Easy House Cleaning for Lazy People

Are you living with stuff everywhere?  Are you stressed about your space? Is the kitchen a mess, laundry not done, or piles of papers everywhere that you don’t know what to do with? Have you ever stepped on something and broken it because it was underneath some clothes on the floor?

If so, you may struggle with house cleaning. 

My parent’s house is immaculate at all times. They have an amazing work ethic for physical work that I envy but do not have myself.  I love and crave cleanliness but for many years often lived in messy, overwhelming spaces because I just couldn’t make myself clean regularly.

Home office with papers all over the floor

The only time I’d really apply myself to cleaning was when a guest was coming over because I didn’t want to be embarrassed or ashamed of my space. And even then it was a herculean effort that generally involved losing some sleep.

For some people, keeping their home clean and organized is work, but work they are able to do and keep up with. For others of us (ahem, me) cleaning does not come easily and we tend towards chaos in our living space without an enormous amount of effort.  

Becoming a Clean Person

In my life as a messy person I would have been horrified if someone dropped by unexpectedly and saw my home as it often was. I decided I needed to make a change and my goal was to have my home in a state such that I’d feel fine if someone came over unannounced.  I didn’t want to keep my home perpetually tidy FOR guests, but the idea of me getting to live in a perpetually guest-ready home was extremely appealing.

As a project manager and problem solver, I decided to figure out HOW I could get myself from a naturally messy, sorta lazy person to someone who’s home is suitable for guests at any given time. 

That was a tall order and I’m going to be honest, it took me years to figure it out. But I did figure it out and I’m here to share.

Note: while this article is titled “Easy House Cleaning for Lazy People” it’s entirely possible that you aren’t actually lazy. Sometimes we bash ourselves and call ourselves lazy when in fact we are overworked, tired, depressed, or desperately needing down time. You may be someone who’s brain just works differently. Give yourself some grace. 

Regardless of what brought you here, if you want to live in a space that is clean and organized but you want an easier way to get there, I have the solution.

Why is your home a mess?

Before delving into the how portion of this tutorial, it’s helpful to understand the why. WHY is your space cluttered or messy? You are resistant to cleaning, and there is a deeper reason than you just don’t like it. WHY don’t you like it?

For this step, it’s helpful to pick a particular location in your home that feels out of control and ask yourself why this particular place is a mess that you aren’t doing something about.  

Here are some common reasons:

  • The job is so big it feels overwhelming
  • You don’t know where to actually put things / your items don’t have a home
  • The place where you would put things away is messy itself
  • There is one particular aspect of cleaning you hate
  • You’re exhausted
  • You don’t know how to do something
  • You know cleaning your space would involve some additional projects and that feels like too much
messy kitchen with dirty dishes
Understanding why I was so bad at doing dishes helped me find a solution

You may have to dig into the depths of your mind a bit (scary!) to get to the real, deep down reason you avoid cleaning your space, but once you figure it out it’s easier to tackle the job. If needed, use the technique of asking yourself “Why” until you get to a root cause you can address.

Personally, I frequently struggled with my kitchen and especially dishes getting out of control. I could just say “well I don’t like doing dishes” but there’s got to be more to it. What exactly don’t I like about doing dishes?

Here was my thought process:

  • My dishes are out of control. Why?
  • I hate doing dishes. Why?
  • I actually don’t mind rinsing the dishes but the dishwasher is always full so I have nowhere to put them
  • Why is the dishwasher full?  I hate putting dishes away.

And ding ding ding… there it is. I hate putting dishes away so I don’t do it and that leads to the dishes piling up and my kitchen becoming a disgusting mess. 

You may have one generic “why?” that you can pinpoint, or you may have many “whys” that cause you to avoid cleaning. (Personally I have many.) Getting to the bottom of your own whys will help you tremendously when you get to the “How”.

How to Clean your House, the Easy Way (for Lazy people)

Okay, so you’ve decided to make a change, you understand more about your personal resistance to cleaning, and you’re ready to work WITH yourself and your innate way of being instead of against it.  

The secret is to break down the tasks of cleaning into tasks that are small enough that you don’t resist doing them. 

I can’t overstate enough how important it is to break down tasks into smaller pieces. If you resist something, your task is not small enough. The solution is to always make it smaller. 

I have broken the cleaning process down into small steps, but if they are still too big for you, make them smaller yourself.  

You may not need to do every step on this list, or you may need to re-order steps depending on your personal tasks. That’s fine. This is a basic framework meant to be personalized. 

You can apply this process to one room or your entire home at once. I recommend when you are just starting that you focus on one room at a time to keep it manageable.

Tidying Your Home, the Easy Way

The first job is to get your house tidied up.  

Step 1:  Get everything out

Do you have a bag that hasn’t been unpacked? A box of miscellaneous things? Stuff hiding under the bed? Things shoved in a closet where they don’t belong?

First get everything out.  This is easy because you aren’t cleaning, you’re just dumping things on the floor or a table. 

Suitcase on the floor with clothing and personal items
The first step is to get everything out. Empty any box, bag, suitcase, or closet.

When you can see all the stuff, step one is done.  If you could already see all the stuff, pat yourself on the back because credit is nice regardless. 

You can stop here and take a break or continue on immediately to Step 2. 

Step 2: Move things to the space where they belong

If you are attempting to clean your entire house, move things to the room they belong in.  You don’t have to put it away, you aren’t cleaning, you’re just moving things. It’s no big deal.

Walk your empty plate to the kitchen. Move that book to the bedroom. Take the toiletries you just unpacked to the bathroom.

woman carrying a pile of thick knitted sweaters or blankets
Move things to the area where they will eventually be put away.

If you are especially resistant to this task, you can move things only when you naturally walk by them. 

A lot of times I’ll take the entire day to do this, just casually moving things around between rooms as I go about my normal business.  

You may notice that after this step your home is starting to feel a lot better. And you haven’t even really done anything yet!

Step 3: Group like things together

When all the things are in the room they need to end up in, group them together based on like items or where they will eventually be stored.

storage containers of dried godos along with a bowl, cup, and sugar on a countertop
Group like things together

Put all the papers that need to be filed in one pile.  Bills to pay in another pile. Kids toys together, craft supplies together, trash together. You get it.

This isn’t cleaning, it’s just sorting things, and generally you can do this quickly.

You also don’t need to do this all at once, you can just do it when you’re already in a room or space for another purpose. 

Step 4. Put things near where they need to go.

In this step we aren’t cleaning, we’re just moving things near where they need to go. 

Put clean clothes next to or on top of the dresser. Put dirty dishes next to the sink. Put that pile of papers near the filing cabinet. 

pile of plates and bowls on countertop
Move grouped items to the exact location they will be put away.

Hey, wow, you might notice that your home is feeling pretty good and you haven’t even made much of an effort yet.

Step 5: Put things in their space

As you walk by a space and see something that needs to be put away, do it.  It’s right there, and this should be minimal effort.  You can just walk around and do it all at once, or you can casually do it as you happen to walk by a space. 

stacked dishes and mugs on white shelves
Put items where they belong

Hey look, all your stuff has been put away!

Cleaning Your Home, The Easy Way

Now that you’ve put everything away, it’s time to do any actual cleaning that needs to be done. If tidying was all you needed to do, congrats, you are done!  If you have dirty floors or countertops or toilets, continue on. 

Step 1:  Get the tools out

Start with one room or job, and get the tools out for that job.  Get out the vacuum cleaner if you need to vacuum. Get out wipes, rags, or sprays that you will need.   

cleaning supplies including lysol and bleach on a counter
Gather the tools and supplies you need for cleaning

Put the supplies you got out in the location you will use them. You don’t have to use the tools or supplies now, you are just making it easier on yourself later. 

That’s it, you’re done with Step 1. Continue on, or walk away and come back to it later.

Step 2: Break down the task into small steps

Step 2 is highly dependent on the cleaning step you need to do, but it’s extremely important.  Take your task and break it into small parts such that no part is overwhelming or feels like too much. 

hand and arm washing dishes with clean dishes in the foreground
Break each cleaning task down into very small steps that you don’t mind doing

In step 2 you want to take something that feels like a lot of work and make it a number of steps that, on their own, don’t feel like any big deal.

For example, my overwhelming task could look like this:

  • Do dishes

But my set of easier tasks looks like this:

  • Get out soap and sponge
  • Collect dishes near sink
  • Scrape any food off
  • Rinse dishes
  • Put rinsed dishes in dishwasher
  • Wash dishes that aren’t dishwasher safe
  • Start dishwasher

The brilliant thing about breaking a task down into small, discrete pieces is that you don’t have to do them all at once. They are truly separate tasks that can be done at different times. I almost never do all of this at once, and it’s made cleaning jobs feel so much easier.

Step 3: Continue with small parts of the task until it is done

This is where you do the thing, but make it easy on yourself by continuing to break the task down into small parts.

Do the first small step. If the first step still feels overwhelming, break it down more and make it even smaller.

The tasks that you resist the most are the ones that you will need to break down into the smallest pieces. I truly hate putting dishes away, but now that I’ve broken it down into a multi-step process where each step is easy I do it every day without resistance.

When you’ve done the first step, move onto the next. Continue until you are done. Remember, you don’t need to do all of the steps at once.

Step 4: Revisit Part 1, Tidying, to put away your cleaning Supplies

One of the most annoying things about cleaning is when you have to clean up after your cleaning. It feels completely unfair to do the work and then have even more work to do. But tackle this easily just like you did everything in the tidying step. 

Move the supplies or tools to the areas they need to live and then put them away when you happen to be in that space.

Dealing with Barriers

You may find yourself stumped at certain points.  

For example, perhaps you have moved your clean and folded laundry right next to the dresser to be put away, but you know your dresser is already overstuffed and these clothes aren’t going to fit. You have a barrier.  

This is a common thing that people encounter – the space doesn’t actually work for the amount of things you have.  

In order to continue and be in the fresh, clean space you deserve, you will need to address this situation to remove it as a barrier.  In the “too many clothes” example you either need to get rid of some clothes or find more clothes storage space.  

Check out these two articles on removing barriers and getting house projects done:

Conclusion

Cleaning your home can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to. For those of us who are resistant to cleaning chores but desire a clean, organized space, there is hope. Follow these steps to easily clean your home:

Tidying

  1. Get everything out
  2. Move things to the room or area where they permanently live
  3. Group like items
  4. Move things right next to the area they need to be put away
  5. Put items away next time you are near them

Cleaning

  1. Get out tools and supplies
  2. Break down your task into small steps
  3. Do the steps, continuing to break down anything that feels overwhelming
  4. Repeat tidying steps to clean up your supplies

Break down your cleaning tasks into small pieces that in themselves are no big deal.  Do them one at a time.  Keep going until your home is clean. 

If you get stuck at some point, you may need to address barriers in your space that prevent you from tidying and cleaning successfully. 

When you are done give yourself some well-deserved credit. And check out this article on maintaining your clean space.

Leave a Comment