originally from cleanandscentsible.com

Keeping up with the daily house keeping can be a drag, but it doesn’t have to take up all your time.  I feel that keeping a clean home is less about the time involved, and more about creating some good habits that you {eventually!} start to just follow instinctively.  Yes, there are still times that things get crazy and I’m not able to always follow through with the daily cleaning, but, for the most part, I do try to follow these 11 habits to keep a house clean and tidy.  I promise – the more you do them, the easier it gets! If the list seems overwhelming to start with, just pick one or two to get started and then add in more as you are able.

Start by Making the Bed.
I know some people think that making the bed is a waste of time, but it really makes a big difference in how tidy the room looks and only takes a couple of minutes.  Plus, I think it starts off the day well and I love climbing into a made bed at the end of the day.  To make things easier, simplify your bedding as much as possible.  We ended up cutting out our top sheets {as they always just ended up in a big puddle at the end of the bed anyways} and just use a duvet and washable cover.  If you love your top sheets though, you can look at minimizing the number of pillows on your bed or using a large enough comforter or duvet that you don’t need to tuck in your sheets.

Do One Load of Laundry Per Day.
Now, depending on how many loads you typically do per week, you may not need to do this every day, but, for us, we definitely go through at least 7 loads of laundry per week.  Try to get in the habit of putting in one load of laundry first thing in the morning.  If you work outside of the home and won’t have a chance to dry it before your leave, put your machine on delay {if you have this as a feature} so it will be ready to put in the dryer when you get home. Alternatively, put the load in the machine in the morning and just turn it on when you get home.  Make sure you save some time somewhere in your day to complete the load – including putting it away.

Be Happy with “Clean Enough”.
As a perfectionist, this is probably the hardest one for me.  You want your house to be relatively clean and tidy but that doesn’t mean that every little thing has to be perfect.  I always {try!} to follow the 80/20 rule – meaning that I am happy with 80% of the cleaning being done.  Getting caught up in all of the little details that make up the last 20% {like making sure every little speck is cleaned up off the floor or getting to all of those little out of the way and hard to reach places to dust} are huge time suckers and are probably details that no one would really notice.  I’m not saying that they never need to be cleaned, but make them part of a deep cleaning routine rather than your regular weekly cleaning schedule.

Prioritize.
Not all cleaning is created equal.  Make a list of what you would like to get done and then prioritize what needs to be done and what can wait until the next day or two.   Given the time that you have available, write down your top 2 or 3 {realistic!} cleaning goals and stick with these before attempting to do other things.  I always used to hate writing out lists but I find that it really helps me to stay focused.

Get the Whole Family Involved.
This is one that I have really tried to work on lately.  Yes, it is often actually easier to just do the job yourself, but spending the time to teach your children to do age appropriate jobs will be better in the long run for both of you.  Start by just working on having your kids pick up after themselves – putting their coat and shoes away when they come in the house, putting dishes in the dishwasher, cleaning their room, etc. – and add in other chores as able.  It’s amazing how much of a difference it can make in the overall tidiness of the house if just these simple things are done.  For the first few weeks that you do this, you will likely need to be on your kids a lot, but over time this will start to be a habit for them as well and it should eventually be able to be done with minimal reminders.

Do a 15 Minute Nightly Clean-up.
Make it a routine to do a family 15 minute nightly clean-up.  For some reason it doesn’t seem quite so bad to clean up when everyone else is doing the same thing.  Put on the timer and just stick with the top cleaning priorities.  Kids can clean their rooms or do other small household chores while you finish up the kitchen cleaning or fold and put away laundry.  Start with the things that are making the biggest mess or creating a lot of clutter or any “must dos” that need to be done before bed.  I always run my bObi robotic vacuum during this time – usually in our high traffic areas.

Keep Basic Cleaning Supplies Close to Where You Use Them.
I have all of our bathrooms stocked with basic cleaning supplies – microfiber cloths and a polishing cloth, a toilet scrub brush, and a spray bottle with water and vinegar {or a multi-purpose cleaner of your choice}.  This makes it so much quicker and easier to give the toilet a quick swipe or wipe the gross toothpaste spit from the mirror instead of having to track down cleaning supplies.  Try to do these simple tasks as you see the need – most of them take only a minute or two – and it will really reduce how often you need to do a top to bottom deep clean.

Never Leave a Room Empty Handed.
This is one habit that can make a huge difference in the general tidiness of your home.  As you move from one room to another {or from one floor to another}, try to do a quick scan to see if there is anything that you can take with you that belongs where you are going.  Take only what you will have time to put away – moving a pile from one room to another without actually putting anything away doesn’t really help you out much.  It can be a couple of dirty dishes that you put in the dishwasher or some laundry that needs to be put away upstairs.   Always keep in mind the “one touch rule”, meaning that you ideally only want to touch items one time before they are put away.  Every time you touch an object to move it from one place to another you are using up precious time and energy so make that extra little effort to put it directly away.  Again, I think it is really more about habit than not having the time.

Declutter.
This one may need to be implemented over a longer period of time, but taking the time to declutter and organize your home will drastically cut down on the amount of time needed to clean.  Having a spot for everything {that is both easily accessible and easy to put away} makes it so much easier to tidy up – for both you and the rest of your family. Less items out on the counters and surface tops cuts down on dusting and makes cleaning a lot quicker.  If you are unsure of where to start, try my 6 Week Decluttering Challenge or read this post on how to keep the clutter out.

Know Your High Traffic Areas.
If you focus on keeping the high traffic areas clean on a daily basis, you can really help to prevent the spread of dirt and dust throughout the rest of the house.  Make sure you have a dedicated spot for shoes at the entrances to your house to remind everyone to take off their shoes and to keep all of the shoe dirt contained in one spot.  Small area rugs at doors can also help to trap a lot of the incoming dirt.  For furry friends that come in and out, have a an old towel by the door to quickly wipe down paws as they come in {you can see other ideas for keeping your house clean with pets here}.  Try to sweep or vacuum these areas daily.  It doesn’t need to be much – just a quick 5 minutes or so should do it.

Clean as You Go.
This one may seem obvious but I think it’s something that we often don’t do.  Putting things away as you go doesn’t really take up much time but it will definitely make the difference between a tidy house and a messy house at the end of the day.  Take your clothes off by your closet and either hang them back up or put them directly in the laundry.  Load the dirty dishes directly into the dishwasher instead of just placing them on the counter.  Put your shoes and coat away as you come in the door.  Have all the family help out cleaning up the kitchen after dinner so you are not stuck with a messy kitchen when it’s really time to go to bed. All of these little things are just habits that can be created with a little intentional planning.  Obviously there will be times when this is not possible, but do it when you can and you will save yourself a ton of cleaning up in the end!