Facets of Homemaking #1 – How to Clean your Home

The first facet of homemaking is learning to clean your home. This involves several ‘layer’s’ – decluttering, cleaning, and organization. (And having a batch of fresh cookies in the cookie jar doesn’t hurt, either!)

Clean Your Home – Start by Decluttering

armoire overflowing with clothes and shoes

Cleaning out the clutter in your home sounds like a major undertaking – and yes, I can already hear the groans coming from my readers. But although it may be time consuming, if you keep a mental image of the finished project in mind, it may just make the going easier.

Don’t Hurry

nautical arrangement with a ship in a bottle, old compass, wooden box, and beads

When you clean your home by starting with a thorough de-cluttering, don’t be rushed. Yes, we want this project to be finished as quickly as possible, but by doing so, we may be unhappy with the final result. You may accidently give away or sell an item that, come to find out, belonged to Great Aunt Rachel and has great value – either monetarily or sentimentally.

On the flip side, you may keep an item that has absolutely no use, but has memories attached. Keep in mind that it took you a lifetime to collect all these things – give yourself permission to take time to sort through them.

From start to finish this project can take a weekend, a month or even a full year. For me, I wanted to get the entire house done, so I broke it down. I set an initial goal of a room in a weekend. If I come across something I am not sure of, I will set it aside for no more than six months, preferably less, giving me time to assess its value or importance.

Be Prepared

donation box filled with clothes and topped with a pair of red shoes

It is helpful to have boxes and/or bins on hand when you get started. Place five on the floor. Mark one for Garage Sale, one for Donations, one for Trash (this can be a large trash bag, as opposed to a box or bin), one to redistribute to other rooms, and one for Family.

As you pick up an item, decide which box it needs to go into. Once it goes in a box, it is required to stay – which is why you really want to take some time to decide. It is possible to have a sixth box for storage but set yourself a few ground rules.

The Storage box should be limited to holiday items and things you may want to hand down to your own children someday. If that is the case, give each category their own box. Just set yourself a limit as to how many boxes can go in storage, or you might end up with a hundred boxes with that designation, which in turn defeats the main purpose.

One Room – One Section – At a Time

bedroom with Robin's Egg blue walls, dark gray iron bed dressed in white linens with a pink and blue quilt at the end

Each room should be divided into quadrants. In each section, begin with surface things, then move to closets, drawers and under beds. Each item will have to answer a series of questions. Are you necessary? Are you useful? Can I live without you? (Not do I WANT to, but can I?) Will my Mother or sister kill me if I sell you in a garage sale? If ‘no’ is the answer to any of these questions, (or yes, to Question #3), then place it in the appropriate box.

On the first pass, my goal is to clear out no less than 50% of the extraneous items.  After I have finished a room, I will make another sweep to see if there is anything else that can go before moving to the next room. When the last room is finished, I will make a final pass through the entire house. Once I am completely finished, I make it a goal to keep clutter at bay.

About those boxes

donation box handed from one set of hands to another

As you fill them up, be sure you put them in their proper place. If they are being donated, go ahead and put them in your vehicle, and schedule a time to drop them off within the next day or so. If they are designated for a garage sale, store them in a place where they are out of the way, yet easy to get to. Check your calendar and go ahead and pencil in a date. By doing so you will encourage yourself to keep to your de-cluttering schedule.

If they are items that you want your family to sift through, call them up and have them come as soon as possible. In order to encourage them to come, let them know that if they haven’t gone through the items within a certain amount of time, they will be headed for the Garage Sale pile or the donation box.

As for the re-distribution box, put those items in the proper room once you have finished the space in which you are working. (Take toys back to the children’s room, crafts back to the craft room, etc.) Put that box aside to use when you begin the next room.

pantry shelf with jars filled with pasta, beans, sugar and flour

When you start to declutter, make it work with your schedule without tying up every free minute you have. Some rooms, such as the bathroom, can probably be accomplished in a few hours. Some may take a full day or a weekend, so break it down to workable sessions.

The kitchen is a prime example of that. It may be best to clean one cabinet at a time, wipe it down, and while it is drying, place unwanted items in the appropriate box, and then organize what needs to go back (stack pans and bowls together, etc.). Then move to the next cabinet. While that one is drying, the first one should be ready to replace the items.

And don’t worry. You have time to get it all done. Just don’t give yourself so much time that you give up before you get just one section of one room done.

Clean your Home While Getting Organized

set of notebooks labeled weaving projects, farm, have a Merry Christmas, and Homemaking Manual

Keeping your main goal to clean your home in mind, one trick to reach that goal is to work on organization while de-cluttering your home. As items get removed, other items can be put in the now vacant space. If necessary, use plastic boxes with labels on them so you know at a glance what it in the box.

As you get a closet, drawer, or other space cleaned out, take the time to wash it down before putting anything back. Don’t forget to wash down the walls in the cabinets, and be sure to do the walls, and baseboards in closets, and vacuum and/or mop the floors.

The home also has a ton of paperwork that needs to be kept organized. You can use a file drawer or system, and even incorporate my favorite way to keep my paperwork organized and handy – with notebooks.

If you make handmade gifts for Christmas and other holidays, it can be frustrating trying to find all the supplies you need. To prevent confusion, try the handy tips in

How to Avoid the Christmas Rush. (These tips also work well for regular craft projects, or keeping all the supplies for individual crafts in one easy to find place.)

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Create a Welcoming Home – Clean it Up!

Now that you have decluttered and gotten your home organized, you need to focus on how to clean your home. This is one of the biggest responsibilities of a homemaker. Some days it feels as if this is a never-ending job. I hate to break it to you, but it is a never-ending job. However, with a cleaning schedule, you can easily do the work in less time than you can imagine.

To clean your home, start with a major decluttering, organizing, and cleaning Yes, that sounds like a lot of work, and it was, but it also gives you a ‘blank canvas’ to work with.

From there, lay down a few basic rules for every member of the household:

  1. If you got it out, put it away
  2. Make your bed each morning
  3. Take all dirty clothes to the laundry room each evening
  4. Empty your trash can once a week – place it in the outside cans
  5. Keep your room neat – thoroughly clean it once a week
  6. Always be prepared for Delegation Measures

wicker clothes basket filled with clean and folded towels

Once the rules are established, break down the rest of your cleaning schedule into segments:

  1. Start a load of laundry
  2. Gather cleaning supplies
  3. Daily Walk Through
  4. Check the Weekly schedule
  5. Check the Monthly schedule

Daily Cleaning Schedule

cleaning supplies including Comet, Mr. Clean, Murphy's Oil Soap, sponges, and cleaning rags

Each morning, clean your home by doing a routine walk through. Take the supplies you will need. That includes:

  • dust cloth and cleaning spray
  • wet cleaning cloth and cleaning spray
  • glass cleaner & paper towels
  • trash bag
  • Basket
  • Broom or dust mop / dust pan

Starting on one end of the house (for me it is the master bedroom and bath), begin in one corner of the room and use which ever cleaning product you need – dust cloth and spray for furniture and woodwork, wet cleaning cloth and spray for hard, non-wooden surfaces. Make the bed (if you haven’t done it already), wipe down the fixtures in the bathroom, including the tub, sink and commode. The last thing to do is run a broom or dust mop over the floor.

If there is anything in the room that wasn’t already put away, that item goes in the basket. Trash and dirt from the dustpan go in the trash bag. It takes 5 to 10 minutes (or less, depending on the size of the room and whether or not there is a bath attached) to complete a room.

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From there, walk through every room in the house that was not occupied by another family member (Rule #5) and repeat the process. I usually leave the kitchen for last, for two reasons. 1) We usually clean the kitchen thoroughly after dinner the night before, and 2) it is at the other end of the house from the bedrooms.

By the time I have finished my walk through, the laundry is ready to go into the dryer or be hung up on the line outside. With that done, I tackle any remaining kitchen chores. Since the dishwasher is started after dinner each evening, I start by unloading the dishwasher. From there, I wash eggs that have been gathered, (feeding animals is always the very first thing I do in the mornings), sweep the floor and check my meal plan to see if I need to pull anything out of the freezer for dinner.

When you clean your home using a daily walk through, within 30 to 45 minutes (or less) your weekly chores will be all but done (not including laundry, but that should almost be ready to fold and put away). All you have left to do is to consult your planner and enjoy the rest of your day.

clothesline filled with vintage table cloths

The Weekly Cleaning Schedule

By doing a daily walk through, your weekly cleaning schedule is rather light, although it does take a bit more time.

I start with my daily walk through, but instead of sweeping floors, I leave that for the very last overall task. I also take an extra basket with me to collect dirty towels and sheets. I start with stripping and remaking the beds and placing the sheets in the washing machine.

Keeping Rule #5 in mind, each person should strip and remake their own beds, so all of the sheets should be in the laundry room. This also helps to cut down on the time it takes you to clean your home thoroughly.

gray couch with white knitted throw pillows under a watercolor seascape

Next, tackle the bathrooms, and give everything a good scrubbing. Once the bathrooms are done, do any other heavy cleaning, such as ceiling fans, and wiping down appliances (such as the washer and dryer).

Between each item, do any additional laundry as needed. Again, the last room I do is the kitchen, where I clean out the refrigerator (if needed), and anything else required. Once all the rooms are clean, I vacuum and mop all the floors at the same time, starting at the furthest point in the house and working my way through.

That leaves me at the back door, where I am more than ready to go sit in the swing outside to take a break while the floors dry. All in all, it takes approximately 1 to 2 hours to clean your home on with a weekly schedule – more or less depending on what extras need to be done. That leaves the rest of the day to do fun things with friends or family.

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The Monthly Cleaning Schedule

To thoroughly clean your home, this cleaning schedule is used for the big items that need to be done, but less frequently. These are things such as cleaning windows, cleaning out cabinets or the pantry, washing curtains, and other chores you don’t do every day or week.

In some cases, the chores only need to be done once or twice a year, such as the windows (I add these tasks to the March and September Monthly Schedule), or seasonal cleaning (spring, fall, holidays, etc.).

Combining the Cleaning Schedules

craft room with a dark wood Welsh dresser and a vintage metal kitchen cabinet

When adding monthly or yearly chores to your cleaning schedules, it is best to start with a list of the chores that need to be done, and a rough time estimate for what it will take to complete it.

Once you have a list of items that need to be done, it is simply a matter of consulting your daily planner to see which actual days will work for each chore.

For instance, if you have meetings or activities scheduled on Tuesday, you really don’t want to wash windows that day. If it involves holiday cleaning where furniture needs to be moved around to accommodate the Christmas tree and other decorations, you may want to plan for a full day.

One item I do add to my monthly cleaning schedule is a thorough cleaning of each room. This means moving furniture to vacuum and mop underneath, washing down walls and woodwork, and vacuuming the furniture.

For this type of cleaning, I usually do one room a month. If it works better for you, then you can also schedule a full weekend to get it all done at once.

I also add a twice yearly walk through to remove any unwanted items. These go into the boxes as referred to in De-cluttering above.

clear pitcher filled with lemonade and lemon slices; Mason Jar filled with lemonade with a slice of lemon and a mint sprig on the rim

Now that You Have Done All the Work…

For each step of the process when you clean your home, be sure you take some time to sit back and applaud yourself for a job well done. Take a break, smile and give yourself credit for all the hard work.

Too many of us look at housework as a drudgery. By decluttering, organizing and getting your house in order, you may just find that you enjoy the time you clean your home. And stop and ‘feel’ it while you are at it. But to clean your home thoroughly, and keep it clean in the least amount of time possible really does make you feel better!

Ready for more Facets of Homemaking? 

bookshelf filled with books, a pink and white tea set, a rabbit tea set, and vintage enamelware

Maybe these will help!


Want some help setting those House Rules? Easy! Just download the free ‘House Rules’ sheet HERE, hang it on the refrigerator or in a place where everyone can see them, and point them out when necessary!


Love the Christmas Holidays, but don’t like the disorganization? Check out my Have a Merry, Simple Christmas eBook! Find tips on organizations, creating menus, recipes, crafts, and more, with worksheets, checklists and lists ready to be filled in for every aspect of the Christmas holiday! Make it Merry. Make it Simple!!

If all of the Cleaning Schedules sound a bit confusing, make it simple by getting a copy of The Art of Homemaking Manual! You can find worksheets for the cleaning schedules, plus tips,worksheets and more on homemaking, sewing, decorating, record keeping, hospitality, gardening, and so much more!

More fun posts!

8 Facets of Homemaking

Facet #2 – Make Planning Meals Easy with 5 Simple Tips

Facet #3 – How to Have and Love a User Friendly Kitchen

Facet # 4 – Helpful Tips for Finances & Frugal Living

Facet # 5 – Easily Extend Your Home to the Garden

Facet # 6 – 7 Smart Reasons to Can Your Own Food

Facet # 7 – General Maintenance & Repairs Tips for the Home

Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.

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