A quick search on Google for “cleaning schedule” gives 527 MILLION results.
But still… have you found one that really works for you?
When I moved into my first home, I searched schedule after schedule, checklist after checklist, and couldn’t find one that made sense for my home and my personal preferences.
If you have also felt frustrated by generic checklists that don’t meet your needs, you need a schedule that is customized.
Here’s how you can adjust a schedule to make it work for you:
- Remove anything that doesn’t apply to your home.
- Add in all the specifics of your home and possessions.
- Include all types of home care.
- Be honest about your preferences.
- Align your tasks with your ultimate goals.
- Keep your schedule in an editable format.
I’ve spent the past 5 years of homeownership tweaking my schedule based on these considerations – especially #4.
I’m excited to save you all that trial-and-error and help you create a schedule that will reach its full potential 🙂
1. Remove anything that doesn’t apply to your home.
At first glance, this may seem overly simple. And to be fair, it certainly is the most obvious thing to do.
However, many of us don’t take the time to remove tasks that don’t apply to our homes. We just skip over it whenever we reference our schedule, but that has some negative side effects.
- It makes our list longer, which increases our chances of overestimating the time needed and procrastinating.
- It fills our mind with more “clutter” – as if we didn’t have enough responsibilities floating around in there!
- It makes it harder to delegate tasks or work with others, because it requires time and energy to review and explain the list.
What to remove when editing a checklist:
- Check for any rooms that your home doesn’t have: bonus room, office, sunroom, garage, basement, etc.)
- Check for any appliances you don’t own (microwave, ice maker, deep freezer, washer & dryer, wine cooler, etc.)
- Check for any home systems or materials that don’t apply to you (hard/soft water, crawl space/foundation, AC, heating, gas, irrigation, solar, smart home systems, etc.)
- Check for any maintenance items you are not responsible for, if you don’t own your home.
Anything that doesn’t make sense for your home, just delete it!
My only precaution: if you aren’t sure what a task means, do a quick Google search to make sure it isn’t a necessary maintenance task for your home. 🙂
2. Add in all the specifics of your home and possessions.
Now that you have a clean slate, it’s time to ADD what may be missing – because if your list isn’t completely comprehensive, you defeat the purpose of having a checklist at all.
Here’s what I mean.
A checklist is meant to take ALL those tasks you keep track of in your head and put them in a list that does that work for you.
But often, only some of our tasks are in the checklist, and we continue to keep track of all the additional work and exceptions in our minds. This means we are probably still worried about what to do, when to do it, and if things are slipping through the cracks.
It’s worth the time to include every little task on your list, so you can truly rely on it to do this mental work for you. It will bring a lot of clarity, peace of mind, and direction!
Following a similar list from before, consider the specifics of your home that may not be included.
- Do you have any specific rooms or areas in your home that AREN’T included? (mudroom, bonus room, office, home theater, sunroom, garage, basement, etc.)
- Do you have any additional structures on your property? (Workshop/shred, deck, patio, firepit, pool, play set, etc.)
- Do you own any unusual appliances or equipment that need to be cleaned or maintained regularly? (Ice maker, deep freezer, wine cooler, electronics, cooking appliances, etc.)
- Are all your specific home systems or materials accounted for? (Do you have hard/soft water, crawl space/foundation, AC/heating, gas/electric, irrigation, solar, smart home systems, etc.)
- Are there any other home maintenance tasks you find yourself forgetting?
One thing to keep in mind: Nothing is final! You can add to this list whenever you notice or remember tasks that would be helpful to include in your schedule.
3. Include all types of home care.
We often create schedules that are focused solely on cleaning, but we all know a LOT more goes into caring for a home than that.
In order to reap the full benefits of a comprehensive schedule, be sure to include maintenance AND decluttering tasks, as they apply to you.
We’ve already touched on maintenance in the previous section. These are usually time-sensitive and safety-related, so it’s especially important to know you have these covered.
For decluttering, it is much easier to “do this as you go” instead of making it a big project every year. Consider tweaking tasks like “clean the bedroom” to “clean AND declutter the bedroom” to hold yourself accountable.
Bonus, decluttering only makes the cleaning easier!
4. Be honest about your preferences.
While less obvious, I think this is the key in making a cleaning schedule work for you:
Generic checklists reflect someone else’s preferences, personality, lifestyle, and standards. When it is presented in a checklist, we all just accept those as a universal standard for everyone, despite our vast differences.
This can only result in overwhelm, frustration, feelings of failure, and giving up.
What we need to know is that we are free to do what works for us.
As we mentioned before, some maintenance or safety items do need to be completed at a specific time. But everything else is truly up to you.
For example, these are actual tasks recommended WEEKLY on some cleaning schedules I found:
- Clean baseboards
- Wash windows
- Deep clean fridge
I only do these things once a year! 😉
On the other hand, there are a LOT of things I clean more often now that we have a toddler – things I hardly ever cleaned when it was just my husband and me at home.
The point is that everyone has a different definition of what “clean” is – and that’s okay!
As you go through a checklist, or as you are putting one together, think about how often it takes for you to think “I need to clean that.” Then schedule it at that interval.
Maybe your house is really dusty after only a week, maybe it isn’t.
Maybe your toilet gets gross after 3 days, maybe it takes 2 weeks.
Maybe you like clean sheets every day, every week, or every month.
You get the point.
Just give yourself the freedom to be honest about what works for you and release the pressure of living up to others’ standards. They simply don’t apply to you. 🙂
5. Align your tasks with your ultimate goals.
Unfortunately, I know that the advice above can be easier said than done!
We often have deep-rooted expectations of how clean & tidy our homes should be, based on our upbringing, comparison to friends and neighbors, and the constant unrealistic standards of advertising and social media.
If you are struggling to know what would really work for you – especially if you are in a demanding season of life and need to limit your workload – consider shifting your mindset to the ultimate goals you have for your home.
Most commonly, and most fundamentally, we want our homes to provide:
- A personal space to enjoy and rest
- A place to gather
So if you are overwhelmed by expectations or struggling to cut back on tasks, ask yourself:
- Is this task needed to maintain the structural integrity or safety of our home?
- Is this something I need to do in order to enjoy being in my home?
- Is this necessary in order for my family or friends to gather in our home?
You can tweak the questions to match what matters to you. My encouragement is simply to “begin with the end in mind”, as Stephen Covey says, and enjoy the clarity it provides in prioritizing your work.
► Related Resource: 7 Solutions to Make Overwhelming Housework Manageable
6. Keep your schedule in an editable format.
To end on a practical note, make sure that you keep the final version of your schedule in something you can edit — because likely, it won’t be your final version. 🙂
You may make changes as you:
- Decide some tasks need to be done more/less often
- Get rid of items, or acquire new ones
- Move to a new home
- Enter a new season of life
Often, schedules are offered as pretty PDFs but don’t have the option to edit it (unless sometimes you pay for it).
While you may sacrifice “style”, I recommend simply using a Microsoft Word document, a to-do list app, or whatever works for you. It’ll make it much easier to keep your list updated as you go along.
I hope you feel well-on-your-way to a cleaning schedule that really works for you!
If all these tweaks seem like a lot to do on your own and you need something comprehensive & personalized without all the work, I’ve put together an online form to generate a schedule just for you!
I wanted my readers to have:
- Access to ALL the home tasks for cleaning, maintenance, and decluttering consolidated in one place
- Common recommendations related to frequency / time period for each task
- The ability to change that frequency OR completely omit tasks that don’t apply to them
- Their own customized schedule that summarizes their daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal, and annual tasks – all within seconds
If this sounds like what you need, learn more about the Home, Clean Home schedule and full product below.
► “No one helps me clean the house!” — 12 Sanity-Saving Solutions
► Never Run Out of Household Essentials with a Staples Checklist
► 7 Solutions to Make Overwhelming Housework Manageable
PS – don’t miss my free, full “resource directory” here.
Some resources are my own, and some are from other creators. ALL of them will help you overcome what is holding you back from enjoying peace of mind and a home you love.