I Clean It When It’s Dirty Enough to Bother Me!

posted by Andrea | 11/3/2017
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One of the more common requests I get from readers is to share a detailed list of my regular cleaning schedules — how often I vacuum, dust, clean the bathrooms, etc.

Of course, this question makes sense since I regularly share cleaning and organizing tips here on the blog. HOWEVER, I’m leery of sharing my “cleaning routine” because my routine (if you can really even call it a routine) is always changing and evolving based on my family’s needs, the time of year, and how much energy I want to devote to cleaning.

There are periods of my life when I’m all about deep cleaning (usually in January and February) and other times when I have so many other things I’d rather do that cleaning takes a back seat (like in the summer when we’re outside a lot.)

Another reason I rarely share my specific cleaning routine is because for the most part…

I usually only clean when something is dirty enough to bother me!

Since I do the majority of cleaning in our home, and since I’m the most bothered by dirt and grime, I’ve simply decided that instead of having a strict cleaning routine, I will simply clean whenever something is dirty enough to bother me.

Let me elaborate on that a bit…

  • I sweep the crumbs off the kitchen floor several times a day (stepping on crumbs drives me crazy) but I only mop my kitchen floors a few times a year (seriously, I rarely mop my floors!)
  • When we’re in the throes of potty training, I clean our bathrooms daily (sometimes multiple times a day if necessary), but right now, I only clean them about once a week. However, I do still wipe down the kids’ main toilet every day!
  • I usually vacuum our living room 2-3 times each week, but sometimes I feel it needs to be vacuumed every day if we have a lot going on or if the kids spill something. However, I don’t vacuum the upstairs carpeting nearly as often because it simply doesn’t get as dirty. I also rarely vacuum our steps because I HATE vacuuming steps!
  • I dust when I see enough dust to make it worth my while.
  • I wipe down the refrigerator shelves and drawers whenever there are enough crumbs to feel necessary.
  • We clean out the gutters when the water start spilling over the edge.
  • I clean the drains when the water starts to pool up in the sink.
  • I wash the windows when the water spots and smudges bug me enough to break out my window cleaning cloth.

I think you get the idea!

I know my system (or lack of a system) won’t necessarily work for everyone, but it’s very freeing for me to know our house is clean enough for me to feel comfortable living in, but not to the point where I need to spend countless hours keeping it spotless.

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If you REALLY want to know a semi-accurate estimation of how often I do regular household chores, you can read this post — but please keep in mind that this is just an approximation, definitley nothing exact.

Even when it comes to our current laundry system, there is still SO much wiggle room — especially now that we have a newborn who creates an insane amount of laundry!

If you’ve never been great at sticking with a specific cleaning schedule or routine, I’d suggest giving my “non-routine” a try! You might find that cleaning ONLY when something is dirty enough to bother you works wonderfully!

How do you keep your house clean enough?

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26 comments

  1. PW

    11/12/2017

    I purchased the Dyson stick vacuum with the removable part and it is wonderful. Got a great deal on QVC and we have 3 hugely expensive vacuum cleaners and I use the Dyson all the time. I can vacuum quickly, easy to get under things, around furniture and I use it quickly to vacuum the kitchen crumbs every other day. Well worth the $ I got a lot of attachments free on QVC purchase. It stopped working well after 2 years, called their tech dept. then told me there was a repair shop 15 min. away. Went there the 2 guys there were experts told me it needed a good cleaning showed me how to clean it and had it working well within 10 min.For free.They know their Dyson! I had it for maybe 2 years thought I read the instructions, I guess I forgot them. If I had to replace it then it would not have been worth the $. But since it was user error it has more than paid for itself. The removable part is great for quick clean up in the car when you don’t want to drag out the big vacuum. Good thing to ask from SANTA! Lots of info on maintenance on YouTube. I do a lot more vacuuming since I don’t have to drag out the big heavy ones

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yeah… I’d love one of those stick vacuums. I’ll have to keep an eye out for a deal this holiday season!

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  2. Jamie Prince

    11/05/2017

    So refreshing for someone to be real.

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  3. Gabriela Morante

    11/05/2017

    Love it….So simple and yet effective!!! 🙂

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  4. Dana

    11/04/2017

    Love this! How do you clean your windows, Andrea?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I used a MysticMaid window cloth. I think they are similar to the Norwex clothes but I’ve had mine for (literally ) more than 15 years and it’s still going strong!

    [Reply]

  5. Calliope

    11/03/2017

    Hi Andrea!
    I’ve tried everything over the years and though routines do help, I had the feeling I was cleaning all day long.
    Then there was the one day-one chore (ex monday for bathrooms, Tuesday for laundry) but in real life w kids accidents happen anytime anyplace.
    Not to mention my mother’s spring cleaning (actually in Greece they deep clean before christmas, easter, summer and winter- CRAZY) no thanks!
    So now I do some daily maintenance (crumbs,beds,picking up,cooking) which is enough because I only have one kid that also helps and because I am as obsessed w organization as you are 😉
    Then on Friday after my siesta I will change sheets and clean the upstairs. One hour tops.
    Usually on saturday morning or afternoon I will clean the downstairs. Laundry is done as needed, usually every other day and on Sunday I usually do some ironing (15-30′) and some extra cooking to get us through the week.
    I also NEVER mop the floors. My mother freaked out majorly when I told her 😀

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    sounds like you found a good “system” (non system) for you!! Who needs to mop the floors anyway 🙂

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  6. Julia

    11/03/2017

    I love how realistic this post is! This is pretty much how I do things too, but I always felt bad because I wasn’t cleaning as often as I “should.” Thanks for the reminder that we all have different cleaning needs and for making me feel better about not sticking to a cleaning schedule!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    eh… there’s no “right way” or perfect schedule for cleaning your house — whatever works for YOU is what you “should” do 🙂

    [Reply]

  7. Meghan Oyster

    11/03/2017

    Love this post! I clean things if they are sticky, spotty, or it annoys me. I too cannot stand stepping on crumbs. Despite a lack of a schedule, our home is pretty much always ready for visitors. However, we’ve been so busy I’ve let my bedroom go. I can’t stand it, and this weekend it’s getting decluttered and cleaned. When I was first married and had no pets or kids, I cleaned our entire house every Thursday. Now I realize I was just cleaning an already clean house. Oh, if I could get that time back!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I did a total “overhaul” of our bedroom this summer. We were forced to move everything out of our room for a very messy drywall fix — so EVERYTHING was thoroughly cleaned, freshly painted, purged, washed, etc. it felt amazing!

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  8. Annette Silveira

    11/03/2017

    Those rigid chore charts always stress me out. How much more sense does it make to clean something when it’s dirty?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    a lot more sense 🙂

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  9. JJ

    11/03/2017

    Honestly, having company motivates me. We have dogs and just found out our youngest has a dog dander allergy, so I *have* to keep up on cleaning now. We just bought the Shark vacuum to help with pet allergies, and it has a detachable canister for stairs! I hate vacuuming stairs, too, so hopefully this will help. But, cleaning is therapeutic for me. And your blog has motivated me throughout the years to declutter, so it isn’t as crazy to have to dust a million knick knacks, etc. But our fan blades!?! Probably a weird question: How do you clean your fan blades, walls, and ceilings? This is something we will have to be on top of with the allergy. Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I hear you — I don’t go crazy for company, but it does definitely motivate me to do a quick clean of the bathrooms and floors!

    I’ve never dealt with Allergies so I’m not sure I’ll be much help. I just use a step stool and damp cloth to dust the fan blades — and I rarely (if ever) wipe down the ceilings or walls!

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  10. DeeDee

    11/03/2017

    Andrea, I totally hear you on this one. I do a few things on Saturday/Sunday to get my house “clean and company ready” enough and that’s it for the rest of the week. I do the other stuff when I get bit by the cleaning bug or at times my 11 year old will want to make some money for something or other and we let him “earn” it.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes! i’m looking forward to the day when all the kiddos are a little older and we can “bribe/pay” them to do the things we don’t want to do 🙂

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  11. Niki

    11/03/2017

    Love this post! I’ve been trying to figure out how often I should be cleaning, because I don’t clean that often. You’re post just gave me validation about my “routine” or lack thereof, because I do things right now only when they bother me or I haven’t done it in awhile. Thank you for this refreshing perspective!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I don’t think there is any one-right answer for how much or what method one person SHOULD use to clean — glad you’re doing what works for you!

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  12. Michelle

    11/03/2017

    Great way to put it! I do the same thing.

    Also, the dyson stick vacuum may help with those stairs because you can use it as a hand held vacuum but with the carpet floor attachment. I promise Nora and Simon would fight over who gets to vacuum the stairs and they’d be able to do a good job.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yeah, I’ve had my eye on a Dyson stick vacuum for a couple years now — I just can’t bring myself to spend that much money and I won’t buy a used vacuum (I’m all about “used” but I have to draw the line somewhere 🙂 )

    [Reply]

  13. Carina

    11/03/2017

    I tried cleaning schedules years ago, and felt like I turned into a slave to that schedule. The last few years I have also just cleaned stuff as necessary and according to my mood.

    Luckily, I have a hubby who helps tons with these things, and the kids are being trained to help as well.

    Congrats on the baby by the way!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yeah, I know what you mean. I think cleaning routines could work well for people with extra-busy schedules and for teaching kids to clean; but right now, they don’t work well for me!

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  14. Elizabeth

    11/03/2017

    Cheers for this awesome method! Sometimes I see “cleaning routine” charts and think I should implement them. But the Andrea Dekker method works well for me, and I’m in good company here so no need to change it 🙂 Thanks, as always, for your terrific and honest posts!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I know — I do think chore charts and cleaning routines work for some people and some families, just not for me right now 🙂

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