Yes, it’s possible. I’ve been doing it for years.
When I was newly married, my house was a wreck for a long time. I couldn’t keep up with the housework, the bills, meals, and laundry – it was too much. And when I went back to work – things were a hundred times worse.
I tried all kinds of systems to keep my house clean. None of them worked for very long.
It didn’t help that I have ADHD and was not very organized.
I wish I could pinpoint a time and event that changed things, but really, it just changed over time.
I do remember signing up for one lady’s cleaning system, and her motto was something like – no matter how little you do, as long as you do something, it’s cleaner than it was before.
That stuck with me, because I’m a perfectionist, so if I couldn’t do a perfect job, I felt like a failure. This way, as long as I tried, I felt like I had accomplished something.
It’s Easier to Clean with Fewer Things
Everyone always hates this tip.
I’m sorry, but it’s true. The less stuff you have, the easier it will be to keep it clean.
I’m not asking you to throw away the things you love, but maybe you could declutter a bit. Get rid of things that you don’t use, the stuff that’s broken that you keep meaning to fix, or things that you’re keeping because you might need them one day.
At the very least, find a home for your stuff.
Can you put it in containers or cabinets? That makes things look so much neater and it’s easier to clean that way.
Ideally, everything you own should have a place in your home where it lives. Otherwise, you’ll find it anywhere – on the kitchen table, the countertop, the living room couch – and you won’t know where to look when it’s missing.
An Order to Things
I know that cleaning an entire house is overwhelming, especially when it’s out of control.
So when you first start out, pick a room and go from there.
You can declutter and clean at the same time, or declutter the house and then start cleaning. Do whatever is easier for you.
Here’s my idea of what to clean in order:
- “Public” rooms like the living room and/or family room
I suggest the bathrooms and kitchen because keeping them clean helps keep your family healthy. If you have more than one bathroom, start with the most used one.
Next, clean the “public” rooms – the ones guests might see if they stop by. I assume you want to make a good impression.
By the way, if you have small children, I see nothing wrong with toys on the floor or random sippy cups or bottles, etc. lying around. Just make sure the surfaces they are on are clean. You are living there, after all.
Finally, tackle the bedrooms. The order is up to you, and the help you enlist too. Kids should be able to clean their own rooms at some point, and before that, they can help you. This teaches them good habits.
The general rule for cleaning is: start at the door and work clockwise, ceiling to floor.
Clockwise just gives you a direction so you know what you’ve already cleaned. And ceiling to floor means the dirt from above lands on areas you haven’t cleaned yet. I forget this every time I clean my stove and microwave!
The Magic of Clean as You Go
THIS is the thing that has helped me the most!
I’m a fan of a clean house, but hate cleaning. This way, I do a little at a time and I don’t mind. Except floors. I kind of hate doing floors. But I don’t mind cleaning bathrooms. Even the toilets. Weird, huh?
So here’s how it works: get in the habit of cleaning something each time you use a room. It actually won’t be that often, especially after you get the hang of it.
First thing in the morning, you’re in the bathroom getting ready for the day.
Pour some cleaner into the toilet. I use bleach, but you can use what you like. Leave it for now.
You can spray your shower down with a cleaner meant for this after you’re done. Or you can choose to clean it as you’re showering by using one of those dish wands that hold dish soap. Dawn plus a little white vinegar and water works well. Mix up a batch and then put it in the dish wand. Or you can do this weekly on a day when you have some time.
Next, once you’re done using the sink and brushing your teeth, give the sink a spray and wipe it out with your hand towel. Add a fresh towel for the day.
Spray the outside of the toilet and either use your dirty hand towel or a paper towel or cleaning cloth to wipe it down. Now use your toilet brush to clean the bowl.
You’re done! And really, it sounds like it takes longer than it does. Maybe five minutes and you’re done. If you do this daily, your bathrooms will always be clean.
If you have a dishwasher, unload it first thing in the morning.
I always set mine to run in the middle of the night when electric and water rates are lower. We’ve never had a problem with noise or flooding.
If you hand wash, put the dishes away the night before or first thing in the morning.
Breakfast choices should be easy and lunches should be made the night before.
All you need to do is eat and put your dishes in the dishwasher or sink. Be sure to rinse them so there’s no food sitting there all day.
Wipe the table and you’re done.
Dinners are a whole new subject for another day, but they should be easy, quick, and healthy.
Everyone gets to load their dishes in the dishwasher! Yay!
Again, if you don’t have a dishwasher, do what Queen Elizabeth does when she’s at her “cottage”. Put on some rubber gloves, use your favorite dish soap (you can buy hers if you want), and get someone to dry. That makes it more fun.
Be sure to wipe down the counters, table, and stove. I always empty the garbage, too, and sometimes I sweep the floor.
These rooms are easy. Like I said, if real living takes place in these rooms and it shows, who cares, as long as what’s underneath is clean?
Other than a pick up now and then, the most these rooms need are dusting and vacuuming.
Dusting should be first, even if they’re done on different days. Ceiling to floor, remember?
I love Swiffer Dusters for this. They’re not paying me to say it, I just love them. They do a really great job of picking up and holding on to the dust.
I love the other Swiffer products too. I like easy and effective.
There’s your bedroom and everyone else’s bedrooms.
You can choose how you want them. How clean, who cleans them, and how often.
I do suggest making the bed every morning. We use a comforter, so it’s easy just to pull it up with the sheet.
If you don’t make the bed, pull the covers down as far as you can to the bottom of the bed. That way, it can air out during the day. That’s a real thing, and it’s good to do now and then.
Dusting, vacuuming, and changing the sheets are all weekly things. Be sure to keep up on the dusting and vacuuming because cleaner air will help you sleep better.
How could I forget laundry?
Here’s how it worked at our house: the kids helped starting when they were nine or ten.
I taught them each how to do a load of towels start to finish and put written instructions in the laundry room. Washed and dried was all I expected. By the way, ten towels was what they had to put in the washer. It was the right amount and it helped to give them a number.
After that, they started doing their own laundry.
That left me with sheets, kitchen towels, and my clothes.
I’ve always started a load first thing in the morning.
When we were first married, I’d hang the clothes on the clothesline in the backyard before I went to work and pray it didn’t rain.
When we got a dryer, first one home moved them from the washer to the dryer.
A load a day is pretty easy to manage, and I’ve lived out of the laundry basket plenty of times. Those spray on wrinkle releasers work well.
I know this is a lot, but it really isn’t as much as it looks like. You just work on one small habit at a time and eventually, it works.
You still have some weekly things to do, but not much. Washing the sheets and maybe mopping the floors, giving the bathroom a deeper clean. But if you keep up with the daily stuff, the deep clean isn’t much at all.
And every now and then you’ll need to do extra cleaning, like washing windows or maybe doing a deep clean for spring or the holidays.
I hope this helped. If not, feel free to leave a comment and ask a question. I’m sure there’s something I forgot!