Give Us This Day Our Daily Chores

I’m back with some more simple homekeeping tips. As we’ve already discussed, the start of a new year is a good time for whipping your home into shape so that it is more enjoyable, more relaxed, and more welcoming.

There are two things you need to know before you read this post. First, there are dozens of weekly or daily cleaning tasks lists out there. That is to say, everybody cleans house differently.  So even though wasting half a day on pinterest studying how other folks get things done can be interesting, and implementing plans from these people who not only have time to tell you every detail of their housework, they also make a scrapbook-worthy printable to help you acknowledge that you need to join a messy house support group get organized does work in my house (for about a week), it often brings me no closer to the holy grail of home cleanliness happiness. Suffice it to say, I have found that you can’t pore over someone’s cleaning plan (even this one) and then *poof* your house is clean. You have to adapt. Which brings me to the second thing you should know: this list right’chea is just one way to do it. Even though it is a borderline-obsessive methodically planned system, just because it’s what works for me, doesn’t mean it’s what will work for you. BUT, maybe it will inspire you to divide your day or your week in a different way with the tasks that are of priority to you, no matter where you call home.

Note: This is simply house chores. I do not include cooking or gardening things in this list (though they have their own routines that I will not burden you with here).

Master bath

MORNING CHORES – Clean the Bathroom (Rotation 1 or Rotation 2) OR 1 load of laundry

I devised morning chores because they are simple and were easy to fit into my morning routine when I had to be at the office by 8:30am. Further, keeping the bathroom clean was of high importance to me. Alex and I share a small bathroom, and because it’s the only bathroom on the main level, it is often frequented by guests too. I wanted to keep it clean so that I don’t go into guests-are-coming panic mode in those precious few moments before they arrive; now, I don’t have to worry about the bathroom and can instead direct my attention to things like…vacuuming the dog hair off the couches…another time, perhaps. As for laundry, it’s not my favorite thing to do, but I do it this often out of necessity. Alex goes to the gym a lot, so clothes pile up fast. Morning chores occur every other day so that on any given day of the week, I either clean the bathroom OR do a load of laundry. Here’s an example of what I mean:

Sample morning chore schedule

And here’s how I do it:

Clean the Bathroom (Rotation 1): Remove hand towel to laundry basket. Clear counter. Spray the mirror, counter, and sink with 50/50 spray (half white vinegar, half water). Wipe clean with old, clean washcloth. Squirt white vinegar into toilet bowl and scrub inside edges of bowl with toilet brush. Replace hand towel with a new, clean one. Return stuff to counter.

Laundry: I don’t think this needs much explanation. I put a load in the washer before taking the dogs for a walk. When we come back from our walk, I put the clothes in the dryer. When I get home or get a chance, I fold the clean clothes. Loads occur in 4 main categories chez nous: darks, whites, synthetics, towels. (Sheets, as you learned here, are washed on a less frequent basis). For the synthetics, I do use some conventional, eco-friendly liquid laundry soap. For darks and towels, I use a homemade soap comprised of this mixture: 1 cup washing soda, 1 cup borax, 1 bar shredded Dr. Bronner’s castille soap. I only need about 2 Tablespoons per load. For whites, I use the same homemade soap plus 1-2 tablespoons of oxygenated bleach. Finally, to make things easy, we pre-sort our laundry into one of 4 baskets (again, darks, whites, synthetics, towels).

Clean the Bathroom (Rotation 2): Remove hand towel and bath towels to laundry basket. Clear counter. Spray the mirror, counter, and sink with 50/50 spray. Wipe clean with old, clean washcloth. Spray the toilet seat and lid with 50/50 spray. Wipe clean with old, clean washcloth. Replace hand and bath towels with new, clean ones. Return stuff to counter.

Have dog? Must vacuum

PM CHORES – Vacuuming, Sweeping, Mopping, Dusting, Trash, and other Tidying

The afternoon/evening chores vary by day. You know, to keep us on our toes! And we also share these chores. That is, I have some (which I usually tackle after lunch), and Alex has some (which he accomplishes when he gets home and is waiting for dinner or for his brother to log on to play video games).

Monday
J – Clean off all the puppy nose and paw art from the back door windows (50/50 spray and paper towel)
A – Vacuum up all the puppy hair from the bedroom.

Tuesday
J – Sweep puppy hair from hardwood floor using microfiber mop.
A – Trash night duties: Take all trash and recycling out to curb for morning pick up. Nero loves to help with this one.

Wednesday
J – Dust surfaces in bedroom (dresser, picture frames, lampshades, shelves, nightstands, window seat) (using a clean, damp cloth and a wool duster)
A – Dust surfaces in dining and living rooms (china cabinet, chest freezer, piano, media shelf, fireplace mantle).

Thursday
J – Clean guest bathroom (same procedure as our bathroom except toilet gets both wiped and scrubbed; even though it’s the guest bathroom, we do use it when we’re upstairs working, and the sink more often than not has plant seedlings in it so it gets dirt-y. Ha. See what I did there?)
A – Vacuum up all the puppy hair from the bedroom and entry mats.

Friday
J – Mop up puppy paw prints from hardwood floors using gentle hardwood cleaner and microfiber mop
A – Sweep puppy hair from hardwood floor using microfiber mop.

Do you notice a theme?

Rogue and Nero (Jan. 2013)

In case you were beginning to think Rogue and Nero aren’t earning their keep, they play clean-up crew for the floors in the kitchen and dining area. Nero protects Alex and the trash can when they go out to the curb on Tuesday nights. Rogue and Nero both scare off deer and cats from our backyard and keep a keen eye out for other things to play with  eat chase away. Amazingly, our dogs also re-landscape the backyard! What? Don’t you want the bottom half of your forsythia bushes pruned by wrestling puppies? And a swampy mud path around your azalea bush? They try…

On the weekends, I still take care of morning chores, but Alex and I use the time to tackle bigger projects.

If you’d like another way to view the entire week:

Weekly chores for a clean house

And that’s it! That’s how we don’t lose our minds. Even if we didn’t have two dogs, I would probably still use a schedule similar to if not exactly the same as what I explained above. I know it might look like a lot on paper the interwebs, but the biggest secret is that each of these tasks only takes about 10 minutes total! Even with a morning and an evening chore, that’s only 20 minutes a day. We don’t have (human) kids (yet). And I’m sure when we do I’ll want to make adjustments to this schedule. I also acknowledge that our home is on the smaller, humbler side. So while mopping the hardwood in our open floorplan living area might take me 10 minutes. To do the same in your home might take 5 minutes, it might take 20 minutes. (See two points at the beginning of post).

If you’re feeling inspired to make your own cleaning routine, here are a couple tips.

1. Prioritize. What is important to you? What areas of the house need daily attention, and which areas can be addressed less frequently? How much cleaning is just enough to not drive you crazy? Can you divide responsibilities amongst your spouse/children/roommate? Do you want to only use homemade, non-toxic cleaning products? Have you already made those or do you need to check pinterest do some research first? Once you figure out what’s important to you, you can tackle those things and will avoid feeling like you’re cleaning for the sake of cleaning.

2. Split it up. Try a “morning” and “evening” set of tasks. Dividing the day like this helps you not to feel like you’ve been cleaning all day long.

3. Organize. Take a little time to get organized, even if that means purchasing something to get you started. Example: Yes, I winced when I bought 2 new laundry hampers, but the headache it saves me in having pre-sorted laundry is well-appreciated. Whether it’s buying a new spray bottle or a new laundry hamper, figure out what will make your chores not only more efficient, but more enjoyable.

4. Put things back where they belong. Never leave or enter a room empty-handed. Do you have clutter in your house? I assume you do, otherwise you wouldn’t have made it this far in reading this post. Every time you exit a room, take something with you that doesn’t belong in that room, and put it where it goes. Getting up from the couch for some ice cream during a commercial break? How about bringing your lunchbox to the kitchen to empty it of its dirty dishes. Tired of watching TV and ready to read in bed for a while? Take some shoes or jackets from the foyer and put them away in your closet on the way there. Gotta check email before dinner? Take the stack of bills upstairs with you.

5. Multitask. Clean the shower while you’re in it. This, people, is a lifesaver. Cleaning the tub has always been my least favorite chore. If it is for you as well, go get one of those dishwashing sponges with the hollow handles. Fill it with 1/3 to 1/2 Dawn dish soap, and the rest with white vinegar. Scrub the walls and floor of the tub every time you take a shower (I have the main wall and the floor, Alex does the back, front, and small side) and you’ll never have to worry about it again.

If you’ve made it this far, you’re either desperately seeking ways to keep your house cleaner, or you’re charmed by the way I write so passionately and humorously about chores –  nudgenudge – and would subsequently rather vicariously clean my home than your own. Either way, I applaud you, and I hope you found something useful. What do your daily chores look like? What do you want to spend 10 minutes doing each day to keep things clean and tidy? Any other tips you have? Do tell.

And remember to check out other posts in my 2013 homekeeping mini-series:

How to Deep-Clean your House in 25 minutes or less, once a month
– January Cure re-cap (Week 1, Week 2)
– Breakfast and Dessert routines

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11 thoughts on “Give Us This Day Our Daily Chores

  1. Stefani says:

    This is so helpful! The shower suggestion is awesome, especially since it’s one of those things I end up leaving off for way too long. I bought a Roomba a few months ago, and it’s been a HUGE help in keeping the floors clean, especially with the dog hair. I only have a small apartment, but I can see setting it in a different room each morning before leaving for work (it has an automatic scheduler and returns to the charging dock when it’s running out of battery). I love how you try to use natural cleaners as much as possible. Could you create a list of all of your recipes and their uses? I’m trying to switch to more natural alternatives, so it would be great to see it all in one spot. Thanks for all the inspiration!

    • Jessalyn says:

      Wow! A roomba sounds awesome! What do your dog(s) think of it? And how nice to come home to clean floors!
      Thanks also for the suggestion about sharing my cleaning products. I’ll try to do a round-up of those really soon. Great idea!

      • Stefani says:

        Roscoe’s curious about the roomba. He’ll try to approach it while it’s moving but run away when it turns towards him. I actually thought he’d more more afraid of it!

  2. Rhimi Elliott says:

    You are inspiring me to stay on top of things.
    Keep up the good work. Your house will stay in tiptop shape and you will have no fear of unannounced guest. I am happy to report that it has been easy to keep my whirlpool tub clean employing your tub cleaning method. Happy cleaning!

  3. […] to my daily chores list and my already established arsenal of earth-friendly cleaners (more on that next week), vacuuming […]

  4. […] I wish I could tell you the secret formula for having dinner on the table every night of the week without running to the grocery store for things you forgot on *ahem* three different occasions. But perhaps you take comfort in the fact that I cannot, despite my other neurotic routines like these or these. […]

  5. […] out the other posts in this homekeeping mini-series: – Our daily chores – Breakfast and dessert routines – Apartment Therapy’s January Cure re-cap (Week […]

  6. […] Daily chores – Food routines – Once-monthly deep cleaning routines – Apartment Therapy’s January Cure […]

  7. Megan says:

    Found your blog thru a search for apt therapy January Cure. Phew! I have this post bookmarked and have referenced it about 100 times in the past day to help me build a – sorely needed but manageable – cleaning regimen. Thanks for sharing!

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