When the mess in your home has you stressed out, and you don’t know where to start cleaning it up, there is hope! Here’s how you can get motivated and clean that house up, even when it is a REALLY huge mess!
If you are looking around your house and thinking, “It’s just too hard. I CAN’T EVEN DEAL with this disaster.” then you might be suffering from Messy House Overwhelm.
It’s frustrating and sometimes even depressing.
I have been there more times than I would like to admit. And, as hopeless as it might seem, I promise you CAN get your house, or any room for that matter, CLEAN!
WHAT HOLDS US BACK FROM CLEANING OUR MESSY HOUSE??
We might expect the process to be painful.
And, we would rather be doing something else. Or, ANYTHING else actually.
But, that’s okay! Because this clean-up plan offers us quick results, with less pain involved.
And, this is NOT an all day deep cleaning extravaganza. Not that you can’t do it all in one day. You can use this approach however it works for you.
The goal here is to take some of the sting out of the process by starting with small, incremental tasks that will give us big wins. That’s what this clean-up plan is all about.
(PRO TIP: When you have so much stuff everywhere that you don’t know where to start, find help here: How You Can Start Decluttering Your Home Even When It Seems Impossible)
FINDING THE MOTIVATION TO CLEAN A MESSY HOUSE
Just wanting a clean house isn’t enough for us to get our cleaning groove on. We can feel stuck…even paralyzed by the chaos.
We know that our family will benefit from a cleaner space. It might even seem that we owe it to our spouse or our children.
But don’t we also owe it to ourselves to have the level of cleanliness in our homes that we desire?
Tidy, clean, relaxing…whatever that means to you. You owe it to yourself. And I believe that you are ready to put in the effort and claim it.
You have already taken the first step just by reading this post today!
(This post may include affiliate links for your convenience. Read my full disclosure policy HERE.)
(After you have tackled the mess, 5 Simple Habits for a Cleaner Home has some useful tips for keeping it under control!)
HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
- Kitchen Timer
- Clothes Basket or Storage Tote (this is your Clutter Basket)
- Trash Bin or Bag
- Microfiber Cloths
- Dusting Spray for Wood Surfaces (this one is non-toxic and is my fave)
- All-Purpose Cleaning Spray (this is an awesome non-toxic spray or you can use/make your own)
- Vacuum Cleaner (this is one amazing machine)
For our home, I choose to use cleaning products that are non-toxic and fragrance-free. This one is really good. Or, you can save tons of money by making your own with natural products that clean as well or better than chemicals!
Some things, like mirrors and some surfaces, can be cleaned with only microfiber cloths and water!
Mindset Check: Focusing on “Done”, not “Perfect”
Repeat after me: “Progress, not Perfection!!“
This is about getting it done, not getting it done to precision. Consequently, we don’t need to hunt down every dust bunny and find every speck of dirt.
Also, this is not a good time to get distracted by going on a purging spree. Ultimately, however, you make the rules. So if a few things make it into the donation box along the way, no biggie.
This strategy gives you a clear idea of where you left off and where to start again. So, don’t be frustrated if life gets in the way. Just roll with the interruptions.
And you and I both know that unless the stars align, and pigs start to fly, you are going to be interrupted.
The goal here is to make it as pain-free as possible, and maybe even pleasant. Shoot…you can even have fun if you want to!
So, turn on some of your favorite jam (or a good podcast if that’s what motivates you) and let’s see what we can do.
Related Post: How to Declutter Your Kitchen the Easy Way
WHERE SHOULD YOU START CLEANING WHEN EVERYTHING IS A DISASTER?
Even if there are other areas of our home that need attention, it just feels good to have a somewhat clean and welcoming entrance.
For us, this is our mudroom area. That’s the last space we see as we leave the house, and the first thing we experience when we return.
Of course, if it’s the living area that really needs emergency attention, then feel free to start there. You can always tackle that room first and then come back to the entryway.
(Think you are failing at homemaking? Read 7 Encouragements for When You Are Struggling as a Homemaker)
HOW TO DO THIS THING: SIMPLE STEPS FOR CLEANING A REALLY MESSY HOUSE
Alright, here we go.
1) Fast Tidy/Declutter
Leave the cleaning products behind for now.
Choose a small section of that room and set your timer for 10 minutes. This will help to keep you on task and encourage you to steadily work.
If there are things on the floor, begin there and work quickly in that section, putting items in their proper place.
Next, still working in that section, start on the things that are on the furniture and other surfaces. Remove items from that section that don’t belong and place them in the “clutter basket” to be put away later.
If you are done with a section before the timer goes off, use that time to put away some of the items in the clutter basket, or just reset the timer and move on to the next section.
Now you’re cruisin’!
Continue moving clockwise around the room, resetting the timer for each section. Each time it goes off, you can have the satisfaction of knowing that you have reached a small goal, and that you are 10 minutes closer to accomplishing the much larger goal of having a cleaner home!
Do as many sections as your schedule or your energy allows. Or continue until you have worked your way around the room and are back where you started.
The hardest part is done!
2) Cleaning the Messy Surfaces
It’s time to tackle the actual dust, grime and dirt that has accumulated.
Set your timer for 5 minutes and do any refinements that might be needed before bringing in the cleaning supplies, like putting furniture back in place or picking up something that you missed the first time around.
Grab your cleaning cloths and spray cleaner if you’re using one. Use paper towels, too, if you need them. Yes, I know that some people consider them to be wasteful but if it’s a really grungy, icky, gross mess, a paper towel can be a wonderful thing!
Now, go back to the first section you chose in the beginning.
Start with the highest surfaces in that section, spraying, wiping, and cleaning…or dusting that surface.
Work down from the upper surfaces to the lower in each section as you move around the room.
Get your groove on!
Whistle. Sing. Dance.
Might as well burn some extra calories and get some endorphins flowing while you do this thing.
Spray. Wipe. Repeat.
I like to spray my cloth as opposed to the surface so that I am not sending dust and other stuff into the air.
If you like using the timer and it motivates you, totally use it for this part too!
If you are interrupted or have to stop cleaning, make a note of the section where you left off.
This way, there won’t be any guesswork when you come back to it later.
3) FINALLY…CLEANING THE FLOORS
Give the floor a good vacuuming. This should only take a few minutes.
Next, if the floor is hard surfaced you can either “spot clean” as I like to call it, or scrub the whole shebang if it needs it.
I find that scrubbing or mopping the floor doesn’t take very long, but for some reason it is one of my least favorite chores. So, if you’re like me, you might need some really upbeat music and a fun, fancy mop for this task.
If the “clutter basket” has items in it, now is a good time to take the basket around the house and deliver those things to their proper places.
That wasn’t too hard, I hope.
Now, look around (quickly, while it lasts) and take in the awesomeness of your clean space.
Of course this is not the ONLY way to approach cleaning a super messy house.
But it is effective… and doable. That’s what counts!
And the results are so rewarding!
- Know that you owe it to yourself to have a space that is clean and enjoyable.
- Start close to the main entrance of your home, or in another area that needs immediate emergency attention.
- Use 10 minute increments to clean small sections of a room.
- Work up from the floor as you clear the mess.
- Put things that don’t belong in that room in a “clutter basket” and put them away later.
- Wipe and clean surfaces, working from high to low in each section of the room.
- Shake it up and have fun…might as well!
- Vacuum and clean floors.
- Look around and marvel at your super cleaning powers.
SOME PRO TIPS:
~ I like to load my dishwasher before diving in to the cleaning process so it can be running while I am working on other areas of the house. By the time I get back around to the kitchen, one load of dishes is already clean. I can unload it and load it again if needed. Makes me feel like I scored a big win!
~ It’s conventional wisdom to vacuum after you have wiped surfaces. I have this thing, though, about dirty floors. If there is visible debris on the floor, it sort of paralyzes me. So, I have to give it a quick one-minute vacuuming before I proceed.
Tips for cleaning when you have kids:
~ With little ones, I know it can get tricky. I used to clean the bathroom while watching mine in the tub. I gave them bowls of beans or rice to stir when I worked in the kitchen…age appropriate of course. Safety first.
~ If they’re older, get them involved. Sure, it might slow you down a bit. But it may actually motivate you somewhat to have the help, and they will learn so much by working alongside an adult. And even younger ones can learn the simplest of tasks!
~ Use five or ten minute chunks of time that you have during the day to slowly pick away at the mess until is more manageable. You will see the progress and hopefully be encouraged by what you have done so far.
Finally, if you are in that place where you really need another person to help with cleaning, I get that too.
Don’t be afraid to ask available friends or family if you have that option. Or hire someone if you can work it into the budget. It can save physical and mental energy in the end and can definitely be worth it.