The Military's Four-Step Plan to Keeping Your Place Clean


Tight corners on the beds. Scrubbing floors with toothbrushes. Ruthless efficiency, glorious shine. The military knows how to clean. (See also: How to Clean Everything With Just 3 All Natural Cleaners)

In just four steps — each of which are ingrained in boot camp — you too can have an inspection-passing home, and spend less time keeping it that way.

Step One: Clean a Little Each Day

"If you keep everything fairly clean throughout the week, you really only need to do a larger clean two or three times per month," says Paul DiCesare, a former staff sergeant in the US Air Force and now CEO of ShareJockey. It may seem daunting to wipe down your shower after every use or wipe the bathroom countertop down every other day but by "finding a routine that works for you and your household and sticking to it," DiCesare adds, "it's a pretty easy process to master." Whether you wipe down the bathroom counters, sweep the kitchen floors, or straighten up the items laying around the family room, a little cleaning each day is going to help you out immensely.

Step Two: Create a Simple System for Cleaning

This process should involve "simple, basic cleaning that gets the job done," according to Chief Warrant Officer 3, Robert Streit who is currently stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany with the U.S. Army. "You can overclean," he says, and when you do, you can ruin finishes, waste cleaning material, or even — as he discovered — wear off the water sealer around a tub due to excessive scrubbing with a wire brush. Using a simple, effective system with the right cleaners will always save you time and energy over harsher chemicals used once a month.

Create a plan that works for you. Make a list of items you will clean daily or after each use. Items on this list would include:

  • wiping down the shower walls (to ward off soap scum and mildew);
  • wiping out the kitchen sink after each use;
  • picking up items laying around in the main rooms of the house;
  • doing one load of laundry from washing machine to putting everything away into drawers.

Also, make a list of items you will do weekly. For example, you could wipe down bathrooms on Mondays, vacuum the carpets on Tuesday, sweep the kitchen floor on Wednesday (maybe daily if you have a busy household) and dust the main rooms of the house on Thursday. Set a schedule that makes sense for you and stick with it each week. Officer Streit agrees,"routines are key to cleaning. If you establish a routine, then it becomes natural." He adds that this routine can also help you notice when something is out of place or doesn't belong.

Step Three: Find a Home for Everything

Space is a premium in places like barracks and ships; everything in those places has a designated space and must be returned to that space when it is no longer needed. This same tactic should be used in your home. Every coat should have a hanger; every backpack, it's own hook. Each toy should have a place to be stored (whether it's in a basket in the living room or a shelf in your child's bedroom.)

Items without a space of their own will cause clutter and disorganization, and the military has learned that clutter and disorganization do not allow things to run smoothly. Tracy Tluchowski, wife of a former Marine sergeant found out quickly that the military taught her husband how to organize. "Every file has a name on it. Everything is where it is supposed to be."

Step Four: Keep Cleaning Tools Nearby

Having items within reach allows you to complete the job in less time. Sergeant DiCesare took this step and turned it into a business when he created ShareJockey, a cleaning company that focuses on cleaning as quickly as possible for people who are renting out their apartments, condos, and rooms in their homes on the website Airbnb. His employees wear a custom made military-style backpack with all the tools they need to clean a one bedroom, one bath apartment in under one hour.

While we can't all have a backpack like that, we can keep a caddy or bin in each bathroom with cleaners for the sink, toilet, shower and mirrors. Under the kitchen sink there should be plenty of hand towels and washrags, as well as cleaners for the sink, stove, and stainless steel surfaces. The linen closet near your bedrooms should have dusting supplies, glass cleaner and if there's room, a vacuum cleaner. Having all these items nearby will give you less reason to skip cleaning and help you finish quicker.

How do you keep your place ship-shape? Please share in comments!

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Guest's picture

Too much work.