The Best Cleaning Routine for Your Personality Type

Whether you're a stickler for schedules or like to change up your cleaning style, look to your personality traits to find the routine that's right for you.

Having a cleaning routine can help even the most dedicated homekeepers manage a seemingly endless task list more easily—but chore charts and schedules aren't a one-size-fits-all solution. Some prefer to clean their entire homes in a block of several hours once a week, while others dedicate themselves to tidying a single room each day (or wait until a space triggers their stress response to tackle it).

We all have natural cleaning proclivities, which is why leaning into your personality type can help you figure out the timing, mood boosters, and motivations you need to get started—which is often the hardest part. "When we feel overwhelmed, we can feel absolutely paralyzed and avoid action," says Susan Albers-Bowling, PsyD, a psychologist at Cleveland Clinic. "We often wait to feel motivated to clean, and you can wait a long time for that feeling to spontaneously come up. Remember that action comes before feeling. Cleaning doesn't have to be perfect—instead, think about how to make progress."

woman cleaning table in living room

A Clean, Healthy Home Makes Everyone Happier

The mental health benefits of tidying up are universal, even if our personality types are not: A clean home is often a happier one, points out Albers-Bowling. "Clutter and mess can instantly trigger anxiety and stress. When you walk into a messy room, your brain goes into overdrive, scanning the environment, trying to organize and understand what is going on," she says. "[In an organized space], your brain can relax and be at ease; your brain says, 'Ah, this makes sense.'"

People who describe themselves as disorganized report higher stress levels and lower productivity; housemates or partners with two different levels of clutter tolerance can also find themselves in regular conflict, says Albers-Bowling. And in addition to the health benefits of keeping your home free from allergens, mold, and dirt, cleaning can provide an instant mood boost. "Every one hour of cleaning is associated with a 53 percent increase in your overall happiness," says Albers-Bowling. "Cleaning is a natural source of movement and exercise; you get the same benefits that you get from going for a walk or riding a bike. Think of your external environment as a mirror of what is happening on the inside: If you are feeling stressed or anxious, one of the best things you can do is to start by getting the environment under control."

Why You Should Customize Your Cleaning Plan for Your Personality Type

While the majority of people benefit from—and enjoy—a clean and tidy home, the actual cleaning process isn't a routine everyone appreciates. But whether you hate scrubbing the shower grout, vacuuming under the furniture, folding the laundry, or emptying the dishwasher, tackling housekeeping chores with a plan based on your personality can make each task a little less daunting. "If you dread cleaning, knowing your personality can help you to set up a strategy that works with rather than against you," says Albers-Bowling. "Matching your activity level and style to cleaning habits can also reduce stress and anxiety."

Therapist KC Davis, author of How to Keep House While Drowning and founder of the mental health platform Struggle Care, encourages her followers to create a cleaning routine that takes into account their schedule and mindset. "It can be so tempting to download a big pretty packet of checklists and directions," she says. "I caution people against just trying to adopt someone else's routine, because it may not be the best one for you." Think about it this way: A system that works for a stay-at-home parent won't be a good fit for a parent who works out of the home, she adds. "There is no shame in a routine not working for you; the key is to start slow and get curious about what works best for your body, mind, and lifestyle," says Davis.

Cleaning Rhythms vs. Routines

One of Davis' favorite cleaning motivations is to think of her task schedule as a rhythm, not a routine. "Routines can feel very demanding and inflexible, whereas a rhythm can be flexible—if you miss it a few days, no big deal. You can get back in rhythm when it feels right," she says. She also sticks to "rituals" as she approaches each space. "My ritual for resetting my living spaces is to pick up trash, laundry, dishes, things with a place, and things that don't have a place," she says. "This is a ritual I return to whenever I need it, but don't feel obligated to do it every day."

Her evening kitchen ritual includes taking out the trash, loading and unloading the dishwasher, clearing her island counter, and setting up the next morning's coffee brew. "Some seasons of life I do it every evening, other seasons I do it every three days," she says. "It's okay if things change. You cannot fail a cleaning routine: It's not a test—it's a tool."

woman vacuuming living room rug

Choosing the Right Cleaning Routine for Your Personality Type

The Big 5 traits—openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism—offer scales that help identify the behavior patterns and mindset making up each unique personality. Everyone scores somewhere on a spectrum of each trait, and understanding which are more prevalent in your own personality can help you make choices and develop habits that feel natural and easy—from designing the perfect morning routine to choosing a hobby to creating a cleaning routine. (Find out your personality type here.)


The openness scale measures a person's willingness to engage in new experiences, their curiosity, and their imagination. If you score high in openness, you'll benefit from switching up your cleaning routine—whether that means starting with a different task or making a custom playlist. "You are likely to want to add some creativity to your cleaning schedule: You might color code your chore chart or play a new music soundtrack or podcast while you clean," says Albers-Bowling. "It's likely that you might make a list of things to do and then do them in reverse the next time to keep it interesting. You are more likely to be flexible and don't need a strict schedule. For you, cleaning comes easier when it's more of an experience than a chore."

If you don't currently dedicate a set time each day or week to cleaning, though, you might want to start. "This personality style is less bothered by clutter and, therefore, tends to wait until it really bothers them and are in a cleaning crisis mode," says Albers-Bowling. "Therefore, a schedule can help prevent getting to that level."


A person who scores high on the scale of conscientiousness thrives on organization and productivity, loves checking off a to-do list, and definitely never leaves dishes to soak in the sink overnight. "This is the person who needs a tight schedule, is systematic, and likes to keep things in order," says Albers-Bowling.

But even people who like to clean can find themselves in need of some structure. "This person isn't going to just include a deep clean—organizing books, drawers, and closets are going to be a priority," she says. "It can be helpful to choose one day to tackle the big things like sweeping floors and changing beds, and another to focus on organizing. To avoid getting overwhelmed, make a time limit for each task."


The social butterflies who score high in extroversion might find cleaning, a solitary activity, incredibly dull—which is why pairing it with a partner (even a long-distance one) can offer a needed dose of motivation. "If you are high on extroversion, your cleaning routine can add an element of socializing," says Albers-Bowling. "Choose a day to work together on cleaning tasks—or, put in your AirPods and talk while you scrub. To keep yourself motivated, remind yourself that you are more likely to invite others over to visit if your house is clean and tidy."

Schedule your weekly clean for Saturday morning—in preparation for your weekly pizza night or Sunday brunch—so the anticipation of company keeps you moving. "Focus your efforts on cleaning before the weekend or the day you are most likely to be social," says Albers-Bowling. "A clean-up on Sunday night, after a weekend of socializing, can also help you start the week off well."


Scoring high on the agreeableness scale indicates generous levels of compassion and respect for others, says Albers-Bowling; you prioritize your relationships and focus on cooperation and harmony. For these people, sticking to a cleaning routine can prevent the discord caused by excess clutter or an uneven division of labor.

"Research indicates that nothing causes tension in a relationship more than conflict over clutter in the living room or tripping over clothes on the floor," says Albers-Bowling. "Ask your significant other what part of the home is a top priority to them: Maybe they don't mind a hair on the bathroom floor, but go in orbit over the dishes in the sink. Have a weekly huddle to list your priorities as a couple, make a chore chart so everyone feels that it is fair and equitable, and rotate who chooses what chore."


Personalities high in neuroticism tend toward anxiety and depression and are more likely to clean successfully when their mood allows—instead of when a schedule tells them it's time, says Albers-Bowling. "Keep in mind that a messy environment can exacerbate feelings of anxiety and stress; therefore, one way to motivate yourself to clean is to remember that it is good for your mental health," she says. "Your thoughts can make or break your productivity level, so monitor your self-talk; feelings are not facts."

Albers-Bowling recommends tracking your mood and energy level over several days or weeks to target the parts of your routine where you feel most energetic; then, take advantage of that energy by setting a 20-minute timer and cleaning until the alarm rings. "Cleaning is exercise, which is in turn good for your mental health and will release endorphins and boost serotonin. To help calm while you clean, turn on a diffuser with essential oil or light a candle," she says. "Also, open the window and let in some fresh air while you clean. This can help trigger oxygen to the brain, which can help you to focus, concentrate, and spark a relaxation response."

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles