Securing a Reasonably Clean Home: Zones

Begin with the introduction to the Reasonably Clean series to get the foundation and the linked table of contents for the series!

From Leila, on how to attain a reasonably clean house

  1. The Reasonably Clean, Fairly Neat, and Comfortably Tidy House.
  2. A Pep Talk for Organization.
  3. In which I give you a secret to get you started on The Reasonably Clean House.
  4. The Moderate Clean. Two secrets to keeping your house on track.
  5. Basic Cleaning Tools

Establish Zones for Your Housework

Zones. Most housecleaning strategies seem to incorporate this idea in some form. A “zone” is one manageable area of your home you focus on at a time, be that time one day a week or one week a month. In Leila’s set-up, a zone is assigned to each day, Monday through Friday or Saturday.

So, assignment #1: What 5-6 divisions make sense for your home’s layout?

Mine are Kitchen & Breakfast Room, Bathrooms & Mudroom, Living & Dining & Entry, Office & back closets, Bedrooms, and Playroom/School room.

Step #2: Assign each of these rooms to a day of the week.

If you are decluttering or regaining control in any of these areas, then the assigned day of the week is the day you focus your extra cleaning time on that area. Have you ever focused on mastering one area of the house and while doing so the rest of the house falls to pieces and you end up not one bit ahead? Yeah. Me, too. What I have to give up is the idea that maintenance can’t be begun until complete control and order is achieved in the main rooms. If, instead, maintenance is something you work on first and daily, with extra time being doled out around the house, the progress might seem slower but it is actually real order and control and not cyclical booming and busting. It is order being marched along progressively throughout the house instead of being lost in 2/3 of the house while 1/3 of the house is the focus.

Steps to Weekly Zone Cleaning (the “Moderate Clean”)

  1. Get a helper, a runner, so you don’t leave the room or lose your focus. Set yourself to move quickly. Peppy music?
  2. Start at the door and go around the room in one direction; no bits and pieces here and there.
  3. Move everything that does not belong out into the middle of the room or straight into its place.
  4. Wipe down surfaces with a damp rag. This is the quick clean, so don’t worry about moving everything. Use a damp rag or a feather duster, but just wipe down visible surfaces.
  5. Toss the random stuff into a basket and put it out for kids to claim and put away. If no one claims it or it hasn’t earned a home, does it need to stay?
  6. After you’ve gone around the room and dealt with the stuff in the middle, vacuum around the edges, then the middle.

What would happen if you did this every week in each room? Wouldn’t that be something?

If you aren’t in a place where this can happen in a room in 30-40 minutes, then I think it’s still a good method, but do a quarter of a room at a time or 15-30 minutes at a time, picking up the next week where you left off.

Having a plan of attack does help tremendously. I hate staring at a room thinking, “Boy, it needs a lot of work. I have no
idea where to start.”

Being able to clean the zone in this way once a week in a reasonable amount of time depends upon the daily blitz, which will be next week’s subject.

Steps to Deep Zone Cleaning

Mentally divide your home into zones, and deep clean only one zone at a time, maybe once a month.

Step 1: Schedule one extra “deep cleaning” hour per week.

Step 2: Spend that hour in one zone. You’ll then hit each zone deeply approximately once a month.

Follow the same routine as in the moderate clean, with these exceptions:

  1. Take everything off every surface, wipe down the surface, then put back only what you want there.
  2. Make sure and clean the windows, door, trim, light fixtures, and anything else that might collect cobwebs.

If the room isn’t a wreck to begin with, since it gets the weekly moderate clean and a daily blitz, then this isn’t a giant chore. It’s just something to buckle down and do so that it doesn’t return to squalor and chaos, bit by bit.

Now, that’s not real, big-time, deep cleaning, about which Leila says,

Tip: do your deep cleaning and de-cluttering when ordinary methods fail to please. No schedule necessary other than the one imposed by holidays, season changes, and weird odors.

This deep cleaning includes things like vacuuming under and behind furniture, getting up to the tippy-top of bookshelves, washing curtains, steam cleaning the carpet, and the like. The extreme measures.

So, the zone time in Leila’s plan is about 20-30 minutes daily (each zone hit once per week) plus 1 hour weekly (each zone hit about once per month). Certainly that is reasonable, if it is possible. I remain slightly dubious about that time commitment being all that is necessary, but I am game to give it a shot.

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