Austin is a good cook. He gets creative in ways I would never think of and it’s almost always delicious.
But I kind of hate it when he cooks dinner. Why? Well, after he cooks, I will walk into the kitchen (which was clean before dinner) and every surface is covered. It’s really quite impressive, just not in a good way. There are dirty dishes, cutting boards, and empty food containers everywhere.
The other day I figured out what the difference is between when he cooks dinner and when I do.
He doesn’t clean up as he goes.
My Biggest Secret To Keeping Our House Clean:
Pick Up As You Go
Picking up as you go is my biggest “secret” to keeping our house clean, or at least picked-up looking, most of the time.
It’s something that I usually don’t even realize that I’m doing, but apparently, it’s not something that comes naturally to everyone.
If you pick up as you go throughout your day, your home won’t get to that overwhelmingly messy stage where you don’t even know where to start to clean up.
Also, if you have friends and family stop by unannounced, you will feel like you can welcome them into your home without thinking that you should explain that a tornado just came through.
So What Does Picking Up As You Go Look Like?
In The Kitchen
As my coffee brews in the morning, I empty the dishwasher.
After I put something in the oven, I load the dishwasher or put away the ingredients I’m done with.
Right after I use a knife, cutting board, or the blender, I rinse it off so that food doesn’t get dried onto it. If I can, I put it in the dishwasher. If I can’t put it in the dishwasher, I at least stack the rinsed, dirty dishes nicely by the sink so that they don’t cover the entire counter.
Anytime I’m between tasks, I try to glance around and see if there is something I can put away or wipe down.
Once you get used to doing this, it’s really not a big deal. It’s just about being mindful of what’s going on and taking care of things as you go. This means that I don’t have an intimidating, messy disaster on my hands after dinner.
When Leaving A Room
All of our stuff seems to migrate to different rooms in the house throughout the day.
Bills are on the kitchen table instead of in my budget binder. Books are in the living room instead of on nightstands. You know how it goes.
When I leave a room, especially if I’m heading upstairs, I glance around and see if anything in the room I’m in belongs where I’m heading. It doesn’t take any extra effort to snag a book, the dirty clothes on the chair, or the scissors left out and get them to where they belong since I’m heading that way anyway.
When Leaving The House
Nobody likes to come home to a messy house, right?
As we’re heading out the door, I’ll often straighten the living room (throw blankets in the basket and put remotes on the tv stand), make sure the kitchen isn’t a disaster or straighten our shoes at the back door so no one trips over them coming home.
I’m not talking about doing any real cleaning, just tidying up a few things as I’m on my way out the door.
Just like no one likes coming home to a messy house, it’s a rough start to the day to wake up to a messy house. A lot of people have a 15-minute nightly cleaning routine, which I think is awesome!
I like to do a few things before bed that makes the house feel better in the morning.
- Pick up the living room: Fold blankets. Remotes go on the tv stand. I move anything that doesn’t belong in that room to its rightful place.
- Clean the kitchen: My husband finishes up the dishes every night before bed and turns on the dishwasher.
- Clean off the kitchen table: We don’t keep much on the kitchen table, so if there’s anything on it, it probably doesn’t belong there.
- Straighten the office: I walk through our office on the way to bed, so I quick tuck in the chairs so they don’t get tripped over in the middle of the night.
If I’ve done a good job of picking up as I go throughout the day, there shouldn’t be much to do. I am just mindful of our space as I walk through and take care of any things that can be picked up quickly as I’m passing.
If picking up as you go comes naturally to you, then you probably don’t see the need to even mention it. But if it doesn’t, you can absolutely develop this habit.
By being more mindful and glancing around to see what can be picked up throughout the day, your house will feel so much better and cleaning up won’t be as overwhelming.
Top 10 Secrets to a Perpetually Clean House from Organization Experts
I have been pretty happy with MY secret to a perpetually clean house. But it doesn’t hurt to load up on cleaning hacks and advice to tackle the clutter. You never know which one ends up working wonders for you. Because let’s be honest, something that works for me might be utterly useless for you. So, here are 10 secrets from the organization experts to ace your cleaning game.
1. Turn the music on.
Jan M. Dougherty, the author of “The Lost Art of House Cleaning”, who also runs a cleaning company, dishes out a fun tidbit that actually does work. Her advice is to put on loud music while cleaning. Loud enough to be heard over the whirring of the vacuum and fun enough to put you in a good mood.
When you’re grooving to your favorite beat, cleaning won’t seem as boring. In fact, cleaning time could be your excuse to listen to the music that otherwise you won’t have time to listen to.
2. Clean during the day to better see the dust on surfaces.
Dougherty also encourages cleaning only when the sun is out. It does make a lot of sense too. Because when you have direct sunlight coming into your room, you can clearly see the dust on the surfaces (vertical and horizontal).
For the mirrors and windows, however, draw the curtains or turn the lights off, so you can better see the smears and smudges on the glossy surfaces.
3. Don’t wait for your laundry to pile up.
Julie Finch-Scally, a consultant in Hygiene Management & Cleaning and the author of “The Third Oldest Profession: The A-Z of House Cleaning” gives remarkable advice to prevent your laundry basket from overflowing.
She urges you to mark a line on your basket. When your clothes reach that line, it’s time to load them up for a wash. The point where you mark that line could be when there are enough clothes to fill two-third of the washing machine. Sounds like a pretty good plan to me.
4. Clean the kitchen after you cook.
This brings me exactly where I started this article from—cleaning the kitchen after cooking. Turns out it’s not just me. Jan M. Dougherty also thinks the same. She emphasizes that you clean everything in the kitchen that you used while cooking, immediately after you’re done. That includes countertops and the stove.
The thing we easily forget is the handles of kitchen appliances (oven, refrigerator, and even sink handles). This might seem like a lot of work in theory but in practice, it only takes a microfiber cloth and a couple of swipes. When the dust, oil, and other ingredients harden over time, they will take thrice the energy and time to get removed.
5. Multi-task or incorporate cleaning into your normal routine.
Janine Adams, a certified professional organizer and the founder of Peace of Mind Organizing LLC says that the best and easiest cleaning happens when you sneak it into your normal routine.
Melissa Maker, the founder of Clean My Space further expands on it and says after she puts on a face mask, she spends a little time cleaning up the bathroom. By the time her face mask has dried, she has a squeaky clean bathroom. Similarly, when she’s boiling water for tea, she spends a few minutes swiping the counters clean and putting the pots away.
6. Don’t underestimate microfiber cloths and rubber gloves’ ability to keep your home squeaky clean.
Beth McGee, the author of “Get Your House Clean Now” stresses the importance of rubber gloves and microfiber cloths. While rubber gloves will help you clean the icky spots and things, microfiber cloths are great for sparkly clean surfaces.
The reason why microfiber cloths are super popular is that the gaps between their fibers pick up and hold the dust for effective cleaning. So, on your next grocery run, don’t forget to pick up a bunch of these bad boys.
7. Have a place for everything.
Jennifer Snyder, the owner of the cleaning company Neat as a Pin believes that every little thing you own should have a place to go. If you don’t have storage space for your stuff, it’s going to end up in clutter and piles around the house. And that is not a pretty sight. For example, if you have a drawer for your kitchen napkins or shelves for your books, use them.
8. Make space for the new stuff by selling or donating the old stuff.
In the new, out with the old. This is not just my mantra but also of Nancy Haworth, the owner of On Task Organizing. She says that you should sell or donate older stuff to make space for the new things. Hoarding things won’t get you anywhere (unless it has significant sentimental value).
As for the other stuff, the decluttering expert Marie Kondo says that if it doesn’t bring you joy, toss it. This by far is my favorite approach to decluttering.
9. Work with one room at a time.
Cleaning and decluttering can be overwhelming, I won’t lie. Especially when you haven’t done it for a while. So the experts suggest that you start small with, say, one corner of your room. And slowly move to the rest of the space.
Ashley Murphy, the co-founder of the cleaning company Neat Method has quite a neat trick in her pocket. She says that you start with the corner of the house that you use the most. This will give you relief and reassurance that you can do the rest of the space too.
10. Get storage containers and label them.
Homemakers know how important storage containers are. Instead of the wired ones that show everything, get the fiber ones or the ones made of wicker. Not only do they look great, but they also keep your clutter hidden away.
Things will get peachier if you put labels on those storage boxes. Marissa Hagmeyer, the co-founder of Neat Method loves labels. She believes they are the ultimate organizing tool telling you exactly where everything is. And I agree with her.
So, there you have it. A treasure trove of cleaning tips and secrets to a perpetually clean house. What’s your cleaning secret? Tell me in the comments below.
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