There’s nothing quiet like a clean home. Coming home to a messy house is stressful. You spend all day at work, then come home and see that there’s more work to be done? No one likes that. Coming home to a clean house though? It’s like returning to your own little haven. It can be hard to keep a clean house though, especially between work, the gym, community activities, a social life, family responsibilities, and all the other things life throws at us. Trust me, I know.
I’m working full time outside the home, taking a full class load for my B.S., am involved in volunteer projects, I’m trying to balance time with friends, and I’ve got an upcoming move I have to prepare for. It seems like I don’t have any time to take care of my house, unless I want to give up something else. But I promise, keeping your house clean does not have to be another full time endeavor.
Keeping a clean home has so many benefits though. It makes your space more welcoming. It makes you seem more together and organized. It can even help you have a better marriage by creating a zone where you can de-stress instead of adding to the days troubles.
The trick is to find a routine to keep your home reasonably clean. Smaller tasks are easier to tackle than bigger ones, and getting into the habit of tackling small tasks as they arise will make a big difference.
Tricks for a Clean Kitchen:
- Wash dishes as you use them
- Wipe down the stove and counters when you finish cooking, before you serve dinner
Do your dishes as you use them. I’m serious. Wash your cereal bowl and spoon in the morning. Wash your cup instead of putting it on the edge of the sink. It’s easier to wash two plates, a saute pan, and some cutlery after dinner than it is to wash an entire days worth of dishes. If you want to take this to the next level, wash your prep and cooking dishes before you sit down to eat. Another advantage of doing your dishes this way is that your dishes never get out of control. I started doing this when my husband and I moved into a smaller place, mostly because I just didn’t have the room to cook and put dishes into the sink. If I wanted to be able to use my sink, I had to wash stuff right away, and because I have very little counter space I had to put it right away too. The thing I learned though, was that I’m less likely to look at my kitchen and ever think “Oh God, I don’t want to handle that right now” when all I ever have to worry about is a single meals worth of dishes.
Clean as you go. Cleaning up small and fresh messes takes 30 seconds, it gets hard when you let the stuff build up and dry. It’s also just good food prep to keep your counters clean and wipe them down as you’re working. Even the 20 minutes between the time you finish cooking and finish eating dinner can make a difference in this though. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve finished eating and thought “I’ll clean the counters tomorrow.” But if you start to treat it like it’s just part of the process before you serve your food, then it’s less likely to get put off.
How to Keep Your Bedroom Clean:
- Make your bed every morning
- Get a second laundry basket, separate your clothes as you take them off, instead of when you go to do your laundry
It takes two minutes to make your bed, but if you don’t do it in the morning then you’re not going to make it at all because there’s no point making your bed right before you get in it. Studies have shown that making your bed leads to a more productive day anyway, and it feels great to come home at night and see your room looking clean and orderly. Even if the rest of your room is neat, a messy bed can ruin the whole space, making it feel smaller and more disorganized. Do yourself the favor of even just straightening out your blankets and putting your pillows in place. You don’t have to do hospital corners every morning, but just pulling the sheets straight can make a big difference.
You’re more likely to do your laundry properly if you do the prep work a little bit each day. Put your delicates in their own hamper or a mesh laundry bag for stuff like lace and underwear, turn your colored clothes inside out, put whites into their own bin. This makes it easier to do your laundry because you don’t have to take the time to sort through different loads later on, and your clothes are ready to just drop in the wash as is, no additional prep work unless you’ve got stains to take care of.
Keeping Your Bathroom Clean:
- Empty the trash every day
- Toss out those “almost empty” bottles you stopped using a week ago when you got a new one
I am horrible at taking out the trash from my bathroom. I’m one of those people that will let it get full, and then push it down some. That’s why every morning, after I get dressed, I grab my trash bin from under the sink, and go empty it into the kitchen trash. Yeah, this fills up my kitchen trash a little quicker, but I never have overflowing trash in my bathroom.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever left a bottle of shampoo sitting on the edge of your tub when there’s maybe one or two more uses you can get out of it. Raise your hand if you’ve done this when you already opened up your new bottle. Yeah, I’ve got both hands up. This makes your bathroom look cluttered, takes up precious space, and is generally unpleasant. If you’re determined you’ll eventually use up the last of it, try putting the last little bit into a travel bottle, and stashing it in your luggage. That way, you clean up your bathroom and you have a travel bottle of your favorite hair product next time you need to go somewhere. Another option, if you’re using the exact same product, is to just add the last little bit to your new bottle. Either way, when you crack the seal on your new bottle, the old one needs to go.
Advice for the Whole House:
- When you see something out of place, put it back right away. Don’t put it off for later
- Do your weekly chores first thing in the morning, before you get busy doing other things
Putting back one book takes 5 seconds and is easier than picking up a whole room. Once you get into the habit of putting things back where they belong when you notice them out of place, you’ll also start to notice yourself putting things away as soon as you’re done with them. Don’t be like me and fall into the trap of thinking”I’ll come back to it.” That’s how I leave my embroidery work spread out on the coffee table for five days and end up spilling cranberry juice on quilt squares. When you finish up with something, put it away. You can get them back out when you are ready to get back to it. It makes your home look cleaner, gives you more space, and saves you some heartache.
When you set aside a day to do bigger chores, do them right away. If you let yourself get busy with other things you end up saying “I’ll do X next” until there’s no time left at all to actually do X. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve intended to scrub my tub on a Saturday, and I end up doing everything except scrubbing my tub. I’ll go to breakfast, go shopping, do my laundry, meet a friend for lunch, and everything else under the sun until it’s time to go to bed and I still haven’t cleaned that darn tub. The solution I’ve found is to do the bigger projects before you start other things, especially if those projects are ones you hate. When I spray the tub down with scrubbing bubbles before I go to breakfast, then I know I have to clean it when I get back, and I don’t put off doing it until next week. The same thing works for projects like dusting, vacuuming, cleaning the mirrors in the house, ect…
Cleaning the house doesn’t have to be a bunch of big projects. If you do a little bit each day it’s actually pretty easy to keep manageable. And those little things add up pretty quickly. What are your favorite tips, tricks and life-hacks for keeping up on cleaning? What benefits have you found from keeping a cleaner home?