6 things cleaning experts never do in a small space

All the ins and outs of best practice for cleaning small spaces

White couch with chunky knit blanket
(Image credit: Pottery Barn)

It's important to know what things cleaning experts never do in a small space if you live in a compact apartment or dorm that’s in need of a good ol’ clean. The chances are that you’ve discovered that keeping your space clean (despite its small size) is no easy task. 

You’d think that a small space would be easier to keep neat and ordered, but the reality is that smaller spaces just seem to collect dirt, dust, and clutter far more quickly. And knowing how to properly clean these more compact spaces (teeny tiny apartments and dorm rooms, we’re looking at you) can be tough. 

After decorating your small space exactly how you like it, you'll want to make sure it's neat and tidy. To make the cleaning process a little easier for you, I’ve spoken to the experts about how they approach cleaning tiny rooms and what they never do in a small space. 

Things cleaning experts never do in a small space

When you're living in a small space, knowing how to approach cleaning it isn't always easy. That said, there are plenty of cleaning hacks that work well even in the smallest of spaces. 

 Karina Toner, Operations Manager at Spekless Cleaning, says: “Navigating small spaces presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities. While the task remains fundamentally the same — ensuring a clean and organized environment — the constraints of limited space often require a more strategic approach.”  

1. Never avoid clutter

Look, I get it: clutter builds up far quicker in smaller spaces. But, if you want to ensure that your small space — whether it's a small bedroom or a small bathroom (or any other room for that matter) it's important to make regular decluttering a priority. 

Toner says: “We never turn a blind eye to clutter in small spaces. Regular decluttering is our go-to move for keeping things neat and orderly. A small space may be cozy, but it's definitely not a hiding spot for mess.”

If you're someone who struggles with accumulating too much stuff, you might find scheduling time to declutter your small space will make the process easier. 

2. Don’t use harsh chemicals

It can seem like using harsh chemicals to clean your home is essential to actually keeping the place clean but, honestly, that isn't the case. Or, at least, it doesn't have to be. 

Toner says: “We often opt for eco-friendly cleaning solutions when cleaning small spaces — no need for harsh chemicals to do the dirty work. This is crucial, especially when cleaning in snug quarters.”

Angela Rubin from Hellamaid adds: “While it's essential to maintain cleanliness, avoid using an excessive amount of strong cleaning chemicals in a small space. The confined area can amplify the fumes, potentially causing respiratory discomfort. Opt for eco-friendly and mild cleaning solutions to ensure a fresh and safe environment.”

If you are going to use stronger cleaning supplies in a small space, make sure that you have the windows fully open, and plenty of natural air flow available. 

3. Never allow trash to overflow

I know, I know, it's easier said than done. One minute the garbage bin is empty, the next it's overflowing with trash. But, in a small space, it's essential that you keep your garbage cans clean and take out the trash on a regular basis. 

Toner says: “Trash cans aren't our decor of choice, we never leave it out for too long nor do we allow it to overflow from the container. We regularly whisk away the trash to also help keep odors at bay.”

In small spaces, odors can smell even more pungent, so keeping on top of the trash is essential for making sure that your home smells fresh, clean, and odor-free

4. Don’t neglect adequate storage

Small spaces are far more likely to look and feel overly cluttered, which is why making sure that you have adequate storage space on offer is so important.

Toner says: “In the realm of compact living, storage is our superhero. We never overlook the need for clever storage solutions to keep every inch working efficiently, especially in smaller areas so there’s absolutely no wasted space.”

Even if your home lacks built-in storage, there are plenty of small-space storage solutions that you can take advantage of, to keep the clutter at bay. 

5. Failing to have adequate ventilation

We've all seen those TikTok videos where CleanTokers mix an absurd amount of cleaning products together and end up filling the room with an abundance of chemical fumes. 

While you might not be planning on creating your own mini toxic cloud of cleaning fumes, it's still essential that you ensure you always have adequate ventilation in place when cleaning. 

Rubin says: “In small spaces, proper ventilation is crucial. I would never recommend neglecting the importance of airing out the space during and after cleaning. Opening windows or using fans helps dissipate cleaning product odors and ensures a healthier indoor environment.” 

6. Ignoring hard-to-reach areas

Sometimes it seems easier to give those hard-to-reach areas a miss when it comes to cleaning, but if you want to keep on top of your cleaning it's essential that you don't skip any areas with your cute cleaning supplies.

Rubin says: “Neglecting hard-to-reach areas in small spaces is a common mistake. Encourage thorough cleaning by addressing overlooked spots such as behind furniture, under appliances, and high shelves. Use appropriate tools like microfiber cloths and extendable dusters to reach these areas effectively.”

Expert-approved cleaning supplies

Stock up on the best cleaning supplies the Real Homes team recommends again and again. Find plenty of eco-friendly options and handy additions to your small space.

Prices were correct at the time of publishing.


What's the best way to stay on top of cleaning?

If you need a reminder to clean your space more regularly, you may want to try a cleaning supplies subscription. That way, when you're products arrive on your doorstep, you know it's time to get scrubbing.

Is keeping a small space tidy easy?

Keeping a small space tidy can be a struggle, especially if the space lacks adequate storage. if you want to ensure that a small space (whether it's a bathroom, bedroom or living space) remains tidy, making sure that there's plenty of storage 

Meet the experts

Karina Toner, Operations Manager, Spekless Cleaning
Karina Toner

Karina Toner is the Operations Manager at Washington D.C.-based Spekless Cleaning. 

Angela Rubin, cleaning expert at HellaMaid
Angela Rubin from Hellamaid

Angela Rubin works at Hellamaid, a top-rated cleaning company in Canada. Hellamaid are industry experts specializing in residential and commercial cleaning services. 

Now that you know the things cleaning experts never do in small spaces, you might be wondering what the best hacks are for keeping smaller spaces (think: tiny first apartments and compact dorm rooms) neat and ordered. 

Wondering how to keep your small bathroom organized and keep your towels neat? These simple tips for easier towel storage in small spaces should help to make keeping the space ordered a little easier to achieve

Beth Mahoney
Freelance journalist

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a former staff writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.