Tips for staying on top of the household cleaning

In the PWK survey last year, there were a number of questions along these lines:

  • Do you have a cleaner and if not how do you fit that in on top of everything else??
  • Should I pay for a cleaner?
  • How can I be more organized with cleaning home?
  • How do you keep up to your high standards?

I will address the cleaner one first. I have had times where I have had a cleaner on a fortnightly basis when I have felt I just can’t keep on top of things. The last time I had one was when our youngest was in his first year of life – he is now 6! If budget allowed now though, I would happily pay a cleaner once a fortnight to come in and do all the big cleaning jobs. I don’t love cleaning and would have no qualms about someone else doing large chunks of it for me.

While I still like the house to be clean, I have learnt to let go a little. Household cleaning is one of those tasks that for me at least is never really finished! There is always something else that could possibly be cleaned or it could be the floor that I have just mopped is then run all over by a child who forget to wipe their feet before they came into the house.

If you visited our house, you would not see a pristine home. I like to have the home clean and tidy, but not to a level that means all that I am doing is cleaning. Here are some tips for how I stay on top of the household cleaning:

Know your main things

There are certain things in the house that if they are dusty, dirty or untidy drive me crazy. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen for example so if the cupboards have all dirty marks over them or the fridge is grubby from little hands, I find it agitating.

I know what areas of the house are my triggers and make sure that they are addressed before others. While it doesn’t necessarily mean I get more done, it makes me feel better!

Share the workload

Everyone in our family has some type of cleaning tasks to complete each week. You can see full details in our Family Contribution Schedule, but I have listed one example of the type of tasks they complete are as follows:

  • Dad – Vacuums the whole house on Sunday
  • Mum – Cleans kitchen
  • Master 16 – cleans main family bathroom
  • Master 14 – cleans the living room windows
  • Miss 11 – dusts two rooms
  • Master 8 – Wipes down the couches
  • Master 6 – dusts the living room

Not all of these tasks are done perfectly, but there is improvement from the younger ones so it is something that I stick with. They will only learn how to clean by doing it. As the kids do clean in our house, it is one of the biggest reasons we make sure we have cleaning products that have no nasties in them. Cleaning products from blog sponsor ecostore use the least number of chemicals at the lowest concentrations in their product formulations.

Schedule it in

As part of my weekly schedule, I block out time for household cleaning. I have found that cleaning is an activity that will fill the amount of time you allocate to it. To prevent me from spending 45 minutes on a task that could be completed in half the time, I try to schedule it when there are boundaries.

In my school morning routine for example, I will wipe down the table, the kitchen benches, the cupboards if needed, but as I know we need to leave the house by a certain to make it school on time. I stick to my task, work quickly through it and stay focused.

When I had little ones with me at home and finding an uninterrupted hour to do housework was impossible, I would use 15 minutes blocks (that is pretty much what I do some mornings before school if there is time). I would schedule them in to do as soon as we came home from the school run.

15 minute blocks are a powerful tool in keeping the house clean. You choose a task that you know can be completed in 15 minutes and set a timer and get started! If you have little ones, it is often possible to set up an activity that will keep the occupied for this period of time. For mums if you know you only have to stick at a task for 15 minutes it can often seem more doable. Then if the kids are still occupied happily and you feel like it you can complete another 15 minutes task after that.

Some examples of cleaning tasks you can do in 15 minutes (0r less) are:

  • Clean a toilet
  • Wipe down bathroom benches and mirrors
  • Dust one/two room/s
  • Wipe down the skirting boards in a couple of rooms
  • Vacuum the high traffic areas of the house
  • Mop the floor in the main area
  • Wipe down the light switches and light shades
  • Wipe down and wash out the inside bins
  • Wipe down the blinds in the main area

Create cleaning caddies

I wish I had started uses cleaning caddies so much earlier than I did. They make being able to do quick cleaning job so much easier. Because I know I have everything in the caddy that I need to do the job, it cuts out some of the procrastination like “I would have to find everything I need and I don’t have that much time”. I wrote a post on how to cleaning caddies which you can read here – Creating a cleaning caddy to make cleaning easier and more efficient.

Leave the room in a better state

As you move from room to room through out your day, make your goal to leave each room you enter in a better state than when you entered it. This might mean picking things up and putting them back in their place or it might mean using the caddies I just mentioned and wiping all the toothpaste deposits from the bathroom sink before you leave.

By having forefront of your mind, that you are going to leave each room in a better state, you begin looking at things differently and I have found it helps me stay on top of the household cleaning. For example as I walk around the house on school mornings on the day I am going to vacuum, I will make sure I pick up everything I can, so when I come back in from the school run, I can just get to vacuuming.

 How do you stay on top of the household cleaning?