5 Things I Do (Almost) Every Day To Keep Household Messes at Bay

posted by Andrea | 05/30/2018
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When it comes to the cleanliness of my home, I certainly wouldn’t win any awards. I don’t dust nearly as often as I should, the windows always have smudges, and my toilets will forever have little dribbles of pee on the seats, no matter how many times I wipe them each day.

Sigh…

That said, when it comes to how neat and organized my home is, I think I do a pretty darn good job of keep our home neat and orderly most of the time — thanks in large part to the 5 things I’m sharing in today’s posts.

As many of you know, I am very routine oriented — so when I say I do something “every day” there’s a VERY good chance I literally never skip a day. However, for the purpose of this post, I’m saying “almost every day”, simply because there are always a few exceptions — and I don’t want to be a liar.

If you’d like a few more of my “secrets” to keeping my home fairly neat and organized without a ton of effort, today’s post is a good place to start!

1. I make the beds.

Always… always… always!

For as long as I can remember, I have made my bed every single day of my life. The only times I don’t fully make my bed in the morning is when I’m on vacation and housekeeping will do it — but even then, I still straighten the sheets and pull all the covers up over the bed so it doesn’t look as messy.

I make my bed immediately after waking up, and I make all the kids’ beds too. Nora makes her own bed on the weekends, but since she shares a bedroom with the boys and they are both still sleeping when she gets up for school, she has a free pass not to make her bed (and she’s not upset about that!)

The difference between a room with unmade beds and made beds is astonishing to me — and the fact it takes me roughly 3 minutes to make our bed with extra pillows and tucking in the sheets is most definitely worth my while.

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2. I do laundry from start to finish.

I only do laundry 2 days a week (Tuesday mornings and Friday evening) but when I do it, I do it from start to finish in a relatively short time-frame.

I absolutely hate baskets of clean laundry sitting around my house… waiting for my kids to dump them out and probably get them dirty again!

I use the quick cycle for washing so the washer and dryer finish at almost exactly the same time, and then I immediately swap out loads, put another load in the washer, and start folding the clothes that just came out of the dryer.

And then… I PUT THE CLOTHES AWAY!Β 

I don’t leave the clean, folded clothing in the clothes baskets, on the couch, or on the table for someone to knock over and ruin my progress. I simply take 10 minutes and put everything away again.

I return the empty clothes baskets to the laundry room and go on with my day without baskets of clean, dirty, and who-knows-if-it’s-clean-or-dirty laundry laying around.

In my opinion, this makes a huge difference in how messy and cluttered my home looks and feels. Plus, I love just the feeling of being “finished” with the laundry for a couple days.

NOTE: When I do laundry on Friday night, I put everything away except the kid’s clothing, which I do after they wake up on Saturday morning.

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3. I keep the floors clean.

Although it often feels like a losing battle these days, I try really hard to keep the floors clean (swept, vacuumed, and picked up) as much as possible.

We don’t wear shoes in the house, so the vast majority of the dirt stays in the mudroom (which I sweep daily). I also sweep our kitchen and dining room floors every night after dinner — and wipe spills or sticky spots with a damp cloth as necessary.

I regularly vacuum our carpeted areas and shake out rugs several times per week.

With little kids laying on the floors and crawling around all day long, I like knowing my floors are relatively clean. Plus, I hate walking on crumbs!

ADDED BONUS: one added bonus of keeping my floors relatively crumb and dirt-free is that it forces me to pick up too. I can’t sweep or vacuum if there are toys, books, games, clothing, crafts, etc. all over the floor.

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4. I put almost everything in the dishwasher.

Dishes have long been one of my least favorite household chores — so washing the dishes and cleaning out the dishwasher are 2 tasks I happily pass over to Dave if he’s available! πŸ™‚

About a year ago, I finally got smart and started running the dishwasher every single night, right after dinner. That way, we could clean out the dishwasher before we went to bed and wake up to a clean kitchen and empty dishwasher every morning.

Since we run the dishwasher so regularly, and since I’m a master dishwasher filler (seriously, I can fit A LOT of stuff into our dishwasher!) we almost always have plenty of room for bakeware, cookware, pots and pans too — whichΒ means I never have piles of dishes waiting to be washed, or stacks of clean dishes waiting to be put away again. Everything just goes into the dishwasher and is completely out of sight!

I know it might sound like a small thing, but the fact that my counters and sink are almost always void of dirty (or clean) dishes makes a huge difference for me as I try to prepare food throughout the day.

Plus, since our kitchen is the first things I see when I walk in the back door, I want it to look nice. If all the dishes are in the dishwasher, it looks much nicer!

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5. I pick up as I go.

Whether it’s a big cooking or baking day, a craft project, yard work, sewing, folding laundry (see #2 above), or just playing with my kids, I try really hard to consistantly pick up as I go along.

This means wiping down the counters and putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher as I’m baking. It means picking up and putting away ALL craft or sewing supplies when we’re finished using them. It means taking 5 minutes to round up my yard tools and put them away before moving on to the next thing. It means taking a quick break from playing to pick up before we get the next toy, game, or activity out.

I realize it might sound like unnecessary busywork, but taking a few minutes throughout the day to KEEP things neat and clean prevents the need for a full weekend of cleaning and reorganizing.

Picking up as I go is second nature to me now so I do it with little to no thought about the few extra minutes it takes. My kids are even used to it and sometimes start picking up on their own before moving onto the next activity.

This obviously helps our home to stay neat and orderly most of the time, but it also ensures our house is “company ready” within just a few minutes since we pick up as we go and usually only have one messy space at a time.

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I know there are lots of other little (and big) things I do each day to keep my home running smoothly, but as I thought about the few that REALLY seem to make the biggest visual difference, these 5 came to mind first.

And honestly, I do think it’s really important to consider the visual appearance of your home — even if it’s just for your own sake. If your home LOOKS cleaner and more orderly, you’ll be much less likely to contribute more mess (dump your papers on the desk to deal with later, throw your clothing on the bed to deal with later, leave dishes on the counter for later, etc.)

It WILL seem like work in the beginning as you re-train your brain to “do it now” versus leaving it until later, but over time, I’m very confident you can change (as long as you really want to change and are willing to put in the effort).

What would make your list of “things you do every day”?

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33 comments

  1. JJ

    05/31/2018

    Ever since you posted about running your dishwasher every day I started doing it. Then I got this crazy idea to give up coffee(note: that idea has been put out of my mind forever! Haha!). So I made hot tea. When I poured hot water in, it fizzled. After taking a drink I spit it out quickly realizing I put the dishwasher tab IN MY CUP!?! One thing I do every day to keep my house and mind at bay is drink coffee. β˜•

    Also, we just switched 2 of our kids’ rooms. All of your tips helped a lot!!! And one thing that really helped us get it done quickly was when my husband put on workout type music. So I’ve started playing it while trying to get my least favorite chores done. My kids and I love tobymac, especially Light Shine Bright.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — I don’t drink coffee or tea, but I’m glad you switched back to coffee! And I’m glad my tips and ideas are help you and your family!

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  2. Linda B.

    05/31/2018

    I think I need a dishwasher loading lesson from you! It’s just my husband and me, but we are home all day and eat three meals a day at home, so there are a lot of dishes. We run it when it us full (or nearly full) so we have room for dishes from the next meal. I, too, put mixing bowls and pots and pans in the dishwasher, but we frequently run it twice a day. Maybe you can do a blog post on loading the dishwasher to fit the maximum amount in it because I could obviously be doing a better job at this.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I’m not sure if I can give lessons in that — it would definitely depend on how your dishwasher is set up and what type of dishes you use. Our dishes are very thin/flat so they stack well in the cabinets and in the dishwasher. I’ve had 4 different dishwashers in my life and I’ve loaded them all 4 different ways!

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  3. MC

    05/31/2018

    This has inspired me to start putting a WHOLE bunch of things away right now. I’m moving soon and I have so much stuff that I should get rid of. But I’m also getting a divorce and living in the guest room, so it’s been chaotic in this space (which I also work from remotely full-time!). The last thing I want to do is spend more time in the room. But….I need to put so many things away to make the space more livable and easier to pack up for a move! πŸ™‚

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yay!!! good for you! Every little bit helps. I’m positive of that!

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  4. Jenny

    05/31/2018

    I try to do most of these tips and will try a little harder after this inspiring post! My Mom always waited until the dishwasher was crammed full to run it, so I thought that was the only way. Sometimes this then meant dishes had to sit in the sink and around the kitchen for hours or days. (Don’t get me wrong- she was a great Mom!) Anyway, the idea of running it when it isn’t completely full seemed wasteful, you know? (-like I might be wasting water or DW detergent.) BUT, when I waited, it seemed I had to handwash some dishes or pans or utensils all the time. Now THAT is wasteful of water and my time! I read a thing from the gas company about saving hot water and lowering the gas bill and it says to run the dishwasher is cheaper than handwashing! So that opened up my eyes and although I don’t run it every day, because there are only two of us, I run it every few days instead of weekly or something! And I unload it right away and all is good here!

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  5. emma

    05/30/2018

    Great tips! I like to take a minute every day and jot down anything that I notice needs to be done around the house. Then over the weekend I review that list and tackle any projects I have time for. Now, instead of walking past the giant stains on the carpets and thinking that I should get that cleaned someday, I make a note to call the carpet cleaners. Instead of just tossing mail on the giant pile, I make a note to go through it. It has helped me stay on top of all of the chores that need done less often but still need done!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    This is a great idea — thanks for sharing!

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  6. Ruth

    05/30/2018

    yours is the only blog i comment on so I will say and ask it here..

    I have never made my beds, never made my kids make their beds and doubt I ever will make my bed!

    Am I the only person who is neat, orderly,and clean who sees no purpose in making a bed?

    I was a minimalist before there was even a term! But I’ve always thought it was so useless to make a bed and kinda gross cause I like the beds to air out. People sweat so much while sleeping, it felt gross to layer all the blankets on top, kwim?

    I also don’t use all the different types of bedding others use. Just a mattress pad, fitted sheet and then a cotton comforter cover with a duvet. So it’s not a huge mess of blankets.

    Anyway, I also hand clean my wood floors everyday. It takes me less than 10 minutes and it always brightens my mood!

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    Karlyn Reply:

    I grew up in a rather dishevled home, where beds were never made, so of course I wasn’t required to make my own. Maybe this is one reason why I am a stickler for a made bed. Like Andrea, I see a made-up bed as making a huge difference in the appearance of the entire room, and it gives me a warm and inviting feeling to walk into a bedroom with the bed made. I am not knocking your decision to leave your beds unmade, because if it doesn’t bother you or your family, then it shouldn’t bother anyone else. However, I do have a solution to the “sweating-airing” out issue. Throw the covers back when you get up, let the bed air for an hour or so while you start your morning routine, and then make it up. I used to do this faithfully until my sweet husband took over the bed-making duties. His habit is to make it immediately after arising, so I am happy to give up that practice in exchange for his assuming this duty! πŸ™‚

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    Tina Reply:

    Ruth, we don’t make our bed over here either. But in total transparency we sleep on top of a already made cotton quilt covered bed. Weird I know but the quilt looks nice, feels good to sleep on and we never have to do anything. We just have an additional individual twin quilt for sleeping under that we toss to the side of the bed and voila!

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — I’m certain you are not the only neat person who doesn’t make their beds — although I will say that almost all the neat people I know always make their beds. It just brightens and neatens the entire room in a mater of minutes!

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  7. Marcia C.

    05/30/2018

    What helps me get things done is keeping the TV off and playing the radio instead. I record what I want to watch later in the day and skip through the lengthy commercials.–It is so simple, yet so helpful.

    I really enjoy this blog and love the great tips, recipes, and great common sense. I go to this site daily. Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Marcia!!
    And yes, keeping the TV off is almost always a productivity booster πŸ™‚

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    Liane Reply:

    TV is only on after dinner unless it’s a family sporting event and we all watch. We quit watching NFL due to the shenanigans but we love college football and it’s a Sunday tradition.

    I have Sirius XM and listen to that played over our four Echo devices. I also do same with Pandora. I like peppy music while cleaning but…the pitfall is wanting to know whose song is playing. Talk radio on Sirius eliminates that problem. Actually with Alexa I can just ask her and tell her to put xyz album in my cart. I never buy them, but that’s a way to keep track of stuff to add to playlists or download to my phone for later.

    We have zero radio reception here. I’m dependent on satellite or internet. It’s great. No ads!

    [Reply]

  8. Debra Martin

    05/30/2018

    I do these things every day, also, and would agree they make a huge difference…without minimal time ‘output’. The one area I have problems with is ‘paper’. I try hard not to let it build up, but it is still my downfall. I teach and a lot of it is job related, but not all. I need to build in a weekly ‘deal with’ it time. I am always impressed with how well you keep on top of paper, etc. Any hints?!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hi Debra, you are not alone in your hatred of paper clutter!! It’s super common for so many people to struggle in this area.
    Here’s a post I wrote about how we store and organize ALL our paper clutter.

    However, I think you would REALLY benefit from my friend Lisa’s program The Sunday Basket. It’s basically exactly what you described about building in a weekly ‘deal with it” time for your papers. So many people I know have had success with her program!

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  9. Jen

    05/30/2018

    1. YES (I cannot stand the thought of my bed sitting “open” all day and getting dirty, etc. ICK!
    2. YES (I don’t mind laundry and there’s such a sense of accomplishment when it’s done!)
    3. YES (So easy and makes a HUGE difference!)
    4. YES (I will run mine three times a day if I have to!)
    5. YES (It’s just common sense!)

    I am always amazed at how people think these things take SOOO much work. All the work comes when you let them go and have to spend 2 days getting your house cleaned! It boggles my mind!

    My only addition would be related to errands–if I have things to return/donate/drop off, I keep them in the car (and any needed receipts in my purse) so if I’m close, I can easily drop them off and not have to make a special trip.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    so…. I actually do the exact same thing with any errands I need to run (I know, you’re shocked!) I currently have 2 bags sitting in my front seat, both of which need to be returned in person (not online) and it’s taking me forever to make the time to do it because I never drive that way. Once Dave is done with school (this week — yay!) those packages are GONE from my car!

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    Liane Reply:

    Getting an echo show in the kitchen revolutionized my life. I have an Errands list. It’s really a to do list in Echo parlance but I call it errands since we have other to dos also. Let’s say I’m washing wineglasses and husband walks in and says I need my grey suit for a meeting next Thursday. Without skipping a beat, I say, Alexa, put grey suit to cleaners on my errands list. Because I’m not interrupted by drying hands etc etc, it’s a massive time saver. And my lists all sync to my phone. I have a special errands day. It’s Tuesday. And I have a reminder on Monday on my phone telling me to check errands. Never fails. I used to write stuff down and then lose the list. Now we have no landline so I’m very conscious of keeping my phone near by and charged. My lists are always up to date.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    this is awesome — thanks for sharing Liane!

    [Reply]

  10. Ronnie Dean

    05/30/2018

    I love this list! I am a single mama to two and I am fighting a never ending battle of “stuff” everywhere. And I would consider myself a bit of a minimalist. This shows that routine is what is lacking in my home and I could definitely benefit from your tips.

    I love your frame of mind and approach to life. Love reading your blog!!

    Thanks for the inspiration!! πŸ™‚

    Ronnie

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Routines are wonderful if you fine ones that work WITH you and your family. That said, I’m certain the fact that you are fairly minimalistic help a lot — you’ll most likely notice a big difference once you find a routine that works better for you.

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  11. Michelle O.

    05/30/2018

    Great list!

    Every day I make my bed as soon as I get up (and help the kids make theirs where needed);
    the dishes are washed, dried and put away after every meal (no dishwasher);
    sweep the floor every evening after supper;
    when the clothes come out of the dryer, they are put away immediately (doing laundry every day works for me);
    and I sort the mail as soon as it comes into the house.

    I also make an effort to get rid of any unneeded clothing, books or broken toys on a regular basis.

    My house is not spotless, but it is usually neat and tidy πŸ™‚

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    ah yes… the mail! We have a long driveway, so my we try to open and sort it all as we walk back down the drivveway. Then we deposit the “trash” before we even enter our house!

    [Reply]

  12. Kate

    05/30/2018

    I do all of these things…except I’d like to get my laundry days down to 2 days per week. Right now, it is typically 3-4 days. I used to do laundry every day but it seemed like I was spending so much time doing it (mainly folding and putting away for 5 people). I realized after you shared your laundry system that doing larger loads on less days would save me time- and it has! I’m still trying to tweak my system. I work part time and my schedule varies so that is why I can never do the same days each week. But I always enjoy reading your tips!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    whatever works for you — there is no “one right way” do to laundry (or any household chore). As long as you do it and it seems to work with your schedule, then I’d say you’re doing OK!

    [Reply]

  13. LEANNE

    05/30/2018

    these are the exact things I do most days (the laundry is a battle– especially during sports’ seasons!) otherwise… I’m there!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — yeah, we don’t have laundry from extra curricular activities yet… I’m sure I’ll need to tweak my current laundry system once we do!

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  14. Meghan

    05/30/2018

    Andrea, these are the best tips! I do three of them all of the time and two most of the time, and they make a huge difference! I encourage any of your readers who don’t to these five things to make them goals for several weeks. Life changing!

    [Reply]

  15. Luba @ Healthy with Luba

    05/30/2018

    Andrea, what a great list!

    Yes, it’s so important to stay in top of the every day tasks, and the house will look so much cleaner. I pick up the house every day, do a load of laundry almost every day, and wash dishes every day.

    Isn’t it interesting how changing something simple such as running the dishwasher every evening can make life so much better? πŸ™‚

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, it’s always amazing to me how much of a difference one or two small changes can make in my everyday life — that’s why I often like to try new methods or ways of doing things!

    [Reply]