Introduction: Speed Deep Cleaning (Revisited)
It has been exactly 4 years and 2 days since I posted "Cleaning a Messy House (In a Hurry!)," and in that time there have been many decluttering and cleaning methods that have surfaced. Some that come to mind immediately are: the KonMari Method, NEAT, The Three Box Sorting Method, and Swedish Death Cleaning.
All of these in and of themselves are useful, challenging, and a great way to get 'er done, but deep cleaning a house is never one size fits all. As such, I have pulled together a tried-and-true method that works for our family from years of trying and testing all sorts of cleaning methods. Take what you can from it, and if something better works for you, do it!
The idea is to be as pain-free as possible, to be as practical as possible, to get it done as quickly as possible (because nobody likes hard or stressful things to go on and on and on), and to get the best results.
Let's get cleaning!
Step 1: Put on Some Shoes!
My first Instructable started out this way, but all my years of cleaning have proven this to still be true, if you want to get your mind and body ready to take on the huge task of deep cleaning: PUT ON SOME SHOES!
Whenever you are getting ready to go (say to work or to exercise), you put on a pair of shoes. Instinctively, this triggers your brain to prepare your body with a new bout of energy to get going. So the simple act of putting on some shoes will give you an instant surge of energy to get started cleaning!
Step 2: Enlist Helpers
Lots of hands makes light work, and this is absolutely true in deep cleaning/decluttering.
If each person in your family takes on a couple rooms each, the house will be cleaned and organized before you know it! And since your kids are more than likely out of school (due to the current pandemic), you have extra helpers already on hand!
If you have younger children (as you can see, mine are older), you should still teach them these important skills! Toddler age and up can help with smaller tasks (or tasks that meet their age or ability). Such skills might include organizing things by color, type, category, etc (bonus -- they learn and enhance their fine motor skills). You could have them throw things away by giving them piles of "all trash" (granted, I'm referring to non-toxic "trash" or things you want to put in a donation bin), and they could do it as a game to keep it fun. Give them anything they can do and use encouraging and fun words to keep them going! This develops in children not only great work ethic, but also a sense of duty (the desire to keep things tidy because they see how much work it takes to clean it, and they no longer take that for granted).
Step 3: Make a Checklist!
Who doesn't love a checklist!?
There's just something so strangely satisfying about seeing a task at hand get progressively checked off until it's complete! Oh happy day!
I issue out one "harder" room and one "easier" room per person in our family. This makes the load more bearable for everyone, and no one feels they are unfairly treated. If your kids don't "feel like" cleaning, offer rooms in this way: You can ask them "would you like to do this room or this room?" That makes them feel like they made the choice (and therefore because they made the choice they will "want" to suddenly do the room they chose), but you stayed in control of what rooms are getting done. Or you can make it fun by them guessing a number or rolling a dice etc.
Have the kids each pick out a different color marker for their rooms, and let them check it off as they do each task. Make sure you double check their work when they are "finished" to make sure it is satisfactory.
Any extra jobs around the house you want to get done that surpasses the two-each beginning, can be divvied out when the rooms are done. That helps the brain have little milestone accomplishments instead of feeling overwhelmed with "too much" all at once.
Step 4: Do ONE Room to Completion
Although I respect and love the KonMari Method, the act of taking everything from everywhere and throwing it into the center of my house to be organized is overwhelming. I have tried this many times. And though it is good for the shock factor (Whoa! I didn't know we had this much clothes!), and I use this method for quickly sorting through clothes and shoes only (more on that later), it is overwhelming when it comes to all the other categories. Plus, if you don't get it all done that day, you will feel yucky and defeated waking up to a trashed house after spending so many hours on it just the day before.
Therefore, I prefer to do each room to completion so the room is DONE, and not a lingering project for another day.
Step 5: Start With a Clean Slate
Whatever room you choose to start with (from your checklist board), start with a clean slate!
In the dining room, I needed to sort through this built-in hutch, so I started by emptying it out completely.
As you empty, sort everything out into piles. If it's dishes, all dishes go in that one spot. If it's décor, candles, silverwear, etc, put it all within its same category.
You'd be surprised how many things you find shoved into cabinets and drawers!
Additionally, if it's a room with a lot of things on the floor, start by sweeping up everything off the floor into one big pile. This prevents strain on the back, and makes it so you only have to go through ONE pile instead of bending over repeatedly. Also, add to this pile everything from tabletops, etc (everything that doesn't belong there).
Step 6: Get Into & Under EVERYTHING
Make sure EVERYTHING comes out of EVERYWHERE.
Get into and under EVERYTHING. Leave nothing undone in the room so it won't be a bigger, compiled mess later on.
Step 7: Squeaky Clean
Once everything is cleared out and sorted into piles, take the time to clean everything (cupboards, cabinets, shelves, drawers, glass door fronts, tabletops, etc).
Since we are living in a time where sanitizer wipes are a precious commodity in some places, use these wipes (if you have them) purposefully and fully. DO NOT BE WASTEFUL.
Wipe down the places that need it most (such as door handles, knobs, pulls, and other often touched places), then if the wipe is still wet continue using it wherever you can until it is fully used. Use other cleaning supplies when possible in place of sanitizer wipes so you can prevent a shortage of wipes in your home (soap and water is less convenient perhaps, but still just as effective).
Don't forget to open the windows and let the fresh air in whenever possible! It's good for you and for working against this pandemic!
Step 8: Sorting Through Piles
When sorting through the pile/piles in your room, ask yourself these questions (to determine if the items are keep, trash, or donate):
Do you need it? Is it practical? To help you decide answer these questions: Did you wear it or use it in the past 30 days (if yes, KEEP IT)? If it's seasonal, did you use it last season (If yes, KEEP IT if you still like it)? If it's clothing or shoes, does it still fit--try it on! (if yes, and it makes you feel great, KEEP IT)? Is it broken (if yes, DITCH IT)?
If it's not practical, is it a keepsake? Is it sentimental? Do you simply love it? Is it something special to you that you don't want to get rid of because it's a happy memory or it makes you happy to have it, then KEEP IT. Is it purely sentimental and reminds you of a loved one that has passed (etc), KEEP IT. If you have it just because it brings beauty and joy into your life genuinely then KEEP IT. If you answered No to any of these questions, DITCH IT.
Are you unsure about it? If you are unsure how you feel about something, put it aside into a "Maybe" pile and at the end of sorting, come back to it and decide. If you can put it into a pile for donation or trash and it doesn't just pull your heart strings so hard that you NEED to take it back out, then you should DITCH IT. And don't feel guilty if it was a present so-and-so got you that you hated from the beginning. If you don't love it, DITCH IT.
The freedom and weightlessness of getting rid of things you don't need is unbelievable and worth it!
Additionally, when sorting through the pile/piles, put everything away where it goes the first time (if it doesn't belong in the room you're in), but DO NOT start on a different room (stick to your ONE room at a time so it gets done to completion, instead of creating multiple partly-finished rooms).
SORTING CLOTHES: As promised, here is a summary of how we quickly sort through our clothes (because we do this often, we can get through the clothes pretty fast. If you are having trouble with our approach, find what works for your family)… We put all our clothes into a big pile in the center of a clean room. Clean and dirty clothes -- GET EVERYTHING FROM EVERYWHERE. If the clothes are on a hanger, we will leave them as such and set them to the side of the piles instead of mixing them in. Quickly make a pile for each person. If you have five people in your family, sort the clothes quickly into each person's pile. We make a separate pile for blankets, towels, washcloths, and linens. Each person goes through their pile of clothes and decides if they keep it or not with the above questions. Then the "keep" pile gets cleaned and put away in each person's room/closet. That's it! It works for us for shoes too (or winter gear, etc).
SORTING DISHES, POTS, PANS, UTENSILS: We like to keep out and ready only dishes and pots/pans, utensils we use everyday as our family of five. So we have out five dinner plates, five small plates, five bowls, five water cups, five mugs (for hot drinks), five forks, five spoons, and five knives. Then we keep out and easily accessible our most used pots, pans, lids, and cooking utensils, as well as a couple serving plates. This is SO HELPFUL in keeping our dirty dishes to a minimum, and in reducing the number of hours a week we spend on cleaning the kitchen. What do we do with dishes for company, or extra things we may need for cooking for bigger groups? We have a set place these dishes all go in a specified cabinet, and they ONLY come out when needed. And we only keep on hand place settings for 3 extra people (to make 8 total). If we need more than that, we use throw-away dishes. Out of sight, out of mind. This tip helps so much! It will keep your stress level down too!
Step 9: Donate
Although most donation stores are currently closed, you can still store away donation items from your home that you can donate at a later time.
It's better to donate items that you no longer want or need then to throw them in a landfill. I only throw away things that are unfixable and cannot be repurposed in any way, everything else gets donated.
Step 10: Everything Has a Place
Make sure you give everything a place! If it doesn't have a place, it will spew out all over your house constantly because it has nowhere to go back to.
So make sure everything has something to go into that is ALWAYS and ONLY for that ONE thing!
Also, make everything as easily accessible as possible. I put our most played little family games in this pretty box in our dining room hutch, since we usually play these games at the table together. Keep commonly used things in the rooms they are most used in, and easy to reach or grab when needed.
Step 11: DON'T FORGET SUSTENANCE!
Sometimes it's easy to be so caught up in working that we don't eat or drink (or sometimes not even use the restroom)...make sure to plan in breaks for sustenance!
The only thing is, give yourself a SET TIME for the break so you don't sit down and stay down (thus, not finishing anything). There's a lot of truth in a body in motion stays in motion, and a body at rest stays at rest! So don't stay at rest for too long! Get back to it!
On that note, be realistic about what can be done in a single day! Only give yourself (and your loved ones) a realistic amount to accomplish in that day (leaving the other rooms for another day if needed), so you are more likely to push hard to get it done, and then feel accomplished because it's done. This also gives your brain motivation to pick it up and start again another day!
Step 12: Make Practical Pretty!
Everything in your home should be as beautiful as possible, whenever possible! No, you don't need a gold-plated toilet plunger (hey, but it wouldn't hurt! haha!), but whenever you can it just makes your home that much more inviting when practical is pretty too!
Get a pretty (or stylish, if you don't like the word "pretty" lol) trash can, or bin for storing things in drawers, etc. You may not be able to go to thrift stores to find the great deals, but you can get creative and repurpose things you already own, or beautify the practical things in your home (paint does wonders!).
Step 13: Stage & Beautify
It is important to note that the more things you stage or beautify, the more you will find yourself (and others will find themselves) desiring to keep it clean, or return it back to it's place.
Things to keep beautified or staged:
- Open shelving / Hutch / Laundry Room Shelving
- Tabletops / Countertops / Nightstands / Side Tables / Console Tables / Entry Tables
- Dining Room Table (if you make it a habit to eat meals together as a family at your table, a helpful tip is to keep the table set with décor in the center -- for example, a table runner with a center piece, etc -- that way it is less likely to accumulate unwanted excess, and is always ready for guests or to simply be beautiful for you!)
- Beds (Always make your bed! It seems so cliché, perhaps, but it just makes your bedroom feel so much more inviting and like a sanctuary if you keep the bed beautifully made when not using it, and it sets the tone for wanting to keep your bedroom clean to match it)
- Closets (Simply keeping clothes hung up or folded and put away, and keeping baskets or whatever you want for socks, underwear, etc, just makes the closet more desirable to keep clean and organized...that clothing dropped on the floor suddenly becomes out of place and begging to be picked up!)
Remember, it's not the quantity of items or the need for spectacular pieces, it is the simple act of cleanliness and being surrounded by beauty that makes beautifying and staging work. Don't worry if it isn't HGTV styled. Simplicity in its beauty is freeing too!
Step 14: Wash, Rinse, Repeat
Move along from room to room repeating these basic principles.
- Start with a clean slate (empty everything)
- Get in and under everything
- Clean the empty shelves, etc
- Organize everything into categories (keep things from around the house in the same places so you can find them when you need them)
- Sort through everything and get rid of what you can or don't need (donate or trash), and put everything away where it goes the first time
- Everything has a place
- Make it easily accessible (In the kitchen, this will include in the fridge or freezer keeping like items together and standing upright so you can see them all easily--the more things front and center and seen, the less waste you will have and the less things will get left in the back of the fridge to be found months later. If you are short on space and need to stack things, or put some things in front and some behind them, I find it helpful to put things you use MORE OFTEN in the bottom or back, that way you will purposely look for them so they won't be forgotten or go unused).
- Make practical pretty when possible (In the kitchen, put everything possible in your dry stock into single containers. This not only simplifies the number of containers in your kitchen, but it also beautifies the process and makes it easier to access everything.)
- Beautify and stage
YOU CAN DO THIS!!! JUST SIMPLY START!! You will find yourself done and feeling great in no time, and freed from the weight materialistic things can bring!
Runner Up in the
Spring Cleaning Challenge