Feel like you can never keep your house tidy? Here are my best tips on how to keep your home neat and clean.
As a mom to two young boys, my house never feels as clean as I want it. Most days it feels like I’m constantly chasing the boys, and their messes! Yet somehow people always remark “Your house is so cleeeeaaaaan!” I promise you it is not that clean, but I do work hard to create habits and systems to keep it as tidy as I can.
If you know me, you know my threshold for clutter and living amongst messes is low. Since becoming a mom, my expectations for cleaning and organizing have shifted. That said, with the help of Thomas, we’ve been able to maintain relatively neat living spaces, while definitely living in them (even during the past couple of pandemic years while we were home 24/7).
The Heaviness of Clutter
An article titled “The Unbearable Heaviness of Clutter” in the New York Times describes the physiological response clutter can induce:
“The findings add to a growing body of evidence that clutter can negatively impact mental well-being, particularly among women. Clutter can also induce a physiological response, including increased levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.”
Therefore, a clutter-free home is actually good for you.
Here’s a bit more about the speedy systems we have set up so we don’t let the mess get out of control. (Although let’s be honest, sometimes it still does!)
Here are my best tips to establish a simple cleaning routine that helps to keep the dirt, clutter, and chaos at bay.
How To Keep Your Home Neat And Clean
Your cleaning habits will look different from mine and that is okay. Here are some general ideas to keep in mind to minimize the mess and create a calming, carefree living space.
1. Clean up every time you cook.
This one seems sort of obvious, no? To avoid a messy kitchen and dirty dishes piling up in the sink, clean up after every meal. Thomas and I usually take turns (who doesn’t cook, cleans and vice versa). Mazen is also accustomed to rinse his dishes and put them in the dishwasher, too. Birch is learning to do this as well! After each meal session, I make sure all dishes are put away and wipe the counters. If I have an extra minute, I’ll de-crumb the floor with the Dyson (see below!)
2. Empty the dishwasher every morning.
We run the dishwasher nearly every evening, and emptying it is the first thing I do when I get up while sipping coffee. Luckily we seem to fill it up perfectly each day, and anything that won’t fit gets washed by hand. (I don’t know how families of 5+ get by!) We also wash our bigger pots and bowls by hand to keep the dishwasher clear for everyday dishes and utensils. Now if only I could get Thomas to only use one cup a day, we might be able to go to every other! I swear he uses 10 different glasses/mugs/drinks a day lol.
3. Keep basic cleaning supplies close to where you often use them.
We have our most frequently used cleaning supplies in easy to reach places (i.e. under the kitchen and bathroom sinks). Having disinfectant spray, microfiber clothes, a magic eraser, and the like accessible makes it convenient to quickly wipe down counters after using or spot treat. It makes cleaning your house that much easier if you do surface wiping on the regular.
4. Put things away when they are not in use.
This one is huge with kids! When the boys are home, toys are out, but we are fairly adamant on putting things away before getting something else out to use. Sometimes they resist this and I have to say “Once we put away the train we can get out the marble run!” and I wait till they start helping me clean up the train. This also applies to our kitchen: out of sight, out of mind. We only have the essentials out on the countertops and tuck the rest of the appliances away in a cabinet.
5. Do one load of laundry daily.
We do one load of laundry per person per week, so we don’t always do laundry daily – but most days I do (if you count towels and linens). I usually don’t mix peoples’ clothes because it makes sorting and putting away much faster. I’m newly obsessed with these eco-friendly Dropps laundry detergent pods – they smell amazing and work fabulously! And remember – don’t fold any laundry that doesn’t need to be wrinkle free!!
6. Keep shoes at the door.
Between the four of us, we have a lot of shoes. More shoes = more dirt. If we’re having company, we’re not sticklers about shoes off. However, day to day to try to keep our family’s shoes by the door to keep the floors clean and germs at the door. I LOATHE mopping the floor, so this is one of the things I look forward to most when we have our cleaning service come 2x a month.
7. Wipe down tables and counters after each meal.
Nothing bothers me more than crumbs all over the counters! I’ve been using the Branch Basics concentrate as our counter spray for a while now, and add a few drops of peppermint essential oil for a delicious clean smell.
8. Tidy up before bedtime.
Who likes waking up to a mess? Not me! We have the boys pick up their toys each night before they get into the bath, and I do a grownup tidy up as well: water bottles put away, socks into hampers, the massage gun back in its storage basket (it’s always left on the couch these days!), fold blankets for couch back in basket, pillows fluffed, remotes gathered together on the coffee table / ottoman. These are the best storage bins!
9. Declutter regularly.
10. Get A Cordless Vacuum!
Remember Dustbusters!? The first generation of cordless vacuums. When I think of the sound of my childhood, I can see my mom on her hands and knees dustbusting the house. Mom used to dust bust crumbs all.the.time. We are lucky cordless has evolved to high-power vacuums that you can stand up to use. The Dyson Cordless Absolute vacuum I have will give you total sticker shock, but it gets used multiple times a day, everyday. Whether it’s crumbs under the high chair or grass tracked in from Mazen and Gus, there is always something to suck up.
I love how fast it is to bring out, and I can do my whole main floor in about 3 minutes – without tripping over a cord or maneuvering a heavy appliance. I swap on the carpet attachment twice a week and do the living room rug and carpets in the rest of the house too.
Bonus: Add a robot vacuum for daily whole-first floor maintenance! Here’s my Shark Robot Vacuum Review.
Some Of Our Favorite Cleaning Supplies
The EWG Cleaning List is a great reference for using safer cleaning products.
- Dropps Laundry Detergent (25% off with code KATH25)
- Branch Basics Concentrate (use this for counter spray, mirrors, windows, soap, etc.)
- Dr. Bronner’s
- Microfiber Cloths
- Magic Eraser
- Baking soda + vinegar
- Chlorox wipes (gotta break out the big guns sometimes…!)
Do you have any great tips that help keep your home neat and clean?
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