Curb Future Cleaning Clashes: A Trick to Keeping Rooms Cleaner and Households Happier

updated Mar 11, 2020
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(Image credit: Leanne Bertram)

Sharing a home with another person (or persons) isn’t always easy — and conflicts tend to occur, especially when it comes to cleaning chores. There’s a way you can cut down on disagreements over cleaning tasks in the future, though, and it’s actually a really easy step: Have everyone who lives in the home work together to officially decide when a room is considered “clean.”

Decide what it means for each room to be considered “clean”

That sounds too easy, but it’s something that can trip up the most peaceful couples or pairs of roommates. And it’s because different people tend to have different definitions of the word “clean.” (Or, perhaps more accurately, people have different levels of “good enough.”) I like to call this getting rooms “back to neutral,” because it’s like a space’s starting point that you can then enjoy or fill up with friends. Start by making a list of the cleaning tasks that each room needs and how often each task should be completed to get the room back to its neutral point. You might find organizing these lists into chore charts for each room to be helpful.

(Image credit: Daphne Steinberg)

Call a meeting of the folks who live in your home (kids too)

But then go beyond just the chore chart. Have an honest discussion of what each member considers a “finished” job on a cleaning chore. If you’re the kind of household with chore charts, grab the charts and go down each list, going over each task and deciding when it’s finished. Are the floors vacuumed when the visible spots are cleaned or does every inch need to be run over and the sofa cushion crumbs sucked up too? Can the counters be swiped with a wet sponge? Or do they need to be scrubbed? For a kid’s room to be back to its neutral point, can the toys be thrown in the closet, or do they need to be placed back in the toy bin?

This isn’t about one person calling the final shots — but everyone working together to determine what the room’s clean “starting point” is. So that when one person thinks they’ve completed a task, someone else in the household won’t feel like it wasn’t done at all.

(Image credit: Nicole Crowder)

This is a great tip for folks who live solo, too

Even if you’ve got no one else to fight with over cleaning duties, you can still benefit from sitting down to decide what level of clean every task needs to reach before getting checked off as finished. You can use this run-down of cleaning expectations with yourself to keep your home on track throughout the year. There will naturally be weeks and even months when life gets in the way and you can’t clean as much or as often as you would like — but knowing ahead of time the cleaning levels you want to aim for will help you see when you need to spend more time on a task or ask for help.

Have you tried a similar idea like this out in your home? How has it worked? Do you have another better trick to suggest?