Cleaning house is both universal and subjective. The frequency at which things need to be cleaned may vary depending on your lifestyle, but everyone's home revolves on the same never-ending cycle: clean, then dirty, then clean, then dirty again. If your house seems to get stuck in dirty mode, it's either because the system is broken, or no system was put in place to begin with. Instead of reacting to messes as they occur, take a proactive approach by creating a cleaning schedule. Even if you're fortunate enough to have a housekeeper, your household can benefit from planned maintenance. Read on to find out how you can create a house cleaning schedule and stick to it.

Organize Tasks

First thing's first, decide how you would like to keep track of your schedule. If you're a freak in the spreadsheets, make a matrix in Excel or Google Sheets. More of an analog lady? Write it down in your planner. Dedicate one of those freebie calendars to it, or use the calendar on your phone so you can set up notifications as reminders. Some people love checking things off of a printable checklist, like this one from Good Housekeeping. Others prefer project management apps, such as Trello or Asana. Household management apps like Tody let you set up your own to-do list by room. Simply select a task, such as "wipe counters" and it suggests a frequency, which you can alter. Sort the list by area, or by date. The important thing is that your system works for you—that way, you'll be more likely to use it.

Ask for Help

Teamwork makes the dream work! Once you have your list, you can divvy up chores amongst household members. Even toddlers can pick up their toys. If you live by yourself, ask a neighbor or friend for assistance (just be prepared to" return the favor in some form or fashion!). Let your family choose tasks from the list, or assign them by proclivity.

It can be hard for control freaks to delegate because they want it done their way (aka the right way). I always resented washing the dishes after cooking dinner, so my husband took it up. But then it was very hard for me not to stand over his shoulder pointing out every spot he missed and telling him how I do it, even though no one asked. It took a little while to get him "trained," but now the petrified food I find on my pans is few and far between.

Take it from Free to Be You and Me, "If you want all the days of your lives to seem sunny as summer weather, make sure when there's housework to do, that you do it together."

Personalize

We're going to get into the recommended schedule for how frequently certain chores need to be performed, but the suggested timing definitely depends on your lifestyle. For instance, you're "supposed to" clean your oven a couple of times a year, but if you bake bacon in the oven every weekend like me, it requires a monthly scrub down. Some people prefer to spend one whole day doing laundry as opposed to a load or two here and there throughout the week. Perhaps you'd rather clean on the weekends as opposed to performing a chore a day. Maybe you feel more accomplished if you tackle one room at a time instead of one task throughout the house. Tolerance matters, too. If you can go all week looking at toothpaste in the sink and not think twice about it, then you probably don't need to go out of your way and wipe it daily. Keep in mind that the timeline is just a guideline.

Set Realistic Expectations

Set yourself up for success by creating achievable goals. I always think I can clean my entire house in one day until I remember I no longer live in an 800 square-foot apartment. By keeping your schedule realistic, you're more likely to stick to it.

Motivation

If a clean house isn't enough of a payoff (it's just going to get dirty again), you may need to dangle a carrot to stay on track. Get yourself in the mood to scour, scrub, wash, cleanse, wipe, wax, and bleach by listening to a podcast, audiobook, or some music. Need more of a reward? Promise yourself a mani/pedi or even a new pair of shoes for something big, like cleaning the gutters. If all else fails, invite company over. Nothing motivates me like having our parents over for brunch every other week, which means my house needs to be mother-in-law worthy at least bi-weekly.

Daily

  • Make the bed
  • Do dishes
  • Straighten
  • Put things away when you're done using them
  • Wipe counters and table
  • Clean out litter
  • Take out trash

Weekly

  • Laundry
  • Dust
  • Vacuum
  • Mop
  • Clean the microwave
  • Remove expired leftovers and wipe fridge
  • Showers and tubs
  • Toilets
  • Change sheets (wash in hot water to kill germs)

Monthly

Seasonally

Bi-Annually

  • Clean gutters (spring and fall)
  • Have HVAC serviced (summer and winter)
  • Deep clean closets
  • Vacuum, flip, and rotate mattresses
  • Organize storage in the basement, attic, and garage
  • Clean behind and under furniture
  • Rotate area rugs 180 degrees
  • Dust chandeliers

Annually

As Needed

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