How to keep your house clean when you work full time (without a cleaning service)

It’s a challenge to keep up your house when you are working full time. It’s possible to keep everything clean, without having to spend a fortune on a service.

This system isn’t complex, like Fly Lady (and it won’t send you a ton of annoying emails), it builds habits (my husband, who would walk by dishes for days, will now comment if he sees them undone in the AM) and keeps the house reasonable most of the time.  We have tried major cleaning services, and weren’t happy with the level of service, or the fact that they charged more per hour than an electrician. You can’t clean a whole house in less than 60 minutes. I also didn’t like that they wouldn’t use anything but their own cleaning supplies. They didn’t rinse the slippery cleaners off of the tub well enough one visit, and I almost killed myself getting into the shower the next day. They wouldn’t use our vacuum – they insisted on using their own, which had been through all of the other houses they cleaned. It was always one thing after another.  Not. Worth. The. Money.

The first step is to get things to the point where you are only doing a little bit of upkeep every day. Depending on how bad things are, getting the house to this point may require a lot of initial time, or a little time. When you begin this process, you will need to spend a couple of hours doing a big clean; but this will actually save you hours and hours later.  You can do this clean in parts, by splitting up the house into sections. Start with the kitchen, dining room, and living room. Then the next day, do the bathrooms. Then tackle two bedrooms, and the hall. Within a couple of days, the house will be clean.

Now for the good part.  The key to making this work is doing a little upkeep every day on the areas that you just spent time cleaning. Each day, make sure the dishes are done before you go to bed, and do a quick tidy of your main floor. This should be 10 minutes tops (it should only take 5 really) where you run around and put stuff away, wipe down the counters, and sweep the floors. This is a quick once over – not a deep clean.

Before you go to work each day, make your bed, and put away any clothes that are out. Any glasses on the bedside table go to the kitchen. Again – quick once over. When you retreat at night, it will feel so nice to walk into a nice bedroom that is neat and tidy. Totally worth the 2 minutes it took to straighten the room.

Every couple of days, take a Lysol Wipe (a must have in your quick-cleaning-supplies-box) and give the bathroom a quick wipe down. This should take no more than 2 minutes a bathroom.

Vacuuming can happen once or twice a week. If you can fit it into your budget, the Dyson cordless vacuum is worth every penny, and will pay for itself in saved cleaning costs. You can whip this thing out, do floors, carpet, and dust, and not have to lug a big ugly vacuum around. You can stash this thing in a closet or in a corner –  it makes speed cleaning so easy. I use it at least 2-3 times a day.

You will be amazed at how a little bit, every day, will keep your house in order. Don’t drive yourself crazy with chore schedules, email reminders, lists etc. Just commit to picking up some basic things every day, and do little 2 minute jobs daily.

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