26 February 2011

How I keep the house clean

Over at one of my favorite sites, Organizing Junkie, Laura is doing her 52 Weeks of Organizing series. This got me motivated to write about my favorite way that I have gotten organized- organizing my house-cleaning tasks into a schedule.

 A few years ago I developed a cleaning system for myself that works so well, that getting the cleaning done is almost as easy as completing the most basic of tasks, like brushing my teeth, or taking a shower....I'd never go through a day without doing those things, just like, thanks to my system, I never go through a day without doing the cleaning.

I started this when my son was little and I was looking for a way to make keeping track of what needed to be done around the house easier. I wanted to have a cleaning schedule so that I would no longer have to try to remember when the last time I did something was, or be loading up on a ton of tasks all in one day.  I wanted something that would fit on one sheet of paper that I could hang on my refrigerator and see at a glance what needed to be done that day. I also didn't just want a week's worth of cleaning to be on the schedule; I wanted the extra stuff- the things you only do once a month or so. I do not like annual cleaning where you have to spend days in a cloud of dust scrubbing stuff that gets ignored for the rest of the year. I think it's much easier to keep up with if it's just blended seamlessly into your schedule so it gets done gradually.

 I started by writing out all the things that need to get done around my house and I put them in 3 columns: weekly, monthly, and seasonal. Then at the top of a new sheet of paper I printed out the days of the week and assigned tasks to each day. I left out Saturday and Sunday though, because I want my weekends to be spent relaxing with my family, not with cleaning, so I make sure to get everything done during the week.
I was careful as I was making my list to not just randomly assign stuff to the different days; I tried to think of how I could make my cleaning as effortless as possible by combining tasks that use the same "tools" to the same days. Like, Wednesday is the day that I clean all the mirrors and glass around the house, so I also assigned bathroom cleaning to that day because while I've got the Windex out I might as well go ahead and clean the bathroom mirrors and therefore, the rest of the bathroom.

Once I was done with "weekly" I moved on to "monthly" and wrote out the things that I wanted to fit in to my regular schedule once a month. I listed it this way:
1st Monday- dust fans and stuff up high (because I already dust on Mondays)
1st Thursday- wash & vacuum walls (because I've already got the vacuum out on Thursdays) {OH and please don't think by that day's chore that I am completely neurotic; I don't mean ALL of the walls, that's just my way of reminding myself to clean the baseboards and any kid-made dirty marks on the walls.}

When I was done with "monthly" I moved on to the things that really don't have to be done all the time, like washing out the cabinets, and cleaning under the refrigerator. I spread those out in a section I titled "Seasonal to-do list: March, June, Sept, Dec" and then listed the days and tasks the same way that I had under the "Monthly" section.

The beauty of this system has been that during the times in my life when I have the time to "get it all done"; like when my son was in preschool and I had no other kids, this schedule helped me to easily keep up with everything I wanted to get done around my house without worrying that I was forgetting anything. And now that I have two 3-month-olds and my time is much more limited, I just focus on the "weekly" section of this list and don't let myself even glance at the other stuff because I know the day will come that I can get to it again, but in the meantime my house is still staying pretty dang clean.

Here is my schedule. Feel free to use it as a template for your own. A lot of the extra cleaning could probably be spread out a whole lot better; you'll notice I crammed it all into the first week of each month. I was always just excited to get to it, but it would be even easier to get to if it was spread around through every week of the month. Or, if my system isn't right for you, sit down and figure out one that is. The important thing is figuring out a schedule that works perfectly with YOUR life, then the housework isn't so much of a chore.

So there it is; that's my secret. And now it can be yours too. :)


  1. great idea!!! I'm going to steal this. I really need to get my house in order. the perk for me is that I ave 3 pretty capable helpers to do some of the work.

  2. Saw this on "I'm an organizing junkie" and just wanted to say keep up the good work. I have a similar system, though I haven't got past the weekly schedule. It's the only way I can keep things clean these days since I have 2 4month olds and a 3 yr old at home.

  3. I have a similar list, but go by rooms. I am going to use yours for some more ideas. Three things I put on my monthly list are wash my makeup brushes (I use Bare Minerals), do my hand washables (or I should say bras) and clean out the coffeemaker with a vinegar/water cycle.

  4. Such a great idea!!! I'm going to do this!!!!

    Heather D.