Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ten Reasons Why Your House is a Mess

I can write this post with some authority because I've often got a messy house. It's not always messy and I sure try to keep it neat, but it happens to be messy on many days. These are the reasons why my house is messy. See if you can identify with any.

1. You have too much clutter. It's next to impossible to keep a house tidy when you have too much clutter. The rooms that I have successfully decluttered tend to stay neat with minimal effort. The rooms that are still cluttered with stuff take more effort to clean. And tend to still look messy even when they are technically clean.

2. You don't have an established daily cleaning routine. A regular cleaning routine is extremely helpful to keeping a house clean or at least bearable. Cleaning routines typically happen in the morning, evening or both. If you have an existing cleaning routine, but the house is still a mess, maybe it's time to add a few chores to it. Daily cleaning routines often include doing the dishes, wiping down the bathroom, sweeping the floor and making the beds. Include any chores that you need to keep your house in some kind of order.

3. You don't do your cleaning routine often enough. It happens to all of us. We go through a particularly busy streak and the regular cleaning routine takes a back seat for a few days or a week. Maybe you've been sick or the kids have been sick or you've been working overtime. When that happens, just pick right up where you left off. It can feel like a herculean effort is needed to get the house back into shape. But, most often, that's not the case. A few days of being back in a cleaning routine should get the house back to normal.

4. You never do a big clutter purge. This goes hand in hand with having too much clutter. Some people are good about cleaning out the extra clutter once every six months, once a year or every couple of years. But that can seem overwhelming to others. Big clutter purges don't have to happen all at once. Tackle the clutter like I did, in 15-minute, daily increments. You can get a lot cleaned out that way and it's mostly painless. But, never making an effort to clean out the clutter will make a house tend toward the messy side, no matter how good you are about doing your daily cleaning routines.

5. You have kids. The more kids the messier the house, at least in my experience. Phyllis Diller said, "Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing." I really feel this quote, especially on those days when I've picked up only to have it look like I didn't five minutes later. Those days happen pretty often around here.

6. Your kids don't help with the chores. I know this is a hard one. It can be difficult to get the kids to pitch in and, if they do, it can be just as hard to get them to do a decent job. Sometimes, it feels easier to just do everything yourself. But, trust me, this isn't the way to go. You'll get burned out and feel taken advantage of quickly. Get the kids involved, even if they are still little. They all need to learn to pull their weight with housekeeping tasks.

7. Your husband doesn't help clean the house. It can be frustrating to get the kids involved with the chores if their Dad's not pitching in. If this is the case, have a long talk with him. I've had to do this on more than one occasion. It's not that my husband doesn't want to help, he just doesn't see the mess. He's got a high tolerance for clutter and doesn't even think to do anything about it until he trips over it.

8. You don't know how to clean. I know this seems strange, but there's truth in it for some people. I didn't really know how to clean when I first started taking care of a home. I thought it took a big effort, once a week to get a house clean. I don't know why I thought this because it never worked! I had to learn to break things down into little, doable steps. Now, I'm surprised at how fast I can get things done.

9. Your cleaning standards are too high. I used to tend toward over cleaning. Instead of just vacuuming quickly every other day, I thought I had to pull out the furniture and vacuum under the baseboards each time. No wonder I put it off until the end of the week. It was exhausting! Now, my house looks much better, more often, even though I only vacuum under the furniture once ever couple of months. Let's face it, if it takes you all day to clean a room when it should take 20 minutes, you're probably going to avoid it for as long as possible.

10. You really don't have the time or ability to clean. While I think most people have at least some time to devote to cleaning every day, I have known people that truly don't. And, there are people that can't because they are suffering from a physical disability that keeps them from cleaning. My mom was in that category for a bit before she had a double hip replacement. She could do a little cleaning, but it was extremely difficult for her. Now that she's got two, brand new hips, her house is much cleaner. If you are in a position where you truly can't clean, it might be time to look into getting some help.

If you are nodding your head in agreement with any of these reasons that your house is messy, it's time to reflect a bit on what you can do to change it. It's possible. I've done it, my mom has done it and lots of other people have figured out what it takes for them to have a tidier house.


  1. A good tip - don't buy anything else, stop shopping, don't buy food or anything, until everything else is used up, make do or go without - froogsxxxxxxxx

  2. That's a GREAT tip, Frugal Life UK! I really need to work on that here, especially with food. Thanks for sharing!

  3. My gosh all of those reason's sound just like me.
    I think I've stumbled upon the perfect blog that I can relate to with 100%. except for having 3 boys, I have a 7 yo girl and a 9 yo boy, and a husband who doesn't make cleaning a priority.
    Thank you for the blog. I am sure I will learn a lot from your articles I have already started to print some and put them on my fridge.

  4. Thanks Gin Gin! That's a really big compliment!

  5. Hi everyone I'm a stay at home mother of 4. Age 2,6,9,10. LuV them to bits but the clutter is driving me nuts. I agree with the to do list,and the less clutter the better, I agree with everything really but I am utterly exhausted and can't get my but up to do the wrk.what do I do now. Busy weaning babe off breast so not taking anything cause it keeps her up till late at nigh, not kidding . Drained mom

  6. It will get better! I can relate so much to what you wrote! I was completely drained when my youngest was two and still nursing. He finally weaned completely at two and a half and my energy came back. It will likely happen for you, too. Also, I make an effort to get some exercise on most days, which helps a lot. And, I try to avoid junk food, which completely drains my energy. It will get better. Hang in there!

  7. Great post. I definitively agree with 2 and 3. The key to maintaining a clean house is to do routine cleanings. Even making the bed every morning makes a big difference.

  8. Hi Barb, I love this article. These reasons are very true for some people. Except #7 for me. My husband is actually the one who’s always cleaning. I should be ashamed, I know. But he’s the one who keeps on doing it. We both have work but apparently, he has more time to do the cleaning. I just consider myself lucky. :)

    I guess two of the reasons here on your list strike me the most - #1 and #2. Yes, I have too much clutter – most of them are books just scattered around. I love reading books and for some reason, they end up scattered around. Don’t ask. :) And yes, I don’t have a cleaning routine. I should start to insert this in my daily schedule.

    I know that a clutter-free house has many benefits – especially when your house is on the market for example. It will surely speed things up, sell your house quickly even. Just like what Joan Gale Frank mentioned when we interviewed her for the first time. She said that decluttering usually gets your house to sell faster just because it gives out a presentable and neat look.

    Barb, thanks for sharing this post. More power to you.

  9. I love this. I think your idea to break down cleaning into little, doable steps is genius! I'm also super on board with reducing clutter. It's one of the things that has helped me the most - along with shopping less.