How do you clean your house, furniture and floors? When you clean them? How do you find time? How clean is clean enough?
These questions have no simple answers in a world where most people are working longer hours than ever and juggling ever-increasing responsibilities. The answers are very personal. They center around how clean you think your house should be and the amount of time you want to spend on cleaning versus other things, not necessarily vacuuming a floor.
And, of course, cleaning is never done, so it’s easy to become anxious about what’s awaiting you. Some compare housework to rolling a stone up a hill … only to have it roll down again. You have to start the process over again every time. Bathroom sinks get dirty again no matter how clean they were when you left them.
What you need is a system, a schedule and permission to be okay with whatever schedule works for you. Identifying the most comfortable system and schedule are the first steps on the cleaning mantra road.
How To Create a Cleaning Schedule That Works for You
Choose the Best System
If you’ve always cleaned as your parents cleaned, you may be surprised to learn there are specific systems used to clean the house. Professional cleaners use these three:
- Zone: Zone cleaning means cleaning room by room. You tackle the bathroom first, say, and then move on to the kitchen, bedroom or living room. It clusters your activities by where they take place, not what they are.
- Task: Task cleaning is organizing cleaning activities by task rather than area in which they take place. You dust all the rooms that need dusting, or mop kitchen, bathroom and hall floors.
- All-in: All-in cleaning means you set aside a large chunk of time and tackle the house as a whole. Spring cleaning is one form of all-in cleaning, defined not by “today I clean the bathroom” or “today I dust,” but by “let’s beat the rugs, wash the windows and whatever else from now until Sunday afternoon.
Spring cleaning isn’t the only all-in form, though. All-in cleaning might be a way to clean several rooms all at once in one weekend morning rather than choosing either zone or task methods.
There’s no right or wrong way. Use whatever system you feel comfortable with. You might experiment with these systems or mix and match to see which seems most efficient and doable.
Choose the Best Schedule
The schedule is often the most difficult part. When do you fit in what needs to be done?
There are several different methods to figure out your schedule. Common to them all, though, is the necessity for your schedule to fit with the way you naturally prefer to clean. No schedule will work unless it is works with your emotions about cleaning — love to see a sparkling floor, neutral, hate having to scrub a sink, stressed, like to clean but no time … the possibilities are endless. So take some time to think about your relationship to cleaning.
From there, figure out what type of schedule will work. This is a balancing act between available time and your relationship with cleaning:
- Do you have very little time to devote to cleaning but will feel accomplished if you do 15 minutes per day?
- Do you have very little time but like to clean and can tackle one hour on weekend days?
- Or do you dislike cleaning and would rather do a weekend every other month?
From there, organize your cleaning tasks to be done. Simply sitting and putting together a list of tasks can be incredibly useful. Why? Well, there are often a large number of tasks involved in an overall cleaning, whether you’re a zone person — today, the bathroom! — or a task person — mop every tile floor! Mopping, for example, could involve sweeping the floor first and moving all the items that stand on the floor as well as working the mop.
Set Your Frequency
Then decide how often the tasks on the list need to be done. Dish washing, perhaps every other day. Cleaning the microwave might be once a month.
Next map out when you will do these tasks. Fifteen minutes per day? Two hours a week? It is helpful to use a daily diary to figure out available times vis-à-vis what needs to be done.
After that, look at your list and decide how often you can realistically clean. What are your standards for an optimally clean house? Do you think rugs must be vacuumed once a week, or is once a month okay?
Realize it’s okay to experiment. If you start with a 15-minute-per-day schedule but it is too long, you can move it back to 10 minutes. After all, that’s more than an hour per week. If two hours on the weekend energizes you to do more, go for it.
Enjoy Your Clean Home
Working out a cleaning system that works for you requires identifying the system that works for you, your feelings about cleaning and a comfortable, doable schedule. Here’s to cleaning!
How do you create and stick to your cleaning schedule?