I get it. Just because I started a natural cleaning products company doesn’t mean I love spending my whole day cleaning! But, the more we learn about the physical, mental, and emotional health benefits of a clean and healthy home the harder it is to let the excuses and the dust bunnies pile up.
Today I’ll share my best tips on how to create a stress-free house cleaning schedule that reduces anxiety while cutting your cleaning time down to just 5-15 minutes a day.
The benefits of setting a cleaning schedule
In the past, my husband and I would usually knock out all our house cleaning in a couple hours on the weekends. It was kind of fun, we’d crank up the tunes or our favorite podcast and just get it done. Laundry was a once-a-week thing, and we’d keep the house generally tidy otherwise.
Then our first child came along and suddenly spending a dedicated 3-4 hours cleaning was not an option. Plus, with babies come tons of laundry, tons of stuff, and tons of mess…all of which was adding to our stress. And it’s not just new parents who get stressed out and anxious over messes and clutter. We now know a cluttered home equals a stressful home, which leads to procrastination, feelings of shame, frustration, inadequacy, depression, and elevated levels of stress hormones1,2. As the to-do list piles up, so does our stress level. Our energy dips and eventually tidying up seems insurmountable.
With regards to our physical health, a cluttered home is not typically a very clean home either. Dust is a major concern here—especially for those with young children or allergies, and bacteria from neglected bathrooms, kitchens, floors, etc. can wind up causing repetitive health problems that only make things worse. Plus, the effects of prolonged, elevated stress hormones, like cortisol, can lead to a slew of inflammatory health issues including adrenal burnout, heart issues, hormonal imbalances, digestive health problems, weight-gain, etc.3 I share this not to scare or shame anyone—heaven knows I’ve frequently been overwhelmed by these issues myself—but to point out just how directly connected our health is to the health of our homes.
Ready for some good news? You can start to change this right now by setting a simple cleaning schedule that takes only 5-15 minutes a day, and we’re going to show you how.
Introducing the no-stress cleaning schedule
I like to think of this cleaning strategy as interval-training, or the Pomodoro productivity technique for cleaning. The point being, you want to get as much done in as small a space of time as possible, while maximizing results. I recently started doing this myself and it seems to really work for us. Why? Because research shows your brain is better able to handle and complete large tasks when they’re broken up into smaller, more focused components4. One of the easiest ways to do this is to create a room-by-room schedule.
Here’s how it works: every day you pick a room, assign a household member to it, and dedicate 5-15 minutes to cleaning it.
How much time it takes depends on the size and scope of the room and how organized you are out-of-the-gate. If you’re a morning person, take advantage of that energy to get it done then, if you’re a night owl tackle it after work or after dinner, if you have young children get them into it when you can. The point is to spend a little time every day as opposed to a huge, overwhelming chunk of time once a week…and forget perfection. Good enough is good enough, and it’ll get better and better the more you practice. That’s it, and it’s so simple.
Here’s your stress-free room-by-room cleaning checklist
Alright, set your timers. We want these rooms done in 15 minutes or LESS!
- Start by disinfecting your kitchen sink (which experts warn is often dirtier than your toilet!5). You can do this with Branch Basics All-Purpose with a sprinkle of Oxygen Boost. If you are concerned about disinfecting raw meat, you can also spray equal amounts of hydrogen peroxide and vinegar from separate bottles to effectively kill germs (see this article for information on how and why this works as effectively as chemical disinfectants, and how to do use it safely). To make it easy, just screw a trigger sprayer top onto a hydrogen peroxide bottle and a vinegar bottle. Let that sit while you run through the rest of the list, then rinse well.
- Clean out and dispose of any old or expired items from the fridge
- Wipe down countertops
- Wipe down fridge and other appliances
- Sweep and mop floor using appropriate dilution of concentrate (see page 7 of our User Guide for specific floor dilution instructions)
- Empty all household trash cans into kitchen trash and take out so it’s ready for the next day
*Note: The acetic acid in all-natural, white distilled vinegar is a lung irritant. Therefore, be sure to use in a well-ventilated space and take extra caution if you have lung issues.
Living Room Day:
- Do a quick pickup of magazines, books, glasses, toys, etc.
- Vacuum or sweep/mop the floors using Branch Basics concentrate at appropriate dilution (see page 7 of our User Guide for specific floor dilution instructions)
- Dust all surfaces with microfibers or unscented swiffers. You can do a few sprays of All-Purpose onto a microfiber cloth for an extra clean
Laundry Room Day:
- If you have a laundry room sink, clean with Branch Basics All-Purpose or Bathroom solution plus Oxygen Boost if necessary Do a quick pick up of any rogue socks, dryer balls, etc.
- Hang up or put away any clothes
- Dust off washer and dryer with microfibers or an unscented swiffer, and wipe clean with Branch Basics All-Purpose or spray with hydrogen peroxide
- Shake bath mats outside
- Change hand towels
- Spray down and clean counters and sink with Branch Basics Bathroom solution, hydrogen peroxide, or the vinegar/peroxide disinfectant combo mentioned previously
- Clean mirrors with Branch Basics Streak-free or vodka in a spray bottle
- Sweep floor
- Remove bath mats and last week’s towels for washing
- Empty trash
- Spray down tub with Branch Basics Bathroom solution, let sit 5 minutes then rinse
- Clean mirrors with Branch Basics Streak-free or vodka in a spray bottle
- Clean sink with Branch Basics Bathroom (plus Oxygen Boost if needed), hydrogen peroxide, or use the vinegar/hydrogen peroxide disinfectant listed previously.
- Sweep or vacuum bathroom floor, mop with Branch Basics at appropriate dilution for your floors (see page 7 of our User Guide for specific floor dilution instructions)
Bedroom(s) Day: I typically like to tackle all our bedrooms in one go, but you can break it up into different days if you prefer. No matter what, plan to strip all the sheets in one day.
- Strip sheets
- Dust off surfaces
Playroom Day (if applicable):
- Vacuum or mop floors
- Wipe down table tops and chairs with All-Purpose, hydrogen peroxide, or vinegar/hydrogen peroxide disinfectant combo previously mentioned
- Take 5 minutes to re-organize toys/books
Dining Room Day (if your eating area is part of your kitchen you can do this the same day as your kitchen routine):
- Wipe down table
- Give high chairs/boosters a good clean with All-Purpose or hydrogen peroxide spray, or vinegar/hydrogen peroxide disinfectant combo
- Set table for next meal
- Vacuum/mop floor
Speed things up by getting organized
5-15 minutes may not seem like a lot of time to clean a whole kitchen or bathroom, BUT it is possible so long as you’re organized and forget perfection.
For example, I can’t tell you how much time you’ll save having all your cleaning supplies, microfibers, etc. in one portable spot, like a cleaning caddy. And taking a little time to get some hooks, trays, and dividers for your kitchen and bathroom drawers ensures everything has its place and makes for speedy tidying.
Customize your cleaning schedule
Keep in mind, this schedule is entirely customizable based on the size of your home, your personal schedule, and your lifestyle.
Here are some fun ways to customize:
- Don’t want to clean every day?
- Combine more than one room into one day, if it takes 20 minutes instead of 15 no big deal
- Vacuum/clean all your floors or do all your laundry in one day. That’ll shorten up your daily room-by-room routine. Using the time-delay feature on your washer can also help get more laundry done while you sleep
- If you have a roommate, spouse, partner, or family around have them pitch in one day (or more) a week. This could mean everyone takes care of their own bedroom or everyone gets assigned a room on a weekend to tidy up
- If you have the budget, hire a cleaning crew to take care of some big jobs for you, like vacuuming or doing the bathrooms. If teenagers are in the home, they can be a great and affordable resource for this
One final word of encouragement: the hardest part of starting a new cleaning schedule—or any new routine or habit—is actually starting. But guess what? You’ve already started mentally by reading this article, so your next step is to print out these lists and start applying what you’ve learned. Once you get going, it will become second-nature and you’ll have better health and happiness to show for it. You’ve got this!