Stretching for mom’s cleaning standards

Do you remember your mother or grandmother having a militant schedule for your childhood home for spring cleaning?

So many folks seeking cleaning service consultations tell me their mom had a schedule where they had different items to clean all year-round to keep up on the home. Then these people tell me about how they’re not sure why they can’t keep up the same routine on their own. There’s usually some shame and head-hanging that occurs while they share this information in the dismay of their homes and their condition.

Well, if this sounds familiar, I am here to tell you that you are not alone.

The reality is that many families are busy working and are hiring services to help with the cleaning so that they can save their precious free time for the things they enjoy with the people they love.

There is no getting around the fact that cleaning is essential for physical, mental and emotional well-being.

As we are starting to see the weather improve, now is a great time to open the windows, let the sun and fresh air not only fill our home but our mental clarity and mindset to get a fresh start for the year- especially after the cooped-up year we had in 2020.

You might say to yourself, “ Where would I begin if I want to tackle spring cleaning tasks on my own?”

Before cleaning, however, I highly recommend decluttering areas and getting organized. Through this important step, you will find many duplicates of things and will be able to downsize. The less stuff you have, the less you need to clean after all.

Begin by creating storage systems appropriate for items in your home. This helps the whole family know where to look for items when they need them, but most importantly, where to put them when they’re done with them.

As you go through your home, room-by-room, ask yourself if you’ve used items in the past six months. Or will you use them in the next six months?

Consider that when you decide which of three piles things should go in — keep, discard or uncertain. (A second look at the piles should get more of the items you’re uncertain about into the keep or discard piles.)

It’s also good to keep a tote or basket in your house where you can put things you no longer need and throughout the year and donate them to charity when the container is full.

Once you’ve decluttered, then move on to cleaning.

Start with the dirtiest, hardest-to-clean area first. Get that room that you dislike cleaning the most out of the way right away. The biggest reason for this is that you can spend all your energy on the easier, less important tasks but could lose steam and find yourself wanting to take a break or stop altogether before you get to the areas that need the cleaning the most. Bathrooms and kitchens are typically the areas that need the deepest cleaning.

Remembering a simple phrase like, “top to bottom, left to right,” will help you move through each room, noticing high and low detailed areas. You start at the top of the room because whatever you clean will fall down. It wouldn’t make sense to clean the floors first and then dust ceiling fans and light fixtures after, would it?

You will find many areas that can be cleaned and finding the right checklist to cover your home’s dirty areas will help tremendously. (Checklists used when moving into or out of a home are great examples.) If you don’t have one handy, here are a couple of those areas to add to your list:

  • Inside drawers/cabinets (bathrooms/kitchens).
  • Underneath beds/furniture (spiders like making homes in dark areas).
  • Window tracks and screens.
  • Heat and air intake vents.
  • Trim (baseboards, windowsills, door frames).

Besides having a list of areas to tackle, you’ll want to make sure you have the equipment needed for the job. Take time gathering supplies and having them handy in a tote or caddy, including cleaning cloths or even socks you no longer wear.

Try to get the whole family involved when possible. And give yourself grace and permission to not live up to your mother, grandmother, or great-grandmother’s standards and skills of managing it all on their own.

We live in a different age where life is busier than ever, and ahem … did they homeschool their children, work from home and survive a pandemic?

Take time navigating the best ways to tackle your home, understanding there are no rules. It’s what works best for you. And if your family helping isn’t an option, try spreading out the duties. You could break down the duties by room and then assign them to a specific day or week.

No matter where you start or how deep you’re cleaning, know that your efforts will reap great rewards for you in so many ways.

Ashley Kosharek is the founder of AMK Cleaning Services LLC and a member of the Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association. Blog posts are often submitted by association members. The CVHBA is a free resource available to all homeowners building or remodeling a home. For more information please call 715-835-2526 or email

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