The biggest struggle when having to clean a messy house is oftentimes finding the motivation to do so and finding the time to do it with all our busy lives.
The struggle is real!
Lucky for you, I’m here to help.
In this article, we’ll cover all the bases of cleaning a messy house fast. We’ll take a look at the following:
- Why should you clean a messy house?
- Ways to motivate yourself to clean your messy house when it’s a disgusting mess
- How to clean a messy house step by step
- How to keep your house clean
After reading this article, you’ll not only be equipped with everything you need to get started, but you’ll also get over being completely overwhelmed, instead you will know what to do to get your messy house cleaned.
So, let’s get right to it…
*This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.
What Does a Dirty House Do to Your Mental Health?
The link between cleanliness and mental health isn’t just anecdotal. There’s actually some science behind it.
Researchers found that people who live in messy homes tend to feel less satisfied with life, experience more negative emotions, and suffer from lower self-esteem.
In addition, studies show that living in a tidy home can help improve one’s mood. For example, they discovered that participants who lived in a clean apartment had fewer depressive thoughts compared to those who lived in a filthy one.
Cleaning your house is actually an important step in self-care. You’ll be able to stay focused more without all the clutter, and it will give you the boost to face other aspects of your life.
Cleaning can sometimes be therapeutic and just what the doctor ordered. It allows you the time to process some of your thoughts and to stand still for a few minutes. Something that is very rare to come by these days.
Reasons to Clean Your House
There are other benefits to maintaining a clean home beside the effect on your mental health. These include:
A Clean House Is a Safer House.
A cluttered home creates safety issues. It increases the risk of tripping over things, getting hurt by falling objects, and putting yourself in harm’s way while trying to keep up with little kids running around the house.
If you have small children or pets, a cluttered house presents more trip hazards and puts them in danger. Clutter can cause injuries like cuts, scrapes, bruises, and broken bones.
A Clean Home Is a Healthy Home.
If you, or someone in your family, suffer from allergies, cleaning your house could help reduce allergy triggers.
Cleaning your house on a regular basis will keep your home free of dust mites, pollen, pet dander, and mold spores to make sure your home stays allergy-free.
Even if allergies aren’t the main concern, a cluttered home could attract pests like mice and roaches.
A messy house makes it easier for those critters to find food and shelter. And cleaning up clutter can help prevent pests from nesting inside furniture and appliances. A neglected house or a filthy house invites unwanted bugs to move in.
A Clean House Is Also Easier to Sell if You Ever Decide to Put It on the Market.
The process of moving can be stressful enough without having to deal with clutter and messes.
If you keep things tidy and maintain a regular cleaning schedule, you’ll have one less thing to worry about down the road.
A Clean Home Is More Comfortable and Welcoming to Guests.
No one likes having company over if your house is a mess. Rushing to have everything organized before someone arrives is stressful.
Additionally, it can be rather humiliating if they show up unannounced.
Besides saving yourself from embarrassment, a clean home is also more comfortable, inviting, and relaxing for guests. It makes visitors feel welcome and less stressed out or like they are intruding.
When Your Home Is Clean, It’s Much Easier to Find Things When You Need Them.
A cluttered home can lead to a lot of frustration, especially if you are in a hurry and you cannot seem to find your keys, wallet, or phone.
Searching for something for 10 minutes or more could really put you and those around you in a bad mood, not to mention late to wherever you were going.
It’s Satisfying to See the Results of Your Hard Work.
There is no denying that cleaning can be labor-intensive. But doesn’t it feel amazing when you see how your efforts turned out in the end?
A clean home can make you feel accomplished and improve your mood.
I hope you’re feeling a bit more positive about cleaning your house.
Now let’s take a look at the steps involved in cleaning your house. Breaking it down into smaller chunks, like baby steps can make it less of a daunting task.
Before you start the whole process, let’s take a look at a few things, so we can finally tackle cleaning your home.
Step 1: Admit There Is a Problem
Like with anything in life, it’s not possible to make progress or resolve the problem if you cannot admit that there’s a problem in the first place.
This is probably one of the most important steps in your cleaning journey.
There’s no need to feel guilty about it, but it is important that you admit that things are out of hand and then face the problem head-on.
Being a mom is hard, so if your house has gotten a little out of hand, it’s not really surprising is it. I mean how much free time does a mom actually have?
Step 2: Get Motivated
Now that we know there’s a problem, it’s time to get ourselves to resolve it by getting motivated and focused on the task ahead of us.
When you are already feeling overwhelmed, it might be difficult to find the drive or motivation to start.
And if you’re anything like me, you’ll come up with a million and one excuses to put off doing something you really don’t want to do.
Nevertheless, delaying action doesn’t really solve the issue, does it?
I kept putting off cleaning, which made me hate my house and looking at my own messes, and hating life more and more.
I finally realized that I needed to do something about it, and when I did, I started to love life a little bit more!
Fortunately, there are numerous strategies you may use to motivate yourself to clean your home even when you don’t feel like it.
Get Up and Put On Your Favorite Music.
If I have some background noise to keep me distracted while cleaning my house, I find that the process goes much more smoothly.
Without something to listen to, I find cleaning just plain boring. I don’t think I’m the only one?
I find that listening to my favorite songs puts me in a good mood and takes my mind off all the hard work ahead.
So, I’ll just pick one of my favorite upbeat songs and get to work.
Listen to a Podcast Episode.
While music can lighten your mood and give you the energy you need to clean the house, you don’t have to restrict yourself to only music.
Listening to a podcast is a nice way to keep yourself entertained while you scrub and clean.
Plus, if you listen to a podcast, YouTube video, or basically anything that captures your attention, cleaning won’t feel like wasted time anymore.
Set a Timer.
If listening to music or a podcast doesn’t work, try giving yourself a strict time restriction.
For instance, try setting a timer for an hour or 15 minutes, depending on how long you want/have to clean, and then strive to accomplish as much as you can in that time.
This might seem silly at first, but trust me, it works.
Watch a Cleaning Motivation Video.
Cleaning motivation videos on YouTube represent a new domain of cleaning inspiration that I was unaware of until recently.
I’ll be honest with you, when I first heard about these videos, I was a bit skeptical. I mean, who gets motivated to clean by watching someone else clean? That’s just crazy, right?
But I was amazed at the motivation I got from watching these videos. They are powerful! And a lot more motivating than one might think.
Just a word of caution, when you do watch these videos, don’t lose track of time! They can be addictive. Limit yourself to one or two, and then when the videos have worked their magic, get to cleaning.
Use New Cleaning Products/Equipment.
Before you start cleaning, make sure you have all the stuff you actually need to clean with. There’s nothing worse than getting started, only to find out you have to run out to get something. This will definitely put a dampener in your cleaning so check your supplies before you even begin!
Next, Step Away From Your Phone.
No one can do any tasks with a phone buzzing all the time. So, to help yourself to focus on the task at hand, you’ll want to turn off all your notifications and put your phone somewhere where it is out of sight so that it doesn’t distract you.
Put On Your Comfy Clothes.
Putting on comfy clothes that you don’t care too much about is not only practical but a smart choice for house cleaning. Doing chores with clean clothes on just doesn’t make sense, you don’t want to wear your favorite pair of jeans or shoes, in case you spill some thing on them. So find some old crappy clothes and use them for your cleaning day.
Trick a Friend Into Helping You.
Maybe all you need to motivate yourself to apply some elbow grease and get cleaning is a friend. I’ve got a few friends that are very organized and that are obsessed with cleaning (weird, right?) and so I won’t feel bad giving them a call for a little company and help.
We all need a little help sometimes, and it’s okay to call a friend. It’ll make the task more bearable.
If you don’t want to get your friends involved, you can always ask the kids to join in. More hands mean that the job will get done faster. It could be a great idea to allocate a certain task to each person living in the house; that way, things stay organized, and everyone doesn’t get in each other’s way.
Take Before and After Pictures.
I’ve always loved before and after pictures. They are quite rewarding.
And they don’t just work for fitness goals! Taking some before and after photos of a cluttered house may be a great method to measure your progress and give yourself a visual depiction of how much you’ve achieved.
Additionally, while you’re clearing up your phone, it’s always entertaining to look back on those photos. It could be a big motivator for the next time you have to clean the house.
Step 3: Declutter
Now, let’s move on to decluttering your house. My biggest tip here will be to start with the things that’ll have the biggest impact.
Give Your House a Once Over to Collect All the Trash
Take a garbage bag, start at one end of your home, and go through each room, collecting everything that has to be thrown out.
Pick up the dirty clothes in each room and pile them on a chair or on the bed to make the whole cleaning process easier. Once the garbage has been removed, you can swiftly walk through the whole house with a laundry basket and take any dirty clothes to the laundry room.
Let’s take a look at the facts. The less clutter you have, the less “stuff” there is to clean and arrange. So, keep your “donate” box nearby when you clean, and remember the following:
It’s time to deal with anything taking up space in your home that you haven’t used or even thought about in the past 12 months.
Be truthful to yourself.
Unless it has sentimental significance, you probably don’t need it anymore and won’t miss it.
Put Away Your Stuff Where They Belong
It’s important to have a place for everything in the home. That way, when you clean, you can actually take it to its proper place instead of rearranging the clutter. You can use the following to help declutter your home:
Opt For a Storage Sofa.
A sofa with storage is a great choice to reduce clutter. You can hide cluttered objects if you have additional storage space.
Use a TV Stand.
Your next option for storing your magazines or other minor clutter-causing objects could be a TV unit with drawers or storage space. Your living room’s messiness will be less obvious if you do this. A simple appearance always gives a space a feeling of neatness.
Choose a Nightstand with Drawers.
Nightstands can be quite useful for hiding away small belongings like jewelry, keys, books, etc., in your bedroom. Therefore, choosing a bedstead with a drawer is very practical in reducing clutter in the bedroom.
Opt for a Dining Console.
Napkins and other tabletop accessories can be kept in your living room or dining room using an elegant and simple dining console. When attempting to avoid messes, storage space is your friend because you can store it all in one space, thus concealing the mess and keeping the area more organized.
Tips for Cleaning
Below are my best tips for cleaning a really messy house:
You Might Not Be Able to Do It All at Once
If you’ve allowed things to build up for some time, you need to realize that this process may take some time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your home may not get clean in a day either.
When things get out of hand, and you have a very messy house to clean, it’s crucial that you set achievable cleaning goals and deadlines so that you don’t get discouraged during the process.
So, take a good look at how horrible the situation has become. Then, estimate the time it will take you to clean the entire house, room by room.
You can start creating a cleaning schedule once you have an idea of how long each area will take.
Prioritize the parts of your home that are used the most, then work your way outside of those areas.
And if cleaning takes a bit longer than you anticipated, don’t be hard on yourself! It’s always good to overestimate the time it’ll take to clean everything. That way, if things do take longer, you won’t feel like you are falling behind schedule.
Set Small Periods of Time Aside
Consider scheduling smaller chunks of time for cleaning if you don’t have much time available. You can make a LOT of progress in just 30 minutes.
Get Your Kids Involved
Engage your kids in helping you clean up the mess if they are old enough to do so. One person can sort through and gather the trash, another person can gather the clothes, and a third person can gather the toys in the children’s room. You can save a lot of time by doing this.
Order Take Out Food
To avoid worrying about meal preparation while cleaning your home, get takeout or pizza delivery on the day you plan to clean. If you can’t or don’t want to do that, throw food in the crockpot and let it cook itself!
Don’t Get Discouraged
Don’t give up if the cleanup takes longer than you anticipated. Continue to work on it, doing one entire room or task at a time until the job is finished.
Start at One End of the House and Clean Room by Room
I’ve discovered that it’s best not to roam around the house doing a little here and there and to make piles everywhere when your home is really messy.
Instead, attempt to deal with one room at a time and then only focus on doing one cleaning task within that room at a time.
Always Clean Top Down
Cleaning a room from top to bottom allows you to work with gravity rather than against it. You begin by cleaning the highest surfaces first, allowing dust and debris to collect on the floor, and then cleaning the floors as the very last step.
House Cleaning Steps
Okay, now that we’ve covered all the basics, let’s take a look at how to clean an entire house step-by-step:
Grab Cleaning Supplies
First, you’ll need to grab all the cleaning products and supplies that you’ll need. This includes:
- A trash bag
- A “donate” box/bag
- Any cleaning products you’ll need
If you’re in deep cleaning mode, you’ll need mops, scrubbers, and dusting supplies. If you are only decluttering right now, you may need a few boxes and/or trash bags.
Do Your Laundry
Once you’ve got all your cleaning supplies handy, you can start by doing the dirty laundry. This will allow you to clean while your clothes or bedding is being washed. And, starting with dirty laundry early in the day, gives it enough time to dry before you have to fold it. Once you have some clean laundry, make it a priority to hang them in your linen closet, and NOT in your laundry room!
Make Your Kitchen Spotless
After you’ve added your clothes to the washing machine, it’s time to move to the kitchen. This is the heart of the home, and I always feel a sense of accomplishment, like a weight has been lifted once I am done with the kitchen.
To clean the kitchen, follow these steps:
Spray the Oven to Let It Sit.
Start by spraying your oven with some oven cleaner and allow it to sit and work its magic while you move on to other cleaning tasks like the kitchen. Remember, we have to work smart here and get as much done in as little time as possible.
Start by Washing the Dishes.
The dishes are up next. Quickly go through all the rooms in the house and gather all the cups, spoons, and plates that you can find and put them in the dishwasher. Getting the dirty dishes out of the way always makes me feel accomplished and motivated to keep going. Plus I now have clean dishes for dinner.
Clean Down Cabinets Top Down.
Now give your cabinets and countertops a once over by wiping them down from top to bottom. This will allow all the dust and debris to fall to the floor for later cleaning.
Now that we already have a cloth in our hands, we can put it to good use by also wiping down all the kitchen appliances like the toaster, kettle, etc.
Mop the Floors.
Once everything has been wiped down and cleaned, we can move on to the kitchen floor. Do a quick sweep to remove all the loose dust and debris, and then get out the steam mop to remove the stickier and stubborn messes and stains. Start in the furthest corner from where you want to exit, and then move your way to the exit.
Clean Your Living Room
Now that the kitchen is done, you might be feeling a sense of accomplishment and adrenaline pumping. But there is still a lot to do. Our next stop is the living room. This should be a lot easier and quicker to clean than the kitchen, which means a small win for you.
Clean Ceiling Fans/ Lights/ Dust Ceiling.
Start off by dusting the ceiling, fans, lights, and walls. You might have to wipe down the light fixtures if they are really dirty.
Washing the windows doesn’t have to be a big schlep. Grab a bucket of water, add your favorite window cleaning product to it and then wipe the windows down using a soft cloth, do the same with the window sills. The cloth should be damp.
Once you’ve completed this step, use some newspaper or an old towel to dry the windows, and then you are good to go.
Quickly Dust the Furniture.
This is another easy win. Quickly dust off the furniture, including all door frames and then move on to the floors.
Vacuum the Floors.
You are almost done with the living room! Yay!
Get out the vacuum cleaner and quickly vacuum the floor—be sure to get all the dust particles. And you’re done!
How to Clean a Messy Bedroom
Now, let’s move on to the bedrooms. There are a whole lot of easy wins here as well.
Clean Ceiling Fan/ Lights/ Dust Ceiling.
Following the top-to-bottom method, let’s start by dusting off the fans, lights, and ceiling. All the dirt will fall to the floor for later cleaning.
Clear and Clean Bedside Tables.
I don’t know about you, but I am very guilty when it comes to an overcluttered bedside table. It’s just so convenient to store everything right next to me, but then you have a cluttered drawer!
When you declutter your bedside table, it’s important to move everything to the correct place instead of just moving the clutter around.
Make Your Bed.
I’ve found that it’s easier to remove all the pillows and the duvet before you start to make your bed and then add the items back to the bed one by one. This helps to get a nice, tidy bed and to save time.
Vacuum the Floors.
Now that the bedroom is nice and tidy, it’s time to vacuum the floors and move on to the next room. If you have more than one bedroom, move on to the next bedroom until all the bedrooms are nice and clean, before moving on to the dining room.
Cleaning the Dining Room
Cleaning the dining room should be easy. It’s a room that usually does not have too much clutter as it’s mainly used for eating. To clean your dining room, simply follow these steps:
Clean Lights/ Chandelier.
Start by dusting off the ceiling, lights, and chandelier. This shouldn’t take longer than five minutes for most dining rooms.
Clean/ Polish Table and Side Furniture.
Next, clean and polish the dining room table and side furniture. Be sure not to use a wet cloth on wood as it could damage the wood. You’ll want to use a damp cloth.
Wipe Down Chairs.
Finally, wipe down the chairs with a damp cloth or dust them off with a duster (depending on the amount and type of filth sticking to them).
Vacuum the Floors.
Last but not least, vacuum the dining room floor. Be sure to catch up all the dust particles.
And another room bites the dust!
Make Your Bathroom Sparkle
Finally, let’s clean the bathroom until it’s nice and sparkly. This is probably my least favorite room to clean, for obvious reasons, so I like to leave it for last so that it doesn’t discourage me. I usually only have enough motivation to clean the bathroom after I’ve accomplished almost everything else.
Again, start at the top and move your way down. Clean the lights and the ceiling. You might also want to wipe down the bathroom tiles on the walls.
Next, move on to cleaning the mirrors.
Toothpaste is actually a nice cleaning hack for mirrors. Not only does it clean your mirror, but it also acts as an anti-fog.
Clean Shower/ Tub
Let’s get the tub and shower squeaky clean. Use your favorite bathroom cleaner to clean the faucets, showerhead, and tub.
This part is gross, I know! But it needs to get done!
Be sure to use gloves when working on the toilet bowl and use the toilet brush to do the scrubbing. Make sure, (more grossness here) to lift the toilet seat and give it a good wipe down.
Clean Sinks/ Counters.
Before you mop the floors, wipe down the sinks and counters. You can use the same cleaning products that you’ve used to clean the tub, shower, and faucets.
Mop the Floors.
Again, as a final step, mop the floors until it is shiny and clean. Make sure to collect all the dust and debris and let it dry properly before you allow anyone to walk on it again.
That’s it! We’re all done!
Put a Plan in Place to Keep Home Clean
Once you’ve tackled your messy house and got it back to its former glory, you’ll want to put a plan in place to keep your house clean.
So, what’s the best way to avoid cleaning a messy house again? How do you maintain all your hard work?
Train Yourself to Declutter as You Go
A way to keep your house clean after you’ve put in the hard work is to declutter as you go.
Teach yourself and your family to pick up after themselves so that it stays clean for a longer period of time. Each of your kids can be given after-school chores, and you can give them incentives if they do all of them in a given week.
Set up a Cleaning Schedule to Do a Little at a Time
One of the best ways to keep a messy house clean is to clean a little bit every day instead of all at once.
The best way to do this is to add certain tasks to your daily routines. And then do them every day until they become a habit. You can allocate days to certain days of the week; for example, Wednesday could be laundry day, and Friday could be the day to wash the floor.
Distributing the load makes it more sustainable in the long run.
Printable habit trackers and apps and a messy house checklist work really well for this.
The Bottom Line
A messy house is something that can get you feeling down in the dumps, and you might get so overwhelmed that you don’t know when or even how to start cleaning it. Hopefully, this article has proven helpful to get you motivated to not only clean your messy home but also to keep the entire house clean.
If you’ve found this article helpful, don’t forget to check out some of our other blog posts for even more useful cleaning tips.
How to Clean a Messy House Step By Step
More Articles on Cleaning a House
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- busy mom cleaning routine
- How to get motivated to clean
Grainne Foley is a wife and mother of 2 great kids. During her 5 years of full time RV travel, Grainne learned to become very efficient at household chores, in order to make time for family adventures. Now, back in a house, she has continued to create tools and techniques to help others lighten the load of household organization and cleaning.