Help! My House is a Mess!
“My house is a disgusting mess.” “My house is a mess and I don’t know where to start!” Do these sound like thoughts you’ve had? If you’re finding yourself feeling a little (or a lot) overwhelmed by a messy house, keep reading, because we’re going to cover a lot of ground here!
If your house is always a mess, it goes without saying that it’s time to find a solution. You know what’s really great, though?
You’ve made the decision to do something about your messy house!
My House is a Mess, Where Do I Start?
The first place to start is to establish what kind of mess you have.
There are usually two different ways a house is messy. It’s best to first decide which one applies to you. Maybe it’s both, and if that’s the case, no worries! We’ll tackle both scenarios!
Messy House Type 1: Dirty Mess
The first type of mess is dirty mess. You can have this kind of home if you are generally okay about putting away clutter, but not so great at making sure to wash floors, clean the toilet, wash the dishes, etc.
In my opinion, you have two places you can start with dirty mess.
The first is to do a standard cleaning, just to get things out of the way and get you in the habit of cleaning.
After that, you can reassess and plan a day to do a deep clean, which will be a little easier because you’ve already laid some groundwork.
The second option is to start with a serious deep cleaning. Doing a deep clean can be like a complete refresh, and starting with a clean slate (pun intended).
After an initial deep cleaning, you’ll be able to then clean the house quicker on your regular cleaning day (because after this, I hope you’ll be comfortable making a regular cleaning day so you don’t have to stress about the house!).
Whichever option you choose, I have you covered! You can get this master cleaning list for free and check things off your list!
The second type of mess is clutter mess. We’ll go over a few options for clutter mess in the section below!
Messy House Type 2: My House is So Cluttered I Don’t Know Where to Start!
First, your house can be clean (i.e. floors are vacuumed, things are dusted, etc), but cluttered. If you are in the clutter camp, I recommend starting with this 30 day declutter calendar. It’s a free printable, so all you have to do is print it out and cross off items as you go.
You don’t have to do it in 30 days!
If you want to dedicate a weekend to seriously decluttering, you can definitely do that! You can do it in a week, take the full 30 days, however makes sense for you and your life!
The point is to not overwhelm yourself. Sometimes feeling overwhelmed makes us want to give up the task, so take the calendar, print it out, and make a plan you feel comfortable committing to.
No matter how you decide to do it, you can cross off each item as you go to make sure you don’t miss anywhere. Grab your FREE declutter calendar below!
Messy House Type 3: Cluttered AND Dirty
Now, it is entirely possible that you have both clutter mess and dirty mess. Don’t worry, I firmly believe that it happens to everyone at some point, whether they admit to it or not!
I’ve certainly been there, so no judgments from me!
I would recommend tackling this in two different ways:
- Declutter first, then clean up the dirt
By decluttering first, you have more area and more room to dust, clean floors, move around, etc. In this process, I’d declutter the whole house first, then start cleaning the dirt.
- Work room by room.
Pick one room, say the kitchen. Declutter it, and then clean it. Complete everything before moving on to the next room.
Whichever option you prefer, or if you’d like to do a hybrid, make sure you try to stick with it!
The best way to stick with it is to not overwhelm yourself (i.e. taking everything out of every cupboard and then feeling like, “now what am I supposed to do?!”).
Give yourself small tasks at a time to accomplish. Be forgiving of yourself. Don’t beat yourself up over how things got this way. It doesn’t matter anymore!
It is what it is, and now you’re taking care of business! You should be proud of yourself for getting started!
In the section below, we’ll talk about the two different routes you can take to start cleaning a messy house – regardless of what kind of mess you have, either of these processes will work for both types. Here’s the brief rundown of how you can start:
Start by cleaning one room at a time, OR start by cleaning one thing at a time. Both of these will be listed below with greater detail!
Another place to start is to get some cleaning motivation! If you’re not even motivated to start cleaning, here are 11 tips to get motivated to clean your house!
How to Clean a Messy House
We are going to operate with two different routes here. Since we’re overwhelmed with the mess, our options are going to be:
Route #1: One room at a time
Route #2: One thing at a time
If you’re like me, these are kind of difficult to stick to sometimes. It can be easy to pick a room and then lose focus on what you’re doing, or think “I should actually be cleaning the bathroom” when you’re supposed to be working on the bedroom.
That’s okay! We’ll go into our messy house cleaning options a little more in depth below!
Cleaning One Room At a Time
This is just how it sounds. Pick one room to start with.
You can start with the messiest room of the house if you want to tackle it right away. After doing the messiest room, or whichever one you dread most, first, everything after that will be easier!
Or, you can start with the least messy room first. It can be less intimidating, and it can really help you get into your cleaning groove.
Whichever option you choose, pick a room and stick with it! You will feel so amazing when that room is done, and it will help keep you motivated to move onto the next!
Cleaning One Thing At a Time
The second route we can take is to choose one thing at a time.
One thing at a time means you’re going around the house doing one task in every room. Here are some examples of one thing at a time:
Example 1: Laundry
The obvious places to start are the bedrooms, but check every room!
Did someone take their socks off in the living room and leave them there? True story: SOMEONE in my house takes their socks off and shoves them in-between couch cushions.
I’m not naming names, but it happens!
Are there dirty towels on the bathroom floor? Are there dish towels in the kitchen that could be washed?
Put them all in your wash basket and start a load of laundry.
If the wash basket is full before you finish going through all the rooms, start a load with what you have and then finish up gathering the laundry throughout the house.
Pro Tip: If you get in the habit of starting a load of laundry and then forgetting to switch it (like me), set a timer on your phone for about how long the cycle is. That way, you’ll get a reminder of when to switch it and you’ll stay on track! I’m speaking from personal experience here. Your life will be so much easier.
Example 2: Dishes
Gather up ALL the dishes throughout the house. No, these aren’t always just in the kitchen and dining areas!
Check the bedrooms. Are there glasses or water bottles in there that haven’t been washed in a while? Did someone have a midnight snack and leave the plate on the nightstand or under the bed?
Check your cars, too! You should be washing reusable water bottles pretty often, so make sure those are included in your dishes!
Example 3: Obvious garbage
Are there fast food bags anywhere? Did you open a piece of mail and leave the empty envelope sitting on a table? Go through the entire house and throw away every single piece of garbage that is obvious and you don’t have to think about!
Example 4: Dusting
Dust every single room. I personally hate dusting, so I like to do this first anyway!
Dust the obvious surfaces, like tables and shelves. Also make sure to get picture frames, wall decor, etc. Anything that you spot that could possibly accumulate dust, probably has!
Pro Tip: I like to dust before I do floors or vacuum because dust can fall to a lower surface. This is also why you should always dust from top to bottom in a room, starting with the highest surface and working your way down!
Example 5: Floors
I always like to do the floors last. The reason is, if I’m dusting or moving things around, dust and debris will probably fall to the floor.
Vacuum all the rooms at the same time, wash all the floors (if it makes sense for your layout and you won’t be trapped somewhere with nothing but wet floor in front of you) at the same time, etc.
So now that we have two examples of where to start, one room at a time or one thing at a time, what’s next?
Cleaning a Dirty House
Whether you’ve chosen to do one thing at a time, or one room at a time, it’s time to actually act! After all, you didn’t just come here to read about it, your house is a mess!
Here’s a list of things you should be cleaning in each room. If you need help with how to clean these things, check out my ebook that is on sale to help you!
- Vacuum / Sweep floors
- Wash floors
- Dust fans
- Wipe down walls (yes, dust and dirt builds up here too!)
- Dust ledges, blinds and baseboards
- Wash windows
- Wipe down light switches and remotes
- Dust all picture frames, decorative items (don’t forget the stuff hanging on your walls!)
- Dust light fixtures (this is also a good time to change any lightbulbs as needed!)
- Wipe down stovetop
- Wipe down the outside of the refrigerator and all appliances
- Toss out expired food in your refrigerator and pantry (this is a good time to wipe down those shelves too, and consider starting a pantry inventory, which could help you save money!)
- Wipe down the sink
- Dust cupboards, clean out the drawers
- Clean the microwave and toaster
- Take out the garbage. If the garbage area is icky, make sure to clean and disinfect that too!
- Run a cleaning cycle on your dishwasher
- Clean the coffee maker
- Clear off the clutter on the table
- Wipe off the table
- Dust any display cases, wipe down cabinets
- Wipe down chairs
- Wipe down or vacuum couch, loveseat, chairs, etc. All seating areas!
- Dust lamps and lamp shades
- Wipe down coffee table, end tables, side tables, TV stand, etc.
- Wash any blankets and throw pillows (be sure to check their labels for cleaning instructions!)
- Clean toilet
- Replace shower curtain liner
- Disinfect sink
- Clean bathtub
- Clean toothbrush holder (yep! This is one of the 17 places you forget to clean!)
- Wash mirror(s)
- Dust the top of the vanity or medicine cabinet
- Wash your bath mat
- Throw away expired items in the medicine cabinet, makeup you no longer use, old nail polish, etc.
- Wash bedding
- Wipe down and dust dressers, nightstands, and all similar surfaces.
- Wash or dry clean comforter
- Organize and wipe down desks, bookcases and shelves
- Vacuum under and behind the bed
- File paperwork
- Wipe off desk, organize
- Organize drawers (this is a good place to declutter! Hello, pens that don’t actually work but you somehow have 7 of them!)
- Dust shelves
Hallways & Stairs
- Wipe down handrails and bannisters
- Clean rugs and welcome matse
- Wash pet beds
- Clean off outdoor furniture
- Run a clean cycle on your washing machine
- Run a cleaning cycle on your dishwasher
- Wash outdoor garbage and recycle bins (when they’re empty)
If you’re looking to make yourself a cleaning schedule and have this list (with a few more items) printed out, check out my deep cleaning workbook (on sale right now!).
In it you’ll find this master list (in a much better printable form), along with blank schedules so you can make yourself a cleaning schedule that works for you, your family, and your busy life!
When you grab the workbook, I also recommend getting a few of these dry erase pockets.
I use these for EVERYTHING! I put all of my checklists in them, and any to-do lists I need for the day.
That way, you only have to print something once, and you can cross it off with a dry erase marker. Then, just erase it and start over next time!
It also saves you money on printing multiple things.
You’ll have less paper clutter since you’re printing out only one sheet! 🙂
PS – These are my favorite dry erase markers. I like that they’re magnetic, and also each marker comes with its own eraser on the cap – no need to hunt down an eraser or waste a piece of paper towel!
A Note About Pet Hair
One more super helpful resource (if you have pets) is this one on How to Deal with Pet Hair.
We’re a two dog household, so I completely understand the struggle of pet hair floating around, and it always seems to happen 2 hours after vacuuming!
If you’re looking for a quick way to keep up with vacuuming, especially with pets, I highly recommend this Eufy Robovac.
I promise I will write a full review of it ASAP, but here are a few quick reasons I love it:
It’s easy to use.
There’s really no guesswork in how to assemble it (took like, 20 seconds to add the brushes and that’s it). The guide is very helpful in explaining the different settings.
You can set it on a timer.
Our dogs are NOT fans of this vacuum, or in their minds, the intruder. I love that I can set it on a timer to run while we’re sleeping. The pups are safe in their beds while it’s working on other rooms of the house.
As far as robovacs go, prices reach all ends of the spectrum. You can get something like the Eufy, which sometimes will have a coupon readily available. Or you can get robovacs upwards of $500.
Either way, you have a ton of options in this arena. If you have a smaller house, and don’t need an app on your phone for it (it comes with a remote), I personally feel this is the way to go.
The Eufy has sensors so it won’t tumble down the stairs. I did actually test this!
When it was getting close to the edge of a stair, I went to the other side and was ready to catch it – just in case. The vac came close to the edge and then said “nope!” and turned itself right around and went the other direction.
It also will put itself back on it’s docking / charging station when finished, or when you press the “home” button on the remote.
It also is supposed to head home when the battery is getting low, but I haven’t had it running long enough to test that yet.
Check it out on Amazon!
Psychology of a Messy House – Why is a messy house bad?
The thing about a messy house is, it isn’t just that we’re not feeling like cleaning or don’t have any motivation to clean (link). It also has negative impacts on our health, both mentally and physically. So you might be wondering, why is a messy house bad?
According to an article from Psychology Today called The Powerful Psychology Behind Cleanliness, “Women who described their living spaces as ‘cluttered’ or full of ‘unfinished projects’ were more likely to be depressed and fatigued than women who described their homes as ‘restful’ and ‘restorative.’” Check out the full article here.
Does that sound familiar? It sure rang a bell for me!
When my house was so cluttered and such a mess, I definitely felt more fatigued.
Even thinking about tackling the spare bedroom or basement (which both became dumping grounds for things that didn’t have a specific home…yet) was exhausting and overwhelming.
Let’s just rewind it even a little further back. When the mess and clutter was just starting to accumulate, I can think of times that I was so busy with work, family stuff, and just general life happenings and things started to pile up.
It’s not always a quick pile up, either! Sometimes it starts out just as small as putting a piece of junk mail on the dining room table instead of throwing it away.
Then, you get into the habit of always putting junk mail on the table instead of throwing it away. A few days of that, maybe not a big deal, but when a week and more pass by, that’s a lot of clutter that builds up!
Sometimes things get so out of control it’s hard to know where to start! I hope this guide has given you a good starting point and some inspiration on how to start cleaning a messy house.
Let me know in the comments your favorite starting points when you’re overwhelmed!