How do some people manage to keep their homes  so clutter-free and easy to clean?

If you aren’t one of those lucky people who seem to have been born organized, you might have to fake it. Try working down this list to keep your home looking eternally tidy.

Toss Everything

Get rid of tons of stuff. Most of the battle in keeping a clean, organized house comes about because you have too many things. For instance, you don’t need five skillets and seven bottle openers. You also shouldn’t keep broken electronics or kids’ toys,  clothing that doesn’t fit or look good on you anymore, expired food, old makeup, stacks of old magazines, or books you will never read or think about again. Move them out.

Constantly Donate

Keep a donation bag in your closet and when something doesn’t fit right, or you realize you will never, ever wear it again, in it goes. Put bags in your children’s closets and teach them to do this, too.

When a donation bag is full, pick it up and carry it out to the car. Get it out of your house. Next time you’re in your car, drop it off at a donation center.

Limit Linens

Count how many blankets, sets of sheets, and bed pillows you have and compare that to the number of beds. Donate excess sheets and throw away old pillows. Give extra blankets to your animal shelter.

Paper Free Forever

Go paperless whenever possible. Open any paper mail over the recycling pile or trash and see how many pieces of paper you can get rid of. Set up a system for filing important papers and use it. Shred and recycle everything you can.

Everything Has Its Place

Make sure everything in your home has a place it belongs. If things don’t, find a place or reduce how much stuff you have. Once things have a place, keep putting them back there.

Clear Counters

When your counters are no longer so crowded, it’s quick and easy to dust them. Do that regularly, and your house will be (and look) cleaner.

Keep Mirrors Clean

Keep window cleaner and paper towels under your bathroom sinks, and clean the mirror often (10 seconds). That makes everything look better.

Make. Your. Bed.

Make your bed every morning. If you get yourself a comfy duvet to sleep under, all you have to do is pull it up. Teach your kids to “make their bed” (pull up their comforters), too.

Keep Up With Laundry

Put your dirty clothes straight into a laundry basket, not on the floor or draped over a chair. As soon as the basket is full, toss the clothes in the washer. Set the alarm on your phone, so you remember to move them to the dryer.

Put your clean laundry away right away. If you don’t already do this, maybe it’s because your drawers or closet are full and it’s hard to put clothes away. See “donation bags” above.

Clean Like a Cook

Clean up as you go when you cook. Finished with the flour? Put it back in the cupboard. When you put something in the oven, stick the dishes you used into the dishwasher. That makes a big difference when it’s time to clean the kitchen. Wipe the counters and the kitchen table after meals. It only takes seconds but looks so much better.

Ban Dirty Dishes

Make a new rule: when anyone finishes eating, they put their dishes in the dishwasher or hand wash it in the sink. No one leaves dirty dishes sitting around. Run the dishwasher every night and empty it in the morning while the coffee brews. During the day, you’ll have room for dirty dishes, and they won’t stack up on the counter.

Reset the Room on the Regular

Teach your kids—and your spouse— that rooms need to be “reset” at the end of each day, with items picked up and put back where they belong.

Easy on the Knick-Knacks

Get rid of a lot of the knick-knacks and decorative items in your home—everything that’s not an important heirloom or treasured memory. They make your house look cluttered and keep you from having breathing room that is, incidentally, easy to clean.

Shop With Purpose

Don’t go shopping for fun; go shopping because you need some specific thing. Get it and leave the store. Just stop buying so much stuff in general. Remind yourself of the difference between “needs” and “wants.”

Add some of these tips to your repertoire and your house, too, will be looking good.

Leslie Lang