How To Create A Housecleaning Routine

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Since I’ve been married, I’ve owned four different homes and I’ve had a different cleaning routine for each of them.  This past November we moved again – into a fixer upper (house number five).  We’ve been here almost two months and I have yet to develop a cleaning routine.  After the initial cleaning frenzy the first week, I’ve been doing the basics but that’s about it.  It’s hard to clean a house that’s in such bad shape.  Plus I hate to spend a lot of time and elbow grease on things I know we’re going to tear out, paint over or replace.  You know what I mean?!

But it’s time.  Even though we’re going to re-do everything, it’s not going to happen overnight, and in the meantime, it needs cleaned on a regular basis.  We do live here, after all.

Rather than create a cleaning routine and then telling you about it, I decided to let you observe the process.  So let’s get started.

1.       In the past, I’ve used several different methods, including:

  • clean a little each day
  • clean a room a day
  • do a list of weekly chores on Monday
  • have a list of tasks I knock out by the end of the week
  • start in one room and work my way through the house (this doesn’t work well for me because it’s too vague)
  • divide the house into zones and assign the zones a specific day
  • have specific tasks for specific days

For my last home, I did a list of weekly chores on Monday and squeezed deep cleaning jobs in when I could during the rest of the week.

LESSON:  You will never find a perfect and forever system.  Systems change as our lives and homes change.

2.       My current home is about 1950 square feet.  We use all of it so it all needs cleaned weekly.  In my former home we had 1200 square feet on the main floor, 400 square feet upstairs and about 250 square feet of living area in the basement.  We didn’t use the downstairs or upstairs much so I didn’t clean those very often.  I primarily just cleaned the main floor.  But in this house, we’re using it all so it all needs cleaned weekly.

LESSON:  Higher traffic areas require more cleaning than lower traffic areas.  That should be factored in when you’re creating a cleaning system.

3.       In the past, I’ve primarily cleaned a little bit each day.  But when my kids got older, I wanted them to help and that method didn’t work well.  So I made a list of weekly chores and put the list in a sheet protector.  Every Monday I pulled out the list and we started working through the list.  We each selected a chore, marked it off, completed it, and then came back for another.  When the list was done, we were done.  It worked great.  Every Monday the kids knew we were going to clean and they knew exactly what needed done.  They were also responsible for cleaning their own rooms and doing their own laundry.

When they moved out, I had to start doing the list by myself.  I learned right away that I didn’t like doing that much cleaning at one time.  I’ve never really been a fan of marathon cleaning sessions and I still wasn’t.  But at the same time, it was nice to do it all in one session and have it done.  Then the rest of the week I could concentrate on daily chores and a few special projects.

LESSON:  Your cleaning routine should also, as much as possible, take into account your preferences.

4.       For this house, I know I don’t want to do all the cleaning in one day.  I also don’t want to clean by task (dust, glass, mop, etc.).  It seems inefficient the way this house is laid out.  What seems most logical is to divide the house into three zones.

Zone 1:  Ivy’s Room (4 year-old granddaughter), Calvin’s Room (2-1/2 year-old grandson) and Main Bathroom.  These rooms are all next to each other.

Zone 2:  Kitchen, Living Room, Dining Room.  These three rooms are also next to each other.

Zone 3:  Master Bedroom, Master Bathroom, Office.  These three rooms are in the upstairs area.

LESSON:  Often the way your house is arranged lends itself to a specific cleaning routine.

5.       Now I need to figure out what I need to do in each zone and create a cleaning chart – probably for the refrigerator or maybe in my planner.  The list below is my first attempt.  I’m sure I’ll modify it several times before it’s done but you have to start somewhere.

Zone 1

Ivy’s Room
(  )  Wash bedding (first and third week)
(  )  Dump trash
(  )  Dust

Calvin’s Room
(  )  Wash crib bedding (first and third week)
(  )  Wash other bedding, as needed
(  )  Dump trash
(  )  Dust

Main Bathroom
(  )  Toilet, inside and out
(  )  Tub & shower wall
(  )  Sink
(  )  Mirror
(  )  Dump trash
(  )  Rugs
(  )  Floor

Zone 2

(  )  Sink
(  )  Microwave
(  )  Stove top
(  )  Refrigerator front & handle
(  )  Replace sponge

Dining Room
(  )  Dust
(  )  Touch-up glass

Living Room
(  )  Vacuum furniture
(  )  Dust
(  )  Glass

Zone 3

Master Bedroom
(  )  Sheets
(  )  Trash
(  )  Dust
(  )  Glass, touch-up
(  )  Vacuum furniture

Master Bathroom
(  )  Tub
(  )  Sink
(  )  Mirror
(  )  Toilet
(  )  Rugs
(  )  Floor

(  )  Dust
(  )  Trash

LESSON:  It’s easier to clean if you know exactly what you need to do.  That also helps you know exactly when you’re done.

5.       And finally, the hardest part – figuring out when to clean.  The easiest way for me to figure it out is to do a time map for an average week.  Seeing my schedule on paper helps me easily see when I’ll have time to clean.  Here’s my time map:

Time Map

Looks like I’ll be cleaning on Monday, Wednesday and Friday – probably in the morning but the afternoon could work, too.

LESSON:  Don’t try to squeeze your cleaning routine into days that are already full.  Find a time that makes sense.  If you can’t find time to clean, maybe it’s time to hire help or make some changes to your schedule.

And that’s it.  The first draft of my much-needed housecleaning routine is done.  That means it’s time to get busy!

What’s your housecleaning routine?

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Born in Kentucky, I am a wife and mom to 1 son and 2 daughters . I have an ink pen obsession, as well as a love for all things planner. I have been married for 10 years to my high school crush. I am a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

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19 thoughts on “How To Create A Housecleaning Routine

  1. For the past few days I’ve been thinking of asking you to do a cleaning routine post! I’m so glad you posted this! I am stuck, and feeling overwhelmed. Our house is much smaller than houses we’ve had in the past, but before we moved here our housing was provided to us and this is the first house we’ve bought, and it’s all we can afford right now. Long story short, there are no closets (200 yr old cottage) and no place to store anything. We have a garage but it is damp and there are mice, which limits what I’m able to store in there. Right now I have plastic bins and boxes under tables and stacked on top of wardrobes. And there is stuff EVERYWHERE since there is no place to put things away. Makes it really hard to clean with so much STUFF everywhere. And like you noted, our house is old and the inside needs updating so cleaning doesn’t have visible results. As a result, I’m having a severe lack of motivation to clean! I hate to clean and I don’t like a cleaning routine that makes me clean every day. I would rather clean just a couple of days per week and the other days do the basics like dishes and laundry. If I clean every day I quickly burn out! My biggest problems are the kids’ room, which is a wreck all the time, and our bedroom because we have things stored and stacked in there so it’s always a disaster zone. Thanks so much for this post, it will really help me figure out a cleaning schedule that works for me. 🙂

    1. Oh, wow! Your situation sounds really tough and challenging. It’s always so hard when your house is small and you don’t have any storage. I’d love to hear what system you come up with.

  2. Oh thank you! We moved into our current home 2 years ago and I am having trouble cleaning and I couldn’t figure out why. It never occured to me that I would need to change my cleaning routine for the house. It just seemed like this house was so much harder to clean than the last one even though the interior is much newer. The layout is a lot different though and my schedule is busier. So I am going to start over with you. Thank you!

  3. I have a small condo, so I clean everything all at once in one day. Each week, I vacuum, clean out the refrigerator (this includes throwing away spoiled food and wiping down the shelves) , clean the counters (I’ll also do a wipe-down as needed), wash the bedding, and tidy. Everything else happens in one day as needed, usually every other week or so. I work full time so I don’t want to spend an entire weekend cleaning. My husband picthes in, so when all is said and done, we can clean the entire house in a little less than a day. There are things that don’t get as much attention as they should (glass doors, I’m talking to you), but that’s okay. Spending time with my family and friends is more important to me than have a spotless house. So long as it isn’t dirty and is presentable, I’m happy. At this point. 🙂

    1. That’s my philosophy, too – spending time with family and friends is more important than a spotless house.

      Sounds like you’re covering all the basics with your routine and have a system that works well for you.

  4. This is a very helpful post. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who struggles with getting a new routine going in a new place. We’ve been in the “new” house since Aug 2012, and just when I got a rhythm going this past summer, our family routine changed in the fall and I’m back to square one.

    I’m hoping this year’s planning system (yes, it’s Jan 13th and I’m still looking for a 2014 planning system) will help me organize is the cleaning schedule. Fly Lady and some of the other routine systems I’ve tried didn’t quite work for our family and lifestyle.

    1. That’s the thing about routines – they have to be tweaked or re-done as life changes. I hate that! Once I find a good one, I want it to work forever.

      One thing I might add about a cleaning routine is that if it’s too overwhelming, start small. Don’t create a whole system at one setting. Create parts of it, a little at a time. That can work really well.

      Good luck on coming up with a planning system for your calendar and your cleaning!

  5. I’m trying out the confident Mom one. It tells me what to do. If I try to decide I get overwhelmed and a lot of little things get done, but it looks like nothing happened, or I give up and read or veg. There are daily tasks that are the same everyday, daily tasks that rotate and weekly tasks to just get done at some point that week, We’ll see how it goes. I used the bank PDF to customize for our house (we don’t have an upstairs, I think I’ll be doing good to wash everyone’s sheets every other week instead of weekly, I don’t have houseplants, etc.). I have to tell myself, just do what’s on the list…eventually everything gets done if you do what’s on the list. Then I don’t get sidetracked, and real progress gets made. My kids LOVE check off their daily tasks. My goodness I should have done that years ago.

  6. I’m new to your blog, so I hope it’s okay to comment on an older post. I’ve never been happy with my cleaning routine, methods, etc. I don’t like cleaning, I don’t think I do a good job and it seems there are always distractions and things that come up to take me away from it. Usually, something like a doctor’s appointment made for a designated cleaning day, or a sick child, throws me off the the point where I am frustrated to the point that I give up on the cleaning tasks. It has gotten to the point now that I pretty much don’t clean except when it’s so dirty, it’s embarrassing. Anyway, I like your zone routine! I think this may work for me. I’m going to try to do a weekly schedule and plug in the cleaning zones on different days and times which will depend on my weekly plans. If something comes up, I can re-schedule that zone in another time slot. I think this will alleviate a lot of my frustrations and the feeling of hopelessness I get when I think about cleaning. Now I’ve got to get busy learning your methods and making my lists of what needs to be done, room by room. Thanks for this awesome idea and for your wonderful blog.

    1. Thank you so much and it’s definitely okay to comment on any post.

      Housecleaning is tough and finding a schedule that works can be really hard.

      Here’s another thought. If you schedule your zones and you work them pretty faithfully, if you happen to miss one, you can probably skip it. If you do most of your work most of the time, a skip now and then isn’t a big deal. Sometimes you’re having one of those weeks where you just can’t squeeze it in. And if that happens, it’s okay as long as you’re doing it most of the time.

      Keep me posted on how the zones work for you.

  7. Hey, Thanks for your post and helping all the moms to make a routine to clean their house properly on time. Clean your bedroom and all daily use items on regular basis and divide other areas according to your schedule. In this way you can keep your house clean all the times. Above all i just loved your hand made plan and I will try to draft a plan for me too to help me in cleaning the house.

  8. I do this as well. Keeping an organized list can definitely help with the cleaning task. But yours is better. I’ll try to apply these changes as well. Thanks for sharing this, Jennifer.

    1. A list definitely helps. It keeps you on track and helps you know where you are in the process. I haven’t really developed a routine for this house yet since we’re remodeling it. Just about the time I get into a routine, we start on another room and it messes everything up. As you might imagine, my house cleaning has been somewhat haphazard. It’s almost done, though, and then I’ll get back into a routine and a detailed list!

  9. Hi Patty, I would like to thank you for your blog. You have helped me a lot. I have been following you with your fix me up home. You and your husband is doing an awesome job with your home. It’s beautiful. I seen how things where coming alone. I would also like to thank you for encouraging others including myself to do what only we can do. Since I been reading your blog I have taken some of your advice and testing out some of the things that you have shared with us, did a little tweaking so things would work out for me and so far it’s been working out well for me. I am happy with my small dinky apartment now and it feels like home. Thank you for sharing what you know it truly does help. Please keep doing what your are doing. You truly are helping out others and I appreciate it. Thanks again, and God Bless.

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