Four Easy Ways to Maintain Your Clean Home

You did it.  You finally cleaned your damn house, patted yourself on the back, and basked in the glory of your serene, calm space.  You’re on top of the world.

And then a blip in time goes by, just a day or two, and your house is once again a pit of despair. You lived your normal life for a couple of days and your house went right back to its normal state of being a disorganized, stressful mess.

This is common and normal, but it doesn’t have to be your normal any longer. If you are someone like me who struggles to clean and maintain a clean space, it’s time to change things up and get a different result. This doesn’t come natural to us so we need to make more of a thoughtful, deliberate effort to keep our homes in order. Aka we need to trick our brains.

4 Strategies to Maintain Your Clean Home 

There are four strategies I use daily to keep my home in order. Each strategy here involves tricking your brain into cleaning without realizing it because they are all easy. Each strategy on its own is helpful but together they are extremely powerful.

Here are the four strategies.

1. Use normal movements around your house to your advantage.

man walking in home carrying laundry basket
Use natural movements around the house to move things close to where they need to go

Presumably you move around your house regularly… you get something to eat in the kitchen, go to the bathroom, get something from the bedroom, etc. 

When you’re doing this, look for something you can take along the way.

Did you buy some shampoo at the store and it’s sitting on the counter where you unloaded groceries? Take it with you to the bathroom next time you go.

Do you have some folded laundry that needs to be put away? Take it to the bedroom next time you have to go in there. 

Have to go get something in the basement? Take something else down with you.  

Example
Going up and down stairs is one of the worst barriers for me to get something done so I always try to take advantage of times I’m going downstairs anyway.  For things that need to go in the basement, I move them next to the basement door during my natural movements around the house. Then when I go downstairs to work on laundry I carry the things down with me. All the things I hate doing get done without any extra effort. 

Moving things to the general location where they need to be put away is more than half of the battle of tidying up and you can do a lot of this without even thinking about it.  You can make significant progress with zero extra effort. You can be efficient AF.

2. Use tiny moments of waiting to accomplish something.

There’s A LOT you can accomplish in 1:40, which not coincidentally is the time it takes for my milk to heat up for my morning coffee. 

Instead of standing in front of the microwave, I look for something to do. In 1:40 I can take all the dishes out of the dishwasher and put them on the counter. (To be put away later of course, I’m not an overachiever)

woman standing over partially full dishwasher
Use any moment of time you are waiting on something to accomplish a small task

In 1 minute I can sweep up some crumbs on the floor. In 30 seconds I can find something expired in the refrigerator and throw it out. 

A lot of times we put tasks off because we feel like they are too overwhelming when in fact they barely take any time at all. There is so much you can do in small increments that adds up over time.

Do something with your small moments of time. Do something small because small things make a difference.

I love to break a task down into very small, doable pieces. In one minute I can do the first step of a larger task I’ve been putting off.

It takes some time and practice to get into the habit of first noticing that you have a spare minute and then finding something productive to do in that minute.  But once you master this habit you will see a huge difference in the everyday cleanliness of your home.

Tiny moments I personally use to get a cleaning maintenance task done:

  • Waiting on the microwave
  • Waiting on hold (ugh)
  • Waiting for any cooking process to happen
  • Waiting for a hair appliance to heat up
  • Waiting for someone to call me back

3. Just Do One Thing Real Quick

If you happen to be in a space and there’s something to do or put away, just do the one thing real quick 

When you are in a place and something needs to be put away, put it away. If there’s the next tiny step of a project to do, do it. Just do one small thing. You’re already there.  

It’s no big deal to just put away one thing.

hands filing a piece of paper into an accordion filing container
Just do one thing real quick

Put some socks in a dresser drawer. (They should already be on your dresser from Step One)

Put the clean plates in the dish cabinet. 

Fold up a blanket that’s on the living room floor.

Put the junk mail in the trash.

Etc etc etc.

When you just do one thing, in a space where you already are, it’s no big deal. It’s not overwhelming, it’s not time consuming, and you’re not making any real extra effort. Yet, if you do this regularly, things get put away. Projects get done. Small things add up over time. 

When you enter or leave a space, look for one small thing to do and do it. If you have a little bit of energy, find one small thing to do. Just do one thing.

Like the other steps it takes some time and practice to make this a habit but once you do, look out!

4. Combine things you resist doing with things you enjoy

I used to hate folding laundry. Now, I welcome it. And the only difference is I save my favorite YouTube videos or podcasts for laundry folding time. 

woman folding clothes with laptop open in front of her
Combine something tedious with something you look forward to

If I made a big mess cooking dinner one night, I’m for sure putting in some bluetooth headphones and listening to something fun while I clean up.  

When you resist doing something, one way to get past that resistance is to combine it with something you enjoy.  

Here are some ideas for things to do while also doing cleaning, chores, or projects:

  • Podcasts
  • Youtube videos
  • Audio books
  • Music
  • TV shows (Comedy, Reality, or beloved shows you’ve already seen)
  • Catch up phone call with a friend or family member

Things you can listen to or lightly watch are perfect for combining with house work. I love YouTube for this because there are videos for almost every interest you can imagine. You can learn a new skill, catch up on news, watch travel shows, or get in some celebrity gossip. Not that I would watch celebrity gossip but if I did it would be FULLY JUSTIFIED because I am CLEANING. You get it.

Make your cleaning mentally enjoyable and it’s no longer a chore.

Troubleshooting Maintenance Cleaning

white armoire with clothes spilling out of it

If you find yourself struggling to implement these strategies, you may need to address some of your barriers to a clean home.  (I have an entire article for this!)

For example, if you have items around the house contributing to your mess but they don’t have a home, you are going to struggle with Step 1. You can’t move things to their home if they don’t have a home.

If your house chores still feel overwhelming, you may not have mastered the trick of breaking them down into tiny, doable pieces. 

If your closet is so overstuffed that things fall out on you when you open the door, you’ll have trouble with step 3, just putting one thing away. 

Here are some resources for overcoming barriers to having a clean home:

Every single one of these resources focuses on easy strategies to get your house into a clean and organized state. 

Conclusion

Without any effort your clean space will quickly devolve into the messy, stressful space you fear.  However, there are four easy strategies you can implement to maintain your clean space without feeling overwhelmed:

  1. Move things to the room they need to go in while you’re walking around your house anyway
  2. Use tiny moments of waiting to accomplish something small
  3. Do one small task when you’re already in a space
  4. Combine things you dislike with things you enjoy

Get into the habit of doing these things on a regular basis and your home will stay cleaner longer without feeling like you did anything at all.

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