Are you a smart, capable, brilliant adult who also happens to need a cleaning 101?
No shame, my friend. I’m here for you. I once was you.
You see, I used to be the actual world’s worst homemaker.
Despite my poor Mum’s best efforts to get me to do chores when I was growing up, it didn’t stick. I just didn’t have the clean gene. The moment I married Chris (also a self-confessed terrible housekeeper) and moved out of home, it was all over.
Dishes stacked up for days, bundles of dog hair would blow around the floor for weeks at a time, the towels always smelt a little mildew-y, and the dust was basically in piles. You’re probably imagining some run-down hovel of a place, and if you are, that’s good, you’re on the right track. It’s horrific to admit, but cleaning just wasn’t on our radar. Unless people were coming over – and then we would spend hours upon hours trying to right all our wrongs at once, which never really worked out for us. There was no hiding it from our friends. Our house was GROSS. We were in MAJOR need of a good old cleaning 101.
(This was all pre-kids – thankfully we formed some semblance of a cleaning routine before inflicting that version of our home on our babies!)
My cleaning routine is far from perfect (if it were perfect, this article would obviously be entitled “Tips For Keeping An Obnoxiously SPARKLING House Like Mine Hahahaha My Life Is Perfect And I Also Bake Every Day And Never Yell At My Children”). Honestly, in this hectic season of raising small kids, perfection ain’t the goal for me. So if that’s the standard you think you should be holding yourself to, I’m probably not your girl.
But if you’re in struggle town, and your house is constantly getting the better of you, and you just need some basic ideas to help you get on top of it all, I think my cleaning 101 guide can help you out.
Today we’re going to talk about how to create and implement a basic cleaning routine that you are 100% confident to try.
First of all, let’s talk quickly about getting started…
1. Start Small
Wouldn’t it have been nice if one day, in the thick of my season of terrible homemaking, I had just boldly decided that going forward, I would immediately keep everything spic’n’span?
I can honestly tell you that a day or so into that huge commitment, I would have lost that momentum and I would have come out the other side without any long-term changes under my belt.
Instead I simply chose two small changes that I knew I could handle:
- I decided to make the bed every morning
- I decided to clean the kitchen every night
Do you know how easy it was to commit to that? Pretty soon, those were just normal, routine things for me – and I was able to start slowly adding more tasks to my cleaning routine. So when I say start small, I literally mean “start small.” Set yourself up for success by taking things on in bite-sized chunks. Yes, you will obviously still need to run a vacuum over the floors occasionally, but don’t put pressure on yourself to immediately implement an all-encompassing, ultimately unrealistic cleaning routine from the get-go.
2. Be specific about timing
Instead of saying “I will clean the kitchen every day”, say “I will clean the kitchen straight after dinner every night”. Then you know that after dinner, you get straight up and stuck into it. Instead of saying “I will wash the towels every week”, say “I will wash the towels every Monday morning”. Having a set day/time in place keeps you on track – and it makes those chores feel more normal, and less like you’re going out of your way to get them done.
3. Commit, Baby!
You’re probably reading this because you want a cleaner house than you currently have. So quit the excuses, take control and own this goal! As I mentioned, I committed to cleaning the kitchen every night. Since that day, I can honestly tell you that it has happened about 90% of the time (barring extenuating circumstances like late-night outings, or that time the whole family had the stomach flu at the same time. Ugh.)
Compared to how I kept the kitchen before, that’s HUGE! The first couple of weeks were the hardest – I was very tempted to say “Oh, I’ll do it tomorrow” – but I forced myself to do it anyway. And you know what? Every night that I honoured my commitment made it that much easier the next night – a) because it was becoming a habit, and b) because the kitchen never actually got out of control with all the regular cleaning that was going on!
And I have to tell you, having a constantly clean kitchen has done all kinds of wonders for my soul.
So, are you pumped? Do you want to get started?
Here are my practical tips (just remember, start small and work your way up!) There are loads of resources and cleaning schedules on Pinterest, but this is what worked for me when I was getting serious about creating a routine…
Cleaning 101: How to create a beginner cleaning routine that works for you
Start by picking a handful of items and keeping up with them. In a few weeks, come back to this list and pick a couple more. Build your routine slowly but surely.
- Make the bed: it just adds so much peace and order to your room so easily!
- Tidy: the longer something sits out where it shouldn’t, the harder it becomes to put away. True story.
- Clean the kitchen: there’s nothing like waking up in the morning to a sunny, clean kitchen and putting on the kettle for your first cup of tea!
- Sweep the floor: it will help tide you over between vacuuming
- Wash laundry: wash clothes as soon as your basket fills, and I alternate towels and sheets week-to-week.
- Dust: confession – as I’m still a work in progress, this often still eludes me. Cringe. At least I’m honest…?
- Vacuum and mop: I hate vacuuming, until it’s done. Then I love vacuuming. PLUS add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to the mop bucket for a major post-cleaning buzz.
- Clean bathroom and toilet: one of those jobs that truly becomes quicker and less disgusting the more regularly you do it. What more incentive do you need!?
- Clean out the fridge: ditch the rotting fruit and veg, and the leftovers you didn’t get around to eating.
- Declutter surfaces and put items back where they belong
Remember: this is a beginner cleaning routine.
This routine may not be enough to serve your home long-term without adding more items here and there. However, the items above will absolutely help you begin to maintain a level of cleanliness in your home that is possibly eluding you right now. It’s a starting point and it will help get you on the right track.
Finally, a little pep talk…
You’ve come here because cleaning is hard. Whether it’s a lack of motivation, a lack of time, a lack of energy, a lack of support (this is huge!) or any combination of the above, it is possible to turn things around and have a home that feels liveable and tidy.
Implementing a basic cleaning routine – when you previously haven’t had one – can transform your home, and in turn your emotional health. Our homes influence our mentality so much. A clean home is powerful – but an out-of-control home is powerful too. And not in a good way.
I’m challenging you right now to pick something – anything – that you know you can handle. Because I believe that each time you complete that task, your sense of accomplishment will give you an awesome little boost, and spur you on to do more.
I also happen to have some great little tricks on how to make yourself start cleaning when you’re unmotivated and overwhelmed, so you should totally check that out.
Remember: you are capable of having a clean home.
Looking for more cleaning routine ideas? Check out my personal nighttime cleaning routine… it’s kind of changed my life! And be sure to follow my board Homemaking For Moms on Pinterest for plenty more homemaking inspiration.