Keeping your home tidy can be challenging, especially when you’re busy. But the key to an organized home isn’t in the occasional big clean-ups — it’s in the small, everyday tasks that fit seamlessly into your routine. In this article, we’ll show you 10 habits you can practice to make cleaning your home simple, enjoyable and — most importantly — sustainable.
1. Daily Decluttering Sessions
The average person tries to declutter their home four times per year. While this strategy can work for large areas of your home, the idea behind a daily declutter is to break things up into bite-sized activities that are less overwhelming and more sustainable. By making decluttering a regular part of your everyday routine, you can avoid procrastination and enjoy a cleaner home year-round.
The key to making this work is to allocate a specific time to declutter every day, such as right after breakfast or before your evening routine. This helps your brain form a habit that sticks. To keep the session enjoyable and manageable, set a timer for each session and limit it to 10 or 15 minutes. Focus on one small area of your home at a time, like a single drawer, shelf or section of a countertop. Review all the items in that area and make a quick decision about whether to keep, throw away, donate or relocate them. This prevents the creation of “maybe” piles, which just leads to even more clutter.
2. Implement a “One In, One Out” Rule
This rule is simple in theory: whenever you bring a new item into your home, find one item you already own to donate or discard. The point of doing this is to prevent clutter from accumulating in your home and creating a chaotic, disorganized space.
But how do you add this rule to your habit stack? Start by identifying the categories of items that are most prone to clutter in your home, whether it’s clothing, electronics, books or kitchen items. Be mindful and intentional about anything new you buy in these categories specifically. When you’re shopping, think about the items you already own that the new purchase will replace. If you have a lot of belongings, create a designated area in your closet or self-storage unit for items you want to donate or discard, then make it a habit to regularly clear out this space whenever you buy new items.
3. Evening Reset Routine
Waking up to a tidy home can transform your mornings and help you feel energized, calm and motivated. The key is to get a head start the night before. Before bed, take a few moments to prepare your home for the next day, whether it’s wiping down your home office desk, putting dry dishes back in the cupboard, returning books to shelves or reorganizing throw pillows and blankets in the living room. The trick to making this habit sustainable is to focus only on tidying areas that will make the most impact on your day, rather than out-of-the-way areas like your closet, pantry or basement.
4. Weekly Deep Cleaning
Instead of trying to deep clean your entire home at once, try breaking down the larger tasks into weekly activities. These can be centered around tasks (like dusting, vacuuming or mopping) or areas of your home (like the kitchen, bathroom or living room), depending on what needs your attention.
The goal is to keep these sessions short and focus on a few tasks or one area at a time. Apart from that, there’s a lot of flexibility in how you go about each deep cleaning session. For instance, you can dedicate the first week to dusting all surfaces, the second week to vacuuming or mopping floors, the third week to cleaning the bathrooms and the fourth week to organizing and cleaning the kitchen. Alternatively, you can hone in on areas you constantly use and repeat certain tasks every week (cleaning the toilet, wiping down the stovetop), saving other tasks for monthly or quarterly sessions.
5. Monthly Organizing Check-In
Once a month, spend 30 minutes taking stock of a specific area in your home to ensure that it’s organized and functional. You can think of this check-in as an opportunity to reassess and reorganize spaces that may have become messy over time or that no longer function optimally.
This might be a particular room, a closet, a set of drawers or any space that tends to accumulate clutter. You can ask yourself these key questions during your check-in:
- Usage and Necessity: Have I used this item in the last month? Is it likely to be used in the near future? If the answer to both of these questions is no, consider adding it to the donate/discard pile.
- Sentimental Value: Does this item hold significant sentimental value? If the answer is yes but you don’t need to have it on hand to display or access easily, consider putting it in self storage.
- Condition and Functionality: Is this item in good condition? Does it function as intended? If something is broken or worn out, decide whether to repair or replace it.
- Space Efficiency: Is there a more efficient way to store this item? Can it be stored elsewhere in the home or placed in a self-storage unit to clear up space?
- Interior Style: Does this item make sense based on your current taste and decor style? If not, you may want to find out what works best for your interior sensibilities.
6. Set Up a Donation Station
A donation station is a dedicated area in your home for items you intend to give away. Its purpose is to make it easier to regularly clear out items you no longer need or use. You can set one up pretty much anywhere you have room, whether it’s a basket in your closet, a box in your garage or a designated drawer. As you come across items in good condition that you want to donate — whether it’s during your daily decluttering sessions or monthly organizing check-ins — place them in this station. Just remember to allocate time every month to clear out the station and take any items to a donation center.
|Tip: If you have an emergency kit that contains canned foods or other goods that expire, be sure to donate them at least one-to-two months before the expiration date to avoid waste.
7. Use Timers for Motivation
Setting a timer while cleaning can turn mundane tasks into a fun, game-like challenge. It’s also a great way to boost motivation and productivity while setting a limit on the time you spend cleaning.
To begin, pick a task you want to complete, such as cleaning a specific room, organizing a drawer or decluttering a shelf. You can create tasks on a piece of paper or your phone if you want to finish several during a single session. Then, set a timer for a predetermined amount of time — 15-20 minutes is a good starting point — and challenge yourself to complete as much of your list as possible within this timeframe. Once the timer goes off, you can either stop the task or take a short break before setting the timer again and continuing through your list. To make things more fun, consider treating yourself to a small reward for completing a certain number of tasks.
8. Daily Mail Management
Checking your mail every day and throwing out the junk is just one part of mail management. You still need to have a system in place for all the mail you want to keep. For important documents or receipts, keep them in a labeled folder in a box or file cabinet so you can easily find them if needed. For bills, invitations and other requests that require action, store these in a designated folder or organizer somewhere visible until you’re ready to tackle the task. Once a year — or when your storage area becomes full — go through the mail you’ve kept to see if you can throw anything away.
9. Create a Cleaning Caddy
A cleaning caddy is a portable container that holds all of your essential cleaning supplies, making it easy to move them from room to room as you clean. Be sure to choose a caddy that’s spacious enough to hold your cleaning products but still lightweight and easy to carry. Stock it with supplies like a multi-surface cleaner, glass cleaner, sponges, microfiber cloths, a duster, gloves and anything else you might regularly use. Keep the caddy in a convenient location so it’s easy to grab during deep cleans, as well as anytime there’s a spill or accident you need to take care of immediately.
10. Implement Storage Solutions
A research study focused on home interiors found that disorganization, rather than lack of space, causes 80% of household clutter. To that end, one of the best ways to maintain a clean and organized home is by implementing the right storage solutions. For example:
- Use drawer dividers for utensils in the kitchen or cabinet shelf inserts for dishware.
- Install magnetic strips on kitchen walls to hold metal utensils, knives or spice containers. This frees up drawer and counter space while keeping essentials within reach.
- Maximize corner spaces with corner shelving units. They can be used in any room to display decor, hold books or store various items without taking up too much space.
- Make use of the back of doors for additional storage with over-the-door racks or organizers, which are perfect for storing shoes in bedrooms, cleaning supplies in pantries or toiletries in bathrooms.
Lastly, if you’re truly short on space, consider renting a self-storage unit. Some items — like holiday decorations or summer pool accessories — are only useful a few months out of the year and just add clutter to your living space the rest of the time. Moving your seasonal belongings to a self-storage unit is a convenient way to clear space in your home for the things that matter most to you, whether it’s a nursery, a reading nook or even a hobby room.
If you’re ready to keep your home tidy and make smarter use of your space, check out our blog. Happy organizing!