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Establishing a Cleaning Routine at Home: Your Housekeeping Checklist

Between work and family schedules, it's easy for "clean my home" to fall to the bottom of your to-do list. But a neat and tidy home doesn't have to be out of reach. Establishing a routine makes it easier to keep track of cleaning tasks.

Here are some considerations for getting started:

Father and son having fun cleaning the kitchen counter.

  1. Decide what rhythm works for you. Do you prefer to spend a few minutes each day on a single cleaning task, or would you rather dedicate one hour weekly to doing everything at once? Consider what's realistic for your schedule and your family's needs. If you have a furry family member that frequently sheds, going an entire week between vacuuming or mopping the floors may not be a feasible option. Likewise, if it's just you at home, setting aside an hour each week to check off all the tasks may be the most efficient way to complete the tasks.

  2. Prioritize based on "non-negotiables" and "nice to haves." Does a cluttered kitchen counter drive you crazy? Maybe a spotless shower or a clean playroom is your must-have. Make a list of everything that needs to be cleaned in your home and then divide this list into daily, weekly and monthly tasks and prioritize based on your non-negotiables. Finally, consider seasonal cleaning needs, like winterizing your house or spring cleaning tasks. Set a quarterly calendar reminder for these to-dos.

  3. Tackle one room at a time. Sometimes making a list of what needs to be cleaned is the easy part. If you're struggling to take action on your list, pick a single room and set a timer for 20 minutes. For example, if you pick the bathroom, your list might include: spray down counters, wipe mirrors, clean toilet, clean shower and empty wastebasket. Stick to these tasks and see how many you can knock out before the timer dings. You'll build momentum for the next room and have a big cleaning task you can successfully check off your list.

  4. Clean as you go. If your life is especially hectic, even finding a few minutes to clean may feel like a challenge. By mid-week, there's a growing pile of laundry and dirty dishes stacked in the sink. If this sounds like your home, try adopting a "clean as you go" routine. Make your bed as soon as you get up to kickstart productivity. Spray your shower down and wipe your bathroom sink and counter off after you use it. Get in the habit of emptying the dishwasher every morning so it's ready to be filled in the evening. Keep a mail sorter in your entryway to catch stray papers and add baskets to living spaces to hold miscellaneous clutter.

  5. Keep clutter at bay. Is clutter buildup sidelining your cleaning routine? When large, flat surfaces are clear, they're visually more appealing and can have a calming mental impact, not to mention being easier to wipe off dirt. It's hard to make counters sparkle when they're covered in junk mail or stray odds and ends. Keep clutter at bay by practicing good habits, like tossing junk mail as soon as you bring it in, putting bills or papers that need to be filed into a "to do" in-box on your desk, and storing rarely used kitchen appliances elsewhere.

  6. Get the whole family involved. Feel like you're always the person tidying up after everyone else? With a cleaning routine and checklist, it's easier for the whole family to see what needs to be done. If you have children, post a "chore chart" on your fridge or family bulletin board that lists age-appropriate daily and weekly tasks. For example, you might have a "morning" and "evening" column of daily chores, like making beds or taking out the trash, that needs to be checked off. Weekly tasks might be weeding the garden, sweeping the porch or cleaning the bathroom. Make weekly chores more fun by setting a time limit and challenging your kids to see how much they can get done and if they can "beat" their previous record.

Family in the kitchen.

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