Cleaning a messy house can be anxiety-inducing. IF you don’t have the sacred scroll inscribed with the magic spell only visible if held over the blue flames of The Gooey Blue Mountain by a true blood descendent of the founder of the house of Hufflepuff. But, you’re probably not a true descendant of Hufflepuff so don’t waste your time on this one. 🤣
But lucky for you, I’ve got something just as good as magic! The bonafide, real-life tested, and proven 3-part cheat code to cleaning a messy house. The smart way. No magic needed.
So if you could use a little *strategy* and *straightforwardness* so you can stop freaking out about that messy house, and get it clean already, keep scrollin’.👇
And for my folks that just want the bones of this post, here it is:
- Get your mind right by turning down the volume on your emotions
- Make a cleaning plan so that cleaning the house is less overwhelming and way more doable
- Clean like a pro with the tips below so that cleaning won’t take you all day long
Part 01: Clean a trashed house by first getting your mind right
Cleaning a messy house can be overwhelming. But there’s an easy remedy for that. Push your emotions to the side for a moment and zoom out. Don’t worry about the crap in the house right now or how you feel. You need to intentionally give yourself a moment to breathe and think clearly.
👋 At some point, you’ve gotta turn the emotions down and figure out how many trash bags you’re gonna need.
Here are 5 golden nuggets to keep top of mind that’ll make cleaning a trashed house way less anxiety-inducing (ehm-ehm, grab a pen and paper to take note):
✅ Tip 01 / You’re not the first person that’s ever faced cleaning a trashed house. In fact, cleaning trashed houses is so common that there are entire tv series dedicated to it. Hello Netflix. The point is, if they can do it, so can you. I promise.
✅ Tip 02 / No matter how unforgiving the house looks, all you need is a plan to get it done. Step-1, step-2, step-3, look left, look right, and smile - yahhhhh.
✅ Tip 03 / Expect the unexpected. Trashed houses always have time-zapping surprises so however long you think it’ll take to clean the house, multiply that by 525,600 minutes.
✅ Tip 04 / Teamwork makes the dream work! If you’ve got a few characters that are willing to clean the place up with you, be grateful. And put them to work. Cleaning a trashed house isn’t on anyone’s bucket list so keep the vibe chill but productive so you don’t run people off and end up cleaning solo.
✅ Tip 05 / Quiet the mean girl in you that makes you feel like crap because the house is so messy. We’re all our own worst critic. Yeh, it’s important to figure out what got you here in the first place, BUT you don’t want to beat yourself up about it. The fact that you don’t want to look at the crap anymore is all that matters. Leave the past - and mess - behind starting today.
Part 02: Clean a super trashed house by creating a simple cleaning plan
The last thing you want to do is walk into cleaning a messy house all willy-nilly. You need a plan. Without one, you’ll find yourself working in nerve-wracking circles. Create a cleaning plan and stick with it. It’ll save you days - if not weeks - as well as prevent unnecessarily high-stress levels that damage your collagen and lead to sagging jowls that face yoga can’t fix. (Trust me!)
Your first real job is to turn the goliath task of cleaning a big ol’ messy house into snack-sized jobs that are more manageable - physically and mentally.
My favorite way to do this is by creating a cleaning plan. And don’t worry, it’s super simple to do. (Plus I’ve got a few sample plans for you below as well)
👉 What is a cleaning plan? A cleaning plan is an outline of what you want to clean in the house, and the order you want to do it all in. You could also think of it as a cleaning schedule or calendar.
Create a cleaning plan in 4-steps /
Get started making your cleaning plan /
Grab a pen and paper and run through the steps below. Or you can run through everything in your head if you think you're good like that.
STEP 01: Set a short-term and long-term cleaning goal
Why is this important? I don’t know about you but I’m always either underestimating how long something will take me to finish. Or I put way too much energy into making something *perfect* when it was good enough a long time ago.
For example, this post is taking me days when I thought I could type it in an hour or two lol. I write and rewrite paragraphs to make them perfect when the first draft made perfect sense. I’m wasting time. Don’t be like me. 😑
Get started by asking yourself a few questions /
Q1. How clean do you want your house to be on a scale of 1-10?
With 1 being epically trashed and 10 being clean enough to pass your judgy mother-in-law’s inspection, how clean do you need the house to be?
Q2. Let’s think long-term - one year from now - what do you want your house to look like?
Q3. And now short-term - in the next 30 days - what do you want to accomplish?
Here are a few more things to ponder when deciding how clean you want to get the house:
- Do you plan to clean the entire house or just focus on common areas for now?
- Would it be better to focus on getting rid of clutter throughout the house instead of actually cleaning?
- If you’re focused on decluttering, are you tackling surface clutter like paper, crap on counters, and furniture, or do you want to target hidden clutter hotspots like closets, under beds, and storage spaces?
✅ Once you have a solid cleaning goal in mind, pat yourself on the back and move on to the next step.
STEP 02: Pencil in time to clean your trashed house
How much time do you really have to transform the house from trashed to clean (cleaner, or cleanish)? And when are you going to do it?
If you’re like most people, once you’re actually motivated enough to clean your house, your mind tells you that it can be done in a day. And then 15 hours later, 10 trash bags and one droopy ponytail later, you’re still clearing out the closet that you started this morning when you still thought the world was full of good. Yikes!
🔑 The key is to look at your actual schedule and get an idea of how much time you actually have to clean. Then be bold enough to make time for it.
Pep talk // A lot of us prioritize everything and everyone over things that are important to us. So if you’re guilty of being a people pleaser or you’re a captain procrastinator, it’s time to make yourself and goals #1.
Clear your schedule. Clear the clutter. Clean the counters. And then back out into the world to do whatever magic it is that you do.
STEP 03: Make a quick list of the cleaning supplies you need
You already know you’re going to need heavy-duty gloves, Mr. Clean and all his friends. But don’t just stop with the trash bags and basic cleaning supplies. Depending on just what level of *trashed* the house is, you may need a superhero or two.
Here’s a quick list of mess-fighting items or tools you may need to get the job done /
- A dumpster you can rent if there’s a lot to haul out of the house
- Large push mops - like the ones they use in hospitals or stores to clean the floors. This one is super handy dandy if you have lots of items to pick up off hardwood floors.
- A wheelbarrow - you can fill trash bags inside the house and wheel them out. Very helpful if you’re a bit of a weakling lol.
- Two types of masks - one mask for dust and one for hazardous fumes
- An extractor fan to make breathing more doable - especially if the air is heavy or the place reeks of wet dog and other unpleasant aromas.
- Razor blades aren’t just for The Bad Girls Club or removing stickers from windows... This must-have is akin to an inspector gadget gizmo - you can do *anything* with it. Like, remove layers of yucky soap scum from shower glass doors in literal seconds. And more stuff like that.
STEP 04: List out the major areas that need to be cleaned
What actually needs to be cleaned? What tasks, things or spaces have you been neglecting? Write down whatever comes to mind.
QUICK NOTE / Sometimes I jumble up the order of things and start focusing on home improvement projects when I need to be cleaning or organizing my spaces. A good rule of thumb is that if your house is a mess but you'd like to Fixer-Upper-your-place-up, decluttering and cleaning will always be your first step.
About my list right there... ☝️
This list is not in any specific order. Nor is it too detailed. It’s short and sweet. And that’s exactly what you want. Now it’s your turn to brain dump.
STEP 05: Arrange tasks on the list so that you can clean your house fast
When you’ve got crap everywhere you look, deciding where to start can be a little dizzying. After all, that’s why you’re here. So I'll cover two topics: (1) how to arrange tasks so that you clean them in the smartest order possible; and (2) how to decide which room to start in. So let me get to it👇.
Q1 / How do you arrange tasks on your list so that you clean things in the right order? 🧐
ANSWER / Use this step-by-step, mess eliminating formula to clean anything from your entire house to that out of control junk drawer in your kitchen! ✨
- Box or bag up everything - instead of fumbling around with clutter, close your eyes then toss everything into a bag or box to quickly clear surfaces & spaces
- Cleaning sesh - make surfaces shine with a good wipe down and fluff those carpets with the vacuum cleaner
- Unbox & organize - put items where they belong but make sure you’re able to get what you need when you need it easily | FYI - you can leave homeless items in the box
- Boosters & beauty - use labels, baskets & bins to keep things organized
- Tune-up - reorganize and change boosters until you find a working setup
- Toss the box - get rid of whatever’s left in the box within 30 days - after 30 days, you've just got a box of clutter | toss it
- Rinse & repeat - run through this 7-step process over and over again to keep mess at bay
Think of this formula as a magic spell that you can use over and over again to whip your house into shape. The more you do it, not only do you get rid of your messy house, you edge closer to having a house that stays clean all the time. Yes, YOU!
Following this process forces you to deal with clutter that otherwise would go unchecked, and clean surfaces so that the house isn't just fake clean. It IS clean. 🙌🍋
Q2 / Which room should you start cleaning first? 🙄❓
ANSWER / Pick a room or space that gives you a total headache whenever you see it but will take less than an hour or two to clean. Once you get this first area cleaned, your brain will be totally on board with an all-out deep cleaning throughout the entire house.
Now here's a word of warning. When I say pick a room that will only take an hour to complete, don't overthink it. Even rooms that are catastrophic have plenty of small tasks you can work on and complete within an hour or two.
Here are some ideas for cleaning tasks that seriously take less than an hour and instantly make your house look cleaner 👇
- Instead of tackling the whole bedroom, at once declutter and clean the top of the dresser. Boom - one hour.
- Declutter and clean the top of the bedside table. Boom - less than an hour - even better!
- Clean out one drawer.
- Fill one trash bag with, ummm, trash.
- Fill one trash bag with clothes you need to never ever, ever wear again - donate or put insidious items in the trash.
- Fold and put away a load - or three - of laundry.
- Wash all the dishes, dry them, and put them away.
- Go to each bathroom, empty the trash, clean the toilet and the sink.
You get the point. There are plenty of super small tasks you can work on that will instantly brighten your living space up so pick one and go with it. Stop thinking and just do it. (Hey Nike!)
At the end of the day, there's no such thing as Santa Claus. And there's no such thing as starting in the wrong place when you know your house is trashed and you need to do something about it. (And if you do still believe in Santa, I really didn't mean to offend you. I actually have a pretty open mind so show me proof and there's a chance you could totally sway me lol.)
👉 And after all this if you still can't figure out where to start, close your eyes and imagine yourself cleaning. Where do you see yourself cleaning? Start there. Again, don't overthink this one. Whatever popped into your mind first is your starting place. ✅
Disclaimer: Guys, this advice is coming from a chronic over-thinker so just trust me on this one. I want you to be better than me.
After you create your cleaning plan... 🥳 /
Celebrate your victory! Taking time to plan something out is very grown-up of you. But there’s one more super important step. Your cleaning plan needs to be visible. Not crammed in a binder somewhere to never be seen again. Especially if you’ve got long-term cleaning goals.
Here are some things you can do to keep your cleaning plan in the limelight:
- Print it off and plaster copies around the house
- Add your cleaning goals to your google calendar
Part 03: Grab your fanciest gloves - it’s time to clean your messy house like a pro
You’ve got everything you need to start cleaning - hooray! But before your motivation fades, post your cleaning plan where you can see it. Add reminders to your phone. And schedule cleaning time on your google calendar.
Wear something cute for Cleaning Day. Sure, the norm is to put on your worst fits but instead, put on something that makes you feel good.
Dress comfortably, but instead of opting for that faded, overstretched shirt with the mustard stains above the boob, put on a cute pair of yoga pants, a clean fitted shirt, and a ballcap. You want a cleaner future so walk into it with cuter clothes on 🎀.
The unusual secret weapon I use to clean my house faster? 👉A timer! ⏲️
Not only will a timer help you stay focused, you’ll get areas cleaned a whole lot faster. Instead of cleaning until whenever, clean in spurts of 15-20 minute blocks. Once the mini cleaning session is over, take a 5-minute break - timed of course - and then jump into your next 15-minute cleaning block. Sounds simple enough but boy will the payoff be huge if you follow through with this strategy!
This is incredibly helpful if you're one of those people that start things but don't know when to stop. And even more helpful if you're the type to start something, and then find yourself doing something completely off task minutes later.
Bottom line: If you have issues focusing, you need a timer 🤪
More tips for cleaning a trashed house /
I’m not saying there’s a right or a wrong order to go in to clean a house. But it’s very easy to make more work for yourself by cleaning things out of whack. And who has time for that right?
Here’s a quick cleaning 101 lecture that’ll help you clean your messy house fast:
Tip 01 / Clean top to bottom - boring, I know but you probably don’t think about it enough
Tip 02 / Clean task by task - not room by room
Tip 03 / Always pre-treat build-up to spare yourself from having to scrub
Tip 04 / Boxes, baskets, or any type of container will be perfect to store clutter
Tip 05 / Don’t be afraid to put stuff into the trash can
Tip 06 / When you miss a planned cleaning day, don’t beat yourself up over it - that’s life
How to clean a messy house - summarized
Here’s a recap of how to clean a trashed house painlessly /
- Get your mind right (so you can work past mental clutter)
- Make a cleaning plan (so you know what to clean & when)
- Follow it (but leave room for life)
- Repeat (the goal is consistent imperfect action)
I totally understand that cleaning a messy house can feel overwhelming. But if you follow this advice, you'll be able to get things cleaned up. And keep it clean. 🎉🥳
How to keep your house clean
Ok so it's one thing to clean your house, but it's another to keep it clean. If this is something you've been struggling with, you're in the right place because this very thing is something I talk about all the time.
Here are two places to start if you're ready to end the messy house cycle once & for all:
👉 The Clean Cure Vault is a collection of guides, checklists, and roadmaps that will help you clean your house better and faster (it's free 🥳)
👉 The C.H.A.O.S. Control 7-Day Challenge is for anyone tired of struggling with mess, stress, chaos & clutter at home! Get everything you need to finally run your home smoothly, in a way that actually works long-term, and do it without obnoxiously bloated workbooks or snooze fest courses.