I love a clean house. When you walk into someone’s home and everything looks neat and tidy, it’s so beautiful. And in my own house, I feel so much less stress when the house looks clean. Or at least relatively clean. But the truth is for me, it doesn’t come naturally. Even though I like the house clean, getting it that way and even more, keeping it that way seems like an impossible task. I admit it, I’m a slob. If like me, you love a clean house but struggle to maintain one, here are some ideas to help you get the house clean and keep it that way.
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Be Realistic About Your Life
Often times the beautiful neat and tidy homes I admire belong to families with older kids or no kids at all. When I feel overcome with tidy house envy and beating myself up for not having an equally clean house, I have to check myself. I live in a home with two young children.
Kids bring with them an element of mess. And stuff. Boy oh boy, do they bring the stuff. Even while they’re still in the womb you begin filling your home with the gear and trappings of the baby. And the kid stuff multiplies over the years.
The first step to having a clean house when you’re a slob is to be realistic about your life. Your kids have stuff. Your partner has stuff. You have stuff. I am all for decluttering but there are only so many of your kids’ toys you can throw away before they start to notice.
How to Have a Clean House When You’re a Slob
1. Assess Your Storage and Make the Most of It
I have a bad habit of cleaning off one countertop by moving everything to another one. This has never resulted in a cleaner kitchen. But I keep trying. If you want a clean house, figure out where everything goes.
Make sure you are making the most of your shelves and closet space. If you move stuff around or store it differently could you make a little more room? I like to use storage bins. They usually cost about a $1 each and I keep a few extras on hand. They are perfect for storing toys, office supplies, puzzles, random kitchen utensils, and many other things. And best of all they stack. So you can use your space more efficiently.
2. Plan for Your Real Life
If the clean house you’re creating is something you hope to maintain, set yourself up for success. Over the years I have purchased at least three or four different shoe racks. A few hung on the back of doors. One is in my closet on the floor. And each time, guess where my shoes still were? Strewn all over the floor.
I am a barefoot girl. When I come inside, the shoes come off. And I’m not inclined to take them off and neatly store them away. I just don’t. The solution? A shoe bin on the floor right inside the door! I can’t believe it took me so long to do this. It’s right where the shoes usually come off, requires no careful placing, it’s just me tossing shoes in a bin instead of on the floor. It gives the appearance of neatness with very little effort.
Is there anything you own that doesn’t really have a place to go? Maybe it gets moved from counter to counter, or just sits on the floor? It’s usually something you use often so don’t want it tucked away but having it out looks sloppy? It might even be your coat, purse, pajamas, lots of daily use items that never quite make it to their home.
The shoe bin solved my bad habit of leaving shoes strewn all over the place. The next messy habit to tackle was my family’s habit of dumping our coats in the laundry room on top of the washer or dryer in a heap rather than hanging them in bedroom closets. This was so obvious the fact that it took us a year in our current home is embarrassing. We finally added hooks to the laundry room for our coats.
The second habit keeping me from having my dreamed of clean house was leaving clothes on the floor in my bedroom. These were typically the clothes that were not quite perfectly clean. But not so dirty they need to be washed yet. Do other people have these? It also included pajamas, sweatshirts, and bathrobes that never quite got put away.
My mom’s brilliant suggestion was to buy a coat rack. Awesome solution! This coat rack has enough hooks for pajamas, clothes, bathrobes, workout clothes, and everything else I was tossing on the floor. The floor of my bedroom has been completely clear since. I’ve learned that for me easy access and use is an important part of creating a clean house I can actually maintain. And you can too.
4. Choose a Hill to Die On
Looking around at a messy house can be stressful. It makes it hard to relax. But the amount of time it would take me to keep every area clean all the time would make it impossible to relax- because I would be too busy cleaning the house!
I’ve found the best way to handle this is to choose a hill to die on. One area of the house you will go the extra mile to always keep clean. For me, it’s the living room. If I am going to relax at home it’s going to be there. Then at least the mess isn’t staring me in the face. My open floor plan allows me to stand with my back to my messy kitchen and gaze into my clean living room feeling like I accomplished something. Which just might be the push I need to take my cleaning on into the next room. And if not, I shut the door on the messy rooms.
5. Invite People Over
This is the last resort, but nothing whips me into a cleaning frenzy like having guests on the way. Preferably a neatnik friend or a judgmental relative. Someone who will really get your family’s butts in gear when it comes to cleaning house.
If you’ve gotten in the habit of keeping one room clean you can always keep your guest there. And in the cleaning frenzy before their arrival, throw all of the stray items in laundry baskets or bedroom closets out of sight. You can either keep these things out of sight for awhile, keeping the house cleaner or make time to put them away later. My rule is if I don’t put it away and don’t notice it’s missing for six months or so then I put everything picked up and forgotten directly into a donation box for the local thrift store.
A Work in Progress
If you’re like me and love a clean house but have slob tendencies, keeping the house clean will always be a work a progress. These are five things that have helped me have a clean(er) house. I’d love to hear what works for you! Please add your suggestions in the comments!