Cleaning Schedules Don’t Work

Cleaning schedules do not work. Here's a simple, two-step solution to replace your cleaning schedule, and actually have a tidy home.

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Confession: I am a cleaning schedule dropout.

It’s true. An utter failure.

I’ve tried them all. FlyLady, with her millions of email. CleanMama, paid and unpaid. Around one hundred printable “easy and comprehensive” checklists from Pinterest.

 

I rush in with such determination and naive hope, that this time will be different! I have a well-appointed cleaning caddy, all the tools and cleaners. I know the mechanics of how to clean and I’m betting you do too.

 

What is the (so obvious) problem inherent in every cleaning schedule?

No, it’s not the user. It is the schedule. Each cleaning schedule ties set tasks to set days on the calendar. Schedules require the user to peer into her crystal ball to know when the windows will require washing next winter. The living room is perfectly clean on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but falls into chaos in the lulls between.

 

My routine sets the time for cleaning, building it into my day, but leaves the day’s tasks up to my discretion. In this way, I can stay on top of the unique messes made by my unique family within our unique timeframe.

 

I have two set times of the day for cleaning. While I try to live neatly the rest of the day, these are the heavy-lifting periods.

  1. Put The House To Bed:

 

  • The dishwasher runs
  • Every counter and table is wiped clean
  • The trash goes out
  • All the toys and detritus of life taken back to whence it came

 

  1.  Clean The Dirties In The Morning: with the house a blank slate, I can see what needs scrubbed.
  • Bathroom fixtures
  • Appliances
  • Vacuum, sweeping, mopping etc.

 

Tidying occupies a 15-20 minute nightly period, in which everybody pitches in. Everything out is returned to its rightful place. The house is reset to a state of order, if not perfect cleanliness.

 

The next morning, rejuvenated from sleep, I do the more sterile cleaning tasks.

 

With the house a blank slate, I can see what needs dusted, scrubbed, and polished. I don’t have to exhaust myself picking up every lego, lying in wait to clog the vacuum cleaner. The path is smooth for actual cleaning tasks.

Cleaning schedules don't work! For an easy and manageable way to keep your home #tidy and #clean...

Separating the tidying from the cleaning allows me to do both in less time, with less effort, and see more lasting results.

Like this post? You may also enjoy 5 Time Management Tips for Super Focused Cleaning.

25 comments

  1. Yes! I’m a cleaning schedule drop out too. I never felt like my house was ever actually clean when I went by a schedule. And then what if I missed a couple days because we were just too doggone busy? Love your approach and attitude.

  2. I am basically the same way. I clean when I see that something needs cleaning and sometimes that is more than once a week. Like you, I basically wake up each day with the mindset of tackling something that morning. I’ve tried the schedules, but my life just doesn’t fit into that neat box 🙂

  3. I have never fit into a cleaning schedule, when the house gets bad I think about it for another week, then do the cleaning. I’m bad. ?
    Life is to short to worry about cleaning. ?

  4. I try to tidy the house at the end of each week day but when the weekend comes around my husband and I won’t lift a finger to clean until Sunday night after the kids go to bed. I’ve never been a clean freak so it’s easy for me to let the mess sit, I mostly keep things tidy for everyone else. I agree, schedules just never work for me – I prefer more flexibility in how and when I tackle the chores of life.

  5. Love your quote – so true. This is a bit of my method too – definitely need to keep more of an eye on the clutter at the end of the day. #WonderfulWednesday

  6. Love this! I’ve tried so badly to implement a cleaning schedule. I’m able to maintain it, but not much time for anything else, so my mood takes a hit. Nobody in my family is happy with this. I may have to try your routine for a week and see how it goes. My problem is that I don’t have time in the morning to clean up the dirties because I work 9-5. Sharing this on Twitter, pinning and stumbling. <3

    1. If you’re the first one home in the evening, you could clean before the littles have a chance to untidy the house. It’s still the principle of cleaning from a tidy slate.

      I’m so glad this helped you 🙂 Thanks for sharing it everywhere!!

  7. Great quote! Recently we started doing the 15 minute speed cleaning at our house. It works well… especially when you do it everyday and don’t let things pile up. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing at the #Friday Funday Blog Hop!

  8. I like having a schedule because I tend to not notice what needs to be done or forget how long it has been since I last cleaned it, but I can see how your system would work. Great that you have found a system that works for you.

    1. I feel like there’s a zen koan in there.
      “If something needs cleaned, but no one notices. Is it dirty at all?”

      🙂 Just having fun. I’m glad you have a system that works for you too. That’s what this post is about. Being free to do what works, instead of cramming into a box that doesn’t fit you.

  9. LOL, When the flylady first came out I was skeptical, but everyone else seemed to be having such great luck by following her. So I jumped on board. It took me so much longer to check the site and see what I needed to do, rather than just do it. So I became a drop out rather quickly. And like you said, each family is unique and there are things that we dirty quicker than others, that needed attention. I got pretty burnt out on Shining my sink. LOL I like your idea of the 15-minute clean up right before bed so everything is clean in the morning, it makes for a much much nicer morning when you can wake up to clean counters, doesn’t it? And I like that everyone helps you out. That’s the best.

    1. I could never get onboard with wearing shoes inside, but I’m still a sink shiner! Lol. That’s my favorite Flylady tip.

  10. Lorelei I don’t even know what a cleaning schedule is. I just look around every morning and tackle what needs to be done. That way I don’t get disappointed if everything on my list is not done. I guess I’m old fashioned that way. Now after reading your post I feel a bit better. I am hosting a new link party, Sweet Inspiration and would love it if you joined us, it runs Friday through Tuesday.

  11. Funny, but I do almost the same thing you do…and I clean in little spurts – saves my energy! Thanks for bringing this by Throwback Thursday!

  12. Hi Lorelei, I couldn’t keep to a cleaning schedule if my life depended on it. I work better if I earmark things to do for a couple of days time and if I get them done before hand that’s a bonus.

    As for tidying, I go through phases when I tidy up and others when I think life is too short. Which just depends on how the wind is blowing!

    xx
    Debbie recently posted…It’s A Cat’s LifeMy Profile

  13. Oh my gosh I love that quote from Erma Bombeck! I am kind of a cleaning fanatic, probably should say was, because that was before 4 children. Moving on and letting go of the whole idea of having a clean house all of the time was the best thing ever for me. I do practice the whole putting to bed and fresh start in the morning cleaning routines. That does indeed help to catch the worst of it.

    Thanks for linking up over at the Happy Now. I loved your post and pinned your image!
    Jen recently posted…The Happy Now Blog Link- Up # 11My Profile

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