How to Keep Your Home Clean and Clutter Free
"The objective of cleaning is not just to clean, but to feel happiness living within that environment." ~ Marie Kondo
A dirty, cluttered environment not only makes me feel anxious and stressed, I also know that it's not good for my family's health. Dust is filled with dust mites, dirt, dead skin cells, animal dander, germs, etc., none of which is anything I want to be breathing! Sticky kitchen counters are unsanitary and can be dangerous if you are prepping your food on them, and dirty dishes lying around are a draw for bugs and vermin. Yuck! Who wants to live like that?
Get the whole family to pitch in and help with the cleaning!
Unfortunately, it's easy to let clutter build up and then start letting the cleaning slide. Don't let that happen to you! If that's where you are, let's help get you out. Last week we talked about making a plan to declutter your house. If you haven't done that yet, jump on that, too, while you're getting in the groove of scrubbing things down.
It took me a while to figure this out, but there is an order to cleaning rooms, and the key to successfully keeping things clean is a schedule. One book in particular that I found very helpful and that I would highly recommend is a book called Home Comforts. There are many way to do the schedule, so you have to find the one that works for you. Here are some ideas:
1. Start with a load of laundry. Get your machines going first (washing machine, dishwasher, etc) so that they are working while you are.
2. Do the dishes. Round up all the dirty dishes in the house, get the dishwasher running, and wash the rest by hand. You don't want food lying around to attract pests, so attack that right after you get the washing machine running, and stay on top of it every day.
3. Clean the counters. Now that your dishes are done, get some nice smelling cleaner (I like to make my own using doTERRA essential oils), and scrub away all the stickiness and germs. Do this after every meal, and you will have a beautiful kitchen, always ready for when company might drop by to visit.
4. Clean the bathrooms. Throw some toilet cleaner in first, and while it's doing its magic, clean the sink, counter, mirror, light switches, and door knobs. Then go back and finish cleaning the toilet.
5. Dust all the shelves, furniture, fireplace mantles, etc. You can use something as simple as a wet rag and a dry rag. The wet rag should be just slightly damp, not dripping wet. Wipe things down with the wet rag, which will pick up all the dust, then dry with the dry rag. I'm not a fan of feather dusters, as they tend to just throw the dust in the air, and then it lands right back on the furniture.
6. Pick up all clothes and either hang them up or put them in a hamper. Make this a habit.
7. Wash your sheets. If they're already clean, then just make the bed.
8. Sweep/vacuum/mop the floor. Sweep the kitchen every day, and vacuum once a week (more if necessary). Mop as needed. Vacuum your couches and upholstered chairs while you're at it to suck all the dust out of them. Always clean the floors last so that any dust or crumbs that fall on the floor while you do the dusting and scrubbing will be cleaned up.
The basic rule for cleaning any room is to start high and finish low. For example, do the floors last. If you are cleaning windows, start at the top so any drips flow down onto the parts you haven't done yet.
Make yourself a cleaning schedule:
1. The kitchen needs to be cleaned every day, after every meal. Period. Unless you are bedridden with the flu, take the time to do the dishes, wipe the counters, and sweep the floor. It really is a health issue. When all eleven of my kids were living in the house, we ran the dishwasher two to three times every day.
An illustration of the importance of staying on top of the dishes... when you run out of forks, and you have to use a skewer
2. Pick up clothes, shoes, and clutter every day. If you stay on top of it, it can be very manageable (disregard this if you have young children!). If you are currently buried in clutter, make one area clutter-free, and then keep it that way. Every day, spend 15 minutes working toward making another area clutter-free, and so on, and then stay on top of them!
3. Schedule laundry for a specific day (or days, if you have a large family!). I do all Mike's and my laundry on Mondays, and other laundry on Tuesdays. The kids do their own laundry, and getting them to be regular about a schedule is my next challenge! When they were too young to do laundry, I felt like I lived under a mountain of laundry at all times. Now that they are older and some have moved out, it's manageable again. Yay!
4. Depending on where you live, dusting and vacuuming can happen once a week or so. We have lived in three different places, and one of them was far dustier than the other two, so dusting and vacuuming needed to happen more often there. I like to dust and vacuum on either Thursdays or Fridays, so my house is nice and clean going into the weekends. I don't mop on rainy days, as everyone tracks in all over my nice clean floor, so I keep my schedule flexible if there is going to be rain that week.
5. Clean your bathrooms every few days, depending on how much use they get. The bathroom that everyone who comes over uses gets cleaned more often than the others; a high use bathroom should get cleaned every day. At a minimum, wipe down the faucet handles, door handles, light switches, and toilet seat. Replace the towels in the bathrooms frequently, especially if someone is sick.
6. Tame the paper tiger. As new mail comes in, open it, and deal with it. File it, put it with your other bills that need to be paid, or put it in your reading pile. Go through your reading pile regularly to weed out things you've already read, or things that it's clear you're never actually going to read. Don't accumulate a ton of reading material. Remember - there are such things as libraries, and there is always the internet.
Did you find these lists helpful? Have you been following along with the 52 Simple Changes and making them habits? Let me know in the comments!