What are the best home organizing and cleaning tips? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Answer by Adrienne Gomer, hyper-organized mum of three:
I have three kids, my husband and I both have jobs, and we have no childcare help. Our house is always clean (well, not every second of the day, but most of the time).
Here's how we do it:
Schedule: Every morning we make all of the beds. My oldest is old enough to make her own and we always make ours. We unload the dishwasher and clean up all of the breakfast dishes before leaving for school/work.
Usually we're gone for the day, but whoever is home will clean up anything left out before the baby naps in the afternoon.
As soon as we come home from school/activities, the kids bathe while I make dinner. We have a centrally located hamper where everyone's clothes go. After eating, the kids clear their plates and we load up the dishwasher and clean up together. I have the kids sweep up crumbs or vacuum with the hand can under the table. We wipe down the table at the end of the day.
Before they go to bed the kids will clean up any toys they've played with and I will tidy up anything I've left out.
A couple times a week I will vacuum the living room and wipe down the bathroom sinks.
Once a week I dust everything, clean the toilets, mop the floors and get rid of anything laying around. This usually takes 2-3 hours.
Simplify: Everything in our house has a place. If it doesn't have a place, it gets thrown out (or sometimes put in the garage). We clean as we go and I don't let the kids pull out more activities until they've cleaned up what they have out.
A mail organizer by my desk helps with forms, mail, bills, letters, etc. that are incoming and outgoing.
A corkboard in the laundry room is great for kid art/calendars/projects we want to keep.
Don't sit until it's done: It's really easy at the end of the day to say, "I'm tired, I'll do it tomorrow." Putting in a little extra time up front will save you extra work on the backend. Letting things pile up over time will become overwhelming and you won't get around to it. I never go to bed until everything is put away.
Don't be afraid to get help: After having our third kid I realized I couldn't dedicate the time to deep cleaning that I once did, so we hired someone to come do a good scrub of the house every two weeks.
Tackle that pile: Even in my organized house things can pile up. I take a few hours every month to go through the kids' closets, the stack of mail, the shoe pile outside the front door, etc. and get rid of anything not needed and reorganize what's left.
Laundry: With a family of five, laundry is a CONSTANT chore, it never ends. We have one hamper and when it's full (every 2-3 days), I do the laundry. I try to do it early in the evening so when the kids go to bed I can fold it all while I watch TV. I stack it up and put it all away the next day. Because I do it so often, it doesn't take more than a few minutes to put away.
Spontaneous cleaning: When I notice toothpaste in the sink or crumbs on the kitchen floor, even if it's not a scheduled time to clean, I will take care of it right away. Leaving it only makes me feel overwhelmed and clearing time on the calendar to tackle it all is not always feasible. I know if I take care of it in the moment it won't linger as a chore that needs to get done and the house will always feel somewhat clean.
Obviously these things aren't doable for everyone, but this is what works for us. Cleaning as we go, involving the family and making tidiness a priority are major factors in keeping our house clean. Don't be intimidated by putting in the work every day, it will be worth it.
If your house is already a mess, take one weekend, or one day each week for a couple of weeks and just go through everything that's piled up/messy and start over. Once you get things the way you want them, it will be much easier to maintain, it just takes time to get there.
And if you are okay with a messy house or having things not be tidy all the time, that's okay too! Personally, I envy people who can tolerate a little bit of mess.