Eventually just about everybody comes to the realization that housework is never ending and involves drudgery, tedium, and getting your hands dirty. It’s a fact of life that if we want to live like civilized people in clean houses there will always be chores that need to be done… and it certainly makes life easier if these chores are shared.

Develop a work routine, based on YOUR house, YOUR family, and YOUR lifestyle… and then fine-tune that routine until you can accomplish what needs to be done… efficiently, quickly, and with as little stress as possible. Some people prefer to spend one day each week deep-cleaning the whole house… others prefer to clean or organize small areas each day. Once you find the time and the routine that works for YOU and the other people in your household, everything suddenly becomes a little easier.

Nature's serenity

What works best for me is to try to keep my house (and my life) as orderly and organized as I can ALL the time. I have learned to tackle big… or dreaded… jobs in the early hours of the day because I am a morning person and that is when I can accomplish the most. Your most productive time may be at the other end of the day, but when you’re not already exhausted, amazing amounts of work can be done even in short spurts of time.

Since my back injury, I have also learned to expect… and accept… help. That is sometimes painfully difficult to do.

My email tells me that keeping the house clean, laundry, and doing dishes are the three most hated chores. Here are a few ideas that work for me:

  • I have learned that when I take care of little things as soon as they happen, it prevents them from becoming big (problems, messes, whatever). It is always so much easier to take care of one thing than it is to tackle a long to-do list.
  • Every morning I make the beds right away, then I look around the rooms and do a quick “pick up and put away.” I hang up clean clothes and put any dirty clothes in the hamper. If any family members who are old enough do this too, their rooms can stay relatively neat and clean all the time.
  • I have learned what a valuable habit it is to put things back where they belong when I am finished with them. This one simple habit (and it IS a habit) can make an amazing difference in how your house looks. Kids can be taught to pick up their own toys before nap or bed time… this is a great behavior for kids to learn that will serve them well all their lives.
  • I never let dishes accumulate. I have a dishwasher, but almost always I find it’s so much easier to wash the dishes by hand… as I’m cooking or baking before food has a chance to become dried on. I soak the dishes in hot soapy water and they almost wash themselves. When the dishes are clean, I put them away… the entire dish washing process is taken care of quickly and with very little effort and the kitchen stays clean.
  • I take wet clothes out of the washer as soon as the cycle stops. When I’m drying clothes on the lines outside, I shake each item hard before I hang it on the line… it’s amazing how many wrinkles a good shake will eliminate. When I’m using the dryer, I take the clothes out of the dryer a few at a time (keeping the dryer running) and fold or hang all the clothes while they are still warm… resulting in almost wrinkle-free laundry… which is a good thing because I absolutely hate ironing!
  • Then I put the clothes in the closets or in drawers where they are supposed to be! Immediately.
  • And finally, every time someone takes a bath or a shower, they are expected to give the shower walls and tub a quick wipe down. This takes only a few seconds, but it goes a long way in helping the tub and shower stay clean and shiny.

All relatively easy and simple to do… but see what a difference they can make!

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One of the numerous domestic tasks that my ex-girlfriend and I argued about was the dishes. Our unfortunate agreement was that when one of us cooked, the other had to do the dishes. “Unfortunate” because I cleaned as I cooked and left a sparkling (or near sparkling) kitchen at the serving of the meal. On the other hand, she managed to find a use for every piece of cookware we owned and left a huge pile of dirty dishes to be cleaned after the meal. That is how I learned that it is very hard to clean encrusted garlic on a full stomach while sleepy after a heavy meal!


I also have the rule that everyone must wipe out the shower after using it. One really good benefit of this lifetime habit is that it basically eliminates the use of cleaning chemicals in the shower. There is no chance for mildew or soap scum to grow because the shower is always dry and the faucets always sparkle!


Great post, Shirley! I’ve always been a “clean as you go” person, that is, if I see something that needs doing I do it right away along with whatever else I may be doing. Sounds complicated but it actually saves time. I have a cleaning kit under the kitchen sink and all my rags and supplies are very handy. No scrounging around trying to find just what I need. I save old toothbrushes for the detail jobs and have a really nice duster that I can give everything a wisk as I go. And I use a dustmop and shake it outside.
Steps and entryways get a daily sweep to keep “stuff” from being tracked inside.
I love housework! I am so grateful to God that I have a home to clean and love. It hasn’t always been this good.

I wish the schools would teach home economics to the young ones (boys and girls) like they used to. A neat home is not always a happy home, but it sure helps!


Sometimes I think that the pre-work habits are the most time-saving. For example, use only one cup throughout the day for water rather than always getting a new one when you “lose” the old one (i.e. leave it in another room). This means there are less dishes to do overall!


I do many of the same things! I try to keep things as tidy as possible (well, as tidy as can be with 2 kids under 4), and then each day of the week I have a “focus area” of my home that I do deeper cleaning tasks. These tasks generally only take me 30 to 45 minutes each day, and while it means that my whole house doesn’t sparkle all at once, it is always presentable, and I know that each area of my home will get hit once a week, so I don’t stress about it. I figured out once I had kids that cleaning it all in one shot was not going to be possible, as I would never have that much consecutive time again!

I do the same as you with making beds first thing in the morning and picking up the bedrooms. I find it’s a great way to start the day. I would hate to go upstairs later in the day and see unmade beds, then it would seem like drudgery to make them later on. For some reason, doing things right away seems to make them more bearable.

I like your idea of wiping out the shower after each use. Since I only use natural cleaners, I find it tough to remove soap scum if I only do it once a week. I’ll have to give your method a try!

I also agree that it’s important to teach children to put things away where they belong. It also alleviates a lot of frustration on their part when they want to know where their such-and-such is! If they learn to put things away when they’re finished with them, you aren’t endlessly searching for their toys.

Great post, and lots of good ideas here!


I would like to know if you have any tips or suggestions for dusting. It is my number-one, most-dreaded housework chore. It feels so fruitless to me, since I just have to keep doing it over and over again–even though I love the newly-dusted, shiny surfaces when I’m finished. Do you have any ideas on how to make dusting less drudgery? I love, for example, your post about effortless dish-washing, and would be thrilled if you had something similar to help me get over my dread of dusting. Thanks!


I’m back to ask a quick question! I’ve been thinking a lot about your post. I mentioned in my earlier comment that I have scheduled “deep-cleaning” days for each room of my house. I was wondering, how do you handle your deep-cleaning tasks? Do you have a schedule, or just do them as needed? Particularly things like dusting, vacuuming, scrubbing floors, cleaning toilets, etc. I’m always curious how others do things, to see if there is a more efficient way.


Shirley (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity)

I suppose I keep a schedule of sorts in my head, but I don’t have any written schedule. Out of necessity, I have had to learn to do some things differently since my back injury. As to toilets, dusting, and vacuuming… I vacuum every morning and clean the toilets every evening, which means that neither job takes a lot of time or effort. Dusting more or less gets done when needed. Give me a little time and I will see if I can come up with a better description.


how clean is clean? Where do you draw the line? I often feel like a fanatic.


I am less than interested in housekeeping.

Over the years, I have become much more tidy and I have a routine for dishes, laundry and so on. It’s those other chores that you have to remember to do regularly that I tend to forget. Like I say, I am not interested.

I am at my computer most of my day, at home.

I decide how often I want a chore done and then put it into my calendar program. My program allows repeats of x number of days, or x number of weeks.

At regular intervals I get messages like, wash the refrigerator, or clean the air conditioner’s filter. I have some that I get every two days and others I get every three months.

I have a personal rule that I cannot remove the notification from my computer screen until the chore is done.

This breaks up the time I sit in my chair, the chore gets done, on schedule, and I have to give it zero thought space in my mind.

I have to go clean the toilet now.


Dishes are sometimes a problem here too. It’s the backup when the dishwasher doesn’t get emptied. I find that emptying the dishwasher as soon as possible is the key to keeping my kitchen clean. When it is empty, the dirty dishes can be loaded as they are dirtied and don’t pile up.


Many jobs can be done in 5 minutes or less. When waiting for something or someone, I like to see how many of those little jobs I can do. Unload or load the dishwasher, unload and wipe off a referigerator shelf, wash a window, dust, sweep a floor, clean a toilet, fold a batch of laundry. How long is the typical commercial break on TV? Long enough to do a 5 minute job!


A chore is not finished until it is finished. And that means all parts of the chore have to be finished. A trip to the grocery store is not finished until the food is put away, canvas bags put back in the closet, receipt checked and entered onto the budget spreadsheet and the amount entered in the check book register. Every other chore is done in a similar manner. I don’t consider the chore done until every last aspect of it, including and especially, the clean up part is finished. Don’t hang a picture and leave the hammer just sitting three – put it away right away!

In this way I avoid a backlog of unfinished tasks and untidy piles of clutter. Time spent on those big clean up sessions is much reduced.