I have a confession. I never clean my entire house. At least, not at once.
There isn’t a single day where I dust, vacuum, mop, tidy up, and do the dishes. Ever. And no, it’s not because my husband does part of it. Although he does do a lot around the house. Thanks, Hun!
Even though we don’t do all of that every day, my home is quite clean, aside from the occasional dog fur tumbleweed. No amount of vacuuming can stop that, though. #HuskyProblems
So how do I do it? A household cleaning schedule.
Hello, My name is Kira, and I’m a recovering obsessive cleaner.
A few years ago, I finally had an allergy test to determine what I had been allergic to for years. As it turns out, I’m allergic to quite a lot.
I am allergic to several kinds of tree pollen, various molds, dust, ragweed, and dog dander. It was pretty crushing, really, to discover this. It’s not something I can just easily avoid. It’s a whole group of things that are in the environment all around me.
I live in Wisconsin. There isn’t a single time of the year in which at least one of these things isn’t bombarding me. It’s usually more. The fact that I live with two dogs also doesn’t help.
As a way to combat my symptoms, I became obsessed with keeping our house clean. I developed an aggressive plan to attack every nook and cranny of my home. My plan was to eliminate any dog fur, mold, or dust that could be affecting me.
I have to say, our house was nothing short of sparkling during that time. But the routine was exhausting and used up all of my time and energy. 2-3 hours of cleaning every evening meant little time for dinner, relaxation, and other fun things.
Few people clean quite that obsessively. But trust me, trying to keep up with all of the cleaning that needs to be done on a daily basis is just a short jump from where I was.
The clean freaks vs the dirty birds
Prior to my obsession with cleaning, I never realized how messy my house actually was. It wasn’t until this time that I realized we really didn’t dust as often as we should. Or vacuum the walls.
When we started our new cleaning routine, it really opened our eyes to what we were missing by not cleaning as regularly as we should have been. I couldn’t keep up our new cleaning routine, but I also couldn’t go back to the way things were.
It was at this time that I also realized how messy so many people’s homes are! I found myself noticing previously unseen dirty marks on the walls, wads of hair and dog fur, spiderwebs, and shelves caked in dust. And it wasn’t just in a few homes, it was almost everyone’s!
I couldn’t fathom this. Most people I know spend a lot of time cleaning. How could they be missing so much, I wondered. Is it really necessary to keep up an unrealistic, exhausting routine like mine in order to get everything clean? Or hire someone? That was out of the question, and so was keeping up this routine. We had to change.
Finding the balance: the cleaning schedule
The key to keeping a truly clean home, and our sanity, we discovered, was a cleaning schedule.
There was absolutely no way we were going to continue cleaning everything, everyday. There was also no way we were going back to sporadically cleaning things as we remembered.
I have to credit my brilliant husband for this one. I made the list of tasks we needed to do every week and divided up how they would get done. He’s the one that created a spreadsheet and formula’s to let us know when we’d gone too far off of course. He also had the idea to tie it to our spending money to motivate us to stick to the plan. If the alert level goes red, we can’t spend until we are back in the green.
We took every task that we needed to accomplish, and we set a timeframe for how often that needed to be completed.
For example, we wanted the living room dusting to be done once per week. The formula for the “Days Since” column was formatted to go red if the difference between the “Today’s Date” cell and the “Date Last Done” entry were more than 1 week apart. That red number would tell us how many days it had been and would signal us to make sure to do that task immediately.
There were no set days for any task. They could be completed as we wished. The goal being that everything stay in the green. To accomplish that, we made sure that anything that did go red was done first.
If we ever let too many items go red, the “Cleaning Alert Level” would also go red. A red alert level signified that all discretionary spending was cut off until we brought our level back up to green.
Between green and red was orange. If the cleaning alert level went orange during the pay period, we had a limited amount of discretionary spending allowed. It also served as a way to get us back on track before we went too far off!
We were able to do this for quite a while without really using the chart after it became habit. As Zach has grown, however, we’ve been slowly veering off course without using some sort of guide like this to keep us on track. After all, there’s a lot to remember to do every day and he keeps us really busy. I’m lucky I remember to brush my teeth some days.
We’ll either begin using this again soon or perhaps we’ll create a new method. This fit our lives quite well when before Zach was born and when he was little. And the discretionary spending was a real motivator. I’m not sure it’s the best fit for us now.
The important takeaway is that you need a cleaning schedule of some kind.
Create your own household cleaning schedule
You’re busy. You’ve got kids to take care of, work, hobbies, and a home to maintain. You need a way to get it all done without going crazy and still have time to relax. This is your solution.
It’s simple to set up. The hard part is sticking to it to make it a habit.
Step 1 Make a list of all household cleaning chores you need to accomplish. Everyone’s list will be different. Our list included brushing the dogs and clipping their nails because that was part of our cleaning routine. Short nails and brushed fur meant less dirt and fur to pick up.
Tip: Make sure to include tasks you don’t currently think of and tasks you think you’ll remember. You want this to be an all-inclusive list. The less you have to think about what you need to do, the more time you’ll save.
Step 2 Decide how frequently you need to do each of these tasks to keep up with your home. In our home, we have to vacuum daily. Huskies shed a lot and the dogs bring in a lot of dirt from outside. Dusting, however, can be done every few days, and less in rooms that aren’t used as much where the doors are kept closed (like the office). Maybe designating certain tasks to certain days will work best for you. Monday clean the kitchen thoroughly or Tuesday dust every room. Think about what you need to do, how often you need to do it, and what kind of free time you have available each day. Find the best fit among the three to make it work.
Tip: You can always change this later! Try out what you think might work and if it doesn’t, change the schedule. Make it work FOR you. Don’t battle with it.
Step 3 Write it down! It doesn’t matter how or where you do this. You can make a Google drive sheet and like we did, type up a list and stick it on your refrigerator, or write it out on a large calendar. The important part is that it’s in writing for you to see.
Tip: Put the list somewhere you know you can see it. The easier it is to see the more likely you will be to stick to your plan. Don’t put the list in a room you never go into or tuck it away in a notebook on a shelf. Put it out on display.
Step 4 This is an optional step. If you need extra motivation to stick to your plan, put something in place that will motivate you. For us, it was losing our spending money for that pay period. Choose something that works for you. If you fall behind, maybe you can’t have your daily coffee until you catch up. Or perhaps the rule will be that you can’t do anything fun or relaxing until you check the schedule first to make sure you’re caught up. It’s up to you. Make it work FOR you.
There are only so many hours in a day. Don’t waste them all cleaning.
If you’re like most people, you want a clean home. You also do a lot of scrambling on a daily basis to make sure everything gets done, collapsing exhausted at the end of the evening. Wouldn’t you rather spend more of that time doing what you enjoy?
At the time of my cleaning craze, we didn’t have Zachary. I can’t even imagine trying to keep up that pace now that he’s here! How much I would miss spending time with him because of having to clean!
Now, we come home and we just know what we need to do. We make a decision to do something every day, and it’s always whatever has not been done most recently. We divide the tasks between us, which makes it easier. Having used a cleaning schedule previously is what makes this possible now.
A cleaning schedule is the solution to reclaiming your time. The best part is you don’t have to sacrifice a clean house to get that time back. It just reframes the way you clean, the way you think about cleaning, and makes it more efficient. You’ll get everything done, have more time for the things you love, and enjoy a clean house without exhausting yourself!
How do you currently make sure your house is clean? Have you ever tried a cleaning schedule before?
-To your Better Life-