One question I often get asked is how do you keep your house so clean and organized all of the time? My first response is always that it is most certainly not clean all of the time. I have three kids and life happens in our house. As we all know, life is messy.
We are definitely proof of that around here. (Our kitchen on a typical afternoon before I’ve cleaned it. Yes.. those are socks on the counter.)
While my house is far from perfect, I do think that over the years I’ve learned how to keep things organized and mostly clean most of the time. Today I’m going to spill my secrets and tell you exactly how I do it!
Secret 1 – I have some help.
I first hired house cleaners to help me clean in my previous house years ago when I was pregnant with my second child. I don’t mind cleaning at all and had always done all of our housework, but I was having serious back problems in my 3rd trimester and just couldn’t bend over to scrub and deep clean. My husband was working around the clock getting his career established and couldn’t help much, so we looked at our budget and found things we could cut so that we could afford some help with the deep cleaning. It was a sacrifice at first, but so worth it! Together the cleaners and I could clean in hours what it would take me four days to do alone. Ever since then I’ve loved having some help with the deep cleaning and it’s something we make sure to prioritize when we figure out our budget. I always joke that I’d give up a lot of things before I’d give up my cleaners (date nights, Netflix, cookie dough..) Yeah.. I love my cleaners that much. I wish I could say that having hired help made it so that my house stayed perfectly clean all of the time, but that’s hardly the case. In fact, a lot of times my husband will come home from work and see our messy house and say didn’t the cleaners come today? Um yes babe.. but that was six hours ago. Ha! But it does ensure that once a week or once every other week (depending on our schedule) my house gets a good deep cleaning.
Secret 2 – I have a cleaning routine.
There are a few things I do daily and weekly so that our house never gets completely out of control. I do most of my laundry on Mondays and Fridays. Monday because I like to have it caught up by Tuesday (my main cleaning day) and then I do laundry again on Friday as part of my Week Ahead Prep. Tuesday mornings I wake up at 6:00, get ready and pick up my bathroom. Then I throw a set of sheets in my washer. I wake my kids around 6:45 and get them ready for school and dropped off by 8:00. Around 9:00 on most Tuesdays my cleaners come and we get to work! They start deep cleaning in my bathroom (which is why I pick it up first thing that morning) and then for the next two hours they basically follow me through my house. I hit each room putting things away where they go, loading and washing any dishes in the kitchen, straightening the pantry, going through papers that need to be tossed, etc.
My cleaners hit each room behind me and do the deep cleaning, wiping, scrubbing and dusting. I keep rotating all of our sheets in the wash and help them make the beds and then when everything is done but the mopping I leave (usually to grab some groceries or exercise quick) and my cleaners finish by mopping my wood floors. I come back about an hour later to a very clean house (highlight of my week!).
Then I often use the next two hours before my kids are home from school to style and decorate and take pictures for my blog like this one. I take random pictures all week long, but if I’m doing any full room shots I usually take them on Tuesdays during those 2 peaceful hours that the house is spotless and quiet. Then my kids come home from school and before long my house looks like this.
It drives me crazy but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Secret 3 – I spend a set amount of time cleaning each day.
Aside from Tuesday, my main cleaning day, I spend about 45-60 minutes each day on housework. This might be too much for some people and too little for others. For me I’ve found that I need to spend about an hour cleaning every day to stay on top of things. Each day the time I clean is different depending on what we have going on, but at some point I always take some time to quickly move through our main rooms and pick up. Then if I have extra time I work on scrubbing something that needs it (like our fridge or a bathroom) or I work on decluttering/organizing spaces throughout the house. By doing this daily our house never gets too out of control and overwhelming.
Secret 4 – When I clean I attack one room at a time and don’t lose focus.
It’s so easy for me to get sidetracked when I’m cleaning! I’ve found that I get more accomplished if I focus on one room at at time and keep working until it’s done. If I pick up something from the kitchen that belongs in the office and then when I get there I start tidying up my office, before long I’m all over the place starting everything and not really finishing anything. By focusing on one room at a time I always get a least a few spaces completely clean.
Secret 5 – While I’m doing my daily clean-up, I’m constantly getting rid of things.
I think this is the number one secret to keeping your home clean and organized! Less stuff in your house means less stuff you have to manage. While I’m cleaning if I come across clothes we aren’t wearing, kitchen supplies I don’t cook with, toys my kids have out grown, decor that is outdated. I toss it in a good will bag in the garage and don’t look back! Aside from a few sentimental items, I seriously have NO problem getting rid of things. I always have a few black sacks in my garage that are ongoing take to good will bags. Often friends will say to me I need you to come and organize my house! I always tell them they’d actually hate that because I would make them toss 80% of what they own.
My husband teases me about this all the time. He’ll say babe – where is that new shirt I bought? Have you already tossed it?
Have you seen my cell phone and keys? Oh wait. I didn’t check the black sack in the garage.
At least he amuses himself.
Secret 6 – I have a place for most things we keep.
I work really hard to only keep what we use and love. Then I make sure that everything we use and love has a happy home. I also make sure my kids and husband know where things belong so that when it’s time to clean up we all know where everything needs to go.
Miscellaneous Toys in the Family Room. Quick Tip: If you find you have random items around your house that don’t have a home, corral them in a cute basket.
I remember the day I realized that my camera equipment was spread out throughout my house in random drawers and closets. It took no time to consolidate it and put it all together in one drawer and what a difference that made! LOVE having this stuff all together. I never have to search to find something I need when it’s time to take pictures and after I’m done, everything gets put away in this drawer. Do my organized spaces always look this perfectly perfect? No. But while the cameras might not be perfectly lined up, they are always corralled in this drawer where I can find them. That’s part of the beauty of organization isn’t it? Being able to find what you need.
Secret 7 – I try to not procrastinate putting things away immediately.
Really keeping your house organized is about two things: not having too much stuff, and setting good habits. If you get in the habit of putting your things away immediately instead of procrastinating and just tossing them on the floor, counter, bed, etc. your house will stay cleaner. Our family (like most I’m sure) is a work in progress in this area, but it’s something I’m always striving for and trying to teach my kids.
Secret 8 – I rarely go to bed with a messy kitchen.
Regardless of how crazy my day has been or how late I’m up, I almost always make sure our kitchen is totally clean before I go to bed (I usually clean it one final time before I sit down to blog at night). I put everything away, scrub my sinks, vacuum and spot mop my wood floors. This isn’t always easy. Because of constant snacks and meals sometimes I feel like I clean our kitchen 10 times a day! But nothing beats waking up to a clean kitchen. It just starts my day off right! So regardless of how tired I am, I try to make sure the kitchen is clean before I go to bed.
Secret 9 – I involve my kids.
Since my kids were little I’ve worked hard to involve them in our house work and I’ve taught them how to clean. I don’t think kids just know how to clean. It’s something we have to show and teach them. Sometimes we have to show and teach them thousands of times. It’s certainly easier to just do it yourself, but I try to fight the urge to do this when my kids are around and can help. Growing up my siblings and I always had daily chores so I do the same thing with my kids. When they were little I tried to make cleaning a game. We’d turn on music or play clean and freeze or who can pick up 10 things in this room? Whatever I could come up with to make it fun. I also made Star Charts for them to give them some motivation.
Now that my kids are a bit older I use daily chore charts and lists to keep us on track.
El helping me give our mudroom a major clean out after the end of the school year.
Secret 10 – I make cleaning a happy event.
I really like things to be clean and orderly and while I don’t like to admit this to my husband, I actually enjoy cleaning. Not always. There are certainly some chores I dread and some days I’m not in the mood to clean, but for the most part I love to get lost in housework and organizing. I make it a happy time of day for myself by turning on some good music, lighting a candle and by using cleaning products I love. (You can still pick up a few of my favorites for free here)! Details and my favorite cleaning products are in this post.). It’s very therapeutic for me to just clean and let my mind wander. I love the smell of good cleaning products, a candle burning and the sound of my dishwasher running. I feel the most content and happy when my house is clean and because of this, I usually look forward to some time spent each day tidying up.
Quick Recap! 10 Secrets that will help you keep your house clean and organized once and for all!
1 – If you are in a place where you can afford to, hire some help. (If you can’t afford help or just don’t need it (we’ve been in that boat too!) I think it helps to have a main cleaning day once or twice a week when you deep clean all the bathrooms, wash sheets and mop/vacuum the floors.)
2 – Establish a cleaning routine that works for you and your schedule.
3 – Spend a set amount of time picking up each day to stay on top of things.
4 – When cleaning, attack one room at a time and don’t lose focus!
5 – Constantly get rid of things!
6 – Create a place for the things you do keep.
7 – Don’t procrastinate. Put things away where they go immediately.
8 – Clean your kitchen each evening before bed.
9 – Involve your kids in the cleaning and organizing.
10 – Make cleaning fun! It really can be.
Like I said at the beginning of this post, we live in our house and a lot of days if you stopped by to visit things wouldn’t be perfectly clean. But over the years these 10 things have definitely helped me stay on top of my house work so that we can enjoy a mostly clean house most of the time.
I don’t know about you, but I can live with that.