How to Make a Cleaning Schedule that Actually Works

Growing up, I always thought I would be good at housekeeping. I watched home-making and cooking shows on TV and I read every diy magazine you can think of. At 18, my collection of cleaning and home-keeping books was two shelves high.

And, by the time I left for college, I felt confident that I had absorbed all the necessary information. Success was a certainty. 

My first college apartment was a horrible reality check. Imagine my shock and confusion when I realized that despite my books and perfectly color-coded bins, my apartment was chaos. Dirty dishes piled in the sink, no space to store anything, laundry took weeks to get through. It was awful. 

And I continued to struggle. I spent the next 10 years fixing small problems but never clearing the big hurdles. 

When I bought my first home with my husband, I made it my mission to finally figure out systems that worked. After a couple years of trial and error, I started getting a handle on this whole home-keeping thing.  

So let's start at the beginning. My first big win was making a cleaning routine that actually worked. In order to establish your own, you need to know a couple key things first. 

Here are some basic truths about keeping your house clean:

The only person who is going to clean your house is you. 
There is no magical fairy who runs around dusting and doing dishes while we sleep. Robots and automation are getting us closer to that reality, but, for now, you need to carve out time to clean.

how to make a cleaning schedule that actually works

Chores are exponential. 
If you do not keep up with your cleaning, it will take you exponentially longer to dig out when you get behind. For example, if you do laundry every week, it might take you 5 hours to get through 5 loads. But, if you don't do laundry for 3 weeks, it will take you many days of only doing laundry to dig yourself out. 

You Have to Create Habits and Routines that work for YOUR Life.
The only way to prevent getting buried in chores, is to create habits and routines to stay on top of them.

How do you create these routines? 

Step 1: Break down your household cleaning tasks into two categories. 

1- Tasks that need to get done every day
For example, my Daily Cleaning Tasks are:

  • Dishes

  • Sweep/Vacuum Floors

  • 10 Minute Pick Up

  • Make the Bed

2- Tasks that need to get done every week
My Weekly Cleaning Tasks are:

  • Grocery Shop & Run Errands

  • Clean Bathrooms

  • Dusting

  • Mop Floors

  • Clean Windows

  • Laundry Day

  • Wine Inventory

Step 2: Decide when you will do them. 

Build your Daily Cleaning Tasks into your morning and evening routines. 

My Daily Cleaning Schedule:
Morning - Vacuum Zone 1  & Make the Bed
After Work - Do Dishes
Before Bed - Vacuum Zones 2/3 & 10 Minute Pick Up

Assign each of your Weekly Cleaning Tasks to a specific day of the week. 

My Weekly Cleaning Schedule:
Monday - Grocery Shop and Run Errands  
Tuesday - Clean Bathrooms  
Wednesday - Dusting
Thursday - Grocery Shop and Run Errands  
Friday - Wine Inventory  
Saturday -  Mop Floors and Clean Windows  
Sunday -  Laundry Day

Did you see what happened there? We just created my cleaning schedule. :) 

Need more help? I created a worksheet to help you create your own! Subscribe to The Library and download it now!

Pick The Best Days and Tasks for You

Theming your days is a freeing experience. I can stop worrying about WHEN I will complete my tasks. If I clean bathrooms on Tuesday, I know I don't have to worry about cleaning the bathrooms until Tuesday. The rest of the week, I don't even think about the bathrooms. 

Theme Your Days to Work With Your Life:

There is a specific reason why I chose and assigned each day of the week for my Weekly Cleaning Schedule. 

Mondays and Thursdays I go grocery shopping and run errands.
This is because I do my meal planning in two rounds:
On Sunday, I plan for Monday -Wednesday. 
On Thursday, I plan for Thursday-Sunday. 
Grocery shopping twice a week gives me the flexibility I need to roll with the punches. It is not unheard of for life to mess with my meal plans. 

I also stack errands on grocery shopping days because it's most efficient to do all my driving on the same days. 

Sunday is Laundry Day because that's the day my husband and I catch up on all our tv shows. I can change loads on commercial breaks and we can fold together in front of the tv. This also a great time for me to bathe the dogs (but that's another blog post). 

Wine Inventory gets done on Friday because Friday is Date Night. I'm already in the cellar picking a wine for dinner so I can quickly update my app while I'm there.

You get the idea. 

Your days and tasks will probably differ from mine and that is actually the point. Create the schedule that makes the most sense for you and how you live your life. 

Your success is dependent on your commitment to keeping up with your cleaning schedule. 

Designing your system is 5% of the battle, the rest is actually living with it. This means that no matter how tired you are, you still do your daily habits and weekly cleaning. 

It takes an average of 66 days to create a new habit. If you miss a day or two, it won't prevent you from forming the habit, but, for the most part, you want to complete your habit every day. To help you keep up the momentum, we created a habit chain just for you! Write your new habit on the top and hang it up somewhere you will look at it every day. Check off each day you complete your new habit. Don't break the chain!

Now, I am not a monster. I know that life comes with varying degrees of chaos. Sometimes you will not be able to clean the bathroom on Tuesday. No one will die. Just make sure you get back on track the next Tuesday. 

Keeping up with your system is the true key to success. If you let things go, life math will take over and it will take you more time to get back on track again. 

What if my house is complete chaos right now?

Picasso House. It happens. Please do not struggle to clean your entire house all at once, so you can begin your cleaning schedule. This will only cause exhaustion and frustration. 

Dig yourself out with your Daily Cleaning Tasks first.

Step 1: Stand at the sink and do every dirty dish. Then put them all away.
Step 2: Make the Bed.
The house is looking better already!
Step 3: Put everything away around the house that is out of place. Feel free to get the rest of the humans you live with to help. Do you have items in your home that do not have a home? We'll address that in a future post. 
Step 4: Sweep and/or Vacuum the Floors. 
You're done for the day. Good job!

Then, maintain your Daily Cleaning Tasks and begin your Weekly Cleaning tasks.

It might take you a couple weeks to get through the laundry. That's okay. The goal is progress, not perfection. Eventually, you WILL catch up. Just keep working at it every day. 

Are you ready to take your house back?

You've got this!

Do you love your cleaning schedule? Inspire others! Share your cleaning schedule in the Facebook Group.

Until next time,

xo Katie