk? Back to the kitchen. That sweater you left on your couch? Back to the bedroom or entryway. Are your office supplies invading your work area in your studio? Back to cabinets and drawers. This can easily take you 20 minutes or less, and you can bring in other family members if you have a big home.

Clean your floors. Depending on your type of floor, you may require sweeping, vacuuming, and/or mopping every day, every other day, or twice a week. This is a huge priority if you want to preserve your floors. Again, if possible, divide your task among the household members. This way, once you’re done sweeping, someone else can start mopping and so on.

Do the dishes. Not doing dishes can turn your kitchen into a mess faster than you think. You can do the dishes by hand or load your dishwasher after every meal. This would take you 20 minutes tops at the end of the day if you prepped a quick meal. Just like everything else: don’t let the mess build up. It’s more hygienic and smarter.

Sets of books and notes


If you want to organize your cleaning time, the 20-10 method helps you to become structured and create a habit rather than tackle a huge task and be exhausted afterward or disappointed for not accomplishing an unrealistic goal. It’s about adapting to a cleaning routine rather than fighting it.

Give it a try, start slowing, and don’t give up. Creating a habit can take weeks or even months, so be patient and persistent.



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