Have you ever wished there was a magic housekeeping fairy living in your basement? You’d go to sleep each night and wake up to a spotless home, complete with washed dishes, fresh laundry and crumb-free floors. If only cleaning could be that easy! Habits are much easier to acquire than a magic cleaning fairy. If you’re struggling to keep your house clean, it might be time to reconsider how you approach cleaning and the way you build chores into your day. Here are seven creative ways to make cleaning a habit that’s effective for your home.
Pick a Time and Place
Think about your first date. If you hadn’t agreed to meet at a specific time and place, you probably would have missed each other. Planning a cleaning strategy is the first step toward turning your ideas into reality. Pick a time and place for each task you want to accomplish. Being specific will give you more willpower to achieve your goals. For example, think about an area in your home you’ve wanted to clean up for a while. Now, choose a date and time and write this project into your calendar. The more specific you get, the more likely you are to complete the task and follow through on your plans.
Throw Things Away
Have you seen images of minimalist homes with nothing but basic furniture left in each room? You don’t have to get this drastic to keep your house clean. However, getting rid of extra clutter can be incredibly helpful for cleaning your home. It’s much easier to clean and tidy if you don’t have many items to care for.
Clutter also tends to create more clutter – for example, consider a kitchen with dirty dishes in the sink. If you leave them there, family members are more likely to consider this a “messy space” and pile more dishes on top. Eventually, you’ll have a mountain of dishwashing to do, all because you left a few dirty dishes in the sink.
If choosing a time and place sounds too complicated to you, try habit-stacking instead. This practice takes habits you already have and combines them with new ones. For example, most people brush their teeth every morning. To stack a new habit onto this one, start wiping the sink out every day after you’re done. Habit-stacking takes the effort out of completing daily tasks. Because you already have one habit in place, starting the second one is much easier. Habit-stacking tends to work best when both actions happen in the same place. That way, doing the first one naturally reminds you to complete the second.
Get the Right Tools
It’s more fun to clean if you like your tools. Cleaning is also faster when you understand how to properly care for each part of your home. For example, it takes specific cleaners to protect the shine and longevity of marble. Wooden floors, glass top tables and cast iron pans all respond best to certain cleaning methods.
Having the right tools and knowledge will help you clean more efficiently and thoroughly. Instead of wiping furiously at a stain on your counter, you can easily remove it and get on to the next task. As long as you’re not damaging anything, don’t be afraid to change the rules so that cleaning is more fun and convenient for you.
Break Tasks Down
Many people get overwhelmed by the idea of a cleaning routine because there’s so much to be done. Between laundry, dishes, dusting, vacuuming, cleaning the cat box and other tasks, a full cleaning routine could easily take up three or more hours of your weekend. Doing something small every day is much more feasible. For example, you could dust on Monday, vacuum on Tuesday and do laundry on Saturday. If you put your clothes away every evening, you won’t have to refold your whole closet come Sunday. Breaking tasks down ensures you live in a clean house most of the time – not just on weekends when you can devote lots of time to housework.
On days when you have zero motivation, plan a reward for after you’ve finished cleaning. For example, you could watch a favorite movie, read a book or even go out after you’ve tidied the house. This method works best if the reward is something you weren’t planning to do anyway. Other good reward ideas include a bowl of ice cream, a purchase you’ve been waiting to make or a bath in your sparkling clean bathroom. Pair rewards with certain tasks so cleaning becomes something to look forward to instead of something you dread. Change it up often to keep yourself motivated and committed to the process.
Make It “Me Time”
You could also designate cleaning time as “me time.” Burn your favorite candle, play a podcast you enjoy or listen to an audiobook while you work. Cleaning can be a refreshing time to unwind at the end of the day. You could also start your mornings with a cleaning routine to wake up and reset your mind.
It’s important to be careful when multitasking – maybe set a timer so you don’t get distracted and forget you’re supposed to be cleaning. Even a podcast or phone call can be enough to derail you and turn your cleaning routine into a veg-out session. However, if you enjoy the process, you’ll be much more likely to clean your house.
Take It Slow
Habits take time to build, so start with one thing at a time. If you try to redesign your whole schedule at once, you’ll end up feeling overwhelmed and forget parts of your new plan. Small wins will help you move forward until you’ve built enough habits to keep your home clean most of the time.
Before you start habit-stacking or incorporating other things into your cleaning routine, take a moment to imagine what you want your house to feel like. Close your eyes, breathe deeply and think of three words to describe your space. Use these seven tips to achieve the home of your dreams one step at a time.