How to Keep Your House Clean when You Work Full-Time

I don’t know about you but I feel like keeping my house clean is a full time job in itself. Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to wash those dishes and launder those sheets.How to Keep Your House Clean When You Work Full-Time

Frustrated with the seemingly perpetual state of grime in our home, I wondered if I could benefit from a cleaning schedule.

Unfortunately, that only led to more frustration. Cleaning schedules abound online so it wasn’t a matter of finding one, but so many of them were meant for people who could spend hours a day on housekeeping.

Like so many other Americans, I have to be at work before the sun rises and I don’t get home until well after it sets. Doing anything other than waking up in the morning is next to impossible. To picture myself making the bed and throwing in a load of wash before I head out the door is just comical to me.

So, for those of you who are are in the same boat, I’m excited to tell you there’s another way.

Make the Most of Your Minutes

Make the Most of Your Minutes

Long gone are the days of husbands heading off to work while their wives stay home to cook, clean, and tend to their children.

The vast majority of us are no longer able to make managing a household our top priority. In fact, it usually gets pushed to last. But it doesn’t, and shouldn’t, have to be that way.

Colin and I both work forty hours a week in a four day workweek. My commute is about double his so I am generally the first to leave and the last to arrive home. Because of this, Colin prepares the midweek meals and I cook over the weekend.

Consider splitting mealtime duties in your home as well, even if you both arrive home at the same time.

You Cook, You'll CleanYou Cook, You’ll Clean

Who should clean up after meals? The old adage of “You cook, I’ll clean” has no place in our home. At work, I teach and remind a dozen toddlers each day to clean up after themselves. It is only right to hold myself to the same standard.

Also, I can just about guarantee that if you know you’re the one who will be cleaning up after preparing a meal, you’ll keep a tidier kitchen, even if you do so subconsciously.

Take TurnsTake Turns

When it is your turn to do the cooking, take advantage of the downtime. In the three minutes per side of a chicken breast, you can wipe down the counters. While you await a pot of water to boil, you can load the dishwasher. The more cleaning you do as you cook, the less you have to do after.

When it’s your spouse’s turn to cook, take that opportunity to pick up around the house. Go through the mail and recycle the papers you don’t need. If you notice dust, sweep it up.

Whatever you do, avoid sitting down until dinner. I find it much harder to motivate myself to do anything around the house when my butt is parked on the sofa.

When you and your spouse split cooking responsibilities during the week, you both also get to take turns maintaining your home. And in a matter of mere moments a day, you’ve cleaned your house and dinner is simultaneously served.

After you both finish eating, clear your own plates and immediately put them into the dishwasher. I recommend running the load that night.

I’ve found that many recipes call for four servings and since there’s only two of us, we can have the leftovers the following day. That means it’s a night off for both of you! And since you won’t be cooking or cleaning, you’re afforded the perfect opportunity to unload the dishwasher.

Keeping the dishwasher ready for dirty dishes 99% of the time is optimal. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve piled cups and plates on the counters just because we were too tired (and perhaps lazy) to unload the clean dishes first.

Ultimately, you decide what works best in your household. Whether you use a detailed cleaning schedule or my system of cleaning a few minutes at a time, don’t assume you have to go at it alone. Get your spouse involved and, in time, cleaning can almost become an enjoyable part of daily life.

I want to hear from you! What kind of system do you use to keep your house clean? Comment below.

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  1. Reply

    I find that a full-time working week saps the life out of me and I can do very little around it. Our cleaning schedule consists of giving the house a good clean only when someone comes to stay… this works out OK unless there’s a few months between visits.. I cook every night because I’m home first; I don’t mind it, because I know what I want to eat and I’d be waiting all night if it was left to the hub – I’d also have to spend as much time answering his questions about what he should cook as I would if I just did it myself! I know that’s a cop-out but I’m OK with making the dinner. I despise hoovering so when it gets crunchy underfoot he usually does it. I must say I hate the model of fulltime, 9-5, five-day a week working; it really needs revising. It totally washes me out. Cleaning can be a major bone of contention with couples. A lot of stuff just naturally lands on women if we’re not careful… I can only imagine the bickering and sniping if we had had kids. The thought of doing lunchboxes and cleaning up after kids night after night does kill me: so glad I don’t have to do any of that. I suppose my trick is generally to let the house get so severely dusty that it bothers my hub (a naturally fastidious Italian) and he gets his yellow feathers-on-a-stick and the hoover out: bless.

    1. Reply

      I love your plan. I wish dust bothered my husband! There are definitely weeks where we both just stare at the dust bunnies hoping the other one will do something about it first. Full-time working and cleaning can be so tough.

  2. Reply

    Great ideas! I used to have a cleaner (my treat to myself) but to be honest, she wasn’t that great and she was forever breaking things, so I decided to put the money i paid her to sessions at the gym with a personal trainer!
    Like you, we have no kids but two dogs, at times it seems like we have ten dogs with the amount of hair on the floor!
    Living in the desert area of Spain it is ALWAYS dusty, drives me crazy. Our shared tasks include, Husband takes care of the dogs, morning and night, food and ablutions, he does the recycling, of which we seem to have more than the average person. I clean on a Thursday straight after a gym class when I am energised, I throw the laundry in the machine and set it to come on early in the morning so (if I remember) I can get it out to dry before I go to work. The cleaner I fired still does my ironing (I have my limits.
    I am lucky that my commute is five minutes down the road, or, as a freelance writer I work from home.
    We share the cooking and I unload the dishwasher in the morning when I am waiting for the kettle to boil.
    The only nagging I do is when my husband leaves his clothes on the bed in the spare room instead of putting them away!
    PS thanks for following my blog.

    1. Reply


      Thanks for your comment! I like your cleaning schedule. I understand that dog hair struggle all too well, ugh! It’s amazing they have any hair left with all the ones they lose!

    • Jessica
    • January 17, 2017

    Doing a few things at a time seems to work well for us too. There are some things that my husband always does (take out trash/recycling) and some things I always do (dust and vacuum) but for the most part we both pitch in pretty evenly. I would much rather spend a few minutes here and there tidying up than spend a large chunk of time tackling everything. Occasionally there is a need to deep clean or to do more than just a few things at once so in that case we crank up some music and get it done together. The fact that we don’t have kids to clean up after makes things easier as well! ?

    1. Reply

      Jessica, thank you for your comment! We do those deep cleans every so often too. I find music helpful, ir makes the time seem to pass a little faster. It’s great to hear that you guys split your chores. Love it!

  3. Great write-up! I just posted this on Facebook and my followers really enjoyed it.
    I browse your site fairly often but I’ve never thought to comment.
    Anyway, keep up the good work. I really enjoy your posts.

    • Rebekah Faile
    • July 18, 2018

    What if you are single and work full-time?

    1. That’s a great point, Rebekah! Thank you for your comment. I think an additional blog post for single full-time workers is a good idea.

  4. Reply

    Keeping things clean is hard but totally able to be done! It’s just constant picking up. & teaching the kiddos to clean up too! I know all things because of my nanny family.

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