Inside the Guide, Section 3 – Cleaning

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I hate cleaning. I really do. I would rather cook, or file, or fold laundry…or pretty much anything else.

However, I like things to be clean. I find that when my house is messy, my mind feels unsettled and chaotic, and I can’t think or concentrate. I decided that instead of putting off all of the cleaning (because I hate it) and then frantically trying to do it all in one day, I would try to do just a little bit each day instead. This works much better for me.

This is where the “Cleaning” section of my Home Management Guide comes in:


In this section, I keep helpful articles about cleaning methods, as well as my recipes for homemade cleaning products. This is also where I keep the detailed cleaning lists for all of the zones in my home. To make these lists, I divided my home up into zones, starting with our garage entry, because that’s where we always enter the house. There are 6 zones:

1) Garage entry and kitchen
2) Living room & front entrance (includes front porch)
3) Children’s rooms & hall bathroom
4) Master bedroom and bathroom
5) Basement
6) Garage

After I established the zones, I made detailed lists of all tasks necessary to clean them very thoroughly, just as you would during “Spring Cleaning.” To do this, I relied heavily on the Real Simple “Elements of Clean” chart (see Making the Rest of Your Task Lists ) and this About.com article. Just as an example, here is my Zone 1 (Garage Entry and Kitchen) cleaning list:

Entrance:
1. Clean cobwebs
2. Wash door and window
3. Clean switch plate of hand prints and walls if needed
4. Dust baseboards
5. Straighten coats
6. Sweep and hand wash the floor

Kitchen:
1. Empty and clean refrigerator
2. Clean microwave inside and out
3. Clean stovetop and oven
4. Wash small appliances
5. Straighten drawers and cupboards
6. Wipe walls where needed
7. Wash sliding door and inside of windows
8. Hand wash floor with vinegar
9. Wash cabinet fronts
10. Clean light fixtures
11. Clean under sink
12. Dust and polish furniture
13. Vacuum rug
14. Straighten bookshelf
15. Dust computer
16. Clean and organize desk area
17. Dust baseboards
18. Put unwanted items in shed for garage sale

Zone cleaning is deep, extra-thorough cleaning, which I do in addition to my regular daily/weekly maintenance cleaning. I work in one zone each month, splitting the tasks up so that I do a few each week. When I complete a task, I check it off in my HMG with a dry erase marker. This insures that my entire house gets deeply and thoroughly cleaned at least twice a year. No heavy duty spring and fall cleaning for me!

Flylady, and other authorities on organization, have systems that are similar to this. The idea is not a new one. However, rather than using pre-ordained lists from someone else, I wanted to set up my own zones, and create a custom cleaning plan that fits my personal needs. I reason that each house and person is different, so each cleaning plan should be different.

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Heather is a minimalist in love with a recovering packrat. 7 years ago, she and her husband sold pretty much anything that wasn't nailed down in order to pay off their mortgage, and they've been living happily debt-free ever since. They have 3 hilarious little kids who were conceived with the help of in vitro fertilization, and they haven't had a good night's sleep in the last decade. Heather is an anglophile who loves all things British, and spends her free time looking at real estate listings in Cornwall. Every day, she and her family work toward a simpler, more meaningful life. Some days are awesome, some are disastrous, and you can read about all of them here.

Have a question? Need a listening ear? Contact Heather, or visit Want What You Have on Facebook.

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