Plus, the one task both morning larks and night owls should do every single morning. 

By Katie Holdefehr
Updated April 01, 2019
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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 your 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 chores 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. Bonus: With just a few cleaning chores left to tackle by the time the weekend rolls around, you'll have more time to kick back and enjoy your sparkling clean home.

Are you an early bird or a night owl?

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, but if you're not sure, take this quiz. 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. Although 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!"), she is most productive during the daylight hours, so 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.

The Ultimate Cleaning Routine for Early Birds

In the Morning

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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."
  3. 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.
  4. Empty the dishwasher: Run the dishwasher at night and unload it in the morning. Then, load the dishwasher with dishes from breakfast.
  5. 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.
  6. Remove clothes from the dryer: 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.

  1. Load the dishwasher and turn it on.
  2. Wipe down the kitchen counter. "Leaving spills just makes it harder to clean in the morning," Smallin Kuper warns.
  3. Do a quick pickup: 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).
  4. Start a load of laundry and transfer it to the dryer before bed.

The Ultimate Cleaning Routine for Night Owls

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.

  1. Make the bed: No matter if you're an early bird or a night owl, this one simple task will help set the tone for the entire day and make you feel more productive.
  2. Put breakfast dishes in the dishwasher.
  3. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. Sort through the mail: Take advantage of quiet nighttime hours to tackle the paper pileup.
  3. Sweep and mop the kitchen floor. Bonus, you won't have to stop every two minutes as your family members try to walk across the freshly-mopped floor.
  4. Clean the bathroom: This chore becomes easier when you aren't interrupted by family members.
  5. Dust: This a quiet chore you can accomplish without waking others.

Pro Tip: For both early birds and night owls, 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.