Cleaning a Messy House (In a Hurry!)





Introduction: Cleaning a Messy House (In a Hurry!)

About: Where there's a will, there's a way! Never give up, never give in...BE the good you want to see in the world. :)

There are a lot of tips out there for getting a messy house cleaned (such as putting on your favorite songs, enlisting the help of your family/friends, or the "just do it" method).

But I want to share some things that I do (that may be new to you) that will help get your morale up and get the energy flowing so you can get your house cleaned--efficiently!--IN A HURRY :)

Step 1: Put on Some Shoes!

I always put on a pair of shoes (usually flip flops or tennis shoes) when motivating myself to take on a huge task.

What happens in your brain when you put on a pair of shoes? Your brain registers that you're going to leave, go to work, exercise, go for a walk, etc. Therefore, since we've trained our brains to understand that when we put on our shoes we mean business (and our body has to up it's energy level to do so), this will give you an instant surge of energy for cleaning your house. So go put on some shoes!

NOTE: Do NOT put on slippers or comfy shoes, as they will help you to cozy up in bed or on the couch instead of work. ;-P

Tip: If you have to clean anything that requires a waiting period (such as your toilet where you have to wait while the stuff sits in the bowl, or your oven, etc), put those cleaners in either now (after you slipped on your shoes but before you start working on any rooms), or once you've started to work on the floor that these rooms are on.

Step 2: Take on the Hardest Rooms First

Our brains are motivated to do more when we give them baby step accomplishments. For instance, if you want to make a diet a long-term commitment, progressively up the ante in your food habits or exercise routine over time. This way you make small accomplishments that help your body and brain see results and, thus, you're more motivated to keep up the great work.

Much in this same way, when you start with the hardest room first while cleaning, it gives your brain (and body) a huge accomplishment and, therefore, motivates you to get the other rooms done since the biggest weight has now been lifted (it's all downhill from there).

Keep using this "hardest room first" mentality to work through each room in your house. This will keep adding accomplishments (and weights being lifted) to your morale bucket, keeping you motivated til the end. :)

Tip 1: STAY IN ONE ROOM TIL IT'S DONE! Do not bounce from room to room to room. Even if you have to put something from the room you're in into a different room, DO NOT stop and suddenly start cleaning up this new room now. This will make more "projects" for yourself and will make your brain get overwhelmed. Stay focused on the room you're in until it's completely complete. Also, this helps your brain register more accomplishments and gives it motivation to continue.

Tip 2: CLOSE OFF ROOMS THAT ARE DONE (whenever possible). No, you don't have to tell people they can't use the bathroom or keep your kids from being in their own room, but as much as possible, don't use that room unless completely necessary until the house is done. Yes, we have to live in our homes, but at least getting the cleaning completely DONE (so you feel accomplished) before using a room helps you to not feel that suddenly the room you just cleaned needs cleaning again (which creates a morale-killing, energy-depleting effect).

Tip 3: Take big trash cans around the house with you while you clean. Large trash bags are fine, except they take more time to deal with as you have to constantly hold them open and/or pick them up to move them around while you try to work (only leaving one free hand to clean with). Having a large trash can (that has a bag in it) with you while you go around from room to room makes picking up a snap since you can simply leave it in one spot as you toss trash in it while you work (giving you two hands to work freely, and more quickly, with).

Step 3: Pick It Up Quickly, Put It Away Correctly

This is a two (and a half)-step process...

1. Pick up your room as fast as possible! This means getting EVERYTHING up off the floor as fast as possible. Why do this? Because when you can see the floor of your room, somehow your brain registers that as "the room is almost done now," thus adding to your baby step accomplishments and encouraging you to continue cleaning.

1A. While you are picking it up in a hurry, sort your stuff into groups. For instance, if you're organizing your bedroom: group all of your clothes, linens, and towels on your bed putting clothes in one corner or part of the bed, linens on another corner, and towels on another corner/section; group books and magazines all in one stack on top of the bed (if there's room) or on a nightstand or dresser; put all foreign items (ie: dishes to take to the kitchen, makeup or hair stuff for the bathroom, etc) in a little container like a box or basket (if you have one) or in a pile somewhere on your nightstand or dresser top; and all your shoes in a basket (like clothes hamper) or in a nice pile somewhere else on your bed, nightstand, or dresser.

Tip: It is always handy and quicker to have cardboard boxes, baskets, or clothes hampers around for cleaning up big messes. This way you can throw your pile into a box or basket and easily transport it (quickly!) to wherever it needs to go around the house, then come right back to your room and finish cleaning it.

2. Once you've sorted everything in a hurry, put your piles away correctly, THE FIRST TIME. This is a crucial step because most often we just shift our junk from one room to another and end up re-cleaning the same stuff again and again and again. DON'T DO THIS! Stop the madness! lol. ;) When you are cleaning one pile, put away EVERYTHING in that pile EXACTLY where it goes THE FIRST TIME. We don't need to deal with this stuff more then once, thus saving you time and energy. :) But remember: focus on ONE room at a time (so come back from putting away your piles ONLY...don't put away other things in a different room that are not from your pile).

Tip: Put everything from the same rooms away when you're in each room. We don't want to be redundant here. That wastes our time and energy and makes us give up before the job is done. We want to be PURPOSEFUL with our cleaning. So when you're taking your piles around the house to be put away (or you take your "little stuff" pile to put it away), make sure if you're in the bathroom that EVERYTHING in your hand that can go in the bathroom gets put away right then and there, etc. This saves multiple trips around the house with each group you put away.

Step 4: The Broom Is Your Friend!

Think of a broom as an extra set of hands on adrenaline! :)

Whenever I'm cleaning a floor that's not carpeted, I always enlist the help of my trusty broom to aid in picking up the stuff off the floor fast. This means that EVERYTHING on the floor gets swept into one (or possibly two) big pile(s) in each room. So if your room has trash, silverware, hair ties, clothes, books, etc on the floor, sweep ALL of this into a big pile. (Then sort it after.)


1.Once again, baby steps. This now creates a clutter-free floor with only one pile in it, instead of lots of stuff and lots of little piles all over the floor (which feels overwhelming). It also helps your brain, again, register an accomplishment and therefore it feels less stressed.

2.It makes cleaning up faster and organization easier. With everything in one spot, you have basically cleaned your whole floor, instead of taking all that time to pick up everything one at a time around the room (trying to get up all the little stuff from everywhere). Also, organizing everything into groups (to be put away) is a breeze because it's all easily accessible from the one pile in front of you.

3. It's a back saver! Got a bad back? Have arthritis or bad knees? If so (or it just strains your back in general to bend over a lot), this helps keep your back and knees, etc at ease. You are standing to sweep and then you can just sit comfortably while sorting through the ONE pile. Bonus!!

4. It kills two birds with one stone. Now you have not only created a faster, easier-to-organize pile, but you've also just swept up your floor (instead of having to do it later)! YAY :)

Tip: When sweeping a rug or carpet, there is a tendency to try and sweep it in much the same way you'd sweep a hard floor. If you've ever tried this, you'll notice it sends all the little bits and pieces ALL OVER everywhere and basically makes it take forever to get it clean. My approach is to put the broom perpendicular to the carpet/rug and sweep in a horizontal, side-to-side motion. So if you're holding the broom in front of you, instead of sweeping with the broom head's width, sweep with it's smaller edge. (See above pic for better visual.)

Step 5: Meticulous Endeavors...

There's really no way around having to eventually get to areas of the house that require more time and tedious attention. This is a fact that we all know. But it doesn't mean that we can't pull some tricks out our sleeves to make these either more enjoyable (and thus faster because we're not dragging and going slower) and/or quicker.

1. WASHING A LOT OF DISHES IN A HURRY: See my other instructable for an exhaustive list of tips and tricks to make this process faster and more sanitary...

2. SORTING CLOTHES IN A HURRY: Get a hamper and put all your dirty clothes in this hamper. I wash in cold water so my clothes don't bleed, therefore I can put them all in the same hamper. This also allows me to save on heating expenses and water (because I can do less loads this way), and I save on the time that is usually spent on sorting clothes into different color groups. The only things I wash separately are the delicate fabrics for the "hand wash" or "delicate" cycle, and I put towels and linens together in a different group then the clothes. For clean clothes: set out your hangers all in the same direction on your bed (with the handles all facing away from you). Now you can either fold your clean clothes (for ease of putting them away quickly) or you can put them on a hanger.

3. ORGANIZING LITTLE THINGS IN A HURRY: Little things are always fun, aren't they? Hahaha. But they can be done efficiently and quickly. As mentioned in the previous step, you can put them all in a bin as you clean and then quickly put them all away in the rooms they go in afterwards. Also, here's the easiest and quickest way I've found to organize all our little and multiple things in our bathroom (it's cheap, too!):

Tip:The easiest way to keep a house clean (and the fastest way to get it cleaned again in a hurry) is to have EVERYTHING in your house have it's own place. This means everything has a container, bin/basket, or designated spot to go and thus you can just easily keep it put away during the day (avoiding the big mess in the future) or easily put it all away in a hurry.

4. IF YOU HAVE STAIRS: Take all your groups of stuff that have to go up or downstairs and put them in separate containers (or areas inside of a larger container) so you can take them easily all up or downstairs at the same time to put away (thus not wasting energy or time). Stray away from any wasteful efforts wherever you can avoid it. This keeps you focused, on task, and motivated to finish the job.

Tip: Keep a decorative basket at the bottom of the stairs. Fill this basket with items that have to go upstairs and take it up with you (AND PUT AWAY THE STUFF THAT'S IN IT) everyday, OR every time it gets full. A tip for making this an easy habit is to pick a time each day that you take it up with you. For instance, take it up with you and put it away before bed. Leave it upstairs (empty) overnight while you sleep, then bring it back down and place it in it's spot for the next day once you get up. Easy :)

Step 6: Leave Well Enough Alone

Since this instructable is dealing with getting your house clean IN A HURRY (not deep cleaning or spring-clean-organizing), leave "well enough" alone.

Don't worry about scrubbing down every inch of your bathroom, mopping all your floors, organizing every cupboard, or even cleaning out your fridge (we will cover tips of how to breeze through that in a different instructable). But if you're just trying to get your home back to a livable and uncluttered state so that your friends who are on their way over (or your family who's visiting for the weekend last minute) can feel welcomed and not overwhelmed, then give yourself a pat on the back when the main cleaning is done. Let go of the rest for another, less stressful, less involved day.

1. Get yourself ready (enjoy a warm shower or put on your favorite clothes)

2. Put your mind and body back at a peaceful state

3. Throw on a warm smile

These things are all your family or friends came to see in the first place! Let yourself be in the moment of joy and happiness about your company, and don't focus on the rest.

Enjoy your hard work. Leave well enough alone :)

Step 7: Tips for Dealing With the Everyday Grind

KIDS (Getting them Involved!):

1. If you have older kids like I do, get them to help clean (lots of hands make light work). If this is a struggle for them or for you, a great way to accomplish keeping them "out of your hair" so you can finish cleaning (if it's not summer and they can't play outside while you finish cleaning) is putting them in their room to play and shutting the door while you work so your brain focuses on getting the rest of the house done and not on their getting-messy room. Or your older kids can watch a movie while you finish working. But letting them play in the backyard or somewhere safe is ideal.

**TIP: Make it a Game:Have your kids play basketball while throwing trash into a trash can; have them go on a treasure hunt or scavenger hunt (collecting the "lost" items while they find them); play paperless BINGO or I-Spy by calling out things for them to find or what you "spy" and after they collect/find so many, they win; etc.

2. For younger kids and toddlers: try a movie/kid's show, ask someone you trust (or grandparents) to watch them for a little bit or take them somewhere for a little bit (NOTE: this is for huge, entire-house messes only, not necessarily for your daily cleaning). Or, the preferred method: you can have them help you. Toddlers are the best at cleaning little messes and you can make it a teachable moment by having them organize things into groups by color, type, etc. There are so many other ways to engage little ones or keep them occupied while you work (such as singing together or making up songs about cleaning while you do the "actions" of what you're singing about, etc). Be creative!

3. If you have a baby, put them in a bouncy chair, walking chair, etc so they can be near you and not alone while you get your cleaning done (but still be preoccupied). You can also talk to your baby or sing to them, etc while you work so they don't get uptight. If you have older kids, they can play with your baby, too, or talk to them to keep them preoccupied.


Clean little messes before they turn into big messes! This sounds like such a "duh" idea..but how easy it is to put off things we don't want to do until they become messes we can't avoid (hence our big mess we just cleaned up with this instructable!). This happens most often with dishes (I have some great tips about how to easily avoid a dish build-up in my dishes instructable) and with kids and/or clothes messes. Also, teach your kids to clean up their messes right after they make them. For instance, if they pulled out their toy box to play with blocks, have them put away their blocks BEFORE they start playing with their dolls, etc. Do this practice, too, as an adult...putting away what you get out before going on to another project or activity. ;)

**Lastly, clean up all the end-of-the-night messes BEFORE you go to bed. You will definitely thank yourself later for waking up to a CLEAN house! I especially practice this in the kitchen. If there are dishes on the counters before I go to bed, I push myself to clean them quickly (reminding myself how good it feels--and how invigorating!--to wake up to a fresh and clean kitchen). Now I can enjoy a good night's rest!



    • Creative Misuse Contest

      Creative Misuse Contest
    • Oil Contest

      Oil Contest
    • Stick It! Contest

      Stick It! Contest

    76 Discussions

    Sooo happy to hear a fellow pro-broom person! That's my trick when I have to clean a room that hasn't seen a broom in a while. I sweep everything to the middle of the room and only have to spend my time organizing the pile. I start with toys and other "keep" things, then all that's left is to sweep up and discard the trash. Works like a charm, every time!

    1 reply

    Lol! Another "Broomian" hahah :D We gotta stick together and soon we'll take over the world! lol j/k. Yes it always works like a charm! and thanks for your additional tip too about music or a story. Blessings!

    One more tip that has helped me clean is to invest in a pair of wireless headphones and listen to podcasts, audiobooks, or music (whatever helps take your mind off your task as you do it). I generally prefer storytelling that takes me mentally away so I like podcasts and audiobooks but anything to get you to that place will help. I get so into the story as I'm cleaning that the task isn't as bad and it helps me look forward to cleaning when I know the "reward" is a good podcast as I do it.

    I do this, too, piles and sorting, putting away is SO much easier done this way! I'm guilty of moving room-to-room, however. So, will try to stay un-ADHD and in one room till finished. I am passing this 'ible to my daughter - whose room looks like something exploded.

    1 reply

    YAY!!! I am so glad you found this 'ible useful :) Thanks so much for visiting.


    2 years ago

    This reminds me of the book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing" by Marie Kondō, only much more reasonable. You don't just throw everything out like she recommends.

    7 replies

    Lol...I never heard of that book but it sounds interesting. I guess it is a pretty magical way to declutter when you just throw everything out: "Now you see it, now you don't!" Hahaha! Thanks for commenting and visiting.

    Well, I have this picture in my mind of her tiny apartment in Tokyo. No chairs or sofa, just cushions and a roll-up bamboo mat. No pictures on the sterile white walls. A bamboo mat bed. One small dresser with a week's worth of clothes. No gadgets or toys. One book, her book. And one huge rubbish bin to throw everything away in. LOL!

    Lol! Me too Laral... and we mustn't forget to thank our cushions and roll-up bamboo mats for the work they do for us! I was very drawn in by the title of that book, but I didn't get too far into it without realizing that the author was waaayyyyy out there in her beliefs, ideology, religion, whatever "code" that is that she lives by. God bless her, but God help me if I had to live that way, lol. I agree with her about gratefulness, and I am a very grateful person, but I must admit that I do NOT thank my socks or any of my clothing, as she does. Lol. :D

    My sister gave me that book, and as I read it like a DIY self-help book, I found her thanking the socks for all their hard work as she put them away, for example, a bit overboard. Then I realized that it was just a way to make putting things away or tossed out more personal and reasonable, versus just a step-by-step book. Her anthropomorphizing gave the work some animation ... neh?

    Yes, she seems to be a harmonious person, but she would be impossible to live with. She'd throw away everything you owned if it wasn't put away out of site, like my mother did. ;)

    I'm so pleased you found it useful. Many blessings!

    This instructable fell onto my lap at such a great time. Im working now away from home but i got amped about beginning the daily cleaning grind just reading this. So simple but without reading this i never would have come up with it on my own. So intelligent you are. I also read into your thread ive really been wanting to downsize on the clothes. i have way too many. I have a knack for being a packrat :/ just need the courage to begin downsizing.

    1 reply

    Wow! What a blessing :) I'm so glad my 'ible encouraged you! Thank you for the ultra kind words. Downsizing can seem daunting, but after you start, it always gets easier to continue with it. YOU CAN DO IT :) Thanks so much for visiting!

    A great tip I came across is using old, odd socks as dusters - an easy swipe with the hand picks up the dust wherever you can reach. Also - with white socks, it can be a competition for the kids - who can get theirs dirtiest quickest!

    1 reply

    That's great!! Thanks for the awesome ideas :)

    Brilliant advice, not sure about the use of child labour, thank you