I get a lot of emails from readers who are worried that they just don’t have the time to keep up with cleaning their homes. They are constantly stressed that they’re not doing enough, or that their friends homes are cleaner than theirs, and that they are falling behind.
They are beating themselves up and becoming down as a result and constantly asking “is my house clean enough?”
It needn’t be like this.
I’m here today to look more closely at the concept of “clean enough”. What exactly IS enough?, and who is really paying that close attention anyway?
Ready to get inspired to give yourself a break….?
What’s ‘Clean Enough’ Anyway?
Firstly – I wanted to look at what “clean enough” actually is.
What your version of “clean enough” is may be vastly different to another persons, it’s a totally personal thing and it’s based on your home, your needs, and your time available.
But what I would say is that to be clean enough, it needs to be suitable for your every day life without getting you down. It should be good enough for guests to visit unexpectedly, and good enough for you to walk through the door at the end of the day without having a black cloud descend on you about what needs to be done.
So – what is the bare minimum that it would take to get to this stage?
This is your goal! – NOT an absolutely perfect house…
Concentrate On The 80/20 Rule
There is a rule called Pareto’s Principle – which states that 80 percent of the results come from 20 percent of the effort.
This can apply to your cleaning as well – you just need to find the 20 percent of tasks in your home that create the 80% results and do these first.
If nothing else gets done that week then so be it….
After all – is 100% ever really achievable? Is it comfortable to live like that any way? It may be if you don’t actually live in your home ever, and when is that feasible!?
Give yourself a break! If you strive for perfect then it will never be finished. Take a step back occasionally and you’ll still be good enough – and your sanity will be in tact.
What Do People Actually Notice?
If you’re still not sure whether you can just do the bare minimum to be clean enough, then let’s look from a different perspective.
With your own home, the saying is so true that “no-one notices when you clean – but everyone notices when you don’t”.
But the question is – what would they actually notice?
Let me give you an example –
You’re going to your friends home for a coffee and a catch up. When you arrive what do you do? Look around and inspect the level of cleanliness – or sit down and catch up on the latest news? Would you even worry if they were behind on their cleaning? Would you even notice? I would wager that you don’t give it a second thought. You would be more interested in catching up with your friend. Ask yourself – why would they feel any different coming to your home? (Also – they’re probably feeling just as worried as you are about whether their home is clean enough! – crazy, right?).
The fact is – when we look around another persons home we will only ever see a small proportion of what they may have done. If they have spent 20 mins or 8 hours cleaning before our arrival – we may not see a difference. Most of the work is behind the scenes….
It stands to reason that if the main surfaces are clean, then we assume that the rest has been done.
As such – the trick is to realise what are the things people will notice – and concentrate on those first and foremost.
By “people” I include guests and also YOU and your family – what will you notice the most, what rooms will you be in, what niggles you if it isn’t done?
Work out what the base level of clean would be in your own home – i.e. what needs doing so your home looks clean most of the time – whether you have had time to deep clean or not.
This really is all that will be noticed – HOWEVER MUCH YOU’VE ACTUALLY CLEANED!
(Whether you have scrubbed the inside of the fridge every week – well, that will pass most people by ;o) )
So – I’m a HUGE advocate of creating a QUICK CLEAN CHECKLIST. A list of all the tasks that absolutely need to be done as a bare minimum for a clean home.
Creating Your Quick Clean List
Clean enough is of course different for everyone – so it’s time to work out what your “clean enough” actually is.
Take a step back and really look at what you are doing, and why you are doing it.
Yes, you need to make sure that your home is clean enough for your family to thrive, but do you really have to clean it to within an inch of it’s life?
Surely there are other things you want/need do as well?
SO – why not make it as easy as you can.
Get a “Clean Enough” list of tasks that are the bare minimum to keep the house looking good, and guest ready.
Tasks to add to this would be things like: –
- Polishing surfaces in most used rooms
- Wiping bathroom and kitchen surfaces
- Cleaning the toilets
- Putting the bins out
It would also be concentrating on the most used rooms in the house first….
When you realise this – it’s freeing!
This means that this is the basic list of things you absolutely need to get through each week, and then you can schedule other things in less often at a time that suits you.
But you will always be safe in the knowledge that your home is “Clean Enough”.
TIP – Even when reducing your cleaning to this list, if you STILL can’t find the time to get the basics done, then it may be time to get help in. You may be able to hire a cleaner for a small amount of time and ask them to do your QUICK CLEAN CHECKLIST for you each week as you will have identified what’s crucial, so you’ll only be paying for what you really need.
But, What About Everything Else Needed To Keep My Home Clean?
Yes, of course everything else needs to get done when you have time – it can’t be totally forgotten otherwise it would build up and create other issues down the line.
However, you have identified your most necessary tasks, and so you can tackle the rest in a different way from now on.
The rest can more than likely be done a lot less frequently than you currently do them (or try to do them), and so should be able to be fit into your schedule a little easier (or, again, delegated more easily when you understand what needs to be done – specific tasks can be done by a gardener, window cleaner, a cleaner – or even delegated more easily to another member of the family etc…).
So – firstly I would look at what can you reduce with your cleaning – i.e. in terms of how frequently you do it. Can you hoover once less a week? Can the windows be cleaned every other month rather than monthly? Everything can be looked at and worked out what the minimum would be to still look good the majority of the time, and once you start to really look at the frequency of what you are doing, you may be surprised at how much you can pare down.
Once you know the minimum for each task, you can look to schedule in some of the other jobs each month. You may decide to tackle a specific job each week, or you may prefer to do an area each week (depending on how you prefer to do things, and your time available).
I like to keep my house clean by deep cleaning one room a week.
This means that I roughly get to clean each room 4 times a year really thoroughly.
Doesn’t sound much, does it? But when you think about it, trying to clean everything perfectly each week means I will always run out of time and get frustrated, and things are likely to slip much more than that.
This way means that I know that each room will be cleaned to a “good enough” level weekly, and it will be thoroughly tackled once a season at a minimum. It allows me to have a week off extra tasks when needed, as I know the order of rooms to do, so I can double up on weeks when I have more time – but because I have a plan, I can schedule things more easily.
This takes the pressure off and I feel more productive as a result (it’s also much more than leaving the lot for a once a year spring clean style session!).
Allow Yourself Some Grace…
So – if you are constantly beating yourself up about what needs to be done, that’s not a great way to live. AT ALL.
Perfection is impossible to reach (trust me – I am a recovering perfectionist!) – so my advice to you is to STOP trying to get there.
Right now. Just STOP.
The lesson here really is to understand what your “good enough” is, and clean to that standard each week, while adding in some deep cleaning when you can. It takes much less effort to clean so your home is good enough than you may be fighting to find each week – so you’ll feel calmer as a result.
After all – you CAN afford to give yourself some grace, and gain some time back in the process (or just find enough time to get the basics done).
And last but not least – if you are still thinking ” well – everyone else has a cleaner home than me” – think back to perceptions. Are you seeing in their home what they see in yours? Remember – they don’t know what you have and haven’t cleaned, and are probably not paying that much attention anyway. If the basics are covered, you’re golden!
I hope this helps to put into perspective the age old question of “is my house clean enough” once and for all.
I’d love to know how you feel about these ideas, and if you’re ready to tackle sorting out your cleaning schedule now – take a look at THIS POST – and enjoy!