By Vicki Little
Cleaning the house is my absolute least favorite thing to do. My husband can tell right away if I am in a really bad mood when he walks in the door and finds the whole place dusted, mopped, and shining. I get my best work done when I am winning one-sided arguments while I take my aggressions out on innocent little dust bunnies. Thankfully I am not in that type of mood often, so I have found other ways to make sure my house stays clean. Because having someone show up when my house is messy is a close second on my list of least favorite things. So I have a 3×5 (3 lists with 5 items each) schedule that I follow daily to keep my house “guest-friendly” with minimal time or effort.
BEFORE LEAVING FOR THE DAY
- Make the beds. Since the bed is the largest thing in the room, it is no surprise that an unmade bed can make an otherwise tidy room look messy. Plus, there is just something so satisfying about slipping into straight sheets after a long day.
- Start a load of laundry. Right after your shower, start a load of laundry so that you can throw it in the dryer before you leave for the day. This will save you a significant amount of time and motivation in completing laundry, and an emptier basket will make the room look cleaner.
- Empty the dishwasher. Ideally you should try to empty the dishwasher before breakfast so that people can just load their breakfast dishes, but if not, just be sure to load it back up when you are done.
- Quick wipe down. Both in the kitchen and the bathrooms. Wipe down the counters, sinks, and faucets.
- Tidy the clutter. A 2- or 3-minute walk through can make a huge difference. Straighten the cushions on the couch, tidy any books or magazines, hang up towels, fold blankets, and put away any toiletries that you used.
BEFORE GOING TO BED
- Tidy the clutter. Fix throw pillows (again), pick up glasses/plates and put in dishwasher, throw away any trash or junk mail, put away any items left out, and generally do a quick walk around.
- Start the dishwasher. Put all dishes in the dishwasher and start the load to be put away in the morning.
- Wipe down the sinks. Wipe out any messes in the sink and surround countertop and dry off the faucet.
- Sweep the floor. A quick sweep every night will make the weekly mopping SO much easier and will make your kitchen look significantly nicer in the morning.
- Finish a load of clothes. After you fold (and put away) clothes you started in the morning, put the clothes that will be washed the next day into the washer (don’t start it) so all you need to do is add soap and start.
FAMILY RULES TO KEEP THE HOUSE CLEAN
- No shoes. It is both amazing and disgusting the amount of dirt, germs, smells and general yuck that your shoes track through your home. Having a hard-and-fast rule of no shoes in the house will cut down significantly on the amount of dust.
- Food stays in the kitchen. Seems like it is pretty self-explanatory, but there are many times that food ends up anywhere other than where it belongs. Even walking through a room while eating a granola bar spreads crumbs everywhere. The only exception we make is for water, and even that has to be in a closed container.
- One touch. When something is in your way, instead of moving it somewhere else, put it where it belongs. If you can’t cut vegetables because the mail is on the counter, then go through the mail and take care of it immediately. If a coat needs to be moved so someone can sit down, then hang it up. Nothing should be touched more than once before it is put away.
- Everyone does something daily. Every family member should have one chore they do every day, such as wipe the counters, take out the trash, empty the dishwasher, sort the clothes, etc. It would be even better if everyone had a weekly chore as well. Everyone only does a few minutes of work and the house stays clean.
- Common areas get picked up immediately. Leaving a book on your bed when you know you are going to be reading it later is understandable, but leaving it on the couch for later means it is adding to the clutter of the home. Make it a family rule that nothing should be left in the common areas.
What are your secrets to keeping a cleaner house?
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Vicki Little is a work-at-home mom with two young kids. A Colorado native, she is the Publisher and Editor of Macaroni Kid Aurora and Downtown Denver. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering, reading, camping, or enjoying a bottle of wine with friends.
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