In defense of a clean home

12 Comments

In defense of a clean home

I have a confession to make, and I feel it’s controversial:

I keep my house clean and I find housework satisfying.

I’m not OCD or neurotic and I don’t intend to single-handedly undo feminism — I just really enjoy and value a clean living space and I make it a priority. With a little bit of extra effort I’m able to maintain a working level of cleanliness in my home that allows my daily life to flow a bit more smoothly and with a lot less stress.

Some of the benefits of a clean home are:

  • It’s easier to get things done when the space is already clean. When I prepare a meal in a clean kitchen it goes much more better than when it’s not. As I dirty dishes I can put them straight into the dishwasher or start soaking them. They don’t pile up and I can usually have most of the dishes washed before the meal is ready. When I want to work on a project there’s a clear surface ready and I can jump right into it rather than spending time cleaning first. And when the space we work in is clean and organized our brains are more free to be creative because they’re not trying to sort out the mess our eyes are looking at.
  • Things don’t go missing as often. When things are generally put away, it’s easier to find what you’re looking for. I can tell Eleanor to go find her shoes and she doesn’t have to sift through mounds of toys or dirty clothes to find them. It’s easier to find that missing coupon when I don’t have piles of papers all around.
  • It’s not as hectic to prepare for company. When we have friends over for dinner or a play date, I don’t have to run around for hours straightening things up. Yes, I do clean but it’s surface things like vacuuming or wiping down the sink.
  • It’s easier to have people in your home. We had friends wait for over a year to invite us for dinner because they thought their house was too messy. When they finally did invite us we went and yes, their home wasn’t super tidy, but we didn’t care! We enjoyed a wonderful time with them. I’m more likely to spontaneously ask someone over or am more welcoming when someone drops by when my home isn’t a disaster.
  • It looks better and is more relaxing. Okay, I admit this one is a little more shallow. But who doesn’t prefer to spend time in an aesthetically pleasing environment? If you envision a space you really want to be in, I doubt it’s messy. Being home is more enjoyable when it’s clean.

welcome a new day

I think I would be pretty safe in assuming most of us want to keep our homes clean and organized but find the practical application a bit challenging. I sure do! But there are a few things I’ve learned along the way that have helped me to maintain a doable level of cleanliness without spending half my life wearing rubber gloves:

  • Just put it away. Rather than walking over that toy or pile of clothes, pick it up and put it away. It will probably only take a few seconds. This goes for paper and other things that tend to collect (and then procreate). Don’t set junk mail or any other similar paper down – put it straight into the recycling. Put dirty dishes in the dishwasher and don’t let them pile up on the counter.
  • Blitz clean. I do this several times throughout the day and it makes a huge difference. Pick up all the odds and ends laying around, put toys back in their box, make the bed, wipe down the counters, whatever small tasks you can get done in 5-10 minutes.
  • Get the kids involved. Before Eleanor has her quiet time or goes to bed she has to put her toys away. This way when I have some time to myself I’m not surrounded by my kid’s toys or spending my time cleaning up after them. If you have older kids assign them specific responsibilities and chores and take the time to teach them to do them well.
  • Clean before you go to bed. No one likes waking up to a sink full of dirty dishes or eat breakfast next to a basket of unfolded laundry. Get as much done as you can the night before and start the day with a clean slate. It’s easier to welcome a new day when you’re not dealing with yesterday’s mess.
  • Set aside time for the bigger stuff. This is the hard one and definitely where I struggle the most. Tackle one big project at a time, break it down into smaller tasks and be intentional about doing it.

While your home will probably never look picture perfect (mine sure won’t), when worked at a little bit at a time a clean home is achievable. It doesn’t have to be a daunting task and it doesn’t have to keep you from doing the things you enjoy.

If having a clean space isn’t a priority for you and you can relax in and enjoy your home in whatever state it’s in, more power to you (can you teach me how to do that?) Or if you simply do not have time to clean or energy to clean, don’t. While there are benefits to a clean home sometimes it comes at too high a cost. I loved the Huffington Post article My house is messy and I don’t care and I can relate to Dugans InCahoots’ post We can’t be friends because they’re PSAs reminding us that it’s the relationships fostered in our homes that matter, not how magazine-worthy they are. So whether your house is clean or messy, open your doors wide and love on whoever comes through them.

So, what about you? Is a clean home something you value? Why or why not? How do you keep your home clean if you do?

What my living room looks like

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12 thoughts on “In defense of a clean home

  1. I completely agree on how a tidy and clean home can improve my mindset. It makes me feel more alert, less harried, and more open to opportunities. However, I started to want -all the things- to be clean -all the time-, and I was spending too much time cleaning because I never felt ‘done’. So in order to give myself some balance, I started a weekly schedule. Then when I’ve finished the tasks for the day, I move on to other things – particularly spending time with my kids. Obviously if something really needs doing and it’s not its ‘day’ I do it anyway (see: sweeping entry way), but for the most part I accept that vacuuming once a week will be sufficient, and I don’t worry about it because I know it’s been done recently and will get a turn again soon. As a bonus, I feel like living in a smaller space is achievable if it is kept tidy – otherwise, the temptation is to move into a bigger space to retain that feeling of ‘openness’ for living.

    • It is SO easy to get caught up in cleaning because it never is done, especially with little ones running around. It sounds like you’ve got a great system going with the cleaning schedule and then just letting yourself off the hook. You are absolutely right that it’s much easier to live in a small space when it’s clean and it also helps keep the accumulation of stuff in check.
      Great comment! Thanks for sharing.

  2. This is so great!! I have had a really hard time in the past with keeping my house clean. I have found that I love things to be neat, tidy, and CLEAN. And honestly, (this is very personal to me, but worth to share.) I have struggled with depression for many years, I have taken steps to deal with it, but I always know how my mental state is by looking at the cleanliness of my house. I don’t mean having a messy house for a few days in a row, esp. when I have a 3 year old, 18 month old, and 7 month old in my home. But I mean when it is DIRTY…Like toilets, kitchen, floors, sinks, counter tops, laundry, dishes and NOTHING is done. This post is super helpful and very encouraging. And yes, sometimes open my door and love on people in my incredibly messy house :). Thanks Erin!!

    • Oh Holly thank you so much for sharing! You are definitely right that the state of our homes can often reflect the state of our hearts, minds and souls and it can be a red flag to let us know something isn’t right on the inside. When little ones are around the house IS going to be untidy and good for you for welcoming people in anyway!

  3. Completely Agree. My house gets picked up in the am before I go to work and in the pm before I go to bed after dinner. I love a clean house. I find it makes some people uncomfortable when they visit but I don’t care. I love seeing my clean home. However it should be noted I only clean clean once a week.

    • A quick clean in the morning and evening is a great way to keep the house in order and only need a weekly deep clean. Good for you!
      A very clean home can be intimidating for some guests but as long as you make them feel welcome they’ll get over it! And a messy home makes some guests uncomfortable, too, so I think it’s best to keep your home in whatever state you enjoy the most. I’m totally with you on loving seeing my home clean!
      Thanks for the comment and stopping by!

  4. Despite how much I love having (and appreciate seeing) a clean home, I have to admit that I am more of a tidier than a cleaner. My dear university roommate can testify that although I often procrastinated by cleaning, I was more often putting things into neat little piles instead.

    I think my value of a clean home comes from my mother, who always had a clean house. She actually would clean everything before bed, because what if she died in the night and someone saw her house unclean? Extreme, but I really do feel a lot better to wake up to cleanliness rather than a mess.

    Considering life in Zimbabwe doesn’t really involve cleaning on my part, I’m actually looking forward to keeping my own home tidy once we’re back in Canada!

    • I’m with you on being more of a tidier than a cleaner—cleaning the tub is pretty low on my priority list. There has to be a balance between having a clean home and making it part of your identity. I can understand where your mom is coming from, but goodness that could be stressful at times!
      Can we have your housekeeper? (though I get why you miss cleaning!)

  5. Agreed! I’m more of a tidier than a cleaner too, though. I like things to look organized and in their place but I’m less concerned about dirt hahah…. good for the immune system 😉 So my tidying happens during the week and deeper cleaning on the weekends when I have more time. What resonated the most for me out of this post was that a clean home actually makes relationships easier to happen…so true!

    • I share your philosophy: if it’s organized, it’s clean (at least until I can get around to really cleaning later).
      I’m glad the part about relationships resonated with you. It’s so important to do anything that makes it easier for us to welcome people into our homes.
      Thanks for the comment!

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