One Simple Task to Clean Up Your Home

posted by Andrea | 03/7/2018
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I’m often asked if I have ONE single tip to help people magically clean up and better organize their homes — unfortunately I don’t.

HOWEVER, if I had to chose just one piece of advice for anyone feeling overwhelmed with the state of their home, it would simply be:

When you get something out, put it away again!

Just think how much of the visual clutter in our homes could be avoided by following this super simple principle!

Yes, I realize there are situations when new stuff comes into our homes or unused things fail to leave our homes… but I’m certain there are far more things that live in our homes and simply sit out day after day because they weren’t properly put away after someone used them last.

Clothing you put on and then decided not to wear.

ย A recipe book you pulled off the shelf but never put back after you finished baking.

Mail you went through but never trashed or filed.

Leftover party supplies from the birthday party last weekend that never made it to a proper home.

Toys and games the kids played with yesterday.

Lunch boxes, backpacks, and gym bags that were dumped on the floor and never moved.

Dishes from your late-night snack that were left on the coffee table.

Or dishes from dinner that were never put into the dishwasher.

Cosmetics that are left out on the counter day after day.

Gardening tools, bikes, scooters, and other outside items that were left out.

Laundry that you folded but never actually put away (or maybe it’s not even folded yet).

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Of course, not all of these items are your personal responsibility. Other people in your home might not be to keen on the whole “when you get something out, put it away again” rule; however, I still argue that YOU putting YOUR things away will make a tremendous difference in the state of your home over time.

You wouldn’t believe the number of people who claim that they don’t put their things away because no one else in their home puts anything away, so it wouldn’t make a difference anyway.

What’s the worst thing that could happen if you started putting your things away?

You might be the only one doing any work (at least in the beginning) — but even your efforts will make a difference.

And wouldn’t you be surprised if others in your home took notice of your actions and started putting their things away too?

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Just think about it… when a room is completely trashed, it’s very easy to simply throw your hands up and say “who cares”. However, if a room is fairly clean and you (or your teenager or your spouse) brings something into the room, it’s very obvious what item then needs to be put away. It feels SO much less overwhelming to put that one item away in a clean room versus putting that one item away in a disaster zone.

So you just keep picking up and diligently putting your things away each day.

Who knows, it might just turn into a habit for you (and maybe even the rest of your family too!)

Bonus Tip:

If you want one more tip, my 2nd tip to clean up your home would be to spend 15 minutes every single day focused on cleaning, purging, and picking up anything in your home.

By pairing these 2 tips together, you’ll be able to maintain the current state of your home by picking up anything you get out… and you’ll slowly start to improve the state of your home with your 15-minute power cleaning bursts each day!

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20 comments

  1. Christie

    03/13/2018

    Truth! We keep limited toys available to our kids, because they will dump every single toy out of baskets and cabinets the minute I run to the bathroom. I’m always telling them, “If we pick up as we go, cleanup isn’t bad!” And I’m always singing to my boys (and husband) “There’s a place for everything and everything in its place.” The struggle is real though. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one that makes sure things are put back promptly and correctly. Slow progress here.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, we know lots of people who rotate toys — it seems to be a good solution!

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  2. Kim

    03/08/2018

    Great tip, but I have an off-topic question. Would you mind sharing the paint color on your walls?

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    Andrea Reply:

    Here’s the post about the different paint colors we use in our home. (https://andreadekker.com/our-favorite-farmhouse-paint-colors/)

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    Kim Reply:

    Thank you!

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  3. Holly sharp

    03/07/2018

    Thank you, I can’t argue with one thing you said or suggested.
    I am going to try.

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    Andrea Reply:

    do it — I’m curious to know how quickly you notice a difference in your home!

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  4. Carolyn Maves

    03/07/2018

    When I started doing the FlyLady system years ago, one of the first things I implemented was putting away things after I was done using them. I was shocked, yes, shocked, to see how much neater my house was. I never thought of myself as a messy person, but that one little habit really changed how my house looked.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for sharing this Carolyn! It’s such a simple concept, but it can really make a huge difference.

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  5. Olivia

    03/07/2018

    When I saw the title of today’s post, my first thought was, “don’t have kids!” ๐Ÿ˜‰

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    Alison Reply:

    Or pets!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yeah! pets are easier to get rid of than kids though — LOL!

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — I laughed so much when I read your comment! so true!!

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  6. Jen

    03/07/2018

    I couldn’t agree more, but I think (and I know you would agree!) that before you can put anything “away”, you have to give it a home! People ask me frequently how I keep our home so neat and straight (even when we had four little kids!), and my answer is simple “I give everything a home and that’s where it lives. When we’re done using it, it goes back to its home!” Even our kids learned this very early in life. This also helps me to decide if I want/need something. If I’ve run out of “real estate” (homes for things!), then I can’t add anything.

    I wish I could communicate to people how freeing this is. I don’t spend hours and hours cleaning and straightening my house or organizing or getting rid of clutter. Because I keep up with it daily (and it takes very minimal time!), it doesn’t have to be a weekend project! I also love that we can invite people over on the spur of the moment and I know that my home is “fit to be seen”. LOL! I think people imagine all I do is clean and straighten but, really, the total opposite is true!

    Happy Wednesday!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Exactly — I could recite your comment word for word as it’s exactly how I feel about our home/life/situation.
    When things don’t have a home, there is constant mental energy being used… “I need to put ____ away. Where should _____ go? I don’t have a space for _____. I should make a space for ________. How/where should I make a space for ________?”
    Ect. ect.
    So a simple 15-minute whole-house pick up becomes a weekend project trying to find and make homes for everything you own.
    And yes, having homes for everything makes it VERY easy to see when you have too much. Just last week, I told Nora she had to purge 5 things from her closet because she was out of hangers and we found a new shirt for her at the thrift store. It took her less than 5 minutes to happily remove 5 items she no longer loved… and now she has 1 new shirt that she is very excited about.

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  7. Annette Silveira

    03/07/2018

    I could not agree more. Fewer things, all with a home, put away after use is the best way to keep a home clutter-free. Thanks for the reminder!

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  8. JJ

    03/07/2018

    It’s not me, it’s them. My 2 year old is a literal tornado. When I am doing a task/chore, it takes no time for him to have the house in a wreck. I even make him clean up(which takes FoReVeR). How do you control this in your home? My oldest is also a boy and was the same way but is slowly getting better. My daughter is overall good and always has been at cleaning up. Any tips, please!

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha I hear you!
    One simple (but not very practical) tip would be to keep things where he can’t reach them without help. I realize this might not be possible, but it definitely would help! Also, just getting rid of things would help too. When I get tired of picking up after the kids, I literally just purge many of their toys and clothing items. They never seem to mind and it’s much less to clean up!
    Also, there are MANY times when Dave and I just wait until the kids are in the bathtub or in the shower and quickly pick everything up. It takes us less than 10 minutes and would take our children 30 minutes of constant nagging — sometimes it’s just easier to do it ourselves ๐Ÿ™‚

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    Tina Reply:

    Thanks for keeping it real. Sometimes I feel guilty about picking up the kids stuff even if itโ€™s only once in a blue moon but for sanityโ€™s sake I have to pick my battles. Glad to know Iโ€™m not the only one.

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh don’t feel guilty — think how many times your parents probably picked up after you. And you turned out to be a fully functional adult ๐Ÿ™‚
    Definitely pick your battles!

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