Have you ever walked into someone’s house that just feels clean?
The toys are put away, everything seems to have a place, and the kitchen isn’t overflowing with dishes, and you can’t find piles of laundry anywhere you look.
It feels peaceful, calm, and just plain nice, right?
But… it also can also feel a little unfair. I mean, you work so hard to clean your house, but no one would know that if they came over without giving you plenty of notice.
Do they know something that you don’t? Is there some sort of secret, or is it just that they got lucky with an easy-to-clean house and kids that pick up after themselves? Maybe they are in some sort of time warp and have more hours in their day than you do?
Well, as someone who manages to keep my house clean almost all the time while running a business for 40-50 hours a week with a two-year-old and a five-year-old at home with me full time, I going to spill the beans for you!
And in case you were wondering, it has nothing to do with having lots of extra time on my hands or being so bored at home with my kids that I can’t think of anything else to do all day but clean (just thought I’d clear that up since I’ve been asked those questions many times before by people who are curious how I keep my house so clean!)
I’m able to keep my house clean because I know 7 Secrets that make it Easy for me to keep my home neat and tidy.
7 Secrets of People Who Have Clean Houses
Before we get started, I just wanted to clarify that the real secret to all of this is in the power of easy, small habits that make keeping the house clean a simple part of my daily and weekly rhythm.
And if you put these habits into practice, I promise that your house will be clean all the time too!
1) They Make Their Beds Every Day
I know it seems simple. But let me tell you, it makes a huge difference.
Making your bed in the morning makes your room feel so much cleaner, makes it less likely that you will pile things on your bed through the day, teaches your kids to make their beds, and helps you check something off your list as soon as you get up!
Making my bed is the one part of My Morning Routine that I do every. single. day… even on the weekends or days that I sleep in a little longer… because I love the way that it makes my room feel.
If you aren’t in the habit of making your bed every day, give try it out and see if it makes a difference in making your house feel cleaner.
If you want to see how to create effective morning and evening routines for yourself and your children, check out this post!
2) They Stay On Top Of the Laundry
People who have clean houses all the time have a simple, predictable laundry routine.
Whether the piles of clothes in your house are dirty, clean, or folded and waiting to be put away… it adds to the clutter in your home.
Keeping your laundry under control will make a huge difference in how clean your house feels.
The biggest thing to remember when you are setting up your laundry routine is to do one load, from start to completely finished, every day instead of trying to do all of your laundry on one day each week.
When you do all of your laundry on the same day, the dirty pile of clothes just morphs into a clean pile of clothes waiting to be folded.
But when you do one smaller load every day, it is a much more manageable amount of laundry to fold and you are much more likely to complete the task instead of just leaving the mountain of clean laundry sitting there for everyone to search through all week long.
People who have clean houses all the time, don’t actually clean their house every single day.
But they also don’t just clean their house once a week and expect it to stay clean the rest of the time.
Instead, they have a simple weekly cleaning routine that allows them to chip away at their weekly cleaning tasks all through the week… while spending the least amount of time possible actually cleaning.
I stood at the door of my laundry room staring at the mountain of clean clothes that was waiting there for me to fold.
I felt defeated.
It was Friday afternoon and I had spent the whole day cleaning.
I still had at least a couple more hours of work before me, and a child happily erasing every bit of evidence of how I had spent the day behind me.
Plus, I hadn’t even thought about what to make for dinner yet.
Why did I feel like I spent so much time cleaning and so little time enjoying a clean house?
Well for one I had fallen into the trap of thinking that my house needed to be perfectly clean by Friday so that it would be nice and clean for the weekend… because who doesn’t want a pristine house to hang out in?
I had also mistakenly thought that I needed to clean my entire house in one day… and that I could clean my house in one day with a busy toddler.
No problem. Toddlers don’t need much attention or supervision so this should be easy, right?
I mean, why would anyone spread their cleaning out over the week, when you could do it in one day???
That didn’t sound like good time management to me, or good organization of resources. I mean, not batching your tasks is so 2013.
And I also really, really, really thought that the house should just stay clean through the weekend and the following week until Friday came again.
Ha, ha, HA. That’s a good one, Kassy.
After trying this method for way too long, I realized that something needed to change.
I was tired of spending my entire Friday cleaning… and being frustrated every Sunday when you couldn’t tell that I had cleaned at all.
I was tired of feeling like I was always treading water in a sea of household chores.
Motherhood was supposed to be about enjoying my children, right? So why did it feel like all I did was clean up after her and I never got to enjoy her?
I started doing some research to see if there was a better way to get everything done. But nothing that I found ever worked for me.
I usually just felt more guilty after reading suggested cleaning schedules online because they required even more cleaning than I was currently doing! (Does anyone actually clean all their windows every week? Seriously?!)
Instead of following all of this crazy advice I was ready, I decided to see if I could simplify and minimize my daily duties.
My goal was to have the house running on autopilot as much as possible.
I set a couple rules for myself when I created my cleaning routine:
1. It had to be simple. I had a toddler and a new baby. If I had a rough day with the girls, I needed to be able to accomplish the tasks during nap time, while still allowing myself a little downtime.
2. It had to be predictable. I didn’t want my basic routine to vary from week to week. After a month or so on the new routine, I wanted to know what my chores were for the day without having to consult the calendar.
3. It had to be realistic. There is no way I was going to take out my trash every single day or wash all my windows every single week. That just wasn’t going to happen.
I needed my cleaning routine to make my house feel clean by my standards. Not by any friend’s, my second cousin’s, or one of those Pinterest Infographic’s standards. My Standards.
After some serious trial-and-error, I finally figured out a way to keep my home running smoothly, spend less time cleaning, and have my house stay clean all through the week.
So in this post I’m going to show you my Simple Weekly Cleaning Schedule, and if you want to see the 5 steps I took to figure it out, check out this post.
And if you prefer to watch instead of read, you can check out this video:
About My House
I hesitated to share my cleaning schedule at first because everyone’s house is so different. But when my friend asked if I could share it, I decided to do so with some additional information about my house.
After all, those Pinterest cleaning schedules that I had seen might work amazingly if you live in a small studio apartment. But for my house, they were unrealistic.
If your house is the same size or smaller than mine, it might work for you to do something like my schedule.
If your house is a lot bigger, you may need to spread out your cleaning schedule over two weeks in order for it to not feel like a burden.
Our house is two stories and 1730 square feet. I have three bathrooms (technically it’s two-and-a-half baths) and three bedrooms. We have a laundry room upstairs and an office nook.
Upstairs we have carpet everywhere except in the two bathrooms, the laundry room, and the office nook.
The stairs are carpeted as well.
Downstairs I have a long entryway and bathroom with laminate flooring, a carpeted living/family room, and a kitchen/dining room with laminate flooring.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s get to the cleaning schedule that took me from overwhelmed to in control.
My Simple Weekly Cleaning Schedule
Tidy the House
Sundays are typically a busy family day, a travel day, or a work outside the house day for us. This doesn’t leave much time for housework.
So because I don’t have much time, the only job that I have to do on Sunday is put away everything from our weekend shenanigans.
This includes unpacking if we have been on a trip. We try to arrange our travel so we get home no later than 7:00 pm on Sundays which gives us time to put everything away and still get the kids to bed at a decent time.
(If you want to see how we reset after a trip, check out this video!)
I find that if I wait until the next morning, those suitcases will be sitting there for days.
Giving myself a deadline to have it done by the end of the day on Sunday gets everything back in its proper place quickly.
Since this is the general rule in our house, the girls know the drill and take responsibility for making sure all of their toys and clothes are tidied for the next week.
Tidying up our house up usually takes me less than half an hour after a crazy busy weekend. If it takes you longer than that at your house, or if it is a week-long project, you may want to consider decluttering.
Decluttering your house is the single most effective way to keep your house looking and feeling clean all the time while spending less time cleaning than you ever thought possible.
My downstairs bathroom is my half-bath and it usually gets a lot of use over the weekend if we are home.
I clean this bathroom on Monday because I like to start off the week with a clean bathroom in case we have any visitors during the week.
2) Vacuum the Downstairs Floors
I used to do all of my vacuuming in one day. It seemed like it would make sense to get all of the floors completed instead of doing half one day and a half another.
But when I shifted my focus to completing one floor at a time, I was able to get the cleaning accomplished more quickly.
I also used to sweep my laminate floors, but I always felt like they were dirty again immediately after I put the broom away.
After I broke two vacuums earlier this year (it’s a long story, you can read about it here if you’re interested), I got a Shark Vacuum. My Shark switches easily between vacuuming carpet and hardwood floors… and I realized that vacuuming takes so much less time than sweeping!
Plus I found it worked a lot better to get the dirt directly out of the house than to pile it up, put it on a pan, and most likely spill some of it before I got it into the garbage… what can I say, I’m as graceful as a puppy.
Now I only sweep my floors under where the kids eat at the end of the day.
3) One Load of Laundry
I have a whole post about How to Solve the Laundry Problem that you can check out for my full laundry routine and my complete list of laundry tips, but I wanted to put a couple of the biggest tips into this post as well… just because I like you!
Laundry Tip #1: Do one load every weekday from start to finish.
And by finish, I don’t mean stuck in the dryer until the next load needs to go into the dryer. And by finish, I don’t mean in a pile on the floor. By finish, I mean folded and put away.
Since our laundry machine is upstairs, I start the laundry before we go downstairs for breakfast.
After we get home from swimming lessons or the park in the morning, I switch the laundry to the dryer. Then, depending on what we are doing that afternoon, I will either fold the laundry after my younger daughter wakes up from her nap, or I will fold in the evening as my husband gets the girls ready for bed.
Completing one load of laundry every day has been a huge cure for the laundry problem I was facing.
If you work outside the home, try starting the laundry as soon as you walk in the door at the end of the day, then switch it over before you sit down to dinner. Then you or your spouse can fold the laundry while the other gets the kids to bed, or you can fold together while you watch your favorite show in the evenings.
1) Grocery Shopping
Fun Fact About Me: I would rather do any other chore than grocery shopping. Ever since I was little it has stressed me out.
When Ross and I first got married, we realized how differently we felt about this necessary evil when we went shopping together (because we were cute like that).
Ross would get giddy about going grocery shopping and go up and down every aisle, looking at anything with a shiny box, and convincing me to get anything that said “NEW!” on it.
I usually spent the entire three hours (yes, I said THREE HOURS!) convincing him to stick to the list, showing him that there was a cheaper, less shiny box right next to the one he was looking at, telling him that “NEW!” doesn’t mean that you are required to buy it, and reading the labels.
When we would finally get up to the counter to pay, Ross usually wanted us to guess how much the groceries were going to cost in a Price is Right style game. I would usually come pretty close to the correct answer because, during the ordeal, I also kept a running total in my head of everything in the cart. I can’t seem to turn this magical superpower off.
Since grocery shopping isn’t something I enjoy doing, I put it on my chore schedule so that I don’t stack any other less exciting tasks on the same day. (Although it takes me much less time to grocery shop now that I go with just me and two little girls.)
Obviously, you don’t have to put grocery shopping on your weekly cleaning schedule if you don’t want to. But if you’re anything like me, I suggest you put it down when you are making your list of weekly chores.
Pro Tip #2: I line up my cleaning routine with my meal plan. I put longer tasks, like grocery shopping, on days when we are having leftovers or something easy for supper because I never feel like cooking after I go to the store.
You can do something similar with any chore that you don’t like doing. If you get the chore done, give yourself the night off from cooking!
2) One Load of Laundry
Laundry Tip #2: Don’t leave the laundry room to fold your clothes.
I used to take all the laundry downstairs in the evening to hang out with my husband while I folded. But it took FOREVER.
First, I had to move it all downstairs (usually more than I could carry in one load). Then I had to fold it, before hauling it all back upstairs. I find if I just do it in the laundry room it takes much less time.
1) Tidy Upstairs
A couple of days after I tidy the whole house, the upstairs can usually use a touch-up before I vacuum. This isn’t anything too crazy, and I usually enlist my daughters to run from room to room putting things where they belong.
(Remember to use your children where you can in this process!)
My oldest daughter just turned four and she knows where everything goes.
This is partly because our house is decluttered and everything has a place in our house, and partly because she has been helping me tidy things up since she was about two.
2) Vacuum Upstairs
As I mentioned above, I stopped doing all my vacuuming on one day. And I love it!
I vacuum my upstairs on Wednesday and will often vacuum my stairs the same day that I do the upstairs.
3) One Load of Laundry: Sheets and Towels
Laundry Tip #3: Stand up to fold the laundry. I find if I sit down with the laundry all around me it feels overwhelming and takes longer. If I stand, I can get it done more quickly.
It is also more efficient to fold standing up because I can easily see where all the jeans are in the pile and get those done before I move on to shirts.
1) Clean the Two Upstairs Bathrooms
Our two upstairs bathrooms are full bathrooms with showers and bathtubs.
The girls will often clean the bathtub and/or toilet, while I work on the mirrors and sinks.
I highly recommend getting your kids involved with chores from a young age. They will become increasingly more helpful as they get older and helping out will be second nature to them. You can check out my Beginner’s Guide to Toddler Chores for how to get started!
2) One load of Laundry
Laundry Tip #4: Fold your clothes soon as you take them out of the dryer.
Before, I would take the clothes out of the dryer to find one thing or another and leave with the best intentions to come back later and fold the rest.
I soon discovered that “later” never came. The next day I would find myself pulling the laundry out of the dryer onto the pile that was still on the floor.
Now, I force myself to get everything folded and put it away immediately.
1) Vacuum Downstairs
Yes, my Friday and Monday Cleaning Routines are identical.
I like to start and end the work week with a fresh downstairs since that is where we spend most of our time.
If your house is a lot bigger than mine, or if you don’t have as many days you can clean on, this may not be practical for you.
There is something refreshing to me about having a freshly vacuumed main floor so I do it twice!
2) Clean Downstairs Bathroom
Just like our downstairs floor, our downstairs bathroom gets the most usage.
I like cleaning it twice a week, then I don’t have to worry about how the bathroom looks if someone happens to stop by.
3) One Load of Laundry
Laundry Tip #5 Don’t do it all by yourself. If both you and your spouse work, divide up the laundry chore. You can do this a number of ways: one way is to give each person in the family a hamper and have them be responsible for their own laundry.
It may take a couple of weeks if your spouse is used to you doing it for them, but once they run out of clothes once or twice, they will remember to do their own laundry.
When we both worked outside the home, laundry was my husband’s job. He would spend Sundays watching football and getting all the laundry done. Maybe your husband would enjoy this chore if he could do something similar. You’ll never know unless you ask!
Since I run the house now and my husband brings in the income, I am happy to do his laundry for him. However, I still enlist the help of the girls.
When my oldest was about 18 months old, I started teaching her how to fold washcloths. And once she knew how to do it, that became her job. Every time I folded laundry, I would separate out all the washcloths and she would fold them as I would fold everything else. It took a lot more time at first as I would help her and remind her to stay focused, but it paid off in the long run.
As she became proficient at the washcloths, she started asking what else she could fold. Between the ages of three and three-and-a-half, she learned to fold all of her own clothing. Now, at the age of four, she folds all her clothes and all her sister’s clothes.
When my second daughter was just over one, she started helping me put the clean clothes into the drier and pulling them out of the drier when they are done. No, this doesn’t make my life any easier at that moment, but I want her to know she is an important part of doing chores in our house.
On Saturday, I don’t do any housework.
For me, it is part of my religion not to do any work from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.
But even if you aren’t religious, I think everyone should take a day off every week, especially moms.
If you feel like you can’t take a day off and still get everything done. I totally get that! There are only so many hours in a day.
If you want to take a day off and don’t feel like you have time, here are three things you can do to give yourself a break.
Lower your expectations about what needs to be done each week. (Does anyone really care if you dust every week? I sure don’t!)
Declutter your things. This will greatly reduce the amount of time you spend cleaning your house. (Check out How to Start Decluttering if you would like a step-by-step guide and a free checklist!)
Also, you will have more energy to tackle the next week if you let yourself rest.
I promise the carpets that need to be cleaned won’t go anywhere and will be happily waiting for you the next day.
Now, when I say I take a day off, it doesn’t mean that I let the dishes pile up all day, or that I just let the girls leave their toys wherever they lie.
We still treat our things with respect and put them away when we are done with them. If I didn’t do that, taking a day off would make more work for me and it wouldn’t be enjoyable knowing what I would have to deal with in the morning.
If you decide that you don’t want to do anything at all on your day off, grab some paper plates and disposable utensils and use them on your mom’s day off!
If you’ve never taken a day off before, try it out and see if you like it!
In addition to my weekly chores, there are a few things that I do every day to keep my house always feeling clean.
Make the Beds: Every morning before you leave your bedroom (and before your kids leave theirs!) make all the beds. (You also get the morning & evening routine checklists for moms and kids in the Autopilot Workbook and Spreadsheet!)
Making your bed will keep your room feeling fresh and clean.
Plus, it is more motivating to put everything else away instead of making piles on the floor if the bed is neatly made.
Unload the Dishwasher: I usually need to run my dishwasher every evening since we eat most of our meals at home. This means every morning as breakfast is cooking, I unload the dishwasher (with the girls’ help, of course, don’t forget to get your kids involved!). Then it is ready for the dishes to go directly into it at the end of each meal.
Put Things Away When We Are Done With Them: I’m teaching the girls that when they are done with a toy or a jacket or anything else, it goes back to where they got it from.
It’s still a work in progress, but it makes cleaning much easier if everything is in its proper place.
Clean the Kitchen: After every meal, put the food away, put the dishes in the dishwasher (or clean them by hand), and wipe down the counters.
Don’t put it off! There is little that is more daunting than a pile of dirty dishes that haven’t been touched all day.