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the 10 cleaning habits that changed (almost) everything

I say almost because I'm not going to tell you that having a clean living room will change everything in your life for the better - like, please, Janet, convince me that a clean sink will solve all my problems.


However, I'd be remiss if I said the condition of our space has no impact on how we manage the rest of our day. I for one have more focus and things are done more effectively when my desk isn't covered in yesterdays leftovers, crumbled paper and overall clutter.

Throw in the importance of proper sanitation in high traffic areas of the home, having a clean space is more than just looking put together, it's also about staying well and supporting a strong immune system.

And let's face it - the tornado-run kitchen, cluttered cabinets, the living room that used to be oh so spotless like five minutes ago - have their very own special way of holding us back from doing other things.

Since we don't always have the time or energy to make our homes look like the cover of a magazine, why not implement some simple, tried and true rhythms throughout our day and weeks to lighten the load, prevent an overhaul of clutter and give us the breathing room we need? These 10 habits can be easily implemented into your daily routine wherever you see it fits best, and because it's not a "do these steps in a specific order" kind of guide, they're that much more doable. Without further delay, let's take what we need and change (almost) everything.

  1. Clean as you go. There's really one thing in mind when I wrote this: cooking (because I'm sure my child wouldn't be happy about me cleaning up the production she's putting together across the house as it's happening). When throwing something together in the kitchen, put the ingredients used after a certain step away, and so on. If you're able to wash a couple of things while the food is warming up, great - saving time for later and there's less clutter on the counters for serving up the goods.

  2. Pencil it in. For the times when cleaning as you go doesn't make sense, put it in your planner in a color shade you can't resist, or as a reminder on your phone or other device to do so. Something as short as 5-10 minutes is all you need most days to face the clutter. If the surface lay of the land is looking pretty good before time is up, dare to do a quick clean of your baseboards or windowpanes (they get nasty so quick, why wait until spring cleaning?)

  3. Replace paper towels with Swedish dishcloths. This reduces waste and saves time because you don't always have to use a spray with these (just water) and no visits to the trashcan (unless that's the thing you're cleaning, of course).

  4. Let your bed breathe. One of my favorite things to repeat. If you don't want to make your bed today - you now have good reason to back you up. When you remove the sheets and blankets from your mattress (placing them on a clean surface, or hang over the stairs / shower curtain), it removes any lingering moisture from the mattress, killing off any dust mites that get lodged between your sheets and mattress (gross picture, right? So let the dang bed breathe).

  5. Practice immediate put back. In other words, if you have something (or five somethings) in your hand as you go from one room to another, put them back where they go, instead of in a popular corner on the kitchen island or the dresser. For those in a two-story house - here's a cheating strategy that you might already have in place: grab or get a basket or container and keep it near the foot of the stairs. As you go throughout your day and find things that belong upstairs, place them in the basket. When you're headed up that way, take the basket with you, and leave it at the top of the stairs for anything that might need to go downstairs later.

  6. Designated Junk Box. If you're unsure about where something should go (or, maybe you do, but the level of lazy you are on today won't allow it) put it in the junk box. This is a small basket or drawer organizer that takes the place of a junk drawer - still allowing you to have junk, but in a smaller capacity to encourage you to be more intentional. Everything has it's place (or should), even that random thumb nail, manual for the vacuum cleaner, and nickel you found under the couch cushion. If you have a junk drawer, sort through it, put stuff away, and whatever remains can go in the junk box (which could reside in the former junk drawer).

  7. Wipe down the inside of your fridge and pantry before your next grocery trip (or once every other week). Doing this will remind you of what you already have (so you're not buying something twice), and make the space more sanitary for what's coming next.

  8. Wash the rest of the dishes before you go to bed (your tomorrow self with thank you). And after that, go ahead and give it a good wipe down with that handy Swedish dishtowel you've got (though it might take a little vinegar and baking soda, depending on what was in there).

  9. Keep a donate bag at the ready. If you notice a few items in a cabinet, closet or room that haven’t been used regularly, consider donating them. Place the bag or box in a semi-high-traffic area in the home so it won't be forgotten, but not necessarily in plane site (in the laundry room, near the or garage door)

  10. Do 1 load of laundry a day. I think we can agree that forgetting laundry is a common trait we almost brag about having. When you have 1 load to do, it takes the pressure of folding what's dry all the live long day. If you don't have that much to wash - please save your water, you don't really have to do 1 load a day, you can make it every few days if needed. The goal here is to prevent the dreaded pile up that leads you to suddenly face multiple mountains of clothes in your home and no clean sheets to sleep on tonight. Prevent that nightmare, start a load today (and use cold water, it'll get clean).

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