Commercial Break Cleaning: 10 Lightning-fast Fixes

If you split your cleaning chores up into two- or three-minute chunks to during commercials, they suddenly become no big deal.
If you split your cleaning chores up into two- or three-minute chunks to during commercials, they suddenly become no big deal.

Please excuse us for kicking off this article with some assumptions and generalizations about our readers. One: You probably don't have enough time in the day to make your home as clean as you'd like it to be. Two: There are probably quite a few household chores that you actively avoid or never seem to get around to. Three: When you watch TV, you use the commercial breaks to go to the restroom, grab a drink or do some other fairly nonproductive activities.

Not sure where we're going with this? Can't figure out the connection between housecleaning and commercial breaks? Well, allow us to enlighten you. All of those chores you've been avoiding because they're too time-consuming or just plain drudgery? If you split them up into quick two- or three-minute chunks, they suddenly become no big deal. Instead of lollygagging on the couch, loading up on snacks or getting another beer during commercial breaks, you could actually accomplish something. And vacuuming or dusting in short bursts isn't nearly as painful as doing it all at one time.

Now, we realize that many of you are accustomed to fast-forwarding through commercials on your DVR or TiVo. But just keep this concept in mind the next time you watch live TV -- or maybe try not to fast-forward one night if you have a chore that absolutely has to get done. You'll be killing two birds with one stone if you do laundry while watching a show. Genius!

Here's our list of 10 cleaning chores that you can easily knock out while watching TV.


If you have kids and pets, it's a safe bet that your floors are always in need of a good sweeping. And it's probably also a safe bet that they aren't swept very often, because sweeping is annoying. But it doesn't have to be a big deal -- just pick a room or two to tackle during each commercial break, and your floors will be hair- and crumb-free by the time "60 Minutes" is over.


If you're really committed to having clean floors by the end of the night, haul out your vacuum cleaner when you're done sweeping. Before your next show starts, plug the vacuum in a central location so you don't have to keep moving it around. Then hop up and vacuum one room at a time during commercial breaks. Spotless carpets and a bit of exercise, too -- can't beat that!

Deal with the Dishes

The ever-present dirty-dish pile in the kitchen sink is yet another household chore that just about everyone loathes tackling. But if you divide it up into two-minute increments, you'll feel a sense of accomplishment without exhaustion. Commercial breaks probably aren't the right time to slap on the rubber gloves and scrub pots and pans, but they're a perfect opportunity to load or unload the dishwasher. Put away glasses during one break, silverware during another, and you'll be done before you know it.


Dusting surely ranks pretty high on the list of universally shunned chores, but commercial-break speed-dusting is surprisingly effective (and dare we say fun?). You can even make it a contest if you have a willing partner. Before your show starts, grab your dusting tools of choice (feather duster, dusting mitt, microfiber cloth) and get ready to bolt when the first commercial begins. Wipe off any dustable surface you see in the TV room, then move farther afield as the show progresses.

Make the Bed

Are your bed sheets in desperate need of changing? A commercial break is the perfect time to run into the bedroom and strip those dingy sheets and pillows. If you're organized enough to have a clean set of sheets waiting in the wings, use the next break to make your bed. You'll be mighty proud of yourself when you can hop into a nice, clean bed when your shows are over.

Clear the Counters

We're willing to bet that a good 90 percent of Americans have major problems keeping their kitchen counters free of junk. Counters just seem to be magnets for any household items -- mail, pens, keys, sunglasses -- that don't have a clear home. Add dirty cups and used plates to the mix, and you have the makings of a real clutter disaster. If you use your commercial-break time to find homes for a few of these items at a time, you might be able to actually see the counter surface by the end of the evening!

Do Some Laundry

"Doing laundry" sounds like such a time-consuming job, but it's really just a series of tiny tasks. A couple of minutes of commercials is more than enough time to run into the laundry room, take your whites out of the dryer, switch a load of towels from the washer into the dryer and throw a pile of jeans into the washer. And while you're at it, why not put those whites into a basket, bring them into the den and start the next chore on our list?

Why wait for commercials to fold when you can knock it out and watch your favorite shows?
Why wait for commercials to fold when you can knock it out and watch your favorite shows?

You actually don't need to save folding for commercial breaks -- it's a perfect TV-watching chore. In fact, we're not sure how people complete this task if they're not in front of the tube. What do they do while they're folding, stare at the walls? And in our book, the best part about folding while watching TV is that your viewing companions will inevitably feel compelled to help you.

Clear out the Fridge

This task is just a natural extension of a time-honored commercial-break activity: standing in front of the refrigerator. You've probably logged quite a few breaks here, trying to figure out what snack or drink to grab. But the next time you crack open the fridge during the game, take a couple of extra seconds to scan it for food gone bad. Take it all out and quickly put it in the sink. During the next break or two, you can dispose of all that wilted lettuce, moldy sauce and stinky cheese.

Scrub the Toilet

Scrubbing the toilet might well be the most-avoided household chore, but it's really one of the quickest and easiest tasks. Even the foulest-looking toilet can be rendered spic-and-span in less than a minute. When the first commercial break hits, run through all of your bathrooms and squeeze or spray some toilet-bowl cleaner. When the next break starts, give all of the bowls a good scrub and a flush. Done.


Quiz: Do I Really Have to Wash This?

Quiz: Do I Really Have to Wash This?

Take this HowStuffWorks quiz to find out your how your cleaning skills stack up.

Related Articles


  • Doland, Erin. "Dusting in the 21st Century." Real Simple. (July 13, 2012)
  • Formaro, Amanda. "30 Quick Cleaning Tips for a Tidier Home." (July 13, 2012)
  • Good Housekeeping. "Home Speed-Cleaning Guide." (July 13, 2012)
  • Real Simple. "Daily Quick-Cleaning Checklist." (July 13, 2012)