Is anyone satisfied with the “clean one room a day” method?
April 3, 2021 2:36 PM   Subscribe

Mr, Terrier and I are deep-cleaning our house for Easter, and I’m finding it daunting. Does the one-a-day method work for you?

Ours is a relatively small (1,138 sq. ft.) two-story house; eight rooms, which includes bathrooms.
In between my many rest breaks, and wondering if enough time has elapsed until I can two two more ibuprofen, I’m panicking that I won’t get it all done. (There is no deadline other than in my head.) I’m not quite halfway through, and it’s 5:30 pm, My Time Zone.
Mr. Terrier is responsible for cleaning his office, which leaves seven rooms, one for each day of the week. Mr. Terrier is a good cleaning partner, but he doesn’t see what I see. He does all the yard work and car maintenance, and today he washed the kitchen floor, a job I had been dreading. He also scrubs the toilets and bathtub.
Part of the problem is that I let too many weeks go between dusting, floor dusting, and vacuuming, then when I take a mind to blitzkrieg it, l lose heart at the sheer amount of crud before me. The crowning irony? I despise dust!
I’ve never tried the clean-one-room-a-day method. What are your experiences?
posted by BostonTerrier to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a mostly reformed untidy person and I failed at the one-room-a-day method because vacuuming and dusting every single day was The Worst. Also after a day of work I didn't *want* to go whole hog in a room.

What ended up working for me was yes, doing something every day, but giving myself some variety in my chores. Monday mornings I wipe down my desk and unclutter my work area. Wednesdays & Saturdays I vaccuum. Saturday mornings I strip our bed, put new sheets on, and wash/dry the sheets that I stripped so they're ready for next Saturday. Sundays I clean bathrooms. Once a month I grab the Windex and clean all mirrors. Once a month I grab a Magic Eraser and go after the light switches, doors, and wall smudges. Once a season I clean my fridge and wipe down the shelves. Just now I noticed my picture frames are dusty. That's something I can do after work one day this week - maybe Tuesday? But dusting picture frames every single day...eesh. Didn't work for me.

The most life changing practice I started with my two-story house is: whenever I go from one floor to another, I grab a few things that are belong on that floor and put them away. Items out of place were a good 85% of my messy home.
posted by kimberussell at 3:36 PM on April 3, 2021 [21 favorites]

I don’t have an answer but I was thinking of posting this exact question today! It was sunny this morning, which while pleasant revealed every mote of dust on every surface. I couldn’t stand it! Five solid hours of work later, I had cleaned . . . the living room. There’s gotta be a better way. Watching this thread with interest!
posted by fiery.hogue at 3:39 PM on April 3, 2021 [4 favorites]

God no. That sounds miserable. I'm a fan of Unfuck Your Habitat's 20/10 method, where you try for 20 minutes of cleaning + a 10-minute rest. Use a timer, and maybe only shoot for one session per day. If you're up for it, maybe add a second. But she's a big fan of NOT going whole hog, because it just gets overwhelming really quickly. On her Facebook page she also does small & easy daily challenges, like "put 10 things away" or "clear off one horizontal surface" or "get your clean laundry put away." Those are super doable, and if they're not, hey, move along and try again another day.
posted by BlahLaLa at 3:52 PM on April 3, 2021 [18 favorites]

Response by poster: I’m finished now, and happy, although aching like a bitch. I just popped a gummy, so while watching Netflix as my reward, I can relax. But I DON’T want to go through that again!
posted by BostonTerrier at 3:52 PM on April 3, 2021 [4 favorites]

Not a fan of the one-room-a-day method, either. Tips in this cleaning guide, Task Cleaning Is the Secret to Getting Your House Tidy in 2 Hours (Redbook, via Yahoo News): "The biggest mistake people make is cleaning room by room (this is called 'zone cleaning'). It's much too slow".
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:12 PM on April 3, 2021 [3 favorites]

Our house is pretty cluttered right now and needs to get unfucked in general, but we're doing better because I put a white board on the fridge, wrote a list of things that need to get done (some daily, some periodically) on the left and the days of the week across the top. I don't assign things to specific days, but the whiteboard is a nice reminder for "oh, hell, when did I last water the plants?" and "dude, scoop the catbox today" and is also nice for "look, you took out the trash and recycling Monday and Wednesday and emptied the sink three days in a row, you're not completely failing at adulthood."

Which reminds me, I should go scoop the catbox.
posted by joycehealy at 4:45 PM on April 3, 2021 [5 favorites]

I do it like this:
Daily - dishes, one load of laundry per day (in my home laundry), wipe counters and table down, sweep kitchen floor, wipe down sink/toilet, spend a few minute tidying. My kids are relatively trained to tidy their bedrooms before sleeping, put their dishes in the dishwasher, etc.

Weekly - clean (vacuum/steam mop) all floors, a deeper clean of the bathroom(s), a more thorough tidying effort; declutter with a “grab the number of pieces of garbage/donation items equivalent to you age in the next 5 minutes, go!)
Also weekly - clean out fridge, garbage etc.
Also weekly - my house is divided into 4 zones: kitchen, downstairs rec room/hall/office (there’s another bathroom that my MIL takes care of), bedrooms, living room/hallways/misc. Every week I deep clean one zone.

So yes, a zone can have almost 4 weeks of dust in it, but the floors/tidying is done. Deep cleaning includes dealing with clutter, windows, baseboards, mopping, fingerprints, blinds, whatever.

It’s not perfect but it works ok.
posted by warriorqueen at 5:01 PM on April 3, 2021 [2 favorites]

I prefer one chore per day:

Tidy & declutter
Vacuum and mop
Garbage & cat litter

Dishes every day
Do laundry a couple times a week - buy extras of whatever you run out of first (buying extra underwear and toddler bibs allowed me to do less frequent laundry)
Dust occasionally

To make life easier, if you can, keep cleaning supplies in each mess area- definitely keep the right cleaners in the kitchen and bathroom.

Consider getting an extra handheld mini vacuum for any other mess zones. In my house I have 3 small handheld vacuums! One for upstairs, one for the main floor, and one only for the cat litter area. Best $250 I ever spent- I hated lugging the big vacuum up the stairs!
posted by nouvelle-personne at 5:25 PM on April 3, 2021 [4 favorites]

I couldn’t clean everyday. Just couldn’t. To be fair, I do return the kitchen to “clean” every time I use it, but this is ingrained as a habit for me - a messy kitchen feels ugh.

I houseshare and I’m the eldest/longest standing, so have to/get to set the cleaning schedule. We’ve pretty much settled on a once a month “cleaning weekend”, mostly because this is how long it takes for the grass to become untenable, and I’m not willing to nag everyone more often, with spot cleaning as necessary in between. Some housemates are better than others at noticing mess, so do more spot cleaning, but I’ve decided I prefer to wipe the kitchen table when I notice it’s crumby, in exchange for having pleasant quiet housemates.

It’s always slightly embarrassing to admit that we only clean the shower/vacuum once a month. But it’s truly delightful to not have to clean for the 3 weekends, and it only gets truly gross in the last week on long months. (We have very soft water, so almost no soap scum build up).
posted by kjs4 at 6:46 PM on April 3, 2021 [2 favorites]

If you subscribe to FlyLady's email list and do the daily missions thwn you will eventually deep clean every part of your home, a little bit at a time.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:37 PM on April 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

I alternate between "Do a bunch of small routine stuff" (dishes, clearing off the kitchen table, sweeping) and about every six weeks doing a binge of 'spend a day doing deeper cleaning in each room' over the course of a week or so (I have functionally four rooms, but I usually split the kitchen in half and do counters + stove + fridge on one of them and kitchen table and pantry on the other.)

I also batch some things: I sweep all the places at once (doing just one room at a time has always seemed ridiculous to me. Even more with mopping!)

I've also had some success in the past (and am doing it again now) setting a day (Friday after work for me) where I just take about 45 minutes and put everything in order: clean the toilet and bathroom sink, do a bit more thorough cleaning in the kitchen, kitchen table cleared of crud, etc. I love how that feels after, and especially how it's then set up for me to enjoy the weekend.

Some of this is helped by the fact that I live by myself with the cat (who produces a ridiculous amount of fur and scatters food sometimes, but is otherwise pretty tidy.)
posted by jenettsilver at 7:48 AM on April 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have ADHD. I like the one room a day method to help with organization and deep cleaning. The incremental methods and UFYH don't give me the visual boost /satisfaction that one-room-a-day does. I think UFYH or others (I like but never use tody) are probably more efficient but one-room-a-day keeps me focused.

One room a day doesn't mean I don't tidy every day. It just gives me permission to do bigger cleans/tasks over time. I call those "sweeps" where I put:
* Trash in trash,
* Dishes in sink
* Objects in assigned homes (or the room it belongs in, if that room hasn't been tackled yet). (So I don't get distracted doing all the things)
* Clear walkways

So it looks like:
(S: bedrooms, M: living/dining, T: den/office, W: bedrooms,R: kitchens/mop,F: baths/projects,S: laundry/yard/shop)

After a few weeks, things are pretty settled & it works quickly. That's when I can tackle fans, baseboards,windows, under couch,etc.

Of course, I have a toddler, sahm, and adhd so I really really have to work on maintaining organization and structure and with toddler I spend almost all my time doing sweeps. This reduces the number of transitions in cleaning, and helps me know what to expect in routines.
posted by bindr at 8:05 AM on April 4, 2021

I have been following Clean Mama’s method of housekeeping and I like it so far. She had “the dailies” (small tasks to keep up general cleanliness like “wipe down counters”) and “the weeklies” (each day has a focus day like Saturdays you change your sheets and towels. Fridays are a catch all day to do things you missed out and Sunday’s are a day of rest). This has kept me feeling pretty good about the general state of things on a week in and week out basis.

She also has a spring cleaning list but if you keep to her method the yearly tasks are really deep cleaning things like “wash outside windows”, which you could totally skip if you wanted to.
posted by like_neon at 12:33 PM on April 4, 2021

I am a fan of apps like Tody and Sweepy where you put in all the chores you need to do regularly and how often and they give you a little bit to do each day, then you're done for the day (though I also have basic things I do every day no matter what like dishes, make bed, etc.). There's a little element of unpredictability to it too that works for me - like, oh wow, okay I'm going to clean the bathroom light fixture today - weird.
posted by Jess the Mess at 7:27 PM on April 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Follow-up:
3.5 weeks later from my initial post, Mr. Terrier has permanently taken on the cleaning of the bedroom and upstairs (full) bathroom in addition to his office, so that leaves five rooms I clean, one-a-day. It’s been working out well, and I no longer put off tasks, or even fun things like writing letters, because “there’s dust.” The house is always clean.
Thanks very much for your input, everybody. Much appreciated.
posted by BostonTerrier at 7:52 AM on April 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

« Older Roof leaks, insurance, and chimneys   |   Did I kill this laptop? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.