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Cleaning a messy house is hard when you don’t know where to start.
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.
Found yourself in a similar situation? No clue how to START cleaning a messy house?
Today, I’m sharing the tips I’ve learned that will help you bring your home back to a manageable state!
How to clean up a messy house
- Your favorite music
- A garbage can you can take around with you
- A “donate” box/bag
- A *realistic* plan to keep your home clean and organized
1. Start small
When it comes to cleaning a truly messy house, the secret to getting it done (without losing your mind) all boils down to THIS:
Focusing on small wins rather than the big picture.
When we experience a “small win,” we also experience a boost of dopamine, the chemical that makes us feel good and motivated (source).
And what’s key when it comes to accomplishing any daunting task? Yes, motivation!
Where to start cleaning a messy house? Try starting with one of these small tasks to get your motivation ball rolling:
- Start with the dishes. If I ever have a sink full of dishes, getting those out of the way first always makes me feel accomplished and motivated to keep going.
- Start by throwing away all visible trash. Another great place to start is with the trash. See something that was left from the night before? Did your kiddo leave 10 empty fruit snack wrappers lying around?
- Start with the dirty clothes. Another task I sometimes start with… I’ll do a quick walk through to see if there are any random articles of clothing I can pick up and take 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 and creating piles everywhere.
Instead, try tackling one room at the time and one space (or task) at the time within that room.
(One “small win” at the time to keep your motivation up!)
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.
Rather than focusing on the entire room as a whole– here’s what you do:
Pick one space within the room. Maybe this is the cluttered nightstand?
Forget about the rest of the room and only focus on cleaning off the nightstand first.
Once you’re finished, rinse 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 for YOU will depend 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, set smaller, realistic goals to avoid getting overwhelmed and giving up altogether. (Again, taking advantage of those small wins!)
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 to “organize” something we never used anymore?
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.
Which brings me to my next tip…
5. Purge ruthlessly
The less clutter you have, the less “stuff” you have to clean and organize. Facts.
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 or even thought about in the past year, go ahead and toss it.
Be honest with yourself.
Unless this item holds (lots of) sentimental value, it likely doesn’t serve a purpose for you anymore and won’t be missed!
Once you’ve cleaned up your messy home…
You will need a realistic plan to keep it that way.
If you’ve struggled to keep your home clean and manageable in the past, I highly recommend checking out The Organized Home.
👉 The Organized Home shows you how to set up easy systems to help you maintain an organized home.
(Let’s be honest, when you’re a busy mom, that’s the hardest part!)
Those sparkly clean floors and organized spaces may SEEM like they’re light-years away.
But with the right mindset, some consistency, and a solid plan….
You can clean a messy house and make that dream a reality!
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