I'm going to share a secret with you. It's a cleaning secret and talking about cleaning might not sound exciting. However, this has saved me lots of stress and given me balance in my home. When things are a mess, I find it hard to relax and accomplish some real brain tasks. This is the solution to attack a frumpy home.

First, I do love clean. I like the way it smells, looks, and invites. I like the way my kids are more creative when a space is clean for them to dirty up. I like the way it entices me to make another creative mess in the kitchen. I like the way clean feels good and breathes peace to my soul and gives me comfort in welcoming others into our space.

I didn't always know how to clean well. Really my mom and sister are the master cleaners. They are going to polish and clean every nitty-gritty detail of  e v e r y t h i n g  and it's going to shine after. I attempt to be like them. My childhood bedroom was a disaster: clothes everywhere, desk piled high, knickknacks tucked into corners, and books stacked precariously. I'd like to take some credit for my sister's cleanliness because she had to share a room with me. Maybe, just maybe, my anti-clean is what has inspired her own skills. Love you, sis.

Here's what I do:

I keep my house 80% clean all the time.


Because the other 20% to bring it to peak readiness is easy if I do.

For me, if I had to keep my home at 100% everyday, I'd fail. It's a lot to keep a home up, make sure children stay alive and active, finish home projects, attempt showering, exercise, prepare meals, mow lawns, answer emails, laundry, car shuttling around town, shopping, and spending some quality time with the people I love.

I involve my kids as much as I can. When it's cleaning time, they get their "chore" assignments. Sometimes it's helpful to say "you each will have 3 chores and then we can ___". Works like a charm. One of them could be vacuuming the entire downstairs.

I don't know that this is a magical solution for everyone, but it works for me. I've been asked how I keep my home clean, what my system is, and this is it.

THIS IS THE 80% - what I do everyday: 

1. I always at least rinse dishes. One side of my sink is always empty (the dirty dish side) and the other side has rinsed dishes in it ready to load in the dishwasher.
2. It's even better if you can unload the dishwasher from the night before while your littles are eating breakfast, then simply load rinsed dishes into the dishwasher throughout the day.
3. Having a clean kitchen is the crux of a clean house. Start here.
4. Wipe counters/table after every meal or snack.
5. Don't forget the stove top. It brings down the kitchen to have the grungy crusted noodles or veggies or unknowns hanging out.
6. Sweep. I do this so many times a day. I cannot believe how many crumbs one tiny snack can bring. The quicker you sweep, the more localized the mess stays.
7. Take towels and dishrags up to the laundry room at the end of the day.
8. Start the full dishwasher every night.

1. I keep the toilet seat wiped down. There are wipes in every bathroom and it's simple and fast. I know I appreciate a clean toilet seat.

1. Sweep everyday (if the kids play with play dough etc, they should sweep when they clean it up)

1. I do at least one load of laundry a day - bonus points if it gets folded and put right away
2. Every night the kids have to bring their dirty clothes from their rooms and put it right in the laundry room - my goal is always to have a clean floor

1. Toys are stored upstairs in our house - the kids are welcome to bring them downstairs and play, but when it's time to clean up or go to bed, their toys need to be taken and put in the right places upstairs
2. I will make an exception to this rule sometimes with legos. If they come downstairs and are scattered on the living room rug, being creatively played with still, they can stay.
3. Toys upstairs need to be put away in containers and on correct shelves. Sometimes things can stay on a desk or chair to be played with in the morning, but in general, the floor should be clear.

1. clean up the show pile under the bench - we store the majority of shoes in closets, a pair and flip flops can stay for the kids, mine get put all away, my husband's shoes stay out for the morning - this is a great place to assign to kids (my 3-year-old lines up shoes very well)

THIS IS THE EXTRA 20% - what I attempt once a week or for pending company:

1. The same as the 80%
2. + using windex on stainless steal appliances to clean on grubby hand marks
3. + cleaning up papers on the side of the fridge (my magnet area)
4. + clean out microwave if needed (I've had company come and open a gross microwave gross and embarrassing for me)

1. Clean toilets, sinks, and counters (I use clorox wipes)
2. Wipe down floors around the toilet
3. Take out garbage
4. Swap out clean hand-drying towels
5. Make sure there is extra toilet paper and enough hand soap
6. Windex mirrors throughout house

1. Sweep
2. Vacuum all carpets in house
3. Mop (I probably do this every 3ish weeks) - the main floor and bathroom floors

1. If it's still in the massive pile on the floor, fold it. Make a family party of it the day before it needs to be done.

1. Check for tidiness of toys and kids' rooms - especially dresser tops

1. Around TV, on display shelves, and mantle

1. Using clorox wipes or magic erasers, clean knobs and walls where needed. Watch out with magic erasers, they'll take off paint.

Really, this is all done because what I actually want to be doing is planting sunflower seeds in the backyard. (Even though slugs ate them when they started to come up).

I get my kids involved in our daily cleaning routine. Don't make it a big deal, just make it what you do. Your family will catch on as you and they feel a rhythm and rest that comes with your cleaner home.

This is all for the sake of being able to spend more time together in a place where you can relax, feel comfort and safety, and invite others into. It might seem like a lot at first, but it will actually go quickly as you learn to do it on the go from one place to another in your home.

If you can keep the 80% clean, you'll be ready for unannounced visitors at any moment. And if you find out your great aunt's grandpa's sister's niece's dog's puppies's owners are coming to visit the next day, you can kick in the 20% and be ready.

Here's to happy homes that are clean and full of good memories.


  1. Excellent tips!

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