It’s my experience that when it comes to house cleaning, you fall into one of two categories. You either tidy up or you clean. Chances are you’ll label yourself a cleaner—and that’s because, I’m sorry to break it to you, tidiers often lack a certain self-awareness. If you’re a tidier you might think you’re a cleaner. But True Cleaners know the truth: “tidy” is just a facade. Tidy doesn’t notice the dust gathering on the baseboards. Tidy isn’t bothered by cobwebs gathering in the corner. And Tidy certainly doesn’t see the pee that’s crusting behind (how?!) the toilet.
Featured image by Michelle Nash.
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Now, I understand if you prefer to stay woefully unaware of the nastier parts of your home. But the truth is, someone is going to have to handle it. And the more it adds up, the more it makes sense to put the tools in place to help you conquer the ever-growing literal laundry list of household chores. I have found house-cleaning apps to be the singular thing that makes the most significant difference in my family and my daily life and general wellbeing. Let’s review.
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What are the best house-cleaning apps?
The best cleaning app will work for you and not the other way around. They give you permission to set a cadence that aligns with your lifestyle. If a cleaning app ever feels more stressful than not, it’s a sign to make adjustments or re-evaluate.
Speaking from personal experience, my first foray with a home cleaning app was what you’d expect: gung-ho, re-write-the-whole-system-energy. I assigned chores to me and my husband and created checklists for every possible thing in my home that could be wiped, scrubbed, or polished. Unsurprisingly, this energy waned, and yeah—my husband did not share my enthusiasm for a new system.
However, here’s what did happen: I found a happy medium. I removed tasks that weren’t important. I decided this could be my system alone and my husband could manage his responsibilities (family laundry, general nightly tidying, yard, and car maintenance) however he saw fit. Now, instead of beating myself up when tasks go undone, I use my app as a tool to help reset the home when I’m “behind.” (And I remind myself that it’s totally okay if a clean home wasn’t my priority last week/month.) I love the built-in tasks that allow me to simply go down the list rather than look around overwhelmed, wondering where to start.
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But my favorite way to use the app is to set the alarm for 15 minutes daily and tackle a few chores that have already been decided for me. The mental lift of not making any decisions, knowing I only have to work for 15 minutes, and the fact that I’ll do it again tomorrow means I never feel like I’m behind. I never feel like things will add up.
My home is not perfect and it does not need to be, but it serves me and my needs—I am not a servant to my home.
My home and my mind are clutter-free. Yes, this is the magic of a cleaning app. Let’s get into it.
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Editor’s Choice: Tody
Tody is an ideal app if you’re looking to establish a cleaning routine. As will likely be true with any cleaning app, the setup is the hardest part. The good news? It’s a one-and-done task. Begin by adding an area type (e.g., an indoor kitchen, a master bedroom, the home entrance, the attic, etc.). You can assign each room or area a color and from there, add tasks. Tody provides a selection to choose from (dust, sweep, floor, organize, storage, and more—plus custom options). From there, you set the schedule. Make it a fixed schedule to organize the attic every four months, or dust the bookshelves in the living room once a week. The task can be seasonal or ongoing, and you can assign it to yourself or a housemate.
My Review: Even though, truly, I still do not know how to pronounce, “Tody,” I can’t help but share it with anyone who asks. It’s the best $7 I ever spent. I’ve been using it for over two years now and it’s made managing home routines so much easier. I love the clicking-noise satisfaction of checking off a task. On my most productive weeks, I use the app most days and clean for about 15 minutes before getting on with my day. (PS: I’m not alone in my love. Tody is the fourth most popular app in Apple’s productivity category.)
Best For Getting the Family Involved: Sweepy
If your kids have mobile devices and you want to get them on board, this is the app for you. That’s because, in addition to tracking and organizing housekeeping tasks, Sweepy turns cleaning into a game. You can add household members to the account to compete for a spot on the leaderboard—all the while sharing the workload at home. Grown-ups can even award points and praise to helpful kiddos once you’ve approved their tasks. Sweepy also lets you filter tasks by the degree of difficulty. So, on those days when you just aren’t feeling it, you can choose cleaning tasks that require less effort.
Helpful Review: “I hardly ever leave reviews, but this app is amazing. It’s stopped arguing from my kiddo about how much he does, because all kids think they have to do everything. […] We instituted a prize at the end of the week based on the tasks completed. I love that I can check his work when he’s done too.” —Apple App Store reviewer
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Best Minimalist Option: Spotless
If you’re craving a clean, clutter-free home then you might want an app that’s just as simple. I was struck by just how minimal this app is upon first opening. From the simple color palette to the refreshing lack of options, this is essentially an elevated to-do list. Once you set up your home and its current state, simply review your task lists and click the check mark upon completion. You can set up reminders or leave them off. Easy.
Helpful Review: “I usually live with this fuzzy cloud of things to do buzzing around me and don’t know where to start, what needs cleaning the most, when I last did something. With this app – it’s gone. I don’t have to think about what I did or what I need to do, which usually makes me feel so overwhelmed that I do none of it. I. Don’t. Worry. About. Cleaning. Anymore. It’s amazing.” —Apple App Store reviewer
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Best Chore App to Teach Kids About Money: Homey
The premise here is simple: assign family chores, set goals, complete the chores, and earn money. Homey teaches kids about work ethic and how money is earned through an app that goes beyond a simple cleaning schedule. You can set up unpaid responsibilities and then add jobs that kids can get paid for. And the harder or longer the work, the more they can earn. You can chat within the app, set due dates, savings goals, add or remove funds from wallets, and more. The app works across single or multiple devices and it’s bright, colorful, and easy to navigate to boot.
Helpful Review: “I really like this app. I’ve struggled to maintain chore charts and reward charts and remember how much pocket money I owe. Homey has been a great solution to that which my child can take responsibility for too. It does make me realize the huge volume of chores there are to do.” — Sabrina S.N.
Best Digital Chore Chart: Chorsee
If the chore chart is gathering dust on the fridge, Chorsee is the perfect app to revive it. Each family member creates a profile to keep track of what they’ve done and how much they’ve earned. From there, tasks can either be assigned or set up so that anyone can get them done (and therefore earn the prize). Users say it’s easy to set up and they appreciate the simplicity of the design.
Helpful Review: “I have been using this app for a few months to keep track of my children’s chores and so far I love it! We are doing the old fashioned chores for money approach instead of a points or reward system. I have four children and lots of chores to assign and this app has everything I need. I can assign chores daily, weekly, to everyone, just one person, or on a first come first serve basis. It is very user friendly and I can add or subtract money easily to their accounts.” — Apple App Store reviewer
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Best Free App for Daily Decluttering: TOSS
Is it possible to organize your home in just a few minutes a day? TOSS is bringing the satisfaction of throwing away junk to the digital space with this very manageable, and very fun (!) daily decluttering app. There’s no signing up for anything and the process couldn’t be easier: simply open the app, receive a daily task, and either delete, skip, or mark it as done. For example, my task today is to throw away (or recycle, donate, or sell) anything in the medicine cabinet that I haven’t used in a while or don’t think I’ll use. I timed myself: it took me four minutes to toss three items, consolidate two bags or cough drops into one, and, bonus, remember to take my vitamins!
Helpful Review: “This app is motivating. I’m always curious to see what is next for me to do. My sister has this app as well, and we’re surprised that it doesn’t give us the same ‘Toss’ job to do. I had a situation where I just couldn’t face the task for two weeks so I finally chose to skip it but did not remove it. I’m sure it will pop up again and I’ll be in the right frame of mind to do it.” — Apple App Store reviewer
Best Personalized App to Get Organized: Clutterfree
Clutterfree is similar to cleaning apps in that it personalizes the app to your home. Once you upload your space, you’ll receive a step-by-step road map that will take you direct to that minimalist lifestyle. You can unlock achievements to keep you going, conquer daily challenges, and tackle difficult areas (hello, paper piles) with bonus plans. And if you’re not sure you can truly commit to organizing your entire home via an app, there’s a 14-day trial period so you can give it a shot.
Helpful Review: “I’m so excited to get started on each room and area in my home. This app gives a customized step-by-step process of decluttering each area (including a checklist of tasks to check off as you go). Finally, I’ll be able to keep track of my progress in a tangible way. If you’ve been putting off decluttering and minimizing your home, this app will give you the motivation and jumpstart you need.” — Apple App Store reviewer