In general, I’ve found that by adopting cleaning my house as sort of something I just always in the state of doing, it makes it SO MUCH MORE manageable and overall just helps me keep a house that’s tidier. I know being “always in the state of cleaning” sounds really overwhelming, but if I let cleaning tasks build up and build up it becomes this big task to overcome. But, if I just do little things throughout the day it really just becomes simple habits to a cleaner home and truly makes cleaning feel so much easier and less daunting (especially as a mom.)
So today I’m sharing the 9 habits I’ve adopted to a cleaner home.
Setup Routines for Yourself
As people we’re routine-oriented. It’s why we always remember to brush our teeth before bed. It’s something we have always done it and so it became a habit. We can do the same thing with some cleaning tasks so they become so routine it just starts to happen naturally.
Here’s how to do it: Pick some tasks and do them at the same time every day and then match them up with other things you already do every day. By taking a habit you want to form and tying it to an existing habit, it makes it easier.
For example, I always do a quick sweep and mop of our floors after breakfast. I do it every morning so it has just become part of our morning routine. We eat breakfast, clean the floors, and head upstairs to get dressed. By tying it to our breakfast routine it made it easier to adopt.
Some other routines I’ve setup include:
- Kitchen pickup right when my son’s nap starts. So the first thing I do when I come downstairs from putting my son down for a nap is to do a quick kitchen pickup.
- Dishes during mealtime. If my son is having a meal, such as breakfast or lunch, and we’re not eating together, I feed him in the kitchen and use his mealtime as a time to do any dishes.
MOM TIP: There are some cleaning activities that our kids can totally help with. I let Miles “help” me sweep. He’s not actually sweeping, he has this old duster he uses, but he thinks he sweeping and literally runs to the cabinet every morning to get his duster to sweep. I will also let him help me put away dishes (which I know might make some parents nervous but I let him take the dishes out and hand them to me, so the risk of dropping and breaking things is low and I keep his rubber dishes in a basket at his level so he can put them away himself.) Just think about the chores that are achievable to do with your little one around, and can they “help” to make it easier to get it done? It’s a way to get some chores done with our little ones around and they honestly love to help.
Having a Cleaning List By Time
One thing I’ve noticed about cleaning is we often think of cleaning as a task we fit into a dedicated space of time. We think “ok when I have a free 45 minutes I will clean the bathroom.” But, in our busy lives, it might be days (or weeks) before we find a free 45 minutes to deep clean the bathroom. So, that’s why I love having a cleaning list by time, including a ton of small tasks I can do in dedicated periods of time.
I have a free cleaning checklist printable that has tons of cleaning tasks you can tackle in 10 minutes, 30 minutes, or 60 minutes. This way, if you have some free time, even if it’s just a quick 10 minutes, you can still get something cleaned or tidied. This works great towards my ultimate goal of just always being in a state of cleaning instead of letting the cleaning tasks build up until they become a huge project to tackle.
One of my favorite cleaning mantras is “better something than nothing.” It’s better to clean the bathroom for 5 minutes than not at all. Better to do a quick sweep them to do nothing, etc.
Focus on Surfaces
There really is something about clear surfaces in a room that make your space feel more spacious and look cleaner. A little trick, often known as “the flat surface clutter rule,” is to focus on keeping any flat surfaces clear of clutter and mess. I’ve gotten into the habit of just constantly decluttering my surfaces. At least 3 times a day I do a quick walk through my downstairs with the ultimate goal of removing anything from any flat surfaces that doesn’t need to be there.
I know decluttering surfaces 3x a day seems like a big task, but if you actually do this a few times a day, your clutter remains very minimal and it usually only takes me 1-2 minutes, at the very most. Now, it does help that we have a smaller house as there’s less to tidy. If you have a larger house to tackle, focus on the few living areas you use most such as the living room, kitchen, and bathroom.
Remember the goal here is to completely clear off the surfaces, not just make little tidy piles and move them around. I used to be in such a bad habit of leaving things out because I was “still using them” when in reality I realized it literally takes less than 30 seconds to put something away and take it back out again when I need it. Everything needs to go AWAY where IT BELONGS, even if you’re going to use to again later that day.
Learn how to let go
Leading off from our last habit, a huge tip to keeping a cleaner house is to get good at letting things go. In general, stuff breeds more stuff and clutter breeds more clutter. We hold onto things for so many reasons like “we might use it” or we need to “get to it” or “send it” or “file it” or “fix it” or whatever.
I’ve really learned to be deliberate about letting go of stuff I don’t need immediately. It’s so easy to look at something and file it as “get to later,” but instead try to tackle each item right as you see it. Does it need to be trashed? Recycled? Stored away?
Here’s an easy example…raise your hand if you open your online shopping boxes and then the boxes sit on the floor for 2-3 days before you even think to break them down.
A small shift I’ve made is the minute I open a shipping box I take whatever item was inside and put it away where it goes, then I immediately break it down and put it by the back door so that the next time I open the door (which with a dog and toddler is approximately 45x every hour) I run it to the recycling. It honestly only takes maybe 60 seconds and keeps unneeded clutter out of my house.
In general, the thought process is if it doesn’t belong HERE get it to where it needs to go.
Never go to bed with a dirty kitchen sink
This next habit is one I adopted maybe 3-4 years ago or so and it’s such a gamechanger. It’s actually the first cleaning habit I ever adopted and I started to see how powerful cleaning habits could be.
The simple rule is to never go to bed with a dirty sink. At the end of the day we’re so tired we just want to go upstairs, crawl into bed, and fall asleep. But if I agree to adopt the never go to bed with a dirty kitchen sink rule, it forces you to take a few minutes to go clean the kitchen sink. And, if all I do is take 5 minutes and clean the kitchen sink then it’s a win because I achieved the goal. BUT, I often find that 95% of the time it leads to me tidying the entire kitchen.
That being said, the reason I call it the never go to bed without a dirty sink rule and haven’t changed it to never go to bed with a dirty kitchen, is just cleaning a sink is a far less daunting task. When I’m exhausted I can muster the energy for the sink, but if the rule was the entire kitchen, I might be more likely to blow it off (even though, like I said, 95% of the time I end up doing the entire kitchen — it’s a mind game.)
15 Minute Pre Bed Clean Up
Another habit I’ve adopted is the 15-minute pre-bed cleanup. Now, this doesn’t have to happen right before bed. In my house, we actually do it right after we put my son down for bed. But the idea is you take 15 minutes to just clean up. 15 minutes is a nice do-able amount of time, and you can get a good amount done. Again, like the dirty sink rule, 15 minutes doesn’t feel too daunting. But, it helps you tidy from the day, prepare for tomorrow, or maybe grab something off the cleaning list by timesheet and tackle it. Again, it just becomes a little habit you do at the same time every day but it’s always a 15 minute, drop everything and pick up, period.
If you have older kids you can do it when they are awake and it can be a family thing.
Want to see the other three habits? Watch the full video 9 Habits to a Cleaner Home here.