My 7-Day Housekeeping Guide

posted by Andrea | 09/26/2016
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housekeeping guide

I am CONSTANTLY asked to publish a specific list of what cleaning and organizing activities I do each day, week, month, year, etc. as well as when, where, and how I tackle all those little projects and tasks that need to happen sometime, but don’t necessarily have a deadline and seem to hang out on our to-do lists forever and ever.

It’s hard for me to wrap my brain around EVERYTHING I do to keep my house running each and every day — but earlier this summer, I shared a post about my general daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly cleaning routines. I’m sure I left a few things off by mistake, but it’s a fairly comprehensive list (in my opinion).

Over the past few months, as I thought more about how I could simplify and consolidate all the various things I do each day and each week to keep our house fairly organized and clutter-free, I realized that there are 6 main categories I try to focus my attention on each week.

I added in one day for extra projects (or for rest) and I came up with a 7-day Housekeeping Guide that encompases most of extra things I do every week.

Please know that this guide does NOT take the place of your regular cleaning and to-do’s.

You will probably notice that I don’t talk about making the bed, washing the dishes, doing the laundry, creating a meal plan, writing a to-do list, getting the mail, etc. — and that’s because my 7-day housekeeping guide is IN ADDITION to whatever daily and weekly cleaning and organizing you already do.

The purpose is to help you stay on top of all those little areas that are easy to forget about but should still be cleaned somewhat regularly.

Also, I do not expect anyone to tackle ALL of one specific category in any given day. Even a stay-at-home parent with kids in school all day wouldn’t be able to accomplish that!

Instead, my intent with this list is to give you ONE AREA to focus your attention on every day — and in a way, permission to let some of the other areas slide for a couple days! I feel it’s less overwhelming to think about bettering ONE area of your home than to look at your entire home and wonder where to start.

Hopefully, this 7-day housekeeping guide will help you find a place to start each day! 

housekeeping guide

1. Hard surfaces

This is probably one of the biggest categories (just think of how many hard surfaces you have in your home), but many of the tasks are quick “wipe down” or “sweep” tasks that go quickly!

FOR EXAMPLE:

  • Wipe down countertops and tables
  • Wipe down appliances (large and small)
  • Scrub the kitchen sink
  • Wash windows
  • Wipe down door knobs and light switch plates
  • Sweep and/or mop hard floors
  • Dust baseboards, window sills, door frames, ceiling fans, etc.
  • Disinfect kid’s toys, books, and games

2. Soft surfaces

Although I usually don’t think of our home as having many “soft surfaces,” it’s amazing how many soft surfaces in our home could use a little extra attention!

FOR EXAMPLE: 

  • Take down and wash curtains
  • Shake out and/or wash rugs
  • Vacuum under couch cushions
  • Wash furniture slipcovers
  • Have your carpets and upholstered furniture professionally cleaned
  • Vacuum out your car
  • Wash your pillows and comforters (or any other bedding that you don’t normally wash with your sheets)
  • Wash throw pillows and decorative blankets
  • Vacuum and rotate mattresses
  • Dust lamp shades
  • Wash shower curtain liner
  • Wash strollers, high chairs, and other fabric kid items (here’s how I wash mine)

3. Paper (physical and digital)

Paper is often extremely overwhelming for people because they just don’t know where to start. My hope is that by having one day where you can devote a little extra time to paper, you will tackle a little of your paper clutter at a time until it feels more manageable.

FOR EXAMPLE:

  • Bring the paper recycling away (if you don’t have it picked up each week)
  • Pay and/or file bills
  • File or recycle any papers that are sitting out and not in their “home”
  • Sort, organize, and digitize photos — I know it might seem overwhelming, but working on it a little every week will help!
  • Sort through school papers, kids art work, projects, etc.
  • Go through your email inbox
  • Purge old, unneeded books, magazines, and newspapers
  • Backup computers with a portable hard drive
  • Organize craft papers and supplies
  • Organize gift wrap and greeting cards

4. Closets (Clothing and Linens)

Closet clutter is a huge issue for so many people because we can close the doors and forget about it… at least for a little while! However, in my own personal experience, spending a little time keeping my closets in order saves me SO much time and sanity later on down the road.

You don’t need to give up your entire weekend to do a full closet-organizing project either… there are plenty of ways you can regain control of your closet spaces with just a little extra effort.

FOR EXAMPLE:

  • Purge 5-10 items from your own closet
  • Straighten and neatly fold stacks of clothes on shelves and in drawers so they take up less space
  • Pull out kids clothing that is too small and move it to a younger sibling’s closet or get ready to sell or donate
  • Wash seasonal clothing (bathing suits, snow pants, rain coats, etc.)
  • Clean out and reorganize front and back closets (or mudrooms if you’re lucky enough to have one)
  • Go through ALLLL the shoes!
  • Remove extra hangers
  • Go through linen closet and purge sheets without a match, stained tablecloths, grubby towels, or any other linens you don’t need

5. Food Spaces

The amount of space we require to store perishable and nonperishable food simply amazes me! Even as someone who doesn’t like a lot of ‘extras’ lying around, we have TWO refrigerators, an extra deep freezer, a large pantry cabinet in our kitchen, as well as a small extra pantry area by our deep freezer in the basement.

It doesn’t take long for these spaces to become messy and cluttered.. and when they are messy and cluttered, it’s easy to forget about the food way in the back. This results in spoiled food, freezer burned food, smelly food, expired food, and a whole lot of wasted money!

If you are tired of throwing out food, there are plenty of ways you can better organize your food spaces to save you time, money, sanity, and wasted food.

FOR EXAMPLE:

  • Commit to eating from the pantry/freezer for a period of time to clear out some of the “food clutter”
  • Defrost and reorganize your freezer
  • Wipe down various shelves or drawers in your refrigerator
  • Purge, consolidate, and reorganize pantry cabinets or anywhere else you store food
  • Create zones in your kitchen, fridge, and freezer and store like-items together.

6. Clutter

After going through hard surfaces, soft surfaces, paper, closets, and food spaces, there’s a decent chance you will end up with various items that need to be put away, better organized, and stored somewhere.

Your clutter busting day can be the day you reorganize a drawer in your kitchen, find homes for all those little odds and ends, or make progress towards finishing a larger organizing project.

FOR EXAMPLE:

  • Go through a box of memorabilia in your basement
  • Reorganize your workspace
  • Go through your medicine cabinet and toss expired prescriptions
  • Reorganize the shelves in the garage
  • Purge holiday decorations
  • Purge kids’ toys
  • Weed through your junk drawer
  • Finally bring your load of donations to the drop off location
  • Recycle old electronics

7. Day off or an extra project

Depending on how busy you are, what your health is like, or what other tasks and obligations you have each week, you can give yourself a day off, use this day to play ‘catch up’, or tackle a totally new project.

Either way, I think it’s nice to have a “free” day every once in awhile!

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The beauty of tackling your housework in this way is that you really can’t get “behind” in a sense that you would need to do 2 or 3 days worth of work in one day.

Of course, the system runs more smoothly if you stay on top of your tasks each day, but if you get busy and miss a day or two, just start back up where you left off.

For example, if you work on hard surfaces one day, then soft surfaces the next, but then you get sick for 3 days, just work on paper the next day you’re feeling up to it. You don’t necessarily have to do hard surfaces every Monday, soft surfaces every Tuesday, etc. You can just keep going at your own pace when you have the time and energy.

That said, if you think it would be easier to allocate a specific task to a specific day of the week (there are 7, so it would work nicely) then just skip the days when you felt sick and pick back up on on the current day’s task whenever you start to feel better.

There is no one “right way” to work this system — the main goal is just to continue making gradual forward progress in a variety of areas within your home on a regular basis so you EVENTUALLY hit all those spaces that are easy to forget about!

Do you have any other systems to keep up with weekly housekeeping?

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9 comments

  1. Stephanie

    10/10/2016

    I caught up with your blog today. I consider myself pretty organized but really enjoyed this article. The pictures were inspiring! Thanks for sharing.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh good — glad you’re all caught up again now 🙂

    [Reply]

  2. Mara

    09/28/2016

    This is a great post! Thanks for taking the time to be so detailed!

    [Reply]

  3. Debra Martin

    09/26/2016

    I found this very helpful…definitely easier to stay focused when following this plan. What doesn’t get done…you can work on when that day rolls around again…and not panic about what you didn’t accomplish. Thank you Andrea…I am a lot older than you and in a different time in my life, but I find you very motivating and helpful!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes exactly! I know too many people who get stressed out trying to do a huge list of super specific tasks on specific days of the week. Obviously, there are some housekeeping tasks that really do need to be completed on a regular basis (dishes, laundry) but most of them can slide a day or two if necessary 🙂
    Thanks for your kind words Debra!

    [Reply]

  4. Emily

    09/26/2016

    I like how you divided the tasks into categories. You could pick one task from each category if you’re beginning with a huge mess. Great tips!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, or just pick one category per day of the week and do a couple things from that day’s category throughout the day. Either way — it’s better than doing nothing at all!

    [Reply]

  5. Michelle

    09/26/2016

    There are days I am extremely busy, but at the end of the day it would look like I didn’t really get much accomplished. What I have found works best for me is assigning myself one room (or project) a day to do a thorough job on. Sometimes it is difficult not to get distracted and start working on something else in another room as I pass through. With focusing on one project at a time I feel I am making progress more quickly in getting the whole house cleaned and organized but at the same time not getting exhausted and discouraged from trying to do it all in one day.

    I have also found that cleaning out the refrigerator of last weeks leftovers the morning before I go grocery shopping helps when starting a new week of planning and creating a menu. It also gives me inventory of what’s in there that needs to be used before it expires and what I need to add to my list.

    I just want you to know how inspirational your ideas are. I have been at this wife/mother/housekeeping job for over 30 years and am always desiring ideas of making things easier to simplify my life. Thanks for helping to keep me motivated.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Michelle!
    And yes, that’s kind of where I was going with this 7-day guide. At the end of the day, even if you’re tired, you can still pick ONE thing from that day’s category and do that well. Your house might not be spotlessly clean, but you’re moving in the right direction!

    [Reply]