As someone who has been cleaning houses professionally for over 30 years, I believe I have found the answer to this often-asked question. And the answer is….it all depends.
I know that simple questions like this really demand a simple answer but this is one of those questions that really does depend on several factors. It’s like asking what shoe size is a human? Well that depends on the particular human in question. This is a nuanced situation. Let’s look at the factors that will determine the answer for your individual circumstance.
The first thing to consider is dust. If you have a lot of dust then invariably you will be looking to clean your house at least every week. The problem is that the very act of cleaning does not necessarily get rid of the dust. In most cases the majority of the very fine dust we disturb through the act of cleaning will actually just be frustratingly circulated as it floats above us as we clean. In fact, fine particle dust can stay suspended mid-air for up to 5 days.
The next thing to consider is the level of clutter. More clutter means more hidden dust to leak out and frustrate cleaning efforts and probably more dissatisfaction with the cleanliness of your home in general. It also implies that the person living in the house is less concerned with order than the one who has less clutter therefore requiring less cleaning to achieve a comparable level of satisfaction. The answer we seem to arrive at here again is once per week on average. But again, the results are a return of the dust within a few days.
The next factor to consider is the environment outside of the house and the ability of those external dust-oriented pollutants, pollens, exhaust fumes et al to enter the house either unwittingly through open windows or surreptitiously through the micro cracks in window and door frames. Especially for city dwellers and for those living close to busy roads the air quality outside of the home can be of a poor standard. In such situations the best bet is to improve the air quality inside the home and to keep it sealed off from the outside air depending on which way the wind blows relative to the primary source(s) of pollution.
The number (and size) of the inhabitants in the home relative to the size of the home is also important. As an extreme example, consider a one-bedroom apartment full of four big burly bodybuilders which will be creating considerably more dust per square metre than a mansion occupied by one small little old lady. Charles Weschler claims that humans shed their entire layer of skin every 2-4 weeks at the rate of 0.0001-0.003 ounces of skin flakes per hour. This equates into around 35kg over the average human lifetime. That’s roughly a full teaspoon of skin flakes every week which is the favourite food of dust mites. The dust mites do incredibly tiny poos and this imperceptibly small process is a major contributing factor to the accumulation of household dust. Therefore, the more people in the home relative to the size of the home will dictate a more regular cleaning requirement.
Next is carpet versus floorboards. Carpet is beautiful don’t get me wrong, but not only does it release countless microscopic fibres that contribute to the fine dust collecting in your home, but also, it is the perfect place for microscopic irritants and pollutants to hide. Over time the fibres become virtual cities for dust mites and their imperceptibly small kin. Less carpet means less cleaning, although if out of sight means out of mind, it shouldn’t be a massive problem, visually at least, as carpet can also hide a lot of dust in many cases.
Ultimately my favourite answer to the question is to do a big spring clean once per year with the sole aim of getting all of the fine particle dust out that you can. This way there is less dust “leaking” out of the hidden corners making your regular cleaning schedule more efficacious. Off the back of successfully doing a dust-reducing spring clean I would say a good regular clean can be done once every two weeks. I would do a little quick mini wet area wipe each alternating weekend.
The best part of this approach for me is that with a strategy to keep the dust away, the cleaning is both quicker and more effective leading to a much cleaner house and much more free time to enjoy it.