How to reset your cleaning routine this year (and beyond)

The same space — only cleaner

Bright modern kitchen space with white cupboards and wooden countertops
(Image credit: Bria Hammel Interiors)

It’s a new year and you’re working on a new you. Only the space you’ve been living in last year has remained the same. Thankfully each new year brings a fresh way to reevaluate your routines, specifically your cleaning one. Whether your current habits are eating into your entire weekend, or perhaps your routine isn't enough and you're not quite happy with how clean your floors look? With our top-rated cleaning products and a new outlook on these chores, you can switch things up for good this year. 

Cleaning doesn't inspire everyone but when it comes to creating a tidy and organized space that is a total joy to be in, it is essential. Whether you're sprucing up a studio or dusting and organizing a small apartment, this is how to level up for a beautiful space into the new year and beyond.

Find The Joy

Starting new routines is about habit, dedication, building a new system but above all, according to the laundry guru and cleaning expert Patric Richardson, it’s about finding joy. “I’m famous for saying you should hang a disco ball in your laundry room,” says Richardson, whose books are a how-to guide on reassessing your relationship with doing laundry. “Make it a place you want to go.”

His advice translates for apartment dwellers, who might be looking for small apartment decorating ideas (and are on a budget) and even those who use a laundromat. “For those who don’t have a laundry room, it’s the same idea. If the laundry room is in your apartment building, throw around a couple of dishy magazines, bring some aromatherapy spray. You do you. Enjoy the process!,” he says.

The Time Is Now

Procrastination can be the biggest killer of creating a routine that sticks. In order to avoid this, Richardson’s advice is to take the time to do it now. As in, right this minute. When it comes to clutter, Richardson observes, “We get so used to seeing it. We get to the point where we overlook it.” Rather than letting clutter pile up, Richardson deals with clutter one moment at a time. “Instead of setting a time or day and doing it all at once, the best way to declutter is in the moment.” There are a ton of products to help organize apartments and small homes too, many of which are pretty stylish. Investing in a couple can make it far easier to just get it done. 

Make It A Date

Making “errand dates” or an “errand hang”, which is time spent with friends where you can also check off your respective to-do lists, is also a great way to create a routine that brings more happiness to your weekly chores. Whether you and a friend help organize your closets together or you both just spend time picking up cleaning supplies at Costco before grabbing lunch, these excursions are a great way to catch up on socializing as well as checking things off your to-do list.

Richardson’s advice for those who go to the laundromat is to make a “laundry date” with a friend. “When I was in college, I made a ‘laundry date’. I had a friend I could never catch up with but we’d catch up at the laundromat. We’d bring some snacks and it was like a little party,” he says.

Make The Unpleasant Chores Easier On Yourself

Richardson may find joy in doing laundry but there are other chores that present more of a challenge, like cleaning the tub. His advice? “Anything is more fun when you have the tools to make it work. One thing I use that’s really funny is a brush to go on the end of my drill to use for my bathtub,” he says. When it comes to dishes, Richardson’s advice to add a bit of pleasure is to find a great dish soap. “It is more expensive but it’s a nice little treat,” he says.

Richardson does admit there’s one chore that he has a harder time getting done: vacuuming. “I hate running the vacuum,” Richardson admits. His solution? “Turn on some music! I’m listening to Donna Summer,” he says. “Life is so busy that it can be nice to chill out for 20 minutes, run the vacuum and listen to music.”

Invest In Your Chores

Another way to set a new routine in cleaning is to minimize the amount of obstacles you have in getting the chore done swiftly. This is where great tools can come in. “If you splurge on a great vacuum, like a stick vacuum, or a cordless vacuum, it doesn’t have to be as much of a challenge. All of this makes the cleaning routine better because it makes it easier,” he says.

If your don't have a good vacuum that works in your rental, ask your landlord if they can help source an alternative.

Richardson points out that investing in good tools doesn’t always mean a high price point. One of his favorite tools is his L.L.Bean Boat and Tote which serves as his handy laundry hamper. “It’s so much easier to schlep a flexible laundry tote to the laundry room than to schlep a laundry basket. And I’ve had some that are 35-years-old. The trick is to get the tools you love.”

Kate Santos

Hello! I’m Kate Santos, a writer and photographer based in Los Angeles. In the design world, I got my start working as an Editorial Intern for Dwell magazine in San Francisco. Since then, I’ve written about design and architecture in many national magazines and online publications, including Playboy, Hunker, and The Culture Trip.

I grew up in a very old house in North Carolina and am still influenced by the rustic, charming, antique and aged elements of a home. Sustainability and longevity is extremely important to me and I believe learning to reuse materials or purchasing items you’ll love forever goes a long way. I also lean towards the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi when designing my own home, embracing the perfectly imperfect items I can find.