Cleaning with a Partner

I know that in some homes one person takes on the bulk of the cleaning, for whatever reason. Thanks to our equally busy schedules, BK and I both do our fair share of cleaning. Although I’m the one with a blog that talks about cleaning, he probably has just as much to say about it.

We both have very different strategies, standards, and schedules when it comes to cleaning. We used to fight about it, but we don’t seem to do that as much. I think we’ve just come to terms with the differences.

I don’t know about him, but here are the reasons that I’m ok with his cleaning style:

  • He works hard at it. I would probably feel differently if he weren’t pulling his own weight, but he cleans often and he cleans well. It’s just different from the way I do it.
  • It’s not on a schedule, but it gets done. I cannot understand what inspires my husband to clean certain things at certain times. I have tried to find a pattern, but am still in the dark. In the past I have tried to get him to schedule the way I do, but it doesn’t work for him. Now, I stick to my schedule and make sure that it covers everything – then, when I come to a scheduled task that he’s already completed, I take it as a bonus and enjoy the free time.
  • Our combined efforts produce better results overall. There are some things that I have very high standards for and some things that I don’t care as much about. BK’s the same, but our little idiosyncrasies seem to be about different tasks. This can be maddening if you try to judge the other person’s work based on your standards for that task – but overall, the fact that I care a lot about a clean toilet and he cares a lot about a clean tub is a really good thing for our home.
  • If he doesn’t do it the way I would, and it bothers me, I can always do it again. I used to nag BK about dishes and them not being cleaned properly, I don’t anymore. Part of the solution was a dishwasher. The other part was something I heard Kate say on Jon and Kate Plus 8 (I’m not going to insert the common self deprecating remark here about watching reality TV – I don’t have TV, but when I stay with my parents, who do, I love watching TLC and HGTV reality shows. I think they’re great, I’m just happy they’re not part of my everyday life). Kate was talking about the little ones cleaning up table crumbs and said it was ok that they may only get half of them, because if she doesn’t get to them, then at least half have been clean and if she does get to them, then she only has half the job to do. BRILLIANT!  If I don’t like how BK’s cleaned something (or vise versa) I can do it myself, and it’ll be that much easier because it’s already partially done.

Another strategy that I’ve heard, that wouldn’t work for us, but is a cute idea is this: a person I attend school with keeps a mental schedule about what needs to be cleaned. When she and her partner clean, she alternates on the tasks that she asks him to complete – so if one week she asked him to vacuum, this week she would ask him to do the windows and she would vacuum. That way, she says, at least everything gets done properly every other week.

On days when BK and I are both home together, it’s pretty rare for one person to clean without the other jumping in too. Usually what we do is tackle the apartment from opposite ends and meet in the middle – he takes the kitchen and I start in the back with the bedrooms.

We’ve also found our certain niches. While some people may hate every type of cleaning, I actually really like a few of them. I absolutely love doing laundry and folding laundry. Ben likes washing dishes. I love tidying shelves. Ben feels a compulsion to clean windows. It works.


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