7 Tips for Creating a Cleaning Schedule You’ll Actually Follow

published Nov 1, 2021
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A woman sweeping the floor
Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

When it comes to cleaning, I tend to be all or nothing. I’m either in the cleaning groove a la Monica Geller from “Friends,” or I’ll find any excuse to clean another day. Are you like this, too?

If you are, there are two things you should know. First, you’re not alone: Cleaning burnout is real! Second, there are ways to stop this cycle and create a cleaning schedule you’ll actually stick to. Here’s how:

1. Start small.

Like with most things (I’m looking at you, exercise routine) if you start small with cleaning, you’ll be more likely to stick with it. “Pick a few priorities a day, 2 or 3,” Sara San Angelo, aka The Cleaning Lady, told Apartment Therapy. “Avoid those 50-items-a-day cleaning checklists. You will just get discouraged and will be setting yourself up for defeat. “

Some experts we spoke to suggested starting with 15 minutes and gradually increasing to 20 minutes. Others said you should start even smaller, spending as little as five minutes per day.

It might not seem like a lot, but there’s quite a few tasks you can get done in a few minutes, like making your bed. Which brings us to our second tip.

2. Always make your bed.

Making your bed is a tiny one-minute task that helps keep your home tidy, gives you a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, and sets you up for a more organized and productive day. Who doesn’t want that?

3. Throw things out as you go.

A big part of one’s cleaning schedule should be about getting rid of things that no longer serve you. But that doesn’t have to mean a huge purge where you go through every single thing in your home and ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?”

Instead, try to assess as you go and ask yourself questions while cleaning. Cynthia Halow, Founder of Personality Max, suggests asking yourself:

  • “Am I ever going to use this?”
  • “If yes, what for? And when?”
  • “What is the likelihood of that ‘what’ happening?”
  • “Will this item come in handy ‘when’ it happens?”
Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

4. Schedule time for cleaning daily, weekly, and monthly.

Schedules build routines and routines help you be successful in the long term. Our experts suggested scheduling daily cleanups, even if it’s just five minutes first thing in the morning to make your bed, load (or unload the dishwasher), wipe down countertops, or do a quick vacuum, as well as weekly and monthly cleanups. Put it on your calendar like you would an appointment — and stick to it… most of the time.

5. Follow the two-day rule.

Life happens, and sometimes you’re going to miss that daily cleaning session. And that’s okay, according to Alex Varela, General Manager of Dallas Maids. His advice? Follow the two-day rule. “Never miss the habit you’re trying to form for more than two days in a row.”

6. Get everyone involved.

Cleaning is faster and more fun when everyone has a role to play. Varela says that cleaning can even help your family bond. “Believe it or not, it can improve the relationship with your family — as long as it’s done the right way.” He recommends switching tasks every once in a while so no one gets burned out or feels that they’re doing the worst or hardest jobs all the time.

Diana Rodriguez-Zaba, President of ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba, suggests gathering the entire family and identifying daily, weekly, and monthly chores — and then letting the kids volunteer for specific age-appropriate cleaning tasks.

Rodriguez-Zaba also suggests creating rewards for sticking to the schedule. “This can be something as simple as enjoying one extra family movie night if everyone’s completed their cleaning tasks that month,” she says .

7. Consider an app.

Sticking the cleaning schedule somewhere prominent where everyone can see it, like on your fridge, and mark off cleaning tasks as they are completed is always a good idea. But, if you’re tech-savvy and want to go paperless, consider using a cleaning app like one of these:

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: 7 Tips for Creating a Cleaning Schedule You Can Actually Stick to