I am a member of a large cleaning/laundry tip group on Facebook. One topic which comes up frequently is asking for advice on how to build and stick to a cleaning schedule, especially if the adults work outside of the home or if there are children involved.

Unfortunately, there seems to be some judgement around whether keeping a clean and tidy house should be a high priority when children are young, but let’s ignore that. Let’s assume that the children are getting adequate attention, memories are abundant, and everyone involved has the desire and the means to keep a clean house, shall we?

Creating a cleaning schedule

There seems to be three strategies when it comes to keeping house:

  1. Do it all at once, on a dedicated day;
  2. Do bits and pieces on different days;
  3. Outsource it, i.e. hire a cleaning company/person.

I have always done #2, so that is what I will focus on here.

Before devising a cleaning schedule you have to ask yourself two questions. First, how many days a week do you want to have “chores”. Second, how much time per day are you willing to dedicate to housekeeping tasks? The answers to these questions will, of course, vary. Before I had children, I was able and willing to spend more time daily cleaning. As a result, I was able to clean everything in the house over the course of a week (five days, to be exact). It looked something like this:

  • Day 1: Kitchen & dining room
  • Day 2: Living room, foyer, upstairs hallway, staircase
  • Day 3: Bedrooms (3) and upstairs bathroom
  • Day 4: Office, downstairs bathroom, downstairs hallway
  • Day 5: Rec room and spare room

Since I had no kids, most of this (except for the kitchen, dining room and bathrooms) was a pretty basic dust, vacuum, and mop ordeal.

After my first child was born, this became too much. So, I stretched it out. The whole house got cleaned over the course of two weeks. This didn’t include touch-ups like toilets, counters, etc. After my second baby was born, even that was too much.

My current cleaning schedule

Now, my whole house gets cleaned over the course of a month. Yes, it takes me an entire month to clean my house. I do mop, vacuum, clean toilets, wipe counters, etc more often, of course. But since I do not have any pets and my house is not dusty, I can get away with this. It takes me 30 minutes a day, often less, to do my chores. And since I am focusing on a smaller area, I can do things that before I would glaze over. Now, my schedule looks something like this:

  • Days 1, 2, 3: Kitchen: Cabinets and drawers, countertops, appliances, dusting, floor. I take this time to wipe the cabinets inside and out. The kitchen days are the most time-consuming of the month.
  • Day 4: Dining room. My dining room only contains my table and chairs, so this is quick.
  • Days 5, 6, 7: Living room: Dusting, furniture cleaning (leather conditioning), glass cleaning, floor.
  • Days 8, 9, 10: Foyer and hallways: Dusting, glass cleaning, sweep/tidy the closets, floor.
  • Days 11, 12, 13: Upstairs bathroom: Vanity, dusting, mirrors, tub/shower, toilet, floor, sweep/tidy the linen closet. When I clean the vanity, I wipe out and organize the drawers and cupboard.
  • Days 14, 15, 16: Each of the three bedrooms. A basic dust, vacuum, and mirror clean.
  • Day 17: Utility room: Clean the washer/dryer, sweep/mop.
  • Day 18: Downstairs bathroom.
  • Days 19, 20: Office: Dusting, tidying, floor.
  • Days 21, 22, 23: Rec room: Dusting, vacuum couch, polish wood, floor.
  • Days 24, 25: Play room: Tidy, dusting, floor.

I sprinkle “break” days in there, and voila, a month of house cleaning. This has worked well for me for a few years now. I also tidy up daily. My house, thankfully, is not very cluttered, so it’s easy. Because of the lack of clutter, I can get the house presentable with short notice as well.

How to stick to it

As for how to stick to it? Well, you just have to do it. That’s really all there is to it I have heard that it takes 21 days to form a habit. After that, it becomes part of your routine.

One benefit of having smaller tasks to complete is that it is not as daunting. I find it pretty easy to motivate myself to complete a small, quick task. Maybe withhold your evening treat until your chores are done!

Tips for developing a realistic cleaning schedule