I say it all the time — cleaning the house isn't technically all that hard — it's keeping the house clean that's the real challenge. Every time I do a deep clean of an area in my home, I think, "Never again will I let it get that dirty!" Cut to me eight weeks later, cursing the heavens as I spend hours cleaning and organizing all over again.
And the worst part is, I'm not even one of those people who's OK with mess. It seriously stresses me out and makes my living space feel cluttered and disorganized, which in turn makes me feel cluttered and disorganized. Conversely, an organized, orderly space just let's me breathe a little easier and makes me genuinely happy to come home each day.
According to Amanda Thomas, self-proclaimed "domestic CEO" on the productivity and organization site Down and Dirty Tips, a consistently clean space is all about habits. "Keeping a clean house takes work, but often not as much work as people think," she wrote. "A clean house is more a matter of establishing a few habits that you repeat on a regular basis. The more often you repeat the tasks, the cleaner your house will be ongoing."
In an effort to collect some of these habits in one, easy-to-access place, here are the top seven tips I've found for keeping a space consistently clean.
1. Make Your Bed Every Day
Thomas's number one tip was to simply make your bed each morning. "Studies have shown that establishing a habit of making your bed each morning leads to habits of being more productive during the day. It’s one of those habits that starts our mornings right, and inspires us to do more," she wrote. "Think about it: if you make your bed in the morning, you’ll probably notice that pile of laundry on the bedroom floor and be more motivated to move it to the hamper. That may lead you to noticing how much dirty laundry there is in the hamper and make you want to start a load."
2. Have A Basket For Each Person In The House
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Thomas also recommended keeping a basket for each member of your household so that when it comes time to tidy up clutter each person can easily go through the house and collect what's theirs. It also means if one person is doing a quick clean up they can deposit small items in each basket. I personally think this is an awesome tip for living with roommates, as clutter finds a way of multiplying, even when no one single person is even all that messy.
3. Do Your Dishes After Every Meal
An Apartment Therapy round up piece on ways to keep your house clean in just 20 minutes noted the importance of simply doing your dishes after every meal. This takes 10 minutes or less and will instantly affect how clean your kitchen feels. And if your dishwasher is full, always take the five minutes to unload it. It is seriously so much nicer than tackling a sink full of week old yucky dishes.
4. Create A "Landing Strip"
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Founder of Apartment Therapy Maxwell Ryan advocated creating a "landing strip" in the entryway of your home to help control everything that comes through the door. He said to first make sure you have a doormat to pick up dirt and grime, and hooks and hangers for your coats, hats, and umbrellas. Then, he said to be sure you have the "strip" — which should be a table or bench to place a bowl for your keys, pocket change, and any other odds and ends. Having a space where you can set things down on autopilot is also a great tool if you constantly find yourself losing things when you walk in the door, as you'll now always know where to find them.
5. Deal With Paper Clutter Immediately
In an article about ways to clear paper clutter for HGTV, special projects editor Kayla Kitts said to take care of mail immediately when you come home. "The key to clearing paper clutter and maintaining an organized home is to deal with the paper you receive right away no matter what it is, from school schedules and bills to bank statements and party invites. It's easy to walk in the house, throw the mail on the kitchen counter and vow to put it away later, but oftentimes, the stack of mail continues to grow," Kitts said. To help make this easier, I recommend investing in a filing cabinet for important documents and keeping a special "follow up" box somewhere easily accessible for documents you need to address asap.
6. Always Put Things Away
Lifestyle writer and founder of Debt Free, Mess Free life Maureen Campaiola said to always — always — put things away when you're done with them. Not only does this drastically reduce clutter, but it also just makes your life easier, since you'll always be able to find things when you need them. "If everyone decided to leave things out or to put them somewhere where it didn’t belong, we’d collectively never be able to find anything," Campaiola wrote. "Putting things back where you’ve determined they live in your home ensures everyone knows where to find things and keep your house neat and tidy."
7. Vacuum Once A Week
OK, I loathe vacuuming so I know this one might seem like a hard one to master, but blocking off 40 minutes once a week to vacuum the major areas of your home will mean you never have to spend hours doing a deep clean ever again. And if you're already doing a solid job of keeping your house clutter free, vacuuming is way less of a hassle in general since you don't have to do a pick up before you start.
Cleaning is never fun, but we often make it way harder on ourselves by waiting until things are disaster movie-levels of dirty to start cleaning. Implement a few easy daily habits in your life and you'll likely start noticing you spend way less time feeling the negative effects of clutter and mess.