Ever wonder what should you clean first? Here’s a real-life example of how you can decide what to clean (and when to clean it).
Reader question: I guess what I struggle with the most is trying to find where to start in my day. More than anything, what do I clean first? What do I do first so that by the end of the day or when my hubby gets home, the house can look at least somewhat clean or I can feel I’ve accomplished something?
As I walk through the house I ALWAYS find something else I need to do and even the smallest thing can throw me totally off because I’ll forget to go back to what I was supposed to be doing. LOL!!! It’s a mess. (No pun intended!)
And even if you know where you should start, following through each day is a challenge. (As a very distracted homemaker, following through is my personal weakness.)
To help figure out what I need to clean and when I should do the work, I like to flip the decision around in my mind. That way, I’m thinking more about what I want my end product to be each day.
Once I get a picture in my mind, then I work backward throughout my day.
Because I homeschool my children, I know our home is going to get messy. If I clean in the morning, it’s useless, because I know it’s completely unrealistic to keep our home neat all day long. It’s also completely unrealistic for me to spend all day cleaning.
But, if we stop all of our school work about an hour before my husband gets home, we can pick up our messes and do our daily cleaning chores. It takes about 15 to 30 minutes, and just so happens to coincide with when he gets home from work. Our cluttered home surprisingly transforms into a haven.
Even if I know our cleaning needs to begin in the afternoon, it can be tricky to decide where to start cleaning.
Here are 5 tricks that help me take care of my home every day:
1. Set a time every day when I need to tend to my homemaking chores.
While my cleaning could be first thing in the morning, mid-afternoon works really well for me. Because of this, I don’t even think about cleaning the rest of the day. I add cleaning the house to my to-do list, and get to it only when it’s time.
2. Know my Non-Negotiable Daily Chores. And do them.
When it comes to caring for my home, certain things need to get done every single day. No exceptions. I need to wash and dry a load of laundry, wash all of our dirty dishes, make my bed each morning, and pick up our clutter every day.
As long as I do those four things each day, I count my day as a homemaker as a success.
Sure, I always have dozens of other projects around my home that could or should be done, but I don’t sweat them. On days when I’m home all day long, I’ll try to start one of these projects, as long as I know I have enough time to finish it. I fit them in when I can, and when I do, I feel like I’ve accomplished something pretty big.
3. Stick to one room at a time.
I can be easily distracted by messes in different rooms. But once it’s time to start cleaning, I force myself to stick to one room. Typically, I start with my living room (because the front door is there, just in case we have unexpected visitors). Then I move on to my dining room. When I’m finished picking up those two rooms, I move on to the kitchen.
Most days, those rooms are all I can get to before I need to do something else. But when I make a little more time for cleaning, I do a quick clean in our bathroom.
After that, our bedrooms are the priority. (I don’t usually get to the bedrooms very often, though. I’m trying to make them a priority every six weeks, in hopes that they’ll be fairly easy to tackle.)
Once those rooms look great, I work on closets and other storage areas. Usually those are pretty messy, though, because I just don’t have the time – or take the time – to focus on them.
4. Clean with a pattern.
As I stick to cleaning just one room at a time, I try to clean in some sort of a pattern. I’ll pick a corner and work my way around the room, clockwise.
I also focus on doing one chore at a time. So, I’ll declutter first in a clockwise motion. If I do deeper cleaning, then I’ll dust in the same direction. Then I’ll vacuum.
5. Surface cleaning is fine … for most of the time.
If you’re busy or feeling overwhelmed, just try cleaning the surfaces. Get rid of the clutter. Make things look basically clean.
If you can’t get to the dust bunnies, or you don’t have time to vacuum – and they’re not creating obvious eyesores – it’s OK to let them slip until you have more time. You don’t have to expect a perfectly cleaned home.
I do try to plan for a spring deep clean and a fall deep clean each year, just so I know I’m getting rid of all the dust and cobwebs. But aside from those two deep cleans, I don’t worry about serious cleaning very often.
By sticking to those five principles, I’m able to know what to clean first in my home. And I’m also able to start each day with a good idea of what I should do in my home.
I’ve shared other housekeeping tips and tricks at the Balance in Homemaking Online Conference. (17 speakers also brought plenty of encouragement and inspiration!) For details, click here.
What do YOU clean first in your home? What’s your typical cleaning routine? What’s your cleaning philosophy?
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All images courtesy of Unsplash.
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