Tips on cleaning more regularly?

I’m getting my first condo in the new year. With that comes the weight of certain responsibility…like cleaning.

I’ve never been the best at keeping up at it; I’m a procrastinator at heart, and don’t usually think of cleaning if it doesn’t “look dirty.” Even when it does, or other unmistakable signs pop up, I can still put it off for a very long time. Then I have to put in all kinds of effort to clean up months of accumulated mess and dust.

Getting a place I actually own has shifted my thinking here, so I want to keep it from getting that bad. Any tips for how I can best train myself to do this?

Set a fixed time each week for cleaning the apartment, and never cancel or postpone it. Set a precise routine of what you clean and in what order. Follow it religiously.

It works for me.

You might want to check out the Sidetracked Sisters. Links to my favorites of theirs below.

Don Aslett’s books on cleaning techniques also help make the housework easier and more efficient, thus not as a big a time sink and more likely to get done. He also has one on how to design a lot of the housework out of your home.

I do not recommend FlyLady. Her stuff’s based on theirs, with extra doses of condescension and clueless privilege (example: FL tries to ban folding laundry on the bed or sofa, apparently honestly believing everyone has room for a folding table/counter. Also, expecting other household members to actually contribute or finding her edicts impractical for one’s own circumstances without flexibility is “whining”).

I’m also not fond of Sandra Felton’s books on organizing and management. She’s a grade-school teacher, and oh boy does it show in how she talks down to the reader.

Think about your lifestyle, specifically times when you know you’re busy. For example, if you work a full day all week then you’re unlikely to have time, energy or inclination to clean after work. Consider the “high traffic” areas such as kitchen and bathroom which may need a wipe-down daily and a more serious clean when you have more time.

Make yourself a rota and stick to it - again, wipe down kitchen surfaces when you’ve finished cooking, do the dishes, put them away and make that a part of your cooking routine. Look at perhaps cleaning the floors once a week, and deep cleaning one room each week so that nowhere ever gets really dirty. Decide for yourself exactly what you’re prepared to tolerate in terms of “dirt” and untidiness, and once that point is reached, you have to act.

We have cats, cat litter and carpets which means we have to vacuum every weekend to clean up all the bits of fur and scraps of litter that they’ve tracked around the house. It’s never much, and it would take 2-3 weeks before the house looked intolerably dirty, but the litter is pale and the carpets are dark so it’s obvious!

Factor in time for laundry and general tidying up too, look at the time it takes you to sort your rubbish and recycling. Put that on your rota so you don’t forget to empty all your bins before the rubbish gets collected.

Good luck, and happy new home!

That’s easy for you to say. I’ve always carried my mess with me, everywhere I go, the mess follows. I leave cups on the table, clothes on the couch, mail on the coffee table, dishes in the sink…but one thing that helps minimize the mess is a cleaning person, who comes in once a month and probably should be coming in weekly or at least bi-weekly, if I could afford it. (I probably can afford it, I’m just frugal, but that’s another issue.) The once-a-month cleaning (vacuuming, wiping down of surfaces, changing of linens, etc) is augmented by two things: before her every visit, I straighten up a bit, putting things away so she doesn’t need to guess where everything goes (I try to do this a few days before she arrives, so the house is half-clean when she gets here–I should do it a week before, so my house is navigable for that entire week) and I try to stay neat for a few days after she cleans (again I should stay neater for a week.)

This way my place is pretty good for the week before and the week after she cleans. If I had her come in twice a month, my place would be in very good shape–as it is, it’s only in pretty good shape, clean enough for half the month or better, and acceptably messy for the other half.

Resolve to do one chore every day. No matter how small, accomplishing one task will help stay ahead of the mess, and give you the will to go one to the next job. Some days you’ll do more, and feel good about it. And it keeps you from feeling overwhelmed and giving up because you’ve let let everything pile up so long, it all seems impossible to catch up on. Instead of looking at the whole house as a mess, break it into smaller achievable goals, and do at least one each day. Feel good about it, and leave the rest for tomorrow.

I find 10 minutes can make a difference. Set a timer and spend 10 minutes tidying or dusting or vacuuming. Do it 2 or 3 times a day. When the timer sounds, you may realize that another minute or two will finish the chore, or you’ll see appreciable progress. It can also help get you into the mindset of not creating a mess that you’ll have to deal with during one of your 10-minutes.

Like 30 seconds to wash a couple of dishes rather than letting them pile up till you can’t see the sink - it comes down to making the habits you want in place of the habits you have. And I’m not being smug or glib - I was way too close to 60 before I was able to make such habits (and I still slip occasionally.)

Ya gotta decide that you will do it, then figure out what works most effectively for you. Or get a neat-freak roomie who will keep the place clean! :wink:

Just now: I decided to nuke some water for tea. For the 2 anna half minutes my mug was spinning and heating, I started emptying the dishwasher. When it was time to toss in the teabag, I let it steep while I finished with the clean dishes. All told, less than 5 minutes, and more satisfying than watching water boil over on the turntable.

Other multi-tasking: I scrub the shower while in the shower. The scrub brush and scotch-brite sponge are there anyway, and the cleaning products at hand. So I turn on the water to wet all surfaces, then turn it off and scrub. And once I’m done with that, I can rinse the surfaces and wash myself. Hardly seems to take any extra time.

I think house cleaning is a ‘know yourself’ type thing. There are various types of people with various tendencies that make various types of problems worse (or better, I guess) for them, so one size fits all solutions simply don’t exist.

Do you generally run your life by having regular routines? Like, you always go bowling on Tuesday night? Always grocery shop on Saturday? Then a system based on making a suitable chart for daily/weekly/monthly tasks will suit you well, once you manage to develop it as a habit.

If you’re more a free spirit, I do (whatever) when it (needs to be done/comes to my attention/feel like it) then those chore lists just won’t work for you.

For you, figuring out how to ‘engineer’ certain tasks out of existence might have a better payoff. Like, you will NEVER have to dust your venetian blinds if you don’t have any. And a once every so often outside cleaner can be a great solution. Yes, it costs money, but maybe you’d find working a few extra hours at your job now and then, or doing some Uber driving or baby sitting at times to cover the bill, is less unpleasantly regimented for you than trying to remember to do laundry every Thursday evening or polish your furniture the first of every month.

My own HUGE failings are that I 1) rely on visible reminders to get things done and 2) never developed the mindset that “the job is not done until all the detritus is dealt with and all the tools are put away.” So, a bill comes that needs paying? I put the opened envelope right on the middle of my household desk to remind me the next time I sit down to handle such tasks. So, I’m supposed to bring a baked good for church coffee hour next Sunday? I put the recipe right out on the counter. Often I pull out the (non-refrigerated) ingredients and put them there, too, as part of checking that I indeed have a cup of shredded coconut and enough cupcake papers and such on hand.

This works pretty well – I’ve never had to pay late fees because I forgot about that tax bill and I’m reliable at turning up with whatever I’ve agreed to turn up with – but it creates a constant level of ‘out of place’ stuff. Those House Beautiful shots of flat surfaces with nothing on them except a vase of flowers and an artistically chosen ornament? Not my house.

And I lack the follow-through, so after I pay the bill, do I automatically file the bill stub, throw out the now unneeded envelope, and put the checkbook away? Well, no, but I’ll get to it ‘soon,’ right? And after I baked that cake and washed the the gear I used, did I automatically put the rarely used Bundt cake pan back in its normal relatively out of the way storage location, and put the left over coconut bacj into the pantry? (I’m sure you know the answer by now.)

For me the solution was developing an iron-bound habit. I CANNOT leave any room until I have done ONE TASK towards promoting general order/tidiness. I look around to find something out of place or messy – like the mug from the morning coffee, the checkbook on the desk, the screwdriver left behind from doing whatever – and pick it up to put it away or take it back to where it belongs. Or maybe I deal with the dust on the window sill. Or wipe down the counter beside the stove that magically accumulates crumbs.

That’s basically my entire ‘routine.’ Just one little task, mostly stuff that takes less than a minute, but since I do it EVERY time I leave a room it means I do it dozens of time every day, and so my clutter-y bad habits never get a chance to create chaos.

So that’s my advice: figure out what about your personality /way of operating causes the mess to accumulate in your house and target your solution to offset your particular version. Note: I didn’t say what caused the mess to occur, that’s obvious. You needed to eat food. You needed to wear clothes and now need to wash them. Dust just occurs. The problem is what causes those little messes to accumulate rather than going away almost automatically.

…and develop a lower threshold of revulsion.

One thing that helped me immensely was getting a robotic vacuum. It does the floors twice a week when I’m asleep. Not only are the floors perfectly clean Friday and Monday mornings, but I also know it will get tangled up in some kinds of things I might leave lying around, which is enough to get me to never leave these things lying around on the floor. I’m inspired by how clean the floors are without having required initiative or effort on my part, which adds some enthusiasm (and available time) to tidy up a bit on all the table tops.

We have a housekeeper that comes in once a week. She does all the big stuff and we just keep our clutter picked up and wipe counters as needed. This runs about 150/month and is well worth it in our opinions.

Just something to think about.

Next best thing is a cordless stick vac–makes it sooo much easier to do a quick vacuum.

Section duties.

Think of your house as individual areas to clean. If you try to clean it all at once you get overwhelmed. Clean a part and stop. One section per day or when you have time, and you will feel good about what you have done and you will actually keep it clean.

Clean your kitchen, stop.
Living areas, vacuum, dust, stop.
Bathroom, stop
Bedroom and laundry, stop.

You are more llikely to get it done if you only spend a few hours at a time on it rather than devoting an entire day trying to get it all done each time, because that ends up being a lot more work and you just won’t keep it up.

This. I hated vacuuming until I got a cordless vacuum. Stupid-expensive Dyson, not a very good vacuum, but I don’t have many rugs and it’s a breeze to keep the floors clean with it. Worth every penny.

Yup–we got a factory refurbished V8 for $300. It does a good job and is indeed worth every penny.

Don’t let anything accumulate in a pile. Put everything away as soon as it comes in the door. Shoes off at the door and you’ll rarely have to clean your floors.

Old saying: “Don’t put it down, put it away.” Figure out where you will put everything, and get bookshelves or cabinets or dressers or coffee table with drawers for all your things. If you don’t have a filing cabinet, get one, and use it religiously. Get some nice baskets for the few things you want to keep out.

Make it a rule that your tabletops remain clear of stuff or else you’ll end up using them for all your clutter. I made this work by keeping my dining room table set nicely with table settings all the time, so I can’t pile my crap on it.

Kitchen: as others have said, clean up as you go and don’t let dishes and pans pile up. Wash them as soon as you’re done (or after soaking for only a short time if necessary). Your stove, counter, and sink should be clean anytime you’re not actively using them.

It’s a lot easier to stay ahead of the game than to try to make headway once you’re behind.

Also, if you have too much stuff, you’ll always be fighting it. Get rid of anything you don’t really need or use or want. Your home shouldn’t be a museum to everything you’ve ever owned. If you can’t find a place to keep something, maybe you don’t really need it anymore. It feels really good to get rid of stuff that’s cramping your space.

One big problem for most of us is stacks of books/papers we intend to read someday. You really have to stay on top of those or they get out of control fast.

When mail comes in, deal with it on the spot, or at least the same day, otherwise you’ve just made new piles to mess up the place and get out of control.

Good luck!

Like @FairyChatMom says, break it up into little pieces. I went to General Motors janitor school, where they told us, “Cleaning by the mile is a trial. Cleaning by the yard is hard. Cleaning by the inch is a cinch.”

Pretty much this. I do laundry and vacuum every Sunday (see, religiously) that I can. Sometimes other events crop up so that I either have to play catch-up during the week or be prepared for dirty bedsheets for more than 7 days. I haul the trash out on Thursdays to be picked up on Friday. Bin goes back in the garage each Friday. I have an arrangement with a neighbor that if either one of us will be gone Friday, the other will drag our bins back to the garage to keep mgmt from complaining. It works for me.

I set a routine.

Every day in the morning, we make clearing up part of our routine - once I’ve showered and dressed, I then go and do all the things to get the house straight - fluffing cushions, taking shoes upstairs, emptying dishwasher, wiping down the cooker top, opening blinds and clearing away breakfast things. Everything is essentially put back in its place so we start the day with a tidy house. It takes all of 10-15 minutes.

Then once a week, we clean. We do it as soon as we rise and before we shower as an incentive to get it done. Change the bedding without fail, hoover, clean the bathroom, dust everywhere, empty all bins. Most often, it’s an hour or so on a Saturday morning.

With these two basic routines, my house is essentially always ‘visitor ready’, and there’s never any build up of mess or dirt which makes the thought of cleaning so much harder.