Numerous cleaning “experts” use a system of zoning in the home to accomplish deeper cleaning throughout the year. I researched these various opinions and realized one fact: none of them would work, as is, for my home and lifestyle. I gleaned the core concepts and then devised my own zone rotation schedule.
The concept of zoning is based in the (very old) practice of spring cleaning. Spring was the time of year when women would deep-clean their homes after winter. Many cleaning “experts” still recommend a deep-cleaning once each year.
There are two problems, though. (1) If you only deep-clean once each year, the dirt and grime and dust really build up, making the job more difficult. (2) This difficult job requires days or weeks to accomplish.
Zoning solves those problems! With zone cleaning, the deep-cleaning chores are done on an 8-week rotation (or 6- or 10-week rotation; you get to choose!). The dust and grime hasn’t a chance to become overwhelming. And you know the best way to eat an elephant, don’t you? One bite at a time! Doing a little deep-cleaning every day is easier to manage and incorporate into a busy schedule.
So, how does it work?
1. Decide how long of a rotation you wish to create. I like an 8-week rotation that includes two rest weeks. You could do a 6-week rotation (4 zones, 2 rest weeks; 6 zones, no rest weeks!) or even a 10-week rotation (8 zones, 2 rest weeks; 6 zones, 4 rest weeks; you get the idea).
2. Divide your house into the appropriate number of zones (saw that coming, didn’t you?). As with the weekly chore list, group rooms or areas with common cleaning requirements. Don’t forget outdoors (porches, carports, garden)!
3. Make a list of cleaning tasks each zone requires. Remember, this is deep-cleaning. Some things to remember are walls (yes, walls can and should be washed), baseboards, ceiling fans, windows, curtains, closets, toys. This is also a time for organization — as shelves/drawers/cabinets are being emptied and cleaned, the contents should be vetted, organized, and replaced neatly.
4. Organize each list so that you are cleaning from top to bottom (ceiling fans before baseboards). Then, divvy the chores into the five days of the week (or however many days you have available for dedicated deep-cleaning) — keep your busiest days in mind. Try to spread the time spent cleaning evenly throughout the week.
5. Include rest weeks in your rotation, if you can! Rest weeks give you flexibility in your schedule. As you look ahead in your calendar, you may notice that one week will be particularly busy (kids have final exams at school, there are three doctor’s appointments, it’s a holiday week when you usually travel). You can easily shift your zone rotation weeks around so that a rest week falls on that busy week — it’s better to switch around the rotation than to skip a week altogether. If you plan for those busy weeks, you won’t get off-track and lose motivation! Also, rest weeks allow you down-time to spend on hobbies or a special outing (maybe a zoo or museum trip or day of shopping in the city). It’s a great time to do some extra canning in the summer time, too. 🙂
You may be wondering about my zone rotation schedule. 🙂 My rotation is an 8-week schedule with 6 zones and 2 rest weeks.
Zone 1: kitchen
Zone 3: living/dining rooms, hallway
Zone 5: office, foyer, utility room
Zone 2: bedrooms
Zone 4: bathrooms
Zone 6: outdoors
I know the names and numbers are wonky — I wrote out my zones and listed the cleaning tasks many months ago, but recently moved from a 6-week rotation to an 8-week rotation. And I decided not to do the zones in numerical order… don’t ask me why!
I’ll be listing my cleaning chores for each zone in the next few posts. 🙂