I don’t know how many lists I’ve made over the years about cleaning routines. I think I’ve tried all the plans out there. Trying them all (and never sticking with any of them) taught me over the years what they all had in common and what I needed to do to make a system for myself that would work for me.
Here are the essential ingredients necessary to maintaining a clean house, regardless of the system you use to keep track.
Just as with staying organized, keeping a clean house assumes starting with a clean house. That can be a daunting prospect, but even if your house is in less than pristine condition (and whose isn’t?), these 5 small tasks, done daily, will prevent chaos creep.
1. Wash a laundry load a day.
If you’re a laundry-hater (and I am), then this one might have you ready to close your browser immediately. Hear me out, though. When you do laundry only once or twice a week, then it’s a huge job, a job worth dreading and postponing. Plus, I never actually got my whole laundry mountain all dealt with on “laundry day,” so the remnants sat around waiting while I resented it encroaching on non-laundry-days.
If, however, I do a little laundry every day, it’s never so much that I can’t just tell myself, “Ok, only 10 minutes. You can handle 10 minutes.” and get over my bad attitude with action. When it’s one laundry basket, why not just deal with it? When it’s every day, it’s easy to make grabbing their clean clothes part of the kids’ daily routine.
If you hate laundry and never seem to get to it all, it seems counterintuitive, but try doing a little bit every day and see if it doesn’t become manageable.
2. Wash the dishes after meals.
Probably this one goes without saying for most Cleanie-types who have no problem keeping their house reasonably clean. But I’m not talking to them right now. I know how easy it is to pass it off with the excuse that the dishes need to “soak.”
But taking care of today’s business today rather than putting it off until tomorrow is a key habit and the washing the dishes is a significant place to begin that habit.
3. Keep an island of sanity.
Reserve one section of your kitchen counter as a junk-free zone. Kitchen counters are hot spot magnets for collecting all the random bits that people don’t want to put away or don’t know what to do with.
My kitchen has an island, and I try to keep that space free and clear. It’s always the space I clear first and it’s also the space I use the most. Because no toys, no mail, no stuff is allowed to accumulate, it’s always available to whip up whatever food needs to be whipped up.
Plus, with at least one clear surface in the kitchen, when I feel overwhelmed, then I can at least look over to my island and breathe in its clear surface. If I can keep that spot clear, then I can surely tackle the other countertops and extend that order.
4. Make your bed.
I used to not make my bed on principle. If anything was a waste of time, surely making one’s bed has to top the list. I’ve since repented of that position and had to admit it is an error. Who you are and what you do in private radiates out to the public spheres.
If we want to grow in orderliness, the place we must begin is in our private spaces. Making one’s bed is a small act of bringing order out of chaos, a small win, that spills out into the rest of the house and the rest of our lives.
5. Do an afternoon EHAP.
It doesn’t take long for a house to go from decluttered and clear to a jumbled wreck, especially if one has small children. This is the sort of thing that looks like more work than it really is. Set a timer, turn on some peppy music, get everyone on board to help, and get all the things put back into their homes.
Everything Has A Place – so put it in its place.
This once-a-day habit will make the most significant difference in the state of your home and the state of your sanity. Don’t clean, don’t sort, don’t get distracted – just spend 10-15 minutes quickly – rapidly, even – putting things away in their homes.