All throughout my childhood, one of my mom’s go-to punishments was forcing me to clean my room. My cluttered, filled-to-the-brim-with-useless-junk room. I’m going to go ahead and assure you that I’m not a slob or a hoarder, but I’d much rather go out and do something with my friends or read a book than spend an hour reorganizing my room. My go-to phrase was always, “I know it’s messy, but I know where everything is!” because I did know where everything was, even if my favorite sweater was slung over my desk chair instead of neatly hanging in my closet and my bookshelf was half-empty in favor of stacks on my desk consisting of any book I had opened in the past month. When I moved away to college, I quickly discovered that my teeny apartment wouldn’t accommodate the clutter that my back-home bedroom easily kept up with. Even with my cramped living quarters, old habits die hard, and I still haven’t found a deep-cleaning routine that I can finish in fifteen minutes without leaving the comfort of my bed. This being said, there are some little things that you can finish in fifteen minutes that can make your living space feel clean, even if you only have time to whip out the vacuum once or twice a week.
1. Make your bed
Even if “making your bed” means just rearranging the covers so they aren’t halfway on the floor, flopping onto a smoothed-out duvet instead of a pile of ruffled sheets after a long day is a lot more comfortable. A bed is a huge piece of furniture, and probably the largest in your room, so having something that takes up so much space appear clean and neat makes the rest of the space around it seem a little more organized.
2. Hide your dirty laundry
Somehow, after tossing off your cardigan after class just one time, you notice that there’s actually a small mountain of dirty clothes that haven’t found their way to your hamper. Taking the .5 seconds to pick them up and shove them down into their designated place will seriously change the whole vibe of your room from “ew, gross” to “messy but productive college girl”.
3. Keep your desk clean
After seeing so many cute but cluttered desks on Tumblr and in movies, it was a rude awakening when I realized that piling my desk with candles, books and knick-knacks wasn’t actually making me any more productive. If it takes you more than five minutes to put the papers and books on your desk in less obvious places, either send some home or throw some of them away. I promise, you don’t need any of those Pre-Cal quizzes from high school; college math will rip you a new one with or without those high school worksheets.
4. Don’t leave dirty dishes out
This sounds like a no-brainer, but during midterms, you’ll notice empty water bottles, used thermoses and stained mugs will start appearing on your nightstand until you can’t find a clean cup to put your morning coffee in. Fix the problem before it becomes a problem; as soon as you finish using something, at least rinse it out in the sink and throw it in the dishwasher. You’ll thank me during finals week when you’re running through three cups of coffee a day, minimum.
5. Don’t over-decorate
So, you’ve gotten through the list and your room still feels crowded? Sadly, it may be time to turn your attention to your fifteen beloved sorority canvases and then eight decorative pillows you talked your mom into “because they were on sale”. Sometimes, there’s nothing left to clean and we have to face the brutal fact that just maybe you got a bit overzealous with the decorations in your room. Try taking some of the canvases off your wall (I know you have favorites, just tell your big you loved them all and picked at random) or giving your friends one or two of the seven succulents lined up on your windowsill. Also try not to cry because you didn’t hunt for the good sales just to realize your dorm room is the size of a shoebox.
With the end of this article also comes the end of hating those people who “clean when I have bad days” or “can’t sleep when I have dirty laundry”. No longer will you embarrassedly kick your dirty jeans to the corner of your room when company comes over, and gone are the days of rummaging around the various papers on your desk to find a pack of sticky notes. I still have days where I know that if my family were to visit, that I would rather physically bar my mother from going in my room than actually let her see it, but whatever. As I glance at my full dirty-clothes hamper and bare-faced desk, I salute you, fellow lazy girls, from the comfort of my nicely-made bed.