The Importance of Planning to Clean Your House

A lot of people are surprised when I tell them that I can clean a three-story beach house on my own in about 4.5 hours. Just to give you some perspective, the house in question has 7 beds, including a bunk bed, that need to be made, 3.5 bathrooms, and a large kitchen on top of all the dusting, windows, and hardwood floors that need to be done.

Something to keep in mind, though, is that this house is a summer rental, which works a lot like a hotel, so there’s no organizing or decluttering taking place. If I were to allot the same amount of time on my home, a two-story house with much less space, I’d barely finish cleaning the second floor, which is only two bedrooms connected by a small landing. Cleaning and decluttering the entire house would take me three days minimum, but more realistically, probably a week, if not more.

That’s why I find it’s super helpful to plan a cleaning schedule and spread out your cleaning spree to make the whole experience less daunting. On A Bowl Full of Lemons, the blog’s author uses a Cleaning Card System to do this, where they cycle through all of their cleaning over the course of four weeks. Once the four weeks are up, you just start from the beginning and do it all again.

Here is what A Bowl Full of Lemons‘ system looks like at a glance. This is one way to get a cleaning routine in order, but it’s definitely not the only way.

I actually really like this system, and I’m thinking I may implement it in my own life. It seems like a manageable way to stay on top of cleaning, and that’s something I desperately need.

I don’t always have time throughout the week to be cleaning and organizing, as other things in my life often take priority. I usually spend several months living in a clutter-filled nightmare before I even get the chance to clean up after myself. However, before I switch to the Cleaning Card System, I’m going to need to embark on a deep clean, which I’ve developed my own system for.


Deep Cleaning

When I say deep clean, I mean a complete overhaul and reorganization of everything I own along with a serious cleaning of every surface that dust or dirt could cling to. With that in mind, depending on how long you’ve ignored cleaning responsibilities, it may take you several days to clean one room.

The whole process can be incredibly overwhelming, which is why I tend to put it off for much longer than I should. That’s why my deep cleaning system consists of two phases that I’ve broken down into a few, easy-to-follow steps.

Phase 1: Planning

1. Write out a master list of tasks to complete

This is probably the most time-consuming part of the planning phase, but it’s absolutely necessary. I break up the list by room and walk through everything that I want to do for cleaning, organizing, and decluttering. Make each list item as specific as possible, which is to say rather than “clean desk,” write out each part of the process. For me, this would turn into “pick up trash,” “put clothes away,” “clean up the puzzle,” “declutter makeup,” and “organize office supplies” to name a few.

2. Use the master list to make a schedule that fits your timeframe

This is a schedule I created last year for a spring break cleaning. I only had about 6 days, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to clean the entire house, but I wanted to get some of the more cluttered areas squared away.

Try to have the same amount of cleaning to do each day. This doesn’t mean the same number of tasks because each one has a different level of difficulty and time attached to it. For instance, vacuuming the rug is going to take much less time and energy than cleaning out your closet, so don’t treat them the same. I like to do 1 or 2 larger tasks with a few small tasks if I have time. This all depends on your timeframe and how many rooms you’re intending to clean.

Also, make sure you come up with a progression of tasks that make sense. You don’t want to mop before you sweep or vacuum, and it’s counterproductive to make your bed one day and strip it the next. Keep these things in mind, and you’ll have a much easier time when you actually start cleaning.

Phase 2: Executing

1. Stick to your schedule as much as possible

As much as you might be tempted to jump around to the easier tasks, resist that urge! You’ll honestly feel so much more productive when you can check off every item on your list for that day versus the same amount of tasks on multiple days. Plus, when everything is done, you have a couple of options: call it a day and relax for a while or keep up your momentum and get a headstart for tomorrow.

2. Give yourself breaks between tasks if you need them

The worst thing you can do is make cleaning feel like a chore, and taking breaks from it can help to combat that. Not to mention, if you’ve been organizing or decluttering for a while, and you feel stuck, it can be worthwhile to step away for a few minutes and come back. Even though you might think the deep clean is more important than your sanity, it doesn’t have to be. Make sure you’re taking care of your most basic needs, like eating, drinking, using the restroom, or having a mental break.


After using my deep cleaning system as a guideline to get your house to a neutral level of cleanliness, it should be pretty easy to transfer over to a regular cleaning routine such as A Bowl Full of Lemons. This is what I hope to do, and hopefully, I can get the rest of my family on board so that we can take control of the clutter once and for all.

I started out by saying I could clean a house in 4.5 hours by myself, but that’s definitely not the best way. Even just one more person to help cuts down on that time by more than half, so if you have someone in your house or in your life that is willing to lend you a hand, let them. Just be sure to adjust your cleaning plans accordingly so you can make the most out of it!

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