Household Chores You Shouldn’t Be Doing

Every time someone uses the sink in my grandparents’ tiny kitchen, my grandma gets up to wipe and polish it till it shines. My grandma is in her eighties, her feet are twisted with rheumatism that every step hurts. Yet she will stand up, take step after painful step to the sink – and polish it clean.

I watched her, thinking about how nobody in the whole family notices or cares whether the sink shines or not — yet she finds it important and squanders away her small store of life energy on it. This made me think of all the unnecessary tasks we homemakers do – tasks that bring little or nothing in return, tasks that steal precious time that could be used for better things (like blogging, yo).

Are you wasting your time on household chores that aren't necessary? Check out this list of household chores you should skip, and learn how to make extra time in your day for more fun. | Organize Your House

Household Chores You Shouldn’t Be Doing

So, here is my list of low-return chores that many of you can probably strike off your to-do list without a calamity happening:

1. Shining the sink. Yes I know Flylady told you to, but don’t be my grandma.

2. Ironing bed sheets. Either get bed clothes that don’t wrinkle or simply stop caring about creases. If bacteria is your concern — all the bacteria on there has already been inside you. I never iron a thing, we co-sleep and my kids are sick once a year (yes, all that is true).

3. Ironing baby and child clothes. Kids look cute most of the time so nobody will notice wrinkles on their clothes (if they aren’t being cute they are probably screaming their heads off, which is even more distracting).

4. Drying the dishes. Why would you spend time and energy in wiping them with a germy towel if they can drip dry by themselves in 15 minutes? Of course this tip assumes you do your dishes by hand (like me).

5. Vacuuming regularly while allowing outdoor shoes indoors. Shoes are carriers of dirt and toxins (including pesticides and lead). Having a no-shoes inside rule drastically cuts down cleaning time while keeping the home healthier. You can relax the rule when entertaining, if you like.

6. Laundering your clothes every day. In Europe we don’t automatically wash everything (other than underwear) just because it’s been worn. Check for smells and stains at the end of the day. If you don’t live in a hot climate chances are most of your clothes are good for another day.

7. Weeding the garden. Either use mulch, or plant groundcovers (aka living mulch). Not only this keeps the soil healthier and fertilises the earth, it also keeps things from drying out. Which means will need to water less often!

8. Doing everything all by yourself. Helping around the house boosts the kids’ self-confidence and teaches them important skills. When it comes to small kids it’s easy: they love to help. Bigger kids are tougher, but they are also big enough to understand that everyone in the family pitches in. When it comes to adults, you need to vocalise your needs – nobody is a clairvoyant, so you need to tell them you need a hand.

Delegating tasks and requesting help is a complex skill, one every homemaker should develop!

Now over to you: which household chores do you think yield low returns and can be skipped altogether?

About the Author: Eternal*Voyageur

Eternal*Voyageur writes at Venusian*Glow, where she shares DIY skin care experiments, how she got her dream hair, and everything about breaking out of the bra matrix. When she’s not blogging, she hoop-dances, thrifts, and backpacks with two little people. You can find Eternal*Voyageur on Twitter @eternalvoyageur and Facebook.

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  1. says

    I absolutely love this list! My mom used to iron the sheets – she doesn’t anymore and neither do I. We have white sinks – no need to make them shine, but I do find myself scrubbing them sometimes. When the dishes are still wet in the dishwasher, I just leave them in there longer.

    This gave me the greatest chuckle.

  2. says

    Um…don’t iron sheets – never have! But I do iron shirts and slacks that need it. And since we live in one of the most humid places in the world, clothes do get washed after one wear – except for p.j.’s.

    On the other hand, laundry is one of the few chores I do. I also do most of the cooking and most of the shopping. But my kids do: the dishes, clean the bathrooms, dust, vacuum, etc. And no, it’s not hard to get my children to do it. I decided a long time ago that if I were going to homeschool my kids (and I have been for over 20 years) that they were going to have to take care of the house. I trained them and over the years the older ones trained the younger ones. They are old enough now that they negotiate who’s going to do what, when – and I rarely need to get involved though they will sometimes ask for my input as to what days will be good to get the cleaning (dusting and vacuuming) done. I haven’t cleaned a bathroom in years.

    I do yard work approximately twice a year though I wish I had time to do it more. I find working in the yard to be very therapeutic!

    Lastly, I can’t imagine requiring everyone to take off their shoes before they come in the house but since I don’t do the vacuuming it really doesn’t matter! :)

  3. says

    I like a shiny sink because it makes me work to keep everything else clean around the house. But ironing the bed sheets? Only June Cleaver…

  4. says

    Great, great tips. I don’t think I’ve ever ironed my bed sheets or really polished handles and things and I tend to keep the ouside shoes close to the walkway so shoes don’t muck up the entire house. And agreed re: the clothing/laundering debate. Unless I got a stain on something I can get quite a few uses out of a shirt, sweater, pair of pants.

    Thanks for this!

  5. says

    I hear you on the laundry thing. I think most Americans are way too prissy about stuff like that. I do a lot less laundry than my friends seem to and it gives me a lot more time. Since I work about 60 hours a week in addition to a boatload of other things, it’s kind of a necessity for me.

  6. says

    Oh, hell yeah! What’s my favorite?

    Don’t do everything yourself. I always tell my children — it takes all of us to make a family, and it takes all of us to clean up the mess.

  7. says

    Ironing sheets? People still do that?! Everything on your list is on mine as well, except vacuuming daily. But that’s a kid chore so I don’t do it. I’m all for making as much housework “kid chores” as possible! 😀

  8. says

    I’m happy to say that I got rid of my iron years ago and I never hand dry dishes. A few years ago I learned that dogs can be trained to get clothes in and out of front load washers and dryers. Now if we could teach them to fold I’d never have to do laundry again.

  9. says

    I should print this and post in my kitchen!

    I am notorious for not drying my dishes and I always have people me how awful it is that I let them dry on their own. I’m actually giggling because so many people have said it that I thought about devoting an entire series to the subject…as told from the perspective of my ‘happy to be air-dryed’ dishes! :)

  10. says

    I gave up ironing years ago! And making my bed, except for when I change the sheets. Hope all the SITStahs out there are having a good Saturday; if they’re not, they might want to check out my blog post today–guaranteed to make them smile.

  11. says

    Don’t do a single thing you mentioned. I’m thrifty that way. 😀

    Laundering clothes after every use (other than underwear) is hard on the fabric, and causes them to wear out more quickly, increases your water, laundry soap bill, and energy consumption. I check for stains and odors.

  12. says

    This post is timely for me especially with the wearing clothes more than once. I was recently pondering this one while carrying another load from the basement and seeing the strange looks I was getting from my new housemates who are also my in laws. I felt like some kind of neat freak to them although by my standards this is laughable.

    It got me thinking of mental chores, the things we fret over, that are also a waste of energy. There’s a:

    Worry We Shouldn’t Be Doing

    Or something like that, that makes an interesting extension of this topic.

  13. says

    I can’t imagine ironing sheets. When we first married, my husband was surprised that I didn’t hang all of his shirts facing the same direction like his mother did. He quickly learned I had no interest in fussing about the direction I hang clothes. He also found out it’s not that big a deal. I also don’t iron unless the appearance of clothes really, really matters.

    I don’t polish my sink, although it’s due for a good scrubbing right now out of general principle.

  14. says

    I’m on target here, except for the shoes indoors. (a) We wear our shoes indoors, although we talk about having a no-shoes-indoors policy. (b) The way you’ve worded it, it sounds like if you wear shoes indoors, you should stop vacuuming regularly–when in fact you mean that people should stop wearing shoes indoors. The latter makes sense; the former does not!

    I have never understood Flylady’s shiny sink fetish. As far as I can tell, she thinks none of us should actually be using the sink if we can at all avoid it. While I try to keep the dishes from piling up, and I like the sink to look clean, I really don’t care whether or not it’s shiny and free of water spots. It’s a sink–it’s going to get water spots!

  15. says

    Naturally I can be seen not doing anything and apprearing to “look” busy about 5 minutes before my husband gets home

  16. says

    Drat, I already don’t-do most of those, so the time I can gain is limited! But given my laziness around the house, I probably could have predicted that….. 😉

  17. says

    I wish I could get my husband to stop wearing shoes in the house! But, he’s the one who vacuums, so I can’t complain:) One thing that drives me crazy is trying to keep the stainless steel appliances looking clean. Sigh.

  18. says

    Guilty! While I don’t polish the sink, I do vacuum constantly…sometimes several times a day. We don’t wear shoes around the house, they come off at the door. Help? I can ask for that?

  19. says

    Yea, I wish I could be that way with shoes… but a very weird quirk about me is that if I have to get work done around the house, wearing my shoes puts me in work mode. No shoes=lazy mode.

    Ha, ladies, that is the first time that I have admitted that to anyone… Even the hubs hasn’t picked up on it. lol

    Have a wonderful Friday!

  20. says

    I don’t do any of these except the everything by myself. I need to whip this husband-to-be of mine into shape (read: ask for help more)…I even take the garbage out most weeks!

  21. says

    Making the beds is something we don’t do either. Unless I have to put patches on my kids’ Scout uniforms, it’s very rare that I iron.

  22. says

    I am with Laura Jane- I don’t do my chores nearly as often! I used to sweep and mop every 3 days, and now I do it twice a month… eeks! But I really have enjoyed putting it on the back burner!

  23. says

    Well, I’m only guilty of one of these things – wearing my shoes in the house. I just don’t feel ready for the day without my shoes on. However, it leaves footprints all over my wood laminate floor, so I’d really like to try not wearing them in the house. This might be bad, but I also do some chores less often, and I don’t think anyone notices. I try to focus on the things that make the must impact (clearing clutter, putting things away, doing dishes).

    • JD says

      I never understood why people wore shoes in their home, especially during the colder months. But then again, my mother is German, my dad Hawaiian and it’s pretty common to not wear shoes in the house in both locations. The idea of wearing shoes in the house is almost bizarre to me, not just because of the dirt and footprints, but also because it’s uncomfortable. Sometimes I can’t even stand socks on my feet, let alone shoes.

    • JD says

      The “I don’t…unless company comes over” was always puzzling to me. So you don’t feel the need to do it for yourselves but do it for other people? Are people coming over to see you or your made bed? I might declutter or vacuum when I have company coming over, but in that case it would have been time for these tasks and I would have done them in the near future either way. I’m not about to do something I would otherwise never do and see no value in because someone in coming over. If somebody chooses to judge me because of an unmade bed of all things (especially if my house is clean apart from that) then that person is somebody I don’t want at my house anyway. It’s my home, not theirs. People are way too judgmental these days, but I’m not letting that rule my life. I don’t see why people get so bent out of shape when it comes to making beds. First world problems, much? As long as the bed is clean, it doesn’t matter if it’s made.