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How do you keep your house neat?

Vera Godfrey

Practically Family
Messages
915
Location
Virginia
I know this is an old thread and I hope you've come up with ways to keep your home tidy. Here's what I did when I started out:
I wrote down everything that needed to be done daily, weekly, and monthly in the house. Some of the things that I feel are needed done on a daily basis are things some people do once a week. Some of my once a week things some people do once a month. It all depends on you, really. Then I assigned chores to various days of the week. I always take Saturday and Sunday "off" (except for cooking and basic kitchen chores). It generally works very well. If something comes up (for example, I have a meeting on Tuesday), I divide my Tuesday chores between Monday and Wednesday to get them done.
 

St. Louis

Practically Family
Messages
613
Location
St. Louis, MO
Vera, I would love to see your list, if you'd be willing to share it.

I haven't visited this thread in a while, but I thought I would share one more silly game. I do this one every night before I turn in & it's a major contributor to keeping the living room reasonably neat. I call it Five Easy Pieces. I just have to pick up five items and put them away exactly where they belong. Somehow limiting some of these chores to specific numbers of objects or short, measurable amounts of time seems to remove a lot of the stress & guilt of housework. My job can be really exhausting, and by the end of the day I can't confront any major chores. So these little games keep things on a reasonable level, and I don't feel punished.
 

sheeplady

I'll Lock Up
Bartender
Messages
4,481
Location
Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, USA
We are significantly getting rid of clutter because of an upcoming move. I've found it remarkably easier to get rid of things if I say, "all the yarn I keep must fit in this box" rather than, "keep what you'll really use."

I have no idea of the psychology behind that one, but it works well. Otherwise I look at the yarn and say, "well, I need this or I want to do that some day." The box method works for me.

Decluttering has been remarkablely difficult AND freeing at the same time. I will never be a minimalist, by far, but I'm making progress.
 

AmateisGal

I'll Lock Up
Messages
6,013
Location
Nebraska
We are significantly getting rid of clutter because of an upcoming move. I've found it remarkably easier to get rid of things if I say, "all the yarn I keep must fit in this box" rather than, "keep what you'll really use."

I have no idea of the psychology behind that one, but it works well. Otherwise I look at the yarn and say, "well, I need this or I want to do that some day." The box method works for me.

Decluttering has been remarkablely difficult AND freeing at the same time. I will never be a minimalist, by far, but I'm making progress.

We just recently moved and oh boy...I have far too much stuff. The problem is I am a sentimentalist - so I have a hard time parting with stuff from my childhood that brings me great joy, or something that my grandmother/mother/brother, etc. gave to me. But I'm slowly learning to let go, too, and that's largely because the house we bought is slightly smaller than the house we rented. But there's only three of us (and my daughter will going to college in 2-3 years) and if we can't fit in this house (it's a 1953 Cape Cod) then there's something really wrong! I pared down before the move, and I'm still paring down after the move. I managed to cull my massive book collection and am getting rid of another two boxes worth.

My daughter is on the other end of the spectrum. She has -zero- problem getting rid of stuff. She's not as sentimental as I am, which means I want to hold on to her massive Scooby Doo childhood collection when she could care less. But I keep thinking she'll want to go through it again some day when she's settled down with her own family.
 

sheeplady

I'll Lock Up
Bartender
Messages
4,481
Location
Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, USA
We are actually moving out of a 1942 cape into a larger farmhouse (eventually), but I just plain want less stuff. And we have two young kids, and although we don't own 90% of the stuff other parents own, gosh they come with a lot of stuff.

Getting rid of some of the stuff has been easy. My parents (who are hoarders with a capital H) were using me as hoarding space. Anytime they came to the house they came with their suburban full of everything from chocolate sets to mismatched dishes and broken furniture. They'd basically load up at an auction and since they had no room left in their 4 barns, large farmhouse, and 5 other outbuildings, brought it to us.

Finally, after 5 years (and having filled our garage, basement, and house to the brim) I put my foot down and said, "no more stuff." This greatly upset my parents to the point where my mother had crying fits and my father made horrid comments about how ungrateful I was.

Very little of this I have kept. To be honest, a lot of it is now tainted with bad memories. And who needs 5 broken tea sets? I have the lovely teapot I bought when I was first married. And I don't have the time to shine dented silver plate or the money to repair it.

Some of the other stuff is harder. Stuff I bought or have had for a long time. Obviously I didn't grow up with good patterns. But slowly I've been trying to learn better ones. And I don't want my kids to grow up in a hoarding environment.
 

sheeplady

I'll Lock Up
Bartender
Messages
4,481
Location
Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, USA
We just recently moved and oh boy...I have far too much stuff. The problem is I am a sentimentalist - so I have a hard time parting with stuff from my childhood that brings me great joy, or something that my grandmother/mother/brother, etc. gave to me. But I'm slowly learning to let go, too, and that's largely because the house we bought is slightly smaller than the house we rented. But there's only three of us (and my daughter will going to college in 2-3 years) and if we can't fit in this house (it's a 1953 Cape Cod) then there's something really wrong! I pared down before the move, and I'm still paring down after the move. I managed to cull my massive book collection and am getting rid of another two boxes worth.

My daughter is on the other end of the spectrum. She has -zero- problem getting rid of stuff. She's not as sentimental as I am, which means I want to hold on to her massive Scooby Doo childhood collection when she could care less. But I keep thinking she'll want to go through it again some day when she's settled down with her own family.

I have a few pieces of advice, which come from my own experience with my parents keeping my childhood stuff. Now, remember my parents were hoarders. I in no way mean to suggest that you are, BUT I learned a few lessons from my parents:

1. Keep only those things you can take care of and store properly. Nothing broke my heart more than to find out some of my most precious childhood things had been damaged by being stored improperly (while my mother stored junk in expensive rubbermaid boxes. For us, we use plastic storage bins and moth balls.

2. It becomes a burden if you keep everything for your kid, if your child grows up to be sentimental, so best to chose her favorities.

3. You are responsible for caring for these items until your child wants them.

4. In addition, you should give them to your child in the best shape you can... repaired if necessary, cleaned, etc. My parents brought over my childhood clothes which had been rat chewed (complete with rat you know what) while I was immune compromised during cancer treatment. Not helpful. The only exception to this is a lovey that they wore out and you kept, but in general, if you wouldn't give it to a friend, don't keep it!

5. Get rid of the damned stuffed animals. They breed while you're not looking. ;)

6. If it's dangerous, or been recalled, get rid of it.

7. Keep it organized. If your kid comes home and says, "I want my doll you kept" you should know where it is. Additionally, your kids should know where these things are (and thry should be labeled) so that if something happens, they can pull these boxes themselves.

Those are the rules I keep. For the most part, I keep one outfit for each the kids in each size, any of the things I make them, their favorite small toys (for my 3 yo I've kept 2 so far). I keep most of their artwork (not every crayon drawing) and it decorates the house. Lots of pictures (labeled!).
 

Vera Godfrey

Practically Family
Messages
915
Location
Virginia
I have not forgotten about this thread. I find myself in the throws of decluttering at the moment as well as tweaking my routines.

I am with you, Sheeplady, on just wanting less stuff. There are things here now that I don't want in the house, but other people do, so they stay. It is frustrating! Dealing with that by getting rid of what I can! lol!
 

sheeplady

I'll Lock Up
Bartender
Messages
4,481
Location
Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, USA
I have not forgotten about this thread. I find myself in the throws of decluttering at the moment as well as tweaking my routines.

I am with you, Sheeplady, on just wanting less stuff. There are things here now that I don't want in the house, but other people do, so they stay. It is frustrating! Dealing with that by getting rid of what I can! lol!
My husband is this way. Everyday we get a daily sheet from our kids daycare. He wants to keep every single one. And every single drawing, even if it is on the back of a napkin! I have to sneak stuff into the recyclables. He won't get mad if he finds out, but he's incapable of getting rid of them himself, he's far too sentimental.

I finally got him to agree to shredding bills. He has *every* bill he's paid dating back to when he moved out of his parents when he was 18. NOT KIDDING. I am so proud because he's shredding himself.

I'll never be a minimalist. But I don't want to die in a hovel, drowning in five decades of bills and daycare daily sheets.
 

Paisley

I'll Lock Up
Messages
5,439
Location
Indianapolis
Yes--getting rid of stuff FTW! I moved across the country last year and got rid of a bunch of stuff instead of moving it. Between that and moving to a larger house, I have the right amount of stuff now and the house is much easier to clean now that I don't have to

  1. move the clutter
  2. clean where the clutter was
  3. put the clutter back
  4. clean the clutter
  5. repeat for each pile of clutter

It saves time and money on shopping, too (and later taking stuff to Goodwill). I could actually use a patio set for my front porch, but I'm afraid of bringing anything else into the house.

An observation on the OUTSIDE of houses where I live: the more tchotchkes in the yard, the worse shape the house is in. Houses with yards full of junk are always on their way to ruin.
 

Paisley

I'll Lock Up
Messages
5,439
Location
Indianapolis
I'll never be a minimalist. But I don't want to die in a hovel, drowning in five decades of bills and daycare daily sheets.

Another daughter of hoarders here. A day came a few years ago when my mother's electric wheelchair quit working and I went to her house and helped her into another wheelchair. The second wheelchair was too wide to fit in the paths through the clutter in the house. I had to clear a wider path so my mother could let the dog out. About that time, my parents got to the point where they needed help taking care of things--they were both in wheelchairs, my dad had dementia, the house was filled with clutter, there were unopened bills all over the place--but my parents wanted to stay in their house! Long story short, I neglected my own affairs to take care of theirs and was accused of elder abuse by another relative for my trouble. (The county where I lived found no evidence I abused anyone.)

Good for you, Sheeplady--and everyone else here who is getting rid of their clutter--for not putting your children through a nightmare. Your family can have friends over without embarrassment, you'll have more time and money for things that are important, and when it's time to downsize to a smaller place, the transition will be much easier.

As for my parents, my father died of natural causes and my mother is in a 2-bedroom independent living facility. The extra bedroom is just for storage and costs her $1,000 extra a month. It's a problem she'll have to find someone else to help her with.
 

VintageLincoln

New in Town
Messages
9
Location
Lincoln
It's so refreshing to see it's not just me who struggles with keeping on top of the house. I've never been tidy and neither have my parents so I guess that's where I learnt it from as a child and it's a habit I've not got out of in adulthood.
In our house my OH and I try to keep the division of labour 50/50. The problem is he and I have very different tolerance levels to mess and clutter and he is so laid back he's horizontal. An actual conversation we had one went like this:
Me - Oh it's so messy in here, we need to sort this out
Him - I was just thinking how tidy it is actually.
Something I find useful is the fly lady thread on the money saving expert forum (Oh how I love Martin Lewis *sigh*). On there people take out in turns to post a weekly list of jobs focusing on one room per day so that you can keep on top of it all instead of leaving out until it's a mammoth task. There are different levels too so you can tweak it depending on what needs doing or how much time you have.
 

Eva Granch

New in Town
Messages
14
Here are my regular habits:
Clean dishes as you make them; never have more than one set dirty at a time
Don't just drop stuff where you are put it back where it goes
Get rid of stuff you don't use; donate it, give it to a friend who will use it, or just throw it away
Pick up something or put something away every time you stand up
Have a schedule for the big stuff (cleaning the refrigerator, bathroom, etc...)
I don't feel like I do very much, but my house is regularly cleaner than any of my friend's places. Mostly it seems like they just have too much stuff, don't have enough storage, or are just lazy.
 
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St. Louis

Practically Family
Messages
613
Location
St. Louis, MO
I do follow a lot of the suggestions in previous posts, so I won't repeat them. I have a few fun little games I play that keep the place neat (well, neat-ish.) For example, never leave a room without picking up three objects that don't belong there. If there's a sink full of dishes and I dread starting them, then I tell myself I only have to do ten. Most of the time I finish.

I think what works best is to be social -- invite people over for casual (not big deal) little get-togethers.
 

Paisley

I'll Lock Up
Messages
5,439
Location
Indianapolis
It's been four years since I decluttered, and I'm happy to say the house is still decluttered. They say there's no zealot like a reformed zealot, and I'm a reformed slob.

One important strategy: no recreational shopping. Period.
 

Héctor Fernández

One Too Many
Messages
1,267
Location
Greatest Country, U.S.A.
I'm a neat freak. I dislike clutter, dirty dishes, dirty bathrooms, etc.

I have been retired for three years and my wife finally retired last year. While she was working, I took care of the house and the cleaning duties, still do. I'm probably one of the few gents that actually enjoy cleaning, lol....
 

Old Mariner

One of the Regulars
Messages
260
How do you keep your house neat?

How do you organize your time and tasks to keep a presentable home? How do you divide up cleaning and organizing chores around the other tasks you have during the day? What are the things you do everyday to keep your home neat? Do you clean certain rooms on certain days? What have you tried that works and what hasn't?

What strategies do you use to stay organized and neat?

For me, it starts with a less is more attitude. I am just not a collecting type. Nor am I the type that cares to buy things for the sake of buying them - things have to have either special meaning to me, have to be useful (a sort of form and function pragmatism), and I have to be able to store them away easily if not in use (as I have very little "in apartment" storage - most of my storage is old steamer trunks - not only useful, but fit in with my style). Also, a part of my attitude is that the less I have, the less I have to look after (doing enough of that with my own body, and having had major surgeries and living alone...it's a mentality that has helped me).

I tend to be pragmatic with cleaning for two reasons - CFS is no big helper when it comes to doing so (though I wish it were), and I live in a busy part of town (so think of street dirt in all its black and grey glory). This means that I do not dust every week. I "spot vacuum" as my apartment is big. I break big tasks down into small ones to do over the course of a day or two - so this means that I pace myself. I give myself time to rest if I need to. Dishes are hand washed and so I always do them when the sink is "reasonably full". Sometimes this fortunately coincides when I make something to eat, so I can then wash those dishes as well. Bed sheets changed and wash is done regularly once a week, as this task does not require a lot of physical involvement, I really do not count it as housework. During change of seasons from warm to cold, I will clean the window sills and wash my cafe curtains, so they are "fresh" for the cold months, otherwise I will be seeing street dirt all fall-winter. I also try to dust and give my apartment a decent cleaning before I hermetically seal myself up for the winter...(just not all in one day though, but over the course of a few days).

In the warmer months, I really do not dust. It simply is not worth it for the mere fact that it looks just as bad 2-3 days after. That is how bad it is with the pollen, general dirt, and street dirt. I learned to live with it and not waste time and energy p*ssing in the wind cleaning dust all the time. If it is *super bad*, I will do some cleaning, but...pragmatically, I still have my limits.

With regards to the bathroom - I have an old tub with a crappy textured surround that even my landlord despises. I hate cleaning them both because it is hard for me, so I do lazy work by spraying a bleach spray on the surround to kill mildew and whatnot. I let it dry on there so its killing power lasts longer than if I wash it off. For the tub, I use "scrubbing bubbles" and a scrubbing sponge. Toilet is cleaned like most others, so no big difference there, except I use clorox toilet tablets (in the tank).
 

Eva Granch

New in Town
Messages
14
I dedicate specific days to specific tasks. For example:

Mon: Dust and vacuum
Tue: Wipe bathroom counter, clean mirror, and scrub toilet
Wed: Wipe kitchen counters and stovetop, and wipe down fridge shelves

Etc. I keep the tasks on my calendar, and once I've completed the day's task, I move it to the following week (so after I dust/vacuum on Mon 21, I move the task to Mon 28). It gives me a sense of accomplishment because I like clearing my calendar of completed tasks.
It's definitely much easier to do a little every day than try to do everything on the same day.
 
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Hats Matter

One of the Regulars
Messages
198
Location
Oakland CA
Interesting reading. My contribution is not going to be perceived as much of a help because my circumstances are markedly different from what I have read here. First of all I live in an apartment and not a house. I am retired and not married. I am a highly organized person who does not like clutter and I have a place to put my things. My hats and shoes are in boxes and my clothes are kept in moth resistant garmet bags that are all lableled. I have hired a cleaning woman who comes in once a week for the basic cleaning so the dusting, vacuuming, bathroom maintenance and window washing gets done. I also use a wash and fold laundry service who pick up my clothes on a Friday and return them the following day. This is not for everyone and my circumstances are different from most folks
 
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