Clean House Project: Making a schedule – and sticking to it

So, it’s been about a year since I started this Clean House Project, and I apologize for the long wait for Part Two. However, I still feel that this is an important part of keeping a happy home – and given the number of “cleaning checklists” pinned on Pinterest, a subject that’s very much in demand. I’ve worked out a simple and easy routine for keeping my home clean and organized, and want to share what I do in the hopes that it helps others.

First, make sure you check out Part One of the Clean House Project:

And so, now that you’ve taken a hard look at your home and determined what actually needs cleaning and when, let’s move onto the next step:

Write out a schedule

So, you know that your bathroom needs to be cleaned every week. Maybe your living room needs to be vacuumed twice a week due to your horde of furry pets. You’ve written this all down, so let’s turn it into something that makes sense.

Sit down and take out another sheet of paper. I use a notepad with a magnet on the back, so I can stick this on my fridge. Then, write out the dates for upcoming weeks. I keep writing dates until I run out of room, so I usually end up with three months worth of weeks. You do can do this any way you want, but I will write out the dates for each week beginning Monday and ending the following Sunday: “March 30-April 6”.

Then, start scheduling what rooms you’ll be cleaning, and when. If you clean your bathroom every other week (like I do), write “Bathroom” on every other line. If you thoroughly clean your kitchen once a month, write it once, and then again four weeks later, and then again four weeks later…It’s not rocket science.

For me, it doesn’t matter what weeks which rooms are cleaned, unless, of course, we’re going out of town for a long period of time. If you only deep clean one or two rooms a week, you can clean when you have time. For some, that’s Saturday or Sunday. For others, it may be on their day off during the week.

Now, you have to be realistic. As I mentioned in the first post, you can’t expect to deep clean your ENTIRE house every week – especially if you have a full-time job, have kids, have a hobby, interact with friends…aka, have a life. Sure, some people have the time and willpower to clean a different room everyday; those are different kinds of cleaning schedules, and if that’s what you want, they’re out there. This is the kind of cleaning schedule for those with little time on their hands, a smaller place, and the willpower to keep things organized throughout the week so that you don’t NEED to deep clean the entire house every week.

That being said, I do not recommend scheduling more than two rooms per week. Two a week is usually what I do, and when, while scheduling, I end up with only one room that week, I’ll stick in a special project (more on that later). The idea is not to overburden yourself.

Now, once you have this schedule all written up, you can type it up so that it’s prettier, but above all, put it somewhere where you’ll see it on a regular basis and then FOLLOW IT. I use a planner to keep track of my grad school assignments, dinners, and workouts, and so I also write down what rooms need to be cleaned that week. Then, I’ll work cleaning into my weekly schedule, depending on what my week looks like.

However, this kind of cleaning routine is not going to work if you don’t follow it. You’ve already determined that your bathroom only needs to be cleaned every other week; if you don’t actually clean the bathroom when you’re supposed to (aka, every other week), then it’s going to be even dirtier when you do get to it. The hope of this kind of routine is that by strictly following a schedule, your rooms won’t be THAT dirty when you finally get to cleaning them. And if you maintain your highly-trafficked area on a regular basis (more on that later), they’ll be even cleaner.

Spring Cleaning, Part 1: Planning

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It’s no secret that I am a devotee of cleaning schedules. Over the years, I’ve worked out a routine for cleaning our two bedroom townhouse that has not only continued to work with our changing work schedules (from when I worked at home, to when I had a full-time job out of the home), but it keeps our place clean and organized with minimal effort on our part. I’m a major evangelist for this routine, and will continue to share it with you as part of my Clean House Project (which, sadly, only has one entry so far…but stay tuned!).

However, there are times when the regular cleaning schedule just won’t cut it. Spring cleaning is just that kind of time. Although I don’t necessarily believe in adhering to prescribed periods for doing certain tasks (why are we only cleaning in the spring, anyway?), I do enjoy the idea of a nice, good, spring clean. After all, it’s in the spring that the ground starts to thaw, the dirty snow slowly melts away, a warmer breeze starts blowing, and the birds start singing. What better time to throw open the windows and air out your house after months of hibernation? And what better time to shake off the dust of winter and start the warmer season feeling fresh and clean?

And so, every spring I craft a special list of cleaning chores and organization projects. These are projects that go above and beyond my normal cleaning routine, and even beyond the little, mini-projects I scatter throughout the years. This is deep cleaning. This is rug-shaking cleaning. This is leaving a heap of old clothes and knick-knacks we don’t need on the stoop for Purple Heart, and digging through closets to unearth things we didn’t even know we owned.

Spring supposedly kicks off next week (although, at 18 degrees outside, I’m not sure I believe in warm weather anymore), so it’s just about time to take a look at my spring cleaning checklist for 2014. This year will involve digging even deeper into my spring cleaning, as we prepare to move out of our townhouse by the end of June. The ol’ townhouse has been good to us these past three and a half years, and she deserves a good, thorough bath before we leave her.

Stay tuned for some quick posts on all these cleaning projects.

Spring Cleaning Checklist 2014

  • Make a new batch of cleaning products¬†
  • Do a deep clean of my personal items that get icky, but are always overlooked:
    • Gym bags
    • Yoga mat
    • Purse
  • Go through our closets and donate some old clothes, one of our semi-annual rituals
  • Go through our stack of old textbooks and toss/donate what we don’t need anymore
  • Clean our gardening supplies to help make moving easier (and cleaner!)
  • Pick up some document boxes to complete my office organizing project
  • Finally toss those last few bags of random odds-and-ends that have been living in our basement since we moved here in 2010
  • Deep clean our car interiors – don’t you hate how you can’t really clean the inside of your car when it’s freezing out? Ugh, the crumbs!
  • Work on removing the salt stains from my poor, overworked boots
  • Flip my mattress and freshen it up with some baking soda
  • Deep cleaning projects to get ready for moving:
    • Baseboards
    • Walls
    • Windows
    • Carpets
    • Basement
    • Fridge

All right, spring, I’m ready for you!

The Clean House Project: Dividing and Conquering

to-do-listI like to think that, for someone in their mid-20’s, I keep a pretty clean and organized home. Granted, I don’t have children and I know that changes a lot. But over the years, I’ve worked out a system for keeping my home clean with only a minimal time investment on my part.

The most important part of keeping a clean and organized home is creating a routine and sticking to it. You’ll never keep your home clean if you don’t work at it. Luckily, if you regularly follow a set of easy rules, “cleaning house” becomes no more a chore than putting your dirty clothes in the laundry basket.

This blog is still a newbie, so what better way to kick things off than embarking on a giant cleaning project, just in time for spring (or, “spring” if you’re from Michigan … what does warm feel like?)? I thought I’d share my system for keeping things in order, with the hopes that it helps you think of cleaning with less trepidation and perhaps a bit more zen. I’ll divide this post up a bit, so let’s start at the beginning:

List, divide and conquer

First things first: make a list of all the chores and tasks you do around the house to keep things clean. This list includes everything from making the bed in the morning to cleaning the garage every year. Try to be as comprehensive as possible but don’t let the list overwhelm you; seeing it all written down is the only way to recognize all that needs to be done. Coming to terms with your house, and what it needs to be healthy and happy, is the first step to getting there.

Second, divide those tasks into the following categories: daily, weekly/bi-weekly, monthly/bi-monthly, seasonally and annually. You won’t be cleaning the basement every week, but you will need to make the bed every day. Depending on the size of your family, laundry may be a weekly or bi-weekly (maybe daily!) event for you. Every family, and every home, is different.

How do you know what needs to be cleaned when? First, consider your own habits. For those cleaning routines out of the ordinary, a simple Google search reveals dozens of cleaning experts out there, eager to let you know when your carpets need to be cleaned, to how often you should clean your washing machine.

Still, it’s important with both these steps to be honest while still idealistic. You’re not creating a cleaning routine so that you can maintain the status quo – you want to have a cleaner, more organized home. If your methods aren’t working, you have to change something. And if you’ve never cleaned your refrigerator before, but you’re kinda grossed out every time you reach for the milk, then maybe it’s time to get straight with yourself: it’s time to clean the damn fridge. If you have animals and you aren’t vacuuming your highly-trafficked areas on a weekly basis, your guests have probably noticed that your house¬†feels like an animal lives there. Let’s work on changing things for the better.

But yet, be realistic. Don’t say that you’re going to deep-clean your home every week because, let’s face it, that’s not happening. Like I said above, consider your habits. How much time can you devote to cleaning every week? If you don’t have time to clean your entire house every week, that’s OK. Neither do I. That’s why I split things up: I make time for a few weekly chores, and then split up the actual grunt work that goes into cleaning a room over an entire month. So, do you have time to clean one room of your house every week? Great. That’s all you need.

Plus, everyone is going to have different needs. Here at Casa Laura, my “outdoor” space is limited to a postage stamp-sized patio and a shared yard in my townhouse complex, and a front stoop. Garages … do not exist. I do have a basement, however. I also only have one bathroom. I also own two animals.

To get you started, here’s a breakdown of my cleaning routines, organized by how often they pop upon my schedule. I’ll go into more detail on each section in later posts. I may or may not have forgotten a few things:

Daily

  • Make the bed
  • Wash the dishes/run the dishwasher
  • Feed the cats
  • Pick up clothes/shoes/stuff around the house, put it where it belongs
  • Make sure the kitchen counters are wiped clean
  • Take care of the plants

Weekly

  • Vacuume our living room and dining room
  • Mop the kitchen floor (when I’m not cleaning it)
  • Wipe down the bathroom (when I’m not cleaning it)
  • Switch out the kitchen towels and washcloth
  • Laundry
  • *Clean ONE-TWO rooms in my house*

Bi-Monthly

  • Clean the bathroom and wash the bath towels

Monthly

  • Clean the kitchen

Seasonally

  • Clean the basement
  • Clean up outdoors
  • Wash our walls
  • Steam clean the carpets