In the busyness of life, it is easy to neglect household chores and allow clutter to pile up. This can result in a home that reflects chaos and disarray instead of peace and tranquility. Keeping your home clean and clutter-free doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task that sucks hours of free time away from your weekend. Likewise, you don’t have to give up and give in to clutter that takes over your home and leaves you feeling anxious and stressed. Here are 12 habits that are easy to implement and can help make your home a restful, revitalizing place to recharge your body and mind.
12. Tidy As You Go
Instead of putting off cleaning, which then requires a large block of time, conquer the clutter by tidying as you go. Rather than dropping your shoes by the front door or magazines next to your recliner, put them away as soon as you are finished using them. Walking your socks to the laundry hamper or dropping your magazine into the recycling bin keeps your floors clear and takes only a few moments of your time. Meanwhile, it can take much more time out of a weekend to navigate your home to gather dirty clothes from the floor, used dishes from the coffee table, and sports equipment from the front hall.
11. Sort Papers Regularly
The steady flow of junk mail, bills, and school or work papers can easily form a logjam of papers covering your kitchen table or the surface of your desk. Open the daily mail near your recycling bin to make recycling unneeded papers a snap and prevent them from accumulating in your home. Have a designated spot for magazines, bills to be paid, and important papers, and place these items in the proper place immediately upon receiving them. Choose a day each week to routinely sort through papers, filing them where they belong.
10. Maintain Drop-Off Baskets
Keep a basket at the bottom of the stairs for items that have drifted from where they belong. If you have children, maintain a basket for each child and encourage them to return items to their room whenever they pass by. If clutter gets away from you, utilize baskets when tidying a room. As you pick up discarded items, place them in baskets designated for the kitchen, bedrooms, garage, or laundry room. Once you are finished tidying the room, don’t ignore the baskets. Immediately take each basket to the appropriate room and empty it. Full baskets contribute to clutter and can result in a panic if needed items cannot be found.
9. Clean Your Kitchen Sink
A clean kitchen goes a long way toward making a house feel clean and reducing the anxiety caused by messiness and disarray. The Fly Lady recommends planning to have a clean kitchen sink each night before going to bed. Don’t allow dishes to pile up and create an overwhelming food-splattered mountain. Instead, fill your sink with hot, soapy water before you cook dinner. Then, wash pots, pans, and large mixing bowls as you go. After dinner, immediately clear the table and load the dishwasher. That way you can start the dishwasher before bedtime and wake up to a sparkling kitchen and squeaky clean dishes.
8. Have a Place for Everything
Prevent clutter and the aggravation of misplaced belongings by having a place for everything in your home. Keep a tray near your front door to capture your car keys and loose change when you come home each evening. Have a designated location for placing bills and important papers so they don’t become lost or overlooked. Once you have a home for each of your belongings, be mindful about placing them there after use. Return tools to the garage, dishes to the kitchen, and toys to the playroom when you are finished using them.
7. Keep Counters and Tabletops Clear
Counters and tabletops are magnets for clutter. If you commit to keeping them clear, you can go a long way toward defeating clutter. Rather than dropping your purse or briefcase on the table when you arrive home, commit to placing it in its home on a hook or next to your desk. Empty shopping bags as soon as you arrive home and place each item where it belongs. Store appliances and cooking utensils in cupboards and drawers to keep counters clear and ease your ability to wipe them down and keep them clean.
6. Wipe Down Bathroom Sinks as You Use Them
Cleaning the bathroom doesn’t have to be a chore if you work on it a little bit at a time. Keep cleaning rags under your bathroom sink so you can periodically give your bathroom sink and countertop a wipedown with hot, soapy water after using the facilities. Store a microfiber window cleaning cloth in your bathroom and quickly and easily give the mirror a quick wipe before leaving the room. Even cleaning the toilet can be a breeze if you keep your toilet scrubber and cleaning supplies close at hand.
5. One Item In Means One Item Out
If your belongings have gotten out of control, utilize the technique of discarding unused items every time you bring new belongings into your home. If you purchase a new pair of shoes, plan to discard a long-forgotten pair from the back of your closet. When purchasing new decorative items for your home, don’t tuck older items away in the garage or basement. Commit to decreasing clutter in your home by removing an item every time you purchase a new one.
4. Donate Regularly
Maintain a basket or bin in your closet and commit to donating unused or outgrown items on a regular basis. Rather than allowing unworn items to languish in your closet, donate them to a friend, neighbor, or charitable organization so others can enjoy them. The same goes for household items, kitchen utensils, and knick-knacks. If you find items you haven’t used in the last 12 months, set them aside to clear some space and allow others to enjoy using them. Many charitable organizations will pick up unwanted items from your curb or front porch.
3. Clear Out Your Junk Drawer
It’s easy to throw small items into a junk drawer, never to be seen again. Periodically go through your junk drawer to discard expired coupons, old takeout menus, and crumpled ketchup or soy sauce packets. Return tools that may have taken up residence to the garage, small toys to children’s rooms, and that long-lost pair scissors to your desk caddy. Items that are buried in a jumble of mess are items that aren’t proving themselves useful.
2. Touch an Item Only Once
When performing household tasks, make up your mind to touch each item only once. Rather than pulling clothes from the dryer and dumping them into a laundry basket, touch each clothing item only once by folding it as you remove it from the dryer. Avoid setting a dirty bowl on the kitchen counter to later be retrieved and shelved in the dishwasher. Instead, place it in the dishwasher immediately. Rather than dropping your jacket on the stairway railing to later move to the closet, hang it in the closet immediately upon taking it off. This prevents clutter and saves time in moving an object more than once.
1. Double Check Before Leaving a Room
Before leaving a room, give a glance back over your shoulder. Could you pull up your bedspread before walking out of the door and thus provide a neat, welcoming bedroom to return to that evening? Before leaving the bathroom, check back and notice if any towels need to be hung on hooks, toothpaste marks quickly wiped from mirrors, or socks tossed into the clothes hamper. Spending a moment doing a quick visual sweep and tidying any stray items can prevent hours of cleaning multiple rooms and tidying days’ worth of clutter all at once.