Simple Habits for a Clutter Free Home

It’s no secret: I’m a messy person. Actually, I spent the first twenty-something years of my life ignoring that fact. But now that I share my space with someone else full time, I’ve realized that it is, in fact, me.

The most ironic part of it is that I am the first person to be bothered by a messy home. I’ve scoured the internet for tips on how to keep things tidy (for untidy people like me), and I’ve been slowly piecing together some good habits to help keep me sane.

My best practices for a clutter-free home

Obviously, the first and foremost tip I can give is to keep a simple home. If you’re reading this on my blog, you probably could have guessed that. But let’s talk about less conventional rules and habits that I’ve developed to help keep our tiny apartment clean!

 Treat the countertop as sacred space

This one is new-to-me, and actually works so well for me that it prompted me to write this post with other tips. Make it a rule that no dirty dish ever graces your countertop.

We’ve all been there (maybe): all of the dirty dishes piling up on one side of the sink, and then slowly taking over other available counter space. This new rule makes it so that every single dirty dish you bring to the kitchen goes straight into the sink. Is the sink too full? Then it’s time to either wash the dishes or load them into the dishwasher. Or, you can get in the habit of clearing it first thing in the morning or right before bed.

It works especially well for me since it makes the dishes more manageable if I handle them in smaller batches.

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 Make the bed

This one provides an instant boost. I’ve always known that my day seems a little brighter when I make my bed, but it’s not always top-of-mind.

It’s not just me, either: making your bed really can have a huge impact on your day.

Open the blinds

We try to keep as much light out at night, but during the day it’s essential for me to have my curtains pulled open. Natural light is just so pleasant.

Plus, by opening the curtains and blinds, I can more easily see dust. It sounds gross, but it’s way more motivating to clean when I can see the problem areas easily.

Everything gets a home

Yes, everything. If it’s beautiful and you use it often, set it out so that it can add to your decor. If it’s terribly ugly and you never use it…wait why do you have it?

Designate space in your cupboards for things like cleaning supplies or ugly (but useful) cookware. You might even go so far as to giving different groups of spices different homes on the spice rack – just start developing the habit of putting them right back where they belong when you are done.

I even give library books space on my nightstand or bookshelf so that they don’t just float around the apartment haphazardly. It also makes me feel super cool to have interesting books on my shelves – without having to pay for them.

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Make it a pleasurable experience

Find ways to make your cleaning habits more enjoyable. Have dusting rags in your favorite color, pick a wonderful scent for your cleaning product, splurge on durable and reliable tools to help you clean.

Right now, our dustpan is held together by masking tape and it makes me cringe every time I have to use it. So in the near future, I’ll be getting a dust pan that won’t snap immediately when I use it. We also splurged on a Swiffer WetJet and we ended up using it way more often than the shoddy mop we had initially purchased.

Basically, don’t skimp on tools if the better version will make cleaning more pleasurable (or at least more tolerable).

And now, for something completely different

This one is going to come as a bit of a surprise. While it’s not a regular habit, I do think there’s something to it for those of us who find our homes regularly cluttered: redecorate.

 

Don’t be afraid to switch things up, add things or remove things to make your space feel more intentional. It’s okay to style a bookshelf with pretty things that bring you joy if that means you keep other random (and unhappy) clutter from gathering there.

If you’re not intentional with your space, your things (no matter how few you have) will start to take control. I’ve been working on being more purposeful in my design and layout of the apartment, and that’s been a huge help in managing the flow of “stuff” through our home.

Are you messy like me? What are your favorite cleaning or decluttering habits?

 

Giving in on Storage

We hear it every day. People complaining about a lack of storage and advertisers telling us that we need more. Why? Because we tend to pack things away and keep them, even when there’s no longer reason to.

That’s one of the big, exciting challenges I set out for my husband and I when we moved to Los Angeles earlier this year. I didn’t want to just get storage containers and fill them up again after all the work we did getting rid of things.

But this weekend, I caved. We went to IKEA (which is a wonderful and yet dangerous place when it comes to impulse buying). We purchased plastic tubs, a dresser, shoe rack, baskets…we also bought a giant plant and a wok for some reason, but they’ve been on our “wish list” for a while so it wasn’t too bad.

But we have a huge closet and a built in dresser – why did we need storage? I’ll tell you – from firsthand experience – nothing is always as it seems.

And by that, I mean there are cockroaches in Los Angeles.

The curve ball

We really haven’t had too much of a cockroach problem, but here’s a little story that will make your skin crawl (and might make you might think I’m gross).

A couple months ago, I noticed something that looked like cockroach poop in one of my clothes drawers. I decided to blindly move forward, not accepting the notion that a cockroach could be living among my clothes.

A month later, I finally faced my fear and went through the drawer. Sure enough, there was a spooky little guy scampering around in my unmentionables like it was just another typical day.

[Insert freak out and nightmares about cockroaches. I didn’t calm down for a while after this incident.]

I took all my clothes out of the built-ins and lived out of a suitcase for a month. We talked about it, planned for it, and waited until we knew we needed enough to warrant an IKEA run. Here’s what we got and why we got them:

  • Dresser – to hopefully never find a cockroach in my underwear drawer again
  • TV Stand – to support the long-awaited TV. My husband has been really patient for almost 6 months without a TV, so we took the plunge this weekend.
  • Plastic bins – the rabbit hay and food is also susceptible to cockroaches, and I really don’t want to serve them bugs for breakfast. Rory had the fortune of meeting a cockroach and he threw his hay box at it. He does not like.
  • A “paper-hider” – being a grown person means having a weirdly large amount of paperwork. We got a small bin to organize/hide it all. It’s about time to go through them again and get rid of what we no longer need.
  • A giant plant – I’m giving plant caretaking a go. It’s a Dracaena Marginata, which makes it sound like a Game of Thrones character

    Our new Dracaena Marginata next to my desk. I also switched rugs and furniture around this weekend, as I am prone to do.

    Our new Dracaena Marginata next to my desk. I also switched rugs and furniture around this weekend, as I am prone to do.

Simplify before organize, but still organize

These past couple of months I’ve started to realize that simplifying and organizing are not as mutually exclusive as I thought. I wrongly considered organizing a weak substitute for actually making a change and simplifying.

But when you live simply, you still have ugly things like guitar cords and rabbit food that need proper places in your home. Don’t be afraid to get storage to solve pain points, but don’t use storage as a band-aid to avoid necessary simplification.

I think I’m starting to see the benefits of strategic storage. How about you – is storage your friend or your enemy?