Last Updated on 16/04/2022
I vividly remember when I rented my first flat. I was 18 years old and so relieved to have my own space. To finally live alone and do things the way I wanted, when I wanted. About a week in though, reality hit. My little place wasn’t keeping itself tidy. I needed a cleaning schedule for a single person.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links through which I may earn a small commission at no cost to you. Please see my disclosure.
Just like there was no one to intrude on my privacy or tell me to turn the music down, there was no one to help me with household chores. Even back then at a young age, the sight of clutter, dirty dishes, and unorganised, dusty bookshelves made me feel awful.
I realised I needed a pattern in my home life, some sort of a personal routine. I was already “adulting” pretty well, as we would say today, working full time 50 hours a week plus attending school part time every day for three hours before my shift started.
It was a pretty grueling schedule as it was, and not a typical teenager life by any means. But I had to get my cleaning game on at home, too. Here’s how I set up a simple cleaning schedule for a single person, and how you can, too, no matter what age you are.
Three Cleaning Rules I Set for Myself
Before I came up with my cleaning schedule for a single person, I set some basic rules for myself. Things are just often easier in life when you have a playbook to go by, and cleaning is no exception.
Store Cleaning Supplies in the Same Place
If you have to spend time gathering your cleaning supplies because they’re all over the place, you’re wasting precious time.
Keep all your rags and household products in the same basket or bucket, and store it all under the sink or in a dedicated cleaning caddy.
Be Strategic to Save Time
Corral similar tasks and tackle them all in one cleaning session. This will ultimately save you time throughout the week.
For example, if you have decided to hoover your hallway on a particular day, make hoovering the entire flat your task for that day. That way you’re not spending time getting out the vacuum on numerous days throughout the week.
Don’t Set the Bar Too High
When I was a child living at home, my mother was a perfectionist. Pretty much every corner of our house was immaculately clean. To be fair though, domestic engineering was her only job. She didn’t have to coordinate employment and school with her household work.
In contrast, I only had so much time each week I could dedicate to cleaning and organising. Because I had such a hectic work schedule, “good enough” cleaning often had to do.
As soon as you have a day off or some extra time, you can dive deeper into any particular area which needs a more thorough cleaning or tidy-up. For example, I make my bed every day, but I change and launder the linens at the weekends when I have more time.
Weekly Cleaning Schedule for a Single Person
Building daily habits can really help you achieve the results you want. In the same vein, creating weekly and monthly cleaning habits will help you tackle larger, more time-consuming chores on a regular basis.
For instance, keeping the kitchen clean after every meal is a daily habit, while decluttering and organising a cabinet or a closet is a task more seldomly done.
Take a few minutes every morning and evening to do these things on a daily basis:
- Make your bed
- Wipe the bathroom sink
- Do the dishes
- Wipe kitchen countertops and table
- Put clothes away
Doing these five things everyday is half the battle in keeping your place tidy. Then you just need to split up your larger chores. Here is how I divided up my weekly tasks to keep things shipshape throughout the week so that I could focus on work and school:
- Dust furniture and picture frames
- Laundry: cleaning rags, towels, bathrobe, bathmat
- Deep clean bathroom
- Clean glass & mirrors
- Hoover the flat
- Wet mop hard flooring
- Tidy up, put things away
- Laundry: clothing
- Clean out fridge
- Iron clothes
- Laundry: bed linens
- Clean kitchen appliances
- Sweep any outdoor areas (balcony, front stoop, terrace or patio, etc.)
- Pick a larger irregular chore to do, such as washing windows or organising a cupboard
When working on these tasks, I like to keep my eye on the time. For example, cleaning out the fridge should not take more than about 15 minutes. After all, if you’re busy everyday with other things like work and school, you want to make sure to leave at least a bit of leisure time for yourself.
Tackling each chore within a set time limit means you can devote some time to relaxing or catching up with friends without having to worry about dirty laundry and sticky countertops.
Habits Help Keep Your Home Tidy
Building some good household habits and sticking to them over time has been the most effective method for me to stay on top of my household chores.
You can create some new habits for your particular situation, too. If you keep them straightforward to follow, they’ll become a time-efficient part of your routine. Here are a few of mine that might also work for you:
Get the Laundry Ready in the Morning
Make it easy to stick to your laundry schedule by either doing it in the mornings (unless you’re in a heat wave), or getting it ready to go in the morning so that you just have to push START on your machine when you get home.
Postponing your laundry loads will only cause them to pile up. If you work from home, get your load started in the morning before you sit down at your computer. Then you can hang it up or toss it in the dryer on your lunch break.
If you’re heading out to uni or work and want to prevent the wet laundry from getting all wrinkled before you get home, load your washing machine with everything before you leave in the morning. Once you get in, start the load while you unwind, get dinner ready, or work on your other chores.
Use Biodegradable Wipes
Keep a pack of biodegradable cleaning wipes in your cleaning caddy. You’ll likely never want to miss them again. They can be a huge time saver for keeping the toilet and other surfaces in your bathroom clean.
Do Dishes Right Away
It’s easy to postpone cleaning the kitchen after a meal when you just want to kick back and digest your food. But trust me. You’ll feel even better after getting the kitchen tidied up immediately after a meal. And it will save you from a pile of crusty dishes stacking up.
Stick to the 2-Minute GTD Rule
One of the greatest rules of GTD, or Getting Things Done, which author David Allen drove home in his bestseller was so simple, yet amazingly effective. If you know that a task will take two minutes or less to do it, do it immediately.
You can implement this rule at home just like you would at work or school. If it takes two minutes to empty the waste, do it. If it takes two minutes to unclutter the junk mail on the kitchen counter, do it. And so on.
Keep Your Entrance Tidy
Don’t toss your things on the floor or the couch when you get home. Have a dedicated area to hang your coat and leave your bag, umbrella, and shoes. Simple coat hooks at your front door will do the trick, or a freestanding coat rack.
Wear House Shoes
Get into the habit of switching your street shoes for house shoes or slippers when you get home. Your floors will stay cleaner longer, and you’ll need less time to hoover and mop them every week.
Plus, if you have parquet or hardwood floors, they’ll get less scratched if you always leave your street shoes at the door. Tiny stones tend to get wedged into shoes’ soles outside, and they really scratch up your wood floors.
Utilise Small Time Pockets
Once you’ve adopted your cleaning schedule for a single person, you can optimise it further by doing bursts of micro-cleaning or decluttering when you have little pockets of extra time.
For example, I decluttered my desk while talking on the phone with my friend yesterday after work. It was effortless.
Knocking out a mini task or two when you have a couple of minutes to spare will help minimise your cleaning efforts throughout the week. Try emptying the dishwasher during a commercial break on TV, or sorting out your mail while you wait for a friend to pick you up.
Keeping to a cleaning schedule for a single person can be challenging at first if you work or study full-time. If you stick with it though, it will really pay off. You’ll find you gain more free time eventually as you build habits and fine-tune your routine. Plus, you’ll be able to fully enjoy that down time in the knowledge that your place is not a mess!
Once you feel comfortable with your cleaning schedule, you can level up with some of the micro-cleaning bursts I outlined above. It will not take long at all before you notice a positive difference in your household workload — and how good you feel at home.
What are your best tips for maintaining a cleaning schedule?