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Tackling a messy house feels impossible when you’re overwhelmed by clutter.
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…
Today, I’m going to share the top 3 easiest places to start that will give you the motivation to keep going + tips to tackle the clutter for good!
How to start cleaning a messy house
- 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).
Tips for cleaning a messy house
1. Take it room by room and space by space
When your home is truly messy– It’s best not to go wandering around the house doing a little here and there and creating piles everywhere. All that will do is create more of a mess and leave you feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.
Instead, I like to focus on a single room first.
Then, I’ll focus on one space on one side of the room and work my way across to the other side of the room. I’ll remove everything from the area I’m working on, wipe it down, and only put back the items that belong there. Everything else either gets thrown away, sold, or donated.
And I literally repeat that same process for each space and each room. I don’t move on to the next one until I’m finished with the one I started.
The secret sauce is to pick one space and just start.
2. Give yourself a realistic time frame
I know we all want to get it done as fast as possible, but you have to be realistic.
Depending on how messy your house is and how much time you have to dedicate to cleaning, you may or may not be able to do it all in one day.
A realistic time frame will look different for everyone– just don’t try to do too much at once.
Instead of saying you’re going to declutter and clean your entire house in one day, it might work better to set smaller goals like tackling 1-2 rooms per day.
Bottom line: Set realistic goals to avoid getting overwhelmed and giving up entirely.
3. 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.
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.
4. Purge like a maniac
If you really want a clean clutter-free home, you MUST purge like a maniac.
The less clutter you have, the less “stuff” you have to clean and organize.
If you haven’t touched something in the past 6 months to a year, there’s a good chance you won’t miss it if it happened to, I don’t know, disappear? 😉
Things to declutter right now:
- Clothes and shoes you no longer wear/like or that the kids have outgrown
- Paper clutter
- Items “in storage”
- Kitchen gadgets you never use (I donated an old waffle maker and I regret nothing.)
- Toys your kids no longer like or play with
- Random food container lids
- Old makeup
- Cookbooks you never use
- Old magazines
- DVDs you never watch
- Expired vitamins and other items
Be honest with yourself. If you “forgot you had something” you’ll likely never miss it.
5. Stop buying things you don’t need
In order to maintain all your hard work, you have to put forth some effort into changing the habits that contributed to the clutter to begin with.
And that starts right here– Stop buying things you don’t need.
This could mean anything from new toys your kiddos will play with once to throwing random things in the basket just because they’re on the clearance shelf.
When you buy a bunch of small things you don’t truly need, they really start to add up over time.
6. Assign designated spots
It might be a “no brainer” but this simple tip can be a game changer.
After we moved into our home, there was no place to hang our keys. Guess you guess what happened? They would always end up either taking up counter space or lost. So, we mounted a simple key organizer right beside the door and boom problem solved.
Everything in your home needs a designated place that’s not on your dining room table, countertops, etc.
Related: 12 Small Kitchen Organization Ideas
7. Train yourself to “put things back where they go”
This is a classic tip your grandma has probably told you your whole life.
Having all the designated spots in the world won’t do you much good if you aren’t diligent about returning them when you’re done.
I’ve found it helpful to take a few minutes every day to tidy up and return things to their designated spots. I like doing this as part of my eventing routine because it’s so nice to wake up to a tidy home. ☺️
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 with a little work and patience.
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