Inside: Tips and suggestions for how to get motivated to clean when you feel totally overwhelmed by mess.
If you have ever been faced with a messy house in desperate need of a cleaning, then you know the feeling of being overwhelmed, not knowing where to start, as everything needs your attention.
Soon you are overcome with thoughts of how difficult it will be to tidy, dust, vacuum and otherwise make your home spotless (or heck, even just picked up), and you become frozen in a state of inaction.
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Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to help put the sparkle back in your home even when you don’t feel like getting off of the couch.
Below are some tips to get you started cleaning, at least for a little while.
How to Get Motivated to Clean
Sometimes cleaning overwhelms us because we think it should be easy, or because other people can do it better or faster than us (stop comparing)!
We think we should be able to get the house tidy and spotless in half an hour, and when it doesn’t work out that way we lose our steam, our drive, our motivation to clean, as a new wave of disappointment and overwhelm seeps back in.
You must realize truly cleaning your home takes time so plan for it.
A modest 3-bedroom home takes about 3 hours to clean properly with a normal mess in it; if your home is larger or smaller you can adjust the time from that three-hours.
Knowing how long it will take to clean it well, begin to break down the tasks piece-meal so you can find the motivation to keep going. Below are several great ways to get your house clean without getting overwhelmed.
Clean in Bite-Size Chunks
If you can’t commit to a 3-hour clean (how many of us with busy lives really can spend three hours cleaning in a single day?), then the bite-sized cleaning method may work better for you.
Choose a period of time such as a day or a week, and plan to have the house clean by the end of that time frame.
Break up the 3-hour total clean time into manageable 15-minute chunks of tasks that you can complete easily during your day.
These short cleaning tasks could be:
- Load or unload the dishwasher
- Tackle the clutter on the table or in that one closet bugging you
- Scrub the toilets
- Dust the ceiling fans and lights
- Clean off and wipe down your bathroom sink
- Scrub all the pots and pans
- Wipe down all the tables, counters, and chairs
- Pick up all the odds and ends in one room and put away
- Put in a load of laundry and put it away
The only challenge to this method is keeping areas clean after you have finished with them.
Set a Cleaning Timer
If you don’t want to break-down all the cleaning tasks in your home in detail, but just want to clean stuff, tell yourself you’ll just clean for 15 minutes, or 20 minutes, or 30 minutes.
A lot of times, you’ll find yourself cleaning longer because the timer goes off during a song you like, or you are in the middle of a job you just have to finish.
Alternatives to a true timer alarm might include this next idea:
Commercial Cleaning Breaks
Do “Commercial Cleaning” where you get up and run and do one or two things while the commercials are on, then come back and zone out in front of the TV again once the commercials have ended.
Of course, this is harder to do if you are watching streaming services that don’t have commercial breaks.
To make the commercial cleaning periods more focused, it helps to make a list so you don’t forget what you need to accomplish during those 1-2 minute spurts of time.
Pick the one thing that you see that is out and bugging you. Go put that away.
Once you are up and cleaning or organizing one thing, chances are you’ll find yourself putting away another thing, or wiping down another surface (totally If You Give a Mouse a Cookie style). Keep going until you tired out.
Sometimes the idea that you *have* to clean for a full 15-minutes is too much for you to get up and do it. But, knowing you can sit down anytime after you put away that one item can be enough motivation to get you up to start!
If you are more ambitious, you can up the number for yourself, setting it to say six items to put away.
Just make it totally easy and totally doable. Start small.
When it comes to to-lists, they can be a bit overrated (see how to toss the to-do list but still get a ton done). But, when you make a decision to clean, and set a time and date to do it, honor yourself by keeping your own commitments to yourself.
Honor your own time and home by keeping your own goals.
It will feel amazing when you do it, when you keep your own promises to yourself. It will give you a huge confidence boost.
Clean When You’re Most Energized
I know, using your energy on cleaning doesn’t sound like the most fun, but it’s easier to do it then!
Maybe that’s in the morning right after your cup of coffee or morning workout or after seeing the kids off to school.
Whenever you have the best attitude and energy is the perfect opportunity to get down to business cleaning the ‘ole house.
Reward Yourself for Cleaning
If you hate cleaning, sometimes it helps to associate positive rewards with the time you spend cleaning.
This could mean you watch your favorite guilty pleasure show as you fold and sort the laundry, or listen to a new audiobook or podcast, or blast your favorite music on full volume and sing at the top of your lungs as you clean or do the laundry or wash the dishes.
This is associating positive things with negative actions in order to eventually start looking forward to these mundane cleaning routines and activities (totally something mentioned in the amazing book “Atomic Habits” which I highly recommend to everyone).
Clean to Music
Tapping out the beat, whistling along, singing the parts of the lyrics you know, and swaying those hips keeps you moving, keeps you going, keeps you motivated to clean away!
Or, you can always try one or more of these cleaning games, especially if you want to get kids motivated to clean too.
Invite Someone Over
I swear, there isn’t any bigger motivator to me, and so many others, to get cleaning and picking up than knowing that someone is coming over.
I don’t want them to use my nasty bathroom, or not have a place to sit.
With someone on the way at a certain date and time, you know there is a deadline. Deadlines are great at getting you motivated to clean enough before they arrive
And, even if you live in an apartment, I still encourage you to invite people over. Whether it’s a family member or friend, it’s always good to clean before their arrival in order to be a better host.
Take Before and After Pictures
Take a picture of the area you’re going to clean beforehand.
There’s so much gratification that comes from seeing the before and afters. You can even share these online, like in cleaning groups. They can be highly motivating for yourself and for others to see!
Join a Cleaning Challenge or Group
Competition and group support can be huge motivators.
The key to this being successful though is to not throw in the towel when you skipped a day or two of the challenge. Just pick up with the next day’s challenge and keep moving forward.
Come join my cleaning Facebook group and join with others like you looking for motivation to clean.
Watch Cleaning Videos on Youtube for Inspiration
A couple of people said they get inspired to clean their house after watching other people clean theirs on Youtube!
If you want some great channels for cleaning your house as well as just house cleaning tips, be sure to check out the following recommended channels:
- What’s up Fagans?
- Beauty and the Beastons
- This Crazy Life
- Amy Darley
- Karla’s Sweet Life
- How Clean is Your House
- Clean My Space
Someone says she doesn’t watch Youtube cleaning videos, but she instead sets up her tripod and phone, presses record, and pretends she’s filming a Youtube video!
Something about talking to your phone like you’re doing a live video really gets her energized and motivated to clean. She deletes them afterwards, but you can keep or share as you want.
Rage cleaning, or angry cleaning, is totally a thing that can motivate you to clean.
I don’t recommend this as a regular motivator, however, unless your anger is directed solely at the mess and mayhem, instead of the people you live with. We want healthy motivation to clean here as much as possible.
Hire Some Help to Clean Your House
If you truly are struggling to keep your home clean, you may want to consider hiring some outside help, even if it’s only a one-time cleaning job, or only to clean your carpets.
You can often find affordable deals on cleaning services through places like Groupon.
Although it will cost a bit of money to have someone come in and clean your home, you will be able to rest assured knowing that all of the nooks and crannies have been dusted and polished; all without you having to lift a finger.
If a regular cleaner simply isn’t in your budget, consider having someone come in at least once a month to lighten your load and motivate you for the rest of the month.
I know my mother-in-law and many others always felt motivated to clean up before their maids arrived, as backward as that sounds.
Above all else, the key to cleaning your home and keeping it clean is having a sense of pride about your environment.
Although you may be motivated to clean when guests are coming, it is more important to want to have a clean home for you and your family every day. Treat your home with the respect it deserves and see if you don’t enjoy the peaceful environment that you have created.
For more cleaning tips and tutorials, check out these posts:
- Speed Clean the Deep Clean: A Collection of Time-Saving Cleaning Tutorials and Tips for Busy Moms (ebook)
- 9 Ways to Speed Up Your Everyday Cleaning Routine
- 11 Daily Habits That Keep Your House Clean with Kids
- Secrets to a Clean Home
- 16 Smart Things to Do Before Vacation So You Don’t Dread Coming Back
- Simple & Practical Apartment Organization Ideas and Storage Solutions
- How to Clean Pretty Much Everything