Tackling the chores in a messy and dirty house can be overwhelming. There is so much that needs to be done that sometimes it is just easier to drop onto the couch and binge watch TV. Unfortunately, ignoring the chores won't make the mess go away.
Setting up a list system of daily, weekly, monthly, and seasonally-needed chores will make housekeeping easier. Breaking down the tasks into small steps that can be done in just a few minutes each day will keep the mess under control. Dividing the chores between family members teaches responsibility and makes everyone's life better. Kids as young as three can begin to help with things like sorting clothes and toys.
There are tasks that, if done daily, will keep your home in order and prevent that overwhelming feeling that everything is out of control. Some chores can be done first thing in the morning, some should be done throughout the day as you do other activities, and others can be done at night so that you wake up to an orderly home.
Eliminate Dirty Dishes
Declutter and De-crumb Counters
Sweep, Mop or Vacuum Floors
The kitchen is always full of activity and the floor shows it. Clean up any messy spills immediately and get rid of crumbs.
Recycle, Compost, and Empty the Trash
Emptying or dealing with garbage each day will help keep away pests and leave a fresher smelling home.
Make the Bed
Fluff the pillows and choose bed linens that are easy for everyone to quickly spread up quickly.
Put Away Clothes
Place soiled clothing in a hamper. Return clean clothes and shoes to the closet or drawers.
Check the Laundry Hamper
Return Things to Their Proper Place
If cups or dishes have migrated to the bedroom, return them to the kitchen. Teach kids to put away toys and gather school-items needed for the next day.
Dry the Shower
After each bath or shower, use a squeegie or towel to wipe down the walls of the shower stall, the doors, and the tub to prevent soap scum build-up and waterspotting. Close the shower curtain so it will dry more quickly.
Wipe Down Fixtures
After each use, wipe the counters, faucets, and sinks with a disinfectant wipe or towel to remove spatters and spills.
Hang Up Damp Towels
Living Spaces and Entry Areas
Put Things Away
Before leaving a room, put away any books, dishes, toys that have been used.
Clean Up Messes
Deal With Paper
Immediately go through mail, schoolwork, periodicals and deal with them by reading, filing, or recycling.
Since you've been following the list of daily chores, weekly chores should not be as daunting. Many are simply a more thorough job of the quick daily tasks you've been doing. There shouldn't be a mountain of mail, a sink full of dirty dishes, and a floor so sticky that you lose your shoes. Weekly chores don't all have to be done on a single day. Spread them out during the week so that you may just have a nearly chore-free day to relax.
Clean and Disinfect
Check the Refrigerator
Take the time to toss leftovers and spoiled foods. Wipe down shelves and bins with a disinfectant wipe.
Clean the Floor
Give the kitchen floor a thorough cleaning.
Time for Fresh Sheets
Gather Clothes for Laundry
If all of the dirty clothes are not in the hamper, gather clothes and sort to do laundry.
Dust and Vacuum
Dust all surfaces and vacuum floors.
Time for a Scrub
Gather and wash all towels, bath mats, and shower curtains.
Living and Entry Areas
Clean Surfaces and Floors
Dust every flat surface and don't forget the tops of bookcases and fan blades. Vacuum or mop floors.
Use a disinfectant wipe approved for electronic equipment to wipe down remotes and game controllers.
Sort and Return
Take a look at the items that have accumulated during the week that do not belong in that area. Toss or return them to their proper place.
Now that you've master the daily and weekly chores that keep your home cleaner and more orderly, there are some monthly tasks that require a bit more time and effort. These deeper cleaning tasks make daily upkeep easier, help home furnishings look better and last longer, and reduce the allergens in your home.
Check the Stove, Oven, Coffee Maker, and Refrigerator
It's time to check the stovetop drip pans, the oven, and the range hood and filter and give them a good cleaning. If you haven't kept the refrigerator spill-free, give it a good cleaning as well. Using small appliances like an instant pot, waffle iron, toaster, or a coffeemaker? Clean it well to remove water scale. You'll have better tasting coffee.
Clean the Dishwasher
Think about the grease and food that ends up in the dishwasher. Give it a thorough cleaning monthly and you'll see better results and cleaner dishes. This is also a good time to clean another major appliance workhorse, your clothes washer.
Scrub Out Trash Cans
Even if you use heavy-duty trash bags, trash cans and recycling bins can get pretty grimey. Give them a good scrubbing with a disinfectant.
Take some time to organize closets and drawers to keep clothes neat and wrinkle-free. Pull out any garments that need mending, sent to the dry cleaner, or donated to charity.
Look Under the Bed
If you haven't been vacuuming under the bed and all of the furniture weekly, now's the time to get rid of dust bunnies.
Clean a Little Deeper
If you have been doing daily and weekly cleaning, the bathroom should be in good shape. However, take a bit of time to clean and disinfect make-up and grooming tools, check for mold and mildew on grout and other surfaces, and really scrub away any soap scum.
Living and Entry Areas
Give upholstered furniture a thorough vacuuming including under the cushions. Dust and polish wooden finishes and condition leather to keep it supple.
Look Up and Down
Check fan blades, corners, and light fixtures for spiderwebs, dust, and dead insects. Take the time to move furniture and clean beneath and behind pieces.
Wipe Down the Small Things
Light switches and the wall around them get lots of smudges and grime. Don't forget to dust door jambs, window ledges, and baseboards.
Stop the Dirt
Check the doormats both inside and outside entry areas. Give them a good cleaning to prevent dirt from being tracked into living spaces.
There are some chores that need only be done seasonally or just once per year. Stagger the chores so they get done but when it is convenient for you.
Clean and Toss
Once or twice a year, go through cabinets and food storage and discard expired foods and donate or move out items like dishes and small appliances that you seldom use.
Clean Your Mattress and Pillows
A mattress should be thoroughly vacuumed each season to remove dust and dust mites. Clean bed pillows, bed coverings, and window treatments well.
Sort and Toss
Check Drawers and Medicine Cabinets
Go through beauty and first aid supplies and toss any expired products. Dispose of unused medications properly.
Take time to look under the sink and around fixtures to catch any small leaks or drips. This will save you money and heartache later.
Clean Carpets and Hardwood Floors
Clean Upholstered Furniture
Couch and chair upholstery can usually use a thorough cleaning seasonally to remove stains and odors.
Help Prevent Leaks
Clean out gutters and drains around the house.
"How to Clean and Disinfect Schools to Help Slow the Spread of Flu." Centers for Disease Control and Protection, 2021.