Dear Home Ec 101,
How do you keep a clean house?
N00b in Newford
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, but the bottom of the compactor bag also had enough of our foolishness, too. It did not end well.
If you have roommates, sometimes things get a little difficult. If they don’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.
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 finding a place for everything, check out Stacey Crew or Organizing Junkie, the author of Clutter Rehab: 101 Tips and Tricks to Become an Organization Junkie and Love It!.
Send your domestic questions to email@example.com.