Cleaning and Organizing
How to Clean and Organize Around the House
Let’s face it – there are some people who were born to beautify homes. We may lovingly refer to these people as ‘neat freaks’ or ‘OCD’, however, isn’t there a part in all of us that wishes we could keep our homes in tip-top shape 24/7?
I used to get so overwhelmed with all the clutter in my house; my problem was that I considered organizing to be a “maybe if I get to it after cleaning chore”, when in reality I should have been organizing my home just as often as I was cleaning it.
Cleaning and organizing are two completely different things – however they are both a necessity when it comes to the upkeep of your home.
A clean home is free of dust and grime and is visually appealing. An organized home is arranged in a way that creates order – everything can be found quickly and with relative ease.
So, while it’s very important to vacuum your floors, scrub your toilet bowl, and wash your windows, it’s just as important (if not more so) to pick up all the toys on the ground, throw out expired canned food, and declutter your desk on a regular basis.
A clean home + an organized home = more time for relaxation. What’s not to love about that?
Keeping your home clean and organized is possible. You can start by making new habits, encouraging other occupants of your home to help by picking up after themselves, and assigning chores according to their level of ability.
Quick and Easy Tips
I’m sorry to say that clean and organized homes are not achieved by twitching your nose. However, I have some awesome tips that will help you get the ball rolling:
Search the Web for Free Information
Before you invest your money, browse through our website for specific topics. We have a whole section dedicated to organizing, and many articles on cleaning different areas of the house.
Mrs. Clean has an extensive library of articles and valuable resources where you can find answers to questions you might have.
Many of the articles we have are from questions we have been asked or that we have learned through hands-on experience over the years.
Don’t Procrastinate, Be a Doer
Procrastination is the biggest obstacle we have to overcome in beginning any labor-intensive chore; don’t fall victim, procrastination is the enemy of good intentions. I know we’d rather be having a good time reading, playing, or doing nothing – not cleaning and organizing.
Free time is in short supply and it’s certainly more appealing to indulge in our “druthers” than roll up our sleeves and start cleaning. Good intentions will not get the job done alone so don’t be just a thinker, be a doer as well.
It is not written, “Thou shalt organize and clean all at the same time.” That means you can write your own schedule, look at your calendar and choose days and times that are realistic.
You might pencil in “clean and organize closets” on one day; “clean bathrooms” on another, and the time you’re going to start and end. Then, on the appointed day, be sure you start at the time you wrote down and don’t quit until you’re at the stop time you gave yourself.
Begin at the Beginning
“Begin at the beginning,’ the king said, very gravely …” (Lewis Carroll). Sage advice and common sense. After you’ve planned a realistic schedule for cleaning on your calendar, then … begin at the beginning.
Make a list of items you need to complete the task at hand then gather everything on the list making sure you have tools, enough cleaning solutions (if required), containers and rags to finish the job.
Then go for it!
Call on the Professionals
If you just don’t have the time, energy or inclination to bring your home up to a level of clean that will be easier for you to maintain; you may want to look for outside help.
You’ll find people who actually specialize in teaching cleaning and organization, and house cleaning companies that will be glad to come and give your home a one-time cleaning and/or sign you up for regular maintenance cleaning service.
Even if you’ve decided to hire a professional house cleaner, you may wish to spend a little time de-cluttering and organizing before they arrive. Don’t leave valuables around; put your jewelry where it belongs and your money in a safe place.
Reputable companies are licensed, bonded and insured but use common sense when allowing any one access to your home. There are many companies to choose from in your local Yellow Pages or by doing an internet search.
Professional Cleaning Tips
After you have de-cluttered and organized the rooms, it’s time to attend to actual cleaning needs.
Depending on the time you are able to allocate to cleaning, whether you’ve planned a deep cleaning or lighter surface cleaning, make a list and decide on which room gets what first.
When doing an entire house, professional cleaners usually begin on the top floor, in the room furthest away and work their way to the stair well. On small homes, begin with the back room, and work to the front.
If you’ve taken the time to de-clutter the rooms, give a good dusting then polish furniture, use cleaners on smudges around door knobs and light switches, clean whatever needs it, and leave the floors (vacuuming or damp mopping) last.
Professional Organizing Tips
We can all use a little help when it comes to organizing, even if it’s a quick refresher course. Below are my favorite professional organizing tips:
De-Clutter Each Room
Go through and de-clutter each room. Set aside the items you want to keep that can still be used and need. Throw away broken and worn out things. Remember, you can use your calendar and do a little at a time.
Sort through the Keepers
After disposing of your clutter, gather items that still have some life in them. Be honest. Will you ever use the item again? If not, set those aside and consider having a garage sale or take them down to the nearest thrift store.
Weed Out the Closet and Dresser Drawers
Weed out your closet and go through the dresser drawers. Gather the garments, shoes and accessories and put them on your bed. Then look at them individually, sort into piles that are wearable and fashionable from those that are not.
If there are items you are keeping that need dry cleaning, put them in a separate pile. If you don’t have a lot of closet or drawer space, store seasonal clothes in under the bed storage.
If you come across a pair of socks and one has a hole in the heel, toss the pair away.
For a while I thought I would keep the single sock until it had a mate, it never worked out and I just ended up with a small pile of unused, unmatched socks.
When everything has been dealt with, nothing should be left on the bed. You should have all the keepers back in the closet, drawers, or under the bed in storage containers and a pile for donating.
Don’t Forget the Bathroom
Besides the kitchen, the bathrooms in our house can get out of control if we don’t keep them neat and tidy.
Like every other room, everything has its place, put everything back when you’re finished using it.
- Keep counters clutter free.
- If you have drawers in the bathroom, designate one for hair dryers and curling irons. If you don’t have drawers, keep a basket under the sink or on a shelf.
- Don’t save old lotions and potions. They do go rancid. Fresh is best.
- Most makeups contain oils, if you haven’t used it for several months then throw it away.
- Your style is always changing, occasionally go through and throw out the old or “not your style” fingernail polish.
Keep the Refrigerator Fresh
Every time you open the refrigerator, look for fresh foods or leftovers that are past their prime. Throw them out. Same goes for juices, jams and condiments.
Every Friday evening we go through our refrigerator and clean it out, it never surprises me to see what we’ve forgotten about!
Before going to the store for a major grocery haul, give the inside of the fridge a good wiping down.
My parents have neighbors with sheep, and with the owner’s permission, instead of wasting and tossing out food stuffs, they give the sheep the wilted lettuce, limp carrots, bruised apples, bread, corn cobs, etc.
Maybe you have a neighbor like this and can take advantage of the situation? I’m sure the sheep would love it!
Go through the Cupboards and Pantry
Go through the cupboards and pantry to check pull dates on canned goods, dry packaged items such as crackers, cereals, desserts, etc. Discard items that have past the expiration date.
If I don’t go through and organize my cabinets and pantry on a regular basis, I can’t tell you how much food we would waste – and I don’t like being wasteful.
How to Keep Your Home Organized and Clean
In order to keep your home in tip-top shape, you’ll need to remember a few things:
Do a Quick Survey When You Walk in a Room
When you walk into a room, give it a quick survey to see if anything is out of place that contributes to a messy or disorganized look.
Take a few minutes to straighten books, pick up toys, straighten the cushions and pillows, put dishes in the dishwasher, etc.
Make every movement count to tidy up and get the desirable results you’re looking to see.
Put Things Back Where They Belong
When you leave a room, take what doesn’t belong and put it where it goes. When you’re done reading the evening paper put it in the recycle bin.
If you or someone else painted fingernails and toenails, when finished, bring it back to the bathroom or where ever it belongs.
If you do these things as you go or by taking a few minutes before going to bed, you’ll always wake up to a tidy living space.
Use Index Cards for Daily Household Chores
A clever idea I read about years ago and have incorporated into our daily chores is to use index cards with a task written on it.
This is one of the things we did with the kids and it was fun for us all and so simple to help us stay clean and organized.
All you do is write down a household chore or task on the index card, such as:
- Wash dishes & empty dishwasher
- Wash a load of laundry & fold and put clothes away
- Pick up family room
- Clean countertops and put things back where they belong
- Pick up doggie poo from yard
- Free day for you! Yeah!
The things you write down on the cards should fit your lifestyle and family habits. You can keep the cards in an index card file box or similar.
Draw one card a day and complete the task. When finished, put the card in the back of the card file facing the opposite direction and shuffle and start over when all cards have been used.
If you have young kids, keep their daily chore cards in a separate box so they can do age appropriate chores.
The goal is to not have to spend every moment at home cleaning and organizing, or feeling guilty because you aren’t.
Develop techniques used by the pros – make every motion count by assembling your tools and materials needed for each job, practice daily maintenance in organizing and staying clutter-free.