Spring Cleaning for Two

by Erika Torres

Spring is in the air. Easter, daylight savings time, outdoor picnics…spring cleaning?

Now that Eric and I have upgraded from our love shack and moved into our little home, we have taken much more pride in keeping it clean. We both take turns cleaning certain parts of the house. Last week, I did all the bathrooms (there’s 2.5!) and our bedroom, and he cleaned the kitchen and living room. This week, we switched.

Somewhere in there, we hope the rest of the house gets cleaned too, like the man room—which I refuse to touch (or perhaps I’m not allowed in, tomato to-mah-to), and yes, we do call it “the Man room.”

Now that we have a whole new place to decorate, we can’t wait to make trips to Bed, Bath and Beyond to stock up on some new home furnishings and visit Home Depot to buy plants for the garden we’re trying to grow. Little by little, we’re getting it done.

These are my tips for spring cleaning with your spouse:

Set a timeframe

One of the things I hated as a little kid was when my mom would clap her hands every Saturday morning, because I knew that meant it was “cleaning time.” I grew to detest Saturday mornings for this very reason.

Similarly, Eric and I don’t necessarily have the same schedule ( I work Monday thru Friday, 7:30 to 5, he works graveyards shifts on sporadic days). On top of our diverse schedules, some days you have to admit, you just don’t feel like cleaning. For this very reason, we allow ourselves a timeframe (usually about 5 days) to get the deep cleaning chores done. It doesn’t matter when you do it, as long as its within the allotted timeframe.

So far this has worked really well for us.

Don’t clean the same area

Eric and I work much better as a team when we’re not in the same room.  If we happen to have a weekend where we end up cleaning at the same time, we always stay in different areas. Even when we lived in our one-room shack, he would clean the kitchen and upstairs loft, while I did the bathroom and living room. It works best this way as we’re not stepping on each other (figuratively and literally, when it came to the shack).

Don’t clean over your spouse

Once your spouse has cleaned an area, resist the urge to go over and clean it yourself. If it doesn’t meet your standards, maybe you can teach them a couple of things in a nice non-overbearing way. Whenever Eric cleans our bedroom, he always forgets to dust the bedside tables. I’ll casually mention it “Oh did you dust the tables?” And he’ll give me a sheepish look. But I don’t clean them, I just wait until it’s my turn to clean our bedroom and I’ll dust them myself.


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Janine March 29, 2012 - 2:25 am

Not cleaning over your spouse is a GOOD TIP! Nothing discourages my husband from cleaning than me cleaning an area he has just finished cleaning. Even if it was just a roommate, it’s just plain rude! I usually just do it the next day though, as opposed to waiting a whole week to hit up the areas my guy missed. If he notices, that’s a good time to ask him why he didn’t do it in the first place! 😉

ImpulseSave March 26, 2012 - 9:34 am

Sounds like a great idea! My mom was the same way with Saturday mornings – it really ruined the weekend as a kid 🙁 I never understood why she had to have the whole house cleaned in one day?! Now, I use an approach similar to you: set up a time frame of a couple of days when I want something done by. I want the laundry put away by Monday, I want the bedroom vacuumed by Tuesday. This makes it so much less overwhelming, too, because you can chip away at it a little at a time. Thanks for sharing!

Paul @ The Frugal Toad March 21, 2012 - 7:40 pm

Funny! It’s the other way around in our house! rotating the chores is a good idea.

SB @ One Cent At A Time March 21, 2012 - 7:40 pm

Its spring and our patio is all prepared to become a vegetable garden. Not for money, we do it as hobby.

Michelle March 21, 2012 - 1:05 pm

I would never clean over my husband! He’d probably say “fine, do it all yourself” if I did. I like splitting up the chores so no one feels like they always are the ones cleaning the toilets, or whatever chore you detest. I personally hate the dishes.

Jai Catalano March 21, 2012 - 11:45 am

My wife cleans over me. She says dress the kids and then she says not that. I cook she doesn’t eat. I mean don’t get me wrong she loves me but not everything I do. 🙂

shopping2saving March 21, 2012 - 11:05 am

Thanks for your comment on my last post. I definitely HATED to hear his suggestion just to pay off his debts faster but like you said we have a lot to work on and also I would never stop contributing to my retirement stuff if I could afford to!

Right now we do not have much to clean except the BF cleans his parents’ house A LOT. The pool, spa, cats, etc. It’s almost like he likes doing it. Shudder. I clean the bathrooms and rooms and our room sometimes but I don’t have too much time to do it. We also do laundry together which is nice!

Elizabeth @ Broke Professionals March 21, 2012 - 9:19 am

Your last section – about not cleaning over your spouse – proves that your marriage will be long lasting! Early on, I’d give my husband chores then go behind his back and re-do them to my standards… he always figured it out, and it drove him nuts. It wasn’t until I learned to back off that he was able to happily (or, not grudgingly!) do chores.

WorkSaveLive March 21, 2012 - 7:14 am

The last section makes me LOL!

I know I don’t clean to my wife’s standard and I know she has to resist to clean over what I’ve already done. I try my best though…sometimes I just can’t get the shower clean enough!

It’s not my fault. I blame the chemicals.

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Randa March 20, 2012 - 7:05 pm

I completely second the advice to clean in separate rooms. We tried working in the same room for the first couple of months of cohabitation but it was seriously so awful that we wouldn’t get anything done!

OFG March 20, 2012 - 5:21 pm

Oh and I totally agree about avoiding the same room. My husband and I have the same rule when it ones to painting.

OFG March 20, 2012 - 5:19 pm

I’m so glad you entered this contest! I emailed you about it, but I never got back a response so I thought you might’ve given up after the last one. Here’s to hoping you win!

Saving My Toonies March 20, 2012 - 4:37 pm

I have to admit, of the two of us, my husband is the cleaner one! He could clean all day and all night I swear. I really try to pitch in and make sure I do my fair share but he is really bad for cleaning over me! It drives me nuts, I end up feeling like there is no point for me to clean in the first place. I’ve asked him and it’s not necessarily that I’m not doing it well enough or I’m missing something, it’s more he just does it, habit I guess. I guess I can’t complain about a husband that cleans too much… We are still working on setting up a routine that works for the two of us.

Adrienne March 20, 2012 - 1:11 pm

Wow! 2.5 baths, that’s a dream 🙂

I love love love the time frame idea- so cool! Sounds like a great way to teach kids personal responsibility too!

Also love the “don’t clean over each other’ because that’s definitely a struggle for us!

Basically, I just love the post! 😀

CeCe @Frugalista Married March 20, 2012 - 12:58 pm

Wow! Your spouse helps you clean. Awesome.

newlywedsonabudget March 20, 2012 - 1:36 pm

No, he doesn’t “help ME” clean, he does his fair share of the housework since he lives there too 😛 My ideology is if I work a full time job and contribute financially to the household, then there’s no reason why I should be solely responsible for the housework. He’s not helping me; housework is his responsibility too.

ALS March 20, 2012 - 12:56 pm

You must have ESP because my husband and I had a ridiculous fight about cleaning last weekend basically relevant to those three issues. I have a different definition of clean that he does, so I especially need to change my attitude and take advice from your suggestion #3!

KendraD March 20, 2012 - 12:32 pm

Haha, dishes are the one thing I cannot allow my husband to wash. No matter how hard he tries, he always misses something. So it’s much easier to just let me do them. We’re both happier this way.

I like the idea of having a week to get things done in the cleaning column. Once we finally move into our house I’ll have to see if we can implement the same sort of routine. Thanks for the idea!

Jordann @ My Alternate Life March 20, 2012 - 12:04 pm

Love the last piece of advice! My fiancée was not very good at cleaning the bathroom when we first moved in together. After about six months of me gritting my teeth at his less than satisfactory attempts, I went through “How I clean the bathroom” so that he knew what was expected. Now I can remind him nicely to clean the mirror without feeling bad!

jobo March 20, 2012 - 11:14 am

I can’t wait to see your place!!! It sounds glorious 🙂 We take pride in keeping ours neat too! I do much of it, but M is very good now at not cluttering it up after I’ve made it all purty 😉


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