Straight Talk About Housecleaning

Housecleaning is a topic that I’m excited to talk about with you, because not only is it a necessity of life, I believe it can be made a whole lot simpler. I have some tried and true tips and tricks that make cleaning my house easy, and hopefully will work for you too!

The Difference Between Decluttering, Home Organization, and Housecleaning

Let’s start by talking about the relationship between decluttering, home organization, and housecleaning. We tend to think of cleaning our home as a huge burden, which it can be if you’re dealing with lots of clutter and lack of organization. But if your home is decluttered and organized, cleaning is actually very simple.

If you have truly decluttered, it means you’re living within the storage space of your home. If your house is really organized, it means that all like items are stored together AND it’s super easy for you to put things away. Putting stuff away is decluttering and organization. Housecleaning is about rolling up your sleeves and making things… well, clean!

When you’re cleaning your house, you should not have to exert any brain power figuring out where things go. If you’re struggling with cleaning your home, I want you to ask yourself:

  • Is it difficult to put things away?

  • Is it unclear where things go?

It could be that you need to tackle decluttering and home organization first before you effectively clean your house.

How to Clean Your House Once It’s Organized

I want you to think about cleaning your home in terms of spaces and tasks.

First, review the spaces or areas in your home and group them into zones. Zone 1 is the area of the house that gets the most wear and tear. It’s usually the heart of the home. In my home, this is the kitchen/living room/eating nook that is essentially one large room. Zone 2 is the area that has the second-most level of activity, but a little less wear and tear. In my home, this is upstairs where our bedrooms and bathrooms are. Lastly, Zone 3 is the least used area of the house. For me, that’s our guest room, office, and formal dining room.

Zone 1 is the first priority for cleaning. Zone 3 is a lesser priority. That means if you only have a short amount of time to deep clean one area, you should focus your time and effort on Zone 1.

Second, review your household tasks. Tasks can either break down into daily tasks, which I call routine. Or, there are tasks that only need to be done every so often, which I like to call ritual. Decide which of your tasks should be routine or ritual for each zone.

There’s no right or wrong here for what makes a routine or ritual task. It’s what works best for you. In fact, some tasks can be either or. Laundry is a great example. It can be done daily (routine) or once per week (ritual). Maybe a nice ritual surrounding laundry would be to put on a show, and sit and relax while folding.

To figure out what should be done and when, I suggest reverse engineering the task. Do this by thinking about two things: what would make you happy when you wake up in the morning, and what’s really important to have in your environment when you come home from work or when it’s the end of the day.

Personally, I HATE waking up to a messy kitchen! I do not like starting my day with a sink full of dishes, crumbs on the counter, and leftovers unorganized. This is just something I’ve learned about myself over time. So I’ve incorporated cleaning up the kitchen at night into my daily routine.

What’s going to start and end your day on a positive note? Really dial in and focus on what will make a BIG difference in your everyday life and build those tasks into your routine.

Tips & Tricks for Zones, Routines, and Rituals

Here are my tips and tricks and things that I’ve figured out over the years that help me stay consistent with housecleaning:

Tip #1: Run the Dishwasher on a Schedule

Run the dishwasher on a schedule. I run my dishwasher on a schedule, whether or not it’s full (most times it’s full!). If the dishes are done in the morning, then my kids can unload it before dinner, and then I can reload it after dinner and after breakfast the next morning and it’s ready to go. This way, the dishwasher is always able to be loaded when there are dishes piled up.

Tip #2: Only one set of sheets for each bed

One set of sheets for each bed. Raise your hand if you like to fold sheets. Especially fitted sheets (*crickets*). Guess what? I NEVER have to fold sheets! And I save time!

I strip the beds, wash and dry the sheets, and put them right back on the beds. This will save you both time and space in your home, as you don’t need a spot for those extra sets of sheets. Obviously, if you have younger children or if bedwetting is an issue, then yes have a second set of sheets. When sheets get old and dingy, I simply replace them and bring the old sheets to the humane society.

Tip #3: Clean the shower when you shower

Clean the shower while you’re taking a shower. I keep a little scrub brush in the shower, and each time I’m in the shower I clean it! You don’t even have to do the whole shower at once, do one wall or area each day. I never have to clean my shower as an extra task.

Tip #4: Don't let a drop zone become a stay zone

Don’t let a drop zone become a stay zone. This is one of the things I teach in Clutter Bootcamp. If you have drop zones in your house and they drive you crazy, this is a good place to reverse engineer. It’s OK to drop your keys and your mail and papers into one spot, but then make the commitment to clean up those drop zones every single night so they don’t become stay zones. A drop zone is totally a misnomer if it never gets picked up and put away.

Tip #5: Reduce the amount of paper coming into your house

Reduce the amount of paper coming into your house. You want to have as little stuff coming into your house as possible. Call the businesses sending you catalogs and ask to be taken off their mailing list. Decide if you REALLY need to hang on to every receipt. The more that you bring into your home, the more that you have to handle it.

Tip #6: Say no to free stuff

Say NO to free stuff. Nothing is free if you have to take care of it! This is YOUR time. If you’re offered a free sample, you have to bring it home, figure out where to put it, then you’ll most likely forget about it, move it around, debate throwing it out, feel guilty because it was free, feel bad about tossing it into the garbage because it might be recyclable (it’s not) — does this vicious cycle sound FREE to you?!

“Free” things take your time. Your time is more valuable than anything.

Tip #7: Simplify your cleaning products

Reduce your choices of cleaning products. Beware of the “illusion of convenience.” In fact, you can dive deeper into this topic on this podcast. But here, we’re talking specifically about cleaning products.

We’re told that having more choices for cleaning products will ultimately make our lives more convenient. But guess what, it doesn’t make your life more convenient at all! First you have to buy all these products, then store them which takes up valuable space in your house, and doesn’t it seem that the more products you try the more you buy to find “the right one?”

I have three spray bottles of cleaners for my house: a DIY floor cleaner, one bottle of bleach and water, and one bottle of vinegar and water. This is all that I use. I never have to think about “Oh I have to buy more Windex!” when I’m at the store. It’s NOT more convenient to have more choices of products to clean your house with. Make it easy and simple.

Tip #8: Invest in quality cleaning appliances

Find tools that work for you. When it comes to cleaning products, I keep that simple. But when it comes to the tools needed to do the cleaning jobs, it’s worth investing in good products that work best for you.

For example, I have two Rumbas — one upstairs and one downstairs. I LOVE my Roombas. Why? Because they’re ALWAYS cleaning and picking up dirt! They clean hard to reach places such as underneath furniture. They’re cleaning right now while I write this blog! The Roombas are worth it to me because they save me a ton of time.

If you are interested in the Roomba that I recommend, you can find it here.

If you are interested in the mop I love, you can find it here.

Please note: these may be affiliate links.

Tip #9: Declutter Daily

Make decluttering part of your everyday routine. Don’t wait to declutter until you think you’ll have more time. Make decluttering a part of your daily routine, so that cleaning won’t be an issue. If this means you need to drop off donations every week, do it! Teach your kids to declutter as part of their everyday routine, too. Doing this will ensure you have good flow in your house — because when things come into our house, then things need to go out of our house.

Tip #10: Always have an open washer

Always have an open washer for the unexpected. This is critical when there’s an emergency spill or disaster! Laundry is a routine for me, so I toss in a load of laundry every morning, then immediately move it into the dryer. This means that the washer is open by 7:15 every morning. I don’t have to worry about my washer being open and ready for whatever life hurls at me today!

Tip #11: Have a plan for your boxes

Have a plan for your boxes. If you’re getting frequent deliveries, have a plan for all those boxes and the packaging. Keep one small collection of boxes if you must, and have a process for handling the rest. Deal with it daily so it doesn’t pile up.

Tip #12: Schedule help as needed

Schedule help as needed. There are times when I choose to bring in cleaning services because I just really need the help. Around the holidays, especially, when life gets crazy and stressful, it’s so worth it to me to bring in a cleaning service to help me out. I have really tall windows, so I pay to have them professionally washed once a year. I have my carpets professionally cleaned once a year. Sure, I could rent the carpet steamer from the store. But it would still cost money and A LOT of my time.

It’s totally OK to hire out these services whenever you need them. After all, it’s prioritizing your sanity and that’s what we’re here to do!

Perhaps most importantly, I’ve learned that my attitude matters when it comes to cleaning my house. If I have a bad attitude, it’s only going to make the experience unpleasant for me. And if I have a bad attitude around cleaning, I can’t expect my kids to have a positive experience with cleaning either.

I’ve really had to adjust the way that I approach cleaning. Part of this adjustment is looking at these larger tasks as more of a ritual and creating a positive experience around them. If I know I need to do a deep cleaning, I put on music, listen to a podcast, or I might bake cookies to make it more of a positive experience in our lives instead of a burden. I actually kind of look forward to cleaning now! And it helps my kids to see that cleaning is just a part of life.

I’d love to hear more about your tips and tricks for cleaning your house! What’s working for you and what’s not working for you? How can we help you figure all this out?

Are you struggling with cleaning your house because of all the stuff that’s in the way? Then I urge you to join Clutter Bootcamp, where you can find the tools and support to begin your decluttering journey!

>>Join Bootcamp Now

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