Thursday, January 15, 2015

10 Steps To Make Our Homes Sparkle: Step By Step De-Cluttering

10 Steps To Make Our Homes Sparkle:
Step By Step De-Cluttering

AND a chance to link up your OWN cleaning posts!!!

Cleaning our homes isn't about having everything 'perfect' and looking pristine all of the time.
We can have a clean home, while having somewhat of a 'lived' in look.

Nor does organizing have to be tedious, stressful or time-consuming.
I'm serious. 

We can also be fairly orderly without coming across as a 'neurotic Nancy', or as 'perfectionist Patsy'.

However, I do know that for myself if my home is in total disarray (particularly for long periods of time), then my stress levels go way up.

I've had to develop a system that works for our family.
It's always evolving, but I'm able to feel that I'm getting something done most days.

If I've peaked your interest, you need to keep reading!

So, here are my:

Top 10 Steps To Make Your Home Sparkle!

  • Start with the end in mind. First of all, you need to know what is realistic in your season of life. If you're like me (five kiddoss & a pooch) then your house is not going to be as clean as when you were living as a single woman. Make a list of your top ten attack areas. If you're having trouble thinking of them (too overwhelmed, perhaps?) then spend a few minutes on Google looking for basic FREE house cleaning printables. There are TONS!

  • Aim to set aside a short time each week day for an entire month for cleaning. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit, so one month's time will help you to: a) get out of a pit of discouragement, if you're feeling overwhelmed by your home's mess & b) give you a reasonable goal to work towards. This amount of time shouldn't be too long that you get burned out, but long enough to accomplish some dramatic cleaning & purging. (i.e. my suggested place to start is 20-30 minutes per week day, asides from a deeper cleaning once per week that usually takes place on one of the weekend days)

  • Don't try to attack too much at once. Once you begin cleaning on day 1, when the timer goes off stop what you're doing. Then simply pick up on day two wherever you finished last. That is the pattern you want to establish that first month. Also, try to keep the cleaning slot at the same time each day for consistency (helps with forming the habit). (i.e. so if you clean once per day from Monday to Friday, suggestion is to make Saturday your deeper cleaning day with slightly longer time slot & then Sunday your day of rest from the schedule)
  • As you clean, it's important to de-clutter & purge. One of the biggest obstacles to keeping our homes clean is TOO MUCH STUFF! So, as you clean keep alongside you three boxes or bags: one for stuff to give away, one for the trash, and one to temporarily hold stuff to relocate somewhere else in the home. Ensure you place those bags/boxes in the appropriate place when you're done. 

  • Have a 'master sorting' area set aside. This is somewhere you don't fully organize until the end of that first month. It could be a garage corner, an extra bedroom, an empty closet or even a corner in your bedroom. This sorting area is where you take the giveaway stuff & extra trash until it can be properly disposed off. Schedule a day to take it where it needs to go at the end of the month, or even every two weeks if it's really piling up. Most importantly, just ensure you don't leave it there as you move forward!

  • Ensure you have all of your cleaning supplies ready. Cloths, rags, your preferred cleaners (or many things work from around the house as well, such as vinegar, baking soda, borax, lemon juice, etc.), mop, broom & dust pan, vacuum, garbage bags,  & boxes (again, for sorting). Optional (depending on your 'attack' areas) --> empty book shelves, bins of various sizes, Tupperware containers of various sizes, wall shelving, shoe racks, etc. Pinterest is a great resource if you want to look at ways to frugally to organize things.

  • During your cleaning slots, turn off any distractions. Phones, computers, movies, anything that buzzes or will take your attention away from what you're doing. Latest studies I've read are saying we actually can't do everything at once. It's better to focus. The only allowed exception to this rule is: music! Find some fun beats & away you go. (NOTE: for some of us we will always have our children with us, and of course they are NOT a distraction. Enlist older children to help out with their own list. Younger children can do simple things that make them feel like they contributed. Babies can be safely placed in play pens, or perhaps choose to clean during nap/sleep time.)
  • Reward yourself when you finish each time slot. It could be something as simple as enjoying your favourite tea for 10 minutes on the couch. Allowing yourself to NOW check your social media accounts. Giving your fav friend a quick call or text. Anything that gives your brain a nice 'feeling' that encourages it to want to do it all over again... the next day :)

  • Instead of going all over the house haphazardly,  attack only ONE ROOM at a time. I find it really rewarding to start in your main living space. As it cleans up you tend to feel good because you see the results each & everyday. Also, you will probably be reaffirmed whenever you have company over (especially if you used to have a total mess in that area!). However, another choice is to pick the room that is bugging you the most. Or lastly, your bedroom is another good option. It's always relaxing to have an orderly sleep area :)

  • Involve everyone who lives in the home. If you don't let them know what you're doing, you can be sure there'll be a revolt when you start re-organizing & something gets 'lost'. Let your spouse have their input. Allow your mature children/teens to be responsible for their own bedrooms, perhaps with your 'light' input. If you are single & have a room mate then respectfully discuss who will be responsible for what. It also increases the chance that your new cleaning & sorting systems will be followed for the long-term.

  • Once the one month 'trial' period is over, then implement a flexible weekly schedule. You may find you need more or less time daily, depending on how big your living space is. As well, you know your own personal comfort level for cleanliness in your house, and it is YOUR home! Now, in our home, we've tried: laminated charts, written lists, & winging it with a more 'loose' system. What I've found, that as long as we make some time daily for organizing/cleaning, it helps me to stay somewhat on top of it. Somewhat :)

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Now here's your chance to share your tips!
 Link up any post that pertains to cleaning, de-cluttering or purging.



  1. I love to regularly de-clutter my house. It gives me visual rest.

    1. Me too :) Especially when it so easily boomerangs back again, at least in my house... Thanks for coming by the blog Susan!

  2. So many great tips! I whole heartedly agree with setting the time aside.
    We decided to 'schedule' it into our day, and although the kids weren't very impressed with me when I introduced the concept that we have that planned time, all together, to clean, they are now seeing the benefits, which curbs the complaining about it ;)

    1. Yes, anything that curbs that complaining is always good :)
      Thanks for stopping by the blog Jen & for linking up!

  3. Great list! We are going through a 34 Weeks of Clean series right now and would love for you to pop over and join the fun! One room at a time, one week at a time!

    1. Oh sounds like fun! I will find your blog link & then head on over to check it out :) Thanks for coming by the blog.

  4. Excellent piece Rachael. I enjoyed the way you laid it out. Keeping it simple is the key in making progress. Those fundamentals you describe are the blueprint What captured me was your experience "attack only one room at a time." Taking the first things first approach brings solid results.

    1. & isn't that true in so many areas of life?? (attack one thing at a time). Thanks so much for coming by the blog & commenting Walter :)

  5. I'm one of those who seldom clean but once started, so hard to stop me. Haha. I needed to read these tips. Thanks so much for sharing, and thanks for the link up.

    1. I get like that too! Love to sort & organize so it's tempting to just keep going...but I do find the stove top timer gets me on track :)
      Thanks so much for stopping by the blog!

  6. I really need to work on our school room! My desk, the printer stand, the half wall... it's this triangle of chaos that seriously needs help! Thank you for motivating me to get going on it.

    1. I hear you Shecki :) I think we all have one or two (or many!!) areas that need to be organized. I have a storage closet that I haven't touched in awhile but it seems to be calling my name...
      Thanks so much for coming by & commenting :)

  7. With working a full time job from home and homeschooling kids, cleaning and organizing gets pushed to the side. So when i finally get around to cleaning, I get overwhelmed with trying to do too much at once sometimes. definitely need to set more manageable goals. Thanks for helping me rethink my plan!

    1. You are living in a really, really busy season right now so don't be too hard on yourself :) Homeschooling is hard enough, then when you add in a full time job I can imagine it's quite overwhelming at times.
      Probably best to start really small. When you can :)
      Thanks for stopping by the blog & commenting.

  8. Rule number one. Do the dishes promptly. No if buts or maybes. Next focus on the bathroom. It makes a huge difference if you start with a clean (sanitary) kitchen.

  9. Wowwww
    These are great tips, and I LOVE our apartment to sparkle :)
    But to be honest - we do have a housekeeper that helps a lot



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