Born Without the Clean Gene: Tips for the Untidy

Is cleaning fun? No. My mom keeps a beautiful house, but apparently I never inherited the “clean gene”, as keeping my house at a state that I would consider to be “guest-friendly” has been one of the more challenging tasks that I have faced in most of my adult life. I do know some people who possess a natural desire for cleanliness, and who also claim to enjoy cleaning; however, I would contest that virtually nobody actually ENJOYS cleaning (I am sure there are some rare exceptions - and oh, how I envy you…), but rather they just enjoy having a clean house because they cannot stand to have an untidy house. Me on the other hand, I can live w/ organized piles, a certain amount of clutter, and clean laundry staying folded on the dryer until it requires use; and so to avert having these things take over turning my home into a state of chaos that I am too overwhelmed to deal with, I was forced to come up with ways to motivate myself to get up and get to work. I thought I would offer some tips for others who aspire toward cleanliness while fighting against their inner nature to be “just clean enough to not be dirty”.

1. Don’t Do Unnecessary Work…Let the Tools Do It for You - Take the time to find products that work and that you feel make cleaning easier. Cheap products work, but they also make you work harder – and since we know that cleaning is already a pain in the rear, why would we want to do this to ourselves? At minimum I would recommend: a.) an anti-bacterial spray that cuts grease making wiping down surfaces with food or spills easier and a spray for wood surfaces, b) a brush that excels at removing hardened food from dishes, sinks, and counters, c.) a glass surface cleaner, d.) an all-in-one bathroom cleaner with bleach, e.) two different sponges/brushes for the toilet and shower/sink, f.) a sponge/brush that is heavy duty and gets up almost anything (optional). Everyone may have a different preference but my essential products are:

a.) 409 and Pledge, b.) Libman small round brush, c.) Windex, d.) Scrubbing Bubbles (also good for kitchen sink), e.) Scotch-Brite sponges, f.) Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

2. Whoa There Buddy…One Area at a Time – Sometimes as the dishes, laundry and dust pile up it can be so overwhelming that it is hard to know where to start. Concentrate on one specific area, which I would recommend be the kitchen, since you can collect trash and dishes from other rooms while completing the task. Feeling particularly unmotivated? Set a timer for twenty minutes or even just ten or fifteen minutes and get as much in an area as you possibly can. Also, I like to take before pictures so that I can look back to see the progress I have made.

3.Do NOT Start Random Tasks until Satisfied with the Overall Shape of the House – Most of us have one if not several areas that would involve the room “getting dirtier before it gets cleaner”. I’m talking about the junk drawer, bookshelf, cluttered T.V. stand etc. If you tackle areas like this before tackling the more basic cleanliness needs of your house you are setting yourself up for a potential setback. When you have the time to focus on this one specific task though- by all means… go for the gusto!

4. If You Have the Extra Time - Pick up some products for your senses to enjoy. For, example, I love the smell of Pledge. I want to dust to make my whole house smell lemony fresh (Also, did you know that it is great for cleaning stainless steel?). My old roommate used to love the smell of Fabuloso and made a daily habit of mopping because of it. The point is good smelling products, air fresheners, candles, and fresh flowers are great ways to indulge your senses and to motivate you to make the rest of the house look aesthetically pleasing as well.

Good luck in your cleaning ventures and may your sponge be efficient!