...because home doesn't happen overnight.

clean house

It’s no secret that one of the perks of living small is a quicker cleaning routine. Our previous house was >2,700 square feet laid out over two floors and it took me a good 1-2 days to clean it thoroughly. At the time, I was working as a pharmacist and eventually I hired a housekeeper to come in once a month for a deep clean. (Initially, I felt extremely guilty and hoity-toity about hiring help. But the first time I came home to a clean house that I hadn’t cleaned, all negative feelings subsided.) I would try to follow a daily cleaning schedule to stay on top of things in between the deep cleans but I felt like I was constantly cleaning. Cleaning that house was the bane of my existence.

Fast forward to 2015 and cleaning still isn’t my favorite pastime but it’s much less painful in a smaller house. Not only do I have less house to clean, I have less stuff to clean. And I love it. I gave up the daily cleaning schedule in exchange for once-a-week whole house cleans. Daily cleaning isn’t necessary in this smaller space and, honestly, I enjoy an entire just-cleaned house. Otherwise, I start thinking about what isn’t clean or what I have to clean the next day.

At first, I did whole house cleans on Saturdays. I thought that everyone would pitch in and things would go more quickly. This went on for months unsuccessfully. Yes, everyone was home. Yes, everyone had a job to do. But it wasn’t quick. At all. We didn’t have a good rhythm. Not to mention, we were spending our rare family time cleaning. And as soon as the house was deemed clean, everyone was home to mess it up again in no time.

So I made the executive decision to stop cleaning house on weekends. Now I clean house on Mondays and, I have to say, it’s wonderful. We do laundry over the weekend but it’s a task that is easily broken up and sprinkled into our schedule with little disruption. On Sunday nights, we do a quick pickup of the entire house. On Monday mornings after everyone is off to school / work, (Mabrey and) I clean. I finally have a good routine and can clean the entire house in a little over an hour. I start wiping, dusting and vacuuming in the kitchen and then work my way into the living room and mudroom. Once the common areas are done, I check off the bedrooms. (Bed linens are washed over the weekend so things go quickly.) I use a Bona floor mop on the hardwoods throughout before moving on to the bathrooms. I finish up in the master bathroom where I clean the tub while I shower to save time. When I’m all done, I have several hours to enjoy a clean house before the post-school / post-work chaos ensues. I savor it.

Of course, we still have daily chores (emptying dishwasher, post-meal cleanup, litter box scooping, wiping down bathroom counters, taking out the trash, putting toys away, etc.) to attend to during the week but those are things that happen regardless. I think the biggest difference with this cleaning routine is that I’m not cleaning in anticipation of guests when I clean on Mondays. It’s more of a maintenance thing and I get to enjoy the fruits of my labor afterward. On the weekends, I’ve stopped fretting about our house’s appearance and focus on the people around me instead. Plus, I realized that most of our guests don’t really notice the difference between a Saturday clean versus a Monday clean (as long as we tidy up, wipe down the bathroom counters and swirl a brush around in the toilets before their visit). One weekend we had our good friends over and when they arrived I was folding a pile of laundry in the living room. My girlfriend said, “I’m so happy to see laundry in your living room! It’s like a real house.”

What about you? How long does it take you to clean your (big or small) home? Do you follow a daily schedule or do you prefer whole house cleans? Do you clean on weekends? Any advice for quicker cleans? Obviously, this routine works for us because I’m home. If you work outside of the house, don’t feel guilty about hiring out if you can afford it! And I would encourage you to choose a day of the week that allows you to enjoy your clean house as much as possible on your time off.

P.S. – A quick cleaning tip from my grandma: Lay old newspapers or used tissue paper on the top of exposed upper cabinetry to collect dust. On cleaning day, just fold up the papers and replace. Easy!

P.S.S. – My quick cleaning tips are: 1) Start with a tidy house. (I’m easily distracted if I have to walk into another room to put something away.) 2) Keep cleaning tools and products close to where you use them. 3) Let little kids wipe down base cabinets and call it done even if you would do it better. 4) Buy a smaller house! Get rid of stuff!

More cleaning-related posts: how I clean the globe lights, how I clean the wood floors.

image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

37 Comments

30.March.2015

this is spot on for my life right now. I work full time and I feel like all I
do is work during the week & clean one the weekend- so frustrating!
I may need to hire some help if we can afford it…
Thanks for this post- it motivates me to find a “routine” and give myself a
break!

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30.March.2015

my advice is more maintenance-like. “don’t delay doing something that takes less than a minute”. it will take longer later when it’s all in a pile or messier/dirtier.

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replied on March 30th, 2015

Yes! I try to tackle little piles of mess as they appear during the week. If not, they add up.

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30.March.2015

We have been talking about and thinking about making change like this lately after spending three springy Saturdays in the house cleaning. This was a timely post for me and I honestly think I’ll inplement some change this week so we can enjoy our weekends.

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30.March.2015

I also clean Monday. I tried cleaning Friday but the house would get so messy on the weekends that I ended up cleaning Monday too so I just quit with Friday. I also tried doing a little each day but that drove me mad because like you said I felt like I was cleaning all the time. I’ve got my bathroom cleaning down to 14 minutes. I have to tell myself that it only takes that long because I hate scrubbing the tub!

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30.March.2015

We have a large house and cleaning it from top to bottom certainly takes a while. I clean the first floor (the floor we use the most) and the bathrooms upstairs on a regular basis and the rest of the house get’s cleaned on an “as needed” schedule. Say we’re having guests over – I clean up the guest room and guest bathroom…etc. I clean my first floor on Fridays, that way it’s nice and clean over the weekend incase we have last minute guests (we have a very social neighborhood). I’ve gotten pretty efficient and speedy with my cleaning – having worked as a housekeeper for a small hotel back in college, I mastered the art of quick, effective cleaning :)

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I am of the do a little each day team. We have two floors and some spaces that aren’t used as frequently. I used to clean those just as adamantly as the other areas of the house but now I just turn the other way. I am trying to keep what needs to be clean clean and not worry about the other areas despite what my perfectionist self would prefer.

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30.March.2015

I have Mondays and Tuesdays off and always clean on Monday. I’m just more productive knowing that I have the next two days to do whatever I want (it’s just me and the dog), and it’s nice to enjoy the clean house while I’m actually home. During the week I try to keep mess to a minimum by at least throwing laundry in baskets and dishes in sinks (and throwing away junk mail! It’s crazy how much of a difference that makes in my living room.) but I otherwise don’t worry about it.

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30.March.2015

I am at the opposite point – we just bought a house that’s 1,900 square foot and I am having a helluva time keeping it to the levels of clean that my peace-of-mind requires. I so want to get a house keeper, but see that money going to other things right now, so I just can’t do it.

Maybe I need to do a daily schedule – the all-day cleaning on weekends sucks. I love your “no cleaning on weekends” rule – maybe that’s the mantra I need to really let myself relax on Saturdays. I’ll work on it – thanks! :)

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30.March.2015

I love your posts about cleaning and housekeeping. They always motivate me!

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30.March.2015

I never clean on weekends – they are reserved for fun and family! I follow a daily cleaning schedule I found on Pinterest a few years ago. It probably takes me about 25 minutes a day to do the daily cleaning and a load of laundry, so I’m back to playing with my kids in no time! It’s great for me, though everyone has their own systems. I like that if I see a messy floor, window, etc. I don’t feel the need to clean it that second, knowing that I’ll get to it on the appropriate day. Instead, I can ignore it and live in the moment. Our whole house is never clean at once, but it’s always pretty well kept, and that’s good enough for me!

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30.March.2015

I work in and out of my house, so I like to have a clean and tidy environment but not spend working hours keeping it that way! My kids are a little older at 10 and 13, so we have productive family cleaning days on Saturday mornings (though now that it’s so nice out, like you, I don’t always love this). The kids aren’t as messy in public areas as they were when younger, so tidying up goes faster. It takes us an hour to clean the house as a family — I deep-clean the kitchen, my husband cleans 1.5 bathrooms and the master, and the kids dust and vacuum the living and dining areas and their bedrooms. We also spread smaller chores out during the week, which keeps our 1700 sq ft house presentable.

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30.March.2015

Cleaning the house on the weekend seems silly to me, we are home and in and out more and make more of a mess, Plus the weekend is for play time. I always clean the house on Monday.

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30.March.2015

As a kid I spent every weekend cleaning according to my mom’s schedule. As soon as I graduated from university and had my first job I hired a housekeeper and have not looked back. When I met my husband he was skeptical saying we could just clean on Saturday, but keeping the cleaning company allowed us to spend our time together and now our time as a family. I am very grateful that I have this help as with both of us working full time, kids and their activities as well as pets, I feel I’d spend every free minute cleaning.

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30.March.2015

I get really frustrated with cleaning. We have a smaller house as well so it’s much easier than it was in the past. It’s just my husband and I, but I feel like our hardwoods get so dirty and dusty so fast. We’re not overtly messy and it drives me nuts. I like the full cleaning because I love how it feels after- seeing and knowing everything is clean. But then I get annoyed daily as I see stuff piling up on the floor. I try to run over it with the Bona mop, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen. I know it’s probably all in my head, but I can’t seem to find a good balance between the full clean and everyday clean. I’d love to read any other routines and suggestions. One thing that really helped me was the last time I cleaned, I asked my husband for help and he had everything picked up and put away in no time, something that takes me forever because I get overwhelmed or distracted. He also did the mopping while I sprayed the floor. He’s 6’9″, so when he does one arm’s swipe the Bona mop, it covers the whole kitchen and I didn’t break my back mopping the entire house! :))

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Love this! I struggle with having any consistency in a cleaning “schedule” because my husbands schedule is different day to day (firefighter), so he may be home some weekends and may be working others. And I do like to spent that precious off time together, so I’m still trying to fin dmy own routine!

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30.March.2015

I was just thinking about this over the weekend. I travel Mon-Fri for my job and just came to the realization that my precious weekends at home are far too chore filled. Since I cannot do the cleaning through the week, the only option would be to hire someone to help and I’m thisclose to doing it. We also have a fairly large property, and I prep our breakfasts and lunches for the week on Sundays, so my weekends are literally loaded with yard work/house cleaning/laundry/cooking. Not fun.

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Our house is in a constant state of disarray. I’m the only ones who cleans regularly in our house but I’m also the only cook too. I stay relatively on top of the kitchen and baths and the vacuuming because we have pets.

My husband thinks he’s the second coming of Jesus when he takes out the trash or starts the loaded dishwasher. getting him to do anything else or on a schedule is impossible.

I’ve just embraced the clutter. If I didn’t I’d have little free time and be quite angry when something got a bit messy.

My husband also works 12 hour days so I understand he doesn’t want to help and we get very little time together as it is. IF we had the budget, I’d hire someone.

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30.March.2015

Everyday we tidy up the living room after our toddler (tornado’s more like it) goes to bed. But we don’t bother picking up after her on Friday or Saturday coz everything is going to be messy as soon as she wakes up the next day.

One thing that we do everyday post dinner is tidy up the kitchen. We cook a lot, so the counters get a wipe down, dishwasher gets loaded. Also, I unload the dishwasher as soon as I get time since it prevents the procrastination of loading the dishwasher.

We have cleaners come in every other Monday. Like you I was so against having someone else come in to clean the house. But post kid, the feeling of coming to a clean and tidy house is amazing. So thankful for cleaners!

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30.March.2015

I’ve been struggling with the guilt of hiring out for the longest time! Part of my new year’s resolution was to just go for it. Then, the control freak in me emerged and I began to think that I could probably do a better job than whoever I hire! Needless to say, I haven’t hired anyone yet. :(

Like you, I have realized that I like to have an entirely clean house at one time, so getting it all done in a day works best for me. Luckily, even though I work full-time, I do work from home 1-2 days a week. I tackle laundry and cleaning on those days and it’s working great!

I still like the idea of having someone do the deep cleaning for me, though. Any suggestions on how to get over wanting to control the process?

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30.March.2015

I have 2 little kids so my house is on a very long temporary cleaning hiatus. Make sure you have rugs and carpet where you can see the vacuum marks. Vacuum and diffuse some lemon essential oil and everybody thinks you just cleaned your house.

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This post resonated with me for so many reasons, Dana! Growing up, my mom dedicated all day Saturday to cleaning the house and she did is resentfully. I swore to come up with a cleaning schedule I could adhere to without resent. Since becoming a SAHM, I’ve found myself enjoying the weekend with my family (we really live in our home especially on the weekends) and shifting my cleaning towards Monday. We seem to get the house less dirty during the week so it’s almost like more reward for the effort. When I do go back to work, I’m hiring help because I appreciate a clean house and don’t want to spend half the weekend cleaning it. My husband is gone so much of the time for work I want to enjoy our time together as a family.

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30.March.2015

Yes! Because I’ve been lazy, I let the housework pile up until the weekend but I’m going back to cleaning a little each night. When I get home, I still have energy so I think if I pick 1-2 tasks each night, I can keep the house clean all of the time.

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30.March.2015

Mondays are my cleaning day too, I hate to waste valuable family time scrubbing! I just can’t handle those one chore a day lists either. I would feel like I’m always cleaning! Our (very) little kids have their daily chores like taking their plates to the sink and doing a toy clean up before bed, and I can knock out the real cleaning in a couple of hours.

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30.March.2015

That’s pretty much how I roll too! I’m a shift worker – 4 on, 4 off – so on my last day off I take the morning to do a thorough clean, and then I can relax the rest of the day. I love going to bed that night in fresh linens…perfect way to start the work week! I still do some touch ups through the week, making sure stray items are put away in their rightful place, vacuuming the floors – both my cat and I shed a lot! Haha. It’s super quick to clean my home too – it’s not too big, it’s just right:)

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30.March.2015

The Bona mop has saved me! I’m so glad you have recommended it before, and mentioned that it’s non-toxic. I’m really fussy about cleaning products and chemicals. I simply dust mop, and swipe the hardwoods with the Bona and they look sparkly clean. Easy-peasy and it leaves a great finish. I have MS, so saving energy that I can use on something else is such a win :-)

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30.March.2015

We both work from home and make our own hours, so weekends are not really weekends for us. Still, I do a whole day of cleaning during the week and I do laundry throughout the week. A load of laundry per day never really feels like work to me, but when it piles up throughout the week and I spend all weekend setting alarms to remember the clothes in the dryer or trucking laundry out to the line, it feels like a major chore. Plus, I really like my laundry room clean and clear of clothes lying about. So that I do throughout the week.

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30.March.2015

I used to have a schedule, and the entire house got cleaned on that day, with a floating laundry day (usually every 6 days) Then I had a child, and the cleaning got moved to Sundays, since those were the days he was at his grandma’s house. Then I had a 2nd child, and it just all fell to pieces. For the past 3 years I’ve been in “survival mode” when it comes to cleaning, and the house has been pretty dingy at times. But, I’m getting better, and looking into different ways of cleaning, and that seems to be helping. I was very pro-environment and wanted to make my own cleaners, but for things like my floors, that just made it harder to clean them. So, I went and got a store bought floor cleaner, and it is SO MUCH BETTER. Omg. Sometimes, natural just doesn’t work.

I’ve also finally, found a dishwasher detergent that works with my dishwasher (and learned to clean said dishwasher on a regular basis), and so I no longer feel fed up with that.

Now, I’m just working on getting it all on a schedule. Laundry day (clothing) is on Fridays. I tried to do bedding on Wednesdays, but that puts a lot of pressure on me to get it all done by my daughter’s naptime, so I might move that to Sunday, since they are not at home most of that day. Even though it’s supposed to be my day “off”. I might try making Thursday my “clean the house”-day.

Do you meal plan by the way? I read about people saying it’s so great, so I’ve been giving it a shot. This week, I remembered to plan the meals. :P

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31.March.2015

I used to be an obsessively clean and organized. So much that I drove my husband crazy.

Then I had a baby. I stay home with him but I just can’t seem to ever be caught up even two and a half years later. I need to find a new groove that works with my kid and my chronically ill pets because the clutter and dust allergies are slowly drives me insane. I like the idea of a Monday cleaning day. I should go back to a day for the bulk of the work since we’re always trying to spend as much of the weekend having quality time as possibly.

I need one of those chore schedules that includes “Help your toddler sweep the kitchen for ten minutes”, “Remember to clean up after the sick cat as soon as you’re done cleaning up after the sick dog for the third time today.”, and “don’t forget to find all the bunny crackers hiding in their new homes around the living room”

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01.April.2015

It is interesting that you and others don’t have housecleaners. Most of my friends work at least part-time (as do I) and most hire someone at least once a week. If I bumped up to full-time, I would definitely hire help, too. (And as I live in SoCal, everyone has fairly small houses.) I try to do a larger cleaning (vacuuming in all the rooms, cleaning bathrooms) Friday after my morning class so that the house looks presentable for the weekend in case we have company or someone drops by!

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02.April.2015

I do my whole housing cleaning on Thursday. My husband and I enjoy going into the weekend with a clean and orderly house. On Monday is when I do the “touch up/pick up”. Works for me!

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[…] Why I Stopped Cleaning My House on Weekends over on House*Tweaking is a very convincing piece. I think I will try her method out for myself. […]

09.April.2015

I have the same philosophy, but my cleaning day is Friday, so that I can enjoy said clean house all weekend long. The Sunday night pickup is usually enough to get us through just fine to the following Friday.

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16.April.2015

I clean usually on Friday night or Saturday morning, and I clean the kitchen first, bathrooms second, and then vaccuum/dust/clean/put stuff away. I usually get distracted with a decluttering/organizing task every week. There’s always some shelf or drawer that is in pure chaos!

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21.April.2015

I am in the do-something-every-day camp, and it is working amazingly well for me. I think it also is combined with the fact that I don’t let things get bad to begin with, which took me a loooong time to realize I could do. Plus now my kids are 5 and 7, so they are able to help get EVERYTHING up off the floor for me so I can vacuum quickly. Gosh, I remember back in college I would have crazy top-to-bottom all-day cleaning sessions because I would let my apartment get so sloppy and, yes, dirty! Gross. Now I’m kind of clean-obsessed — which is why I am thrilled to see this post and read comments! Aside from the everyday stuff that needs to be done, I keep a list for the occasional cleaning stuff, such as scrubbing the fridge, thoroughly cleaning out kitchen drawers, etc. I have gotten really good about DECLUTTERING; I pretty much am always going through stuff that lands in the house from school and the mail. That helps a bunch, too. I love knowing what all we have in this house and where it is. It sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s not easy to get there. This is a very self-congratulatory comment. Well, I am proud of my efficiency these days. :)

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07.December.2015

I try to split my cleaning and every day I clean different part of the home. Like this I keep the home clean and at the same time I don’t get pressure or to rush to clean the whole house in one day.

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You made a very good decision by ditching cleaning on weekends. Weekends are for resting and having fun, not cleaning. We have a similar plan at home, we spend our weekends having having fun, going out and being lazy, and we do cleaning chores during the week. Once a month we spend 1 entire weekend day to do a general cleaning of the entire apartment. And I must say that we are both happier this way. Of course, we have a schedule which helps us be organised at all times.

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