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How To Clean Your Home When You Don’t Know Where To Start

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If you have found yourself frustrated and lacking motivation to get your home pulled together, cleaned up, and running more smoothly but you just don’t know where to start, then I’ve put together this resource for you!

Twelve years ago, I was in this exact place. I had seven children under the age of twelve and I desperately wanted a clean and organized home, but just had no idea where to start, what to do, and how to maintain any progress that I could accomplish.


Step 1- Lay The Groundwork For A Clean Home

In my home, there are three areas that must be taken care of before I can start cleaning. These areas keep life running smoothly, whether the house is clean or not.

Area 1- Get Yourself Presentable

Presentable is going to mean different things to different people. I personally like to do my hair and make up and put on cute clothes every day, no matter what I’m doing or where I’m going. But I know that everyone doesn’t require the same level of care to feel her best.

This is the test that I use. 

In my current state, would I be comfortable hopping on a Zoom call at a moment’s notice, or if a friend from church dropped by unannounced? If the answer is no, then I do the things necessary to bring that answer to a yes.

I don’t know about you, but my grandmother always used to say “never leave the house with holey underwear on, you never know when you’ll be in an accident and the ambulance will have to cut your pants off!”

We’re using the same thought process here. Make sure your physical appearance is in order. You’ll be ready for anything, but it will also help you to feel better about yourself, you’ll carry yourself better, and you will work harder to bring your home into order as well, and a secret bonus…your children will follow your instructions better too.

Area 2- Laundry

In my home, laundry must be done daily, or I will get super behind. You most likely have a smaller household, and laundry may not need to be done daily, but I would encourage you to stay on top of it. 

Waiting until no one in your family has clean underwear is NOT the way to run a household. So whether you need to run one load per day, one load every other day, etc. figure out how many loads will keep the laundry up to date, and do that.

Start with one load right now! 

Area 3- Meals

At this point, you are dressed and groomed presentably, you have a load of laundry in the washing machine, now it’s time to figure out what is for dinner.

I would encourage you to always have dinner figured out by 10am.

Now, before you get nervous, “having dinner figured out” could mean that you decide to order pizza that night.

What I want you to focus on is making a proactive decision about dinner every morning, instead of a 5:30 panic pizza order.

Making proactive choices will empower you in your home management, and that’s really what you need.

Aren’t you tired of feeling like your home is managing you instead of the other way around?

So take a moment, think about how much time you have today, what you have available right now in your fridge, freezer, and pantry and make a plan.

Are there benefits to planning a week or a month of meals in advance? Of course there are. But having dinner planned by 10am will serve you well for today, so let’s do that!

Step  2- Tackle One Room At A Time For A Clean Home

So now that you have finished all of the basics from step 1, it is time to move onto getting the home cleaned up as quickly as possible. 

There are two strategies that I use for getting the home back under control quickly and without feeling overwhelmed.

Strategy 1- Set A Timer

If you give yourself a set amount of time in each room of your home, and when it’s done, you have to walk away, this accomplishes two important things.

#1 You will clean much faster, which means you make more progress in less time.

#2 You are more likely to get started. If you know exactly how much time you will spend cleaning your home, then you will get started, and you will finish.

If you were to leave it open ended ie. I’m going to clean my house until it’s clean, you will not make the kind of progress you’re looking for. You may spend an hour and a half in the kitchen, and have it looking great, but then you’ve run out of time, the rest of the house looks like a disaster and you are not motivated to put in another hour and a half tomorrow.

I recommend 15 minutes per room, and when the timer goes off, you move to the next room, regardless of whether you feel it’s finished.

This means that at the end of your cleaning session, you will have an entire home that is MUCH cleaner than it was when you started, which will motivate you to do it again…maybe even the next day to finish up on the rooms that weren’t quite finished.

If you know that if you put in 1.5 hours every week or twice a week, and your house will look incredible, that’s much more motivating than just saying “if I clean once or twice a week my house will look great”.

Do you see the difference in quantifying how much time you will spend?

Strategy #2- Use Order Of Operations To Clean

There is an order to follow in cleaning if you don’t want to get distracted and want to make the biggest impact in the least amount of time.

#1- Gather everything that doesn’t belong in the room, put it in a laundry basket, and place the basket outside the door.

#2- Survey the surfaces. Tops of counters, tables, nightstands, chairs, etc. If it’s horizontal, that’s a surface (including the floor). Move quickly through the room in a clockwise direction and put everything away that is not where it belongs on the surfaces.

#3- Quickly wipe down or dust the surface.

#4- Make the bed if you are in the bedroom, fluff the pillows, etc. If you are in the kitchen, do the dishes and put them away.

#5- Floors. Vacuum or sweep the floor.

That’s it. Repeat this pattern in every room, and remember to work QUICKLY.

Do not get distracted by organizing drawers or closets, etc. that is for the next step. Step 2 is all about making the room look better. 

Step 3- Go Back And Deep Clean And Declutter

After steps 1 and 2 are taken care of, then you can start thinking about deep cleaning and decluttering. There are many, many ways to accomplish this, but I personally like to set aside about 10-20 minutes per day to work on this.

I work in one room per week, and I just go down my checklists made specifically for this purpose. You can find the decluttering checklist here, and the deep cleaning checklist here.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to deep cleaning and decluttering your home is that it should only be worked on after you have your basics covered and the rest of the home picked up.

It makes no sense to deep clean and declutter your kitchen if the rest of your home looks like a tornado touched down. That is a sure-fire recipe for resentment. 

Keeping a home neat, clutter-free, clean, and well-organized is not easy, it requires hard work in the beginning and daily maintenance. The good news is that once you hit the maintenance phase, it’s much easier, and the reward of a clean and sparkling home is well worth it!

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Ashley is committed to helping ALL Moms (working moms, stay at home moms, homeschooling moms, ADHD moms, and any other kind of Mom who wants a change!) realize and achieve a calm, peaceful, neat space that really feels like Home Sweet Home.