How to create a realistic cleaning schedule and sticking to it

As our lives are getting more hectic, we’re getting even more reluctant to spend our precious time off cleaning. The busier we are, the messier our homes. It is one rule with precious few exceptions. What better then than creating a realistic cleaning schedule? Only one thing – creating a system that actually works for you.

When to do what: Your realistic cleaning schedule

Some of the best professional housekeepers have a lot of excellent advice on this topic. It’s those people that make sure the hotels you visit on vacation are always spotlessly clean. Sure, your home may not need that level of daily attention, but the tasks are still the same. How do they do it, you wonder? They get organized.

Alt-text: Cleaning the kitchen sink should be a part of a realistic cleaning schedule.

All cleaning tasks can be divided by frequency (and necessity) and split into daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual tasks. The trick is to know when exactly a certain task should be completed. This often depends on you and your lifestyle. The list of things you should tidy and clean is not finite, either. It is not the same if you live alone or have a family with kids of different ages.

While the chores may differ from home to home, they can all fall into the following categories.

Daily cleaning tasks:

Make beds.

There’s nothing easier than making beds as soon as you get up. It doesn’t take much time, and being greeted by the properly made bed in the evening feels fantastic.

Do the dishes.

Instead of using new dishes until you have none left, wash the few you used after each meal. If you have a dishwasher, fill it with dishes cleaned of leftover foods, turn it on in the evening and empty it in the morning.

Pick the dirty clothes.

Scan your home for any dirty clothes and take them to your laundry room. Ideally, you’d keep your laundry bin in your bathroom, so any filthy garments you take off before shower can end right where they belong.

A woman wiping kitchen countertop

Wipe and sanitize kitchen and bathroom surfaces.

The best you can do to relieve yourself from hard scrubbing and using strong chemicals is wiping all frequently used surfaces daily. Wipe as soon as you finish bathing or cooking and enjoy a sparkling clean bathroom and kitchen. There won’t be any ingrained dirt if you clean for a few minutes a day.

Organize your home by decluttering.

Put the things in their place, starting with the biggest ones. It’ll make room for more detailed decluttering and do wonders for your motivation. If you have too many belongings you don’t use regularly, consider packing and storing them away. Whether you plan to keep the excess items at home or take them to a storage unit, you should put them in fitting airtight containers. Using plastic boxes and bins is an excellent solution for those with numerous small belongings like toys, seasonal decorations, collections, tools, hobby and crafts supplies, etc.

Weekly to-do list:

Change the bed linens and towels.

Select one day of the week to change the beddings and replace the towels. Often, this will be the day to do your laundry.

Towels in an open laundry machine

Do the laundry.

When you add a week of dirty clothes to the sheets and towels, you will likely have enough to fill your laundry machine. Sticking to a realistic laundry cleaning schedule means to put the clean clothes to dry as soon as washing is over and, in the meantime, do other small weekly chores. Instead of piling up the dry garments on a sofa, fold them and put them in place once they’re dry.

Empty the trash bins.

Depending on how many people you live with and how much trash you produce, you might need to empty some bins daily and some weekly. Don’t wait until the bins are overflowing or start to smell; it doesn’t take much time and effort to empty them in the nearest trash container.

Vacuum cleaning, dusting, and mopping.

Select one day of the week when you have the most time (and energy) and focus on vacuuming, dusting the furniture, and mopping floors. As soon as the dust and crumbs are gone, mopping will be that much easier and faster.

A mop on a dark hardwood floor

Clean the inside of your kitchen appliances.

If you go grocery shopping once a week, take the time to clean and sanitize the inside of your fridge before the new batch of food arrives. Dispose of leftovers and keep an eye on expiry dates. Clean your microwave, oven, dishwasher filter.

Clean and sanitize your bathroom.

Wash the toilet, and descale the bathtub or shower, bathroom sink(s), as well as shower walls and taps.

Monthly assignments:

Clean windows.

Your window cleaning routine will depend on the weather conditions, but it is recommended to do it once every month. Otherwise, every time you open them to let the fresh air in, dust and particles stuck on the surface will get into your home.

Wash the cleaning equipment.

Wash the mop head, change or empty the vacuum cleaner bag, clean the laundry machine filter. Also, check the remaining quantities of cleaning chemicals and resupply if necessary.

A vacuum cleaner on a dark brown floor

Seasonal/Quarterly chores:

Clean the vents.

Gently dismantle your kitchen hood filter and bathroom vents and wash them. If you have a smoke detector, clean it, too.

Vacuum upholstered furniture and wash the pillows.

Every few months, you should dedicate time to vacuum clean your furniture. Make sure to wash your pillows following the washing instructions.

Replace seasonal apparel.

Depending on the climate you live in, you might need to change the seasonal clothing from time to time. Plan to wash and dry the old clothes before you pack and bring the new ones out.

Annual tasks:

Wash the curtains, rugs, and blankets.

There’s no need to wash your carpets more often. Just make sure to clean them once the rainy season is over.

Defrost and clean your freezer.

Plan to defrost and thoroughly clean your freezer at least once a year.

While no two lives are the same, we all have similar routines. And they all produce trash, leftovers, smudges, or leave a trace of dust in their wake. The best way to tackle the rubble is to get organized and create a realistic cleaning schedule. Otherwise, you’ll always feel like trying to catch up without any hope of success.

Martha Karras
Martha Karras is a housekeeping supervisor who equally enjoys blogging and gardening. Some would say that the only reason she writes and spends time outdoors is to put words and nature in order, but they don’t know her at all.

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