Start with a Clean (Spread) Sheet – House Cleaning the Geek Way

This is a guest article by D. Salmons on behalf of DIY Guides.


House cleaning can be a very time consuming and laborious chore that seems to never end. And just when you think you have it all under control, it’s time to do it again. Even worse, things can be missed that suddenly complicate your plan of attack. Is there any hope?

Yes, there is hope! You just need to think like a geek. And what would a geek do? Why, create a spreadsheet that makes house cleaning a manageable job without any surprises, of course.

The Big Picture Advantage

Having everything listed in front of you can make the job easier than you may think. You can easily scan for any omissions, saving them from surprising you later. You can also group your housecleaning tasks by area and/or supplies needed, allowing you to focus more on cleaning and less on that nasty prep time.

Software Choices

There are many different ways to approach a house cleaning spreadsheet, and you can use any from a plethora of spreadsheet software choices available. Whether you use Microsoft Office, Apple iWorks, the Open Office Suite, NeoOffice, or even a spreadsheet on GoogleDocs, all it takes is a very basic grasp of filling in a spreadsheet. In fact, this type of spreadsheet is so simple it really does not matter what software package you decide to use.

Start the spreadsheet


Okay, let’s get started. Fire up your spreadsheet package of choice and create a new sheet. Create the columns Task, Area, Supplies, Frequency, and Notes. Once you do this, you’re ready to start listing your household cleaning tasks.

Start listing your tasks, and at this point, order isn’t important – just try to get them all in there. You can think of tasks by room, by supplies used (vacuuming, for example), or by general unpleasantness – the important thing here is to just try to get them all listed. And don’t forget about some of the bigger tasks either – after all, when was the last time that sofa was cleaned?

Group by Frequency


Next up, we want to group by our schedule, aka frequency. The idea here is that we want to take our now clean and orderly data and make it fit an actual cleaning schedule that we can live with. We can implement this in several different ways. My personal favorite is to use a filter on the Frequency column. Once set up, it’s easy to select the schedule and have a custom list for the day at hand, whichever it happens to be (Daily, weekly, monthly, etc.).

If you want to be more of a control freak, another option is to set up different spreadsheet tabs for the different schedules. Start by sorting your manicured tasks according to frequency, and then cut the applicable rows to new tabs, one for each frequency. Continue this until all the rows are tucked away in their proper place.

Stop the Presses!

At this point we should take another walk though the area to be cleaned, either physically or virtually. Question all of the area involved, it may need to be listed. What about that floor you are walking on – it may need to be cleaned. Look at the walls and the ceiling. If you see it, ask yourself if it needs to be tasked. And no worries if you miss something – you should expect some changes as you use the spreadsheet. But at least give it the old geek effort up front.

Making It Work Better


Hooray – we now have a list of all of the tasks required to get the cleaning done, and we even have a schedule. Now let’s get smart and make things work better by creative geeky sorting 101. When we do this, we need to ask ourselves the ultimate cleaning question – do you want to focus on a given room or area at a time, or do you want to go by supplies used. Most professional housecleaners like to do a room at a time, mentally checking off the room as they are finished.

However, personally, it makes sense to me to do it based on supplies used. For example, I like to do all the windows in the house at one time, and do the same for vacuuming and dusting. This way I can get out what I need, run through the task, and put it back up… and on to the next chore.

To make it work, we simply sort our tasks on either the Area or Supplies column. Whichever way you choose, the important thing is that you do what works best for you – something that is subject to change as time goes on.


To implement our new and improved cleaning process, we can approach it a couple different ways. We can create a little more eco waste and print out a schedule to carry as we work through it, or we can also just leave it up on a centrally located computer as a reference. In the latter case, consider adding a checkbox or Y/N column (as your software allows) to track your progress.

The Ongoing Spreadsheet

You may be good, even really good, but I bet you miss a few things the first time around. You may find some tasks that were left off, some that should change frequency, and some that simply should be removed entirely. Take the time to update the spreadsheet as these things are discovered – you will be left with a highly tailored cleaning plan of attack.

Don’t forget to evaluate things along the way. You may find that working room by room is not really cutting it for you, or that by shifting schedules you can save a lot of time. In fact, you may find several things that you never thought of before, thanks to the “big picture” of the filled spreadsheet.

By approaching problems like a geek, you may find you’re getting more done in less time, and perhaps even saving money while doing it. And that should make anyone at least consider the incredible potential of house cleaning the geek way.

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