There are a lot of “Ultimate Cleaning List”s on Pinterest, but they’re all missing one key element. WHEN are you supposed to do all of those things?
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You already have so much on your plate.
You want to get your house in shape, but you don’t have hours and hours and hours every week to deep clean.
And even if you did have the time, being faced with a mile-long list of things to do isn’t helpful or encouraging—it’s exhausting just to look at it!
Even the lists that do suggest how frequently you should do each task—daily, weekly, monthly, annually—don’t actually help either.
Okay, so I should clean my cabinets every week and my baseboards every month, and my washer and dryer every year, but that still doesn’t tell me how to fit all of those things into my busy life.
Well, don’t worry. I have you covered.
I have spent months scouring every “Master Home Cleaning Checklist” out there and turning them into not just the most thorough list, but an actual manageable system!
And not a system where you have 25 completely different specific tasks to do every single day and you’re bound to fall behind within a week and then what do you do?
This is an easy-to-follow routine, simple habits to develop, with tons of grace built right into it.
If you were perfect at doing every task every day, you will do each monthly task 12 times, each quarterly task 4 times, and each annual task once BEFORE HALLOWEEN! What does this mean?
There’s two entire months’ worth of wiggle room. And even more than that! Because it’s really not a big deal if it’s 4 months (or even 5 or 6) between your quarterly tasks instead of 3, and even if you only do the yearly tasks once every 18 months, that’s probably more often than you’re doing them now.
With this system, there’s no such thing as a backlog, no need to “catch up.” Just start where you’re at and keep going when you can.
So how does it work?
Each day there are a few simple tasks that will keep your home feeling clean and comfortable without too much time or effort.
Laundry. Sinks. Toilets. Sweep & Vacuum. Clutter & Mail. Counters & Table. Just the basics. Things that can quickly become overwhelming if you don’t keep up on them or that you look at and use dozens of times a day.
Then each day you do one (JUST ONE) extra task. And that’s all you need to do to be able to accomplish all of the weekly, monthly, quarterly, AND yearly jobs. Really truly.
The first step to your easy breezy beautiful clean home is printing out this handy dandy schedule.
Next, you’ll want to laminate it so you can keep it handy, put it in a sheet protector to keep in a home management binder, or frame it and hang it up on your wall.
Most importantly, any of these options will make it so you can cross things off with a vis-a-vis marker and wipe it clean again when you’re ready to start over. (You want wet erase, not dry erase, because some of the things will stay crossed off for a whole year and you don’t want them to get erased accidentally before they’re supposed to!)
And then start cleaning!
Each day, do the “daily” tasks. (Makes sense, right?) You can check them all off each day and erase them each morning if you like having the satisfaction of crossing things off, or you can just use the list as reference and save yourself the trouble.
Now, here’s where things change a little. It’s not complicated, don’t worry, but it isn’t self-explanatory either, so pay attention.
Your last daily task (you don’t actually have to do it last, you can do it whenever it’s convenient) is “1 Weekly Task.” So, just like it sounds, pick one of the tasks from the weekly list, do it, and cross it off. The next day, pick a different one. (See, I said it wasn’t complicated).
You can go in order from top to bottom of course, or pick whichever one you feel like.
Spilled some soup in the fridge yesterday but the stove still looks pretty good from last week? No worries! Skip the stove for now and clean the fridge instead. Just try to do each task once before starting over (which is why you cross them off as you go.)
You’ll see that twice on the “Weekly” list it says “1 Monthly Task.” So—exactly what it says—on that day instead of a weekly task, you’ll actually do a monthly task. Just the same as before, pick one of the monthly tasks, get it done, cross it off. Once you’ve done each monthly task, wipe that part clean and start again.
On the monthly list, sometimes you’ll do a quarterly task or a yearly task, and once per quarter you’ll do another yearly task.
You never have to do more than one extra task each day.
You never have to wonder when to fit in those monthly, quarterly, or yearly tasks on top of everything else.
It. All. Just. Works.
So, what’s on the lists?
Here’s everything you need to know!
Laundry: It took me forever to jump on the one-load-a-day bandwagon instead of the one-day-a-week routine, but it is AMAZING! Seriously, do it. Don’t have enough for a full load? Wash bedding! Or towels! Or, if you only need to do a load every other day, then you can wash one day and fold the next. You could even go old school and have a washing day, an ironing day, a mending day, etc. Find what works for you, but I promise, doing it in small bits throughout the week will make it so much more manageable.
Sinks: Bathroom sinks can get grimy fast, especially with kids, but it’s also so easy to wipe them down daily while you brush your teeth or spot clean every time you wash your hands, and then it never has to be a big project. Try to end each day (or each morning, or each afternoon, choose what’s best for your schedule—are you seeing the theme yet?) with an empty and polished sink. No lingering dishes—even if you have to wash them by hand (which isn’t as bad as you think, in fact I hand-wash all of my dishes and I love it!)—and wipe down the whole thing: basin, faucet, and handles. It’s such a small thing, but it makes you feel SO accomplished and makes your home feel SO much cleaner!
Toilets: Again, maintenance is quick and easy, and keeps it from becoming an overwhelming (and disgusting) task later on.
Sweep & Vacuum: Get those floors clean! You don’t have to do a super thorough job each day, just quick and easy. I love my Shark DuoClean vacuum because I can clean the wood, the laminate, and the carpet all at once. And I never have to bother with a dustbin!
Clutter & Mail: A little each day goes a long way!
Counters & Table: Hate scrubbing the sticky messes? Soak your table just like you do your tough dishes!
Stove & Oven: Scrub it inside and out. Doing it weekly will keep it an easy task instead of a grueling one.
Small Appliances: Microwave, toaster, mixer, whatever you’ve got. Clean it regularly and it will always be easy.
Fridge & Freezer: Take everything out, get rid of stuff that’s gone bad, wipe down surfaces, put things back in nice and orderly.
Mop & Dining Chairs: Clean kitchen and bathroom floors, along with any other hard floors that need it this week. Wipe down dining chairs, kitchen stools, benches, any seating that isn’t upholstered.
Dust & Mirrors: Grab that duster and go around the whole house. Then wipe down mirrors in bathrooms, bedrooms, and anywhere else.
Baths & Showers: The best shower cleaner? Vinegar and a squirt of dish soap! For more stubborn buildup, make a paste of the vinegar and soap plus baking soda.
Upholstery: Spot clean couches and chairs. Wash throw pillows and cushion covers if they need it.
Switches & Doors & Windows: Wipe off smudges and fingerprints.
Cabinet & Drawer Faces: Wipe the front of kitchen and bathroom cabinets and drawers.
A spot to write down other things you notice that need to be done. Things to buy. Future projects. Whatever you need to jot down.
Fans & Fixtures: Clean ceiling fans, chandeliers, lamps, and other lights.
Walls & Baseboards: Fill a bucket with hot water, mix in a little laundry detergent, and wipe down your walls.
Furniture & Underneath: Wipe down dressers, bed frames, china cabinets, etc. Then move them and sweep or vacuum underneath. Also clean underneath your oven and fridge.
Cupboards & Drawers & Pantry: Take everything out of your kitchen cupboards, drawers, shelves, and pantry, and clean any crumbs or spills. Get rid of out of date food as well as any kitchen gadgets that you don’t actually need, then put the things you’re keeping away neatly.
Art & Decor & Trash Cans: Clean all the knick knacks and odds and ends: framed pictures, fake plants, canisters of baking ingredients, clocks, vases. Clean garbage cans inside and out.
Budget & Wishlists & Goals: It’s not just physical things that need cleaning! Each quarter you should take a look at your budget, Amazon wishlists, routines, to-do lists, plans, and goals. Make any necessary adjustments to make your life work well for you.
A lot of the yearly tasks incorporate cleaning, organizing, and decluttering. Just like the monthly task of kitchen cupboards, take everything out, clean it, then decide what you really need to keep and put it away neatly.
- Bathroom Cupboards & Drawers
- Laundry Room, Linens, & Cleaning
- Dressers & Closets & Shoes
- Toys & Books
- Craft Room / Office / etc
- Entry / Mudroom
Some of the others you may want to do yourself or you may want to hire a professional.
- Caulk / Grout / Touch Ups / Repairs
- Washer / Dryer / Fireplace
- Ceilings & Exterior
- Carpets & Curtains & Mattresses
- Ducts & Drains & Vents & AC Filter
And finally there are some things you might not see on most house cleaning checklists, but are an important part of decluttering your mind and your life.
Papers / Files / Sentimental: Go through all of your stacks of papers and actually do whatever needs to be done. Clear out your files and shred anything that is more than a year old or that you won’t ever need to reference. Decide which birthday cards and children’s art projects you can take a photo of then let go.
Electronic Files / Photos / Unfollow: Clear out and organize your digital life too. Unsubscribe from email lists, unfollow and unfriend any social media accounts that aren’t adding to your life.
Take a week off: This is the most important task of all! DON’T do anything. For a whole week. Don’t do any of the weekly or monthly tasks. Don’t even do the daily tasks if you can help it. Let the laundry and dishes pile up. Let the floor and toilets get filthy. And at the end of the week, decide which tasks are truly important to you and what isn’t.
You probably noticed that there’s a running theme of “maintenance now is easier than deep cleaning later.”
But what if you haven’t been maintaining? What if everything is a grimy disaster?
It’s okay! Just start today!
Sure, cleaning the toilet every day is the best way to keep it from developing a ring so stubborn you have to scrub it with a pumice stone, but guess what, if the ring is already there, then today you can scrub it with that pumice, and tomorrow you can start wiping it down daily.
One last thing:
A lot of the yearly tasks might take more than one day, especially the first time you do them. But they only happen about once a month. And then one year from now, your entire life will be perfectly organized and effortlessly clean!
And that’s not the only way your life can be different one year from now! Be sure to join my newsletter and follow along with me on Instagram for more ways to be a #HappierYOUin52!