I get a lot of comments on my Instagram feed asking how I manage to keep my house so clean. Especially since I have two kids and two pets. Let’s all take a minute right here to pause and share a universal truth: INSTAGRAM IS STAGED. Okay, I feel better. But seriously, the pictures I put on my social media are very carefully staged. I probably just cleaned that one spot and what you can’t see are the piles of laundry lurking in the corners. Or the legos on the floor. Or the crayons on the dining table. Believe me, the accounts you follow on social media are NOT real life!
All that being said, I am a rather tidy person in real life. I just can’t function when my house is a mess. I’ve always been that way and will probably always be that way. That doesn’t mean I’m a clean freak and have to have everything spotless all the time. It just means that I make it a priority to keep my house relatively clean by doing some very simple things every day.
Easy Ways to Keep Your House (Relatively) Clean
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Make your bed every morning.
My bed is a place of relaxation and refuge. When my bed is a mess, it is decidedly less inviting to me. Maybe I’m weird (probably), but I love when I walk into my room after a long day and am greeted by a beautifully dressed bed. I’m not going to lie, there are days when I’m too busy rushing to make my bed. But I do make a concentrated effort to get it made at some point in the day every day. Now to teach my kids to do the same for their beds!
Do the dishes and wipe down the kitchen every night.
I almost never go to bed without making sure the kitchen is clean. My late husband started this habit from the beginning of our marriage and it took me a while to appreciate it. Before he and I got married, I would often let dishes pile in the sink (it annoyed the snot out of roommates!). But now, I can’t let it go. Leaving dishes and dirty counters in my kitchen puts me in a terrible mood first thing in the morning and adds one extra thing I have to take care of that day. So I make it a habit to put dirty dishes away, start the dishwasher, and wipe down the counters (with my favorite counter spray) before I let myself relax for the evening.
Put things away after use.
One of the simplest ways to keep your house clean is to just put stuff away! I try to make it a habit, and instill it in my children, to put things away after I’ve used them. If I pull out the mixer to make some brownies (it’s rare, but all things are possible), I will be sure to put it back where it belongs after it’s cleaned. Otherwise it just sits on the counter and takes up space and creates visual clutter. If you were a fly on my wall, you would probably hear the phrase, “Is this where this belongs?” or “Does this live here?” My children know that is code for, “Put the damn thing away before it goes in the trash or to Mommy Jail!” Teach ’em young.
Make kids put toys away and clean their room every day.
I try to make a game of getting my kids to clean their room. I will challenge them with whomever cleans their room the fastest gets a special treat after dinner. Or maybe an extra half hour of screen time. Whatever I feel will work that day. Usually, my game works like a charm. However, I have had to make some clarifications to the rules, such as, “Cleaning is NOT shoving all your toys under the bed, son.” But I applaud his effort and ingenuity!
Do laundry more frequently.
I’ve started doing my laundry two or three times a week instead of once a week and it has helped so much! Before, I would do laundry on Sundays. I like having all our clothes clean and put away for the coming week. But with two growing kids and an active schedule, trying to get laundry done in one day was eating up all my time on that one day. I would often forget that I was in the middle of a load and have to rewash clothes to get rid of the dreaded mildew smell. Ugh. Splitting up laundry days to several times a week makes each load smaller, easier to manage, and keeps a fresh supply of clothing available throughout the week.
Invest in a robot vacuum or hand vac.
The day I invested in my iRobot vacuum was one of the happiest days of my life. The minute we got him and turned him on, we were in love. We even named him Jeeves. I try to run him every day. While he doesn’t take the place of actually vacuuming the house, it helps to keep crumbs and pet hair under control. The pets think Jeeves is the devil on wheels, but I couldn’t care less. Jeeves is my little dust busting buddy and he was worth every damn penny.
Remove shoes at the door.
It is a hard and fast rule in my house that you remove your shoes at the door. Of course, I don’t try to force this on my guests as I feel that’s a little weird. But for me and my kids, shoes are gross, dirty, smelly things that shouldn’t be allowed much past the threshold. Many European households implement this rule, too, and for good reason. Shoes track in some of the grossest germs. Not only that, they bring allergens into the house too. So I keep a shoe rack, or a basket, or a boot tray by my doors to encourage my socks-only policy.
Declutter and purge.
Honestly, this is one of the best ways of keeping your house clean and in order. We Americans have way too much stuff. It’s just a fact. Our houses and cars and garages are filled to the brim with a bunch of junk. I am guilty of this, too. For the past couple of years, I have been making a real effort to eliminate all of my excess crap. I have been decluttering and purging like a crazy person. At first, it was difficult. I have attached some sentimental value to a lot of my things. But the more I let go, the easier it is. And I find this liberating in so many ways!
Create a home for everything and put it there.
After you’ve decluttered and purged like a boss, create a system that works for you for your stuff. Make sure everything has a “home” and then put all the things in their “home” every single day. Begin teaching your kids that all of their things also have “homes” and encourage them to put things where they belong. Not only will this habit keep your house clean with hardly any effort on your part, it will also make your life easier since you will know exactly where everything is when you need it. No more running around the house looking for keys or sunglasses!
Toss the paper.
Keeping paper stuff in the digital age is really a huge waste of space. I used to keep YEARS worth of receipts and bills and tiny scraps of paper I wrote my schedule on. Why? God only knows. Within the past 5 years or so, I have begun finding better ways of keeping what’s important and tossing what’s not. For example, once I pay a bill, I shred it (or I sign up for e-bills). If my child draws a picture, I ask myself, “Will either he or I want to look at this in 10 years?” If the answer is no, I toss it (I know, I’m a terrible mom!). When I’m done reading a magazine, I rip out any relevant article I need to keep for a while and I recycle the magazine. I am currently in the process of making my office a paperless office by scanning anything relevant and then shredding it. This can be a hard habit to start, but once you get the hang of it, you will be so happy you did!
Keeping your house relatively clean doesn’t have to be a tedious or demanding process. Incorporating some simple habits, like these, on a daily basis, will set you up for a perpetually tidy home that you can then also stage for Instagram (or just enjoy with your family)!
Do you have some easy tips to add to this list? I’d love to know your tricks!