The Secret to a Clean Home

Dear Home Ec 101,
How do you keep a clean house?
N00b in Newford

how to keep a clean house

Heather says:

The short answer? You put crap away.

If every person in every home simply put things where they belonged, keeping a clean house would only be a matter of dealing with dirt. Unfortunately the universe tends toward entropy, a state of maximum disorder and minimum energy. Putting things away takes effort many of us feel could be better spent in other ways, like getting just one more level in Farmville.

People with small children (and clean houses) tend to take a basket approach to organization. The baskets basically wrangle small bits of chaos in a somewhat attractive manner.

Start with that. Today start in one room -I like to start in the kitchen and just start putting things away. Away for dirty dishes is a soapy sink or the dishwasher. Trash? It goes in the trash can which is then emptied. No one ever wins the I-can-stack-just-one-more-item-and-pretend-it-doesn’t-need-to-go-out game. I lost that game in a bad, bad way this summer. Not only did I give in and decide that yes, the trash simply must go out, the bottom of the compactor bag had enough of our foolishness, too. It did not end well.

If you have roommates, sometimes things get a little difficult. If they won’t put their crap away, set it somewhere they have to deal with it or a place that is out of sight. The middle of their floor or bed might work. Of course, you risk being seen as a passive aggressive control freak, but as I mature I find I worry a little less about labels and a little more about my personal environment.

home organizing tips

Click the picture for more tips!

Once all the junk is out of the way, that’s when a clean house is possible. At that point click the yellow note up there and start developing a routine for yourself.

If you really need help with finding a place for everything, check out Stacey Crew or Organizing Junkie who is the author of Clutter Rehab: 101 Tips and Tricks to Become an Organization Junkie and Love It!.

Send your domestic questions to


  1. jennysss on January 17, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    I have one child that lives at home and a teenager that moves in and moves out lol, and also another child that is with me everyother weekend. When I get my house clean, it stays that way for a couple of days then its dirty again. I am also a single say at home mom and I homeschool my youngest child. How can i organize the chaos? Sometimes I seem to have it together and there are times i wanta pull my hair out!!!!! I see so many moms that ALWAYS look like thier house is clean, and thier make up is fresh lol, but not me!!!! Im the one you see in the store with my hair just threw up, and if you come to my home i have to move something so that you can set down lol!!! ANY ADVICE ?????

    • Deborah Fitts on January 17, 2012 at 6:22 pm


      I completely understand,my home hasn’t seen really since Clinton was in Office.

  2. KeriPeardon on November 25, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Something that FlyLady has mentioned, which bears repeating, is that if you can’t EVER seem to get your house/room picked up, then maybe there’s too much stuff and/or not enough organization.

    One lady wrote her a very telling letter, saying that she had been yelling at her son for ages to clean his room, but he never did. Finally she went in to clean it for him. She spent all day in it and barely made a dent. That’s when she realized there’s no use picking things up if they have no where to go. Sometimes (maybe even most of the time) things live on the floor because they’re homeless. (She ended up buying a shelving unit and storage boxes which gave all of his toys a home and she stopped having a problem with his room being a mess.)

    So, if you’re cleaning up a room or house for the first time in a while, the first thing you may need to do is analyze the room and see if everything has a home. If there is no shelf or table or box for an item, then create one for it, throw something else out and let it take over the space, or throw the item itself out.

    Picking things up from the floor does no good if they don’t go to their home.

  3. kcares on July 17, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Thank you so much for all the helpful cleaning advice. This is an area which I struggle in. I really like how you plan everything out and such. I love your site. Keep up the good work. Thanks

    Kelly H

    The Self Help Mom

  4. upvc conservatories on May 27, 2011 at 4:53 am

    I like the short answer, however, try telling this to my family of 6!

  5. jessica on April 22, 2011 at 9:48 am

    This is good information but I am 26 and have 4 children and a husband who well sometimes makes me think he is a child himself I can clean whipe down everything and. Within 2hrs or a day my house looks like a pig pin I get fed up tired and aggravated to the point iwant to cry but my point is ITS NEVER THIS EASY…

  6. cash loans payday on April 9, 2011 at 6:17 am

    I will be really thankful to the author on this post to make this lovely and informative article live for us. We really appreciate ur effort. Carry on the great work. . . .

  7. Flor on February 20, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    As basic as it might sound, it does really touch a nerve! I'll start by that… once all things are in place, it might look less scary too
    Thanks for the advise!

  8. Countdown to Turkey Day 2009: Nov 3 | Home Ec 101 on November 3, 2009 at 7:57 am

    […] your house or apartment three times before Thanksgiving arrives. Add in 10 – 15 minutes of The Secret to a Clean Home every day and you will be company ready long before Thanksgiving gets […]

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