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The list of sane and silly domestic chores you’re supposed to work through

household chores schedule
Washing windows should ideally be done once a month. Photo: Getty
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The Good Housekeeping Institute in the UK recently issued a list of how often you should do various cleaning chores around the home.

The list, grouped into daily, weekly and monthly lists, as well as those you should do every three to six months, and annually, I found shocking – shocking, because many of the recommended daily tasks are lucky to get done fortnightly in my house.

If you’re like me and your timetable for a thorough clean is based on when you have guests coming over, you might find the recommended duties a real eye- opener.

I confess that I don’t do many of these tasks as often as recommended, and quite frankly I’ve never heard of some of them: vacuuming mattresses, cleaning front door mats?

But the to-do list will prove useful for anyone wanting to be more disciplined at home – you know how some tasks need a deadline to make you do them?

Daily tasks

According to the recommendations, we should be doing the following tasks daily:

  • Make the bed
  • Wipe down the shower
  • Clean around the toilet bowl
  • Wipe down kitchen surfaces
  • Wipe stove after use
  • Sweep kitchen floor
  • Wash up
  • Clear away clutter, and put dirty clothing in the laundry basket

Sure, some of these chores you would expect to do daily, but I take issue with the list of daily tasks because it seems to assume that one person is taking on everything.

Many of these jobs though, such as making the bed, wiping down the shower, and washing up would be more easily done by individuals as they go.

Let’s take the toilet. Do you clean around the toilet on a daily basis, as the list suggests? Best to train the rest of the family (are you listening little boys, grown men?) to take precise aim, wipe up any spills and return the toilet seat to its horizontal position after use.

Remind the whole family what the toilet brush is there for so that this most unpalatable task doesn’t need doing on a daily basis … by one person.

Weekly tasks

  • Clean bed linen and towels
  • Do the laundry
  • Dust household surfaces
  • Vacuum all carpets and floors
  • Mop any hard floors
  • Give bathrooms a thorough clean
  • Clean mirrors and toothbrush mugs
  • Clean the inside of the microwave
  • Wipe down kitchen appliances and any surfaces not cleaned daily

Wow, I’ve heard of cleaning inside the microwave, but I had no idea that you’re supposed to do it every week. I reckon whoever exploded a cup of hot tomato soup in there should clean it up when they’re done.

Cleaning the kitchen appliances I get, but again, couldn’t this just be done on an as-needed basis?

Monthly tasks

  • Wash all the windows
  • Vacuum hard-to-reach areas, including under furniture
  • Clean blinds and/or vacuum curtains
  • Wash doormats
  • Clean dishwasher, washing machine and vacuum cleaner
  • Throw away any out-of-date food and wipe cupboards

Okay, I confess I’ve cleaned my windows properly once in the last year and that wasn’t actually done by me, but by a paid window cleaner. Where I grew up in England, every week a head would pop up in a window somewhere giving you the fright of your life – it was the window cleaner, a menace to privacy but a regular feature of British homes, and a service that doesn’t seem readily available (or terribly affordable) here.

Windows can be hard, and cleaning them is a time-consuming job to do yourself, especially if you have lots of large windows. But I get that this one is worth doing – everything looks cleaner and brighter and it’s ideal in the run-up to winter to let more light in. So this is one tip I’m taking on board.

I admit that I can’t recall ever having cleaned a door mat. How do you even get them in the washing machine?

Now, I do agree with this cleaning of the washing machine and dishwasher every month. All the stuff that builds up in both can be not only quite disgusting, but also damaging. Looking after and cleaning these expensive machines can help them last much longer.

Tasks to do every three to six months

  • Vacuum mattresses
  • Wash or dry-clean pillows, bedspreads, and doonas
  • Wipe down the inside of the fridge
  • Clean out the freezer
  • Clean the oven thoroughly inside and out
  • Wipe down internal paintwork
  • Have a mini garage blitz
A-ha, I’ve finally found a task that I do more often than recommended. I could never only wipe down my fridge every three to six months. It would get far too grungy and smelly in there. I think this could have been on the monthly list.

Another confession though, I can’t remember ever vacuuming my mattress.

I’m sure a garage blitz every three to six months is a sensible idea, but I can’t imagine it happens that often in many households.

Annual tasks

  • Wipe window frames
  • Wipe lightbulbs
  • Deep-clean upholstered furniture and carpets
  • Empty out gutters
  • Clean fireplace and chimney
  • Have the chimney swept

While I can’t say I’ve ever cleaned my lightbulbs, gutter cleaning is not one I’m going to dismiss lightly. Regular gutter cleaning is essential in a fire-prone country to protect our homes, and it’s also crucial in mitigating flood damage to property. If it’s too hard to do it yourself, call in a professional.

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– by Liz Durnan

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