Learn how I keep my home tidy and company-ready during the workweek without spending all of my free time cleaning. Feel free to download the Weekly Cleaning Checklist Template at the end of the post!
I’ve mentioned before that I enjoy cleaning, and it’s true! I like restoring order to a room, and I love the feeling of coming home to a clean house. We also have a large extended family and you never know when someone might drop by on short notice. While I know nobody else really cares if my house is a little messy, it’s still important to me for the house to be presentable for company.
However, that doesn’t mean I want to spend all of my free time cleaning. It’s sort of like exercise: I love getting in my 30 minutes of intense activity a day, but then I’m ready to be done with it. Likewise, I’ll happily scrub countertops and fold laundry for a reasonable amount of time, but it’s not like I want to spend every spare moment cleaning.
Instead, I do what I call “micro-cleaning”. I make a point of maintaining a few key tasks each day in short bursts. I think what they say for health and medicine also holds true for household maintenance: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If I can stay on top of the laundry and vacuuming, then I won’t have to dig my way out of a mountain of laundry on Saturday or spend hours scrubbing baseboards because dust won’t build up in the first place.
As a household with two kids, three large dogs, and both parents working full-time outside of the home, I’ve found we’re best able to stay on top of the housework by squeezing in micro-cleaning sessions in the morning and evening. For example, each day I take 30 seconds to wipe down the sink and bathroom counter after everyone is finished brushing their teeth. It barely takes any time, but I feel like I always have a clean bathroom.
I’ll note that our current house (aka The Little Castle) is quite large, but we’ve lived in some very small houses and apartments over the years. While a big house has more places to store things and to spread out the mess, it also means things like mopping and vacuuming take longer because there is simply more ground to cover. Whether your home is big or small, I think the cleaning strategies here are effective for all living spaces.
Before I get to my cleaning routine, I do want to share a couple of my favorite tricks for tidying up on busy weekdays.
Create Zones: I have a toy zone in the living room even though normally toys live in the kids’ room. However, the kids often play downstairs so we can spend time together. The toys stay in the “toy zone” so the mess is contained. After playtime, I pile the toys into a couple of big baskets to get them out of the way. Things aren’t perfectly organized, but it makes it easy to tidy up in a hurry. Create zones and set out baskets or bins for things that tend to get messy (shoes, backpacks, art supplies) and train the family to use them. It’s amazing how much this cuts down on the time I spend tidying up.
Designate a Basket for Odds and Ends: At our house, we have what is called “the upstairs basket”. Basically, anything that wanders down to the main floor from upstairs gets tossed into the upstairs basket. A couple of times a week, I take the basket upstairs and distribute things back to their home locations. It keeps junk from piling up on the counter, but also saves me from having to waste time running up and down the stairs to put things away. This trick works whether you have an upstairs or not.
Place Cleaning Supplies Strategically: Keep a spray bottle with an all-purpose cleaner in each bathroom, the kitchen, and any other location you find yourself wiping down regularly. I find I’m much more likely to quickly wipe down the bathroom sink in the morning if I don’t have to go hunt down cleaning supplies. Think about the tasks you want to prioritize each day and make sure you have the supplies handy.
Don’t Go It Alone: It’s no secret that in many households women do the bulk of the housework. In our home, part of the reason for that is my inability to sit still for three seconds. However I make a point of delegating age-appropriate tasks to the kids, and ask my husband for a hand when I need it (I should note he jumps in and does a lot of these daily tasks on his own, or he wrangles the kids while I speed through the checklist. It’s a team effort). While sticking to a micro-cleaning routine will surely make housework easier, it still shouldn’t primarily fall to one person alone.
With all this in mind...here is our weekly cleaning routine. While every home is different and may have slightly different tasks, the key is to develop a routine and stick with it consistently. Keep in mind that the daily and alternating day tasks should only take a few minutes each at most, and that weekend tasks should be done in addition to these tasks.
Morning (Before Work/Leaving House)
Evening (Before Bed)
Day 1 (Morning)
Day 2 (Morning)
Day 1 (Evening)
Day 2 (Evening)
Fold clean laundry and put it away
Wipe down toilet and bath/shower
While this list doesn’t cover absolutely every potential cleaning task you’ll ever need to do, for me it encompasses the vast majority of the cleaning I do in a given week. By keeping up on the countertops, dishes, and laundry during the week, I find that the weekend tasks are much less daunting, and take much less time, so we have more time to spare for fun family activities.
Be on the lookout for my upcoming post on Essential (and Eco-Friendly!) Cleaning Supplies!
If you'd like to make your own cleaning tasks list, feel free to download a copy of the Weekly Cleaning Template below.