I recently read a comment on my article 12 Habits of People Who Always Have A Clean Home.
Reader Heather wrote, ” I was hoping for an article with tips and tricks for someone like me who just is domestically challenged. What I’m taking away from this is, “Just clean constantly and you’ll have a clean house.” Sorry to be negative. They’re good habits and all. I just have a hard time keeping these habits myself.”
If you’re shaking your head wondering what special trick she thinks I have up my sleeve to keep her house clean or some magic wand that will have her home magically clean itself, she’d be wrong.
So I’m here to ask Heather one simple question –
Heather, do you think I clean constantly?
I don’t. I’ve got lots of other things I need to get done in the course of a day, but I do use my time wisely. I do tasks as they need to be done, spread out over the entire day.
In this post, I’m going to share with Heather and all the other domestically challenged people out there some tips and strategies for getting and keeping your house clean.
I want first to encourage Heather and all the others out there to stop comparing yourself to me or anyone else who may keep a cleaner and neater home. This isn’t a competition. Some days my house looks great and other days it looks like a bomb went off.
Why? Because other things take priority and I fall behind. I’m not perfect, and I don’t always do everything on this list every day. I strive to do them, and most of the time I am successful, but not always.
For example, the day I wrote this post my bed was still unmade as of 2:16 PM and the clean sheets were not put back on the bed and the bed made until I was ready to go to sleep.
I had other things that needed to be done first. For one, I needed to help Sylvia, my mother’s aide, take care of my mom. Second, I had to finish this article, and third I’ve just procrastinated.
Some Things To Remember About Housekeeping
- It’s influenced by skill
- It’s influenced by your personal style
- It’s influenced by available resources
- It’s influenced by the size and needs of your family
- It’s influenced by your level of commitment
- It’s influenced by your life circumstances
My housekeeping results will look different from yours depending all the factors I’ve listed. Either way, be kind to yourself and just do the best you can.
GET CLEAR ABOUT HOW YOU WANT TO LIVE
It would be lovely to live like Martha Stewart with everything perfectly in place, but that’s not the reality for most of us. We are who we are, and although we can strive for a cleaner and more organized home, what we might end up with might be less than perfect.
Your home does not need to be perfect with everything in its place. True, that’s how I like my home, but you’re not living in my home, your living in yours.
Sit down and think about how you WANT to live. Some people don’t have a problem with clutter.
Some people are fine with cleaning once a month or just doing a swipe and wipe. If you are disgusted by your home’s cleanliness or feel like something NEEDS to change, then you’ll want to decide on what changes must happen for you to be happy living in your home. Only you can determine the level of cleanliness that you wish your home to reflect.
If you’re constantly dissatisfied with the state of your home, then that’s a good indication something has to give.
IF YOU CAN AFFORD IT – OUTSOURCE IT
If you’ve got the money and you hate a dirty house but either you don’t want to clean it yourself or just don’t have the time, consider hiring a cleaning lady or service to keep your home clean and tidy. It really will be a good use of resources if you can afford it. You can take the stress and burden away from yourself and now have the additional time to focus on other more important things you want to be doing.
If you got the funds, or if you can budget it successfully into your monthly spending plan, go for it.
STOP THINKING YOUR HOUSE WILL CLEAN ITSELF
Heather, I hate to tell you this, but your house won’t clean itself. It will take effort on your part not only to clean it but maintain it. You don’t need to clean all day, but you will have to pick up a duster and run the vacuum every once in a while.
Here’s the thing: No one wants to clean all day, but if you ignore your house, it will take all day, maybe several days to get your house fully cleaned. It’s what you do going forward that makes the difference. That’s where the 12 Habits come into play.
If you take the time to make your bed in the morning (5 minutes), wipe down the counter, (30 seconds), load the dishwasher and wash pots and pans (I’ll give you 30 minutes for this one), put your coat away (15 seconds) – you get the picture here don’t you? None of these items take that long to accomplish if you’re maintaining your home. Of course, vacuuming will take the most amount of time, but if I vacuum my whole house without stopping it still only takes me 15 minutes. The whole list comes to less than an hour, spread out over the entire day.
And, just to be clear, I don’t advocate vacuuming every day unless you’ve got a reason, like multiple pets.
YOUR DOMESTICALLY CHALLENGED BECAUSE YOU WANT TO BE
Heather, let’s face it – you’re domestically challenged because you want to be. You want to be doing something else – I get it. I understand cleaning is not everyone’s favorite thing to do. But you have three choices: hire someone, start cleaning your home or continue to ignore it, which of course is an option.
It’s your choice, and that’s the great thing. You can choose to live any way you want. I want to live in a clean and orderly home. Some people want clean but don’t mind clutter, and others should be on the next episode of Hoarding: Buried Alive. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, it’s up to you.
If you want to ease into cleaning here are a few tips to get you started:
FOCUS ON ONE KEY AREA
People typically will be in two rooms when they visit: the kitchen and bathroom. If you can keep your kitchen tidy and wiped up, your house will look noticeably cleaner. Keep your kitchen table clean and clear of clutter too.
If you’ve got a clean toilet, it goes a long way it helping a home look presentable.
PICK ONE ROOM AND TACKLE IT
Take one room and spend a few hours cleaning it top to bottom. Once that room is done, implement the 12 Habits that are applicable and make a commitment moving forward to keep the room clean and tidy. Once you have that room nailed down, move on to another room.
WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS SHUT THE DOOR
If the company shows up and a room is a mess, shut the door. It’s no one’s business what’s behind that closed-door, so go ahead and shut it.
HIRE SOMEONE TO DO THE FIRST MAJOR CLEAN
This will cost some money, but you can hire someone to come in and get your house up to speed, and then you maintain in going forward. I’ve done this for countless people in my cleaning business. Some have been successful, and some have not, but all have tried.
BEING DOMESTICALLY CHALLENGED IS A STATE OF MIND
You can clean, you do have the skills, you just need to get into action and go.
If you keep telling yourself that you can’t clean, then you won’t. Turn your attitude around and you’ll be amazed at how much you’ll accomplish. You won’t be cleaning all day. Instead, you’ll be using the 12 Habits to guide you to accomplishing tasks when they need to happen.