How I Use “Habit Stacking” to Save Time Cleaning



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I am occasionally asked, “Why is your bathroom always so clean?” This is an accusation, I think, not a compliment. I have two children and a dog, so the general consensus is that I must be some sort of June Cleaver, scrubbing down the toilets daily in pearls and heels. I don’t tell them my actual secret, but here it is: I use my face towel to wipe down the sink.

Let me clarify, because I’ve been surprised by the strong negative response to this practice. The towel is clean. My face is clean when I use the towel. I’m standing there, holding a cloth that is destined for the hamper anyway. It costs me literally four seconds to wipe down the counter and sink, and zero mental labor because I’ve been doing this for more than a decade.

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Still not convinced? I get it. The towel does touch my eyes, nose, and mouth before I use it to clean the counter. But what’s more gross? Using my face towel or leaving old toothpaste and water spots in the sink until the next cleaning day? You know where I stand.

If you can’t bring yourself to use the face towel, you could put a stack of cleaning rags under the sink and use them instead. But my guess is, you probably won’t. That extra step of opening the door, grabbing the second towel, then taking two towels to the laundry … not impossible, but not effortless.

I love the efficiency of this habit stack, and the principle translates well to other areas of the house: Finished drying dishes? Wipe down the kitchen sink before tossing the towel in the laundry. Trouble keeping up with dusting? Stash a microfiber cloth anywhere dust accumulates, such as the piano bench, glove compartment or gaming console.

Here’s another controversial one: When you use the bathroom, take five seconds to wipe down the toilet seat with (clean!) toilet paper. You’re about to wash your hands anyway! With habits like these in place, when cleaning day arrives you will already have taken care of the obvious stuff. You may even be accused of cleaning too often. Don’t worry — your secret is safe with me.


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