There is one big problem with housecleaning.
It’s never done.
We make the checkmark, but the task returns the very next day or week.
Making decisions is fatiguing. Front-load the decisions about what to do when is sanity-saving.
The goal is regularity. A daily good enough.
Remember that your home is a tool to be used. Its perfect end-state is not perfection. Its reason for being is as a setting for the drama of life unfolding within its walls.
Is it a clear backdrop, allowing and facilitating the process of growth? Or does its clutter and grime interfere with the action?
Sometimes, it feels like dealing with clutter and grime is an interruption to our “real lives,” but that’s wrong.
Stages must be set – that is our job.
Set the stage.
Personalized Housecleaning Plan: 3 Types of Cleaning
Your personalized housecleaning plan needs to take into account that not all cleaning is created equal. In reality, there are three different kinds that all need to be done.
- Deep cleaning: moving things to damp-clean and scrub and leave an area spotless.
- Surface cleaning – wiping things down before there’s much build-up
- Tidying, ordering, decluttering – putting things in their right places
These processes need to happen from the lower form on up – you can’t deep clean or surface clean until you’ve tidied. Deep cleaning is not something that needs to happen every day, but only as needed.
So in your housecleaning plan, be clear on what kind of cleaning you’re expecting. If, when you see “clean” on your to-do list and you’re envisioning onerous deep cleaning, make it clear to yourself that you only need to do a quick surface clean. Make sure that you have adequate amounts of tidying so that surface cleaning is a quick and simple job.
If you’re clear on your expectations, you’ll experience less internal mental block when you face your to-do list.
Personalized Housecleaning Plan: 3 Kinds of Zones
How much housework you have to account for in your personalized housecleaning plan depends on the size and set-up of your house, the number and ages of your children, and what happens in your house regularly.
When you’re putting together your plan, break it up into these three types of zones:
- Laundry – What sorts of laundry do you do? Do you have laundry with special steps? How much laundry do you have? How many loads and how often?
- Wet rooms (bathrooms & kitchen) – These rooms usually collect more serious messes and need to be tackled more often and with more attention. They require actual cleaning, regularly, or they get gross. List the number of wet rooms you must manage.
- Dry rooms (living, dining, school, bedrooms) – Rooms that do not have sinks still need to be cleaned, but it’s a different sort of cleaning. In these rooms, your concern is primarily tidying and dusting. If done regularly, these tasks are not difficult and can be done quickly. List the number of dry rooms you have to care for.
Once you see the list of areas you have under your responsibility, the next step to your own personalized housecleaning plan is to break them up into zones. For example, our entryway is next to our living room, and the dining room is open to the living room. These three areas in my own housecleaning routines count as one zone.
The number of zones you have will depend on the size of your house, but in general, you want to shoot for between 3 (in a small house) to 6, but not more than 6 if possible.
Personalized Housecleaning Plan: 3 Parts to the Schedule
So these zones in your house don’t all need to be thoroughly cleaned every single day. The real meat of your own, individual housecleaning plan is to divide out the work over time, and then loop back around to the beginning.
- Seasonal/yearly – Some tasks do need to be done, but very infrequently. What are these tasks for you? For me, they are scrubbing out the ovens (deep cleaning), clearing and wiping out the kitchen cupboards and drawers, defrosting the freezer. Then, you have a few options for scheduling these sorts of tasks:
2. Reserve a specific time frame to do them in. For example, I generally defrost my freezer in the spring and I do a thorough kitchen cleaning during our long Christmas break.
3. Spread them out so you do one per month.
4. Pile them all into a “spring cleaning” week (it doesn’t have to be spring)
- Weekly – Some tasks need to be done quite regularly, but not every day. Weekly I need to clean my stove, wipe out the fridge, and mop the living room zone. You can arrange these tasks in a few different ways, too:
6. Do one or two tasks off this list each day.
7. Save them all up for one designated “housecleaning” day.
- Daily – Some tasks need to be done daily or nearly daily in order to stay on top of the chaos. In our house, this includes laundry and bathrooms. What, in your house, seriously needs this sort of regular attention?
As you decide how often each sort of task needs to be done, try not to idealize your plan. You’re not going to go from a slob to a housecleaning machine with a perfect home. And, remember, your goal is not a perfect home, but a helpful rather than distracting stage for your life.
Sure, my oven could stand to be cleaned monthly, but it doesn’t need it (usually) more than once a year. My standard isn’t that if it could be cleaned, it should be, but comes from an honest evaluation of the point at which it stops performing its function well. Kitchen counters need to be cleaned at least daily, sometimes multiple times a day. Refrigerators often hide things until they are horribly disgusting, so they need to be tackled weekly – often enough that disgusting rarely happens. Ovens, not so much.
Personalized Housecleaning Plan: 3 Routines in a Day
Now we get down to the nitty-gritty: the daily plan to tackle the work.
In your daily rhythm, look for 2-3 times you could block off for 30-60 minutes of cleaning.
- Morning – before breakfast? immediately after breakfast? after kids have started school? before your coffee?
- Afternoon – after lunch? after school? before your husband comes home? If you’re going to do one weekly task each day, blocking off a regular half-hour works well; if you want an all-in-one day, you’ll need about a 2-hour chunk one afternoon.
- Evening – after dinner is a natural time to tackle the dishes and kitchen tidying; depending on your energy at this time of day, you might want to do some of your regular chores at this point, also.
Tie your chore routines to a daily habit you already have to help them stick faster.
Personalized Housecleaning Plan: Sample
So here is a sample personalized housecleaning plan – one very similar to mine, in fact. Remember that number and frequency of chores depends greatly on your family situation and your house size. There is no one perfect, ideal plan that will work. In fact, whenever you add a child or move to a new house, you’re going to have to revamp the chore routines, too.
- Deep Cleaning –
- Kitchen deep cleaning during Christmas break;
- freezer clean-out in April;
- bedroom deep clean during Christmas & summer breaks;
- summer break: pick worst area to deep clean and reorganize.
- plus, every school break week, pick one trouble area to address
- Weekly Cleaning – vacuum carpet (kid job), mop hard floors (kid job)
- Friday is my reset day – after school, I sort and tidy and clear and try to get everything back to its right place and garbage tossed
- Saturday I clean the stove, clear & wash the fridge, and menu plan if I need to
- Other weekdays I do odd cleaning jobs on a “as it bothers me” basis
- Daily Cleaning – everyone pitches in throughout the day
- Morning: dishes (kids help), 1-2 loads of laundry (kids help), 1 bathroom (cycle through all 3), sweep (kid chore), take out garbage (kid chore)
- Afternoon: EHAP tidying (everyone), surface clean as I go when I’m able, sometimes a child damp mops the traffic areas
- Evening: dishes (husband), counters, quick mop
It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that. The simpler you can make it, and the more you can just weave it into your day, the more likely it will actually happen regularly.
Read more about creating a personalized housecleaning plan:
- Securing a Reasonably Clean House.
- EHAP: Afternoon Tidying to the Rescue
- Cheerful Chore Challenge
- Household Help
- What 2 Novels Taught Me About Housework
Here’s how to make a housecleaning plan that works for YOU and your particular stage.
Download my free 3-page guide for creating a personalized housekeeping plan so you can get a handle on the daily and weekly chores particular to your current needs.