The Ultimate Cleaning Guide to a Tidy Empty Nest

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A perfect cleaning guide is a blessing in disguise if you think cleaning an empty nest can be a daunting task, especially when the kids leave home

When a family lives together, a natural dynamic encourages everyone to contribute to keeping the home tidy, sharing a common goal.

However, once the children move out, that pressure is often alleviated. As a parent, you may become more relaxed and begin enjoying your new-found freedom. That’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s wonderful! Or, you might be feeling a little blue. Either scenario can understandably lead to a decline in your homekeeping motivation.

If you’re struggling to keep your home clean after the kids have grown, continue reading to learn how to maintain a clean and organized space with ease in this new phase of life. We got you!

cleaning guide
Following a cleaning guide for empty nest parents can keep your home welcoming.

CONTENTS—In this article, you will learn how to maintain a clean and tidy empty nest with a simple cleaning guide, including:

5 Easy Tips for Keeping an Empty Nest Home Clean

You might think that having an empty nest would mean it is easy to keep the home clean.

That can be the case, as many parents will tell you. No more excessive laundry, crumbs in the bedrooms, or big meal prep and clean up.

When a family shares a home, they tend to work together to keep things clean, even if it takes some prodding. At the very least, those living together encourage one another to tidy up after themselves.

With the home now empty, you may feel less pressure to keep a clean house.

There may be fewer visitors or scheduled activities, so you may not feel the need to clean up as often or as well. It’s easy to reason that you can always do it later.

It is similar to how bachelors tend to be messy. Because they live alone and no one tells them to clean up, they are free live as they choose. And when no one is watching or visiting, why bother tidying?

Even if no one says anything, there is unspoken societal pressure to keep a clean home for the sake of the others living there – especially when you’re caring for a family.

When you become an empty-nester, a lot of that pressure is off. Once the children move out, you may become more relaxed, reprioritize your time, or just need some downtime to adjust to your new lifestyle.

A drop in housekeeping tends to happen especially with parents who felt they were too strict and had too many rules when the kids were in the house. Once the kids go away, they feel they can let themselves go, and they may let the house go as well.

But the fact is, keeping a clean home can benefit your mental health.

So, how do you ensure your home stays clean when you live in an empty nest? Whether you’re traveling a lot or taking time to redefine yourself, here are some easy tips that can help make light work of the task.

1. Create a Schedule

create cleaning schedule
Establish a cleaning routine for your empty nest.

It is easy to fall into no routine at all once the kids have moved out. While you raised your family, you may have upheld a rigid routine for meals, laundry, school, appointments, work, and other activities.

It’s natural to feel like your entire life leading up to this point has been one long, exhausting routine. To whoever needs to hear this right now, “I see you.”

It’s important to give yourself some time and space to relax.

But when the routine falls away completely once the children have gone, it’s time to consider the areas of your life where a routine would benefit you.

One of those areas is probably housework. Here’s one easy thing you can do to help re-establish some healthy habits: get back into a routine.

Set up a schedule to clean each part of the house. You likely have more free time with the kids gone, so you can stretch it out and do just a little bit each day.

You can pick a day to clean each room or do one kind of cleaning for all rooms one day and another kind for another day. For instance, you can do all the sweeping one day and then all the vacuuming the next day.

Or, you can make a certain day of the week your cleaning day.

Think about what kind of schedule would work best with you and would give you the least amount of work to do. Aim for whatever feels the most efficient.

Many stay-at-home moms go back to work and working moms often take on more career responsibilities after the kids leave for college. Don’t feel compelled to do all the cleaning in one week if you have a big house or don’t have a lot of time.

Whatever you’re circumstance, you can create a schedule that allows you to clean the house fully every week and a half or every two weeks, as you see fit.

Set the cleaning priorities, create a plan, and stick to it.

2. Hire Cleaners

hire cleaners
Hire professional cleaners to get the job done quickly and effectively.

Empty-nesting is a great time of life to have someone come and do the cleaning for you. That could be on occasion or on a regular basis.

Because, let’s face it: You may not always feel motivated to clean your home, or you might not have the time to do it all. Better yet, you may just want to spend your time on profitable ventures or enjoyable experiences, like travel.

If your budget allows, consider this your permission slip to hire a cleaner, guilt-free.

You can schedule regular cleaning from professional maid services in your area or get a referral from a friend. It might be less expensive than you think, too, with cheap options in NYC to choose from.

Hiring a cleaning service can be a great way to take some pressure off and get the house thoroughly cleaned.

When you’re looking for housecleaners, try their cleaning option out at least once for a sense of their value. You may realize that you don’t like having your home professionally cleaned or it may be too expensive. But you could also discover you love having it cleaned by someone else and wonder why you didn’t do so sooner!

3. Close Off Unused Areas

close off unused room | Enjoy Travel Life
Closing off unused rooms means less upkeep.

Since the kids have moved out, do you have rooms in your house that just aren’t used very often? Those may include the attic, the basement, or the kids’ bedrooms.

If you won’t be repurposing those spaces, consider cleaning them out and leaving them closed up so they don’t become more cluttered and dusty. It’s easy to turn those spaces into dumping grounds for paperwork, your out-of-season wardrobe, and miscellaneous items.

Closing off a room or two will save you some cleaning time each week, which means you’ll get your home cleaned faster. It can make a real difference in how much time you spend cleaning your home.

Another idea is to store away anything that belongs to your kids. That way, you won’t have to clean around these items.

Think about how much faster the cleaning will go if there is less space and less clutter to deal with. It will certainly be easier to keep a more organized and tidier-looking home.

4. Get Rid of Clutter

donate childrens clutter | Enjoy Travel Life
Eliminate clutter and donate unwanted items.

Speaking of clutter…It’s common for empty nesters to hold on to of items that belong to their kids. But your kids might not even want you to keep some of those things.

The best thing to do is ask them.

Go through the house systematically and collect everything you are saving for them. Box those items up, label them, and remove them from your everyday living spaces.

Then, you can ask your children to look through the boxes the next time they visit. If they live far away, you can show them the items over video chat.

Let your children tell you what they want to keep and what they don’t want anymore – and believe them. Then, you can donate or toss the items they no longer care about.

Understandably, it can be hard to let go of these items even once you know your children don’t want them. So, ask yourself this: Are you holding them for the kids or yourself?

I know, that’s a touchy question for an empty-nester. These items are remnants of a life you once had; cherished memories and mementos that helped define your identity for a long time. Or, maybe you think the items have monetary value. In that case, you can make a plan to sell them.

Of course, no one is suggesting getting rid of everything. It’s important to have keepsakes and remembrances of treasured times, for you and for your children. But, be thoughtful and selective about what you keep and what can go. (Tip: A printed book of scanned children’s artwork will stand the test of time a lot better than a stack of odd-sized, dusty, faded originals.)

To embrace your new life ahead, it’s time to make space for new things and memories.

Decluttering goes a long way toward making cleaning easier. It will open up space in your home and give you a fresh, clean perspective. You will have more room for your things and will not have to worry about taking care of items that look valuable or fragile.

This can take a lot of pressure off you. Keeping a clean home with an empty nest can feel very different from when you had a houseful. Remember, ‘different’ doesn’t need to mean ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

5. Invite People Over

dinner party with friends | Enjoy Travel Life
Entertaining creates a good (and fun) reason to get the house in order.

When all else fails, nothing is more motivating than a deadline.

Just because the children and their gaggle of friends are no longer at home doesn’t mean you can’t fill your home with good company and laughter.

So, go ahead, plan a get-together with other couples or your besties at your house. Host the family birthday party for your parents or in-laws. Hold the book club meeting in your living room. Make a new friend at work and invite him or her over for dinner.

It’s easy to withdraw at this time of life while you regroup and redefine yourself, but planning social opportunities will help move you forward.

Better yet, it will give you a meaningful reason to clean the place up!

Final Thoughts on Cleaning Guide

Keeping an empty nest clean and organized requires some diligence, but the payoffs are significant.

A well-maintained home can enhance your mental well-being, alleviate stress, and provide a more inviting space for guests.

By developing a consistent cleaning routine, periodically decluttering, and seeking help when necessary, you can preserve a tidy home even with an empty nest.

Remember, your living space reflects your lifestyle choices.

So, take pride in your surroundings and enjoy the benefits of a clutter-free, immaculate abode. With the tips provided in this cleaning guide, you should be able to handle it and start to slip into a comfortable home-keeping routine.


Jackie Gately at the beach


About Jackie Gately, editor-IN-CHIEF

I'm Jackie Gately, your travel confidante and the creative force behind Enjoy Travel Life, awarded the "Best Casual-Luxury Lifestyle Blog (USA)" in Travel and Tourism by LUXlife Magazine for four consecutive years.

With 25 years of published expertise, I'm a seasoned writer, editor, and photographer curating inspiring travel guides and lifestyle tips for empty nesters. I hope to kindle your spirit of exploration, encouraging you to overcome obstacles and turn your dreams into reality.

Learn to minimize your pre-travel angst and maximize the joy of exploration with insights from my experiences. Let's make every adventure a celebration of this exciting phase of life! 

Follow my social channels for more inspiration.


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