I think there’s a false impression out there that our house is always pristine and perfect and clean, and that I love to spend hours dusting, organizing and folding laundry. I’ll tell you all a little secret—I hate cleaning just as much as most of you do. Sure, there’s something strangely satisfying about a clean house but there are a hundred things I’d rather do than spend my free time sweeping.
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For both Scott and I however, we need a clean house to function. Neither of us have the time to be digging through piles of laundry to find those one pair of wrinkled pants, or to let dishes pile up and spend hours loading and unloading the dishwasher. We also want to have a welcoming, open home to our friends and family, so it’s important that we keep things put away as much as possible. We’ve worked hard to develop new habits that have changed our lives. It sounds dramatic but we feel lighter, enjoy our environment more and we aren’t constantly stressed. Here are the five simple ways that FINALLY helped us get—and keep!—a clean house forever.
First, a gentle word. I am not an expert, just a normal girl who got tired of spending every Saturday and random panicked hours of cleaning. I got tired of digging through stuff and having stacks and piles everywhere. It’s exhausting. So I am sharing what has worked for me. May I say something out of love to you all? I am going to be as harsh with you all as I was with myself. Because if you want to be FREE, you have to get serious. Ready? Ready. Here we go!
1) Gather your supplies ahead of time and work smarter, not harder. Use supplies that will do double duty or that you simply enjoy using. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Roomba. This little guy vacuums our house so we don’t have to. We have it set up on a schedule and every day while we are at work he cleans around our house and docks himself back on his charging station. It’s magic and my favorite cleaning thing I own…it gives me the gift of time!
- Mrs. Meyer’s Multi-surface Everyday Cleaner. I love that I can use one spray to clean all my surfaces. It’s good for the environment and you without harmful chemicals. This is especially important to us since we have fur kids that like to lick everything…! My favorite scent is lavender.
- Viva Paper Towels. These are the BEST paper towels. They are the strongest ones I’ve ever used, which means we use less for more time and money. Win/win
- Trash bags. I can’t stand cheap trash bags. Anytime I’ve tried to use them the bag rips open and stuff spills out everywhere. So gross. This is a place to splurge.
- Good gloves. I don’t like touching gross stuff. So I use gloves. 🙂
- Disposable toilet wands. I know this is a weird favorite supply but I love these disposable clorox toilet wands. You simply toss the end when you are done by clicking a button on the handle. No touching anything or keeping anything that’s been in the toilet.
2) Get rid of your stuff. I know you’ve probably heard it before, but I will tell you from personal experience—it is pretty much impossible to have a clean, organized home when you have piles of stuff everywhere. I know it’s hard to get rid of things and some people will say put it in a box and stick it away for a season, but I say just get rid of it.When in doubt—toss it into the trash or a donation box and give it away. Chances are, if there’s a doubt you don’t need it. If it’s something that you can buy later on if needed, get rid of it, and if the need comes up for that item in life later, just buy it then.
I used to give myself all this false guilt and say “as soon as you get rid of that (mango pitter/wicker basket/tray/whatever) you’ll need it again and then you will have to spend $10 whole dollars to re-buy it which is a total waste of money!” But since I’ve become a lot more cut-throat with my decluttering, do you know how many times I’ve really needed that thing I was so scared to get rid of? 0.
If you have sentimental items you are holding onto, really assess if it’s something you want to keep. If it’s something you can take a picture of and print then bind into a book of special memories, get rid of it. There are just some things that are personal mementos that I would never, ever want to get rid of, like letters from Scott or old journals. Do I keep them? YES. Because they are worth it and are irreplaceable. I would keep those over a stack of 1990’s dvds any day. Make room for what matters, get rid of what doesn’t and you will have less to clean.
3) Treat your house like you’re a guest. Well, sort of. It can still be your home like you can come home and take off your make up and put on sweats. But when it comes to picking up after yourself—be a guest. For example, I used to come home every day, chat with Scott and then head straight into the bedroom to peel off my workout or work clothes (depending on the day) and leave them all on the floor in a pile. I thought “eh, I’ll get to them later.” Guess what? I usually didn’t. I just kicked them in the corner and made a pile of all my clothes. Same with dishes—we’d eat dinner and have the mentality of “we deserve to relax” and leave the dirty dishes, pots, cutting boards, etc out on the countertop. This would lead to a massive pile of dirty, crusty dishes that we’d be forced to do 2-3 loads of every Saturday. I would never, ever go to someone else’s house and act that way!
I was always raised to believe that when you are a guest in someone’s home it’s a treat and you respect them by keeping your area spotless and leaving the home better then when you found it. Dishes are immediately washed and put away, bed is made every morning, no piles of clothes are on the floor. Do your own home the respect you would someone else’s!
4) If you make a mess, clean it. Duh, right? But not for me. I would do my makeup in the morning, rush out of the house without the “time” to put away the brushes and eyeshadows I used. Not only is that kind of gross, it’s silly. I can take 60 extra seconds to put away something if I make a mess. If you spill food on your counter, take time to wipe it up. Every time you use your bathroom or kitchen sink, take 30 seconds to wipe it down. These little things take almost no effort and pay off in dividends as far as time saved and gained later on.
5) Get up 15 minutes earlier. Really, get up hours earlier if you can, but I’m still working on this one. But you would be surprised what 15 minutes extra can do every morning. That’s enough time to empty the dishwasher so dishes can be immediately rinsed and put away. That’s enough time to fold and put away a load of laundry, or wipe down your countertops and cabinets or whatever you need to do. I am actively working on trying to become a morning person, but to motivate myself I put on some fun music, do my 15 minutes of cleaning and am grateful I don’t have to come home and do it after work. 🙂
BONUS TIP: Get what you hate out of the way first. I know…some of you all might think this is the worst idea ever. I used to think that too. But I’ve found ways to make it enjoyable, or at least not as horrible. Start by the chore you hate the most. Do you have it in mind? Do whatever you need to do to make that the easiest chore you have and do it first. My least favorite chore sadly is also Scott’s least favorite chore—laundry. We hate it. We hate loading it, moving it to the dryer and super, super hate having to put it all away when it’s done. So we used to just avoid it like the plague, only do laundry when it was emergency-level and leave clothes in piles on the guest bed or dresser top. But then we just decided it was making it worse to have a giant, wrinkly pile of clothes, so we started taking turns every other day doing a load of laundry and putting it away immediately when the dryer is done. We just pile it all on our wood kitchen counter and fold, sort and hang it. It takes 15 minutes. It’s just a horrible, boring 15 minutes and then it’s DONE. Also, laundry is easier now that we’ve gotten rid of a ton of clothes we didn’t like (see number two!)!
So that’s it. Some of these take work to implement, believe me, I know! But it’s worth it. I’d much rather do this then spend my entire weekend cleaning and shoving piles of stuff into closets. 🙂 I still have lots to learn, so I want to hear from you all! What about you guys? What are your best cleaning tips? Share!