How do you stay on top of what needs to be done? It’s a very reasonable question.
In our house, we use a weekly chore schedule to keep our house clean.
Home-Ec101.com gets many requests for help figuring out how to get and keep a house clean. There’s no big secret here; it’s just a matter of dividing the chores into manageable chunks. That’s what this system does.
Please keep in mind that there are seasons in your life when keeping your house clean will be harder than others (when someone is ill, when there are children three and under, etc.).
After the link to the printable, keep reading for a thorough explanation of how the system works and tips for how you can modify it to work for you and your home.
We also offer The Deep Clean Cycle – a weekly cleaning challenge sent to your inbox on Saturday morning. It started as a Spring Cleaning Challenge, but now it’s an ongoing challenge that you can restart after completion by hitting rinse and repeat. It’s a great way to keep your house in order.
Each day has one major chore and a minor chore to keep the routine simple, and then five daily tasks that keep your house from spiraling out of control.
The more people you have in your household, the more hands you have to help. You should not carry the full load if it’s just you and a partner. If you live in the house, you contribute to the workload, so you should share the burden of keeping the home livable.
Click either image for the version of the chore chart you prefer. (If you are looking for the old version, it’s at the bottom of this post).
Singles and couples who live in average-sized homes will find the chores go quickly (and more smoothly when labor is fairly divided). Unfortunately, it’s the nature of the beast, but families with young children will find routine chores take a little more time. Get in the habit of picking up when changing activities. Use that song, “Clean up, clean up, everyone do your part…”
While it is really difficult in the beginning, try to remember that effort spent teaching young kids to be helpful will pay off as they develop the skills to be a real help. Invest the time and then, when they are older, enjoy reading a book while they do the dishes after dinner. It is AWESOME and worth every ounce of frustration I felt in the beginning.
Transparency: When I stick to my own advice, this routine keeps the house company ready with 15 minutes warning. When I don’t, a
little lot more preparation is needed.
Weekly Chore Schedule
I do laundry throughout the week, but Mondays are the day to tackle the big items, such as sheets and bedding. Sheets are done every Monday, and all blankets, mattress pads, and pillow casings are washed on the first Monday of the month.
This is also the day to put away all the laundry that seems to linger in the area I have set aside for folding. If any ironing, hand washing, or clothing repair is needed, this is the day for it.
Monday’s minor chore is a quick kitchen wipe-down.
All surfaces in the kitchen get a quick wipe for fingerprints and crumbs. The fridge is checked for science projects or items that need to be used quickly.
Today’s main chore is tackling the floors. This is the day for mopping and thorough vacuuming. During the week, I sweep, spot-mop spills, and vacuum the middle of the main rooms. My household also has
three six kids and two dogs running in and out, tracking in dirt. In my household, at least minimal daily upkeep is a must.
If you are single or have no children, you can probably rotate which room gets the deep floor cleaning.
The rule of thumb for carpeted rooms with high traffic (family rooms and hallways, for example) is to vacuum once a week + one additional time for each household member.
A household of two should need to vacuum the high traffic areas twice a week. Large pets should be counted as people. The frequent vacuuming keeps dirt from destroying the carpet fibers. I don’t think the carpet manufacturers kept very large families in mind because there has to be a point of diminishing returns. (We do not vacuum ten times a week, even though we are all home all week, we have decided that we will buy new carpet in a couple of years — our sanity is worth that.)
A quick list of posts on cleaning different flooring:
Tuesday’s minor chore is a 15-minute pick up and wipe down.
Misplaced items are rounded up, and smudges and smears are wiped away. (Dog nose prints, kid fingerprints on switch plates, etc.)
This is the day to hit the post office, make doctor’s appointments, refill prescriptions, and grocery shop. (And make all those phone calls, too) Since I spend a lot of time in the car, I also clean that out, filing receipts and mileage as necessary.
Wednesday’s minor chore is car and entryway clean-up. Clear out the trash and vacuum the car if needed. Also, enter the home as though you are a guest and make sure the entryway is clean.
Bathrooms in busy households should get at least a quick daily wipe down of the sink and toilet. With the daily wipe down, a bathroom deep clean goes quickly. If your home has more than one bathroom, alternate which gets the deep clean, but make sure whatever bathroom guests use gets a quick cleaning.
Here’s an unabridged post on How to Clean a Bathroom.
If a household is large enough to have a bathroom for children, from school age on, they should be in charge (with supervision) of that bathroom’s maintenance. It won’t kill a kid to wield a toilet scrubber, and if they have to clean up what they dribble, boys quickly develop better aim.
Thursday’s minor chore is a quick budget check-in. Make sure no bills need to be paid and that your checking account balance is where you expect it to be.
It’s time for a deep kitchen cleanup. Remember, though, this post is on Spring cleaning in the kitchen; a weekly clean up doesn’t need to be THAT thorough. The kitchen stove, counters, and sink get a quick wipe down after each meal, which helps Friday’s chore go quickly.
Friday’s minor chore is dusting; rotate which room receives the focus. In non-smoking homes, a quick weekly dusting should be all needed unless there are many pets or tchotchkes. The more stuff you own, the more it must be cared for, don’t be scared to get rid of items you don’t love.
Project day covers everything from yard maintenance to room painting. We don’t spend every Saturday doing these things. Many Saturdays are family or friends’ days. (2020-2021 update – don’t you remember hanging out with friends? I sure do, and miss it badly.)
The big chore is preparing for the week ahead. Find all the library books or movies that need to be returned. Pack bookbags or briefcases, menu plan, and find missing keys or shoes. Look at the calendar and get a sense of what’s coming this week.
Are there days that will be too busy to cook? Plan foods to grab and go.
Are there meetings or school pictures that require nice clothing? (2020-21 update, at least Zoom meetings only require nice tops)
Figuring it out now prevents panic the night before—or worse, the morning of.
Doing these things helps keep the budget on track and prevents Monday morning from being a big hassle.
Set a timer and put things away for ten minutes. If you have a kid, spouse, or roommate, get them involved.
Need help with dividing up chores? Here’s a suggestion for dividing the labor fairly.