Deep Cleaning Bit By Bit

Learn to keep up, not catch up with your deep cleaning by doing a small number of tasks every day.

striped dish cloths and cleaning soap

Where did spring cleaning come from?

Did you know that the purpose of spring cleaning was to undo a winter’s worth of heating with coal, wood, and of lighting with kerosene? Apparently, houses would be covered in soot and ash, and when heating was over, it was time to clean. But somehow the tradition has stayed alive.

Now we are made to feel guilty every spring because we do not pull out the fridge and vacuum the coils, or remove the window screens and power wash them.

Yes, deep cleaning is horrible. We all know this. Even people who like keeping a tidy home and perhaps even like laundry, hate to deep clean. So why do we make lists of things like “quarterly tasks” and save them up for some terrible day in March? Or worse, that day never comes…and the list haunts us.

Because there will never be a convenient day, or week, to deep clean the entire house. You have dinner to make, and laundry, and maybe kids, or a full time job, and it is just not realistic. That is something a team of house cleaners comes to do. It takes multiple people and costs hundreds and hundreds of dollars. It’s a ton of work, not fun, and makes you feel like a servant. Yes, that spring cleaning printable checklist is cute but not really helping.

There is a better way.

Enter…the one day at a time plan!

So. We all know there are daily tasks like sweeping, counters, whatever. Then there is dusting and vacuuming, which I do once a week. Not talking about that here.

Then there are bathrooms, which need regular cleaning of tubs, floors, and such. The medium clean, because things shouldn’t really be that dirty.

Kitchens, same. The medium clean. Cleaning sinks, trash cans, organizing cabinets.

Then there is everything else. Living rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms, hall closets. Not as dirty, doesn’t need as much attention, but can get neglected.

How do keep on top of these bigger jobs without making into a miserable spring cleaning experience? Easy! Break it up and do a little every day.

One thing a day from each category

Every day, do one deep or medium clean item from each category.

One kitchen task

One bathroom task

One everything else task.

(Keep in mind this does NOT include sweeping, tidying, or wiping down counters. That’s just just part of being alive. The task has to go beyond that. It has to be something that won’t be undone by the end of the day.)

For example…

In the bathroom, maybe the mirror needs to be cleaned.

In the kitchen, maybe the vent hood needs to be cleaned and the baffles need to go through the dishwasher.

In the everything else category, organize a bookshelf or clean under the couch

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    Fitting it into your day

    The best thing about this plan is the tasks can be done whenever. The best time to do one is when you are already in that room. If you notice the toilet could be fresher, clean it right the , inside and out, and wipe the floor around it.

    This means you have to have cleaning supplies in every bathroom. It will make life better.

    Or you are getting dressed and notice notice your sock drawer is a little messy. Dump everything out, wipe out the inside, and organize it. One drawer does not take more than a few minutes. If you aren’t constantly rushed and running behind, you can do a lot of work as you go about the day, improving the room you are in.

    And then you are done! There is no list in the back of your mind, making you feel inadequate. You have done what you are supposed to do for that day. And doing it day after day will add up to a very clean house, without making a big show of it.

    There will be no deep cleaning that you have fallen behind on. The house will always be clean enough.

    Sometimes you will be reacting to a messy cabinet. Sometimes everything will look great and you will proactively do something like clean out the freezer. Sometimes you will be busy and won’t do anything. It’s not a big deal.

    No lists, no guilt, no overthinking.

    If you prefer a little more structure, try developing a weekly cleaning routine and cleaning specific areas of your home for 20-30 minutes a day.

    To get you started

    Speaking of lists, guilt and overthinking, here are some ideas for each category: (or just get the cheat sheet to refer to every day!)


    • clean the tub
    • clean the shower (do it while you are already in there showering!)
    • clean the counters and faucets
    • clean the windows and windowsills
    • wipe down the floor and baseboards
    • organize under bathroom sink cabinet and wipe it down


    • scrub the sink and soak with water and a splash of bleach
    • take out one shelf on the fridge and wash it,
    • quickly rearrange the whole fridge to look pretty
    • polish stainless steel appliances
    • wipe down floors and baseboards
    • clean windows along the countertops
    • wipe outside of kitchen cabinets
    • organize pantry, or just a shelf if it is bad
    • clean glass door

    Everything Else

    • dust and organize one bookshelf, one single shelf if it is bad
    • clean windows in one room
    • clean out under one bed
    • organize a dresser drawer
    • clean out a closet shelf or hanging rod
    • organize china cabinet
    • organize one nightstand

    I hope you try it!

    Just one thing per day from each category and the house will be lovely in a few weeks time.

    Deep Cleaning Bit By Bit

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    1. I love this because I get overwhelmed by the visual clutter or looking at one whole room as a task. I love the idea of breaking it down even further to one shelf at a time or one cabinet at a time as you go. that makes much more sense and it relieves me from guilt and pressure. thank you!

      1. hey tacy! i’m so glad i t’s helpful. whenever I am overwhelmed by anything i break it down like this. sometimes even a shelf feels like too much hand i do half a shelf. guilt free! 💚

    2. Another thought…. Spring cleaning came from the preparation for the Jewish feast of Passover where the women cleaned house top to bottom, brought out the special Passover dishes, had their pots and pan handles removed and cleaned to remove any food residue that had accumulated the previous year. The on Passover Eve the father and the children would take a candle, a feather and a plate and search all the nooks and crannies for “leven”. If/when they found some crumbs (left on purpose) they would use the candle to “find” it, use the feather to “sweep” it onto a plate, then burn the “leven” so their homes would be so clean that all the leven, even the crumbs were removed. A nice tradition to teach the children that Jehovah said to remove ALL the leven from their homes to remember and celebrate the Hebrew children leaving Egypt for the Promised Land.

    3. I didn’t know that, about the reason behind the “spring clean”, but it makes sense. I agree with your logic, that doing some chores every day will do away with the need for a seasonal cleaning!

    4. I do a deep clean once a year just because even with my daily cleaning tasks going “deeper than usual” (by that I mean “I clean more items once a week that most people barley bother to clean once a year)…. I still can’t keep up with the fact that I have 4 animals living in my house with us XD If I don’t, it just gets chaotic; I currently haven’t deep cleaned in two years and it’s the worst… So I set aside a full week to pull everything out of ever room, one by one, and clean every nook and cranny. It’s also just a good time to just go through the items we accumulated over the last year and get rid of anything that hasn’t been worn or used in a while- which is important since it’s a 1 bedroom house that’s under 800 square feet.

      But I’m also a full time housewife with no job (disabled) or children (infertile), so it’s a bit easier for me, probably- even with the chronic illnesses, lol.

      1. We used to live in a very small house too. You’re right that you have to really intentionally go through each space or else you get overtaken by stuff. I would say that you sound busier than most people, actually!

        1. I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m “busier” persay. I think I’m just… A bit more intentional with my energy; when you know you’re only likely going to have enough energy to do certain things that day you learn to prioritize things really quick- and you learn to prioritize very specific things so you don’t get overrun on the days / weeks you don’t have the energy for anything at all. So I guess, yeah. I might be busier on average throughout a single day compared to most. But those days don’t occur all that frequently, so it sort of balances out, I think.

    5. Your child is adorable, what a great smile! Not being home everyday like I was when the kids were small, my everyday cleaning gets pushed to the weekend and by that time I am tired and don’t want to spend the weekend cleaning so every week I try a project but I do like to do a deep cleaning before the house gets shut up for the winter, have to start somewhere with a clean house.

      1. She is sooooo friendly! There is nothing like the feeling of a house that is scrubbed from top to bottom, especially before snuggling in for winter. I have just never been able to do it!