Spring is here! It’s time to open up those windows, clear out the cobwebs, and freshen our homes.
After a good cleaning, of course, we want our homes to stay that way, right? That tends to be the tricky part.
The way to maintain a clean and tidy home, in the long run, is to maintain consistent habits. Before you even embark on a spring cleaning project, begin to establish healthy cleaning habits that will make larger tasks easier and will also ensure your hard work is not done in vain.
Here are 12 habits for a clean and tidy home.
A Place for Everything
You can’t put things away if you don’t know where they go. Have a home for every item in your space. Joanna Jozwik Serra, the owner of online shop Birdy Boutique, goes by the motto: “There is a place for everything, and everything has a place.”
She said, “If you can manage to get yourself to that point, then it’s a breeze, truly. Start one room at a time, one section at a time, and get your home to a place where that system is true, and living by it will make things run so much more smoothly.”
Cleanup Quickly Before Bed
Before you settle in for the night, do a quick nightly cleanup. Straighten the couch cushions, wipe down the kitchen counter, put away the dishes, finish the laundry, and generally tidy up. The more consistently you do this, the easier the task becomes. Waking up to a clean home starts each day off right.
“The best strategy is to never let your clutter build up,” said Alberto Navarrete, general manager of Emily’s Maids, a house-cleaning service in Dallas. “Clean a little every day and next time that you would need a deep cleaning you’ll be surprised to see it as a piece of cake.”
Listen to Podcasts or Audiobooks While Cleaning
To make mundane tasks like laundry, vacuuming, or dusting more enjoyable, listen to a favorite podcast or an audiobook while you do it. Wireless earbuds make this easy. You may even find yourself looking forward to cleaning!
Complete One Load of Laundry Per Day
There’s nothing like an overflowing pile of laundry to make you feel like you’re no good at adulting. Set the goal of completing one load of laundry, from start to finish, every day. As soon as you wake up you can begin to run the washing machine. Before the end of the day, you can fold, hang, iron if necessary, and put away all the clothes from that load. Before long, you’ll have a rhythm and the joy of no more giant piles.
Make Your Bed Every Day
Do you notice how your entire bedroom looks so much cleaner with a made bed? Making the bed takes under two minutes. When you get up, get it done, and move on with your day. You’ll be starting the day off right, and getting into a properly made bed feels great at the end of the night.
Katy Winter, the owner of Katy’s Organized Home in New York, said in her family, “Everyone makes their bed every morning.”
“This is a habit that even a child as young as 2 and 3, with help, can do,” Winter said. “My 3-year-old has only one blanket on his bed so he can easily pull the blanket up when I prompt him and he even fluffs his pillow. If parents take the time to teach this habit it will pay off and set your children up for success. Something as simple as making a bed can spearhead productivity for the rest of the day.”
Before You Move On, Clean Up
As you go about your day, you move from one task or activity to the next. Don’t move to the next one before cleaning up after the first. After finishing a meal, get the dishes in the dishwasher and wipe down the counter. If you’ve just worked at your desk, straighten the papers and shut down your computer. After you get ready for the day, put your toiletries in their place, hang up your towels, and wipe down your bathroom counters.
“Put things back where they belong when you are done with them … instead of putting it off till later,” said Haziqa Ishtiaq, who blogs at PennySaviour.com. “It will help keep clutter away, especially when someone comes for an impromptu visit.”
“Never letting your home get to a point where you would feel ashamed if you had guests over,” said Jennifer Rodriguez, chief hygiene officer at Pro Housekeepers in Tampa, Florida, “Keep it tidy as often as possible.”
Keep Your Sink Empty
If you have a dishwasher, put dirty dishes directly in it. If you don’t, take a moment to hand wash dishes before moving on. Keep your sink clean and usable throughout your day. Dirty dishes in the sink can kill the vibe of an otherwise clean kitchen.
Do One Big Chore Each Day
Clarrisa Lee from Mountlake Terrace, Washington, an “avid cleaner” with a full-time job and two online businesses, “one big chore” each day—whether that means to clean a room, do a load of laundry, or vacuum and dust.
“I have a list on my refrigerator with all the chores I want to get done that week, and I check them off each day. I might have to switch which day I do them, depending on what else is going on in the evening, I just try to make sure each one gets done at some point each week,” Lee said.
Similarly, Kait Schulhof, founder of A Clean Bee in San Diego explained how choosing just one chore each day to commit to can lead to better habits down the road.
“Choose one thing that you want to commit to tackling every single day,” she said. “Maybe that one thing is a load of laundry—including folding and putting away)—or even something as simple as making your bed every morning. Eventually, you will become very good at this one task and it will take less and less time as you practice. That’s when you can introduce a second daily task and so on.”
Process Mail as Soon as It Comes In
Don’t let mail pile up. A large percentage of it will be tossed. Do that immediately, then open and take care of what’s left. The stress of an ambiguous pile of papers can be so easily solved by never allowing a pile to grow in the first place.
Set Up a Donation Station
You may be surprised by how much clutter you can reduce simply by setting up a location to receive it in your home. A labeled basket or large shopping bag that everyone at home knows is there to receive items that are no longer wanted and needed will magically begin to fill up.
“We are always consuming, and bringing new things into our home, but rarely removing the old, unwanted things. To address this, I recommend keeping a large basket in your mudroom, laundry room, or entry and using it as a donation basket. Therefore, whenever you come across something you don’t want, into the donation basket it goes,” said Alex Phillips, owner of Streamline Seattle.
When it’s full, take it to your favorite donation recipient and set out a new, empty receptacle. When you have a system in place to manage clutter, clutter will begin to disappear.
Change the Way You View Cleaning
What if instead of cleaning your home, you told yourself you were loving your home, giving it some attention, or tending it like you would a garden? Would the task at hand feel better?
Let go of perfection and celebrate any and all progress you make each day. Focus on what you did do and not what you didn’t do. Shift your mindset around cleaning to a positive one and see if your home doesn’t become a cleaner, more joyful place to be.