Simple Clean Home Habits

Monday, February 3, 2020

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I try to make sure our house is always clean.  Not deep clean like everything is freshly scrubbed and sanitized, but clean in that everything is always in it's place and there's no mess that couldn't be straightened up in two minutes.  I like that people could stop by on a whim and I don't feel like I have to do power cleaning in the few minutes before they arrive - that kind of life is too stressful for me.  In order to keep a simple and clean home, all the time, I've adopted a few habits that keep everything in line with ease:

Remove the excess.  It's much harder to clean if the things you own don't fit in the space you have them.  Everything needs room to breathe, and putting items away shouldn't be like playing tetris.  I started years ago with major decluttering but now I just keep an eye out and remove things that shouldn't be in a particular room or shouldn't be in the home at all because they aren't being used and loved.

Organize what you have.  There's no point in organizing clutter, but once I'm down to the things that I know I'm keeping, I make sure to organize them.  I keep like items together so I know how much I have and where it is and I always make sure that every item has a place to be returned to.  It's much easier to keep a space clean when you know where to put everything away.

If it takes one minute, just do it.  I don't let small tasks pile up.  If something is going to take just a minute or two, I get it done.  Sorting the mail, emptying the dishwasher, taking out the trash - if I let all of those things pile up all week, I would spend all of Sunday trying to get it cleaned up, and at that point the house is a disaster.  By getting small projects done as I see them, I spend far less time overall on completing them.

Make the bed.  A classic for a reason.  Making the bed makes the entire room look more clean and put together, regardless of what else is going on in there in terms of clutter.  There are some days it just doesn't happen and some days that Hawkeye completely unmakes it right after I finish, but I at least try to do it daily because it makes a real difference in our bedroom.  Which is right off the kitchen so it's always highly visible.

Open windows.  Opening windows purifies the air and instantly freshens a space.  Everything in the home just seems like it has new life when I open the windows.

Hang clothes and coats, and put shoes away.  I don't know about you, but I do not wash everything I wear after only one time of wearing it.  I work a desk job in an office, my clothing is not dirty.  Rather than just put everything in the hamper or piled on a chair in the bedroom, I take the extra second to properly hang anything I plan on wearing again before washing.  We do the same with coats.  The area where coats and shoes get left is obviously the first area people see when they come in the house.  Instead of tossing coats over chairs or couches, just hang them up.  Likewise, get a tray or rack stationed right by the door so it's super easy to put the shoes away when you take them off.

Take shoes off at the door.  Shoes track dirt and shoe prints all over the house.  Your cleaning routine will be instantly made easier by just stopping the problem before it even starts by removing shoes at the door.  I really don't enforce this with guests because some people are more comfortable with leaving their shoes on, which is fine - I'd rather my guest be comfortable and I can clean later.  But for me and John, the rule is shoes off at the door.

Keep the sink clear.  Keeping the sink clear is the kitchen version of 'make the bed.'  Whatever else you do, the kitchen will look better if you have an empty and clean sink.  I make sure to do this once in the morning after we make breakfast and once in the evening after dinner.  Waking up to a clean sink is worth it's weight in gold.

Focus on clear surfaces.  Our eyes go straight to surface clutter so if you can make sure that counter and table tops stay clear, it goes a long way towards making the whole house seem clean.  Clutter also attracts more clutter so if you set one thing down, 10 more will come join it.  It's the law, I think.

Keep the necessary tools close at hand.  I have a cleaning caddy in the laundry room that houses most things, but since that's in the basement, it would be too annoying to grab the tools out to wipe down the main level bathroom every day.  Instead, I keep a few microfiber cloths and the cleaning spray in the bathroom itself, under the sink.  Since it's always close at hand, it takes me no more than 30 seconds to wipe down the bathroom counter and mirror everyday, which helps the dirt not to pile up and create a huge weekend project for me.

Get a stick vacuum.  We have a long stick vacuum but a small handheld would have the same effect - in a pinch or with a small mess, it's too big of a pain to lug out the full size vacuum.  Get something that's small and cordless for those moments when things just need a quick clean.

Clean as you go during cooking.  I cannot tell you what a time saver this is.  Start with an empty dishwasher, and just load it up as you're cooking.  This stops the pile of dishes in the sink.  If you make any messes while cooking, clean them immediately.  It's so much easier to wipe up a fresh mess than it is to come back to it when it's dried and caked on.

Do it right the first time.  Put the stain remover on.  Rinse the dish and put it in the dishwasher.  Hang the coat instead of draping it on the chair.  If you don't do it right the first time, you're only making twice as much work for yourself because you have to come back and do it again anyway.

Don't leave rooms empty handed.  I always check to see what I can take with me when I leave a room that doesn't belong in there.  I return pens to the office area and mugs to the dishwasher and clothing to the laundry room.  I never leave a room empty handed because otherwise I'd just have to come back and clean it later.  Again, do it right the first time.

Tidy at the end of every evening.  If you do a quick 5 or 10 minute tidy of the house before bed, you won't need to spend hours doing it on the weekend.  Just quickly sweep through the main living spaces and put things away and straighten up blankets, chairs, pillows, etc.

Make it a team effort.  If you're not the only one making the mess, you shouldn't be the only one cleaning it.  Delegate responsibilities and make sure people are responsible for their own messes.

What habits do you stick to to make sure your home remains clean most of the time?