Tuesday, January 26, 2016

How to Implement (and Keep on Top of) a Cleaning Schedule: Real World Style

Pinterest is a wonderful resource.  It's also, in my opinion, the root of all evil when it comes to unrealistic expectations on what your home should look like.

"Clean Your Home in Two Hours"
"A Easy to Do Cleaning Schedule"
"It Slices! It Dices! It Will Clean Your House in 20 Minutes!"

Okay, so I might have made up the last one there.  Really, though, look at your feed on Pinterest just ONCE after typing in "Cleaning Schedule" and you'll be deluged with beautiful, immaculate, pristine homes with pictures that guarantee your home will look exactly like that if you follow their cleaning schedule.  So, you look at the dirty floor, the dirty dishes, the piles and piles of laundry and think, "Wow, my home can look like that?  I'll give it a shot!"

Forty cleaning schedules later through loads of different websites and your home is still a mess and you're just discouraged with life in general.

So, I am here to give you some imput on what worked for me to get a cleaning schedule in place and how I'm keeping my house clean.

Let me make this perfectly clear, though.  This post is not about making your home "Pottery Barn, Pinterest, Pristine, Pretty Perfection" (say that five times fast.  I dare you ;).  Nope, this is how I am keeping my house CLEAN, nothing more.

So, allow me to wow you with an epiphany I had one day a couple of weeks ago as I was, once again, reading through cleaning schedules to try and find some miracle that would help me out with getting my house cleaned and keeping it that way.  Warning:  I'm about to wreck some people's illusions and wreck some people's days, so ahead of time I apologize.

Right?  Ready.  Here's the breakthrough.
A cleaning schedule isn't going to help you get your house clean.  It will help you keep that house clean ONCE it's clean.
And this was a real "duh" moment for me, trust me.  I'd tried so many systems and would do the whole "2 hour speed clean" method and the "do a load of laundry from start to finish" method and loads of others and my house was still a mess no matter how hard I tried.  And then it dawned on me that these systems just weren't going to get the house clean.

So, step one for me in my new "system" is this...

1.  Clean your house from top to bottom, including dusting even if you can.
This is ground zero from which your cleaning schedule is going to work, so get your house as clean as you want it to be before you start.  Like me?  This time of year I could not care less if my windows have finger prints on them because we still have so little light, so I just left the windows to do later on (an extra chore to add to my daily list later).  I did, however, dust the ceiling fans as that, I feel, IS important with my children's allergies.

How do you accomplish this monumental task?  Well, if you're me you work like a demon for about a week straight to get things as clean as possible and yell at anyone who makes the house a mess again (Disclaimer:  This process MIGHT make you grumpy *ahem*).

Got children?  Make them work.  Whether they like it or not.  My daughter vacuumed my upstairs and cleaned her room with lots of argument, but she did it.  My son even cleaned up blocks with some help from me to show him how, but he did it.

Have others who can help?  A husband who can help split the work, a friend who will work for a meal and companionship?  Someone else?

Can you afford a maid service to come in and clean the house for you if you don't have time?  I know that sounds counter productive in a way, but at this point anything to get your home to ground zero clean is the goal, so if you have the money to do it and don't feel like you can accomplish it without it, do it!
Right, so once you get the house recovered/cleaned up, the rest is actually relatively easy.

2.  Set your goals on what is important to you when it comes to a clean house.
I read on a lot of cleaning schedules to never leave dirty dishes in the sink.  Right, this I would fail at.  Once my husband is home and we eat dinner my family likes to spend time together.  Dinner dishes, if I do them immediately, tends to make the husband think that I don't want to spend time watching a movie or whatever family time we have and he'll go down to the bedroom and play on the computer.  The kids will take off to parts unknown in the house and I'll have a pristine sink, but no family time.  To heck with that.

I do the previous night's dishes the next morning after breakfast.  This, I've found, gives me pretty much a load of dishes in the dishwasher right on the money with a few dishes to wash by hand (sometimes).  I was doing dishes by hand, but found that the savings not using it were minuscule, so I just started using it again (the rubber gasket fell off the other day completely, but it's still working okay, so we'll see how that goes).  This process is one that a lot of people dread, but have you ever timed yourself doing it?  I timed myself for three days straight and was able to unload and reload the dishwasher in 10 minutes.  And that's with having to wash a few dishes by hand.  That is not long at all to get your dishes done for the day.

Before breakfast I strip the table cloth off the table, take it outside and shake it and then throw it into one of the children's hampers to remind me to haul it downstairs to wash.  I then switch it out with a clean one for the day.

After the kids are off to school (on weekdays obviously) or are done with breakfast and I have the dishes on to wash, I then go through the kid's rooms and grab their dirty clothes from the day before, the dirty tablecloth and my son's bedding (because he usually toasts it by morning) and head downstairs.  I grab my husband's and my dirty clothes from our hamper and just wash all of the clothes from the day before together minus the tablecloth and bedding (which is my second load).  While they are washing (usually takes about 20 minutes or so), I pull out the vacuum and do my downstairs (where the laundry room is) and quickly sweep the laundry and the bathroom.  By this time the laundry is ready to switch over and I'll throw my son's bedding into the washer, set the alarm to let me know when the dryer is done on the dryer, fold the laundry (putting away my husband's and my clothes while I'm at it) and head upstairs.  I put the children's clothes away and put toys in the rooms where they belong and clean up any bigger garbage off the floors. 

I quickly sweep my kitchen and bathroom and then vacuum the upstairs, sweeping down the stairs if I need to (which is usually about every three days or so).  When the dryer beeps I either fold the bedding and put it away (if I switched the bedding) or I put it onto my son's bed.
And voila!  I'm done for the day.  This is when I'll add dusting or cleaning closets or deep cleaning bathrooms to my list for the day if I need to.

This seems like a lot of work to read it, but seriously it's not.  I am now done with my housework for the day in about an hour to an hour and a half.  And that's with changing my son's bed every day.

So, let me walk you through what I do to make my house clean (not pristine remember) every day.

1.  Son's Room
  • Floors cleaned of surface toys and vacuumed (the toys are not necessarily put in a perfect location or anything).
  • Bed changed and made for the day (I found making the beds just makes the rooms look better and keeps things a bit cleaner.  Just a personal preference on my part).
  • Dirty clothes washed and clean clothes put away.
2.  Daughter's Room
  • Bed made. 
  • Dirty clothes washed
  • Clean clothes put away
You'll notice the mess.  That's because my daughter cleans her floor when she gets home from school before I vacuum it.  She throws a fit, but I feel it's important that she do for herself.  She also cleans it before bed, which shows you how well and how quickly children mess up their rooms *laugh*.

3.  Kitchen
  • Clean dishes from the day before put away.
  • Dirty dishes cleaned.
  • Floor swept
  • Tablecloth switched out for new and clean
  • Dish towel switched out for new (if needed)
  • Counters washed down.
You'll notice some clutter.  This is how my kitchen looks from day to day.  No sugar coating here.  Remember, clean, but not pristine.

4.  Living Room and Den (den not pictured)

Floor de-cluttered and vacuumed and throw pillows and throws put back onto furniture (my son is busy).
Piles of books and other things hopefully more securely stacked so they won't fall over (set the bar low so you can stumble over it, I say ;).

The master bedroom still has some trouble areas I'm tackling as the days go by, but it's slowly coming together.  I'm overall very happy with the house.

So, there you are folks.  My real life, every day, cleaning schedule and how I'm keeping my house clean.  Good luck with yours!


  1. That looks like an awesome system that's working well for you. It's too bad you don't feel very well this week, but it will be nice to have the house clean so you can take a little down time if you need it. Hopefully, you'll feel better soon.

    I agree--it's amazing how quickly a child can trash a room that was clean only 1/2 hour previously. I agree with you that it's good training for your daughter to learn to pick up her things. That will serve her well in life.

  2. Bravo! I like real life victories, not perfect, unrealistic expectations, too. Thank you for sharing your cleaning schedule, Erika.

  3. Good job Erika :) I still have some areas in my home that need some TLC. Good for you having the kids help.Cleaning is a skill and not everyone knows how. I know this a little off topic I saw a post about a coupon for Epipen over on prudent homemaker not sure if this would help with your son?
    frugalsteppingstones.com is were
    she posted about it.

    1. I appreciate it, but luckily I don't need it. My son gets federal Medicaid due to his disability (TEFRA) and they cover epi-pens. Which is a Godsend as I heard from my sister-in-law that when she went to refill her son's recently (life threatening allergy to bees) that they wanted 700.00 for two of them AFTER insurance! I just about keeled over. That seems wrong on so many levels. I mean that's a life saving drug.

  4. How you feel better soon sending healing prayers