As I browse around the internet there are several topics I often research looking for tips and shortcuts. I see lots of various cleaning routines and schedules. I think most are more complicated than they need to be. I mean, I LOVE checklists, but do you really need one for regular cleaning? Some of the lists I see look pretty scary. They are SO long.
I would love for you to share with me what you do. I have set up maintenance plans for organizing systems, but I have never set up a cleaning routine for someone else before. Today I am going to tell you my ordinary cleaning routine. If you do not already have a schedule in place, maybe you can give it a try and give me some feedback.
At some point, I will write more detailed articles on each of these chores so we can share more shortcuts with each other, but for now I’ll stick to a basic description.
Four Daily Tasks:
There are a few chores that I try to do daily regardless of the day. These are the chores that keep the BIG clutter monsters at bay.
- Dishes – Load the dishwasher then hand wash any leftovers.
- Laundry – One load start to finish. I do not start another until the next day.
- Pick-up (I call it resetting the house) – A simple room by room with a laundry basket. I put things in the room away then toss any thing that needs to go elsewhere in the basket to be dropped off where ever it belongs (usually in little man’s room).
When done daily, they do not take that long. If left longer it seems to take forever to catch up. We eat early. When I worked full time outside the home, this is what my daily task schedule looked like. I would come in and tackle the mail. I would start a load of laundry. I would fill the sink half up while getting dinner fixings out. Then I would load the dishwasher while things were simmering on the stove. After dinner, I would move the laundry from the washer to the dryer. Finish loading the dishwasher hand washing anything that would not fit. I would do the chores from below and then hang and fold the cloths. Well before prime time I was done for the day. The 10 minutes right before bed or right after the little guy was put to bed, I would do a quick pick up.
The Calendar Matrix:
Weekday Across – On my big dry erase calendar, I have written an area on each weekday from Monday to Friday.
- Monday = Ceilings – I take a puffy ceiling fan cleaning wand and knock down all of the spiderwebs, clean any light fixtures that need cleaned, and check that none of the bulbs need to be replaced. Super easy and quick. Hey, after a weekend of who knows what going on around here, it always takes longer to pick up on Monday. Plus it seems Monday is a busy errand and phone day. A great match for ceiling day.
- Tuesday = Walls – I walk around the whole house with the glass cleaner and get the windows, picture glass, light switch covers, and fingerprints. I use a microfiber rag instead of paper towels or newspaper. Saves on time, cleaner, and trash. It is jeans day. I usually hook the fabric spray into my back pocket and spritz all of the fabric as I go, too. Little man thinks I am playing cowboy because I have a “shooter” in each hand. Do you know those soft brushes that come with dustpans? I tuck the handle in in my other back pocket and very quickly sweep down the baseboards of each room while I’m there. They get into all of the grooves nicer than a straight broom and I never have to scrub baseboards again. To do all of the “walls” in my house it takes about 30 minutes. And we have a ton of windows.
- Wednesday = Surfaces – I go through the whole house and dust. When I am done dusting, I completely clean off the bathroom counter tops.
- Thursday = Floors -Sweep. Mop. Vacuum. While I am in the bathrooms, I quickly take a scrub brush to the floors of the showers with just a tiny squirt of soap from the sink dispenser. It only takes a few seconds extra and I very seldom have to really scrub the tubs anymore.
- Friday = Projects- On Friday, hubby has a half day at work. We either jump into some DIY project, go play as a family, or I take ME time the minute he gets home.
- Trash night = This night has jumped depending on where we have lived. Before taking the cans and recycle bin to the curb, I clean out the fridge. Then we water all of the plants in the house.
If you look at each day as I described above, I do not have a cleaning kit that I carry around, only one to a few simple cleaners. You would not believe how much time it adds to each room when you are stopping to switch gears while trying to remember what needs to be cleaned next. Taking one cleaner through the house is fast. Tuesday takes me the longest, and it still only takes a half hour.
Weeks Down – In the bottom left hand corner of each Sunday on my calendar, I have written in abbreviation codes for each area of my home with a permanent marker. Here is what mine looks like.
- LR, DR, ENT, PH – Living Room, Dining Room, Entrances, Porches.
- KIT – Kitchen (includes the family den)
- BAT – Bathrooms
- BDR, SR – Bedrooms, Sun room
- PJ, SP – Project, Special – This day is for seasonal decor or minding any other space indoors or out not already covered. It is also a good time to set aside to make sure any unfinished projects get attention.
I just make a point to spend 10 to 15 extra minutes a day in those spaces throughout the week to get anything not covered in the weekday across. For example, in the kitchen I might check to see if the appliances need to be cleaned, wipe down the cabinet tops or doors, straighten up the pantry, or whatever else needs to be done.
I arranged my rooms so that the ones that need less attention are grouped together and ones that need more attention are by themselves. In our last home, I was able to devote a week to each room.
Update: I made up a sheet for the Fresh Start series I had intended to do for January. It was meant for use to figure out annual tasks for those of you making planners. I will get back to that article another day. The sheet has a blank calendar with an example of my monthly cleaning schedule matrix added to it and the list of my daily tasks. Feel free to download the Monthly Planner Calendar if you think it might help you tackle your cleaning chores. It is a pdf file, so you may need to download the Adobe Reader if it is not already installed on your computer.
For now just use the sheet as a simple checklist for your daily chores. Each day you get your daily tasks done put a check in the box. Put a second check in the box if you also get the add on task from the weekly chore (ceilings, walls, etc.) and another check if you do an extra task for the assigned room of the week. If you need an extra motivator set an additional reward (besides a clean home) for yourself for 25, 50 and the possible 75 check marks.
I have the basics listed, but you may need to add rooms or change up the chore list. There is absolutely no reason you have to follow my cleaning plan exactly or at all. If it doesn’t work for you, use the sheet to change it around so that you have a plan that does work for you. /Update.
I don’t always get everything done. I miss here and there. I may decide I don’t feel like doing a daily task or only have time to do part of the house with the across tasks. At any given moment, you could come to the door and catch the house looking like a tornado went through. But overall the house stays clean without a ton of effort because of the frequent rotation.
Big Time Messes
Now, if you are one of those who are really encumbered and looking for help, you may be thinking that it is easy for me to talk because cleaning is not effortless for you. I am FAR from Miss Martha. And I do not like to clean either. This schedule came from me trying to figure out how to eat my cake and have it, too. I wanted the clean house, but I wanted to spend more time playing.
We are now living in a home I inherited. I also inherited all of the stuff in it. I loved the previous owners with all of my heart, but they were severe hoarders. In the past we have had up to a third of other houses in stages of remodeling at one time. And once upon a time I was one of those messy people who was organized by knowing which pile something was located in.
In each of those times, I followed my routine doing as much as I could. Spending some of the project time on Friday, weekends, and throughout the last week of the month to make the paths just a little bit wider. It really did (and is doing again) help it all come out for us eventually.
The bottom line is it does take work. I just keep trying to work smart instead of hard, especially when it comes to ordinary cleaning.
I was really serious when I asked about your routine. I would like to know what you do. Do you follow those checklists? Have you made up a routine of your own? What tricks really work for you? And if you give this schedule a try, let me know if it makes cleaning easier for you.