My “Not-So-Routine” Cleaning Routine

posted by Andrea | 02/19/2013

Ever since I’ve had my own home, I’ve experimented with SO many different ideas, schedules, and routines — all in attempts to simplify the cleaning process.

I tried implementing specific chores on specific days, but that didn’t work because I ended up cleaning things that weren’t even dirty and doing tiny loads of laundry JUST because that was the day I had “scheduled” to do those tasks.

I tried doing all the cleaning on one day, but that didn’t work because if I skipped one day, that meant nothing would be cleaned for another whole week.

I tried using cute printable sheets to check off what I’d done, but that just seemed like a waste of time and I’d often rush through the jobs just so I could cross something off the list and move on to the next thing.

I tried cleaning one whole room every couple of days, but that didn’t work because I like to clean the kitchen and bathrooms more often than the bedrooms.

Our house was always clean enough, but I never felt like these self-imposed schedules or systems were a good fit for my daily life… and for some reason (probably because I’m a Type-A) I felt like I NEEDED to have a cleaning schedule in order to make the cleaning process most efficient.

However over the past year, I’ve come to realize that the best cleaning “routine” for ME is no routine at all. (Yes, you read that right!)

My cleaning routine is basically, clean whatever needs to be cleaned, whenever it needs to be cleaned — and as time allows.

It’s not perfect, and I realize this won’t work for every family, but it’s working for us… for now!

 photo source

My general cleaning routine.

Please notice that I said “GENERAL”. This is just approximately how often I clean certain areas of our home… it’s definitely not set in stone.

FLOORS and SURFACES:

Vacuum Carpets = 1-2 times per week. (keep in mind we have no pets, only 1 child, and we usually take off our shoes)

Sweep Hard Floors = 1-2 times per week.

Mop Hard Floors = whenever I think of it and/or have time (a.k.a. not very often!)

Dust = once a month (I know this might sound bad, but our house honestly isn’t that dusty)

Windows = once a year or as needed (our windows flip in so it’s pretty easy to quickly spot clean them)

KITCHEN and BATHROOMS:

Kitchen Counters = I wipe them down while I cook, and then usually a good cleaning every night

Appliances = I clean them with stainless steel polish as needed (like every other week)

Sink = I give it a good cleaning once a week (more about my sink here)

Bathroom Counters = I wipe them down as needed and do a full-bathroom cleaning every 2 weeks

Toilets = Every 2 weeks or whenever company comes (this might sound gross, but I’m the only one who uses them all day)

Showers = Usually once a month — but I’ll be honest, I’ve skipped the last couple of months!

LAUNDRY:  

Whites = usually 2 loads per week (this includes all towels and some bed linens)

Everything else = usually 2 loads per week (and no, I don’t sort colors)

Sheets = I wash our pillow cases every week, but our sheets usually only once a month

Blankets, pillows, rugs = twice a year or as needed

NOTE: I also wash almost anything that is supposed to be dry-cleaned at home

 

So that’s it — our “not-so-routine” cleaning routine!

As I mentioned above, this is very general, and definitely not set in stone. There are times when we have guests staying with us, so the bathrooms get cleaned much more frequently. There are other times when I might decide to wash all the sheets, blankets, comforters, pillows, winter gear, all in one week — and then the washing machine goes non-stop!

I actually don’t mind cleaning — if there’s nothing better to do. However, since my days are often jam-packed, the “routine” that works best for me is simply to clean whatever is dirty, whenever it’s dirty, whenever I can make the time!

What type of cleaning routine works for you?

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49 comments

  1. Katy

    02/19/2013

    Reading the beginning of your post sounded just like my attempts to create a cleaning schedule. I also finally just developed a not-so-routine plan. I did leave set days for the items that I dislike, such as every Monday I deep-clean the bathroom…that makes it scheduled and not something I can’t procrastinate. And on Fridays I clean our mudroom/entryway. Everything else just gets done as I have time. Also, thanks for sharing your home-made shower cleanser…I started using it this past summer and it works great! Even my husband noticed how sparkly our shower is now!

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    Katy Reply:

    Oops, typo…it should read “not something I can procrastinate.”

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  2. LoriB

    02/19/2013

    I like your style. This is where I’m at but it took much longer for me to get to this point. I love a clean house but a perfect house is just too much pressure.

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  3. Calliope

    02/19/2013

    Yeap, that’s me too!
    I do continue to make cleaning routine lists but only when i really need them, in the beginning of spring cleaning or during a difficult period in our lives. It seems to take the pressure off as it is one less thing to remember.
    Otherwise I clean as needed but as it seems quite more than you! My house is surrounded by dirt roads and this.is.killing.me.

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  4. Pamela

    02/19/2013

    I have come to the same method — clean whatever needs cleaning as soon as I can. Skip what doesn’t.

    The only thing that really surprises me is that you wash your sheets only once per month!!! I thought EVERYONE washed them once per week! I’m curious now what others do….

    Thanks for the post. I love your blog!

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    Carrie Reply:

    I don’t wash my sheets weekly either. Usually every 2 weeks, but I’m single so it is only my dirt!

    For my kids, I only use a fitted sheet and a quilt on their beds. I don’t do top sheets for the kids. I wash these about every month or if needed.

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    Starla Reply:

    I wash sheets every 2 weeks or sometimes 3 weeks. I figure our bodies are clean when we go to bed (we take showers in the eve.) so the sheets really don’t get that dirty. Works for me!

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    Beth Reply:

    My sheets have to be done every week. If I didn’t work outside of the house, I would wash them twice a week. We take showers before bed too. Just personal preference, I guess!

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    Brenda Reply:

    I was mine when they need it, sometimes every week, sometimes once a month. My mom washes hers once or twice a week!!

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    Sandy Reply:

    I am laundry OCD and do at 2-3 loads every day. One of those is always the sheets off our king size bed. I change sheets every single day because my mom changed sheets every day. I love getting into a fresh crisp bed every night and think it is a very decadent but easy luxury that anyone can afford. We get up, strip the bed, make it with clean sheets and put that set in the washer as our first load of the day.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Wow — that’s about how much laundry I do every week (but laundry isn’t one of my favorite things!)

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    Debby Reply:

    I wash mine every 2-3 weeks. I am so thankful for this post. I thought people washed them more often so now I feel good that I am right in the average.

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    Natalia Reply:

    I only wash our sheets about once a month. We’re both taking showers in the evening and wear pj’s :)
    I take everything off the bed, wash what I can (including window coverings, sometimes) and drape the comforter over the railing on our porch, to vent. About 2 hours later I can make the beds again, with the same sheets.
    I replace the sheets when seasons change or if I’m in the mood for something different. I’m pretty picky about sheets beeing folded “right”, so this way (by reusing them right away) I save lots of time & energy. And there are no ugly wrinkles to deal with! From the dryer they go straight on the bed!
    It works for me!

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    Kelly Reply:

    We change our sheets every Sunday morning. I keep 3 sets of sheets in the linen closet for our bed. Three works out great in our rotation because one set can be in the laundry that week, another set on the bed and third in the closet in case you need a back up (you just never know! Especially during flu season… ). I absolutely love this little routine we have and it doesn’t take long at all with the both of us making the bed before our big Sunday morning breakfast :)

    Not to mentions, I love Sunday nights and the crisp, clean sheets!

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  5. Amy

    02/19/2013

    Before reading this post, I used to feel like I HAD to have a regular cleaning schedule as well. I guess I even felt a little guilty if I didn’t clean since I am home all day while hubby is at work and my daughter was at school. I also had this silly idea that I had to clean or my house would not feel comfortable. I realized lately that all this “scheduling” of cleaning makes me stressed and leaves me no time for anything else that may need to be done like organizing, purging, meal planning, budgeting, ect. I am really trying hard these days to give myself a break and not beat myself up if everything in the house isn’t perfect. After all, there IS a family living here!!!!!!!

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    Alicia Reply:

    I could have written your reply! This isEXACTLY how I tend to be in unfortunately every area of my life. It’s no fun! After all, we are human and not perfect. I’ve been working on this as well! :-) thanks for making me feel like I’m not the only one out there like this.

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  6. Bonnie

    02/19/2013

    When my children were little, I always tried to keep the house picked up. I only cleaned every 2 weeks. My two children are close in age and both have disabilitlies. I really did the best I could under the circumstances. Now they are older. I am able to follow a daily cleaning schedule and I love it. It’s what works for me now.

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  7. Damian

    02/19/2013

    No routine at all sounds like a mess waiting to happen around our house! We do tend to clean up areas as they need cleaning (kind of like you suggest) but we also have a weekly (or bi-weekly) routine to do a full clean on the weekends, which seems to work for us. And it gets the kids more involved other than just picking up toys and such. Ultimately, your “routine” should fit your lifestyle.

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  8. Evie

    02/19/2013

    My name for this kind of cleaning is “Do the Next Thing.” Works for me, generally speaking, but there are times when too many “next things” pile up all at once and triage is necessary! LOL Sometimes when that happens I just sit and read my book or go out and pull weeds in the garden to block it all out of my mind for awhile. After a mini break, the most important “next thing” is usually pretty clear, and I pitch in again!

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    Evie Reply:

    P.S. I’m in my 60′s with an adult daughter at home who is severely developmentally delayed and is more or less like a happy, busy 3 year old, and we’ve got dogs and cats…so things are always hopping around here! I love a neat and clean home, but by definition I’m the only living being in this house who is on board with the program. I learned early on that routines that are “set in stone” are not for me. Many years ago when my oldest child was a VERY high energy 2 year old, a visiting older relative watching me precisely fold a paper grocery bag and line it up neatly with the others in my cabinet laughingly told me if I didn’t quit that kind of thing, I’d go crazy soon. LOL Didn’t take me too long to realize what she’d meant. I adjusted and relaxed, but, you know, you have to keep trying to keep things nice, and so I’m always cheerfully busy doing the next thing!.

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  9. Lisa

    02/19/2013

    I clean bathrooms everyday i have a16 year old boy a 24 yr old boy and a hubby all boys lol also i have to clean hardwood floors everyday we have pets lol extra kiddos 3! What ideas do u have for doing floors i swifter everyday or sweep sometimes i mop I keep towel at the door for pets when rainy to clean feet they know the routine as I started when they were pups so if u have any ideas Andrea would love to hear .oh by the way all dogs are boys to lol I’m surrounded by males help please! Lol

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  10. Monica

    02/19/2013

    Oh, how I love you!! I have felt so guilty about not cleaning everything on a schedule, and more specifically, not cleaning everything every week on a set day like my mother did! I am a single mom with 3 kids, a full time 40 hour job and 3 part time jobs. I just don’t have time to be cleaning all the time! I make my kids help me occasionally, but they are busy with homework all the time!

    You just totally set me free!! Lol….

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  11. Liz

    02/19/2013

    My philosophy is “cleaner….not clean”. You could go nuts trying to have a clean house with kids and pets. Everything gets cleaned eventually, but everything isn’t clean all the time.

    The only absolutes in my house…1 load of laundry, 1 load of dishes and a plan for dinner. Otherwise we’re talking chaos.

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    Charissa Reply:

    I like your thoughts, Liz!

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  12. Jen

    02/19/2013

    After seeing how often you (and everyone in the comments) cleans, I’m realizing that my cleaning goals for this year are WAY too high and are probably why I’ve been so stressed lately! My son is crawling and we have a dog, so I feel like I need to have everything cleaned weekly (floors, bathrooms, sheets, etc), but it’s a lot to do. I think I need to rethink my cleaning schedule! Thanks for the epiphany lol :)

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    Evie Reply:

    Here you go: Kids with dogs are less likely to get asthma.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/07/the-dog-bacteria-that-can-protect-you-from-asthma/259292/

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  13. Katherine

    02/19/2013

    Oh, I absolutely agree with this post! The only thing I have that is day-specific is that Monday is laundry day for our clothes and towels. Everything else gets cleaned as needed. I tried assigning things to specific days, but I found that I would skip the ones I didn’t want to do, and the ones I didn’t mind were usually the ones that didn’t need to be done as often. So now I just buckle down and clean when I need to, and it really doesn’t take very long.

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  14. Marie

    02/19/2013

    Only set days for certain things, like Friday is sheet day and Saturday is bathroom cleaning day(only do shower/tub once a month or maybe every other), dusting is usually every other week. Vacuum once a week unless unusual amount of traffic in house plus we don’t have pets, dishes everyday no matter what since I cannot stand them dirty in the sink, laundry as it needs to be done(used to be more often before I got my front loading washer/dryer), house is usually picked/straightened up because everyone knows where “their stuff” needs to be. I’m so much more relaxed about cleaning than I used to be when I was younger. But I still want it to be tidy.

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  15. Jenny C.

    02/19/2013

    Andrea, I ALWAYS appreciate your perspective on things. Thanks for helping me be more realistic about cleaning – it tends to be a big stress in my life, so thank you!

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  16. Natalia

    02/19/2013

    You made me smile with relief… Thank you, Andrea!
    I’ve tried all kinds of schedules, but most of the times it’s just a drag to do it because it’s scheduled (and not really needed, and I should be doing something better with my time!!!)

    Lately, I’m just cleaning as often as I can or I really have to. Mostly, it’s every other Friday – a full house swipe thru, for several hours, with minimum maintenance in between.
    Laundry gets done as needed, about 3 loads on Fridays and maybe 1 or 2 during the week.

    Twice a year (before Easter – just because I like to have a deadline for the spring cleaning, and before Labor Day) I do a deep cleaning of the entire house. But, I never get to do everything I want to. (it’s my fault I set high expectations)… I do my best, and – when the deadline is over, I say “oh, well”, and move on.

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  17. Heidi

    02/19/2013

    Thank you for this post! I clean this way and it works but feels a bit haphazard. Glad to know that even an organization pro like yourself acknowledges that somethings don’t fit within a schedule when you have tiny tots or other issues. It makes me feel better you can attain such order in your home with this kind of approach, it gives me hope ;D

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  18. Dana

    02/19/2013

    I can’t tell you how nice it was to read this post – after reading some other organization type blogs I was feeling like a slacker. I approach cleaning like you do – when I notice it and it needs cleaning, it gets it. I try to have company over once a month because that will really get me in gear to get the house in shape.

    I’m now giving myself permission to not feel guilty about having no cleaning schedule – thank you!

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    Debby Reply:

    Dana,
    I do the same thing. I invite family or friends over for dinner or cards. This keeps me on my toes with my cleaning. And they all thought I just loved their company!!! LOL

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    Andrea Reply:

    glad to help Dana! Don’t feel guilty or like a slacker — in my opinion, there’s not point in cleaning something that’s not dirty. And as long as I feel comfortable in my own home, I’m OK with a little dust and grime (for a while!)

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  19. doreen@househoneys

    02/19/2013

    I had to laugh at this post, especially the part about crossing something off the list so you could move on. Not that I could relate to that, mind you ;).

    Not surprisingly, no one ‘routine’ works for everybody. That’s why there’s chocolate and vanilla.

    For the last 14 years, we have owned a cleaning business, so within reason, we could get our house cleaned whenever we wanted. Recently, we moved from a 2500 sq.ft home to a rental half the size. We moved in December and to date have not had a crew at our place to clean. It’s just the two of us and frankly, the house is small, one level and stays pretty clean without too much effort.

    I’ve never been one for schedules. I remember growing up my mother would do laundry on a certain day, go food shopping on a certain day (and know exactly what she was going to buy), get her hair done on a certain day…you know the routine. As for me, I shop without a list and don’t have a clue what I’m buying until I’m in the store, I do laundry when I feel like it, clean when I feel like it, and even blog when I feel like it. In fact, I don’t do much of anything unless I feel like it. In spite of all that, I’m a VERY organized person. My socks are in little compartments, my spices are alphabetized and there is no clutter in our home.

    I find your ‘routine’ realistic, refreshing and healthy.

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  20. Janet

    02/19/2013

    Your “routine” is what works here basically. Two people with significant back problems, it’s definitely a “do t when we can or when we can’t stand it” Started organizational cleaning out in Jan., took 12 bags to Goodwill and feel like a drop in the bucket. Simple is so much easier and more pleasant way to live. We have too much stuff!

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  21. Hana

    02/19/2013

    That’s always been my cleaning routine! I never understood the point in vacuuming unless the vacuuming needed to be done, etc. Sometimes chores do get a bit piled up, but I can usually muster enough energy to power through a few of them in an evening. And, like everyone else, reading this post and the comments make me feel a lot better about the state of my house right now!

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  22. Jan

    02/20/2013

    Love it! well said and yes simple, adaptable and bite sized..Daily must dos with a few extras sprinkled through the week means a happy , busy mum with a happy routined family.

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  23. Jennifer P

    02/20/2013

    The only scheduled routine I use is for laundry. I only wash clothes laundry on the weekend that way everyone is ready for the school/work week. Currently I only do about 4 loads per weekend for 3 adults.
    Sheets are changed every other monday and since I have 4 sets I only wash them when the last set goes on the bed ,so about every 6 weeks. When we had all of our kids at home each of them had 3-4 sets of sheets also.
    Sheets, towels and others are washeed during the week. I also have about 35+ bath towels so I only wash them when the towel hamper gets full, about 1-2 loads a month. These routines started when we had 3 small kids and I had to travel to the laundry mat to wash. I just kept the schedule when we got our own washer & dryer.
    All of my other cleaning is not scheduled and is done when needed.

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  24. trish magdaleno

    02/20/2013

    less stuff= less time cleaning……
    andrea’s essay on ‘less stuff’ was right on…. target. Less is best for me. I have a rountine to ‘reduce and declutter’. I am either recycling, filling boxes for Goodwill or making sure the trash can is full.

    As the CEO and CFO of my home, 40 hour per week employee, mother, wife, knitter and someday quilter, I want more time to do the things I enjoy and not the things I SHOULD be cleaning…..

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    Andrea Reply:

    Love this Trish — thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  25. Kelly

    02/20/2013

    We just moved into our new house in July and at first I was obsessed with cleaning because of the drywall dust and just trying to keep up with my mother’s perfect house. I found myself canceling plans with friends and family and turning down over time at work just so I could clean. It got to the point where I was cleaning already cleans things. There’s no way dust would have had time to settle if it wanted to! I obsessed over the perfect cleaning schedule and realized I was cleaning in all my spare time so I really didn’t need a schedule. I am not an OCD person and I think I was just trying to preserve the “newness of my house.” I finally, recently have relaxed a little and like you Andrea, I clean as things are needed and sweep a few times a week. I have so much more time to cook meals and make plans with friends and family or do things like read your website on my iPad :) It’s really all about just picking up as you go and doing things as needed! Whether or not I vacuum 5 times a week or once a week my house still looks the same.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Ah — I can relate Kelly!
    I felt like I SHOULD be cleaning more, but things weren’t even dirty. Dave and I are both really good with always picking up and wiping up after ourselves so our house never LOOKS dirty or messy. So basically the only reason I clean is because I know I need to keep the germs under control (kitchen and bathroom) and just so I KNOW it’s clean. I seriously save myself lots time and stress now that I clean so much less. Isn’t it wonderful!

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  26. Kim s

    02/23/2013

    Thank u sooooooo much for posting this. I feel I am also a Type A and have been trying to figure out this cleaning thing for years. It’s making me crazy!!!! I honestly thought that I had to have a routine or list or schedule in order to do it all. Thank u again for your hearthfelt and honest post!!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    You’re welcome Kim — glad to help!
    It’s funny how much time we (myself included) have probably spent trying to find the perfect system and routine for things… when the simplest option me be just not having a routine! Obviously, “no routine” wouldn’t work for everything in life, but for cleaning, it’s working just fine in our house :)

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  27. Jennifer

    03/13/2013

    This sounds so much like what I do, and as a Type A personality it has bothered me not to have a typical routine. I am evolving though because my kids are now more than old enough to help out. My goal these days is to teach them how to take care of a home. I never received this training and have felt inadequate for years. I don’t want my kids to have the same experience. I want them to feel confident when they are grown and on their own. Thanks for sharing this post!

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  28. JO

    03/13/2013

    Thank you for posting this! I have 3 kids, work full time and do not use a cleaning service. I have thought about trying to implement a schedule but have never gotten around to doing it. You’re right – just do what you can when you can and it won’t pile up. I also involve my kids quite a bit. They do toilets, baseboards, and they all love to swiffer – especially my baby boy who is the exact same age as your Nora! He’s obsessed with dusting! I really enjoy your blog – next project is photo albums – I have to do it!

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  29. john justus

    09/14/2013

    hi andrea,im a stay at home guy, look after a work at home wife, 5 little dogs that sleep in at night and are in and out durning the day, guys are not always so intense when it comes to attention to detail with house keeping,, so it was very encouraging to read your take on general cleaning routine and it really made so much sense(its not gross, clean the toilet when people are visiting) you have come across as just a normal family. a fast vanishing breed in this world of must have biggest and best, spotless and clean jon

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  30. Veronica D.

    05/07/2014

    Thank you. I thought I was MAD! My mother in law really thinks I am. I have 4 kids under 7 yrs old and I clean the same way and it works. I don’t sort colors…why waste time? Dry clean? I live 90 miles to closest dry cleaners…so no, I wash Everything! Besides, my husband is a total spontaneous man. “let’s go fishing this weekend” so I fly by the seat of my pants all the time.Keeping house is not an exact science really…like you said, clean what and when it needs done. Kids spill, I wipe it up. Very simple. Thanks again for posting this, it shows me I am not the only mother like this!

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