How to Clean a Messy House: 9 Steps to a Cleaner Home

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you end up with a dirty house, especially when you feel overwhelmed. With three kids, I know how easily your home gets out of hand. Knowing how to clean a messy house is key.

All it takes is a really busy few weeks or a sickness to take you out. Then, your tidy house looks like little gremlins took it over. Little gremlins who left every area of your home sticky and dirty.

It’s easy for a messy house to feel so overwhelming you have no idea where to start. Typically, when this time happens, it’s not the best idea to deep clean.

Skip the windows and deep cleaning the couch.

You need to get your messy home back to where you don’t feel so overwhelmed by it anymore.

It’s time to dive in and tackle as much as you can in a day. Then, make a game plan to get the rest handled AND make a plan to keep it from continuing to happen.

I swear it’s possible to get a handle on your messy house. Keep reading to see how I handle these situations.

How to Get Motivated to Clean your Messy House

So, you need to clean, but lounging feels so much better.

Girl, I feel you, but sometimes, we have to get motivated. There are several ways to motivate yourself to clean even when you don’t want to do so.

1. Turn Up The Music

Crank up your favorite music and get to clean. I love to have dance parties with the kids while cleaning, and it makes the process more enjoyable.

Make a cleaning playlist – they should be upbeat songs!

2. Listen to a Podcast

On the other hand, grab your AirPods and listen to your favorite podcasts. I have several podcasts I listen to, and many of them are crime related.

Who doesn’t love some murder + cleaning?

If crime podcasts aren’t your thing, there are thousands of podcasts channels. Try some out to see what you like the best.

3. Watch Cleaning Motivation Videos

I found cleaning videos years ago on YouTube and now TikTok. It’s a fun “brain” hack; watching other people clean and tidy their homes makes you want to do the same thing.

At first, I rolled my eyes, but it is more motivating than you realize. However, be careful because you can lose track of time AND spend money buying all of the awesome organization hacks they have.

4. Use Timers

Good, old-fashioned timers are handy as well. Cleaning a cluttered home feels more manageable when you give yourself a hard limit.

Set a timer for each task or room and try to get as much done within the time frame. I pair this with listening to music.

5. Give Yourself a Pep Talk

Cleaning isn’t always something we enjoy, but it’s necessary. Getting your mind in the right place beforehand is important, so give yourself a pep talk.

Do some deep breathing and remind yourself how good you’ll feel when your house is cleaner. Visualize a clean home and how nice it feels when your home looks the way you love.

Remind yourself – you can do this!

Related: 11 Best Planners for Mom to Stay Organized

How to Clean a Messy House When You Feel Overwhelmed

Remember, we are cleaning our messy house and trying to eliminate our feelings of being overwhelmed. Ignore the temptation to reorganize your closet or deep clean your couch.

Move quickly throughout your steps, and as soon as your house feels better, you can put more elbow grease into it. This list will help you know where to direct your attention when you don’t know where to start.

1. Get Your Supplies Ready

Digging for trash bags, sprays, and other essentials takes away your time when you’re on a roll. Get out whatever you need for cleaning and set these items in an easy to access place.

Grab your charged headphones or Bluetooth speaker. Do a bit of stretching – you have to be ready to go! – now, let’s start cleaning.

2. Toss the Distractions

Since you really don’t want to be cleaning to begin with, having your phone with you and access to scroll Facebook, TikTok, or Instagram is a bad idea. You’ll waste time, procrastinating because you don’t want to be cleaning.

That makes the process longer, even if it feels like you’re escaping for a short period.

Kick the distractions to the side. Put your phone somewhere further away from you so you don’t feel tempted to scroll for “two minutes.” You know as well as I do that two minutes turns into 20 minutes real fast!

3. Throw Away Trash

The first thing you should do it grab a big trash bag and go through each room of your house. Throw away everything that can be thrown away without thought.

No, this isn’t the time to clean our junk drawer.

You toss out things you don’t need to think much about, such as obvious trash items, small and broken toys, junk mail, or things you know are at the end of its lifespan.

No matter if you use one trash bag or three, continue this until every room in your house is done. If you have to think about whether to toss it or not, leave it for another time.

Trust me, after this step you already start to feel better.

4. Switch Your Focus to the Kitchen

After tossing out trash, move to your kitchen. I know that when my kitchen feels messy, my entire house feels like it’s a disaster. That may be because kitchens are the heart of the home, and chances are you spend a lot of time there.

Now isn’t the time to deep clean your kitchen. You want to get it clean enough to be hygienic and functional. Deep cleaning the drawers and cabinets will wait for another day.

Here’s an easy task list to follow.

  • Start by emptying the dishwasher if there are clean dishes in it.
  • Go to each room in the house – or send your kids – and collect all dirty dishes, cups, or anything that needs to be washed. Grab all of the dishes in your kitchen and load up your dishwasher.
  • Start the dishwasher.
  • Toss out anything you know immediately belongs in the trash.
  • Put clean items like cutting boards or pots back in the cabinets where they belong.
  • Wipe down the surfaces after cleared as best you can.
  • Sweep or vacuum the floor

Depending on how long this takes you, you could add a few other items to the list like wiping out the microwave, wiping the top of your stove, and cleaning the front of the dishwasher.

5. Catch Up on Laundry

I’m not sure if any person really likes to do laundry, but it’s part of our lives. This time is to conquer all the dirty laundry in your house and get it into a better working order.

Conquering the monster is really the hardest step, and remember you already cleared out the trash and cleaned your kitchen!

It’s time to keep going.

Here’s how to get caught up with that laundry.

  • Go room to room in your house and get all dirty laundry off the floor. This includes towels and bath rugs – those always need washed. Grab the rugs in your kitchen too!
  • Once all of the dirty clothes and items are in front of you, sort into piles. Everyone does their laundry different. You might sort whites, colors, and towels, or both type.
  • Toss in your first load. I often start with towels, but you may want to start with a load of whites.
  • If you have a basket of clean clothes, fold those and put them away. The success from this task will keep you on a roll.

Your goal now is to keep an eye on everything as you continue with the next steps. When the timer goes off, you’ll need to switch your laundry.

We’ll save folding and putting away clothes – honestly, the WORSE part – for later!

6. Deal with Paper Clutter

Are you like me and have all sorts of paper clutter laying around? Paper clutter makes your surfaces look messier even when they aren’t. This simple task gets a lot accomplished.

Gather all paper clutter around your house, like bills or school paper work. You know you got a lot of crafts and coloring pages laying around.

Separate into piles: tossing, dealing with now, and dealing with later.

The items you want to handle later can go into a drawer or mail organizer. A hanging mail organizer saves space on your counter tops AND keeps your bills sorted properly!

Then, get any of those bills you need to pay now and pay them. Once that’s done, it’s off your mind, and we all need more mind space – right?

This task is small, and I bet it only takes a few minutes. However, it’s worth it.

7. Do a Room to Room Pick Up

Now comes one of the longest tasks, depending on how many rooms you have in your home. You will tackle each room, picking up and wiping down surfaces.

HOLD BACK THE URGE TO ORGANIZE. As much as it feels like the perfect time to sort stuff, that will suck your time. Trust me, you can do it later.

Ideally, you’ll only spend 10-15 minutes in each room. Remember, all the clothes are picked up off the floor, trash is removed, and dishes are gone. So, you took out a big chunk of your problem.

Here is, in general, what you should do each room.

  • Put things back where they belong quickly. If you have junk baskets or bins – we all have a few somewhere – don’t worry about those right now. This is time to put away items in drawers or the home you know they have already.
  • Wipe down surfaces. Carry with you a pack of cleaning wipes – Method All Purpose Cleaning Wipes are my favorite!
  • Sweep or vacuum each room. You’ll mop later, but get up the dirt and dust from the floors.
  • Spray some Febreze on any fabric in your rooms. A home that smells good feels better immediately.

8. Clean Your Bathrooms

Bathrooms are right up there with kitchens; if they are a mess, they make the entire house feel like a messy house.

Now isn’t the time to clean out the cabinets or reorganize your linen closet. Get the bathroom clean and hygienic.

  • Use a cleaning caddy to keep all of your bathroom cleaning must-haves in one area.
  • Clean off all the surfaces in your bathrooms; the sink, shower and tub area needs to be ready to scrubbed.
  • Spray down your shower and tub. Most cleaners have a period they need to sit before washing off.
  • Use this time to wipe down your sinks and bathroom mirror.
  • Now that the cleaner has had time to sit, use a scrub brush to wipe down the tubs and showers.
  • Clean the toilets with whatever you prefer!
  • Put items back where they need to go.
  • Hang clean towels and put away your cleaning supplies.
  • Sweep the floors – mopping is the next step!

9. Clean the Floors

Now, your home is really coming together, and the last thing you really have to do is get those floors nice and clean! Walking around on clean floors at the end of the day feels so nice.

Here’s what you need to do.

  • If you haven’t already, make sure you vacuum or sweep any hard floors. Sometimes, they need to be vacuumed twice, and that’s ok. You want as much off of them before you mop.
  • Vacuum your rugs and carpet. Make sure you use any attachments you have to get the corners; so much gets stuck in there!
  • Mop your hard floors. I am a huge fan of the O Cedar Spin Mop, but I also use a steam mop for the kitchen and bathroom.

That’s it! Your house is manageable, and yes, it might have taken you hours, but I guarantee you feel less overwhelmed.

It’s Okay If You Need More Than One Day!

Listen, we all have different schedules. With several kids under my belt, I know that lessons and appointment times often clash, so it’s possible you may have to spread this list out.

That’s ok!

Committing to keeping a clean house is truly the most important part, and staying on track helps you reach your realistic cleaning goals.

Stop when you have to stop and get back on the ball as soon as you’re able to start again.

How to Keep Your Messy House Clean for Good

Your messy home feels so much better, but that’s only half the battle. When this becomes a regular problem, it damages your mental health and creates unnecessary stress for you.

The good thing is that it’s possible to keep your dirty house much cleaner for longer.

One of the keys is doing something everyday, even when you don’t want to do anything. However, there is more to it than that. I have some tips to help you have the cleaner house your sanity needs with less work for you.

Create a Cleaning Schedule

Yes, you really do need a cleaning schedule, but it doesn’t have to be anything insane. I once read that an average stay at home mom cleans three hours a day.

I don’t know about you, but that’s not my plan.

Figure out how much time you have each day to devote to cleaning and pick the tasks that make the biggest difference for you.

For example, washing windows or scrubbing the couch don’t make a huge difference for me. Keeping kitchen counters clean and the dining room table free of clutter DO make a big difference.

More time needs to go there for me.

Figure out what works for you!

Related: Simple Cleaning Schedules for Working Moms

Include Regular Tidy Times in Your Schedule

One thing I did that makes quite a difference is putting two or three tidy times throughout the day. These are simple 5-10 minutes every few hours when everyone who is home helps pick up trash, put away toys, and get the house in better order.

It works!

Invest in Organization Systems

Organization is a big deal for us. When things have a home, they’re less likely to sit on the floor or your table.

Shoes need bins for each person, toys need places to go, and books need shelves. I like to keep a basket on the stairs for items that need to go upstairs.

Spend Time Gradually Decluttering

Decluttering helps, but it shouldn’t be done in a day. Take time and gradually purge your house, room by room.

The more stuff you have in your house, the quicker messes appear. So, purging unnecessary and unneeded items is a key to long-term cleanliness in your home.

Figuring out how to clean a messy house is the easy step; getting it done is the hardest. Once you get started, make sure you enjoy all the small wins. You’ll feel even more motivated as you see the changes in your home!

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