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Small housekeeping tips that make a big difference


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I am a challenged housekeeper. I try but I’m just not a natural and both dh and all were raised in very messy houses.

I have always had a terrible time keeping up with the bathrooms. It just seemed such a gross and unmanageable job. About a year ago I switched from the heavy duty chemical cleaners to natural products. My motivation was that my dd was helping me with chores and I didn’t like her using the heavy chemicals and worrying about her mixing them, etc. 

This switch made all the difference and not because my dd was cleaning my bathrooms. It made it so easy to just wipe everything down quickly without worrying about getting bleach on my clothes/smelling like bleach/having bleach soaked rags to deal with. I can now do a 5 minute cleanup daily after I’ve gotten ready for the day versus how it used to be a major project that I would then need to shower after. I feel so goofy now that it used to be such an unmanageable thing. But now I can do a cleanup without worrying about bleaching my clothes or having to open the windows when it is 100 degrees out or whatever. I’m a smart lady. Don’t know why it took me 20 years to figure this out. 
 

Another one is keeping cleaning supplies in each bathroom. Again, why it took me so long to figure this out?? Keeping supplies in the laundry room that needed to be carried around to each room was apparently too big an obstacle for my housekeeping challenged self. But now when I walk by the hallway bathroom that I don’t use I remember to just pop in and wipe everything down once a day. Everything I need is there and it isn’t going to make me smell like bleach. And because I am keeping up with it, the grossness is minimal. 
 

So, it sounds silly but it took me a long time to figure it out. What simple tips have you found that make a big difference in your housekeeping success? It might be obvious to you but really help someone else!

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I do all the dishes every single night. I very very seldom leave anything in the sink overnight. Psychologically, I want to start each day fresh and it's hard to do that when yesterday's work is staring at me before I even get started in the morning. Starting with a clean kitchen is big for me.

Also, I never leave laundry on my bed. Don't know why that stresses me out but it does.

And, I did this when my kids were little, it doesn't matter much anymore, but I would get up, tidy my bedroom and shut the door to keep the kids out. No laundry in there, nothing. It was great to have ONE room in the house that wasn't trashed at the end of the day. And my little angels were not traumatized by not having access to the WHOLE house. 

When I had littles, we had a toy basket in the corner of the living room where random toys got tossed throughout the day. Then the basket was unloaded into the proper places at night. Kept me from hauling things all over the house all day, the kids could play where the rest of the family was, and at least the floors were clear. It was easier to toss 3-5 things in a basket every 2 hours than to deal with a giant pick up at the end of the day.

Edited by fairfarmhand
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I make my kids clean.

We have settled into a kind of a routine that is working for us for the moment.

I write out daily schedule on our schedule board for both school and the general day.  After school is done, they do their regular chores.  Then after those are done they get a bit of time outside, and then, I given them two cleaning tasks/rooms to clean.  

So for example the later part of the usually looks like this on our chart

Finish school
chores
outside time
clean and vacuum play room
clean and vacuum bedrooms
outside time
tablets/video games

 

It's not a perfect system and it doesn't make the house perfectly clean.  But it at least keeps it from devolving into a total pit.  

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Wet wipes.  Wet wipes in both bathrooms.  Wet wipes in the kitchen.  Makes it so easy to quickly wipe counters and things.  Can't get the Clorox wipes these days, but the unscented baby wipes do just fine.

Also, leaving enough time to tidy up when I'm working on a project.  When I was younger, I used up all my energy on the project and then was too tired to clean up.  Now I hold energy in reserve and maybe leave some of the project for a different day, just so I have time and energy to clean up.

Keeping the living room tidy.  Just putting things away when we're done.  It makes such a difference.

Pre-sorting the laundry.  We own so many hampers, but that allows us to sort our laundry as we remove it from our bodies, saving a big step.  

 

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27 minutes ago, Pawz4me said:

As much as possible clean as you go. Never leave a mess if you can fix it right then.

This is something my people do not get. 

Another is: take advantage of appliances. I will put whatever I can in the dishwasher. My husband will pull larger stuff out saying "I can handwash this." Well, sure anything can be hand washed. But then we end up with no clean silverware or glasses because he has pulled pretty much everything else out, but now the dishwasher isn't full enough to run. The funny thing is he does believe the dishwasher is more water-efficient than handwashing, even his own. It's just a weird thing to me, one of those quirks you just got to learn to live with. 😁

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I’m deeply committed to doing laundry daily, or at least nearly-daily, because sometimes there’s just not enough left to make a decent load. For the 6 of us plus pets, 1-2 reasonably sized loads tossed in as part of my normal morning routine makes it seem like a non-chore.  I lay piles on the back of the couch for girls’ room, boys’ room, and my room.  They’re required to “disappear” almost immediately, and we don’t need to talk about how my pile might sit on my dresser for most of the day.

Robot vacuum.
Robot vacuum + cordless vacuum = happy

Put things away as you cook - ingredients and tools. Put things right in the dishwasher or wash them as water boils or whatever.  My 9 and 13yos aren’t exactly perfect at this yet, but they’re getting the hang of it. It’s so much easier to continue working as you gain more space, and so much less annoying to do the final clean up.

The less you have, the faster and easier it is to clean.

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2 hours ago, fairfarmhand said:

I do all the dishes every single night.

I do this too. I put dishes in and run the dishwasher and make the countertops shine (I use a special spray for granite). My other two pm chores -- clean my dog's water, add ice (Hotlanta) and clean the kitty box. This way I don't go to sleep thinking, "Omg, does River have water??" He's a shepherd and love his water.

1 hour ago, perky said:

Wet wipes. 

 

LOVE this idea. I used to get mine at Costco, where do you get them now?

1 hour ago, Dynamite5 said:

Fold/hang clothes as you take them from the dryer. Don't put them in a basket for later.

My kids don't get this idea, but dh does!! So proud. 🙂 I totally agree. If you lay them out, no wrinkles.

45 minutes ago, Carrie12345 said:

I’m deeply committed to doing laundry daily.

Same here. I do daily laundry and the kids handle their own.

I wanted to add that finding your own rhythm to cleaning is important. You came from a messy house, and I came from an insane asylum where everything was spotless. If you visit my parents today, it looks like nobody lives there. Like it's an airbandb.

It's taken me decades to find out what matters most to me? (Waking up to a clean kitchen is one.)

I also love listening to music or podcasts while I clean.

One more cleaning-jewel that really helped my life: I once watched my very, very clean sister-in-law and noticed how much stuff she recycles or just throws away. I was like, "Ohhhh, you don't save everything."

She would go through her kitchen like a motorboat: toss, toss, toss!

I don't know why that was so revelatory to me, but it really was.

Hugs -- keeping a clean house if you really live in it is hard!

W.

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7 minutes ago, Heigh Ho said:

If you have central air or a/c, use the best quality filter you can.  It significantly cuts down on the dust.

 

Good one! How do you know if it's a high quality filter?

 

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7 minutes ago, Alicia64 said:

I also love listening to music or podcasts while I clean

My newish obsession is playing YouTube cleaning videos before or while I’m cleaning. I like a mix of neat freaks and “slobs”, lol.  I struggle with motivation, and those almost always get me in the groove.

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We got a dishwasher when I was like 10 yo. My mom was SO excited. But this is how we used the dishwasher: pile up dishes in the sink with food and whatever all over them until the sink was overflowing. Then it was a huge and gross chore to load them in the dishwasher. Then the dishwasher would run but would not be emptied until there was again an overflow of dishes in the sink. So it was a huge job to unload the dishwasher and load all the dishes and run it again. 
 

When I got married we had no dishwasher and I didn’t get one until I had three kids. I kept saying they didn’t save any work and were just a waste. When I finally got one and used it I realized that it really wasn’t hard. You put your dirty dishes in, ran it, and emptied it. Repeat. No sinkfull of dishes to load. Just took five minutes to unload and there was no chore of loading the dishwasher- it’s just where you put dishes when you are done. *lightbulb*

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My cousin once mused about something I thought she should register for for their wedding—“I’m trying to think of what I would get rid of so that I could fit this in.”  I had honestly never thought that way in my life.  It had never even crossed my mind.  That was a powerful idea for me.

Also, I keep  broom and dust mop on each floor.  I am much more likely to use them if they are handy like that.

Also, I make sure I have a wastebasket in just about every room of the house, or at most one room away.

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I *hate* handwashing things, but it’s undeniably sometimes necessary, although I do put a lot of stuff into the dishwasher that others would not, like good knives or pots.  

So I don’t want to dedicate the counter space to a big dish rack.  I bought a thin, honeycomb type drying tray, that fits under the sink, narrow profile, along the side wall.  I pull it out to dry things, then once I put them away I turn it upside down over the sink to get it thoroughly dry overnight, then put it away.  No visual clutter that way.

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29 minutes ago, Alicia64 said:

LOVE this idea. I used to get mine at Costco, where do you get them now?

 

I get baby wipes (unscented) from the grocery store.  They are in plastic bags instead of canisters, but they still work great.  I can buy a three pack of them, just added to my regular curbside grocery order.

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Years ago Don Aslett's books on cleaning were popular, also Flylady. Some of it was about the tips, and for me sometimes it's about just spending the time. I find Flylady's tips on just spending 10 minutes consistently to help my mindset. Also the idea of zones. Sometimes I'm really faithful, and when life gets crazy (like now, with my thyroid meds wonky and my hand in a splint for months), I just tell myself one room upstairs, one room downstairs, and keep working till the house is clean. 

For me, the biggest small tip is testing your thyroid. Almost invariably, my house improves as my energy improves. Messy house syndrome = low thyroid for me. It also helped to start taking some 5HTP, etc. for anxiety. I just tend to be really indecisive, so I walk up to a mess and get OVERWHELMED. Once I got words for that, then I could decide whether, in that moment, it would help more to chunk it, use a friend, turn up music, redefine the task, or take a med. Or all those, lol.

I have to spend time in rooms and really look at them and think about what the problem areas are, why they're occurring (what the work flow problem is) and how to make it better. I definitely agree with the tip on decluttering. For me it's declutter, improve workflow, decorate. Decorating (adding photos to the walls, changing a lampshade, adding holiday decor, whatever) gives me motivation to maintain the workflow and new habits for the space.

Want a clean dining table? Put on a runner. Took me 20 years to figure that one out, lol. I buy a new, snazzy table runner and then it's forbidden to put things on it. It becomes the great marker that it's really high time to put away whatever accumulated. And it means less accumulates, lol.

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27 minutes ago, Alicia64 said:

It's taken me decades to find out what matters most to me? 

I also love listening to music or podcasts while I clean.

Yes to the podcasts and to knowing what matters most to you. For me, it's floors. A neighbor once told me that she'd heard you should clean the floors as many days per week as you have people in your house, and it seems to be the perfect formula for us. We have four, so every other day is really helpful. I definitely know large families that clean floors multiple times per day too, lol!

Good doorway rugs--learned that on the hive.

I have to clean or declutter, but not both at the same time if possible. If I have to do both at the same time, I get cranky. They are not both "cleaning" to me, and I don't like this particular kind of gear switch. I try to stay on top of people for their clutter, and I am getting better at figuring out what to do with mine (I still don't quite have a clear home for some paper clutter). I try to deal with clutter at a different time.

The 20 minute tidy up daily with all household members participating. When the kids were younger (still happens sometimes), I would go through the house and pile up all the stuff that wasn't where it belonged, and the kids would load up and put it away. I was upset at first that they couldn't "find" what wasn't supposed to be there, but that really did get better over time by itself. They also had a good laugh at how ridiculous some of the finds were--both what I found and where I found it.

Telling myself if I want to Fun Thing A, I have to do Chore B first.

Having a second story or basement--stuff in our house tends to migrate around on one floor, but less so up and down stairs.

Keep rarely used kitchen items someplace other than the kitchen, but keep them in boxes or on shelves where you can get to them easily enough. Add extra shelves inside your cabinets or get good organizers so that you don't have to stack and unstack six layers of casserole dishes to put one back or retrieve one for dinner. Some would advocate just having fewer, and that's fine, but we are always sorry when if we pitch too much stuff, and sometimes you're having a party or need to can a bunch of tomatoes, and you just need your stuff! 

My biggest tip? Have my older kid, lol! He likes to be busy and likes things organized and tidy, but he's not obsessive, and he can do those not everyday jobs like cleaning under a bed in record time like it's no big deal. He's also very good at making decisions for other people; in return, when he's too close to a situation with decisions, I help him. He's a great wingman. 🙂 

Find supplies you like--a corollary to what others are saying. I have several different kinds of rags I like to use, and there is no such thing as a rag that works perfectly for every task. 

Oh, another trick I learned on here--use RainX for glass shower doors. I think you can also use car wax on some kinds of tub surrounds to keep them cleaner, but not on tile. We have tile, so I haven't gotten to research and try that trick.

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5 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

 

Want a clean dining table? Put on a runner. Took me 20 years to figure that one out, lol. I buy a new, snazzy table runner and then it's forbidden to put things on it. It becomes the great marker that it's really high time to put away whatever accumulated. And it means less accumulates, lol.

This is great. When we moved into this house five years ago I knew the setup was going to make the dining room table a clutter magnet. I’ve always been pretty intentional about not having any entry way tables or convenient places to drop stuff on the way in. But there is no avoiding it in the current setup. You walk in my house and then to get into the kitchen or bathroom or bedrooms you must pass the dining room table. It’s a problem. It is just impossible to resist dropping stuff there and we don’t sit down to eat there so it doesnt even gets cleaned off daily. I have thought of flowers or a nice centerpiece or something. Now that I don’t have little kids or balls bouncing around the house that could work. Love the runner idea. 

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Stick or otherwise small, easy-to-use vacuum for quick jobs. It seems my family never got past the toddler stage of eating; there are always crumbs all over the floor by the table. (I include myself in this.) A broom is fine, but a little vacuum is super helpful.

Like many others, I dislike waking up in the morning to dirty dishes. A dishwasher full of clean stuff is OK but I don't want to empty it or hear anyone empty it till I've been awake a while. So ideally everything is clean and put away before bed. Doesn't always happen.  Also, swept floors in the kitchen. 

Two nights a week I work till midnight (at home) but sometimes can't unwind to go to sleep till 1am. I don't really sleep late in the mornings, but don't want a lot of noise or commotion around me when I get up. 

When my kids were little, I didn't mind getting up to dirty dishes; it was more important to me to have a quiet calm evening of no chores. So, things change as life changes.

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Another one that seems so obvious but was not to me- keeping trash can liners (or plastic grocery bags or whatever you use) close at hand to the trash cans. Took me forever to start keeping a stash of bags in my bathroom. The trash can would be overflowing but by the time I left the bathroom and walked downstairs to get a bag I’d gotten distracted. Now I change it out when I see it and carry the trash out with me. Brilliant! 😂I remember changing out garbage at church or someplace years ago and finding a stash of replacement liners in the bottom of the can. Mind blown at the genius of that! 😂

 

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Fold laundry on the kitchen table so everybody has to put theirs away if they want to eat supper.

Teach the kids to clean and let them do it. It's not like I'm sitting around on my tail eating bon bons while they clean, ykwim?

Lower my expectations of myself. 😊

Seriously, I can only do so many things well per day. So I have to make choices about how to spend my time. It is a myth that I can do all the things well every day. Bull. No one can. I can provide nutritious meals and quality educational activities and quality interactive time with each child, but I have consciously made the choice that prioritizing those things of necessity means that there will be less time to keep house. Once I made it a conscious choice instead of an accident that just kept happening every day, it was very freeing!

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38 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

Years ago Don Aslett's books on cleaning were popular, also Flylady.

Long before Flylady was Sidetracked Home Executives (which is where the Flylady got started) and the Messies Manual. I made my first file box in 1983, before Internet. 🙂

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Our mothers and grandmothers had the same issues. 🙂 It was they who came up with adages such as "A place for everything and everything in its place." Modern additions might be "Handle it once," and "Don't put it down, put it away." Those two right there helped us keep things orderly: instead of dropping things by the front door as they came in, I nagged, er, reminded everyone to just walk their stuff on to their bedrooms or the hall closet or whatnot. I open mail as I'm walking from the mailbox; spam mail goes right in the trash without stopping anywhere first, bills are opened and all extra paper--so.much.extra.paper--is trashed, so that there's just the bill and its return envelope (unless I'm paying online, in which case the return envelope is also trashed).

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27 minutes ago, Ellie said:

Long before Flylady was Sidetracked Home Executives (which is where the Flylady got started) and the Messies Manual. I made my first file box in 1983, before Internet. 🙂

Love the SHE books!  Their card systems works for my brain.

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I have a great room/open floor plan in my house, so I try to stay on top of neatness and cleanliness in the main living area all the time. I can't speak to my kids bedrooms. . . they are required to maintain a basic level of cleanliness/neatness, but they all have a lot of clutter.  

Since the kitchen is prominent in my living area, I try to stay on top of the kitchen all the time.  The dishwasher is almost always emptied soon after it finishes, and everyone is required to load items as they use them all day.  If the dishwasher is clean when I'm ready to cook, I unload it so I can load things as I get them dirty.  I also make a sink of hot, soapy water so I can wipe down surfaces and throw in hand-wash items as I go.  

The kitchen island is along the main thoroughfare through the house, so it collects a lot of random items as people set them there when they go by.  I'm frequently either telling people to come get their stuff or just relocating stuff to owner's bedrooms.  I handle the mail as much as I can when it comes in:  junk goes to recycling, bills to my desk, and anything DH needs to look at gets put into a stack for him to go through when he gets home.  

Laundry--I usually throw in at least one load every day, sometimes more.  The baskets of clean laundry do end up on the sofa in the family room area, but because they are out and visible, I usually remember to fold them when I have a few minutes here and there.  Or instruct kids to fold them.  

Basic straightening gets done all the time.  My kids usually put school/art stuff away, but if they don't, I make them come clear the table for dinner.  Dishes get done immediately after dinner, no exceptions.  Counters and table wiped down, trash out, vacuuming if needed.  This way we start the next morning with a clean, tidy space to do school.  

Deep cleaning--family routine is that we get up first thing Saturday and do the deep cleaning: bathrooms, vacuum/mop, dust.  When everyone pitches in, we can get it all done in an hour or two and have the rest of the day.  

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Thanks for this thread!

I agree about the thyroid check, and other health stuff.  When my energy is low, the house suffers.

Helpful here, when it all gets done:

Put things away after using them.  

We load the dishwasher every night, and set it to run at 6 am.  Get up, unload, and for the rest of the day all dirty dishes go in the dishwasher.

I do at least one load of laundry every day, sometimes more.  I set up the washing machine with the clothes and soap, and set the delay so it starts in the morning.  Ditto the dryer if I have any wet clothes.

I used to hang and fold right out of the dryer, like a PP, but can’t do that any longer.   Haven’t found a good system yet, to replace that.  So I’m watching this thread for ideas.

Cleaning supplies in each bathroom.  Vacuum easy to access. Bona spray mop for spot cleaning the floor in between real mopping.  A good mop for actual mopping - big difference!  An extra set of sheets in each room, which go on right after the dirty ones come off.  

And my personal favorite, always a work in process here:  less stuff.  We all keep things neater when we have less clutter.  

All this works best for me if I “peg” different activities to things I know I will do.  Like loading the dishwasher right after dinner, setting up the washing machine to run in the morning happens right before bed because it’s right outside the bedroom door, etc.
 

 

Edited by Spryte
Neater not nearer 🤣
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Never leave a room without looking to see if there is something you can bring with you to put up/away on your way to where ever you’re going. I’ve trained my kids to do this as well. They’re slacking right now though, so I’ll be doing a refresher course. 
 

 

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Fold the laundry as soon as a load comes out of the dryer.  It is easy to find 5 minutes to fold a load. It is not easy to find an hour to fold a mountain of laundry that has been waiting for days. 

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I remembered another one. I did this right before I had to leave for an errand today.

I plan to be ready to leave the house about 15-20 minutes before true departure time. This does 2 things: Gives me wiggle room in case something comes up. Generally though, I spend that last 15-20 minutes tidying the house. I had to leave at 12 today. Between 11:40 and 12, I dusted the living room, vacuumed the living room carpet, swept the sun room and kitchen and put away random objects. It's amazing how much I dawdle when I don't have a hard deadline and its amazing how much I get done when I get my behind in gear and hustle.

 

ETA: I also do this before a television show, or I will get up and hustle during commercial breaks. You can get quite a lot done in tiny bursts of 5 minutes if you learn to work quickly.

Edited by fairfarmhand
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4 minutes ago, fairfarmhand said:

I remembered another one. I did this right before I had to leave for an errand today.

I plan to be ready to leave the house about 15-20 minutes before true departure time. This does 2 things: Gives me wiggle room in case something comes up. Generally though, I spend that last 15-20 minutes tidying the house. I had to leave at 12 today. Between 11:40 and 12, I dusted the living room, vacuumed the living room carpet, swept the sun room and kitchen and put away random objects. It's amazing how much I dawdle when I don't have a hard deadline and its amazing how much I get done when I get my behind in gear and hustle.

 

ETA: I also do this before a television show, or I will get up and hustle during commercial breaks. You can get quite a lot done in tiny bursts of 5 minutes if you learn to work quickly.

I remember the best housekeeper/most organized person I know saying something like this. We were waiting for another room that was about ten minutes late. This mom made the comment that she could have vacuumed in that ten minutes. That kind of blew my mind- that level of assigning a valuable task to such a small amount of time. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to think like that. Twenty years later I do think much more like that but at the time it made such an impression. 
 

I’m one to arrive places ten minutes early. Same mom pointed out to me how much I could be doing with that ten minutes before every trip. I hate being late and still add in extra time everywhere but I do see the cost of my early waiting time now. 

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I make the bed as I get out of it.

Before leaving to go somewhere, I do a quick sweep through the house and pick stuff up and put it away -- I hate coming home to a messy house.

I do something productive with my hands while on the phone. I really dislike talking on the phone, but when I have to spend time on the phone for a friendly conversation with faraway family or friends, I pull open a drawer and so some sorting/organizing of the items in the drawer, or pull out and toss the expired coupons from the phone drawer.

 

I'm also a big fan of a few tips already posted above:
- put stuff away when you're done
- fold & put away laundry as you pull it out of the dryer or off the line
- leave the kitchen clean at night -- so counters wiped and dishes put in the dishwasher, or washed/dried/put away after dinner

Edited by Lori D.
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1 hour ago, Lori D. said:

I make the bed as I get out of it.


I do something productive with my hands while on the phone. I really dislike talking on the phone, but when I have to spend time on the phone for a friendly conversation with faraway family or friends, I pull open a drawer and so some sorting/organizing of the items in the drawer, or pull out and toss the expired coupons from the phone drawer.

 

I'm also a big fan of a few tips already posted above:
- put stuff away when you're done
- fold & put away laundry as you pull it out of the dryer or off the line
- leave the kitchen clean at night -- so counters wiped and dishes put in the dishwasher, or washed/dried/put away after dinner

I do all of these things.  I dislike talking on the phone too, but two of my sons call every week.  I use that time to dust and clean.  Sometimes I'll do the same as you and clean out expired coupons from the drawer.  🙂  I don't do the best job cleaning this way, but the time flies and it doesn't seem like such a chore if I'm chatting on the phone.  

I just naturally keep the sink clear of dishes and put laundry away immediately when it's done.  I do laundry regularly and it never piles up.  The daily/weekly stuff is easy for me to get done, but I'm terrible about neglecting any deep cleaning.  When the kids were younger, but still living at home, we did the fly lady zones together.  Once a month or so, we would do a zone and get it done in under an hour.  It was great!  We'd always give them a fun reward when we were done and it was nice getting a big job out of the way quickly.  

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Everyone has such good ideas.  I can only think of one thing to add... We have a big shower surrounded with big clear glass.  I bought a large squeegee and I squeegee the shower every morning.  It takes just a few swipes and the glass stays clean - no water spots! 

In a previous house we had glass sliding shower doors and I would clean them weekly with dryer sheets. That worked to get rid of the water spots, but it took a lot of time and still required window cleaner to get the dry sheet smears off, and a whole lot of elbow grease.  Now, I just clean the rest of the shower because the glass is always clean and pretty!

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7 minutes ago, Kassia said:

... but I'm terrible about neglecting any deep cleaning...

Whoever is living at home (our home is still a bit of a revolving door due to seasonal work for one DS and a return to college for other DS, lol) participates in the weekly Saturday morning deep clean. Everyone has their assignments and just does the rooms and cleaning they know are theirs to do. With deep cleaning happening once a week, nothing gets too horrifying. 😉

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Several times a week (ideally it would be every day) I set a timer for 15 minutes.  Everyone in the house cleans for that amount of time and then gets a piece of chocolate when the timer goes off.  Sometimes, if the house is particularly messy, we will do a bonus 15 minutes for two extra pieces of chocolate.

There are a lot of household chores that can be done in 15 minutes: clean a bathroom, vacuum a room or two, sweep, clean up the kitchen, empty and fill the dishwasher, do some laundry, wash some windows, wash bathroom mirrors, dust, clean out a drawer...

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Not really housekeeping, but it's a small thing that helps.  We prefer to eat brown rice, which takes a long time to cook.  I make big  batch in the Instant Pot, and then freeze 1 cup baggies of it to last a few weeks. When we want rice with dinner, I pull out a baggie and reheat in the microwave for a minute.  It's like those frozen rice steamers you can get at the grocery, only much cheaper. 

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Laundry
1. Never, ever, ever start a load of laundry if you're not going to be home and available to immediately deal with it when the drier buzzer goes off.  
2.  Bring the empty hangers to your laundry set up with the dirty laundry so they're already on hand when the drier buzzer goes off.
3. When the drier goes off immediately put them on the hangers and put them away. If it's folding laundry, fold it and put it away.
4. Hang everything you possibly can if you have the space. It's faster to put a shirt on a hanger and hang it than it is to fold it and put it in a drawer. It's also easier to rifle through clothing options that are hung up than it is to riffle through folded items.
5. Don't buy anything that needs ironing if you don't absolutely have to.
6. Assign each family member a day that they have to do their own laundry start to finish.

Meals
1. Cook once, eat twice.
Make at least a double batch of a recipe, serve half the day you cook it, and keep half in the fridge for later in the week.  You only have to clean up the dishes you used to prep and cook it once, but you have 2 meals.  It's faster and easier to buy double the amount of ingredients for a double batch of one recipe at the grocery store than it is to walk around and locate items for 2 different meals.  You can usually buy bigger sizes of ingredients more economically if you make a double batch. Win. Win. Win.

Dishes
1. Clean up the kitchen every night. 
That way you don't feel psychologically behind in the morning. Run a load of dishes immediately after dinner and empty it before bed or unload it in the morning.  Now you have an empty dishwasher for the next meal's dirty dishes. Keep the loads going and emptied so you have room for dirty dishes as you prepare each meal.  When you start cooking a meal, have an empty dishwasher ready and a sink with hot soapy water in it and dish rack to wash up those dirty cooking dishes as soon as you're done with them.  Then load the dishwasher when the meal is done.

2. If life is nuts and dishes are piled up between loads, use disposables and don't feel bad about it.  Use compostable disposables if it makes you feel better. Just keep the loads going until you catch up. I went to church with a lady whose youngest child was medically fragile for several years.  She said, "At my house we use paper plates every day.  When people come over, we use pretty paper plates." No guilt.  No apologies.

3. Train the kids to do chores.
Remember what's been normal historically, not just for your generation with expectations for kids' chores. Make a chore chart of daily and weekly chores. Have high standards from the outset.

4. Do your holiday baking early. 
You can mix cookie dough and assemble fruit pies and leave them uncooked in the freezer for about 3 months.  They can be thawed then baked or baked frozen the day before or day of the holiday event.

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One thing I do is buy a spray bottle (plant ones are usually good quality) and fill with properly diluted Lysol.  Then when I need to wipe down the counters, table, doorknobs, spots on the kitchen floor, bathroom, etc I just spray on and wipe down.  Cleans and disinfects and the concentrate is super cheap.....if you can find it now with COVID.

Motivated Mom's printables/app is really good.  When. We use it, it works well and is easy to use for reminders for things like cleaning ceiling fans, changing furnace filters, etc.

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When I get my new calendar for the year, I schedule block some time to do my annual, semi-annual, and quarterly tasks.  So, I know in January that I've got to clean out my file cabinets and get my paperwork together for taxes.  I also do a post-holiday deep clean, including everything down to getting my carpets cleaned, vacuuming the back of my refrigerator, re-sealing my granite countertops, changing my alarm batteries, etc.  There's never really anything to do in January, anyway, and keeping busy helps with my post-holiday let down. I do my semi-annual stuff then too, and again at the end of June (changing my reverse osmosis and HEPA air purifier filters, etc.). Because I have a list of all of those maintenance chores, I don't really ever fall behind on keeping up the house.  But, I literally have to block time and as much as possible honor those commitments.

Another tip is to take the time to actually do all of the steps of a task.  So, when I vacuum I also vacuum the tops of my ceiling fans, the tops of my baseboards, and I check the corners of my walls for cobwebs. It's a lot easier to spend a minute more doing a thorough job than to neglect it and have to pull out the vacuum a second time for what you forgot to do.

My best tip is to just own less.  Don't buy organizing bins for stuff. It just enables you to own more stuff by piling it higher and deeper.  Really question whether to buy something--if it's truly needed--and think about what you could do if you DIDN'T buy the item.  One doesn't really need to own a bundt pan and an angel food cake pan and.... you get the idea.  All of those things can be made in simple bread loaf pans.

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I saw a meal prep tip from a mom of a large family recently that I found really interesting, in that it kind of flies in the face of conventional wisdom. When she's cooking and she has a few minutes while something sautès or bakes, she doesn't wash up like I usually do (clean as you go and whatnot). Instead, she uses the time to prep ahead. So one night she'll mix up a batch of meatballs to go in the slow cooker the next morning while that night's soup simmers, or she'll prep a batch of granola to go in the oven when the casserole comes out, etc. (Examples are mine, because I think I found her while looking for large family Whole30 ideas, so she wouldn't be making granola, lol.) She admits that it makes a bigger mess to deal with after dinner, but she feels the trade-off of being prepared for future food is worthwhile. She has her kids help with clean up after dinner.

As a person who struggles to find dedicated food prep time, this idea is appealing.

For our new house, I bought a cleaning caddy that lives under the kitchen sink. It has everything I need to do the daily shine up. I get it out when I'm done with making my husband's lunch in the mornings, and carry it about until the kids get up. The shower gets wiped down while I'm in it, I do a quick swish and swipe of the bathroom before I leave it, and the basement half bath gets tended when I start the first load of laundry. I sat down and thought through the flow of my morning routine, and added in some daily maintenance tasks when it seemed logical. (I don't always do them, lol. Coming up with the habits is so much easier than sustaining them.) I also make my kids fold and put away laundry, and I'm training them to clean up after meals and do some basic cooking. (My oldest is 10.)

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2 hours ago, frogger said:

Live alone. 😂

Once long ago, both dc were at a residential camp and Mr. Ellie was in another state for work. I was home alone for a whole week. That's when I discovered that I was more of a clutterer than I had imagine I was, lol.

Now that I am old, I'm no longer a clutterer. 🙂

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18 minutes ago, Ellie said:

 

Now that I am old, I'm no longer a clutterer. 🙂

lol -- I really thought your punchline was going to be: "Now that I am old, I no longer care." 😂  <--- And, I feel like I am fast approaching this attitude as I age... 😉 

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49 minutes ago, Ellie said:

Once long ago, both dc were at a residential camp and Mr. Ellie was in another state for work. I was home alone for a whole week. That's when I discovered that I was more of a clutterer than I had imagine I was, lol.

Now that I am old, I'm no longer a clutterer. 🙂

I might have plenty of books stacked around my chair but they smell ok. 😁

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40 minutes ago, Lori D. said:

lol -- I really thought your punchline was going to be: "Now that I am old, I no longer care." 😂  <--- And, I feel like I am fast approaching this attitude as I age... 😉 

Oh, no, I still absolutely care. I'm just better at some things. I don't do floors well, and I have learned that the paper clutter on my desk stays during a project because I don't have the mental energy to keep up with it until the project is finished, but otherwise, no clutter. 🙂

*ETA: Now,  see, on the Ignore This Thread thread, I would have a booya. 🙂

Edited by Ellie
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I am not a good housekeeper. I battle clutter constantly. I the best thing I've done recently is I bought 2 robot vacuums. It's not just about having swept floors. It's like when you have a paid housekeeper and you have to clean before they come. We have to pick up before running the Eufy. Also, running the Eufy everyday means that it's not a big deal if I want to mop floors. I have a Karcher steamer for that, and it makes fast work of mopping. So those two gadgets mean my floors are the cleanest they've every been lol.

I have Adhd. I discovered awhile back that I can't look at cleaning as a chore. I have to look at it as beautifying a space. Beauty is a great motivator for me. 

still fighting clutter, but I'm not giving up.

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