The Ultimate Home Cleaning Cheat Sheet

Here’s what to do daily, weekly, and annually to keep a tidy house.

photography by PHUONG NGUYEN


Having a clean house no longer has to be a chore thanks to our handy home cleaning guide with tips from expert Courtenay Hartford, author of The Cleaning Ninja: How to Clean Your Home in 8 Minutes Flat and Other Clever Housekeeping Techniques. Here’s how to get your house to sparkle in a matter of seconds.

DAILY TO DOS
Hartford’s criteria for daily cleaning tasks is if it falls into the “gets used a lot every day” category. For example, keeping on top of the kitchen and first floor bathroom is key, but you don’t need to tidy up your bedroom every day. Who has time for that?

“I find that we tend to default our thinking that cleaning should be done weekly,” says Hartford. “This actually results in a lot of frustration because it's just not ideal for most people's homes.”

Toss in one load of laundry
The whole idea of “laundry day” is a thing of the past, says Hartford. “If you do one load a day, you’ll never have to spend a day doing eight loads again.” Bonus points if you can do it to completion: wash, dry, fold and put away.

Dust Public Areas
Hartford relies on the “unexpected guest” test to keep certain areas of the house clean. A quick dust in the main parts of the house where a visitor would be are the areas you should target daily.

Spot Vacuum and Mop
You don’t need to vacuum an entire room, but instead hit the high traffic areas. “I’ll vacuum the living area where my kids play but ignore the rest of the room. Same goes for spots in the kitchen, like in front of the sink.”

Make Bed
Even if your room isn’t sparkling clean, this will make it feel tidy.

Wash Dishes
Never keep a sink full of dirty dishes that pile up quickly. Tackle these every morning or before bed every night.

Wipe Down Surfaces
Hartford loves to use a microfiber cloth and water on all surfaces that get used the most: bathroom and kitchen counters.

Empty Any Full Trash Bins
This will cut down on clutter and any potential household stink.


EVERY THREE DAYS
Some chores require a little but more than weekly work, but definitely don’t need to be something you slave over every day. Instead, keep these on a biweekly rotation.

Wash or Swap Out Pillowcases
These should be changed more frequently than your sheets since they’re prone to things like makeup residue and sweat.

Wash or Swap Out Bath Towels
Germs build up on towels, even if they’re hung to dry properly. Keep clean ones on rotation.

Mop Floors
Hit any hardwood floors with the mop, especially in high traffic areas where kids, pets and the occasional dirty shoe makes an appearance.

Clean Fridge
Empty take-out food, tupperware filled with food that’s gone bad, anything past its prime - you get the idea.

Wipe Down Tubs/Showers
“Prevention is key,” says Hartford. If you wait too long to tackle to shower, soap scum can build up fast. Keep it nice and shiny by using a microfiber cloth and water on it every few days.


WEEKLY

Change Sheets
Designate one day each week where you always swap out sheets. Nothing is better for your bed (and you) than a fresh set.

Clean Out Litter Boxes
If you’re a cat owner, scooping should be a daily task. But Hartford recommends completely changing out litter and spraying out the box each week to keep it feline-friendly.


MONTHLY
Good news. A lot of tasks you do weekly could easily be reassigned to the monthly category according to Hartford. Tackle the below to dos on the same day every month to keep your home super sparkly.

  • Clean windows and mirrors
  • Vacuum whole home thoroughly
  • Wash any washable rugs or mats
  • Wipe down all screens and keyboards
  • Wash walls
  • Wipe leaves of houseplants
  • Clean kids' toys
  • Polish silverWipe down kitchen cabinets
  • Soak your dryer's lint trap and clean out the vent
  • Change out furnace and A/C filters
  • Clean your vacuum cleaner

You might notice that I don't have much of a weekly cleaning list whereas a lot of lists telling you "what to clean when" have most of their tasks listed under "weekly." With the weekly cleaning list, you end up wasting a lot of time because you're often re-doing tasks too soon, when they don't really need to be completed yet and that time could be spent elsewhere on something that really needs it.

There are also a lot of tasks that need to be done a lot more often than weekly and we can end up feeling confused and frustrated when our homes always feel dirty despite the fact that we're doing our weekly cleaning religiously every weekend. I find that by tweaking that default cleaning schedule a little bit, we can have a much more efficient, effective, and rewarding cleaning experience.


EVERY SIX MONTHS
The tasks below only need to be tackled every six months—hurray!
  • Wash all curtains
  • Have any high-end or wool rugs professionally cleaned
  • Clean out seasonal storage bins and boxes to declutter old/unwanted items
  • Remove everything from closets, wipe down shelving, interior walls, and hanging rods
  • Shampoo carpets
  • Remove everything from bookshelves and dust
  • Scrub and re-seal tile grout in kitchens and bathrooms
  • Remove bathroom fan vent covers and vacuum

See more cleaning tips:
How To Care Fore Every Type of Backsplash
You’re Probably Cleaning Your Bedding Wrong
Tips For Cleaning Your Kitchen While You Cook

Published on November 06, 2017 - 5:20am EST

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