The Secret to a Clean House in 20 Minutes A Day

Over the years, I’ve tried to be better about keeping a consistently clean house and many (many) of my attempts have failed.

I tried scheduling cleaning projects over the week: Mopping Mondays, Toilet Tuesdays, that kind of thing. It worked for a few days, then I felt annoyed that I’d pre-committed myself to projects each day without any flexibility, so I gave that up.

I tried planning to do it all every Saturday, which worked great before I had kids but now, ha!  Not going to happen.  Because if I tried to devote one day to cleaning the whole apartment, you can bet that would be the day A would get super sick and we’d spend the day watching Finding Nemo on repeat.

I just couldn’t find the sweet spot of having the right amount of weekly tasks without overloading my days ahead of time.

Then, I found it. Wanna know what my checklist is? It’s really short. There are only five things on it.

  1. Sweep and mop hard floors
  2. Vacuum
  3. Deep clean bathroom
  4. Deep clean kitchen
  5. Dust/clean windowsFor full disclosure, I actually have these last two tasks split into separate ones, simply because I like the feeling of checking things off my list.  I know I’m not the only one who’s written stuff on her to do list she’s already accomplished just for the satisfaction of marking it off.

Anyway, each of these tasks takes about 20 minutes to complete, and it works!  I actually stick to it every week (okay, most weeks, but more often than not :))

The benefits

For one thing, I allow myself to complete them whenever I want.  I can crank them all out on Monday if it’s feasible, or I can do one a day throughout the week.  I can do half one day, half another. Whatever my mood dictates that particular week, this schedule allows for.

The order doesn’t matter as long as they’re done by the end of the week.  I personally try to get them done between Monday and Saturday so I don’t have anything major to do on Sunday.

Also, my definition of deep clean has some wiggle room. Take a bathroom deep clean, for instance.

Some weeks I do it all. I scrub the shower, clean all the tiles, take storage towers out before I sweep and mop the floor, clean the mirror, detail the sink, clean the toilet inside and out until it’s spotless, dust the surfaces, everything.

Some weeks, I clean the mirror, swish the toilet, sweep the floor, and call it a day.

What’s important is that I do something.  Even if it’s not perfect, it keeps my house a little more under control week to week… which means I feel less harried later on.

Also, having the tasks broken up like this helps when I try to time block my day.  It really puts thing in perspective when I realize I can clean the whole bathroom in 20 minutes (uninterrupted, that is.)  I mean, what’s 20 minutes, really?

This list also tricks me into getting more chores done than the ones listed.  It’s great.  Because I think, “Oh, I’ll just vacuum the bedroom,” but then I realize how cluttered it is, so I spend 10-15 minutes picking up clothes, tidying up my nightstand, and tossing any trash that’s accumulated, then vacuum.  But by the time I finish vacuuming, I’ve finished two chores without trying to talk myself out of doing one of them.

I know I’m an adult, but sometimes I need to trick myself into getting anything done, and I can only bribe myself with chocolate so much.

Plus, having a list like this is useful for when my husband asks how he can help.  I can just point to the list and he knows at a glance exactly what needs to be done.

What about daily chores?

For full disclosure, I don’t include daily chores in this list.  Laundry doesn’t get included because it’s more of an every other day occurrence, especially when we use cloth diapers. And for full disclosure, that’s J’s primary responsibility, since he doesn’t like the way I fold (yay!)  Doing the dishes gets done as needed.

As for other daily chores, I have a separate daily checklist (which is pretty much just scooping the cat litter, but yours may be more lengthy :))

To keep track, I have the list written on a pretty piece of scrapbook paper and framed. It’s hung on the wall in my kitchen, and I use a dry erase marker to mark each item as I complete it.

If you’d like to do the same, you can either handwrite it, or you can stick the paper in your printer and print off this handy PDF.

Or you can even just print it off on a white piece of paper and call it good – that’s totally up to you.  I would recommend using only moderately-patterned scrapbook paper, otherwise you probably won’t be able to see the printing very well.


How do you keep a clean home?

Great tips! I love the simplicity of her cleaning checklist - just 6 things to a clean house each week.

About The Author


I’m a twenty-something LEO wife and stay-at-home mom to a one-year-old little boy. I enjoy writing, reading, taking my son for walks and runs in the stroller, and crafting. My goal is for Love and Blues to be a resource for first responders and their families. I write about marriage and family topics, as well as about the quirks that come with being married to a man in law enforcement, firefighting, or emergency medical services.

  • This is so simple…THANK YOU! I often get bogged down with trying to get everything done at once. Frustration settles in…and then I just give up. This is a great approach to cleaning. Yeah!

    • I’m glad it helped! Keeping it simple like this definitely helps prevent me getting overwhelmed. 🙂

  • Nothing feels better than a clean and orderly house!

    • Very true! 🙂

  • Lynn

    Oh gosh, dust! As a mother to an asthmatic 6-year-old son, cleaning checklists like this is super helpful to make sure I clean all areas in the house. I’ll print this out, laminate the guide and stash it in my cleaning kit. Thank you!

    • Aww that’s so awesome to hear! I’m glad I could help.

  • I don’t like cleaning but I do love a clean house. I like your list because it is short and not overwhelming. I tidy the house everyday once the little one goes to bed. I just don’t like to get up to a messy house in the morning. Starts me off on the wrong foot. Even though I’m a tidy person … my house is not necessarily clean. But a little bit of chores every week go a long way! I’ll be printing your list for sure.

    • I completely agree. I can’t stand waking up to a disaster zone! I have to set up my workstation and be sure all the dishes are done before I go to bed… at the very least. I’m so glad I could help you!

  • Thank you for this reminder! I really need to put a cleaning schedule in place!

    • I’m glad I could help!

  • I find that cleaning the floors and the bathroom always makes the house feel clean even if it isn’t. We also do an 8 minute cleaning once a day, where the whole family pitches in to take care of clutter. Thanks for sharing your tips.

    • That’s so true: then you at least know that, under all the clutter, it’s clean. You just can’t see it 😉 That sounds like a great idea for tackling chores! I sure can’t wait until we have kids old enough to help… and yet, I don’t want the little guy to grow up any more than he already has!

  • Mopping Mondays…haha! I love that you tried to market your chores to yourself. But I’m definitely going to try embracing your list. I love the simplicity and flexibility! Nice job!

    • I never thought of it that way but I totally did try to market my chores to myself! I still kind of have to because I’m not a naturally tidy person. I enjoy things clean, but it takes effort on my part. I didn’t inherit my mom’s clean freak gene unfortunately 🙂 Thank you for your kind comment!

  • Once a week? OMG, I’m lucky if I get these done once a month! Thank you for this checklist. Super helpful!

    • Totally understandable! I’m glad I could help 🙂

  • Deynece

    I wish I could get things cleaned once a week! Nothing is better than a clean house!

    • It is hard to get done sometimes! If I remember how long each of the tasks really takes, it helps. For a really thorough deep clean of my bathroom, for instance, it really only takes me 30 minutes or less. It just feels a lot longer because I loathe doing it 😉