Time to come clean
If you don’t consider yourself a “clean” person, it can be easy to feel resigned to the idea that you’re either clean or you’re not. But, fun fact: Cleanliness is not a quality people are born with. Though keeping a house clean might seem borderline magical to some people, it really boils down to serious self-discipline, the desire to keep clean, and a bit of resourcefulness and creativity. Here are 13 tips that will help you, too, become a “clean” person.
They know how to make space
Even if you don’t consider yourself a collector of “stuff,” that “stuff” always seems to pile up in every corner and on every countertop. “Start following the one in, one out rule going forward,” says Nancy Haworth of On Task Organising. “When you buy something new, toss, sell, or donate an older item to create space for the new item.”
They smooth surfaces
Junk drawers have a habit of spilling out onto what should be an otherwise clean, empty surface. Countertops and tables are practically begging to be littered with stray mail and other odds and ends. People with clean homes tackle that problem immediately. “When you keep large, flat surfaces clear, not only are they more visually appealing, but easier to wipe down as well,” says Carrie Higgins, author of Organisation Hacks and founder of the blog Making Lemonade. “Don’t store appliances on countertops or clutter on your desk.”
They set cleaning systems in place
Clean homes don’t just miraculously clean themselves – neat people have a protocol in place to keep things maintained and orderly. “People with neat homes tend to have a cleaning schedule and routines so dirt and laundry don’t have time to pile up,” says Higgins. “For example, they set a designated day to vacuum or do laundry every Monday so those big tasks don’t get skipped.”
They think clean when they step in the house
Sometimes it really is the little things that lend themselves to a sparkling abode. Bailey Gaddis, a certified professional organiser and author of Feng Shui Mommy, starts with a shoes-off policy. “When shoes are left at the door you prevent toxins, soil, leaves and other goodies that quickly dirty up floors from making their way into your home,” she says.
It isn’t just your shoes. The rest of your outfit has picked up germs too; that’s why you should never sit on your bed with outside clothes on.
They have a place for everything
“If you have too much stuff without a place to go, the clutter and piles in your home become impossible to actually clean,” says Jennifer Snyder, owner of Neat as a Pin Organising Experts. So if you have a peg in the kitchen for your keys or a shelf for your mail, use them.
They clean as they go
“People whose homes always appear clean don’t wait until it looks like a bomb went off,” wrote Brittany Bergman on HuffPost. Rather, they have routines. “This might mean rearranging throw pillows and folding blankets when they’re done in the family room each night, having kids put toys back in the toy box, hanging up clothes at the end of each day, and folding the laundry right when it comes out of the dryer.”
They find clever ways to store more
People with clean homes use their smarts when it comes to products that help them stay organised. “An over-the-door organiser has a variety of clear pockets where you can store jewellery and make-up, sorting by type – pencils, lipsticks, brushes, and eye shadows,” says Paloma Baillie, a DIY expert with the 5mile app. “Everything is laid out, so you have easy access and can see items more clearly.” You can do a similar thing with office supplies if you don’t have room for a desk.
They hire help
Not every household budget has room for a regular professional cleaning service, but those who do tend to keep up with daily maintenance for one very important reason. “It’s a good motivator to get things put away or moved along into the recycling bin when you know tomorrow is cleaning day and your house won’t get as clean if the cleaning service has to clean around all your stuff,” says Mary Gagliardi, Clorox’s in-house cleaning and laundry expert.
They know how to delegate tasks
Unless you live alone, mess and clutter is a group effort; therefore, cleaning should be a group effort as well. “Everyone should have weekly chores (dusting, emptying trash, vacuuming, sweeping, etc) that not only build responsible adults out of kids but also makes it easier to keep the home clean – something everyone in the home should care about,” says Gagliardi.
They make cleaning feel less like a chore
If it’s not your thing, it’s hard to imagine putting a fun spin on cleaning. But there are ways to complete a task while distracting your mind. “Make cleaning enjoyable by listening to your favourite podcast,” says Tisha Morris, author of Clutter Intervention: How Your Stuff Is Keeping You Stuck. “Get wireless Bluetooth headphones to give you the freedom to move all around the house. You might even get enough steps in on your Fitbit for it to count as a workout.”
They make organising look pretty
If you consider storage and organisation as part of your decor, as many with clean homes do, it makes the project a feast for the eyes. “I separate my wardrobe so all my dresses are together, all my jeans are together, sweaters, tops, coats, skirts, etc. Then I colour code each category,” says Rachel Parcell, style and design expert behind Pink Peonies. “I love the way it looks and it’s easy to find things.”
They deal with dishes
If you wake up to a sink full of dirty dishes, you’re practically setting yourself up for failure. For one thing, you’ll have to do those dishes and pans first thing, which sets you back a crucial five to ten minutes, essential time on a busy morning. Worse, all that food and grease will be caked on and it will take even more time to get them clean. Do yourself a favour and load the dishwasher, if you have one – and run it if it’s close to full – and wash the pots and pans before going to bed.
They use everyday items to keep things clean
Don’t put off cleaning because you don’t have supplies. “You can clean windows without leaving streaks behind with the help of a coffee filter,” says Larry Patterson, franchisee of the Glass Doctor. “Coffee filters and old cotton t-shirts also work well to remove remaining lint left behind from dry cloths.” Another pro tip? If you wiped vertically outside, make sure to wipe horizontally inside. Then, you’ll know whether the missed spot is inside or outside. Smart!