I love the expression, “Cleaning the house with kids is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos.” Doesn’t get more real than that. When lots of people, especially children, live together in a contained space, it’s going to get dirty and messy. But there are ways to minimize the chaos in everyday life. Then, when you get unexpected visitors they won’t think your house has been burglarized.
1. Keep a trash can in each room. If there is a place to throw trash, kids might not drop it on the floor. Here’s hoping, anyway.
2. Do a clean sweep through the main living areas each evening. I assign each of my children a room to pick up. Nothing should be left on the floors or transferred to a flat surface.
3. Wipe down the bathroom counters after everyone finishes brushing their teeth and washing their faces. Use the hand towel and throw it in the laundry basket when you’re done. If you wipe up the toothpaste early, you won’t need a paint scraper later.
4. Fill a spray bottle with two parts water to one part vinegar to spritz down counters and sinks. Germs are not meant to be shared. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant, and the smell evaporates quickly. Keep one in each bathroom and the kitchen.
5. Teach children (especially little boys) to wipe down the toilet seat when they’re done. Their future spouse will thank you one day.
6. Keep a laundry basket(s) in the bedrooms or bathrooms or both (wherever people change clothes) to catch dirty laundry. You may need to explain the difference between dirty and clean many times.
7. Load the dishwasher after each meal, and start it when it gets full. If you can try to keep up with dishes, your kitchen will not look like a bomb went off. I won’t tell if you want to pull the clean dishes out at the next meal rather than putting them up. I’m all for saving an extra step.
8. Take out the trash when it gets full. I know that’s a bit obvious for most people, but after a long day a heavy trash can isn’t calling my name. On the other hand, I hate to pick up trash up that has fallen out of an overflowing can.
9. Fold and put away laundry straight out of the dryer. Seriously, it’s not going to get any more exciting to put away five loads of laundry at once if you let it pile up.
10. Make up the beds every morning. I can’t say that this gets done without fail, but it definitely makes the room look neater.
11. Throw away junk mail as soon as you get it. It won’t suddenly become important in a month.
I realize some days are more conducive to cleaning than others, but spending just 10 minutes a day spot cleaning makes a world of difference and keeps you off the Clean House reality television show.