How to Create a Cleaning Schedule That Works For You

Cleaning Schedule that Works

Over the years I have received more than a few reader questions about cleaning, organizing, and decluttering.  It seems that we all want to have a neat and orderly home, but not all of us know exactly how to get there.  And let’s face it, life can get chaotic and busy with too much to do and not enough time to get it done.

Since these are areas that I constantly need to work on in my own home, I thought that this year it would be awesome to dedicate some more in-depth posts–and even a few series–to the true art of keeping house.  I’m starting today with this post on how to create a cleaning schedule that works for you, which will be followed next month by an 8-week Beginner’s Guide to Cleaning series and then a second 8-week Beginner’s Guide to Organizing series.   And then, in October, I am going to tackle a brand new 31 Days series—31 Days to a Clutter-Free Life, which will focus on ridding our lives of all that excess STUFF that holds us back!

Are you excited?  I know I am!

So let’s get started!

First, for those of you who don’t even understand what a cleaning schedule is, let me break it down for you.  A cleaning schedule is basically just a daily, weekly, or monthly plan for how you will clean your house.  It can be as simple as one main task per day or as complex as a spreadsheet that accounts for every single housekeeping task that needs to be done over the course of a year.  It really is up to you.

If the idea of creating any sort of cleaning schedule sounds overwhelming, try not to worry—I promise it is not as bad as it sounds.  In fact, as you will see below, you can do it in three easy steps! The point of a schedule is not to make you feel guilty or to make you have more to do, but to actually relieve guilt and to create a routine that gives you more freedom and less stress.  Knowing that you have a workable, manageable plan to tackle those sticky sinks and dusty dressers makes the idea of cleaning house seem a lot less overwhelming in the long run.

So bear with me.  We can do this.  I promise.

Step 1:  Create a Master Task List

Before you can decide when to clean you must first know what to clean, and how often.  Thus before you can create a cleaning schedule that works for your life and your schedule, you need to assess your own home and cleaning needs.  A cleaning schedule for a childless couple living in a 1-bedroom apartment will look very different from a cleaning schedule for a homeschooling mom of five living in a 4-bedroom house!

You can start with the following master list and then customize it to fit your own home’s needs:

LWSL Master Cleaning List

 {Get your LWSL Master Cleaning List here}

Step 2:  Pick the Best Plan for YOU (Choose ONE)

The next thing you need to do is figure out what sort of cleaning plan will work best for your life and your schedule.  Are you the kind of person who wants to do a little every day, or would you rather tackle it all at once so that you don’t have to think about it for the rest of the week.  Do you work full time or are you home during the day?  Do you have young children at home or are your kids old enough to help shoulder some of the responsibility?

There is no one “right way” to keep house, and there is no universal cleaning schedule that will fit every household’s needs.  Ultimately you have to take the time to determine what sort of schedule will be both realistic and doable for your own needs. While you should take the time to consider all of the following plans, please don’t think that you need to DO all of them.  Instead, pick the ONE plan that seems like it will be the best fit and try it out for a while.  If you hate it, you can always try something else!

Here is a rundown of the most common options:

Option A:  Daily Speed Cleaning

If you are like me and have a hard time functioning when your house is messy, this may be the best option for you.  I have personally found that running through my speed cleaning routine every day keeps things relatively neat and tidy all the time so that there isn’t usually a need to “deep” clean quite as often.  When I am following this schedule I will spend about 60-75 minutes cleaning each day, between the daily tasks and doing 1 or 2 weekly tasks each day.  I use the following printable daily and weekly checklists to help me stay on track.

Daily To-Do List

 {Get your printable Daily To-Do List here}

Weekly To-Do List

{Get your printable Weekly To-Do List here}

Option B:  Timed Sessions

This type of cleaning plan follows a master list of weekly tasks.  You set aside a certain amount of time each day—ideally 45-90 minutes—to work your way down the list.  When the timer is done, you stop, then pick up where you left off the previous day.  The following worksheet can help you create your master list:

My Weekly Master Cleaning List

{Get your printable Weekly Master Cleaning List here}

Option C: One Room or Major Task Each Day

This type of cleaning plan sets aside certain tasks to do on each day.  For instance, cleaning the bathrooms on Monday, doing laundry on Tuesday, Vacuuming on Wednesday, etc.  The time spent cleaning each day will vary based on the task set aside for that day.  You can use the following worksheet to set up this plan:

My Weekly Cleaning Plan

{Get your printable Weekly Cleaning Plan here}

Option D: Everything in One Day

This type of plan saves everything for one big long cleaning day each week.  This can be a good option if you work during the week and would rather clean on the weekends, or if your kids are older and everyone will pitch in to get all the chores done fast. For this type of plan you can just pick two or three monthly, quarterly, and annual tasks to tackle each cleaning day.

One fun idea for families with older kids is to take a deck of cards and write down one task on each card.  You can also use the printable set of cards below!  On cleaning day the cards are shuffled and dealt, and each family member is responsible for completing the tasks on their cards, or for trading to get different tasks they’d rather do.

Family Cleaning Cards!

 {Get your printable Family Cleaning Cards (4 pages) here}

Step 3:  Fill in Your Schedule

This is the easy step!  Once you’ve determined what sort of cleaning plan will work best for your household, just use the handy printables in this post to fill in your cleaning schedule.  Choose the corresponding printable to your plan above, then use the calendars below to schedule your cleaning days, as well as keep to keep track of the monthly, quarterly, and annual tasks that you need to remember.  Or, if you prefer digital schedules, you can use other options such as Google Calendar,  iCalendar for Mac, or even on online cleaning scheduler such as chorebuster.net.

My Cleaning Schedule

{Get your printable Monthly Cleaning Schedule here}

Monthly:Quarterly:Annual Cleaning List

{Get your printable Monthly-Quarterly-Annual Cleaning List here}

Although it might seem overwhelming at first, creating a cleaning schedule that works for your own home and family life can be incredibly liberating.  Suddenly instead of a big daunting mess in front of you, there is a workable plan to take care of it.  What are you waiting for?

*   *   *

What is your current cleaning schedule?  What changes do you plan to make?

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{ 45 comments… add one }

  • Holly February 18,

    This. Is. Awesome. Did you me squeal when I read that you are going to do a series on cleaning AND one on organizing AND one on decluttering? Eeeeeeek! Can’t wait!!!

    Reply
  • Kay (A Ranch Mom) February 18,

    Awesome! I am just re-working my cleaning schedule, and this is really going to help me. Thanks, Ruth!

    Reply
  • Andrea February 18,

    I am interested in printing your Master Cleaning List, but all the link is giving me is to the Weekly cleaning list.

    Reply
    • Lisa February 18,

      me too :(

      Reply
    • Ruth Soukup February 18,

      Sorry about that! The link is fixed now! :-)

      Reply
      • Anonymous February 18,

        Thank you!

        Reply
  • April February 18,

    Where is the Master List? The link takes me to the Cleaning list, but not the Master Schedule.

    Reply
    • Ruth Soukup February 18,

      The link is now fixed–sorry about that! :-)

      Reply
  • Donna February 18,

    Master Cleaning List….link giving me weekly cleaning list.

    Reply
    • Ruth Soukup February 18,

      Hi Donna, the link is now fixed. So sorry about that!

      Reply
  • Cayla February 18,

    I managed to guess the link to the Master List based on its name. Here it is until Ruth gets a chance to update. :) http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/wp-content/documents/LWSL%20Master%20Cleaning%20List.pdf

    Reply
    • Ruth Soukup February 18,

      Wow that is pretty impressive–thanks Cayla! :-) It is all fixed now!

      Reply
  • Meghan February 18,

    How can you make changes to the master list? Or can you? When I open it in PDF it doesn’t allow me to change the document. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Ruth Soukup February 18,

      The PDF not modifiable. You can just write in your additional tasks or use my chart as a model for creating your own. Sorry! :-(

      Reply
  • Maureen February 18,

    You are fantastically more organized than I am. I am a haphazard cleaner. I have a funny cartoon on my fridge that states “If it weren’t for the occasional visitor, nothing in this house would get cleaned.”

    Reply
  • Leah February 19,

    This post is soo helpful. I can not stand a cluttery and filthy house unfortunately my house always ends up that way, no matter how I try. Im gonna try Option A, I thinks its the simplest. Thanks Ruth!
    PS Just found your site a week ago. Ive been reading your blogs at work. Hehehe. Thanks again! Youre such an inspiration. God bless you and your sweet family!

    Reply
  • Suzanne February 19,

    These are great! My schedule is so crazy that cleaning can be challenging. I am going to really think about creating a schedule to make it happen smoother and easier… Your options should make that process a whole lot simpler!! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  • Anna Holloway February 19,

    I have tried SO many cleaning schedules that all proved unsuccessful. It looks like I might be able to find one that ACTUALLY works for me! Thanks!

    Reply
  • Shailynn February 19,

    Oh my gosh these are so stinkin cute and helpful! Thank you so much. I can’t wait to print one and use it.

    Reply
  • Sandi @ A New York Foodie February 19,

    thanks Ruth for your cleaning tips and schedules!! This looks perfect to get everything organized! :) Have a great evening!

    Sandi

    Reply
  • Beth February 19,

    WOW – what a great post! I am housekeeping challenged, and have not one clue how to plan out a schedule. I have tried some things, and they’ve been OK, but being able to customize this for my family will be perfect. Thank you so much for all your awesome printables and plans!

    Reply
  • Casey R. February 21,

    I used to clean one room a day at my old house. I got off schedule when we moved. This is a great post for me to find today because I was just planning on making a new cleaning schedule for myself. Thanks so much!

    Reply
  • Allison February 21,

    Thank you for the work you have done! I have been so unmotivated this year to keep up with my housework. Your plan has refreshed my routine. Love your blog- your tips, ideas, and your sweet personality. Thanks for putting so much of yourself into it.

    Reply
  • Barbie February 23,

    I put my cleaning schedule in an old picture frame and hung it in the utility room, then I can mark things off on the glass with a dry erase marker as they get done, then wipe it off at the start of the next week. Gives me a good feeling of accomplishment and saves paper!

    Reply
    • Anonymous March 21,

      Great idea!

      Reply
      • Anonymous April 15,

        Or print and put in page protectors, dry markers work on them, too!

        Reply
  • Katia February 24,

    I’m a stay at home mom of 4. My oldest is 19 and my youngest, 11. Up until today I’ve had a woman come in to help every day with cleaning and cooking but she just gave me notice that she needs to rest (or is looking for a new position) so we´ll be on our own in about 3 weeks. I’ve always done the laundry and was just starting to train the kids to put away their clean clothes when she started doing it so it woud be done faster. I must confess that we all became lazy and confident that there would always be someone else to pick up after us and now we all have to get back on track. I think your tips are great and I will start to plan my own cleaning schedule right away. I’ll let you know how it works out. The kids are very helpful as long as they know what they´ve got to do so I’m optimistic

    Reply
  • Karen Yocum February 27,

    I’m hoping I can integrate SOME of this plan into our week! Hubby & I both work full time with 3 kiddos to cart around…with only two of them in ONE activity each! The idea of honestly finding an entire HOUR a day to clean? I may get 10 minutes in the morning & 20-30 at night! We manage to keep our dishes clean & clothes clean, but the rest of the clutter is enormous! We have a mass clothes folding party one night a week, & I get maybe one day a month where we over-haul the living areas, but my poor laundry room & closets suffer. Lots of boxes being brought in to toss/recycle/donate most of our mess! Wish me luck!

    Reply
  • sunusi Mustapha March 4,

    am just joint now

    Reply
  • Renee March 4,

    Thanks for these GREAT printables, Ruth! I can’t wait to print them and really tackle my cleaning schedule. I work full time, so I think I’m more of a “do a little every day” type of cleaner! Cross your fingers for me! haha

    Reply
  • Karen March 4,

    Thanks so much for your lovely cleaning list formats. I have fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety, and chronic fatigue, among other things, so I often get very little done. I’m home all day on disability, but much physical or mental exertion on any given day will lead to one or more days laid up afterward. And my husband is self employed as a handyman and tends to use our living/dining space as his winter workshop/office. And I have piles of mail that I am so overwhelmed by covering much of my dining table. I got a filing system that worked well for quite a while, but when it came time to change years, I stalled out and filing just piled up (and that was at the beginning of 2013, not this year – yikes!). I say all this to say that I’m hopeful, after seeing your different schedule options, to come up with something that works for me by combining things on a weekly planner but giving myself flexibility to have my unplanned down days. Thank goodness my house is small! I’ll also use the monthly planner, maybe more as a honey-do list. :) I want to figure out which weekly list works best for me, make one very similar, all filled in, then save it as my desktop screen background so I see it every day. You’ve given me hope with so many options that allow me to 1) not have to think it all up myself, and 2) toy with each style to find what works best for my situation. And just in time for lent. Rather than giving something up, I’ll be focusing on being a less haphazard cleaner. Again, thank you so much!

    Reply
    • Kim March 14,

      Karen, check out flylady.net if you haven’t already. She breaks down cleaning into zones and short, daily tasks. Between Ruth and the Fly Lady, my house and finances are better than ever.

      Reply
  • Jeanne March 4,

    Thank you for this series. I am a stay at home mom and I keep my home relatively clean, but it is such a chore. I have tried doing one major task each day, but my schedule changes constantly so it would throw me off. I am excited to try the timed sessions. I always get distracted constantly cleaning clutter and dishes that the other items get put off. I like that this system will let me choose what I want to do depending on my mood and keep me focused. You are a blessing, I have learned so much from your blog!

    Reply
  • Sharon March 6,

    Love it, Love it love the thought of having a clean house all the time. We are also remodeling our house. so clearing one room to paint of lay floors or whatever will cause a few problems. I am sure I can make this work. Maybe I can make note of why the bathroom was not cleaned in the month of April….oh, no bathroom to clean just sheet rock dust. lol

    Reply
  • Amy Strouth March 7,

    What a blessing this is! I found this post as a result of working through Part 1 of your new cleaning series. I recognize how much work you must have put into this and I am so grateful!! Ugh I needed this. Weather around here is ugly and it feels like winter will never end. And man, there is no better reminder of how dirty and cluttered your house actually is than when you’re stuck inside of it 24/7. So, just thought I’d stop by and say thank you. SOOO looking forward to working through your cleaning series, as well as the de-cluttering series in October! Thanks for all you do, Ruth! I admire your work.

    Reply
  • Amanda March 21,

    Oh my this is amazing… I wish I would of seen it earlier !! I Definitely did some printing and I’m so looking forward to adding this to my plans !!! I’m taking a personal planning day next week… I’m so exciting. Thank you for this wonderful blessing !!!!
    Have a great weekend,
    Following from http://livinginhismercyandgrace.blogspot.com/

    Reply
  • Janet March 23,

    Good idea. This gives me a place to start.

    Reply
  • Genevieve April 25,

    Love the PDf’s for the cleaning schedule! Thank you for sharing! I am making a post for my blog in cleaning tips and am adding a link to yours.

    Reply
  • jane April 27,

    I can’t believe people squeal with excitement over a cleaning rota. Tell me you’re joking!!

    Reply
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  • sarah May 14,

    I struggle so much with orginization and house cleaning. I’ve seen your speed cleaning, and although I think it is the most efficient sounding have not been able to work it into my schedule with 4 kids, the youngest being an infant and never giving me sufficent amount of time to do it. I never even thought about option b, that sounds perfect, something I can do in 15 min chunks throughout the day! Love it, going to start today!

    Reply
  • Erin Smith July 15,

    Hey Ruth,
    Wow thanks for putting so much time and effort into this post! All those printables are awesome!! Sigh when it comes to cleaning my house sometimes I get so overwhelmed and I just sit there looking at the mess and wonder how it got so bad. Then it’s so bad that I don’t know where to start then I don’t do anything lol. I have found that doing 1 room at a time works best for me. Usually when I clean I feel like I can’t just do a quick clean . . . I feel the need to make it CLEAN. So when I put all my effort into 1 room for an hour it gets done very well.

    It’s also helped my husband and I to figure out what chores we prefer to do. For example I always do the bathroom and he always does the dishes. Course we help each other out when we need it but it’s much more bearable when you don’t have to do something you hate doing.

    Reply
  • Andrea Meyer @ My Clean House August 11,

    Super helpful information here, being organized while cleaning is a must!

    Reply
  • Donielle August 22,

    Thanks so much for these! I’m coming out of the post partum fog and sooo ready to get my house back in order. :-)

    Reply

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