You know that pal who has a tidy home that always looks freshly cleaned? Chances are they don’t wait until it looks like a disaster to start cleaning. Instead, they adopt habits that help keep the house from looking like a tornado blew through it. Try these simple habit changes to keep your house in order between deeper cleanings.
- Make your bed
Productivity begets productivity. Making your bed first thing every morning is one of the best ways to start your day on a productive foot. This habit instantly makes the room feel tidy and clean. Plus, at the end of a long day, there’s nothing better than climbing into a neatly made bed. To make things easier on yourself, consider your bedding. Do you really need all those decorative pillows? Do you use the throw blanket? Minimizing your bed linens will streamline your bed making and make you more likely to make this practice a habit.
- Take it out; put it away
If you use something or take something out, be sure to put it away. Putting things away as you go doesn’t really take up much time but it will definitely make the difference. This could be rearranging throw pillows and folding blankets when you retire from the living room each night, having kids put toys back in their bins, hanging up your coat as you come in the door or folding the laundry right when it comes out the dryer.
- Find a place for paper
Mail and papers can accumulate quickly if you let them. They clutter countertops, tables and desks. An easy way to remedy this is to deal with mail and paperwork the second they come into the house. Don’t throw them on the counter and tell yourself you will take care of it all later. Make a drawer for takeout menus and coupons. Create folders for bills, school memos and other important printouts. Put these items in their place as soon as you get them.
- Load cleaning appliances throughout the day
Put dirty clothes and linens directly into the washing machine as soon as they are dirtied. Run a load before you go to bed and transfer to the dryer in the morning. Do the same with your dishwasher. Instead of leaving dirty dishes on the counter or in the sink, take the time to load them in the dishwasher throughout the day, remembering to start a load before you go to bed. Chipping away at these two laborious chores throughout the day will ensure you’re not inundated with piles of dirty dishes in the sink and overflowing hampers. (If you have kids old enough for these tasks, get them on board!)
- Clean as you cook
This habit is especially important while cooking dinner as that is the meal most likely to require the most pots, pans and utensils. Busy mornings may force you to leave your coffee mug in the sink, but cleaning as you cook dinner will allow you to avoid a mess at the end of your day when the last thing you want is to be hand-scrubbing the evening’s casserole off your pans. Find pockets of time between cooking steps to wash and clean as you go. This could be washing the cutting board and knife you used to prep vegetables as you wait for water to boil or scrubbing the mixing bowl while a cake bakes in the oven.
- Keep countertops clear
Clearing off your countertops is a great habit for a few reasons. For one, it forces you to address your clutter. Taking the time to declutter and organize your counter space will drastically cut down on the amount of time needed to clean them. The other benefit is that they are more visually appealing when cleared. Finally, when countertops are clear, you’ll have the real estate needed to tackle chores as they present themselves, such as putting up groceries, sorting mail and emptying the dishwasher.
- Deal with the dishes
No one likes to wake up to a sink full of dirty dishes. For one thing, you’ll have to do those dishes and pans first thing in the morning, which sets you back a crucial five to 10 minutes, which can be catastrophic on a busy morning. Worse, all that food and grease will be caked on and it will take even more time to get them clean. Do yourself a favor and load the dishwasher—and run it if it’s close to full—and wash the pots and pans before going to bed.
- Purge routinely
Possibly the most effective habit in keeping your home clean is having less stuff to keep clean. Whenever you come across an item in your home that doesn’t bring purpose or beauty to your life, get rid of it. Does a family of four need 12 water bottles? Do you need to keep the kids’ sports jerseys from last season? Is every school project worth saving? Probably not. It’s much easier to keep a home organized when there is less clutter in it. Treasure items with meaning, but don’t collect unnecessary stuff. Instead of wasting time trying to keep things you don’t need under control, take a moment and purge some of these things you don’t need on a regular basis.
Between work, errands, parenthood and the chaos of everyday life, learning how to keep a house clean can be one of the toughest lessons we learn. While it sometimes seems impossible to manage everything on your plate, these eight tips will help you get your house (and life) in order.
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