Friday, February 22, 2013

The 15/10/5/1 Cleaning Plan

As I alluded to in this organizational ideas post I'm not naturally a well-organized person. I'm also not a person whoever thinks housecleaning sounds like an awesome way to pass the afternoon.

So after many years of trial and error I've come up with the 15/10/5/1 cleaning plan. Basically, I've broken down all chores into either a fifteen, ten, five, or one minute category. By devoting thirty minutes or so a day (or, uh, every few days) it allows you to keep your house clean without having to devote all day to the task. You don't even have to do the thirty minutes all at once! Usually I end up doing a few minutes here or there throughout the day.

Oh...true confession. This doesn't cover EVERY chore. Taking out the trash and scooping/changing the kitty litter isn't on this list (changing the litter is about a ten minute chore/scooping more like 5 minutes. Neither are more rarely done chores, like windows. This is just a simple overview of most basic chores.

15 Minutes

1. Wash dishes

I don't have a dishwasher (insert sad face here). I can wash up the daily dishes and pots in about fifteen minutes. I try to do this right after dinner; usually I do it when I let Emily out for the last time before bed.

2. Vacuum A Room

3. Attack Your Personal Monster

We all have one. Right now my personal monster is our spare room. It's such a disaster that the idea of spending the day on it is both horrifying and overwhelming. Instead I devote fifteen minutes every couple of days to it. Slowly I'm seeing the light at the end of tunnel! Other Personal Monsters might be your basement, closet, whatever is a mess you aren't quite sure what to do with.

4. Scrub shower

5. Fold laundry

The worst part of doing laundry...and yet the part you can do while watching Parks and Rec.

10 Minutes

1. Sort Laundry

We don't really have room for a complicated dirty laundry system. So we toss it all into a hamper in our bedroom closet. Once a week or so I sort it into dark/lights/handwash so that when I'm ready to do the wash it's all ready.

2. Change Sheets

I know lots of people only have one set per bed...I don't understand this. We have two sets, and I'd really like another set. That way I can strip the bed, toss the dirty sheets in the hamper, and put on clean sheets all at once. The clean sheets live in the linen closet.

3. Quick Mop

Ten minutes is about right to mop either our kitchen or bathroom.

4. Organize A Trouble Spot

Trouble spots are different from personal monsters. Trouble spots are oft used areas of your home which are magnets for clutter. Our trouble spots include the dining room table and the credenza/go chair landing strip. Mail, dog accouterments, jackets, and shoes are our big clutter monsters.

5. Blitz Clean

This is sort of related to organizing a trouble spot. Blitz cleaning occurs when a room is veering slightly out of control. Grab a basket. Anything that isn't trash/dishes that doesn't belong in the room goes in the basket. Hopefully you'll be able to deal with basket in the same ten minutes. By the way, as you are putting the stuff in the basket up look for repeat offenders or things that don't really have a dedicated home. Clutter happens when things don't have a spot.

5 Minutes

1. Make Bed

2. Polish sink

I never really considered doing this until I happened across Flylady's post describing shining your sink. Now I try and do it everyday-ish. It feels like a little reward (as bizarrely Donna Reedish as that sounds) for finishing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen.

3. Dust 

It's enough time to knock out at least one major piece of furniture.

4. Clean Fridge

Anything lurking any there? Anyway, I bet it also needs a nice wipedown. 

5. Wipe Down Stove/Counters

We have an old stove with burners and eyes and everything. Just wiping it down isn't sufficient. A few times a week I need to really clean the burners and even lift it up and clean out anything that's fallen underneath. While you have your cleaner (I use diluted white vinegar and lemon) out wipe down the countertops!

1 Minute

1. Scrub toilet

Yes, in one minute. I keep a bottle of white vinegar and a toilet brush in the bathroom. Every morning toss in some vinegar and give it a quick scrub. By doing it every day the toilet doesn't ever get really dirty.

2. Reset Sofa

In my world, this means fold up the throw blanket and return the pillows to their correct positions. Instantly makes the living room look neat.

3. Wipe Down Bathroom Mirror

This is something else I do every few days. I'm incapable of NOT splashing water all over the mirror as I get ready.

4. Start Laundry

Okay, if your laundry is sorted and ready to go actually tossing it in the wash takes about a minute. It takes roughly the same amount of time to toss it in the dryer later...and then putting clean laundry in your clean laundry basket to be folded when you have the time.

5. Clear Nightstand

My nightstand is a known trouble spot. So every morning (in theory, anyway) I gather up the debris of the night before and throw away/return to actual spot.

Now I want to know how YOU do it. How do you keep your house neat?


  1. this is exactly what I do- while the macaroni water boils I sweep a floor, while I'm waiting for matt to get offline so we can leave the house I straighten out chairs, etc. it's super helpful!

    1. Exactly! Also, I love that you call it "macaroni water".

  2. Nice--I really like the idea of not having to do particular tasks on a particular day/at a particular time. There must be something in the water....I've been working on a chore organization thing for here for the past couple of days....someday I will finish it and post about it even.

  3. This makes a fairly clean, fairly organized house seem like a real possibility! I’m inspired! :)

  4. Our kitchen counters are the worst only takes a day for them to get crazy cluttered again! I love your tips Tracie!

  5. Great Ideas. I have been doing Flylady now for 3 years and it has got me through some difficult times.... Now reading your list has given me another "boost". Many thanks!


Thanks for commenting (it makes me feel less like I am just over here, talking to myself!). Comments are approved as quickly as possible. Seriously, I am trying to teach Emily to approve comments.


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