House Cleaning 101 Introduction to Making Your Home Shiny and Clean

If you’re a total cleaning novice, you’re in the right place. This is House Cleaning 101, the introductory course to making your home shiny and clean. Cleaning is both simple and complicated at the same time. At its core, house cleaning is quite simply the means through which dirt and other unwanted substances are removed from your living space.

There are also many nuances to cleaning which make it complicated. We won’t worry about the nuances today. Our focus today will be on some basic home cleaning fundamentals.

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Cleaning is a Process

The first thing you should understand about house cleaning is that it’s a process. Done properly, cleaning isn’t something that only happens once in a while. Keeping a home shiny and clean requires commitment. Simply put: the more frequently you clean, the nicer your home will look and smell. It’s therefore necessary to establish a cleaning routine that involves cleaning your home on a regular basis.

Establish a Routine

Figure out a schedule that will easily fit into your lifestyle. Your routine could be carried out daily, weekly, every other week, or some combination thereof. Whatever the routine, the most important element is that you have one. Get into the habit of cleaning your home on a regular basis in order to ensure that it stays clean.

Doing an extensive cleaning of your home once every six months isn’t a cleaning routine; it’s damage control. When dirt and grime sit around for a long time, they begin to degrade surfaces. Furthermore, it’s much more difficult to remove long term buildups; a process that is both time consuming and potentially damaging to the surface.

Get Some Supplies

After deciding on a cleaning schedule, you’ll need to know what supplies to have on hand. The short list: a broom or vacuum cleaner, a mop for bare floors, a bucket, a toilet brush, some rags or cloths, sponges, possibly a dusting wand (makes the job go quicker), and some basic agents for cleaning glass, appliances, counter tops, bathroom fixtures, floors, and any other surfaces. My post entitled What Supplies Do You Need To Clean A House? gives more in-depth info on this topic.

Get Busy

Once you’ve got your cleaning supplies, it’s time to get busy. First de-clutter and organize your living space as much as possible. It’s a lot easier to clean surfaces that aren’t covered in stuff. Organizing and de-cluttering are the prime prerequisites to keeping a clean home. This step might take ten minutes, or a week and a half, depending on your particular state of clutter. If need be, just work around the clutter for now and plan to organize and de-clutter incrementally.

Make a Strategy

Next, take a few minutes to make a strategy for your plan of attack. Decide how much time you have available to spend on cleaning. Then take a quick walk through your home, getting an idea of what needs to be done. Refer to my House Cleaning Checklist for ideas about what specific tasks comprise the steps in cleaning a house.

Look for trouble spots as well as areas that don’t need any attention. Once you’ve got an overall picture of the job, plan how much time you’ll spend cleaning each area, keeping in mind the total overall time that you have available to spend on the job. Getting the whole house cleaned is your goal; budgeting your time and staying on schedule will help you to make that happen.

The cleaning process itself shouldn’t be too elaborate at this point. If you’re a cleaning novice, focus on the obvious. You’ll hone your skills over time. There’s a learning curve to house cleaning.

Keep it Simple

For now, keep it simple. Dust, vacuum, sweep. Clean glass surfaces and counter tops and appliance fronts. Clean your bathroom fixtures and mop your floors. Don’t concern yourself with eradicating every speck of dirt. Cleaning every single nook and cranny is time-consuming and unnecessary.

If you perform your cleaning routine on a regular schedule, everything will get cleaned eventually. For now, focus on high-traffic areas. These will need to be done every time you clean. Areas that see little or no use don’t need to be cleaned as often.

As your cleaning skills improve, you’ll get a better feel for the process. Regular cleaning  ensures that high-traffic areas are always in good shape and areas that need less attention get cleaned as needed.


The final step of house cleaning is maintenance. Getting your home into excellent shape might take a few weeks, or months, depending on the state it’s in today. Once you’ve achieved a state of excellence, your home will stay that way if you clean regularly and keep up with the control of dirt, grime, and dust.

This sometimes calls for aggressive proactive measures and sometimes can be handled with a more laid-back style. Every situation is different. If you notice that you’re losing ground, increase your vigilance. It’s much easier to maintain a state of order than to have to reclaim it after you’ve lost control.

Following the steps laid out here will get you going in the right direction. House cleaning is a hands-on endeavor. Get in there, get your hands wet, learn on the job. Before you know it, you’ll be effortlessly keeping your home shiny and clean.

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

Anyone Can Clean Using This Guide to Housekeeping

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The ability to clean a house is a basic skill that everyone should have, yet there are many who don’t know where to begin. If you’re a member of this unlucky group, take heart; anyone can clean using this guide to housekeeping.

Cleaning is neither complicated nor difficult. It’s a skill that improves with time and practice, so if at first it seems like cleaning is hard for you to do or you’re not doing it right, have patience. Once you get the hang of it, keeping your home clean will be a breeze.

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Step One: Clutter Control

House cleaning begins by putting away clutter, also known as organizing. Getting organized is a simple process of finding a home for all objects and then making sure to put each object away when it’s not in use.

In order to minimize clutter, it’s also important to purge objects that are no longer needed. Every so often, closets and cupboards should be reorganized in order to make room for new objects in need of a home.

Organizing and putting stuff away is the first step in cleaning because it’s easier to vacuum, dust, and wipe down areas that are as clear as possible. Dust also has fewer places to settle in environments that aren’t littered with clutter.

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Start Cleaning From the Top Down

After getting organized, the next step in the cleaning process is getting rid of cobwebs and dust. Anything up high is done first, including ceiling fans, wall hangings, tops of cabinets and cupboards, etc.

Continuing to work from the top of the room downward, dust window treatments, window sills, chair rails, ridges on doors, lamp shades, furniture, baseboards, and baseboard heaters.

In the living room, den, family room, etc. vacuum upholstered furniture. Flip cushions and fluff pillows.

In bedrooms, change bedding as needed and periodically flip mattresses and sweep or vacuum under beds.

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The Kitchen

In the kitchen, wipe down countertops and backsplashes, stovetop, and inside the microwave. Spot clean table and chairs and cabinet fronts. Clean keypads and fronts of appliances like the dishwasher and refrigerator. Scour the sink.

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The Bathroom

In the bathroom, clean mirrors, sink and vanity, tub and/or shower, and the toilet. Tiled walls should also periodically be cleaned. Clean the bathroom often so that soap scum and other grime doesn’t build up.

Finally, in all rooms, vacuum, dust mop or sweep floors and damp mop, if necessary.


Laundry can be a big job that’s often easier by spreading it out over time. Rather than letting it accumulate, doing laundry as soon as you’ve got a full load makes it more manageable than facing the daunting task of doing six loads in one day. Plus, you never run out of clean towels using this method.

Cleaning Styles

Different lifestyles call for different cleaning styles. House cleaning can be done every day, once every week or two, or whenever you have time. The key element is doing it. A house that’s never cleaned isn’t a pleasant place to live.

This is a basic overview of house cleaning. The process is made up of many more details, which you can learn about from other blog posts here. Don’t let cleaning intimidate you, it’s not difficult. Just get up, start doing it, and before you know it, you’ll be a cleaning master.

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

House Cleaning Tips To Maximize Efficiency

No one wants to spend hours upon hours cleaning their home. The key to keeping a house cleaning regimen short and sweet is simple: maximize efficiency. By making the most of your time and efforts, your house cleaning routine will be streamlined, leaving you plenty of time to do more interesting things. The following are some house cleaning tips to maximize efficiency.

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Begin With a Walk-Through

Before starting to clean, take a quick lap through your home with a laundry basket and large trash bag. Gather up loose items that should be put away and deposit them in the basket. Empty trash containers into the trash bag and pick up debris as you go.

Pay attention to what tasks need to be done, what areas might require extra attention, and what spaces are in good shape and therefore don’t need any sprucing up. Mentally calculate how much time you’ll need for each area, keeping in mind how much time you have overall to spend cleaning.

Starting off knowing that there’s dog hair all over the sofa in the family room and the upstairs bathroom is a disaster makes it easy to allocate enough time to these areas. This way you will know from the start that you don’t have time to vacuum under beds today.

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Minimize Clutter

Set aside the basket of lost items that you collected on your walk-through and deal with it later. Picking up and organizing are not part of house cleaning; they are prerequisites. Clutter control should be an ongoing process. Spending an hour picking up and putting away miscellanea before you can start cleaning means you’ll potentially run out of steam before the housework is done.

Working around, or worse, having to shift and replace, clutter while cleaning eats up time as well. Clear surfaces and spaces make cleaning quick and easy. Cluttered surfaces and piles of paraphernalia collect dust and complicate cleaning.

Have What You Need On Hand

Keep your cleaning closet stocked with whatever you need. Penalize household members who make off with the vacuum cleaner or the broom and don’t return it. Having to spend twenty minutes tracking down the mop is an inefficient use of time.

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Wear an Apron or Tool Belt

Keep what you need readily at hand as you work so you don’t have to repeatedly stop to fetch supplies. Wear an apron with lots of pockets, or a tool belt, or carry a caddy with you. Reducing steps reduces time and maximizes efficiency.

Use Minimal Supplies

Use as few cleaning agents and tools as you can; the less stuff to have to tote around and keep track of, the better.

Clean With a Buddy

If chatting with a buddy while you work isn’t a distraction, clean your homes simultaneously and cheer each other on. Exchange cleaning tips. If it keeps you motivated, go for it.

Pay Attention to What You’re Doing

On a related note, don’t allow your mind to wander off while you work. Pay attention to the job at hand. An efficient cleaner cleans only what is dirty, which requires mindfulness.

Think Ahead

Anticipate what’s next as you perform each task and work in such a way as to minimize unnecessary steps.

Don’t Get Sidetracked

Stay focused. If you’re easily distracted by side jobs, keep a small notepad in your apron pocket and make a to-list as you work. If you notice that the fridge needs to be wiped out or the kids’ closets are a mess, plan to tackle these extra chores as soon as your schedule permits, but don’t stop doing what you’re doing now. Completing one job from beginning to end is satisfying and motivating. Starting three jobs and not finishing any of them is frustrating.

Work in a Straight Line

Clean either room by room or in zones, and work in straight lines. Don’t backtrack.

Work Continuously

Don’t sit down. Keep working until the job is done. If you must take a break, time it. When your ten minutes is up, so are you.

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Focus on What Shows

Clean what’s dirty, focusing on areas that stand out. When there’s time, clean the dusty bookshelf in the corner. When there isn’t time because the sofa has to be vacuumed free of dog hair, leave it. The dust will be there next time.

Treat Cleaning Your House like a Job

Cleaning your home is a job, treat it as such. Make a schedule, stick to it, see the job through to the end.

Use an Eraser-Type Sponge

Eraser sponges have many uses throughout the home. Soap scum removal, tough kitchen cleanups, scuffs on floors, and fingerprints on walls are just a few. These sponges save time and effort, both of which maximize efficiency.

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Dust Your Ceiling Fans

Make it a point to regularly dust areas that accumulate dust such as ceiling fan blades, under beds, on top of the refrigerator, tops of cupboards and wardrobes, and any other places that are not part of your regular dusting regimen. Removing as much dust as possible from surfaces means there’s less dust to end up re-circulating in the air.

Use a Dusting Tool

Forget dusting with a cloth; the quickest means of removing dust from surfaces is to use a tool, preferably a microfiber wand with nubs, because this will grab and lock down dust. Don’t belabor the task; working from the top of the room downward, dust ceiling fans and light fixtures, wall hangings, window treatments, window sills and grates, chair rails, baseboards and baseboard heaters. Then tackle furniture and lamps. Work swiftly, don’t backtrack, and make every movement count.

Keep a Spray Bottle of Water on Hand

A damp cloth cleans a variety of surfaces, from wall smudges to water glass rings to fingerprints on switch plates and sticky doorknobs. Avoid having to hunt down a cloth and find a faucet; keep a supply of cleaning cloths and a spray bottle of water on hand as you work.

Work Out a Routine

A regular, consistent cleaning routine works to your advantage in several ways. First, repeating the same tasks over and over increases speed and efficiency (the learning curve). Second, a regular routine gives you the chance to clean everything in your home on a rotating basis. From week to week some tasks can be deferred until next time, and others can get the attention they need right now. Third, working out a system forces your focus onto efficiency; over time your routine will inevitably become more streamlined as you work out the bugs. Finally, by making home cleaning a habit and a priority, it will get done. Period.

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Stay Motivated

Stay motivated by finishing what you start. Each time you successfully complete your cleaning routine, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment. Take a little time to admire your handiwork. This feeling of pride in a job well done will inspire you to take up your broom next week and clean on.

Use the Right Cleaning Supplies and Equipment

Use whatever cleaning agents and equipment make you happy. If you use scented cleaners, be sure the scents make you feel good. Likewise, cleaning agents should do the jobs for which they’re intended; leaving you feeling satisfied that you’ve accomplished something by using them. Your equipment should be easy to use, not frustrating.

Spending a little more money on good cleaning supplies that you’ll look forward to using (or at least not mind using) is well worth the investment. Your cleaning tools should be easy for you to use, perform well, and make you feel glad to use them.

Eat Right, Exercise, Get Some Sleep

Cleaning is hard work! Give your body what it needs to do the job. If you feel sluggish and run down, you’re not going to feel overly enthusiastic about mopping and vacuuming and making beds. When you feel good and are energized, cleaning is a breeze.


Make house cleaning a team effort. Many sets of hands get the job done quicker. Make a chart, assign chores, do whatever gets the job done quickly and efficiently.

Make a List

If you’re the type of person who is motivated by crossing items off your list, write up a list of chores before you start cleaning. Staying on task is very important to cleaning efficiently, so if writing it down helps achieve this goal, go for it.

Don’t be a Perfectionist

It’s a waste of time to try to remove 100% of the dirt from your home. Perfectionism will turn a three-hour job into a six-hour job. The difference between 95% efficiency and 100% isn’t worth three hours of your time.

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Set Realistic Goals

There’s only so much any one person can accomplish within a few hours. Don’t set the bar too high. Set realistic goals that you’ll be able to achieve. Accomplishing goals is motivating. Failing to achieve goals is not.

Don’t Make a Big Production Out of It

House cleaning is labor intensive but not overly difficult. Don’t make it harder than it is. Don’t’ clean what isn’t dirty. Don’t perform elaborate cleaning rituals that make no sense just because your grandma did it that way. Simplify your procedures and get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible, leaving you free to spend the rest of your day on play.

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

Clean Your House By Breaking the Job Down into Manageable Parts

The thought of tackling big cleaning jobs can be intimidating, even overwhelming. Whether the project involves cleaning dirty windows, descaling bathroom showers, or dealing with out-of-control clutter, the key to getting it done is converting it into manageable pieces. This is best achieved through a basic process whereby the job is first clearly defined and then broken down.

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Define the Job

The first step is to define the issue at hand. In order to find a solution, the problem must be understood. This can be in the form of a simple statement, such as “my windows are dirty” or a detailed list, for example: the kitchen appliances and floor need cleaning, the whole house needs vacuuming, the showers have to be scrubbed, and the laundry has to be washed, dried, folded, and put away.

If the job is large, write out a detailed list. This will be the basis for determining how best to break down the large job into smaller increments, so think in terms of sectioning the job into manageable portions.

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Make a Plan

Next, outline a plan to deal with the issue. For example, if your windows are dirty, the plan would be to clean them. Seems simple enough, but maybe not.

If you’ve got five windows in your home and they all tip in for cleaning ease, the plan will be straightforward: clean the windows. You’ll have a little bit of planning to do, for instance figuring out what supplies to use and whether you’ve got time to clean all the windows at once. Sorting out the details shouldn’t be a big deal.

If, however, you’ve got twenty-five windows, each with additional storm windows to remove and clean as well as screens, and none of them have been cleaned in ten years, this is a big project. You would want to break it down and complete the steps over a period of time. This would require some planning.

For instance, you might plan on cleaning the windows over the course of three or four Saturdays and enlist assistance so that one person could work inside while another works outside. The procedure would be somewhat complicated, and a variety of supplies would be needed, such as a ladder and squeegees and lots of rags or paper towels and a bucket. Cleaning window screens adds an entire step to the plan. Writing out some lists or flowcharts to help break the job down into smaller steps makes a lot of sense when the job looms large.

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Understand the Job

If you’re not sure how to clean this type of windows, the planning stage would be the time to research the issue to understand what’s really involved. Any specific challenges would be addressed at this time, for example windows that are immovable in their tracks, or outside surfaces that are inaccessible from outdoors. Fully understanding the scope of the job and planning for the specific issues that need attention helps the job flow smoothly because you’ll know what to expect, have the proper supplies on hand, and have good ideas about how to successfully complete the job.

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Break It Down

The planning stage is the point at which a large job is converted into a series of smaller jobs, which are both mentally and physically easier to manage. Always plan such that the goals you set are attainable. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to accomplish more than you set out to do. It’s not so great to complete only half the job before you run out of steam, time, or supplies. You want to end up feeling good about your day’s work, not be left feeling like a failure because you weren’t able to meet your goals.

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Complete the Project

If steps one and two were completed thoughtfully and thoroughly, the final step, actually completing the project, will be a simple matter of following through on the framework of plans that were set up. By breaking the job down into smaller, manageable pieces and taking time to understand the process, you’ve set yourself up for success. When the job is done, you’ll feel great about having mastered not only the job itself, but the equally large challenge of making a big job manageable.

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

House Cleaning for Happiness

Feeling blah, agitated, unsettled, or just plain sad? Everyone has an off day from time to time. The fix might be as simple as getting up and cleaning your house. House cleaning for happiness is an easy fix.

Cleaning is Exercise

Simply getting active improves mood. Exercise stimulates blood flow, combats the blahs, and creates a happy feeling. And house cleaning definitely counts as exercise.

Use the vacuum cleaner to get a strength and cardio two-for-one workout, bend down to dust baseboards for a stretching routine, do a little yoga while you’re on the floor cleaning under beds.

Cleaning not only helps you strengthen and tone, it burns calories. That’ll make you happy, too.

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Cleaning Makes You Feel Proud

Not only can exercise improve your mood, it also gives you a reason to feel proud of yourself for improving your health. Feeling proud makes you happy. Therefore, cleaning makes you feel happy.

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Orderliness Creates Happiness

Putting away clutter, cleaning closets, and organizing in general tends to make you feel like you’re gaining control over disorder, which leads to happiness. Orderliness also means you can find what you’re looking for when you need it, reducing frustration and increasing your sense of mastery over your environment.

Cleaning Is a Fresh Start

Cleaning out the cobwebs and dust bunnies can be a fresh start on the day, the week, the month, or the rest of your life. Wash the floor and vow to keep it clean. Tidy up the kitchen and toss out old food, then buy fresh, healthy stuff to replace it. Start over as often as you feel the need, and keep your home clean in the process.

Cleaning Focuses Your Attention

Cleaning your home gives you something to focus on instead of ruminating about why you were passed over for a promotion at work. Distract yourself by thinking about how to re-organize your kitchen to improve flow and efficiency at dinnertime. Tidy up the pantry, checking expiration dates and planning menus with the stuff you have on hand before it spoils.

Clean out closets, planning a garage sale as you go. There’s always more to do around the house, so get busy and distract yourself from whatever is bothering you. Before you know it, you’ll be humming a happy tune.

Cleaning Burns Energy

When you’re feeling restless or angry, pick up a dusting wand and start attacking cobwebs up high and down low. Clean behind the sofa and under the fridge. Work up a sweat and you’ll be feeling better in no time. Burning off the negative energy and replacing it with positive, productive activity improves your mood. Keep going until you feel better.

Cleaning Gives You a Sense of Accomplishment

The sense of accomplishment that comes from completing a job never fails to make people feel good. Admire your handiwork when you finish cleaning your home. Bask in the glow of gleaming countertops. Take a moment to appreciate the fruits of your labor and pat yourself on the back. Cleaning is hard work! Congratulate yourself on a job well done.

A Clean Home Makes People Happy

Finally, doesn’t a clean house just make you happy? There’s nothing quite like that feeling of renewal that comes with a freshly cleaned house. It smells good and looks nice, creating a sense of calm and well-being.

So get up, get going, and clean your way happy.

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

How to Make House Cleaning Easier

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to cleaning a house. Everyone’s home is different. Everyone’s lifestyle is different. Everyone’s standards are different. There are, however, some basic steps anyone can take to simplify house cleaning.

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Organize Your Possessions

Keeping your stuff organized is well worth the effort. Piles of clutter collect dust and waste time. Would you rather spend your time looking for lost items or doing things you enjoy? Establishing a system to keep stuff organized improves the quality of your life.

Organizing is Simple

Every object you posses gets assigned a specific place to live. Objects that are not in use live in their designated spots, so when you need them you know where to look to find them. When you’re done using them, they get returned to their designated spots. Taking thirty second to put the scissors back in their drawer, the hammer back in the toolbox, the keys on their hook, saves countless lost minutes trying to locate said objects.

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No Clutter Makes Cleaning Easy

Cleaning a house is easier if there’s no clutter. Dusting and vacuuming go more quickly without having to work around a bunch of stuff. And the less clutter you have, the less dust.

The same goes for kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, etc. Any surface that can potentially accumulate clutter should be kept as clear as possible. It’s easier to clean counters that have minimal objects on their surfaces.

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Clean As You Go

Another method of simplifying your house cleaning routine is cleaning up as you go along. Spending a little time cleaning every day saves your weekends and keeps your home in tip-top shape every day of the week.

Clean as you go is a method that chunks up cleaning chores into smallish tasks that can be accomplished every day. It ensures that housework never gets so out of control crazy that you would rather burn the house down than have to clean it.

Plus, the more frequently you clean, the less time it takes because less grime accumulates. Taking a minute to wipe up messes as they occur prevents them from becoming hardened, congealed blobs of immovable goo.

A prime example is the microwave: cleaning up spills as they occur prevents them from turning into cement-like masses that require a chisel to remove later on. This same principle can be applied throughout the house, from messy footprints on floors to soap scum in the bathroom and everything in between.

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Use the Right Equipment

House cleaning is easier when the equipment you’re using is suitable for the task at hand. Using the appropriate vacuum cleaner, dusting tool, mop, and cleaning cloths can significantly speed up the cleaning process.

While an upright vacuum cleaner is great on carpeting, a canister vacuum with a floor brush attachment will more quickly clean bare floors, spaces with combinations of bare floors and area rugs, and stairs. A canister is also the tool of choice for removing pet hair from furniture and cleaning underneath beds.

Once floors are vacuumed free of loose debris, an appropriate mop makes the removal of remaining grime easier. Often, a simple microfiber string mop and bucket of water is the quickest means of eliminating dirt. Wood floors that aren’t especially dirty can quickly and effectively be cleaned with a soft, flat-head spray mop. Likewise, any floors that are only lightly soiled can be quickly mopped up with a damp flat-head microfiber mop.

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Along similar lines, using a good dusting tool, rather than a cloth, makes dusting simpler. Use a tool that will reach ceiling fans, baseboards and all areas in between. A versatile wand with a telescoping handle allows you to flow easily through dusting your home.

The right cleaning cloth, sponge, or scrub brush in the kitchen and bathroom makes cleaning countertops and bathtubs easier. Densely woven microfiber cloths are excellent for loosening dried-on spills in the kitchen as well as removing soap scum in the bathroom. Nylon scrubber sponges or scrub brushes are handy items for removing hardened, congealed messes, cleaning grout, and other tough jobs.

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Stay Focused

It’s easy to get sidetracked when you’re cleaning your house. Do whatever you have to do to stay on track so that you’re able to accomplish whatever needs to be done today. There will always be more to do than there’s time for, and the dust bunnies will still be under the bed next week. Prioritize, put on blinders, shut off your phone; do whatever it takes to complete the job.

If you’re prone to noticing side jobs and getting distracted, keep a pad of paper in your pocket and make a list as you work. If you need to take a break, time it, then get right back to work. If you’re easily derailed, establish regular routines to keep on track.

Cleaning isn’t a whole lot of fun, but it can be made easier. Whether your home is a cottage, a mansion, or something in between, the simple steps outlined above can minimize the effort you’ll have to put into cleaning and leave you with time to do the things you’d rather be doing.

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

House Cleaning Tips to Save Time

House cleaning isn’t fun or easy, but there are lots of ways to streamline the process in order to improve efficiency. The following are some basic time-saving tips to help minimize the hassle on cleaning day.

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Make a Strategy

Before you begin cleaning, make a plan. Figure out your goals and the best path to reaching them. For instance, you may want to focus on the areas that are dirtiest or clean whatever areas need sprucing up for a dinner with friends. Map out a cleaning strategy that makes the best use of every step you take. Set realistic goals that can be realized within the time frame you’ve allotted to cleaning.

Make a list, draw a chart, keep in mind a picture of what you hope to achieve. However you go about it, knowing what you hope to accomplish and how you plan to accomplish it is half the battle.

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Develop Cleaning Flow

Cleaning on a regular schedule, for example spot cleaning as you go supplemented with a bi-weekly once-over, helps you to develop a routine that flows smoothly. Easy and logical transitions from task to task increase cleaning speed and efficiency. Vacuuming furniture would logically transition to vacuuming floors, for instance. Repeating the same process over and over again allows for refinements, so over time your routine will be streamlined to perfection.

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Vacuum Everything to Eliminate Dust or Pet Hair

The best way to eliminate copious quantities of dust or pet hair is to vacuum them up. This method traps debris and locks it down so it doesn’t end up re-circulating back into the air. Many modern vacuum cleaners have long enough hoses to reach most areas high and low. Vacuum ceiling fans, window treatments, wall hangings, baseboards, baseboard heaters, grates, door sills, furniture of all types, and anything else that’s coated in dust or hair.

The more dust and debris that’s eliminated from surfaces is that much less to potentially be stirred up into the air later on, only to resettle somewhere else.

Use Eraser-Type Sponges

Eraser-type sponges are time savers for cleaning all kinds of stubborn messes, from bathroom gunk to cooked-on debris in the kitchen, streaks on floors, marks on walls, and many other tough jobs. Use in conjunction with cleansing powder to remove tough soap scum. Or use with an all-purpose cleaner containing bleach to eradicate mold and mildew. The only caveat: be cautious using eraser sponges on painted surfaces or they’ll take the paint right off along with the grime.

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Use a Dusting Tool

Use a microfiber or microstatic dusting tool instead of a cloth to quickly dust furniture, baseboards, blinds, lampshades, and everything else. Don’t pick up every item; pass the tool over and around objects carefully. This method is ideal for areas that aren’t loaded with dust. It’ll take half the time as it would to do the job with a damp cloth.

Clean with Intent

Work purposefully, constantly thinking one or two steps ahead. Strive to minimize steps and maximize each movement to get the most bang for your buck. Don’t simply plod along, move steadily and as quickly as possible without compromising the quality of the job.

Don’t Clean What isn’t Dirty

If it doesn’t look dirty, doesn’t smell dirty, and hasn’t been used lately, don’t waste your time cleaning it.

Use Good Equipment

Sturdy, well-designed cleaning tools and equipment get the job done quickly. Invest in a decent vacuum cleaner, mop, bucket, brushes, sponges, and cleaning cloths.

Use Appropriate Cleaning Agents

Use cleaning agents formulated for whatever you’re cleaning and in the correct concentration. Using less than enough won’t do the job and too much is just as bad; you’ll waste time rinsing, or worse leave behind a residue that will attract more dirt. Using the wrong detergent can damage the surface you’re attempting to clean and/or fail to do the job.

Remember, the purpose of a cleaning agent is to assist in breaking down dirt and grime so it can be more easily removed from surfaces. Use them to your advantage by understanding their benefits as well as their limitations.

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Don’t Rush the Job

Frenzied, rushed cleaning sessions cause accidents that cost time. Work steadily and purposefully, not manically.

Clean Continuously

Know that from the minute your house cleaning routine is wrapped up for the week, the creation of new messes begins. House cleaning is never really done. The number one time-saving cleaning tip is to clean frequently.

Not only does this approach break a big job down into manageable parts, but it reduces the overall time you’ll actually spend cleaning. Attacking spills seconds after they occur makes cleanup a two-minute job instead of a twenty-minute job two weeks later, after the spill has congealed into a nasty, sticky mess.

However you choose to approach house cleaning, a little bit of knowledge can go a long way toward streamlining your processes so that cleaning day is as hassle-free as possible.

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

The Art of Modern Housekeeping

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Has the art of keeping house truly been lost, or has it simply evolved to meet the demands of modern-day life? Those who keep house in our day and age have the same goals as homemakers of yesteryear: providing a safe and clean environment in which to live, raise families, and entertain.

The Modern World

These days, machines make house cleaning easier than ever before. The variety of available cleaning products is staggering. Appliances clean themselves. Surfaces resist stains and repel pollutants. Fabrics are wrinkle-free, food comes ready to cook, gadgets and gizmos galore assist in all phases of running a household.

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The Modern Family

The modern homemaker is an entirely different animal than the homemaker of the past. The traditional male/female head-of-household pair consisting of a beleaguered female pulling double shifts every day while her wayward spouse spends his time on the golf course or in a barroom has evolved into something quite different.

Modern households are made up of diverse family units, many headed up by non-traditional couples whose genders may be registered on a spectrum rather than defined by fixed labels. This blurring of gender lines makes for a variety of interesting differences between the homemakers of today and the career women of the eighties who did double-duty as the family housekeeper or the stay-at-home housewives of the fifties.

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Manager versus Laborer

Today’s household members increasingly share the burden of keeping house or simply bring in outside help. The modern homemaker is often more of a manager than an actual laborer. Machines must be operated, programmed, maintained, and replaced when necessary. Hired help has to be given instructions and feedback. When homemaking is a group endeavor, someone has to set goals, make a plan, and generally lead the group.

Challenges Have Changed

The challenges faced by today’s homemaker differ vastly from those of the past. Today’s family manager has to, first and foremost, be concerned with the security of family members. The world seems much more dangerous than it used to be and is certainly more sophisticated, often in undesirable ways. Children can’t be simply sent off to walk to school on their own or left to their own devices in the afternoon. There are far too many perils and pitfalls.

House Cleaning is Still Important

House cleaning isn’t the top priority for today’s homemaker, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a priority. No one wants to live in a dirty house. People are busier than ever before living their best possible lives, trying to reach their full potential, and generally trying to accomplish everything on their bucket lists. Toilet cleaning comes in slightly lower priority-wise than soccer practice and rock climbing.

House Cleaning Is More Hit-and-Miss

House cleaning today is much more chaotic than in days of yore. It’s more hit-and-miss, with less concern about cobwebs and dust bunnies. The good-enough approach is the rule of the day. This world has so much to offer that there’s little time left to worry about whether or not there’s dust under the bed.

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Homemakers Have More Choices

Modern homemakers face myriad choices with regard to products and methodology. Use-this-don’t-use-that alarmists and here-today-gone-tomorrow trends, as well as a dizzying array of products, pull consumers in all directions.

No one has to do it the way their mother did; there are so many choices and YouTube videos that any chore can be performed fifteen different ways. Cleaning a bathroom shower can be approached from so many angles that it becomes almost impossible to hone the process down to the one, perfect method that will get the job done quickly and effectively every time. There are just too many choices and it’s too tempting to keep searching for the easiest method rather than settling on one that’s good enough. It always seems like there’s a better way.

Silly Details Matter Less

Modern homemakers don’t concern themselves overly much with silly little details that no one cares about. They don’t waste hours upon hours dismantling things in order to clean them, or color-coding the linen closet, or researching new ways to clean grout. Our disposable world makes it easy to throw it out and buy a new one rather than try to get it clean, whatever it may be. Whether this is right or wrong isn’t the point; it’s just how our modern world is.

The Modern Homemaker

The homemaker of the past is, indeed, dead and buried. But the role has been replaced with a much more interesting, well-rounded, satisfied homemaker whose job involves less drudgery and more spice. Housekeeping, while still important, plays a less important role in modern families. Sure, the toilet still gets cleaned, but not in a “Saturday is cleaning day above all else” kind of way.

Today’s homemaker is fluid; the role constantly evolving along with the technology in our world and the availability of better and more advanced gadgets and gizmos to make housework less work-y.

Housekeeping as an art form is alive and well. It’s just different than it used to be. And so are today’s homemakers.

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

House Cleaning Express: The Quickest Route to a Clean House

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Who has time to clean?

Everyone wants a clean house, but who has time to do the job? Getting your home clean without spending a lot of time isn’t difficult; it just takes a little dedication. This guide will explain how to keep a clean house when your time is limited.

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Keep It Picked Up

When your home is free of unnecessary clutter, cleaning is ten times easier. Clutter makes a space look messy, breeds dust, and impedes the cleaning process.

Some simple steps to accomplish neatness:

  • Assign every object in your home a space to call its own.
  • Make it a habit  to put things away. When you’re done using the scissors, put them away. When you bring groceries home, put them away. When you get undressed, put your clothes in the dirty clothes hamper. In no time at all, you’ll be putting things away without giving it a second thought.
  • Make each household member take responsibility for their own stuff. Assign each person a basket and place stray items into the basket. If baskets are overflowing, hold the contents for ransom until the errant party agrees to deal with their mess.
  • Purge unnecessary items on a regular basis. Keep a donation box in a prominent spot and make use of it.
  • Use baskets, bins, totes, shelves, or whatever tickles your fancy to keep your stuff organized and put away.


Clean as You Go

Housecleaning is most effective when it’s done on a regular basis. The quickest method by far is cleaning up every day. This doesn’t mean cleaning the entire house every day. This means doing various tasks as necessary so that areas never really get dirty. Daily tasks include the following:

  • Kitchen cleanup: as soon as food preparation is done, areas that were used should be wiped clean. Constantly be alert to the state of your kitchen appliances. If the stove top is dirty, wipe it clean. If the inside of the microwave has food splatters, wipe it clean. When you begin to notice fingerprints on keypads or handles, it’s time to clean them. None of these tasks, taken individually, requires much time. Spending ten or fifteen minutes each day sprucing up the kitchen means you’ll never have to spend an hour or more at one time cleaning everything.
  • Bathroom patrol: clean bathroom sinks, vanities, and the toilet when you notice that it needs to be done. If there’s toothpaste on the mirror, take a minute to wipe it clean. Squeegee shower walls clean every day so that soap scum doesn’t get the opportunity to build up. Keep rags, sponges, paper towels, and bathroom cleaner under the sink and make use of them as necessary so the bathroom never really gets dirty.
  • Do laundry as often a necessary to avoid a huge accumulation.
  • Sweep or vacuum entryways as soon as dirt is tracked inside. This prevents dirt from getting tracked further into the house.
  • Clean pet areas often. Mats under water dishes, pet beds, and other pet-related paraphernalia should be cleaned whenever you notice they’re dirty.
  • Spot clean floors as needed. If something gets spilled, clean it up before it gets tracked anywhere else.

Commit to a Regimen

On a regular basis, preferably weekly or every other week, make a point of completing whatever housekeeping chores need doing. When the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry, and pet areas are kept clean on a daily basis, there’s not much left to do. Change bedding, dust, vacuum or sweep, and mop (if necessary). Don’t clean anything that isn’t dirty. An hour or two at most, and your home will be spic-and-span.

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Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

Tried-and-true cleaning methods and tips are everywhere. The internet and magazines are loaded with cleaning advice. Put it to good use. House cleaning has been around for a long time. Cash in on the experience of others to save yourself time and trouble. A clean house doesn’t have to be a huge hassle, don’t turn it into one.

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.

De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps

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Do you have a clutter problem? Do you consistently have trouble finding things around your house? Do you feel overwhelmed by your stuff? If so, you’re not alone. If there’s anything we have a lot of, it’s stuff.

The good news is that taking control isn’t difficult. This easy-to-follow program will guide you through the steps of de-cluttering and organizing all the stuff in your home. Once you get rolling, your initial successes will motivate you to keep going.

Seven steps to an organized home can take as much or as little time as you need. Every situation is unique. Making this system work for you is a simple matter of following the steps, one after the other, until you’ve reached the end result of a clutter-free, well-organized home in which you can find what you need when you need it.

What Causes Disorder in a Home?

To begin, consider the arch-enemies of an organized state: clutter and poor use of space. What is clutter? Clutter is stuff that is superfluous, misplaced, or just plain trash. Clutter can be anything, but the key element is that clutter is a disorderly mess of stuff taking up space that could otherwise be put to good use.

When the clutter in your life overwhelms your living space it becomes impossible to keep your possessions organized. The important things become overshadowed by the clutter and next thing you know, you’ve lost hours of your life searching for misplaced paperwork.

The other issue that significantly impairs an organized state is poor use of space. This often accompanies clutter; however, it can exist independently as well. Examples of poor use of space: piles of sweaters on top of an empty dresser, file cabinets filled with 15-year-old paperwork that needs to be discarded while current paperwork has no place to go, or having objects crammed into a closet to the point that you don’t have any idea what all is in there.

When your possessions are well-organized, you know where everything you own is or you know how to locate it. You do not have objects in your home that you don’t need. Being well-organized makes it easy to quickly eliminate anything that’s unnecessary because said objects stick out rather than blending into and becoming part of the mess.

Organization is very simply having a place for everything.  This means that whenever you’re not using it, an item is returned to its home, and when you need it again, you know where to look.

Seven Steps to an Organized Home

This seven-step plan may go quickly for you, or it might take some time. This depends on how much stuff you have to organize and how quickly you work. The steps are summarized below:

  • Step One: Make an overall plan and set goals.
  • Step Two: Throw away trash.
  • Step Three: Sell stuff.
  • Step Four: Give stuff away.
  • Step five: Plan how to organize the stuff you have left.
  • Step six: Set up a system to organize your stuff.
  • Step seven: Organize your stuff.

This simple, easy-to-follow plan will set you free. Like any other skill, organizing becomes easier with practice. Take it one step at a time, see the process through to completion, repeat as necessary. Taking the time to de-clutter spaces and thoughtfully arrange objects is an investment in your future leisure time and peace of mind.

Step 1: Make a Plan

A plan will keep you on track as you move through the process of de-cluttering and organizing. Your plan will help you figure out what you don’t need, what you want to keep, and will help you identify your problem areas when it comes to keeping your possessions organized. Finally, a plan affords you the opportunity to devise a structure for storing the possessions you value in such a way that you’ll know where to put them when you’re not using them and where to look when you need them.

Your plan involves three steps:

  1. Assess your situation.
  2. Set goals for organizing based on your specific needs as defined by your assessment.
  3. Tentatively decide how and where you will re-arrange your valuable and needed possessions.

Begin with step one: assess your situation. Figure out where you are. Take an honest look around your home. What do you see?

Do you see a lot of stuff in disarray? Are you looking at things that ought to be thrown away, moved into another area within your space, or given to charity? This is the time to realistically assess what you have, what you can get rid of, and what you actually need.

Start making lists or get some color-coded dot stickers and put them to use labeling stuff. Look around your living space and decide:

  • What can you throw away because it’s of no value or use to you or anyone else?
  • What items that you’re not using have potential sales value?
  • What can you give away to friends or charity?
  • What items are valuable and necessary but in a state of disorder? These are the things that you want to keep that are in need of reassignment to a permanent spot within your home.

This is the time for you to get real about your stuff. If you’ve got lots of things that you never use that are eating up valuable space, these objects are weighing you down. You have to let them go.

This is just an assessment, so don’t become overwhelmed. You only have to look around your space with a critical eye at this point. Don’t do anything more than that.

After you’ve honestly assessed what you have and what can be removed from your space, it’s time to move on to step two: setting goals. This is when you narrow your focus. What specific areas do you need to work on.  For example, is paperwork a problem for you? Do you have trouble keeping your personal items in order?

Look at the last category of items from your assessment: which of your necessary and valuable possessions are in a disorderly state? These objects will be the focus of your goal setting exercise.

As an example, your goals may look like this:

  • Organize craft supplies.
  • Keep better track of important papers.
  • Re-arrange kids’ toys so they’re more orderly.
  • Create a better system for storing the boots and shoes that are presently scattered all over the house.

After setting goals, move on to step three: making a tentative plan about how to arrange the things that need to be organized.

Working from the hypothetical goals listed above:

  • Think about what area in your home would be best suited for storing the craft supplies that are currently scattered throughout your home in a disorganized fashion.
  • To keep better track of paperwork, you might want to turn a spare bedroom into a home office.
  • Start to consider the best centralized area to store the kids’ toys instead of where they are now, which is all over the place and always underfoot.
  • Give thought to whether you can carve out some space near the front door for cubbies or a rack to store the shoes that are scattered about everywhere.

You’re thinking about where and how you will store the things that you want to keep which are currently suffering from a clutter situation in your environment. This is just the beginning.

By figuring out what you can trash, what you can sell or give away, and what you want to keep, you’ve set the stage to reach your goals. You will purge unnecessary items to make room for the proper storage and organization of the items you value. As you work through the next steps, ridding yourself of dead weight, keep in mind what space you’ll need for the things you plan to keep and aim to specifically target the elimination of clutter in those areas.

Now congratulate yourself because you’re on your way to taking control!

Step 2: Throw Away Trash

The first step to eliminating clutter from your space is to throw away trash. Refer to the list you made on day one and get busy. Be realistic about what is useful and what isn’t. Move beyond the obvious and purge trash from closets, cupboards, dressers. Remember to pay special attention to the areas you’ve tentatively selected as permanent storage spots for the things you set goals to organize.

There’s probably a lot of hidden trash in your home that you don’t think about.

  • Paperwork is a prime culprit. Sort through warranties, user’s manuals, old credit card bills, bank statements, etc. Get rid of anything that’s not current. Don’t store boxes of papers that are taking up space you could be using to store things you actually want and use, like your hypothetical craft supplies.
  • Don’t keep old magazines or newspapers. They’re junk.
  • Sort clothing. Get rid of shirts that are missing buttons, hopelessly wrinkled pants that you mean to iron some day but never will, old socks with holes taking up space in dresser drawers, and smelly old shoes that were once your favorites but which you haven’t worn in six years.
  • Toiletries and medications that are expired or no good have to go.
  • Get rid of expired foods in the pantry.
  • Old electronics have no value.
  • Broken vacuum cleaners or blenders or toasters are things you’ll never get fixed. Toss ‘em.

Be ruthless. Dive into closets and corners. Refer back to the goals you set and think about the space you will need to free up to make them happen. When you eliminate space wasters you make room for the things you want to keep.

Look for trash that’s right in front of you. Objects that are too worn to donate or give away are trash. Don’t hang onto things for sentimental reasons. If it’s not useful, it’s dead weight.

Don’t keep meaningless knick-knacks or things someone gave you years ago just because you’ve had them for a long time. If the item has no purpose, no value to you, and you don’t have the space, get rid of it.

Don’t keep two dozen plastic food storage containers that you don’t use because they might come in handy some day. They won’t. Recycle them.

Sort through hobby supplies and discard things that you will not realistically use.

Look in the basement, attic, and garage for anything that can be tossed. You need the space. Keep repeating this phrase.

By the end of this step, you should have nothing left in your home that is trash. You should have freed up some space and eliminated some clutter.

You should feel proud of yourself and a little bit freer and lighter. You’ve eliminated some dead weight. Good job!

Step 3: Sell Stuff

Odds are you’ve got some stuff that has value but that you don’t use any more. There’s a good chance you have a lot of this type of stuff. Selling this stuff is a great way to get rid of it without having to haul it all to Goodwill. Plus, you can spend the cash you make on supplies to organize the stuff you want to keep.

As a rule, you won’t be able to sell your stuff for a ton of cash. That being said, if you want to get rid the stuff (which you do), selling it moves it out the door. This is your prime objective. So don’t waste a lot of emotion on the fact that you’re practically giving the stuff away. At least someone else will be able to use it and you eliminate more dead weight.

How do you go about selling your stuff? Well, you can always have a traditional garage sale. If you’re an outgoing person, you might even have a good time with it.

Host a Garage Sale

A garage sale is pretty straightforward. Take the stuff you don’t want and put it all in the garage or in your driveway on whatever portable tables you might have around or can rig up. Your setup doesn’t have to be fancy; you just want a space to display your wares without merely tossing everything on the ground. Put prices on the stuff. Advertise your sale on Craigslist or Facebook or your local classifieds. At the end of the day, place a “free stuff” listing on Craigslist to get rid of whatever’s left. If no one wants it for free, it’s trash.

Sell Online

If you’d rather not have a garage sale, you can sell your stuff on Craigslist, Facebook, or local classified ads. Many areas have garage sale groups on Facebook; list on both the Facebook marketplace and your local garage sale groups. The online listing process is pretty straightforward. Take a couple pictures of the stuff you’re selling, put up some ads, check your e-mail, answer questions from potential buyers, sell your stuff.

Vintage and collectible stuff can be sold on Etsy or eBay. This is a little more involved because the things you sell have to be shipped to whoever buys it. Either site requires that sellers create an account, and each charges fees for selling.

Take Things to a Consignment Shop

Clothes that are current and in excellent condition can go to a local consignment shop. Generally these shops accept only a set number of items per day and the things you bring in have to be seasonally appropriate. Many of these shops also take household goods, some take toys and electronics. They usually split the selling price with consignors 50/50. It’s best to call ahead before taking things in to make sure they’re currently accepting consignments.

Don’t forget word of mouth as a great way to sell your unwanted stuff. What you don’t need may be exactly what your cousin Doug is looking for. Of course, you may decide to just give it to him because he’s such a pal.

By the end of step three you should be seeing real progress in the elimination of unwanted possessions from your home. Hopefully you’ve also got some extra cash in your pocket. Most importantly, you should be starting to feel like you’re taking control over your possessions rather than the reverse.

You are moving steadily toward your goals. You are creating the space you need to properly organize and store the stuff that you really want to keep. Kudos!

Step 4: Give Stuff Away

You’re now in the home stretch of your purge. This is when you get to have a little fun by giving stuff away. Refer to the list you made at step one of the items you no longer use that can be donated to charity or given to friends or family.

How to go about this day of giving? One option: take pictures of your stuff and post them to your friends on Facebook with the caption “Free Stuff!” Or place an ad on Craiglist if you don’t care where the stuff goes. If you have particular friends or family in mind for specific objects, hand deliver the goods and have a nice visit while you’re there.

Many local charities are looking for stuff in good condition. Many of these groups don’t exactly put up billboards soliciting donations, but if you ask around you’ll find some very worthy causes that can put your old things to good use. Some ideas:

  • Churches and other non-profit groups often operate thrift stores or distribute used clothing and household goods to families in need.
  • Local veteran’s assistance centers sometimes look for household goods.
  • Animal shelters sometimes need old towels, bedding, and dishes.
  • Homeless shelters almost always need household items and clothing.
  • Many areas have one or more community action groups that specifically take donations of clothing and household goods to pass along to those who need a helping hand.

To take a charitable tax deduction, write up a list of the items you’re donating along with their estimated value, and your charity will stamp or sign it as a receipt.

Some charitable groups will come and collect donations from you but most of the time you’ll have to take the stuff to a donation center during certain hours. Check ahead of time to be sure someone will be there to take your stuff. You don’t want to show up with a van load of donations only to find the doors locked.

It’s fun to give stuff away if you think about what a win-win deal it is. You get to free up your valuable space and someone else gets some things they want or need. Sometimes you’re helping people more than you could imagine. And sometimes you can pass things on to friends or relatives, and then every time they use whatever you gave them they’ll think of what a great person you are.

At the end of step four, you have completed your purge. You should now have left only the possessions you want to keep. Next up: sort, group, organize, plan. You’re getting closer to achieving your goals. Good work!

Step 5: Sort, Group, Organize, Plan

At this point you should have no extraneous possessions in your home. You should have created extra space by eliminating all the dead weight around the house. All remaining objects should be things of importance to you. With the clutter gone, you can actually see what you have left to organize. This is the time to make a solid plan about storing these things.

Think carefully about what will work best for you. At step one you made a tentative plan about how and where to organize your things. Today you will fine-tune your plan with an emphasis on the actual design.  Your system should be one that will be easy for you to use consistently. If you don’t follow through with using the system you set up, you’ll end up with another cluttered, disorganized mess. This is why planning is so important.

Planning will be a three-step process:

  1. Sort and group your stuff.
  2. Figure out what kind of storage space you need for each group.
  3. Plan specifically how to organize each group.

So, you will sort your stuff, grouping items into your goal categories (for example, the hypothetical craft supplies, paperwork, toys, and shoes from day one). Once you’ve got things sorted out, you’ll have a good idea about the actual space you will need for storing each group. Then you can make a plan about how to actually organize the objects in each group.

Organizing generally involves arranging things in cupboards or containers of some type, on shelves, storing in boxes, setting up a filing system, or otherwise settling stuff for easy retrieval.

There’s a staggering array of storage supplies available. If you’re not sure exactly what you need as you make your plan, here are some ideas:

  • Lots of very small, loose objects are best stored in compartmentalized trays or boxes or in jars.
  • Things that stack easily can go into cabinets or on shelves.
  • Baskets organized on shelves are great for storing all types of loose objects of varying sizes.
  • Papers get stored in labeled folders in file drawers for a reason: it’s the best way to easily store and retrieve them.
  • Bottles and jars can be grouped and stored in shallow drawers, bins, or tubs, or in shallow cabinets or cubbies.
  • Medium size to large objects can go into storage tubs or chests.
  • Toys can be stored on shelves, in bins, in bins on shelves, or in whatever way makes it easy to get at what you want without having to move a lot of other things to get to it. The traditional toy box isn’t the most practical means of storing toys because things end up strewn all over in the quest for that one object at the bottom of the box.
  • Hooks are handy for things that can be hung on walls or doors or on the sides of furniture.
    • Hooks are great for hanging clothing, hats, jewelry.
    • Hooks can expand your storage space.
    • Hooks fit into pegboard for extra storage space.
  • Racks, hangers, and shoe organizers are handy for storing all kinds of things.
  • Don’t overlook the potential storage capacity of dressers and chests.

And here are some storage tips:

  • Labels are an excellent visual tool to help you remember what’s in a box or tote or other container.
  • Tape a list of the contents on the outside of boxes.
  • Using clear totes or containers allows you to see what’s inside.
  • Stack-able totes are handy, but don’t stack more than two or three high. Having to constantly shift totes to access what you need leads to frustration. You want to love everything about your organizational system.
  • Color coding is an excellent organizing tool.
    • For example, when setting up a filing system for papers, place all personal papers into blue folders, all work-related papers into green folders, all child-school related papers into red folders, all bills into purple folders, and all household/warranty type papers into brown folders.
    • Place red-colored dots on all boxes that hold card-making craft supplies, blue dots on all boxes that contain scrapbooking craft supplies, and green dots on all boxes containing knitting craft supplies.
  • If you’ve got multiple boxes containing closely-related items, a master list can save time searching for individual items.
    • Label your boxes A, B, C, D, etc.
    • Section your list into subsections for boxes A, B, C, D, etc. with the list of contents following each letter.
    • Alternatively, list all the contents of the boxes and place the corresponding box letter next to each item on the list.
  • Use shelf risers to add storage space and easily access items in back.
  • Use small bins in drawers to help organize small objects.
  • Use wire racks, tension rods, pegboard, and magnetic strips creatively.

You may have stuff around the house you can use for storing and organizing. Think about how you might use trays or bins or anything you have on hand that might be useful.

To get a clearer picture of your objectives, let’s go back to the hypothetical goals from step one and look at how grouping and planning plays out. As a reminder, your hypothetical goals were:

  • Organize craft supplies.
  • Keep better track of paperwork.
  • Re-arrange kids’ toys.
  • Create a better system for storing boots and shoes near the door.

So the first thing you’d do at this point would be to gather your craft supplies into one area to see exactly what you’ve got. At step one, you (hypothetically) selected a storage area for your craft supplies. This might be a corner in the family room, a nook in your bedroom, or a cubby in the kitchen. Now you would consider whether the supplies will actually fit into the area you’ve chosen. If not, rethink your plan.

Once you’re sure you’ve got enough space to store all your craft supplies in the same area, it’s time to plot out storage strategies for them. Is there anything around the house that you can use? Do you have containers, baskets, tubs, bins, shelves or other storage containers that are appropriately sized for your needs, and, if so, can you move them to your selected craft supply area? If you don’t have anything on hand, figure out what you’ll need. At step six you’ll go shopping for whatever supplies you can’t rustle up around the house.

Continuing with the hypothetical goals example, to keep better track of paperwork you thought you might turn a spare bedroom into an office. At steps two, three, and four you cleared clutter from the spare bedroom so it is now free of excess stuff. Today, gather up all your papers and other office supplies and figure out what you’ll need to turn the room into a space you can use for your intended purpose. Repeat the steps above: do you have things around the house you can put to use? If not, what do you need to buy? Writing out a list will be helpful later on.

Moving on, you also (hypothetically) wanted to re-arrange the kids’ toys. Again, gather the remaining toys (hopefully you got rid of some while de-cluttering) together to see what you’ve got.  Think about where you want to keep them and whether there is ready-made storage space in the area? If not, do you have something you can use? If not, what do you need to buy? If you’re planning to do a lot of re-arranging in order to use things you already have around the house, writing out a list of what’s going to be moved where will be helpful later on when you rearrange things and set up your storage space.

Finally, the last goal on our hypothetical list was to create a better system for storing boots and shoes. Gather up whatever loose footwear you see and think about a logical storage solution that everyone in the house will use. Maybe you need to set up shoe racks in individual closets. Maybe you need cubbies or shelves or a small dresser in your entryway.  Then follow the same process as in the previous examples.

By now you should be getting the hang of the planning process. Just take stock of what you have, figure out a place to put it, then plot how to organize it so you can easily store and retrieve it.

Next, you’ll rearrange, get whatever supplies you need to complete your project, set up a storage system, and then you’ll organize your stuff. Almost home!

Step 6: Prepare Your Spaces

At step six you will set up the framework for organizing your stuff. Your objective is to get your storage system in place so that at step seven you can arrange the things that have to be stored in the areas you’ve selected to store them.

If you have the necessary supplies around the house, this is the time to rearrange things so that you end up with whatever you need in the places you want it.

If you don’t have what you need on hand, it’s time to take a field trip to the home improvement or furniture store. If you need to go shopping, you should have a good grasp on what you have to get. You’ll be purchasing whatever supplies you don’t have on hand.

As you plotted out your storage needs, you made a list or two. Refer to your list(s) as you go along. If you’re rearranging furniture or other stuff around the house, your list will help you keep track of what’s going where. If things get confusing or if you have multiple sets of helping hands, a master control list will be a very handy reference tool.

If you’re shopping, a list will help you to make sure you get everything in one trip. If you’re still trying to figure out exactly what you need, take a picture or make a list of the things that you have to organize so you have a handy reference in the store.

Make Sure Your Storage System Will Work for You

Whether your organizational system is comprised of things you already have or new items that you purchase, keep in mind that storage methods are highly individual. The system that works for you may totally baffle your neighbor.

Some people like to have everything in plain sight.  Some people like drawers, or shelves, or cabinets, or plastic tubs, or racks, or baskets.

The most important thing is that your system of organization makes sense to you and works for you. Your system needs to one that you will use consistently so that you don’t end up with a clutter problem all over again.

Back to Hypothetical Goals

At the end of step six you should have your storage framework fully designed and installed. So, going back to our hypothetical goals, this is what it would look like:

  • Your crafty corner storage system is all set up and ready for you to arrange your crafting supplies. You elected to re-purpose a set of shelves and a cabinet that were in the spare bedroom that’s being converted into a home office. You also bought some storage trays with dividers to help keep track of small items and some baskets for larger things.
  • Your home office is assembled and ready. You were able to give new life to a nice old wooden desk that had been buried in junk, and therefore unusable, until your de-cluttering project. You purchased a filing cabinet and some file folders and at step seven, when you organize, you’re going to put them to use.
  • You set up an area for the kids’ toys with brand new, still-in-the-package shelving units you forgot you had, which you unearthed from behind a pile of clutter during your purge, and some shallow bins that you bought at the home improvement store. The bins will fit onto the shelves and will make storing and retrieving toys quick and easy.
  • Your shoe storage issue required multiple storage solutions. You picked up shoe racks for each family member to keep in their closets to eliminate some of the shoe clutter throughout the house. Additionally, your purge cleared out space in the coat closet by the door so you were able to set up a newly-purchased shoe-storage caddy in the closet for additional storage.

Are you excited yet? You should be because you’re almost done with your project. You ought to be able to visualize the results at this point. Step seven is right around the corner. Finally you’ll be organized!

Step 7: Organize Your Stuff

It’s finally here, the step you’ve been working toward, it’s time to organize your stuff.

If all has gone as planned, your stuff, which was previously known as clutter, is now sorted into groups. You have a storage system set up and ready to go.  All that’s left to do is arrange the objects into the system you’ve designed.

Take care at this stage. You’ve come this far, so take it home with the same thoughtfulness that you’ve put in all along your journey. Take your time and think about what you’re doing.

Arrange things logically and in a way that will ensure you are able to find what you need quickly and easily. Don’t pack things in too tightly. Don’t place tall objects in front of short ones. Utilize your storage space efficiently. If necessary, leave room for growth if new items will potentially be introduced in the future.

If you get everything situated and don’t like the setup, change it. Rearrange. Make it work for you. You are now in control of this stuff that was previously controlling you.

Remember that organization is very simply finding a place for everything. Organization means that every single item in your environment has a designated spot to live so that whenever you’re not using it, each item is returned to its home, and when you need it, you know where to look.

Hypothetical Goals Accomplished

Once again we’re back to our hypothetical goals. Today, at their conclusion, they look like this:

  • Your craft supplies are neatly organized in your craft corner. All your supplies are at your fingertips.
  • Your new home office is already keeping your paperwork straight and true. You set up a color-coded filing system for bills, personal papers, etc. and your paperwork has been filed into the appropriate folders.
  • The kids’ toys are neatly arranged, for now. The beauty of your new multiple-bin storage system is that it’s unlikely all the toys will ever again end up strewn throughout the house. Toys will come out of one bit at a time, and be replaced before getting into another. That’s the plan anyway…
  • All shoes and boots have been neatly stored away. There will no more tripping over sneakers left in the middle of the family room.

At this point, there’s no longer a clutter problem in your home. Counter tops and other flat surfaces are not buried in stuff. Corners are filled with nothing but open space. Your closets are tidy and so is your mind. You’ve made a very wise investment in your future free time and peace of mind. No more wasted hours searching for things you know you have. No more buying stuff you’ve already got because you can’t find the original. You’re free of the clutter monster.


All that’s left to do now is maintenance. Plan to periodically sort things and get rid of anything that’s dead weight. Don’t let it get the better of you again

Staying organized is all about maintenance. Getting your clutter under control is liberating. You probably feel lighter, freer, and more in control of your stuff and life in general. It’s empowering to finally accomplish a goal that you’ve been putting off.

Staying organized is equally empowering. The trick to it is establishing good habits. This means doing whatever you need to do to make sure clutter doesn’t again begin accumulating.

For example, if you find that mail is piling up, get yourself a small basket and put your pending mail-to-be-sorted in the basket. Deal with it as soon as possible, and if your basket gets full your deadline has been reached. Deal with it immediately.

If other people in your household aren’t pulling their weight, get them their own baskets. Put their things into their baskets and give them a deadline to deal with it. If they don’t take care of their things, the basket disappears for a set period of time. That’s the penalty for non-compliance.

Make written schedules with hard deadlines for periodically sorting areas like the kitchen pantry or bathroom cupboards or any other areas that tend to accumulate outdated stuff.

As you notice that clothing, shoes, or other possessions are becoming too worn out to use, throw them away.

Place a donation box in a designated area, and if clothing doesn’t fit correctly or you find that you just don’t like it, put it in your box. When the box is full, take it to your local church thrift.

If you notice that your drawers or cabinets or closets are getting full, take the time to sort and purge. Write in on your calendar, if necessary, to force yourself to make it happen.

Every mountain of clutter begins with a single object. One becomes two, two becomes four, and so on. Piles spread like a disease. So keep it in check and never let it get out of control again. You are in control now! Congratulations!

Want more organizing and house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my author page. My books include De-Clutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps, Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, and How to Become a Cleaning Pro: the Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating Your Own House Cleaning Service.