Wondering how to create a cleaning schedule that works and doesn’t set you up for failure? It’s a New Year’s Resolution that many of us make. I’m here to tell you it is possible, and it’s easier than you think.
How to Create a Cleaning Schedule
Rushing in Leads to Burning Out
Sometimes, in our eagerness to make changes, we rush into new projects and find ourselves burning out. Because we haven’t accomplished our goals, we take this as proof that we can’t stick with anything. And that, of course, convinces us that we shouldn’t bother trying at all.
The real way to get started creating a cleaning schedule that works for you is by spending time strategically thinking and planning rather than just rushing in. Here’s how.
1. Set your own standard
Ask yourself why are you cleaning your house. I’m not talking about the need to deal with spills and messes. What I mean is that you need to know why you want your home to be clean: is it for you and your family, or is there some other standard you’re trying to meet?
In the years that I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve received so many emails and comments from people stressed by the pursuit of perfection. You know what I’m talking about: beds made every morning, not a speck of dust in sight, every surface sparkling and tidy — day in and day out. One reader sent me a despairing message because she couldn’t leave perfectly parallel lines while vacuuming as her mother-in-law does!
So, before you sit down to create a cleaning schedule that works, ask yourself whose standard you’re trying to meet: yours, or someone else’s?
If you don’t feel the need to have a home that’s continually ready for a magazine photoshoot, then don’t hold yourself to that kind of standard! I sure don’t.
2. Decide which rooms matter most
Most of us have a place or two in the home we need to be clean so that we can relax and unwind. For me, that’s my formal living room and my kitchen, two places I spend the majority of my time.
Maybe you prefer your bathroom to feel like a spa and your bedroom like a retreat. Someone else may need an orderly entryway when they come home and a clean TV room to unwind in.
The point is to pick a room or two where you’ll focus a little effort every day to keep it in tip-top shape, while the rest of your house gets enough weekly attention to bring it up to your standards.
3. Evaluate your available time
We are all limited to 1440 minutes each day and need to spend some of them sleeping. You also need time to do enjoyable things, which means you shouldn’t plan to spend all of your non-working hours cleaning house.
Do you only have a half-hour each weekday but plenty of time on the weekends? You’ll want to create a schedule that allows you to deal with your two most important rooms in your available half-hour while scheduling the rest at the end of the week.
Got an hour or more daily? Give your two essential rooms attention, then work on the rest of your home from the next most important places to the least.
4. Pick your approach
Are you a task-based or a room-based cleaner? Some people prefer the task-based approach, doing all of the dusting on one day, vacuuming the next, mopping floors on the third day, doing laundry the fourth, etc.
Others — and I am one of them — prefer cleaning one room at a time. For me, vacuuming a house makes no appreciable difference if every room is still cluttered. I prefer doing a weekly cleaning in each room — and I use my weekly printable cleaning checklists to guide me through it.
Decide which approach works for you based on your standards and your available time.
5. Adopt some kind of daily routine
In addition to tidying your two most important rooms, there are other tasks which shouldn’t be put off for days on end. Doing the dishes, for example, or taking out the kitchen trash. Give some thought to the bare minimum of things you want to do daily to keep your home up to your standards.
As someone who works from home, I’ve got a bit more time than many do, so I use this Daily Cleaning Routine. Before you adopt it as your own, let me say this explicitly because sometimes people don’t read that whole article before jumping in:
My Daily Cleaning Routine will take a LOT of time the first few times you follow it.
IT WILL TAKE LESS TIME ONCE YOU MAKE IT A DAILY HABIT.
By “less time” I mean it’ll get down to 20 minutes per day — but only after you’ve done it a few times. I know this from my own experience as well as the comments I get every time I share that routine on the Housewife How-Tos Facebook Page (and now in our Do Home Better Facebook Group) from people who’ve started following it, too.
The point is: determine what needs to be done daily to meet your standards and plan on doing that.
6. Set your schedule
Make it official: add your cleaning schedule to your calendar. You can just note that Monday is the day you clean the bathroom or vacuum floors, or you can get specific and make an appointment with yourself. The point is to commit.
Since I use a room-by-room approach, I’ve set up a recurring daily reminder on my iPhone to do the Daily Cleaning Routine and other weekly reminders for each room. I’m not a morning person, though, so I set my reminders for later in the day to keep myself from marking them as complete just to be rid of the popup notification.
7. Stick with it but be flexible
The truth is no one sticks to their schedule all of the time. Maybe one of your kids get sick, or maybe you do. Maybe a hard day at work leaves you too exhausted to clean and need to engage in some self-care instead. Life happens!
There is so much more to life than having a spotless home 24/7. Whatever schedule you create should allow for that. Do your best to follow your plan daily, but if you need time off then permit yourself to take it — without guilt. Live your life! Enjoy your family! Rest if you’re weary! Then, come back to Step One and get things going again when you’re ready.
There are no Trophies
Remember: there’s no First Prize for having the cleanest home. There’s no trophy, no award ceremony, and your name won’t be in the paper. Since it’s not a competition, stop pushing yourself to “win” — the important thing here is that you just try.
Note: This entry first appeared January 1, 2018. It has been revised for republication.