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Your Smart and Sustainable Cleaning Routine

Rejuvenate your home (and soul) this summer

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Is there anything better than the feeling of a clean and organized home? Spring may have already sprung, but summer can also be the perfect season to refresh your surroundings and rejuvenate your mind. With a little planning, we can each find a cleaning routine that feels doable and sustainable for us.

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A clean home …

Do you find a messy, cluttered space anxiety-inducing? You’re not alone. Research tells us that our environments can have a big impact on our mental health. Visual clutter can make us feel scattered and stressed, while clean and tidy spaces can help put our minds at ease.

Whether your home is seriously messy or just in need of a seasonal spruce-up, the good news is that cleaning and organizing is easier than we think. All we need are a few systems and routines—and a bit of good old-fashioned elbow grease.

But first, a disclaimer: everyone’s homes, families, and schedules are very different. The following routines are suggestions only, and probably won’t work perfectly for you. The trick is to use them as inspiration, and then come up with your own perfectly personalized routine.

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Your super summer cleaning spectacular

The following tasks are all about deep cleaning and organizing—you know, the things you likely don’t have time for on a daily or weekly basis. They’re the things that might sit on your to-do list and bring you grief when you remember them. But no longer!

Depending on your needs and schedule, aim to tackle one task each day, weekend, or week. As you complete these tasks, consider when they should be done next and slot them into your annual, seasonal, or monthly home maintenance checklists.

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Declutter and organize

One at a time choose a space or category to conquer (books, kitchen drawers, or coat closet for example).

  • Take everything out, vacuuming and dusting the insides of drawers and closets.
  • Think twice about each item before you put it back: do I still need, want, and use this item? Does this item need to be repaired or mended?
  • Mend clothes and darn socks, take shoes to the cobbler, and fix anything else that needs to be fixed.
  • When you put items back, try to create a home for everything, so nothing gets misplaced.

Declutter food storage areas such as your pantry, refrigerator, or deep freeze.

  • Note expiry dates and toss anything that’s unsuitable for consumption.

Check the bathroom and inventory your family’s medicine and supplement cabinet.

  • Bring expired products to pharmacies for proper disposal. Stock up on items that need replacing.

Don’t ignore virtual clutter: delete unneeded files, emails, and apps.

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Deep clean

Appliances: give the oven, dishwasher, and washing machine a deep clean, including (carefully!) pulling each away from the wall, where possible, to clean behind it.

Walls: wash walls where needed, along with baseboards and light fixtures.

Rugs and upholstery: have these either professionally cleaned or DIY with rental equipment.

Car: give the car a deep clean both inside and out.

Trash and recycling bins: thoroughly wash inside and outside of each.

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Do some basic home maintenance

  • Organize and restock home maintenance products such as batteries, air purifier filters, vacuum bags, and light bulbs. Replace what’s needed around the house.
  • Check smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
  • If needed, redo caulking or grout in kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Have dryer vents professionally cleaned.
  • Change furnace filters.
  • Clean gutters, patio furniture, windows, window screens, and other exterior fixtures.

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Your daily routine

Now that your home is spic and span, we can turn our sights toward maintenance. Daily cleaning tasks can become so routine that we barely have to think about them. Once we’ve found a rhythm that works for us, they really don’t take much time or energy at all.

Morning

During the day

Evening

make the beds

complete weekly task

sort mail

water houseplants

pick up/tidy as you go

clear surfaces and put items back where they belong

do laundry

pick up toys

refresh towels

handwash dishes and run dishwasher

wipe kitchen counters and cooktop

take out trash/compost/recycling

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Your weekly schedule

Many people enjoy assigning a task, or a room, to each day of the week, to take the guesswork out of cleaning. Here is one example of a weekly schedule.

Monday: Kitchen

Tuesday: Bathrooms

Wednesday: Floors

Thursday: Bedrooms

Friday: Living room

Saturday: Miscellaneous

Sunday: Rest day 

wipe cupboards, counters, and other surfaces

scrub and disinfect sinks

vacuum

dust surfaces

dust surfaces

clean windows and mirrors

scrub and disinfect sinks

clean toilets, bathtubs, and showers

mop

wash bedding and linens

vacuum carpeting and couch crevices

wipe baseboards and dust other areas (entryway or office).

organize and clean fridge, tossing old food

clean bathroom counters

sweep front entryway/porch

clean microwave

clean towels

10 tidy tips

  • Make a daily to-do list and enjoy the satisfaction of crossing off a task.
  • If the task takes 45 seconds or less, do it immediately rather than putting it off.
  • Set a timer for as long as you have (even if it’s five or 10 minutes) and see how much you can get done.
  • Put on your favourite podcast or playlist to make cleaning more fun.
  • Run an air purifier to help reduce indoor dust.
  • Have a “donate” bin always on the go, so you can always add to it.
  • Take your shoes off at the door and wash your hands to keep your floors tidy and your house cleaner.
  • Sanitize your electronic devices regularly to keep them germ free.
  • Make an “eat first” bin in the fridge, to save money, reduce food waste, and stay organized.
  • Don’t worry about being perfect! There’s no such thing.

Take-care 5

  • Keep cleaning products out of reach of children and pets.
  • Never mix cleaning products; some can create dangerous fumes.
  • Always carefully read labels before using a cleaning product.
  • Wear gloves when cleaning.
  • Ventilate by opening windows and turning on fans when cleaning.

Donating 101

Sad, but true: most donated items don’t end up being sold locally. The most sustainable and community-minded approach is to take a few extra minutes to think about where your unwanted item could find a new home.

  • Ask friends or family if they would like it.
  • Sell it at a local consignment store.
  • Post it on an online “swap and shop” or “buy nothing” group.
  • Bring old electronics to e-waste drop-off locations or donation centres (delete your data first!).
  • Host a neighbourhood garage sale.
  • Donate specialty items to specific charities (such as for eyeglasses).

Eco-friendly cleaning supplies

  • cloths and rags
  • glass spray bottles
  • all-purpose spray cleaner
  • all-purpose soap (such as Castile soap)
  • glass cleaner
  • toilet cleaner
  • dish soap liquid or block
  • stain remover bar
  • brushes (dish brushes, toilet brushes, scrub brushes)
  • drying rack and clothing pegs
  • gloves

Get the kids involved!

Even young children can help clean! Give them age-appropriate tasks, such as sorting laundry, picking up toys, or sweeping with a child-sized broom. This can help normalize cleaning and teach them skills they’ll need all their lives.

Don’t know how to clean?

Don’t feel bad—it’s not your fault! Many of us are no longer taught how to clean, like we were when home economics were taught in schools. But that doesn’t mean that cleaning isn’t a skill worth learning! Thankfully, we can learn how to cook, clean, and maintain a home—even as an adult—by researching online, reading books, or even through courses at community centres.

Reach out

If you are struggling to maintain your home or find yourself exhibiting hoarding tendencies, it’s important to reach out for professional help. Speak to a mental health professional or your doctor to find support.

Restock your emergency kit

Now is a great time to make a plan for emergencies and restock your family’s emergency kit. Check out getprepared.gc.ca to learn details.

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