Keeping a house neat is an unceasing battle. No matter how deep you clean or how often, your home invariably becomes messy. It's the Second Law of Thermodynamics at work, which states that the entropy (disorder) of a system (your home) either stays the same or, more likely in this case, increases over time.
In trying to attain a perennially clean house, you're literally fighting against the laws of the universe! With an opponent that enormous, you need all the advice you can get; Country Classics has you covered.
How Do I Keep My House Clean with a Messy Family?
Whether you're cleaning a house with a toddler, multiple dirty pets, or a gaggle of offspring working to undo your efforts, these tips enable you to make order out of disorder.
1. Share the Workload
Managing a house is no longer just a job for the household's matriarch. The responsibility of housekeeping should be shared by all family members instead of dumped on one person's shoulders. Divide cleaning tasks fairly among everyone who can contribute, and don't be afraid to include your children. Household chores are a lifelong skill that everyone needs, so get your children accustomed by starting them early with age-appropriate chores. If you have doubts about the virtues of teaching your children to clean young, look no further than a college boy's dorm room to see what will happen if you don't.
2. Messes Happen: Clean Up Right Away
After a long day at work, you're finally settling down to relax when you hear a horrible crashing noise and a splat. Whether it's your cat knocking leftovers off the kitchen counter or your toddler throwing their evening snack against the wall, messes are inevitable. The urge to ignore the sound or a growing pile of dishes in the sink is tempting, but you'll regret it in the morning. So, institute a rule: when a mess happens, clean it up right away.
Although you may have to work at it initially, cleaning up as soon as a mess occurs becomes automatic over time. You'll find yourself loading dishes directly into the washer when making dinner instead of leaving them to sit in the sink and wiping down the bathroom countertop while you brush your teeth in the morning.
3. No Shoes (or Dirty Pets) in the House
Everyone wants to know how to keep dirt out of the house with dogs and outdoor-loving kids. The answer is simple: don't let them in! Well, do let them in — you can't just let the smallest members of your family run feral (right?) — but only once they've shed their outdoor layers and wiped any dirt from their person.
Encourage this behavior by making a no-shoes in the house rule and putting up a sign if you need to. Get in the habit of wiping down your pet's paws whenever they come in since they can't do so themselves. We also recommend setting cleaning cloths, wipes, a shoe rack, and easily-washed rugs at your entrances and exits to catch dirt before it gets inside.
4. Follow the 15-Minute Rule
Routine cleaning keeps your house from becoming an overwhelming disaster that requires an entire day of household work to remedy. At the beginning or end of every day, put on your favorite playlist, set a timer, and spend 15 minutes tidying up. Put away blankets and mail, fluff up the couch pillows, sweep up dirt, or whatever other small tasks may need doing. Try to have fun while you're doing it by dancing along to your favorite songs!
5. Find Your Favorite Cleaning Products
If cleaning your home is a never-ending battle, you need an arsenal of cleaning products to fight. But in a world full of harmful chemicals and ingredient lists the size of Rite Aid receipts, you must ensure your cleaning products only hurt dirt and not your most vulnerable family members. When cleaning a house for kids or pets, the last thing you want to do is compromise their health and safety.
So, what products are safe to use while cleaning with kids and pets?
In addition to being safe, your cleaning products need to be powerful. Investing in a high-quality vacuum, carpet cleaner, mop, and microfiber floor sweeper, among other products, is the best way to clean floors with pets that shed hair and dirt constantly.
6. Set a Routine
Along with an arsenal, you need an attack plan for orderly home cleaning. As you divide cleaning tasks among family members, let them know how often they need to tend to their responsibilities. Ideally, make a master cleaning chart that everyone can reference, so they know which job belongs to who and when to do it. You get bonus points if it's color-coded! Designate chores daily, weekly, and monthly. Set aside a day to deep clean your house at least once or twice a year. And don't forget to include brushing and bathing your pets on the list of regular home maintenance.
7. Create Areas Where Messes Are Welcome
As we've established, messes are inevitable. So, why not make a place in your home designed for them? Set up a mudroom-type area in your garage, laundry room, or at entrances and exits where dirty shoes and wet umbrellas are welcome — and where your dogs can shake off the water on their coat without it getting all over the floor. You might also locate food and water bowls and litter boxes in this area to keep the house clean with cats or dogs. And, since you love to snuggle your furry friends (although you may not love the tufts of hair they leave behind), designate one piece of furniture where your pets are welcome to lounge. We also recommend covering your furniture with specific blankets and pillows you can easily throw in the washer when the pet hair gets overwhelming.
8. Know When Messiness Isn't the Problem
Sometimes dissatisfaction with your home isn't so much about the mess your family makes as it is about the house itself. The reason your home so quickly descends into chaos could be that it isn't serving your family's needs anymore; this is especially likely if you have a growing household. An overcrowded house is a messy one. If that's the case for you, it's time to find a home that fits your family.