Inside: Borrow my super basic minimalist cleaning routine and make it your own. Complete with tips to make cleaning easier in general, plus full disclosure about what is and is not a cleaning priority for me personally.
You know how some weeks hit like the perfect storm? It’s one thing after another, after another, after…
First, we had a jam-packed day full of dentist appointments and medical appointments and bank visits. All of these things were far, far away because we live in the back of beyond now.
Full days are far from my favorite thing. We like to take it slow around here.
Next, I managed to injure my back in a very “I’m only 36, how did I even do this?!” kind of way. Then, my husband ended up in the hospital for a day (he’ll be fine).
The very next day, the car started making weird noises. Again. C’MON!
And it’s almost the holidays, too. Thanksgiving and presents and traditions, oh my!
But you know what I wasn’t worried about? Cleaning.
Come to think of it, I don’t worry much about cleaning at all anymore. What I used to obsess over has become no big deal, part of my daily rhythms.
And when I miss a day, I don’t stress anymore.
So what changed? A couple years ago I developed a minimalist cleaning routine that makes it all run like clockwork.
I hope it can be a game-changer for you, too. But first, let’s chat about what this cleaning advice is NOT.
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What This Cleaning Routine/Advice Is NOT (A Disclaimer)
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Have you read ever some of the cleaning blogs and magazines and thought, “How are they doing this?!”
Clean this once a week, clean that every day, clean these bajillion things once a month. Blah blah blah.
In my world, this is so very far from realistic.
Do we all have maids I don’t know about? Can you get those on Amazon, too?
A good number of moms I know (sorry if you’re a dude, but I’m fairly certain that 97% of the people reading this will be women) are working at least part-time. In my circles, we’re all homeschooling the kids, too.
Strict cleaning schedules are for the birds. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
So if you’re here to figure out how to fit all of the “cleaning should’s” into your life, this is not the blog post for you. Hit the back button and find someone living a different life with different advice.
(I’m not offended – my way isn’t for everyone. Best wishes to you!)
However, if you are trying to figure out how to squeeze in the cleaning essentials, the ones that give you a decently clean house, and make cleaning as routine as brushing your teeth, this is the article for you.
Let’s dive in.
How to Make Cleaning Easier Overall (Tips From a Minimalist Mom)
Here are my super basic tips for making cleaning easier. I promise you, it will be worth it when cleaning takes less time than ever before!
(Did you know that we were named a top organizing and decluttering expert by Redfin? Check out the article we were featured in: Create a Clean and Organized Home with These 35 Tips | Redfin)
1. Declutter. Then, declutter again.
It’s so much easier to clean bathrooms when there’s not much on the counters.
Taking a bajillion things off a counter before you clean it is a pain. Putting all that back is more of a pain.
Vacuuming isn’t that bad. Until the floor you want to vacuum is covered in stuff, which makes it take twice as long.
Keep your surfaces and floors as clear as possible for easier cleaning.
Sometimes that’s not always possible.
Like when you have a playroom, and you don’t want to spend the energy picking up every day. Or you have the occasional plant on a countertop.
In those instances, when you have less stuff overall, picking it up before vacuuming takes less time, or clearing the surface to wipe it down takes less time.
But if you’re here for a minimalist cleaning routine, you maybe already practice tip #1?
Need Decluttering Advice? Start Here:
- 7 Rules for Decluttering Toys for Quick & Easy Decisions
- Where to Start Decluttering (When the Clutter is Overwhelming)
- How to Declutter FAST – 15 Minutes a Day
2. Do cleaning tasks in the same order every time.
The #1 tip I have to make cleaning easier is to pick an order of cleaning tasks for each big job and stick to it.
I’ll go over my particular order for tasks per category. But feel free to make your own if this order doesn’t suit you!
For instance, you might prefer to get the hardest task – showers/bath – out of the way first in the bathroom. That’s cool. Just move it to the front of the line.
Or decide you’re going to vacuum from this side of the room to that side.
Making decisions beforehand saves precious brain energy for things more worthy of it than cleaning, which is the heart behind this minimalist cleaning routine.
(If you like this tip, you’ll probably love THIS book!)
3. Prioritize your cleaning tasks.
After you draw up your cleaning routine with the essentials, I want you to pick the absolute top priority.
I know, I know, if you’re only putting in the essentials, isn’t everything a priority?
Let me explain.
When I’m having a crazy week like this week, the first thing to go from my cleaning routine is vacuuming.
The kitchen is my absolute top priority that gets done as a daily task. But weekly, bathrooms are king.
If nothing else gets cleaned in a week, bathrooms get cleaned.
And if I’m having an “everything has hit the fan” type of week, I have an order of priority amongst the bathrooms (I have one all boys bathroom, so you know which one is the highest priority, right?).
I know that the floors can go a week without being vacuumed. The world won’t stop turning. I’ll get to it next week.
Bathrooms really can’t wait or else [insert vomit noises here].
My Super Basic Minimalist Cleaning Routine
Now that we’ve got those tips out of the way, this is my ultra-basic cleaning routine to fit in what I see as the essentials: bathrooms, kitchen, floors.
Please, please please tweak this to suit your own home/life/circumstances.
My minimalist cleaning routine currently looks like this:
- Sunday: Master Bath
- Monday: Boys Bath
- Tuesday: Guest Bath
- Wednesday: Vacuum Floor #1
- Thursday: Vacuum Floor #2
- Friday: Kitchen Appliances (+ Grocery Day)
- Saturday: Sweep Kitchen & Empty Trash
(Feel free to substitute rooms or tasks if you have fewer bathrooms. You could break up the vacuuming by room, for example.)
It takes me about 20-35 minutes per day. The kitchen takes very little of my time currently because my kids handle it – more on that later.
What you won’t find in all of this? Dusting. I absolutely refuse to dust regularly.
I’ve got better things to do with that time, some of which to be honest, is to sit down a take a break from all the things. I only dust when it’s bothering me.
If you want to tack dusting on, please, be my guest. If you don’t have as many bathrooms as I do, plug dusting into that slot and dust away.
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When bathrooms get cleaned weekly, the cleaning itself goes so much faster.
This is especially true of cleaning tubs: it takes a LOT less elbow grease to get that soap scum off when they’re cleaned weekly.
I wouldn’t say this is true of a cleaning task like, say, vacuuming.
Vacuuming is vacuuming, whether it’s been one week or three. It takes the same amount of time, just most gets sucked up in the process.
That’s why bathrooms are the highest priority for me. They fill the first three cleaning slots of my week.
Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays are for bathrooms, with the one I hate to clean the most taking the Monday slot. It’s all downhill from there, baby.
Here’s my preferred order of bathroom cleaning tasks:
- Sink Surface
- Sink Bowl
- Toilet Surface
- Toilet Bowl
This order makes sense to me, but feel free to make up your own, if you like.
Curious what cleaning supplies I use? Here are my favorite minimalist cleaning supplies that make cleaning a breeze.
Besides cleaning appliances on Fridays (fridge, microwave and toaster oven), daily kitchen maintenance gets done mostly by my kids at the end of the day as their main contribution to household mess.
One child collects the dishes, one clears and wipes down surfaces and hand-washes anything that needs hand-washing, and one loads and starts the dishwasher.
Oh yeah, and another unloads the dishwasher in the morning when he wakes up.
When I get up in the morning, if my oldest has left some particularly gnarly pots or pans on the stove, I’ll tackle those. I also try to put away the now dry hand-washed dishes.
Sometimes, I get to it; sometimes, I don’t.
My top priority with the kitchen is mostly clear, clean surfaces, and clean dishes for the next day.
If I was doing this all myself, I would likely dry and put away all the dishes as I washed them. But that does tack on a good amount of time, so I don’t blame my daughter for not doing it.
It’s a personal preference I’ve learned to let go of.
If you’re doing all of this yourself, I suggest the following order:
- Clear surfaces and bring dishes to the sink.
- Load dishwasher.
- Hand wash dishes/pans.
- Wipe down counters/stove.
To clean the kitchen before bed or in the morning?
There’s nothing better than waking up to a clean kitchen, in my humble opinion.
You could make this part of your morning routine, but then I’m not sure when you’ll fit in your other cleaning?
It’s up to you, but I’d strongly encourage a “clean kitchen before bed” habit.
The easiest to clean and my favorite cleaning task, vacuuming and sweeping.
I have one day a week for my upstairs vacuuming and another for downstairs, and one day for sweeping the kitchen and our sunroom.
(I’ll be honest, the mud room doesn’t get a weekly slot. When I’m really fed up with it, I clean it. It’s just gonna get incredibly dirty again in a couple days, anyway.)
Floors are pretty straight forward.
Confession: I don’t mop that often, but I do wipe down the kitchen floor areas along cabinets and the trash can regularly. I’m not a cleaning guru, just a work-at-home, homeschooling mom trying to get by without a maid. K?
FAQs About Minimalist Cleaning Routines
I tried to address every additional question here I could think of.
If you have a different question, drop it below, and I’ll try to add it to this list!
Q: When do you fit these cleaning tasks into your day?
I am working on honing my new morning routine (I hope to share it soon!).
Cleaning is part of that morning routine. I’ve tried fitting it in to other parts of my day with little success.
When I accomplish that big cleaning task as part of my morning routine, it’s habit. I do it *almost* without thinking.
You could try to tack it onto your right after work or evening routine? Especially if you work outside the home.
Just remember that building habits take time, and making things a habit happens best when you attach a task to something you already do automatically.
For more habit building tips, read THIS book. See the list of minimalist habits I’ve adopted over the years HERE.
Q: What about the bedrooms?
You might have noticed that I’ve focused this cleaning routine on the main living areas of the house. No mention of bedrooms.
I don’t have a regular routine for cleaning bedrooms. I tidy fairly regularly – pick up clothes, wipe down a bedside table, throw away trash.
But other than that, when the bedrooms start to bother me or I have a burst of motivation, I clean them.
It’s not every week. Sometimes it’s not even every two weeks or beyond.
(If I spent more time in my bedroom other than sleeping, I might care more. But I don’t, so there’s that.)
As for kids’ bedrooms, some are rarely dirty and only need very occasional cleaning. Others need more attention, and my oldest takes care of her own bedroom on her own schedule.
Q: What about seasonal cleaning?
This will strike some as horrible, but in this season of my life, I don’t do seasonal cleaning.
Should I be? Oh, I’m sure I should be.
It’s just not a priority right now. I still have a 3-year-old, and I’m homeschooling and working from home.
I’ve contemplated hiring it out, but we have other financial priorities right now.
If I get a bee in my bonnet (or something), I’ll update this post then.
Q: What about laundry?
I’m a “throw in a load of laundry every day” kind of mom.
I couldn’t handle all the laundry in one day. It makes me shudder just thinking about it!
My kids start doing their own laundry at age nine. So I only handle two little kids, my husband and I’s laundry and the household laundry like sheets and towels.
Oh, and I don’t fold laundry anymore. Life’s too short.
Get more thoughts on staying on top of the laundry HERE.
Q: What if you miss a day?
If I miss a day, there are a few options…
If it’s a bathroom day, I move that bathroom to the following day. Remember: bathrooms are the top priority.
Vacuuming then gets bumped if necessary to the following week, or if I get a burst of motivation on the weekend.
Or I’ll offer a paid job to a kid who’s interested. There are rarely takers – a shame when you make your kids so minimalist they don’t need/want money to buy stuff.
I rarely have time/energy to double up cleaning jobs in a day.
Q: Can’t you clean the whole house in one day?
You could always do all the major cleaning in one day…but that’s a long day, depending on the size of your house.
Unless you’re an “everyone chips in on one day” type of family for one big cleaning day, then carry on.
Personally, I’ve tried one cleaning day a week and found that if something happens on that one day, the cleaning for the entire week is then shot. It’s not for me.
Let me know in the comments if you take this approach, and it works for you!
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Strong Opinion: Cleaning Shouldn’t Take Over Your Life
Cleaning is a part of life, but it shouldn’t be this all-consuming thing.
Social media shows up picture perfect houses, and we think this it the standard. Which then causes deep despair and/or shame when we can’t meet it.
You probably already know this, but there’s a pile of crap outside that picture perfect frame (I’d bet money on it). The picture was staged and filtered and all of that.
Life for us mere non-Insta-worthy mortals shouldn’t require crazy amounts of cleaning.
Personally, I choose to clean less, so I have more time with my family, more time for self-care and more time for just doing nothing at all.
So I highly encourage you to take the pressure off, adopt a minimalist cleaning routine, and let the rest go. You’re worth it.