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You want to keep your house clutter-free, a neat and relaxing space that welcomes you home. Keeping it that way can take precious hours of your time every week, hours that could be spent going after those big dreams and goals you want for yourself.
By developing some simple habits, you can keep your room decluttered and tidy. And quite coincidentally, clean too.
Start with one or two of the habits that speak to you the most and incorporate them into your day. Don’t try to do everything at once but try to make these habits part of a routine to get the most out of them. For example, you could easily combine #7, #8, and #17 as part of your morning routine.
However you choose to implement these habits, they will help you keep your house clutter-free and the haven you want it to be.
20 Habits That Keep Your Home Clutter Free
1. Make a regular stop at your recycling or donation center.
If you regularly gather things throughout the week and place them in a designated box in your garage or car, you can effortlessly drop off the contents every Saturday morning on your way to brunch with the family or grocery shopping.
2. Have a catch-all basket or bin to place all the loose toy parts, papers, magazines or other things that want to start a clutter avalanche.
If you only have time to get to it once a week, it will all be out of the way. Chances are that much of it will have been picked up by family members looking for things they carelessly laid somewhere and forgot.
3. Take a few minutes every day to sort through whatever came in.
The mail, the flyers, the packages. Move the contents to their designated places and trash the rest.
4. Never leave your kitchen messy at night.
Even if it’s been a long day, getting the dishes done, leftovers put away, the counters wiped and the floor swept will give you a boost when you come down in the morning and keep the clutter from accumulating.
5. Keep surfaces cleared.
Put your purse in its designated space when you get home, hang up your jacket, quickly deal with the mail and then use kitchen counters and other surfaces as a temporary workspace, not storage. Same goes for floors. Shoes go to closets, sports equipment to the garage.
6. Have a designated space for everything that made the cut when you decluttered.
You don’t need anything fancy. Use a pretty box for wallet & keys at the end of the day. Worn clothing goes to the laundry hamper. Cleaning products go under the sink after you’re done with them. Whatever system works for you is fine, just make sure there is nothing “floating” without a home. That’s instant clutter if you do.
7. Make your bed when you get up.
The bed is the center of your bedroom. When it’s unmade, no matter how nice the rest of the room is, it will look unkempt. But make the bed and the whole room looks better. Do it first, before you even get dressed and go get your first cup of coffee. For many of us, that’s the last time we step in our bedrooms until bedtime. So quickly make the bed and enjoy the peace you’ll feel when you enter your bedroom in the evening. Making your bed also triggers other good habits and routines. Once you’ve made the bed, it’s more natural to rinse and wipe the sink after preparing breakfast and to pick up random clutter on the floor before leaving the house.
8. Empty the dishwasher in the morning.
It rarely takes more than a few minutes and you can do it while the coffee pot is brewing or water is boiling for your oatmeal. Once unloaded, it’s easy to keep your sink empty by loading every dirty dish or utensils used throughout the day, leaving your sink and counters clean. If you have time, empty the dishwasher at night as part of your final cleanup.
9. Don’t wait for the weekend for certain household tasks.
Start a load of laundry in the morning, move it to the dryer when you get home, and fold after dinner while watching TV.
10. Keep a disinfectant wipe container near your sinks.
When you have cleaning products standing by, you’ll find it easy to quickly wipe down the faucet and sink after brushing your teeth or shaving.
11. If you see it, pick it up.
There’s a reason everything I own has pockets. Whether it’s a single lost Lego, a scrap of paper, a rubber band, or a lost earring, pick it up the minute you see it. Then, move it to your catch-all basket (see #2) when you go by it. Keeping your floor surfaces clean of debris keeps them looking neat until you plan to vacuum. Don’t walk through a room without noticing, and picking up, something that is out of place. Don’t pick up an entire pile of things that’ll require some time to go through – schedule that though – just the odds and ends you’re sure to find.
12. Keep an eye out for “hot spots,” naturally-occurring areas that attract clutter.
For many people, that’s a corner of the kitchen counter, the entry table, the dining room table, and the coffee table. Be aware of hot spots forming in your home and make a plan for alternate destinations for the things that gather there. If it’s your child’s homework, you might put a basket on your sideboard where he can put his homework when he gets home. Even better, have him complete it and immediately put it back in his backpack. No more lost or late homework. If it’s bills, following #3 should already have taken care of the problem. File it, pay it, or trash it. Giving everything a place to live will go a long way to preventing hot spots. You just have to help them find their way home.
13. Say no to freebies.
They sound like a great deal. Someone at a conference gives you a pretty pen, mug, or an embossed notebook. Your friend drops off something on her way to Goodwill because she’s sure you’ll love it. The price might be right but if you weren’t planning to go out and buy that item on your own, it’s just stuff. And you want a house filled with things you love, not junk you never even wanted.
14. If something in your house is broken, don’t replace it unless or until you’ve done something about it.
Whether you schedule a time to fix it, call a repairman, or throw it away because it’s not worth the cost of repair, do not bring a duplicate into the house until you’ve dealt with the old one. If have projects that you never finished around the house, maybe it’s time to accept that it will never happen.
15. Don’t throw your clothes on the bed, the floor, the chair or anything else in the house except for where it belongs – on a hanger, in a drawer, or in the hamper.
If you plan to wear it again, hanging it up will keep it from getting wrinkled or linty. And your room will not gather more clutter. Nightgowns and robes can also be put on hangers or hung on a hook behind a door. The only clothing that should be laid out is what you choose for the next day.
16. Put your laundry away as soon as you’ve folded it.
I fold laundry while watching TV in the evening, take the basket of clean laundry with me at the end of the evening and deliver it to where it belongs (children should take their own laundry at bedtime and put it away) and the hamper goes back to its place too.
17. Clean the bathroom every day.
You don’t need to do a deep cleaning. Wipe the sink and counter, use the Swiffer on the floor (if necessary), a daily shower cleaner on the shower doors before you step out, and a fast scrub with the toilet brush. This will take only a few minutes and you’ll have bathrooms that stay fresh and neat all week.
18. Be ok with the idea that tidy is more important than clean.
If you want a house that’s clean 24/7, don’t have a husband, children, or pets. If you’re living a real life, you need to settle for a level of clean that you can live with. By keeping surfaces decluttered and everything in its place, your home will look cared for and serene. If you haven’t found that furball in the corner yet (#11), reflect on the fact that your boss could walk in the front door right now and you’d be perfectly at ease with what he’d see. Sometimes, good enough is good enough.
19. Keep cleaning supplies in the rooms and areas where you use them most often.
Yes, it’s ok to have duplicates when it comes to this. I have a bathroom cleaning bin downstairs and another upstairs. There’s also the usual kitchen cleaning products in the sink cabinet. I keep wood treatment products in a utility closet upstairs since we have more wood furniture in the bedrooms there. Not having to run upstairs or downstairs for products and tools saves time but also makes it much easier to do a quick cleanup job that might otherwise be put off.
20. Clean out your fridge on a weekly basis.
In only a few days, you can accumulate containers of leftovers, wilted produce, and sticky stains on your shelves. If you can, coordinate trash and grocery days. Our trash pick up is on Tuesdays and grocery shopping is on Fridays. So I clean out the fridge on Monday nights with a follow up on Thursday evening. Thursday, I also give my shelves a quick wipe down so that my fresh groceries have a clean place when I get them home.
Would you like some quick wins? Download my free 50 Quick Decluttering Projects You Can Do In A Half Hour Or Less and see results beginning today!
Check out ALL the posts in the Decluttering For Busy Moms series: