Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A House of Order

I consider myself to be an organized person and a decent housekeeper. Today I tackled the whole house and am resting my bones with contentment. I thought I'd share some tips that work for me, and hopefully you can use something that will help you with organization and upkeep of your own little nest.

Some people clean a room each day of the week so as not to be overwhelmed with the task of the whole thing. I use a divide and conquer approach because I like everything to be clean all at once, but you can apply my tips to however you approach your housekeeping.
  • Rise and shine! I'm a morning person, so before I'm able to find any distractions, I jump in full-bore. I even stay in my jammies to clean so that when I'm done, I can throw them into the laundry and have clean ones to wear the same night.

  • Let it ring. Unless you are expecting an important phone call, don't answer when it rings. This breaks your focus from your task, and once this happens, you'll find other things to do that distract you from completing it.

  • Top-down. Clean from the top down. I live in a 2-story house, so I start on the 2nd floor in the farthest corner room and work my way toward the stairs and down to the main level. If you have a main floor and basement, start downstairs and work your way up. In a split-level house, do the upstairs, then the downstairs and end on the main level. Basically end in the area where you'll take the garbage/recycling out. Same philosophy goes for what you're cleaning. Start on the top shelf of the closet, cabinet, fridge, etc.

  • Lights out. This isn't the most energy-conscious way to do things, and I don't do it every time, but if I'm feeling overwhelmed by the task ahead, I'll turn the lights on in each room and when a room is finished, I turn it off. You could do the same thing with shutting the doors as the rooms get finished.

  • Put it away! When you find something that goes somewhere else in the house, just put it in the destination room and go RIGHT back to your original room you're working on. This means some double handling of items, but you will keep your focus, avoid distraction, and get things done quicker in the long run. I usually find toys all over the house that need to go in the family room. By the time I get to the family room, there's a huge pile of toys waiting to be put away. Once you're cleaning that room, put stuff away NOW. Moving stuff from one pile to another in the same room is not efficient.

  • Spin cycle. Keep the laundry going while you're cleaning. I empty baskets full of clean laundry onto the sofa, and after everything else is done, I can relax and fold laundry (which I actually enjoy) while I'm watching TV.

  • Suck it up. Vacuum last. This goes along with the top-down strategy. There's nothing like seeing fresh vacuum tracks and not-yet-trampled carpet that says clean.

  • Dear John. Clean bathrooms last (although I'm tempted to clean them first and get it out of the way). I personally don't like the idea of cleaning kitchen stuff after cleaning the bathrooms, even with thorough hand washing. Not sure if I should say this, but the easiest way for me to clean the shower is when I'm in the shower. It's too difficult to scrub the shower and rinse the cleanser off without getting myself and the rest of the bathroom soaked. So, spray something like Scrubbing Bubbles on the walls and when you're done with the house and are ready to shower, take a sponge with you and wipe down the surfaces before you get on with shining yourself up. Water stays in the shower and it's OK that I get wet. I can't be the only one who does this, right?

  • No feathers. Feather or fuzzy dusters don't work. They just seem to stir the dust around. Get yourself an old soft t-shirt and some furniture polish and go to town. Use the fuzzies to get hard-to-reach places like under the DVD player.

  • Nuke it! Who likes cleaning the microwave? Me either. Here's an easy tip. Get a sponge wet (don't wring it dry), and microwave it on high for 2 minutes. Take it out - careful it's hot! And all the little splatters inside will be softened enough to easily wipe them off. And your sponge is disinfected too!

  • Air it out. Just like some fresh air is good for our bodies, same goes for our homes. Even on a chilly winter day, just 15 minutes of an open window will air it out nicely.

So, there you have it...a few tips for a happy, healthy home. Our humble abode is far from perfect - most of our walls have yet to be painted, there's a lack of adequate furniture, and there are bins of yet-to-be-hung artwork. But it's our HOME, and I think we're all a little more calm, happy and at peace when it's clean and orderly.

So what's next? Sit back and enjoy the show:


  1. I especially loved the lights out/door closed concept. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Great tips. I agree about the phone, it has been one of the best decisions this past year to just let it ring. Liberating.

  3. Those are some very helpful tips. I've been overwhelmed with my daily tasks for a while now. I'm going to implement some of those suggestions.

  4. Jen, I LOVE this post! I'm feeling the itch to start things your way right now! But since I can't do it all today...I'm going to start with the microwave at least--what a great tip! And no, you are not the only one who cleans the shower when you're in it--I do it too! Or at least, I have done it before, I really need to do it more...I was just noticing this yesterday. :) Thanks so much for a wonderful post!

  5. I clean the shower when I'm in it too! It really is the best way to get it done! Thanks for all the tips, in my spirit of keeping a more orderly home, I will definitely be putting these to use!

  6. I loved all the tips on here! I do have one idea to add....instead of having to take everything to the room its supposed to be in I carry around a laundry basket and throw everything in there. That way you dont have the distraction of leaving the room and at the end can put everything away.

  7. It is a few weeks later and I am still inspired by your post and I am officially a clean-the-shower-when-you-take-a-shower kind of a girl now. I also use to very much concentrate on cleaning one room, but I have been working on doing the whole thing (or at least the entire upstairs or downstairs) and I have been loving it. Thanks again!