How To Have A Perfectly Clean House All The Time … or something like that.

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How to have a perfeclty clean house all the time or maybe not

I’m going to tell you something that surprises some people (though I don’t think it should): My house is not always perfectly clean. And further: I don’t think it should be perfectly clean.

The word that makes the difference is “perfectly”. Chasing a perfectly clean house is like a dog chasing their tail.

Obviously having a clean house is important. If you’ve been reading my blog for a a while, you know that cleanliness really matters to me, but “perfect” cleanliness does not. I just do not expect that of myself and neither should you. There is a balance to it all. People are healthy in a clean home that isn’t covered in dust, germs, and filth. When our homes are clean and orderly, they act as a blank canvas where we can build the lives we want. But we can take cleaning too far and waste so much of our lives “chasing our tails.”

A Professional Organizer’s Disclaimer: I do not help people organize their lives so that they can live in a perfect bubble. I help my clients organize to make their lives easier and to save time, so they can use that time doing the things they love with the people they love. I have so many hobbies and passions that have nothing to do with organizing, but organizing my home gives me more time and focus for the things I love. When your home is organized, it is a lot easier to keep a “normal” clean house. When everything has a place, tidying is simple. When most things are in their place, cleaning is a lot simpler. And with all that simplicity comes a whole lot of peace. Organizing matters!

My routine has been developing over 9 years. I have tried just about every different way of doing it, but I always end up going back to this way, so that is why I think it is the best way. It is the most flexible for all the different stages and phases of life. It is more than just spreading out the chores. Be sure to read on below to find out how I make it work for me!

My Cleaning Routine  Mondays - Clean Bathrooms  Tuesdays - Clean Kitchen  Wednesday - Dust  Thursday - Vacuum and Mop  Friday - Sweep Porches  Saturday - *Clean other things like windows and baseboards as needed.

(Look out for my Household Management Checklist post coming soon! It is how I make sure all the *extra* things happen frequently enough. Be sure you’re subscribed to get that post in your inbox when it is published.)

{PS – Clean kitchen means the deep cleaning of a kitchen, like wipe down all the appliances. The ideal would be to go to bed everynight with the dishes done, counters wiped, and floor swept!}

Why the non-accumulating method works for me:

I do what I can each day and then move on to the next day. I do not allow these things to accumulate on my to do list. If I’m unable to clean the bathrooms on Monday or if it is a holiday, then I wait until the next Monday to try again. If I skip several weeks in a row, I know I need to change things around and try bathrooms on a different day. This almost never happens, because if I miss a week, the bathrooms start really needing that cleaning and I’m ready to clean them the next chance I get. (I’m writing this for the average person and the perfectionist — to give an average person structure and to keep a perfectionist from going crazy cleaning too much and or procrastinating and letting it all accumulate. A chronically disorganized person might need a different schedule or a little help making this schedule work. My preference is to work with these people one-on-one and make custom plans and offer coaching and accountability. Feel free to Hire Me!)

With this system, my house is pretty clean all the time, but never perfectly clean. I traded in the perfect home for a happy family, peace of mind, and a life full of satisfying non-housework-related pursuits.

finally a cleaning routine that works in real life

It might be hard at first, allowing people into our homes when they aren’t perfect, but the sense of freedom you get when you stop caring is overwhelmingly wonderful. I’m not afraid to let people in my door, because if someone is going to judge me for a piece of cereal on my floor in between vacuuming, well then, they probably weren’t an awesome friend anyway. Know what I mean?!

And don’t forget … regular light housekeeping avoids time-consuming deep-cleaning. Light housekeeping is not to be confused with lighthouse keeping. Here is a handy reminder so you don’t forget.

light housekeeping versus lighthouse keeping (Special thanks to my sister-in-law Carrie for the lighthouse picture!)

 

Do you think the alternate title for this post could be: How To Keep Your Home Reasonably Clean All The Time?

Keep it clean, know what I mean?

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Comments

  1. Oslyn Rodriguez says:

    I’ve tried to implement a similar schedule; however, I have not been consistent. What about the laundry? How do you do all this if you have little ones? I have three under age 4. I wish I could hire you! I need a system that works to do everything in my life.

    • My twins were one when my third daughter was born, so I know a lot about what you are going through right now. Make sure you are following the non-accumulating method, because it can be very motivating. :) I spread my laundry schedule out like I spread my cleaning. Let me know if you’d like to work with me and I’d be happy to help you create a custom plan for your needs right now. Good luck! The time passes quicker than you think!

  2. How do you make time for this and paperwork when things like cooking dinner, running earns & kids attention, homework & husband & personal time. It’s hard to find for those & cleaning. Then if you live in an apt without laundry inside that can’t happen just anytime. How to find balance

    • Hi Liz! It is certainly difficult to juggle all the pulls on our time. This method is what I’ve found to be the least painful way of getting the cleaning done, and really it takes less time for me this way than other ways. When you are cleaning every week, nothing gets too terrible. If you really don’t have time, something else in your schedule has to shift to make room. And if that doesn’t work, hire a maid. :)

  3. This is a fantastic post & a needed reality check. I don’t clean on a schedule & I truly believe I need one! I’m going to implement yours immediately & hopefully it will work for me. If not, I’ll juggle it around a bit. Thank you for linking up!! :)

  4. Mary, great post! I have tried so many times to get on a cleaning routine. My house is a disaster. Working full time and having a toddler makes it so hard. We usually end up spending half the weekend cleaning and that is never fun. In the evenings I am busy making dinner and playing with my son before bedtime. The last thing I want to do at 8 pm at night is start cleaning :( Any suggestions?

    • Hailey – if you guys are gone that much, your home shouldn’t be getting too dirty, so you might find that you only need to deep clean these different areas every two weeks. Once you get caught up (you might just have to power through a weekend or something), maintenance shouldn’t be too time-consuming. I clean all four of our bathrooms in well under an hour and that is my most time consuming chore along with vacuuming and mopping. Let me know if you need more help. I’d be happy to work with you in developing a custom plan for you. One size doesn’t fit all, but I try to write these posts as a guideline that will be able to help as many people as possible. When I work with individual clients, I cater things to their lives and needs. :)

      • Hi there! Love your helpful tips! My only question is this, do you think this is a better process than trying to do it all in one day? I know it sounds crazy but I do and dive cleaning every Saturday or Sunday. It takes me several hours to do but I hit every room in the house & during the week I’m always tidying things up. It still seems like I’m always cleaning! Thanks for any input:))

        • Well, you may have answered your own question — “It still seems like I’m always cleaning!” My system is where you do your chore each day and then move on, maybe occasionally having bigger projects to do on the weekends, like clean the windows or baseboards, but on a regular basis, you do your chores every day and there is no hours at a time on the weekend necessary.

          I’ve done it the all at once method many times and if I didn’t have any young children at home that make my schedule so erratic, I might try it again. But the spread out method works for any situation, so I might just stick with it forever. :)

  5. Michelle Manning says:

    Mary, this is the second time I’ve come to your blog to look up this exact post. I think this time just might be the time I’ll actually put it into action. Thanks!

  6. Shouldn’t we do the dusting and vacuuming & mopping in different order? First vacuuming & mopping and then dusting on the second day? So that all the dust that comes from vacuuming, has landed. ;)

  7. I love you, Mary. You inspire me!!!

  8. Hi Mary,
    I just stumbled upon your list through Pinterest, and the first thing that came to mind when reading the title, “How to have a perfectly clean house all the time”, was: find a genie and make it your wish, second, hire a live-in housecleaner, and then I finally resorted to defeat and assumed it was a joke! lol
    So I am glad I took a look, because it really is simple and realistic. I think a lot of us put too much pressure on ourselves to have a spotless home (life) and part of your advice is to let go of that pressure and enjoy living!
    This is especially important for me, because I suffer from fibromyalgia and chronic pain due to a back injury. I simply cannot clean like I used to! Its very hard to not be able to do more than one or two rooms or tasks on a cleaning day! And because I am also very perfectionistic, if I cant do something properly or enough, its very frustrating and defeating. I really appreciate that part of your advice is to give yourself a break! Thank you so much for sharing with us all!
    Cheers!

  9. Thank you Mary for your post. You hit the nail on the head for me. I have to have perfectly spotless and deep cleaned home before I allow anyone to visit. I love the weekly schedule too! It totally makes sense. I try to schedule a cleaning day and it has ended up being on the weekend (I would rather have family time). I am going to try your schedule because I think it will be easier to accomplish being a homeschool mom. Thank you!

  10. Alison McConoughey says:

    I <3 you. Lighthouse keeping. :)

  11. Totally agree with the remark about someone judging you based on the lone Cheerio on the floor. Those people wouldn’t make good friends anyway!

    • Most people judge out of their own securities. It is sad. Of course, we are allowed to have boundaries and not force friendships with people who make us feel bad about ourselves about less-than-perfect houses.

  12. I’ve been ‘pinning’ decluttering tips all last night and this’ll morning (the only time I have for myself while the babies are sleeping).. And I must say this is by far the BEST post I’ve found!! Thank you!!! Going to start today ;) it’s just hard to start without a clean slate. I think that’s why I’ve failed in the past. .. I try to do it all In one day and end up chasing my tail. .. I think your plan is the winner!!!!!! I’ll feature you in an upcoming blog post and on my Facebook fan page ;)

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