Living in a clean home can make you more productive, boost your mood, and eliminate all those frenzied cleaning sprees you resort to in the hours before guests arrive. These benefits might sound great in theory, but if you fall within the messier segment of the population, keeping your home clean can feel like the ultimate uphill battle.
The good news is you don’t have to transform into a full-fledged neat freak to enjoy a more organized, less cluttered existence. You can get the living situation you want by adopting these six simple habits of people who maintain clean homes.
1. Keep Surfaces Clear.
When your tabletops and countertops are clutter-free, it not only makes your entire home look more orderly, but it gives you room to spread out when you need to tackle a project.
Dining tables are notorious for attracting unnecessary items. A great way to fight this buildup of clutter is by committing to eating dinner at the table every night, said Baiyina Hughley, an interior designer in Los Angeles and host of a YouTube channel about minimalist habits. Adopting this practice will force you to keep a clear tabletop—and it might bring your family closer in the process.
2. Sort Through Mail Right Away.
Immediately sort through the stack every time you collect the mail. Throw away whatever you don’t need, and designate a drawer or filing system for important documents and bills. A daily sorting routine will take only a few minutes, as opposed to the huge chunk of time you’ll need if you allow mail to accumulate.
Want to slow down the flow of mail? Switch to e-billing if possible, and visit DMAchoice.org to remove your name from mailing lists.
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3. Gather the Right Tools.
Hate to sweep and vacuum? Consider investing in a Roomba. Don’t like to fold up blankets and throws? Try tossing them in a large covered basket that looks great with your décor.
In other words, put some thought into which organizing and cleaning tools are right for your lifestyle, said Lauren Silverman, owner of the MOREganized professional organizing company in Glenview, IL.
“By using what works best for you—and what brings a smile to your face—you are more likely to keep up with good habits,” Silverman said.
4. Clean as You Go.
Straighten up the kitchen while you’re cooking, hang up your clothes every time you change, and put toys and crafts back as soon as you’re done with them. If this advice sounds like something your parents once told you, that’s because this time-tested wisdom really works.
People who avoid cleaning often waste minutes and hours trying to convince themselves to complete these tasks. So this straightforward and streamlined approach saves a ton of time in the long run, said Kelly Jayne McCann, a professional organizer and clutter coach in Essex, VT.
After awhile, cleaning as you go should become so automatic that you’ll barely realize you’re doing it.
For decluttering tips from decluttering guru Peter Walsh, visit blog.sparefoot.com/5225-decluttering-tips-from-peter-walsh.
5. Combine Cleaning With Something Fun.
Need to spend a bigger chunk of time on a task that you’ve been dreading? The next time you’re watching TV or listening to a latest podcast, grab that junk drawer that’s been annoying you and sort through it, Hughley suggested. You can do the same for a messy shelf, a storage box filled with random items or even a stubborn carpet stain.
Combining a cleaning chore with something pleasurable often increases the amount of time you spend on the task.
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6. Find the Low-Hanging Fruit.
While some pieces of clutter are hard to part with, other items are no-brainers for tossing out. Make weekly sweeps of your home and gather every piece of low hanging fruit you see, McCann suggested.
“Often these items are just plain rubbish, like empty shampoo bottles left on a shower ledge, expired grocery flyers or packaging left over from mail orders,” she said.
If you take just 10 minutes each week to clear these things away, you’ll free up more space to organize the things that you really need.