In honor of spring finally rearing its beautiful head, I decided it was an opportune moment to share another post about my favorite past-time: cleaning! A lot of the questions I get revolve not around how best to clean something, but how often it needs to be done. I have the privilege of being an introverted single woman, so it’s pretty easy for me to clean at my leisure. But most of my friends are trying to juggle their homes and families, so I broke it down into small lists for the basics.
This could mean that once a month you have a perfect storm of all of these things at once . . . but I’m going to try and give you some tips to avoid that!
For my schedule, it works best to do this stuff at the end of the day (except make the bed, which I do every morning). I set aside roughly an hour for chore time after I get home from work and I try to stick to that routine. For you, it may look like sporadic accomplishments whenever you get pockets of time.
Pro tip: most of these make really good kid chores, too, so it doesn’t all have to fall to your shoulders. And if at the end of the day, the only surface wipe-down you did was to clean up a juice spill, that still counts. Go you!
Make the beds
Listen, you’re not at a five star resort. You don’t need to tuck the corners or fluff the pillows. Just pull the covers up, give them a tug so they are straight, and you’ve started your day with an instant victory. It only takes 60 seconds to spend the entire rest of the day knowing you get to slip comfortably between crisp sheets that night. It’s worth it. I promise. If I could give you a money-back guarantee, I would. That’s how sure I am.
Do the dishes
If you can get to a place where you wash dishes as soon as you’re done with them, then honestly you probably don’t need this blog . . . but hello anyway . . . For most of us, though, it will be one huge task at the end of the day, or the end of our rope–whichever comes first.
You don’t need to see yourself in the reflection, Cinderella. Just gotta keep the crumbs and sticky messes at bay. Done? Done.
Sort the mail
My mailbox is in another building in my complex, so I sort it before I get it into the apartment. No piles of unopened mail welcome here. I immediately recycle junk mail, and then prioritize the rest (and honestly, after the junk is gone, there isn’t much left). I have two stacks on my desk; one stack of “actions” which I take care of promptly, and one stack “to file” which happens monthly on the Office Refresh day.
Load of laundry
- Morning: Load 1 into washer
- Afternoon: Load 1 into dryer; Load 2 into washer
- Evening: Load 1 folded; Load 2 into dryer
- Night: Load 2 folded; Loads 1 and 2 put away
Bada bing, bada boom! 2 loads done with minimal time invested.
These weekly chores don’t have to be completed all at the same time–in fact, it’s better if they aren’t. Studies pretty clearly show that you get more done when you take on less, as counter intuitive as that sounds. Because less work means better focus. And focus means results! So maybe you don’t dedicate your entire Sunday to this list; maybe you just make “wash all linens” a Monday chore since Mondays already sort of stink. Tuesdays could be for vacuuming and you can save the big stuff (like bathrooms and fridges) for the weekend days. You get the picture.
Wash all linens
Sheets, towels, rugs, pillow cases, blankets–grab them all up, sort them into like colors and fabrics, and start the handy laundry cycle from the daily list. You. Got. This.
Vacuum & Sweep
Okay this one is obvious. But just in case, here’s the answer you don’t want: yes, you do need to move items and vacuum/sweep underneath them. Unless it’s a massive couch or kitchen island, pick it up (chairs, toys, baskets, boxes, shoes, small tables), move it out, vacuum, and return it. And do. not. sweep. under. rugs. Use a dustpan,; you’re not an animal.
My standard advice for bathrooms is to save them for the last thing you clean on any given day. Bathrooms have the grossest messes in the most places, so if you’re doing it right, there’s no way you won’t need a shower afterwards. So save it. Tackle it with gloves, Lysol, glass cleaner and a big rag. Just scrub everything. There’s no rhyme or reason here–just make it shine something similar to the color it was when you moved in. Then hop into the shower and scrub the walls before you scrub yourself. Done.
Dust and wet wipe all surfaces
This one will be easy because you have been prepping/preventing all week with daily spot checks. This time, just run intentional dust rags over your tchotchkes and books, and a Clorox or your preferred disinfectant over countertops and tables.
Clean out car
This one is so much easier than people realize. Take two things to your car: a laundry basket and a trash bag. Every single thing in your car will go into one of these two receptacles. When the trash bag is full, it goes . . . into the garbage bin. Shouldn’t even cross the threshold back into the house. When the laundry basket is full, it goes into the house and everything inside it gets put away. If that’s your job, do it in one fell swoop without getting distracted. Eye on the prize. If that’s your kids’ job, make it a game to get it done fastest!
Pro Tip: Hang a mesh bag from the headrests of the driver and passenger seat to store toys and other kids stuff easily. A car toy box, if you will.
I know it sucks. But someone has to do it. And that someone is you. Throw out stuff with mold. Eat everything else. Repeat every week. And do it before you go grocery shopping for the week. That’s just good sense.
Again, you don’t have to do all of this on one day of the month. You can spread the love across each weekend, or one day each week (cause that’s what Friday nights are for, right?)
Go through your files. Anything that can be shredded or tossed, or moved to more permanent storage? If you have a document that you need to keep for 7 – 10 years, it should be in another filing system. You need one for the regular everyday filing for bills and medical records you need quick access to. After you’ve cleared out the files, sort the new one you’ve been stacking on your desk daily.
Pro tip: Do this in your digital spaces too. Once a month, see if there are any apps you don’t use (your phone can help you figure out which apps get no love); emails you can unsubscribe from; or documents cluttering your folders that you don’t need.
Vents and baseboards
Grab the vacuum hose and run it along the edges of everything. Your lungs will thank you! Same money back guarantee as the bed making.
My suggestion: choose one piece of the kitchen each month. Because the kitchen is a beast. Don’t try to overhaul all of it every single month. One month, focus on cleaning out the pantry. One month, tackle the cabinets and see if there’s a new way to organize. One month, get under the sink and reorganize that mess! You get the gist.
As I clean throughout the week and month, I notice a lot of stuff I don’t use. I keep a bin in my laundry room and I toss things I don’t think I need or want anymore in there all month long. At the end of the month, I’ll check in and if it’s something I forgot about, it stays in the bin and I take that bin right to the donation center.
Pro Tip: If you combine this day with the car clean-out, you can take the bin to the center, dump it out, and use it to collect car stuff afterwards.
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Got your own tips? Share in the comments! Happy cleaning, gang. PS, if you have specific questions about how to clean something, or how often, I am happy to chat–just hit the contact button.