The Ultimate Cleaning Routines for Early Birds and Night Owls

If it works better for your schedule, opt for the nighttime-focused cleaning routine, even if you're an early bird.

Are you a morning lark or a night owl? Do you get up early to fold the laundry and meal prep before your family even wakes up? Or are you the one staying up to clean the kitchen and sort through mail long after your loved ones have gone to bed? No matter if your natural circadian rhythm makes you more inclined to stay up late or wake up with the sun, there's a way to customize a morning or nighttime cleaning routine to work with your schedule.

Instead of saving all of your chores for the weekend (when you'll likely want to spend time with friends or relax with family), we asked cleaning pros how to work daily cleaning seamlessly into our everyday routines. At first, making your bed every morning or remembering to wipe down the kitchen counter before bed may take some getting used to, but once you get in the habit, these routines will quickly become second nature.

How to Pick the Best Cleaning Routine

Before you decide on a cleaning routine, you'll want to figure out whether you're a morning lark or a night owl (most of us immediately identify with one or the other). From there, let your natural circadian rhythm, along with your work and family schedule, guide your cleaning routine.

"I am an early bird," says Debra Johnson, home cleaning expert at Merry Maids. "Due to work, however, I clean at night when I have a busy weekend ahead of me," she explains. If you're not sure if you fit into the early bird or night owl personality type, think about when you're most productive or when you have free time.

Donna Smallin Kuper, a certified house cleaning technician and author of Cleaning Plain & Simple, said she's neither an early bird nor a night owl ("A perk of working from home all my life!"). However, she is most productive during the daylight hours, so she chooses to follow the early bird cleaning routine. Think about when you tend to get the most done and let that guide you to one of the two cleaning schedules below. From there, feel free to adapt the plan to work for you.

Daily Early Bird Cleaning Routine

In the Morning

This is your most productive time of day, so take advantage of it by integrating these more thorough cleaning tasks into your get-ready routine.

  • Make the bed: Get in the habit of making the bed right when you wake up. It only takes a few minutes, yet it will make your bedroom look instantly neater.
  • Wipe down the shower: Early birds tend to shower in the morning rather than at night, so Debra Johnson recommends wiping down the shower tiles with a microfiber cloth or squeegee to "help prevent soap scum and mold buildup in the future."
  • Clean up your clothes: If you try on multiple outfits to figure out what you want to wear to work, re-hang all of the "rejects" and place them back in your closet so you aren't greeted by a mess when you get home, suggests Johnson.
  • Empty the dishwasher: Run the dishwasher at night and unload it in the morning. Then, load the dishwasher with dishes from breakfast. Wash any dishes by hand from the night before.
  • Put things away: At night, use a laundry basket to collect all toys, blankets, clothing, etc. that are out of place, suggests Smallin Kuper. In the morning when you have more energy, return them all where they belong.
  • Remove clothes from the dryer: You will have laundry ready to go from the night before if you follow this routine. Fold them and put them away.

Before Bed

Even if the night isn't your prime work time, there are still a few nighttime habits that will set you up for a more productive morning.

  • Load the dishwasher: Don't forget to run it at the very end of the night. Feel free to leave dishes that need to be hand-washed for the morning.
  • Wipe down the kitchen counter: This is a quick task that won't take much energy. "Leaving spills just makes it harder to clean in the morning," Smallin Kuper warns.
  • Do a quick pick-up: Use a laundry basket to collect all items that are out of place or belong in a different room (but wait until the morning to put them away).
  • Start a load of laundry: Make sure to transfer it to the dryer before bed so that you have clothes you can fold and put away the next morning.

Daily Night Owl Cleaning Routine

In the Morning

The AM isn't your most productive time, so find easy ways to introduce cleaning into your mad rush to get out the door. The goal: "Do what you can to make coming home a more pleasant experience," says Smallin Kuper.

  • Make the bed: No matter if you're an early bird or a night owl, this simple task will help set the tone for the entire day and make you feel more productive.
  • Load the dishwasher: Notice that this cleaning routine doesn't require you to empty the dishwasher before starting your day. Instead, fill the dishwasher with your morning dishes and then run it. When you get home from work, you can empty the dishwasher before you prepare dinner.
  • Take out the trash: It's a quick task, and you'll thank yourself later when you come home from a long day and aren't greeted with an unpleasant garbage smell.

Before Bed

If the evening is when you feel most energized, take advantage of this time to accomplish a few chores rather than leave them for the weekend. If you're staying up after others in your home have gone to bed, focus on quiet activities that won't wake up your family, so save the vacuuming for Saturday.

  • Empty the dishwasher: Before dinner, empty the dishwasher. Once nighttime comes, load the dishwasher with the evening dishes but don't run it. Load more dishes the next morning and then run it.
  • Do the laundry: Sorting and folding clothes is a quiet activity that's ideal for late nights. Plus, you can do it as you catch up on Netflix.
  • Sort through the mail: Take advantage of quiet nighttime hours to tackle the paper pileup.
  • Sweep and mop the floor: Bonus, you won't have to stop every two minutes as your family members try to walk across the freshly mopped floor.
  • Clean the bathroom: This chore becomes easier when you aren't interrupted by family members.
  • Dust: This is a quiet chore you can accomplish without waking others.

How to Divide Major Cleaning Tasks

If you're really determined to avoid cleaning on the weekends, divide major cleaning tasks by days of the week, then accomplish them either in the AM or PM, according to your schedule, recommends Johnson. For example, make Mondays laundry day, Tuesdays kitchen cleaning, Wednesdays bathroom cleaning, etc. Focusing on just one big task or room per day will make sure you get it all done by the time Friday (finally!) arrives.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles