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Cleaning a neglected house feels impossible when you’re overwhelmed.
Motivation? Forget it.
One look around and you’re ready to give up before you’ve even started.
As much as I’d love to tell you how I’ve always been the mom with the spotless house– That wouldn’t be quite the truth.
I’ve had my share of times when life was crazy busy and as a result… “housework” landed on the back burner.
If you’ve found yourself in a similar situation– Your home feels like a cluttered mess, but you have NO idea where to even start to clean it up…
These tips will help you bring your home back to a manageable state!
Tips to tackle a messy house
- Your favorite music
- A garbage can you can take around with you
- A “donate” box/bag
1. Start small
It’s usually recommended to start with your biggest/most dreaded task first if you want to achieve maximum productivity (there’s even a book about it).
I agree with this the majority of the time– Except for when it comes to cleaning a messy house.
In this case, I believe that starting small is one of the best ways to get your motivation ball rolling.
Where to start cleaning a messy house? Start with one of these simple tasks:
- Start with the dishes. If I ever have a sink full of dishes, getting those out of the way first always makes me feel WAY better and motivated to keep cleaning.
- Start by throwing away all visible trash. See something that was left from the night before? Does your kiddo have 10 empty fruit snack wrappers in his room.
- Start with the dirty clothes. The third thing I always do first is take any articles of clothing I see to the laundry room. You can’t clean a room with dirty socks in the corner!
After you’ve gotten started– Give yourself a pat on the back, because that’s the hardest part (really).
2. Take it room by room and space by space
When your home is truly messy– I’ve found that it’s best not to go wandering around the house doing a little here and there with no main focus.
Instead, I like to tackle one room at the time and one space (or task) at the time within that room.
For example, let’s say you’ve made it to your bedroom. Because this room is a disaster, naturally, you have no idea where to start cleaning.
But rather than getting overwhelmed by focusing on the entire room as whole– here’s what you do:
Pick one space within the room. Maybe this is the cluttered night stand?
Forget about the rest of the room and only focus on cleaning off the nightstand first.
Once you’re finished, rise and repeat until the bedroom is clean.
3. Give yourself a realistic time frame
I know we all want to know how to clean a messy house FAST, but you have to be realistic.
A realistic time frame will vary from person to person, depending on how messy your home actually is, how much time you have to dedicate to cleaning, etc.
Instead of saying you’re going to tackle your entire house in X amount of time, try setting smaller, realistic goals to avoid getting overwhelmed and giving up altogether.
4. Don’t organize clutter
I once had a box of DVDs stored in my basement for 2 years– and never touched them. I’m embarrassed to admit that, but it’s true.
I considered getting a new storage shelf to organize them all, but then I had an epiphany. Why spend money on a new shelf when those dusty old things never get watched anymore anyway?
OUT they went. (Remember that donate box I suggested?)
Moral of the story: If you’re trying to organize something you no longer use, you’re really just “organizing” clutter and creating more work for yourself.
5. Purge ruthlessly
The less clutter you have, the less “stuff” you have to clean and organize.
As you’re cleaning, keep your “donate” box close by and keep this in mind:
If you have an item that’s cluttering up your space that you have not used in the past 6 months to a year, go ahead and toss it.
Be honest with yourself. If it’s been forgotten about for this long, it likely doesn’t serve a purpose for you anymore and won’t be missed.
A few examples that make your house look messy:
- paper clutter (old mail you have stacked for no particular reason)
- toys your kids no longer play with
- cookbooks you never use (even if they’re “neatly” stacked)
- old magazines, etc.
Those sparkly clean floors and organized spaces may seem like they’re lightyears away…
BUT you can clean up a messy house and make that dream a reality.
All with hard work and patience!
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