I am one of an elite few who looks forward to Saturdays for the cleaning time. All week, I watch eagerly as the mess around me gets worse and worse because it’s just a greater before-after picture for me come Saturday. My affection for cleaning is common knowledge for the people around me, so I am privy to the lamentations of those who do not share this strange love. And the one complaint that rises above the rest (well almost, right under “I just don’t want to”) is this one:
I don’t know where to start.
Almost every person I have talked to about cleaning or organizing their work, car, home, or even life, has said the same thing. They want the job to be done, they just don’t know how to get there. And the answer is the same as to the age-old question, how do you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time.
(I use this phrase a lot. Get used to seeing it.)
So instead of going on and on about the importance of cleaning and the healing powers of taking care of your life, I’m going to give you a practical list of Saturday chores–in a specific order that, when all is said and done, won’t take more than the morning or afternoon to accomplish.
Linens and Laundry
Always start with laundry because the entire day, laundry should be cycling through while you do everything else. The first load should be bed linens–as soon as you’re out of bed, strip it (barring no one else is in it) and toss in pillow cases, sheets, blankets. The purpose is two-fold: (1) you won’t waste any time trying to collect a load of laundry because it’s all right there in front of you and (2) it completely eliminates the temptation to give up on cleaning and crawl back into bed.
While your linens are washin’ away, grab a white laundry basket and a black one (or two colors that signify dark and light) and go to every room of the house collecting laundry. If you’ve got kids, their first chore is to separate their laundry into two piles for you so you can grab it on the go.
Line your baskets of waiting laundry up at the washer and set timers for yourself to swap out the cycles. Step one: complete!
Tackling the stuff.
I’ll do another post later on the huge undertaking that is the stuff. Especially if you’ve got kids (which I don’t, but all my friends do and I was a nanny to 3 for six years) there’s just stuff everywhere. But for a quick clean sweep, all you need to do is collect and reallocate. Since you have at least one load of laundry going, I can safely assume you have at least one empty laundry basket–grab it and start making the rounds. Anything you see in a room that doesn’t belong, grab it and put it in the basket.
Here’s the most important part: Do not stop to clean anything else. Don’t run an item really quickly back to where it belongs; don’t pick it up and set it somewhere in the room that it could live; as a matter of fact, don’t even set the laundry basket down! The key here isn’t just to get the job done–it’s the strategy so you can get it done as quickly as possible and get to your Saturday.
Once you’ve made the round to collect it all, pick an open space and dump it all out. Organize it by the room it belongs to, and then return the pile to that room–whether you want to just get it to the room or actually put it away is up to you now.
Start at the top
Now we’re getting to the nitty gritty of cleaning. Start with a microfiber cloth or kitchen towel and wipe surfaces from the top down. Start at the ceiling fans, then shelves, then counter tops, then table tops. Why does it matter what order you go in? Because this way, you can just push everything onto the level below it, until you eventually hit floor. Once it’s on the floor, you’re going to get it with a broom or vacuum; let them do the heavy lifting.
Take out the trash
At this point, all of the dust and other trash items from counters should be on the floors. Grab a trash bag! We’re going trash hunting! Start by picking up anything on the floor that a vacuum couldn’t get. Then walk through every room in the house and grab any big visible pieces of trash, empty trashcans, and then wrap up by taking out the kitchen garbage. Toss it all in the can or dumpster and head back into the kitchen!
Everything and the kitchen sink
Since your hands are all filthy from trash duty, what better way to clean them than in a sudsy sink? Knock out all of the dishes in one fell swoop. Empty the dishwasher if it needs to be, then load it again and run it, leaving only handwash items in the sink so nothing is in the way of your victory over dirty dishes. Set those out to dry and bada-bing-bada-boom–you are the proud owner of a kitchen full of clean dishes!
This part is pretty self explanatory–sweep the tile floors and vacuum the carpets. If you’re feeling particularly chore-happy, you can even mop with a microfiber push mop and basic floor cleaner. But for quick chores, it’s not necessary.
Your dishes are done, your floors are spotless, your home is dustless, and your trash is at the curb. The only thing standing between you and your Saturday is a shower to get all the grime of a well-spent chore binge off of you. This is why I clean the bathroom last. I scrub and scrub because bathrooms are the grossest part of cleaning. But once I’m in the bathroom, I’m not leaving until I shower, so I can clean with power and intention, knowing I’ll be hopping into a steamy, cleansing shower in a matter of minutes. Wipe of counter tops with a Clorox wipe, use a glass cleaner to hit the mirrors, and scrub out the toilet. Ew. But it’s done now!
Last step: shower! You’ve earned it. Now off to your Saturday!
There is a basic principle of physics that objects in motion tend to stay in motion, while objects at rest tend to stay at rest. So for me, this is the list and order that works best because every minute of cleaning is accounted for. If I can stay focused and in the zone of cleaning, I’ll get done faster and can do something else. Happy Saturday and happy cleaning!
Have your own tried and true methods? Share them in the comments!