How to avoid housework

Okay, I lied a little bit in the title of this post. There is no avoiding housework if you live in a house. What I really mean to say is, “How to avoid all-day housework marathons.” Because if there’s one thing I do really well, it’s keep my house clean and tidy with a minimum amount of effort.

First of all, let me make three disclaimers:
  1. You don’t have to be dull.
  2. It doesn’t have to be immaculate, just tidy.
  3. If you have kids, your mileage may vary.

Now then, here’s my room-by-room, daily/weekly/annual guide to keeping it clean without breaking a sweat.

Bedrooms
Daily
    • Make the bed. It only takes a minute and it looks nice all day.
    • Undress in front of the closet and put each item of discarded clothing either into the laundry hamper or back on the hanger.
Weekly
    • Wash the bed linens and tumble the pillows in the dryer for 30 minutes on high heat to kill dust mites and restore loft.
    • Vacuum or sweep the floor.
Annually
    • Move all the furniture out and thoroughly clean the floor and baseboards.
Bathrooms
Daily
    • Every time you use the sink, immediately rinse away soap or toothpaste and wipe water spots off the sink bowl, faucet, mirror and counter top.
    • Put the cap back on the toothpaste. 🙂
Weekly
    • Run a damp sponge around the edges of the shower/tub to remove dust and hair.
    • Wash the bath towels and bath rug.
    • Sweep or damp-mop the floor.
    • Empty the wastebasket.
    • Clean the toilet bowl and wipe down the lid and tank.
Twice a Year
    • Thoroughly clean the shower/tub to remove soap scum.
Annually
    • Move everything off the counters and out of the cabinets and drawers so you can thoroughly clean them.
    • Toss any expired medications or cosmetics.
    • Replace the shower curtain liner if it’s gotten grungy.
Kitchen
Daily
    • Wipe up any spills on the floor or counters immediately.
    • If you wash dishes by hand, wipe up all water around the sink and wipe down the counters when you’re finished, every time.
    • Wipe off the stove top and facing surfaces after cooking, every time.
    • If food splatters in the microwave, wipe it out immediately.
Weekly
    • Sweep or damp mop.
    • Take out the trash.
Annually
    • Move everything off the counters and out of the cabinets and drawers so you can thoroughly clean them.
    • Toss any spoiled, expired or desiccated spices, oils, or other food items you will never use.

Helpful tip: Write the date of purchase on spices and on food items you use very seldom, such as molasses, so you have a good idea of when they’re past their prime. “As a general rule, whole spices will stay fresh for about 3-4 years, ground spices for about 2-3 years and dried herbs for 1-3 years.”  (source)

Living Room
Daily
    • Don’t eat in the living room. Just don’t.
    • Designate a place for the remote and return it there at the end of the day.
    • Fluff and arrange sofa pillows, fold throws, and pick up any loose items.
    • If you can’t resist piling books and magazines on the coffee table or end table, at least keep the piles tidy and squared up.
Weekly
  • Shake out or wash any slipcovers or other removable furniture coverings.
  • Dust bookcases and knickknacks.
  • Vacuum or sweep the floor.
  • Recycle magazines you’ve already read.
Annually
  • Move all the furniture out and thoroughly clean the floor and baseboards.

And there you have it, the major areas of your home all tidied up. My daily routine takes about 10 minutes, the weekly items take about 30 minutes, and the annual stuff takes longer so I just pick one area to do at a time because if I did them all at once it would become a marathon and we can’t have that!

You’ve probably figured out that the two key points here are “immediately” and “every time.” Never underestimate the power of a damp sponge, faithfully applied, to keep ordinary dirt from overwhelming any living space. The key to keeping a clean house is to make a little bit of effort frequently and routinely so that small messes do not become large ones, and so that you can spend your evenings and weekends doing fun things. Bonus: You’ll never be embarrassed if company drops by unexpectedly … and asks to use the bathroom.

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