Keeping My House Clean in 15 Minutes a Day
I’ve always valued a clean house, but haven’t always had the wherewithal to make it happen. When I first got married, I read several books, trying to learn a good organizational system, my favorite of which was The Messies Manual, by Sandra Felton. As a newlywed, I put quite a few of her strategies into play and adapted them over the years.
Along the way I discovered The Flylady and her daily routines gave me a new lease on keeping up with things, especially with three kids in tow.
Both of these resources were pivotal for me in setting up my own system that really, truly can be done in 15 minutes a day. Well, kinda, sorta. Keep reading.
I do encourage you to read Sandra’s book and learn how to keep Flylady’s Control Journal as they do help get a grip on things. However, don’t do these at the expense of sanity. Sanity is worth a good deal.
Here are the steps to setting up your system. Grab a file card box with blank cards, or a notebook with dividers and blank paper. I prefer the file card system.
A month typically has four weeks. So, divide your house into four sections and your file box as well. Flylady calls these “zones.” Mine look like this:
- Week 1: Kitchen and laundry room
- Week 2: Living room and dining room
- Week 3: Bedrooms
- Week 4: Bathrooms
When a month has five weeks, I add this on: Outside and vehicles
Think of all of the things that need to be done in that section and write each on a file card. Exclude daily things like wash the dishes or pick up clutter off the floor.
- For example: Kitchen – Sweep and mop floor, clean the fan blades, wash off the outside of the appliances, polish the outside of the cabinets, clean out the refrigerator.
- For example: Living room – Vacuum carpet, clean baseboards, clean window sills, clean fan blades, dust, clean out under sofa cushions, etc.
- For example: Bedroom – Change sheets, clean under the bed, sort through stack of books and magazines beside the bed, etc.
You get the idea.
Look through your file cards and put them in order of importance in each section. For instance, it’s probably more important to change the sheets than it is to clean under the bed. You can number them if you’d like. Personally, I just put them in order in my box.
Now think about what you have to do daily in terms of housework. You’ve got to cook, clean up after eating, and pick up the clutter on the floors. Obviously there are a myriad of other things to do, but in the sweet and simple, that’s it.
Now to implement the plan. Choose a time of the day to work in your zone. When my kids were school-age, we did this right after lunch, and they helped. I had already put the cards in the order I wanted to do them that day. I set the time for 15 minutes and we worked together. Usually I started on the first card and handed them another card that was appropriate for their age.
Please hear me when I say that we never finished all of the cards in a single week, but also hear me in this: we quit living in CHAOS. (This is Flylady’s term for Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome.)
When it was time for supper, whomever was in charge that night cooked and cleaned up. (For many years, the burden fell only to me simply because of my kids’ ages, but over time they helped assume some of that responsibility.)
Before bed, we spent 15 minutes again, doing a few evening tasks. This included an overall “sweep” of the house making sure no legos or little cars were left on the floor to hurt our feet, a quick swish of the toilets, emptying trash cans, folding a load of laundry, etc.
The key is this: Get into the habit of two 15-minute cleaning cycles a day. Not 30-minute cycles. That doesn’t sound too bad, does it? If it does indeed seem overwhelming, start with one and see how much better you feel about the mountain before you.
To this day, I use this system. If I can’t get to one of the 15-minute segments, I don’t stress because I know I’ll get to another one tomorrow and I’ll catch up. My house is far from perfect, but I don’t stress terribly if I have an unexpected knock at the door.
I look forward to hearing from you and how you’ve made a system that works for you.