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How to Embrace (and Love) a Cleaning Routine

How to Embrace {& Love} a Cleaning Routine

Guest post from Becky of Clean Mama

There are lots of little things that I do around the house every day that make a big difference in our home running smoothly. The one thing that works the best for me is my cleaning routine.

I would love to have a cleaning service come and clean the house top to bottom on a weekly or bi-weekly basis (you probably would, too), but the budget doesn’t have a line for that right now. Instead, I’ve learned to “become my own cleaning service” by creating, embracing, and implementing a cleaning routine.

The thing I love about my cleaning routine is that instead of trying to decide what to clean in that fleeting 15-minute chunk of time, I know what is scheduled to be cleaned. Better yet, because I have a routine in place, it’s easy to get my family involved because they know what is on the schedule for any given day.

My 4 Everyday Cleaning Tasks:

I love the feeling of everything being clean all at once, so I do a few cleaning tasks every day and that gives me the closest thing to that feeling.

Here are the four tasks I try to do every single day:

1. Do a quick check and sweep of the hard floors.

2. Wipe down the kitchen counters and check the bathroom counters.

3. Do at least one load of laundry.

4. Deal with paper clutter (mail and school papers).

Doing these 4 little tasks is a huge step in the cleaning routine. These take a few minutes and can be done early in the morning, during the day, or in the evening.

My Weekly Clean Tasks:

In addition to my four daily tasks, I assign specific jobs to each day of the week. This works really well for me, especially because each task builds on the next day.

Here’s my weekly cleaning plan:

Monday – bathrooms (Bathrooms need a good cleaning after the weekend!)
Tuesday – dust (Dusting should be done before vacuuming so that’s why I schedule it on Tuesdays.)
Wednesday – vacuum
Thursday – wash floors
Friday – catch-all day (Everyone needs a little grace and wiggle room so Friday is my day to catch up.)
Saturday – sheets and towels (I wash these in preparation for the week ahead.)
Sunday – rest

Trying to piece together the perfect way to maintain your house? Stop aiming for perfection and just do a little bit every day. It’ll never be perfect (and that’s okay!), but starting somewhere is the best place to start.

Then realize that the only way the cleaning routine will work is if you follow through and keep up with the routine. If a cleaning company came in every week to clean and then they stopped coming to your house, the house would be in disarray without a little cleaning. Remember that the mess is good – people live in your home and enjoy life!

How about you? Are you a cleaning routine-er? What’s most effective for you?

Need some resources to get started? I post daily picture reminders of cleaning tasks on my Facebook page, I have a FREE monthly cleaning calendar every month with my daily cleaning tasks, and here’s a fun post on how to make a cleaning binder.

Becky (Clean Mama) is a cleaning expert, a wife and mom to three, a business owner, and a former teacher. She knows how hard it is to try to keep it ‘all’ together, but has found that that really isn’t possible and it’s better to embrace the imperfect, grab a cup of coffee and a great list.

 


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37 Comments

  • Hi Becky, I really like your idea for scheduling a particular thing for a particular day. Mine would have to be in tiny increments, I think, because I feel overwhelmed at trying to do more than one task on a weeknight. But I might try to schedule out some tiny increments like that on my calendar. It sounds like it might really help. Thanks for sharing!

  • Shauna says:

    I used to do all of my cleaning in one long day but once my 3rd baby came that had to go out the window. That is when I started a little each day:
    Monday – vacuum / mop floors
    Tuesday – laundry , some task that needs to be done
    Wednesday – one week I dust the next week i change sheets
    Thursday – laundry, a task that needs to be done
    Friday – pick up for the weekend
    Saturday -clean bathroom

  • Were a family of 3 about to be 4 when my sister moves in tomorrow, I do the heavy stuff on Monday, so I have the rest of the week to do whatever!

  • Carla says:

    I like it that you schedule that day of rest into your schedule. I do that, too.

  • Malinda says:

    Thank you I needed this as I strive to always have my house neat — I need to remember we LIVE their too!

  • melissa says:

    I was just thinking about something like this this morning. Right now I’m doing whatever needs to be done most urgently (when I can start writing in the dust, I dust… that kind of thing), but I like the idea of having days assigned. Takes the pressure off of having to decide what to do or waiting until it’s too overwhelming to tackle. Love the “rest” on Sunday part, too!

  • shannon says:

    Along with this, I have put each of my drawers, cabinets and closets on my cleaning list, as well as under sinks, moving fridge, wiping down cabinets, etc. I have determined which needs monthly, every other month or quarterly attention. It is amazing how you can stay on top of the clutter when you break it down and do one or two tasks a day.

  • Mary says:

    Oh I needed this today!

    I’ve been out-of-state weeks at a time helping with my dad’s care. I struggle with housework anyway as a fairly new SAHW but I had established some daily and weekly routines before my dad got sick.

    I’m facing the disarray as I try to start picking up the balls again and I can tell you, it’s so much easier to clean everything when it’s already clean!

  • Emily says:

    My mother-in-law did a room each day of the week so that by the weekend, they would be ready for company and relaxation.

    Monday-Bedrooms
    Tuesday-Bathrooms
    Wednesday-Kitchen and/or Errands (catch all the grocery deals)
    Thursday-Basement
    Friday-Living Room
    Saturday-Work or Play Outside

    Each day a load of laundry would be done and the dishes would be cleaned.

  • Jamie SC says:

    I’m wondering if you could help me in something? I get really lonely when I clean. The radio doesn’t help. I seem to only be able to do certain tasks (like dishes and laundry- the really mundane stuff) while on the phone with someone. But sometimes there isn’t anyone to call! Do you get lonely? I do better with decluttering-type cleaning because it keeps my mind more active.

    • Crystal says:

      Have you tried really interesting audio books? That’s something I sometimes enjoy while cleaning!

    • Katie L says:

      I listen to podcasts while I clean. I like story podcasts. It’s like a conversation, because I’m listening attentively (and… sometimes I do talk back…)

      • Jen says:

        I like talk radio. I also installed a TV in the kitchen (it was a gift). That helps “keep me company” while cleaning. Maybe there is something in your childhood or upbringing that make it feel that way. Sometimes knowing why helps overcome it.

  • I have a very similar style routine for keeping the house in order. I really prefer to dust the whole house all at once, vacuum the whole house, etc., rather than dragging out everything to clean this room on this day, that room on that day. It’s a time saver to me, and in general, our house is presentable. 🙂

  • Lana says:

    I do have a cleaning routine and I love it! I would not want someone else to clean my house because I have heard from many that 1) you have to clean before the service comes 2) they don’t do a great job.

  • Kay says:

    I can’t believe you guys all mop and vacumn weekly! We have hardwood floors which I sweep (we have a cat) a few times a week, but do not mop nearly that often, such that I’m not willing to share here! Our one very small rug rug gets vacumned mostly when company is arriving, otherwise it’s probably about once every 3 weeks. The cat is terrified of the vacumn so I feel bad running it too often.

    • Kay says:

      Sorry, meant to talk about dusting more than vacumning. I’m shocked that people dust weekly. I would prefer to spend that time in other ways – devoting time to work (I work full-time), a non-profit I serve on the board, quality time with my husband and friends or on my never-ending to do list which currently includes buying a house.

      • HI Kay,

        A lot of this is probably personal preference – we need to sweep and vacuum at least weekly (more in the summer) and I dust regularly too since we live on a very busy street and have lots of dust.

        There are a lot of other things I don’t do regularly – mopping is a good example (though I should probably mop more than I do).

        Lea

      • Ashley says:

        I think a lot of it depends, too, on where you live. We live where it is extremely windy and dry. So we have to dust daily sometimes, but never less frequent than at least once a week, because so much dust gets blown/tracked into the house. We also have to sweep several times daily. We have a dog that sheds and several small children, so our hardwood floors just look nasty if we don’t. We only mop a couple of times a week, though. I certainly don’t want to spend my days this way because I do have 4 kids whom I homeschool, I work nearly full time from home (about 30 hours/week), and we do volunteer. But if I didn’t keep up with these jobs, our house would be nasty. There are other things that get let go some. I just think so much with cleaning depends on personal preference, how much you are home, kids, location, etc. If your house still looks clean or you are happy with your current routine, then I wouldn’t worry too much.

      • jenny says:

        In my home I have to sweep the floors often (sometimes up to 3 times a day) and I have to spot clean the floors daily and mop once or twice weekly. The bathroom sink and toilet also need to be cleaned several times a day. It is because we live on a dirt road, have farm animals, three young children who love dirt, and my husband works construction so my house would be so dirty if I didn’t do this! However, upstairs I only dust and vacuum once or twice a month because we pretty much only sleep and dress up there.

  • I love the blue Ball jars in the picture above 🙂

  • Linda says:

    My biggest problem is that I hate cleaning. I work all day and coming home to clean or doing it on the weekends just makes me feel exhausted thinking about it. I do it, but do not like it one bit. I tend to put off doing the big stuff until I have to, then spend a whole day or weekend cleaning, which burns me out. Dusting and vacuuming are my nemesis and I don’t know why.

    The only thing I kinda enjoy cleaning is the kitchen, maybe because it’s so small and anything out of place or dirty is evident right away. I really have to start doing the other stuff it daily, so it doesn’t continue to be a chore I constantly dread.

  • I swear by my roomba iRobot Vacuum, not a day goes by that my floors aren’t vacuumed and I think it does a wonderful job, especially because it gets under the bed and sofa.

  • Glenda says:

    Please keep in mind, when reading the following cleaning outline, that we are both retired and do not have young children to care for on a daily basis. I was the CEO of our home for many years as our children grew up and I did not start my private practice (I am a Board Certified Health Professional) until our children were grown and started college.

    We are in our mid-60’s and our household consists of the two of us and two Golden Retrievers. My schedule for cleaning hasn’t changed much over the years, even when our children were young and growing up. It takes a lot less effort and time when the house is kept clean and organized on a daily basis. Since we have a large home, over 3,000 sq. ft., and 1/3 of an acre of garden and fruit trees to maintain we try to have a master schedule to cover all our bases.

    Daily: vacuum the main level of the house, quick clean bathrooms, dust hardwood floors, wipe down the kitchen countertops thoroughly. This only takes about an hour a day, which leaves alot of time for other projects and the garden.

    Twice a week: Deep clean bathrooms, disinfect all handles in house, and dust furniture.

    Once a week: mop hardwood floors, vacuum lower level and steps, deep clean bathrooms, wash dogs dishes, wash patio glass, wash glass in kitchen cabinets, wipe out microwave, clean off stove top, wipe out refrigerator, wipe down refrigerator front.

    Once a month: Wipe out extra refrigerators, thoroughly clean laundry room and adjoining area, and dust woodwork in house.

    Deep Cleaning such as shampooing carpets, washing windows and blinds, cleaning out the garage thoroughly and defrosting the upright freezer is done once a year.

    The above list comprises only my chores and takes about six to ten hours per week, depending on where I am on the chore list for the month. My husband helps alot around the house and yard to keep things up. He has his own chore list.

    I have always found that keeping things up on a frequent basis and having a set schedule cuts down tremendously on the time involved in the cleaning/organizing department of Household Management. Projects, regardless of whether they are cleaning or organizing, take a lot longer when they have been left to accumulate clutter and dirt.

  • Kalyn Brooke says:

    I have Cleaning Monday as my normal routine. We clean the bathrooms top to bottom, and wipe up the kitchen floors, dust, change the sheets, etc. Anything above and beyond that is relegated to Spring/Fall deep cleaning, I’m afraid. 🙂

  • Melanie says:

    I would be interested in knowing which podcasts/audio books you ladies suggest.

    • Bethany says:

      I listen to a lot of sermons when cleaning and doing dishes, so I like Truth for Life’s podcast and Grace To You, Matt Chandler’s and TGC (the Gospel Coalition). Not podcasts, but free links to the 2012 Women’s Conference http://thegospelcoalition.org/conferences/2012-womens/

      I also enjoy audio books from audible.com (I do mostly classics but the Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket is great to listen to, even though technically a children’s series)

  • jennifer says:

    I don’t like cleaning and I’ve never had a cleaning schedule other than a Saturday morning blitz cleaning, which is no fun, especially if I’ve had a tough week at work.
    But while reading this post, I remembered a saying my mother always told me, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” So on that note, I’m going to give Becky’s schedule a try and see if it doesn’t make my life easier.

  • Amie says:

    This was a really good article for me. I don’t like cleaning, but usually once I start, I have a hard time stopping. I want to keep up with my house, but still enjoy my summer. I’ve started having my two sons, 3 & almost 5, do 5 minute clean ups in their play room and bedrooms and it seems to be working. They pick things up and are done before they get distracted and start complaining. I think if I add a routine like this one in, we’ll have more time freed up for fun.

  • Delores says:

    my kids do a lot of the work. We have routines we do before breakfast, and then after each meal. These take care of the kitchen work, laundry, bathroom upkeep, vacuuming… all the daily stuff that needs doing. Then I have planned out the slightly larger tasks that don’t need to happen every day: clean refrigerator, clean bathtub, straighten book shelves in bedrooms, change bathmat, etc. Those go on their school planners (we homeschool). They get 1-2 every day. Finally, the larger stuff that comes up once in a while: I keep a running list on a white board in our main room and move certain items to the ‘to do today’ list. Like this week there is lots of garden stuff on that list: make zucchini bread, make zucchini chips, put up zucchini in freezer, etc. It sounds like a lot, but it is all spread out and while we still get overwhelmed at times and get behind, the house is generally tolerable most days. Oh, and a key thing we started doing: they don’t go to their extracurricular activities unless their bedrooms are picked up. Not *clean* but at least picked up. The hardest part for me in all of this is actually checking up on all the work.

  • Marcia Smith says:

    I love the Flylady routine. I am not a ‘die-hard’ Flylady, but I do take many of her tips and ideas to make my own routine. Here is her website:
    http://www.flylady.net/

  • Em says:

    I try to load and unload the dishwasher daily. I need to sweep the kitchen at least once per day. I try to mop/hand wash it once every week or so. My children set and clean off the table (each one has to do it for a week). My three boys each clean a bathroom on Saturday (although that may change for the summer.) Our garbage night is Tuesday so my 6 year old collects all the garbage and changes the bags in the cans while my 10 and 13 year old each vacuum part of the house. I keep up the kitchen. I dust and make beds before company comes. I do laundry at least twice a week and the children are expected to bring it to the basement and then put their basket full away. I do not wash sheets as often as I should. I try to do towels at least once a week or at least very other week.

  • Sarah P says:

    I use a card system that I found in a book at the library. Works well when I stick with it.

  • Rosana says:

    I have tried various routines but they never seem to stick! I should probably try again. I like the idea of having a grace day!

  • Dodie says:

    To be honest, I try to do all of the things you have on a weekly list pretty much every day, except changing the sheets, which I do just once or twice a week with pillowcase changes in between. For me, if I mop the floors every day it is such an easy job. Same with the bathroom. When I do a chore once a week, it is hard. On Mondays I clean out the fridge and I also throw away as much trash as I can and declutter, as trash day is Tuesday. I also have grooming the dog on my list once a week. I like the idea of a wiggle day! I’m in the process of rewriting my routines for the new year, looking at what is working and what is not. I try to do the same things in the same order every day for a morning and evening routine, so that all the laundry stays done. Towels here are washed every day that they are used, then hung back up, a very simple process that takes no time. After a lesson in the hospital from a nurse about towel hygiene, I will never be the same. lol. Anyway, a great post, good thoughts.

  • Jelica says:

    Hi Becky,
    Thanks for your post. I have a long commute and find that the only time I have for cleaning is on the weekends. However, I am feeling re-inspired by your post to add one small task per night that I can tackle. Thanks for the tips!

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