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Tips For Keeping The House Clean

You’ve experienced it: You work all weekend and get the house looking pretty good. Then on Monday morning, its back where you started or worse. clutter_room

Here are some tips I’ve used over the years to help me keep control over the state of the house.  Many of these tips take cooperation between all members of the household.   If your household members aren’t willing to help, you’ve got a whole other problem.

*Assign Dish Days – If your children are old enough to do dishes, let them take some responsibility for them.  If your family members are at home all day, then give them the whole day. If they are home only in the evenings, give them a turn washing supper dishes each week.

*Make a list of chores that have to be done each day in order for your home to look its best, and then assign those chores to family members daily.  Example: my list could look like this:

trash out – mom
floors swept – daughter #2
clean clothes folded and put away – son #3
bathroom cleaned – mom

After I make my list, I assign those chores to a family member and that family member is responsible for that chore all week, or all year. We swap up chores here twice a year.

*Put it away. Make sure your family members learn to put away all personal items and all items they have been using. This will save a ton of stress if you can teach yourself and your family to do this. You’ll have to stay on them while they are learning.

*Get rid of STUFF that isn’t necessary. We are in the process of this right now. We’ve been uncluttered for years but the STUFF piles up and has to be purged every now and then. Less STUFF means less to clean, organize, store and step over.

*Get rid of some TOYS. When we had all 5 children at home in a small house we required them to get rid of toys. But we were heartless about it. I allowed each child a certain size Rubbermaid container to keep toys in. Once the container was filled, they had to get rid of everything that would not fit into the container. We used some pretty big containers, I think they were 64 quart size. Each child could fill their container and give away the rest. They chose what to keep.

*Keep all toys and personal items in bedrooms. If you are blessed enough to have a play room, keep the toys in there. Only very small babies are allowed a toy basket in the living room in our home. Once the child is walking, her toys have to be kept in her room. Of course the children can bring their toys out of their room, but the toys have to be taken back at the end of the day and stored in the child’s room.

One good way to teach family members to keep their personal items picked up is to have a 10 Minute Tidy in the afternoon. We have our 10 Minute Tidy at 4 pm. We all works fast and hard for 10 minutes picking up personal items and cleaning up small messes.

After a while, you may see that you have a  child who just won’t get with the program. What I have done in the past is to tell the child that if his personal items are not picked up and put away in X number of minutes, I will confiscate those items and they will be tossed.  I know that seems hard, but sometimes it is the only thing that will speak to a child. Everyone can learn to pick up their own things, some children are just more stubborn than others and need a harder tactic.

*Help older children understand that your home is a reflection of all of you. If the house is a disaster, it reflects no only on mom but on every one who lives there because able-bodied people who are responsible and mature, help to keep their home in order.

In line with this thinking, don’t allow your children to have guests if they haven’t been willing to keep the house in order. And don’t encourage a flurry of cleaning so that a guest can come, encourage daily cleaning and organizing habits so that the house is always pretty much ready for guests.  Bring to your family’s attention how much less stress and fewer arguments occur when the house is organized and clean.

*Get a regular routine going.  Routines are essential to keeping an orderly home. Routines help you get your work done faster and help you work more efficiently. For more information on routines, check this article. 


You might also want to read:

Smarter, Not Harder; A Basic Household Schedule

Do You Have A Daily Routine?




  1. Heather


    Thank you so much for those words of wisdom. I appreciate your quick response and your kind and loving words.


  2. Heather


    I need some desperate help. First of all, I want to thank you for your website. Secondly, my husband and I live with his parents due to not being able to find a job (that’s a whole other story). My father-in-law is not bedridden except by choice (he has had 8 heart attacks and suffered brain damage), my mother-in-law has RA, and I have fibromyalgia. The problem is that there is no help in picking up things or cleaning. My husband said it has always been like this, even before the heart attacks and the RA. My problem is that it is so difficult to teach our 3 children to pick up after themselves when they do not see other adults doing it. My husband has talked to them about just picking up after themselves and he is pretty livid about it. I can sit there and do laundry (theirs and ours), wash dishes, clean up the living room, all while taking care of a weaning 2 yr old and a homeschooled 5 yr old with no help or offer to help with the kids or the housework (at least my husband helps). How can I show someone with love how bad this mentality is for them? My mil does go and take care of other people outside the home, fill in for the church secretary, and spend hours shopping (window or otherwise almost on a daily basis). I just want to quit, but I know that is not the attitude to have.

    Any help is greatly appreciated!
    Thank you again,

    • Sylvia

      Its so difficult to live in someone else’s home, I’ve done it.

      The big things to remember are:
      *Its not your home, it belongs to someone who is allowing you to be there, so your authority in decision making is limited to you and your children.
      *You can’t change a life time of habits in your short stay in someone else’s home.
      *You can only do what you can do, keep your areas clean and orderly, put things away throughout the house you can put away and clean what you can clean.

      Living in someone else’s home isn’t going to warp your children for life in regards to cleanliness and orderliness. They will watch you and your husband and if you pay attention to training them and modeling the behavior you want to see in them, they will learn, even if their grand parents don’t.

      When you teach your children, be sure to teach respect for those grandparents, even though you don’t approve of their way of doing things. They are, after all, being kind to your family in allowing you to live there.

      I’d recommend you let up on your in-laws and on your husband and on yourself. Do what you can do to be a help, a light and a happy wife and mother. Don’t stress over the other stuff because really, in the scheme of things, its small stuff. It may seem like a huge inconvenience, but truly, its a challenge to live and train your children in the right way amid a bit of chaos.

  3. Nancy

    Once again, great insights and tips. Thanks Sylvia!

  4. Fee

    Dear Sylvia,
    Firstly, I’d like to wish you a happy and blessed New Year 2013. Sometimes it feels so good to start a clean page!
    I really appreciate all the wonderful tips you share with us here, and you help me make our house into a home. We’ve recently moved into a much larger home, and sometimes it takes a long time to dust and clean. I do my best to break tasks down, and if , for example, I’m on the phone, then I will dust the phone table, polish the mirror above it, and put away the pens that are always left lying out of the drawer. Sometimes it is the little things that help prevent overwhelm. The children have various tasks to complete, and we encourage them to look after their own rooms. As Melissa says, sometimes there’s that “It’s not my job” mentality Would love your advice on dealing with that and also on making a cleaning schedule for a larger home. Thank you and God bless. Fee.

    • Sylvia

      Hello Fee
      Yes, I have had to deal with that mentality here, too. The one thing that helped us was to get everyone thinking as a unified group and help every family member see that the state of the home reflects on everyone. Another thing that sometimes helped the more resistant members of the family was to have everyone work together on each task until it was completed.

  5. Melissa Smith

    Thanks for these tips. We have implemented many of them in our home. Years ago, I listed all the jobs in the house and divided them up between myself and all the children. When everyone’s jobs are done, the whole house is clean and uncluttered. Problem: the children have learned to work from a list of chores rather than just doing what needs to be done to clean the house. They also tend to have a “that’s not my job” mentality that is hard to overcome. Suggestions?

  6. monica

    I am always challenged with keeping my home clean and picked up. Slowly but surely my kids are learning, we all are. At the beginning of the year I hired a deep cleaning agency to help me get my home organized and clean. I’m hoping for a clean and tidy home this year! Love the font on your blog, by the way.