The Secrets Of Your Clean-Freak Friend
Have I mentioned this? I feel like I must have.
If not, I suppose it's time you know.
I am an anal-retentive clean freak.
Yes. I’m that friend. I’m the one whose home you step into and think, “obviously THIS chick doesn’t have kids” or “holy cow, there’s not even a crumb on the floor. How is that possible?” Now obviously, my cleanliness is far more extreme than most people's, so some of these secrets might be more of a guideline, but I believe they’ll give anyone a place to start or ideas of how they can incorporate a slightly cleaner facade (yes - cleanliness is totally a facade!).
And please, leave the “wait until you have kids” comments at the door. I know. But for now, let me revel, people. Also, I plan on keeping our children in bubbles (haha jokes, jokes).
1. Split it up
This is my number one secret to success. I do not “deep clean” but maybe twice a year. Have some tasks you do daily to keep up with clutter, weekly tasks that keep up with grime, and monthly - or quarterly - tasks that keep unnoticeable things from becoming noticeable.
Using my house as an example...
Daily: make bed (even if this just means straightening out the comforter and pillows a little), wipe off kitchen counters/sink area and wash/load all dishes at the end of the day, shove throw blankets in basket, put mail in designated spot, keep shower curtains closed and mat hung up, towels hung, chairs pushed in, clothes in hamper/hung up/put away.
Weekly: basic laundry, sweep/vacuum floors in most lived-in areas, quickly clean/disinfect surfaces in bathroom (vanity, mirror, toilet), wash all sheets and towels (don’t forget the kitchen hand towels!), clean stove top surface/microwave, thorough cleaning of dining room table and chairs, dust side tables/coffee tables/desks.
Monthly/quarterly: clean cabinet fronts/appliances, dust ceiling fans/light fixtures/tops of doorways/hanging art/decor/mantles/window frames, wet mop all hard floors/vacuum all carpets, wash comforters/duvets/throws, deep clean bathrooms, disinfect door handles/door fronts, once-over mirrors, vacuum curtains (if necessary), windows, etc…
All of these tasks take me around 10 minutes each. I almost never do several consecutively, and mostly just spot clean. The difference, is when I see grime beginning to build in the bathroom (for example) instead of letting it get worse, I take five minutes to wipe it up. Over time, this saves me HOURS.
2. Create functionality
Does your closet lend itself to easy, organized storage? Do you prefer to hang your clothes, but you’ve got a ton of dressers? Maybe you could reconfigure your closet to make hanging your clothes easier, and ditch the dressers all-together. Is there an area that has become everyone’s dumping ground for their bags, keys, receipts? Maybe you could incorporate closed storage nearby where you can stow those items away.
Walking into my house, you’d think everything has a place - which is mostly true - but behind door number one, you’ll probably find a mess of old mail. But I’ve tricked you into thinking it’s pristine by incorporating lots of functional storage. As a bonus, when my husband wonders where his keys are, 9 times out of 10 he'll find them in one particular cubby that I dump all of his stray items in.
It’s also wise to figure out if certain “pretty storage” is actually realistic for your home. Maybe you love the look of those square wicker baskets that fit those square shelving units perfectly… until little Jimmy sits on the basket one day and crushes it or spills his sticky apple juice into all the crevices and Spot the dog chews it to shreds. Maybe some cheaper, easy-to-clean plastic would work better for this stage of life?
3. Own less
Not everyone will be a fan of this one, and of course we all own things that make our individual lives easier (meaning, we all have different needs), but my perspective is simple: the less you own, the less you have to clean. The few items we do own, we take great care to make them last. No matter how cheap.
I was raised in a frugal home, and if we were flippant with a toy and it broke, it wouldn’t be replaced. Maybe for a birthday or Christmas, but it was our responsibility early on to take great care of the blessings we received.
As married adults, we buy things very intentionally. The things we own serve a purpose, have a sentimental meaning, or minimally add to the aesthetic of our home. This is the minimalist side of me speaking, but it certainly makes cleaning a lot more cut-and-dry without sacrificing tangible desires. We’ve simply lessened our quantity of needs/wants.
4. Let yourself get messy, but don’t let it ferment
If you were to come over on a Friday night around 9pm you’d see approximately four coffee mugs, two or three pots and pans soaking in the sink, a dirty napkin sitting on a cold plate of uneaten food from dinner, a cutting board with bits of veggies and a dirty knife, and a few pairs of shoes, items of clothing, and tech devices strewn around our living and dining room.
Come at 11pm, and you’ll see a tidy, seemingly pristine home. Why? Because we don’t let anything fester. We make a mess, and then tidy up once our movie has ended or bedtime is close. Come Sunday evening, it’ll probably be back to messy, but by mid-morning on Monday it’s back to it’s shining glory and a load of laundry is going.
Kind of along with owning less, but, still different. You may own less right now, but as time goes on we naturally accumulate a little more. Often times to replace something, or to make an area of life easier. The problem arises when we don’t regularly rid ourselves of the items that were replaced, have gone out of style, or serve no purpose/sentimental value. I know for a fact we have a drawer full of old phone charging cords that we could easily sort out and get rid of (as an example). Those cords are gathering dust and taking up a storage area that could be better served by something we own that genuinely needs a “place.” How many shirts do you legitimately wear? If your stuff is bursting at the seams and yet you keep buying more, it’s time to purge. And don’t be afraid of empty storage. Having an empty cabinet for a while can offer you a place to better organize what you already have. Options, baby!
Of course, everyone's definition or standard of cleanliness ebbs and flows at various stages of our lives, and your home is your home. It's where you gather, where you make memories, and where you feel safe. These are the most important things.
In fact, stay tuned for another post later this month on letting go of this anal-retentive nature as we welcome a very hairy puppy into our midst come January. It'll stretch me and force me to accept a new standard, but the joy this pup will bring will be priceless to me. But you better believe I'll learn some good cleaning tips to share with you when you have a dog!