How to create a cleaning rhythm  

Before I stepped into the decluttering and organizing business, I had owned multiple house-cleaning businesses for 25 years. In those 25 years, I served hundreds of women. I learned a lot about the household stresses women are shouldering.

Those years combined with my experience of losing control and decluttering my home inspired me to do the work I’m doing today. So allow me to share a few nuggets I gleaned over the years about maintaining a daily “cleaning rhythm.”

I recommend a cleaning rhythm over a routine. I’m trying to help women reduce overwhelm, avoid perfectionism, and create systems that help accommodate ADD, chronic illness, the crazy seasons of life, and the time-starved.

Routines tend to be very specific, hard-fast, and feel more rigid. Rhythms are a more compassionate, gentle way of moving yourself throughout your home that becomes ingrained yet can be modified for your energy level and available time.

I have four considerations I want to discuss before I address the rhythm concept and example.

    1. Declutter 

You can rage clean for days, but if you have too much stuff, it will take five minutes for your family to exist in your house to make it look post-apocalypse.

When I owned professional cleaning services, I could clean a house so well it would receive approval from Martha Stewart, but post-cleaning it could take a family half an hour to bring it to chaos. This always caused the individual who hired me so much distress.

Clutter is your nemesis. If there are too many dishes, they will continue to stack up because why wash a dirty plate when there is an overabundance of clean ones? If there are too many clothes that don’t fit or aren’t loved, they will be thrown everywhere. If there are too many toys, they will get dumped out and create an immediate disaster. If there are too many papers, they will multiply and spread everywhere.

Decrease the density of items in your home.

Remember that everything in your home will need to be cleaned, organized, tidied, and maintained. Rid yourself of the excess and you will reduce your housecleaning time.

    2. Make sure to distinguish between cleaning, tidying, decluttering, and organizing

While maintaining your home daily you are doing more tidying than cleaning. People’s brains tend to get overwhelmed and discouraged when dealing with their homes because they confuse these different tasks and try to do them all at once. Read this blog post where I explain the difference and this will help create a more efficient approach:

    3. Ditch perfectionism and lower your standards.

Our society packs on the expectations for women to do it all and do it perfectly. Please do not fall into the trap of living up to someone else’s unattainable expectations.

I encourage you to do the opposite. Ask yourself what the lowest level of cleanliness and organization you can handle is. That is now your baseline maintenance goal.

When your energy and time resources are higher then you can invest more in the upkeep of your home, but knowing your lowest level of tidiness will decrease the anxiety around having to aim for a picture-perfect ideal.

We do not want to live in an environment that attracts insects, black mold, and rodents, but having peace around the fact that you can sleep just fine with dirty dishes in the sink even though your mom would judge you hard is an acceptable approach to home care. Do what is best for you.

    4. Delegate and outsource; hand off the card. 

I understand delegation and outsourcing aren’t possible for everyone, but please invest time into brainstorming possibilities because life is easier if you can swing it.

Hire a housecleaning service if you do not enjoy cleaning your house. Whether you hire someone once a month or once weekly the gains are enormous if you combine your daily maintenance with a hired service that does the deep scrubbing. If you take one thing away from this article, it’s outsource laundry, organizing or cleaning to lighten your load while you build other habits.

A cleaning service can accomplish in three hours which would take the average homeowner to complete in twelve hours. Imagine what you can do with an extra 576 hours a year.

If you have children old enough to contribute, make it happen. The objective is to create little humans that can enter the world as functioning adults, right? Well, lovingly hand over a duster and vacuum and prepare them for the real world!

For dividing up household tasks with your partner, I recommend a system called Fair Play by Eve Rodsky. An oversimplified explanation is: household tasks are listed on cards, and you deal the deck and decide who holds each card. Get those cards divided, so you do not carry your household’s entire mental and physical load.

    5. Point of use 

Make tidying easy. Keep your cleaning supplies organized and accessible where you use them.

I keep a mini bathroom cleaning kit under the bathroom sink. A mini kitchen cleaning kit under the kitchen sink. If you tend to get a dusty mantle, hide a swifter behind some photos in that area. Make it easy to jump into the task with little to no preparation each time.

    The daily cleaning rhythm!

Okay! Let’s talk daily rhythms, which I also refer to as “resetting your space.”

A cleaning service is more efficient compared to you because they design a cleaning pattern throughout your home and repeat it over and over each appointment.

You must design your rhythm or pattern for you and your family. It should be built around your family’s habits and behaviors and not be the other way around. Forcing humans to adapt to something entirely new is less likely to succeed than designing something around current behaviors.

I suggest “resetting” your space twice a day. The word cleaning gets some of our brains all worked up, but the phrase resetting feels much less labor-intensive and doable.  Morning and evening resets keep a house from toppling over.

The time investment for this maintenance practice will be different for everyone. Factors that impact this include how many people live in the house, how many pets, how big the place is, if you have kids, their ages affect the time, and if you have any added obstacles such as ADD or a chronic illness.

I suggest 15-20 minutes for each reset to start, and try to keep it under 30 minutes. And don’t forget, no perfection, and delegate tasks or areas of the home to other family members if possible.

The key to the success of your daily rhythm is that pattern I addressed. Start in the same place, move through the house with that same pattern, and end in the same place.

I will use my last home and pattern as an example to help you create your own. It was an approximate 600-square-foot cottage where I lived with multiple pets. I live in a tiny home now, and my current cleaning routine is not an excellent example of the average home. So I will be using my past residence as an example.

Here is how my daily rhythm went in my 600-square-foot cottage; I started in the kitchen and essentially walked the home perimeter as my pattern: kitchen, living room, bedroom, bathroom. A circle almost. 

   15-minute reset in the morning:

  • I started in the kitchen with the dishes and counters.
  • Next, I would head into the living room and look for anything glaring at me to do (it would typically be very tidy due to the reset the night before).
  • Go into the primary bedroom, make the bed, and clear the nightstand.
  • Jump into the bathroom and spray the vanity, shower, and toilet with a solution of half Dawn soap and half vinegar. I would leave the spray on the shower surfaces without rinsing it out each day and let the product do the work, but I did a quick wipe on the vanity and the toilet, tossed the cleaning cloth in the laundry, and call it good.
  • Rinse and fill pet water bowls throughout the house.
  • If I had time, I cleaned the floor if it needed it.


    15-minute reset in the evening:

  • Like in the morning, I start in the kitchen, rinse and stack dishes to do in the morning (I was living solo without a dishwasher, and I dread doing dishes twice a day, so this worked for me), and clean the kitchen counter.
  • Pick up stray items in the living room, such as dog toys and blankets, and put away reading material.
  • Check if the bedroom needs immediate attention (it should be tidy from the morning reset).
  • Put away any stray items in the bathroom.
  • Take garbage and recycle out.

For the deeper cleaning, I set aside about 60-90 minutes on the weekend and spent extra time in each room.

For example, In the kitchen, I added the tasks of cleaning the stove-top and the microwave, pulling the counter appliances from the wall and wiping underneath them, and doing a quick wipeout of the fridge.

I changed my bedding in the room, washed my bathroom mirror, and ran a magic eraser over my shower. Because I left my cleaning solution spray in the shower daily, it never got dirty (The magic eraser gave it a nice polished finish each week).

I ran a duster where needed and did all of the floors.

During my “deeper clean,” I walked almost the same pattern that I did every morning and evening, but I loved on each room a little extra!

I also incorporate my laundry routine into Sundays.

Suppose you are using the two quick daily resets and the weekly “deeper” clean rhythm, and your home isn’t staying tidy and clean enough. In that case, that is a trigger to stop and ask yourself, “Do I need to declutter again?” or “Do I need to ask for more help from others who live here?” or “Is it time to outsource some help?”

    Benefits to the cleaning rhythm 

The benefits of adopting this way of maintaining your home include the following:

  • This is a way of life, not a massive endeavor that you take on when things get too much and you are at a breaking point. Because it is a pattern you adopt daily, you can modify it for low physical or mental energy days. If you skip a couple of days because you are sick, only spend half the time as you usually do, or only take care of the dishes because you are depressed, it’s not detrimental. You just pick up where you left off when you are feeling better.
  • This approach reduces the mental load around cleaning or the dread you may feel when the weekend comes and you have to spend the entire weekend deep cleaning the house. You don’t have to think about cleaning all the time because your home will feel clean enough most of the time.
  • This approach is ADD-friendly because it is in short bursts, and the tasks don’t get out of hand and turn into a dozen different steps for each one. If you struggle with task initiation, there is less of a barrier with these short windows of time investment.

So, in summary!

  1. Declutter your home so daily maintenance is more manageable.
  2. Ditch perfectionism and embrace a realistic home environment.
  3. Delegate and outsource whatever you can!
  4. Plant cleaning tools where you use them.
  5. Design a cleaning pattern that you follow every time.
  6. Reset two times a day for 15-30 minutes, and do one deeper clean once a week for 60-90 minutes.

I hope this way of approaching your home’s tidying and cleaning needs serves you well. If you want help implementing this system into your life, contact us about our virtual services, and we can help you decrease your overwhelm and increase your time freedom!