Raise your hand if you find keeping your home clean totally daunting. Or if you stumble upon dust, rust, or dirt in spots you totally forget about too often for comfort. We get it. Which is why we created this super handy checklist with the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab to help you stay on top of how often you should bust out your cleaners and get to work — but there are a few exceptions to keep in mind.
First of all, the obvious: If something looks dirty, don’t wait — add it to your immediate to-do list. Secondly, when it comes to sanitation, our guidelines represent the bare minimum so you can ramp up those tasks as needed. And finally, don’t forget about laundry, for which we created separate guidelines to follow.
The Definitive Cleaning Schedule
How to Tackle Everything on Your List
Now that you’ve got the schedule, read up on our time-saving tips and all-time favorite products that will make these jobs as painless as possible.
Tips for Cleaning Every Day
These essential daily tasks cut down on future scrubbing and scouring — not to mention harmful germs and bacteria.
Clean coffee maker or Keurig: Wash removable parts with warm, soapy water or stick dishwasher-safe pieces in the machine. Wipe down the outside and warming plate to remove spills.
Clean dirty dishes: Skip pre-rinsing. Today’s machines and detergents make it unnecessary — and a waste of water and time! Enzymes in your dishwasher detergent actually work better when they can attach themselves to food particles.
Sanitize sinks: Use an eraser-type sponge (like Mr. Clean Magic Eraser) to remove marks, then sanitize by plugging the drain, filling the basin with warm water, and swishing a tablespoon of bleach around. Let it sit for five minutes, then rinse.
Tips for Cleaning Every Week
Tackle one room or job each day so you’re not doing everything all at once. For example, devote Monday to cleaning kitchen messes, bring out the vacuum on Tuesday, make Wednesday the day for changing sheets, and so on.
Clean inside of microwave: Heat a microwave-safe bowl filled with 1 cup of water and several tablespoons of vinegar on high power for several minutes until the window is steamy. Let cool for 5 minutes before opening the door, then remove the bowl, and wipe the inside clean with a sponge.
Scrub bathroom surfaces: We like CLR Bath & Kitchen Cleaner for grout and Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Bath for glass, tile, and tub surfaces.
Sanitize sponges: Mix 3/4 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water and soak the sponge for five minutes, then rinse – that’s it.
Tips for Cleaning Every Month
Again, these don’t have happen all on the same day, so split up your tasks and delegate jobs to your partner (and kids!).
Clean a washing machine: Use the special washer cleaner cycle on the newer models, or add a specialty cleaner like Affresh and run a normal cycle with hot water.
Clean dishwasher: Descale your machine by filling a large glass measuring cup with 2 cups of vinegar and placing it on the top rack. Then run the machine without detergent or heat dry.
Clean vacuum: Change your bag when it’s three-quarters full to keep suction strong and replace the filter if it’s very dirty or torn. Snip threads snarled in the brush with scissors or a seam ripper.
Tips for Cleaning Every 3-6 Months
It’s easy to forget about these tasks, so don’t let them sneak up on you!
Wash pillows: Put down and fiberfill pillows in the washer and launder two at a time in warm water on a gentle cycle. Add an extra cold water rinse and spin cycle. Then tumble dry on low heat with a few rubber dryer balls.
Clean inside of oven: Wipe loose bits of food with a damp sponge. Then use the self-cleaning function on your oven to remove burnt-on grime. Wash your racks in the sink with warm, sudsy water and a heavy-duty scrub sponge.
Wash shower curtain liner: Launder plastic or vinyl curtains in the machine on the highest water level with a couple bath towels for extra agitation.
Tips for Cleaning Every Year
Consider this your two-minute refresher on deep cleaning.
Deep clean carpets: If your home has a lot of wall-to-wall carpeting, rent or invest in a special cleaner like the Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution Pet Pro Carpet Cleaner to remove tracked-in dirt and stains.
Deep clean windows: Choose a dry, cloudy day to prevent streaks. Remove dirt and dust first, then spritz Invisible Glass Cleaner With EZ Grip on the panes and wipe with a microfiber cloth.
Clean around dryer and vents: Use the the crevice tool on your vacuum to suck up debris — a lot of excess fuzz can cause house fires!
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Lauren is a senior editor at Hearst. She was previously the senior editor at WomansDay.com and the home editor at GoodHousekeeping.com and HouseBeautiful.com. Her book club, ramen, and jean jackets are a few of her favorite things.
Caroline is a writer and editor with almost a decade of experience. From 2015 to 2019, she held various editorial positions at Good Housekeeping, including as health editor, covering nutrition, fitness, wellness, and other lifestyle news. She’s a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism and dreams of the day Northwestern will go back to the Rose Bowl.