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HOW TO CREATE A REALISTIC CLEANING SCHEDULE THAT ACTUALLY WORKS
If you’ve landed on this post there’s a good chance you’re feeling more than a little bit stressed about getting your family home clean and keeping it clean.
You’re likely to be juggling work with parenting and all the other stuff that life throws at you.
So cleaning is low-down on your list of fun things to do but high on your list of things you’d like to nail more easily and spend less time doing and feeling overwhelmed about.
Am I right or am I right?
As with many things in life, a little planning is often the secret to getting things done quickly and efficiently.
Which is why I am all about having a cleaning schedule.
And more than just having a cleaning schedule, having a realistic cleaning schedule that actually works.
CLEANING SCHEDULES FROM HELL
One of my pet peeves is seeing proclamations from cleaning gurus that they have the ultimate cleaning schedule.
Especially if the schedule is being billed as a cleaning schedule for ‘busy mums’.
And especially if that cleaning schedule is guaranteed to not only easily have your family home gleaming and fragrant like a swarm of cleaners has swept through it, but a cleaning schedule that will actually help you enjoy cleaning.
I’ve even read more than once the following cleaning tip ‘for busy mums’...
“Why not clean the shower whilst you are in the shower waiting for your hair conditioner to soak in?”.
I mean seriously?!
If your life really is so rammed full that you literally don’t have any spare minutes for cleaning, why on earth would you want to spend the precious few minutes you get to yourself in the shower cleaning it?
Another is one I read recently that talks about breaking the cleaning up into 30-minute sections, where you do a 20-minute power-clean, then take a ten-minute break.
That just sounds like prolonging the cleaning to me.
What can you possibly do in those ten minutes other than counting them down until the start of your next power-clean?!
WHY YOU NEED A REALISTIC CLEANING SCHEDULE
So, let’s just take a moment to get real.
Because keeping it real is the best way to create a cleaning schedule that works.
A realistic schedule that you stand a chance of sticking to.
A well thought out schedule is easily manageable.
It’s a schedule that will minimise the amount of time you spend cleaning your home.
Which is what we all want.
I know there are some people out there who love cleaning.
And if I’m honest, it’s not that I hate cleaning.
It’s actually quite a good way to clear your mind and take a breather from the rest of life.
Plus I do revel in the hours immediately after cleaning when the house feels fresh and clean.
But I simply don’t have the hours or the brain bandwidth to spare for mammoth cleaning sessions and I’m guessing that you don’t either.
IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT YOU
And talking of you!
I just want to mention here that cleaning the house doesn’t have to be just down to you.
Unless you have a partnership split with your other half that means you have taken sole responsibility for it, because they are pulling their weight in other areas.
But for the average working woman with kids, you do not have to shoulder the responsibility of cleaning your entire family home yourself.
If this last sentence has you reeling in shock and wondering how on earth you’d ever be able to share the cleaning out, let me point out that this is another reason why having a realistic cleaning schedule is worth its weight in gold.
A solid cleaning schedule is one that can be divided up between anyone capable of doing their bit in the family home.
You handle the planning and then everyone gets to do the fulfilment!
CREATING A REALISTIC CLEANING SCHEDULE THAT ACTUALLY WORKS
So, how do you go about creating a realistic cleaning schedule?
Well, you start with a little assessment of the state of play and take it from there.
Arm yourself with a google sheet or excel document.
You can use pen and paper, but as you’ll see as we go through the planning stages, it’s useful to be able to move things around.
Whatever floats your boat, but you will need to have a few columns or sections.
Right now you’re ready to get started.
HOW TO PLAN A REALISTIC CLEANING SCHEDULE
1. WHERE ACTUALLY NEEDS CLEANING?
First, draw up a list of all the areas of your home that need cleaning.
- Utility room
- Living room
- Downstairs toilet
- Stairs and landings
- Bedroom 1
- Bedroom 2
- Bedroom 3 etc
- Bathroom 1
- Bathroom 2 etc
Give each of these rooms or areas a column of their own.
2. WHAT ACTUALLY NEEDS CLEANING?
Now you have a list of areas, you need to have a think about what needs cleaning within these areas.
Write them all down under each column.
The following things need cleaning in the kitchen…
- Extractor fan hood
- Extractor fan elements
- Work surfaces
- Sink and taps
- Waste disposal unit
- Pantry shelves
- Coffee machine
- Drawers and cupboards
- Vacuum floors
- Wash floors
- Walls and splashbacks
I hope this long list of things to clean in a kitchen hasn’t put you off reading further, because the next step is where the planning really starts to kick in.
3. HOW OFTEN DOES EACH REALISTICALLY NEEDS TO BE CLEANED?
This is where you get to think about how you and your family use your home and the rooms and things in it.
The way you and your family use your home will be different to the way that me and my family use our home.
So, you may have a kitchen floor that needs daily vacuuming and mopping or you may have a kitchen floor that needs less attention.
In our family household, for example, we aim to vacuum the kitchen floor every week, but it’s not the end of the world if it gets mopped every couple of weeks.
So now go ahead and note down the realistic needs for each thing that needs to be cleaned.
Mark each item as weekly (w), monthly (m) or quarterly (q).
Then organise your columns into groupings of weekly, monthly, quarterly.
Just to note, I don’t really see the point of having a daily cleaning schedule.
Instead I think that everyone in the household should agree to a basic level of cleaning up after themselves.
So loading the dishwasher and giving surfaces a quick wipe after cooking and eating.
Giving the toilet a quick extra clean mid-week if it, er, needs it!!
Remember the key here is to keep things realistic and simple.
This is how you create a realistic cleaning that actually works because everyone is capable of sticking to it.
4. WHO AND WHEN?
This is the bit where you divide up responsibility for the cleaning.
Who is your family is capable and has the capacity to take on a share of the cleaning?
Once you’ve agreed who will do their share of the cleaning, you can look at the amount of time they have against the amount of time it will take to get the cleaning done.
Taking my family as an example. There are three of us, me, my husband and our ten year old.
The way we tend to work it is that my husband does the ground floor, which encompasses the kitchen, living room, downstairs toilet hallway and conservatory (the conservatory needs less regular attention than the other areas).
Meanwhile, I take on most of the upper two levels of the house, which is four bedrooms, two bathrooms, the study, landings and stairs.
Our ten-year-old is tasked with cleaning the bathroom she uses and she and I share responsibility for cleaning her bedroom, based on what homework or activities she has going on.
Now family life being family life, you might find that it doesn’t work to have a rigid division of labour.
We will certainly chop and change as and when the need arises.
Once you’ve decided on the who and when you can all read my tips on creating a cleaning routine that will get the house clean FAST!!
I share seven brilliantly useful tips on HOW to clean that will help whoever is doing the cleaning to do it in a smart way and cut down the amount of time it takes.
The schedule plus the fast cleaning routine are a winning combination for nailing this most essential but often pain in the butt of household chores.
5. SHARE THE SCHEDULE
Now you have your schedule there is one crucial thing you need to do.
You need to sit everyone down and go through it with them.
This is the point at which everyone takes on responsibility for doing their share of the cleaning.
You just need to make sure that everyone has access to the schedule so they can stay on track.
YOU’RE ALL SET!
I really hope that this helps you to create a cleaning schedule that works for you and your family.
Something else that will really help you out is having a great cleaning kit.
One of the best things I ever did was buy a cleaning caddy and stock it with a set of cleaning products and tools.
Whoever is cleaning carts it round the house, saving them time, effort and brain bandwidth!
Want to know more?
Read about the mind-blowing (!!) benefits of getting a cleaning caddy and see a list of which cleaning products to put in it.
Eager to find out more about time-saving cleaning hacks and tips?
I’ve got a whole section on Housekeeping tips, plans and schedules to help you minimise the time and effort you have to put into keeping your family home.
And don’t forget to read up on the seven things you can do to change the way you clean that will get the cleaning done faster and more efficiently.
Luci is the founder of Mums Make Lists (Est. 2011). Over the last decade or so, she has used her experience as a mum to create useful guides to organising family life. During that time, she has found the most joy in creating lists of ideas and inspiration to make it easier for busy parents to plan and host kids’ parties and find great gifts. Read more.