Tips to help you develop good housecleaning habits

Part of the philosophy behind the right attitude to cleaning is to clean things immediately or at least to a regular maintenance schedule, so that you almost never have to do any remedial cleaning. Here are some easy ways to achieve this.

Tips to help you develop good housecleaning habits

1. Focus on the benefits of cleaning

  • If you hate cleaning and organising, why not try to change your attitude? Look for the beauty and value in those activities.
  • Yogis have long taught the value of doing simple chores such as cleaning. They describe the benefits of 'karma yoga', or being in a meditative state of awareness as you clean or garden as being calming, focusing and centring.
  • The idea is to let go of your mental clutter — the bad family dynamics, the bills that need paying, your dispute with your boss — and focus on the job at hand.
  • Be in the moment.
  • Even without the yoga philosophy, cleaning can help you to be more serene. If you're under a lot of stress, doing something mundane and methodical, such as cleaning, can often be very therapeutic and calming. It's a back-to-basics kind of feeling.

2. Build cleaning routines

  • This may be the single most important thing for achieving the spick-and-span home you have dreamed about. It means making your bed every morning (and teaching your kids to do it, too).
  • It's always wiping your feet at the door; putting dishes directly into the dishwasher; having a mail-sorting routine that puts bills, catalogues, coupons and correspondence immediately into their right place.
  • With well-established routines like this, you can keep the time spent house cleaning to a minimum.

3. Have strategies for keeping your home neat and clean

  • Neat means countertops are clear, coats are hung up, clutter is under control.
  • Clean means the floors aren't muddy, the corners aren't cobwebby, the doors aren't smudgy.
  • While the two often go hand in hand, it is possible to have a messy home that's clean, or a neat home that's dirty.
  • Neatening and cleaning need not happen together. But it's certainly easier and faster to clean a room that is neat.

4. Understand special cleaning requirements

  • What materials are your carpets, furniture, appliances, curtains and clothes made of?
  • The more you know about materials, the better you'll be able to clean them.
  • When you make purchasing decisions, take into consideration how the items should be cleaned.

5. Don't despair at messes

  • Instead, look for the order and cleanliness that can emerge from them. Visualising the result in advance is one powerful tool for the right attitude to cleaning.
  • Before-and-after pictures are very motivating and energising. But when you're still in the 'before' stage, you have no 'after' picture to inspire you. By visualising, you can make one.
  • Pick a spot in the house that bothers you because it's dirty or disorganised.
  • Conjure up an image of order or cleanliness. You might even draw a picture, or write a description.
  • Take visualisation a step further and create a small clutter-free area, just to see how it feels.
  • Pick a desk or table that has bothered you and put all the stuff on it into a box. For the moment, don't worry about sorting it.
  • After the table or desk is clear, dust it, wash it if it needs it and just savour the feeling: clean and orderly!
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