It's no secret - I love a clean, organized house. Of course my kids are grown and gone, but I do have my 4 year old grandson three days a week, along with a room devoted to his toys and crafts. But still, there are ways to keep housework and clutter to a minimum, so I thought I'd share a few of my "rules" to keeping my house clean. If you have any to add or suggest, I'd love to hear them!
1. Never walk by it. Whether it's a piece of paper on the floor, a spill on the counter, or pair of shoes in the family room -- don't walk by as if you don't see it. If you see it, bend over and pick it up, wipe it out, or grab it and put it away. It's so much easier to do a tiny bit now and then, than to spend hours going through room by room doing the same thing once a week.
2. Dirty clothes belong in the hamper - not on the floor, the chair, or on top of the washing machine. When you take them off, hang them up or pop them into a hamper immediately.
3. Clean as you cook. I like to get all ingredients for a recipe out before I start cooking, then put them back as soon as I use them. I also mop counters and stove top as I cook. By the time I'm done cooking, the kitchen is clean and all I need to do is put the used dishes in the dishwasher.
4. Make sure the kitchen is clean and tidy before going to bed. The dishwasher should be run and empty, the sink empty of dirty dishes, the counters and stove top wiped down. It's so much easier to start your day in a clean kitchen then to face a sink full of dishes in the morning!
5. Make your bed every day. This is a job that so many people ignore, takes only 2-3 minutes of your time, and makes you feel SO good when you go to climb in bed at night. In addition, change your sheets once a week.
6. Pretend company is coming. How would you feel if a dear friend you haven't seen for 10 years called and announced she was in the neighborhood and would be there in 10 minutes and wants to stay overnight? Mortified? Embarrassed? Just take a walk through your house once a day and look for things you wouldn't want a visitor to see -- dirty sink in your guest bathroom? Guest room being used for storage? Junk of overwhelming proportions piled on your dining room table? Papers piled on the kitchen counter? If you pay attention to these things each day, you'll soon find that 10 minutes is plenty of time to freshen things up and be prepared for company at a moments notice.
7. Finish one task and put it away before starting another. This is a great thing to teach your children and grandchildren. For example, yesterday my grandson wanted to get out his train set, which we set up on the kitchen floor. After playing for 20 minutes, he was ready to move on to PlayDoh. That was fine, but before we moved on, we picked up and put away the train set. He knows that when we finish one thing, we pick it up and put it away before starting something new. This keeps toy clutter to a minimum. It works for adults too!
8. A place for everything, everything in it's place -- or containerize it! Admittedly, there are things in my house that just have no place temporarily. For example, I work on hand sewing while I watch TV at night. Normally my fabric, thread, scissors, etc., are kept in my sewing room. But it's not practical to put these away every night, get them back out the next day. Instead, I found a storage hassock at a yard sale for $1 - and use this to store current TV projects in while they're not being worked on. You could use a basket, a storage cube, a small end table with drawers -- anything that will look presentable as part of the room (in other words, big plastic storage totes belong in the basement or garage -- not in your living room!).
9. Sweep your kitchen once a day. Crumbs, dirt, food dropped while eating or cooking -- sweep it up once a day and your kitchen floor will stay cleaner. If you have area rugs, take them outside for a quick shake and they'll stay much cleaner.
10. Trash out every day. No excuses. Trash bags are inexpensive, and kitchen garbage smells bad. Take the trash out every night before bed.
If you do these basics every day, combined with your schedule of weekly housecleaning duties of dusting and vac'ing and cleaning bathrooms, your housework will never get ahead of you and feel overwhelming!
Let me know if you have anything to add to this list.