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Beginner’s Guide to Cleaning Part 1: Getting Started

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Beginner’s Guide to Cleaning | Getting Started | Home Management | Cleaning Inspiration | Better Home Ideas | Cleaning Tips

This is Part One of an 8-Part Beginner’s Guide to Cleaning Series. See the overview here.

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Do you want to know the honest truth? I don’t really like to clean.

And unless you are like my sister, the only person I have ever met who seems to have been born with an unnatural love of vacuuming, chances are that you don’t really like to clean either. Honestly there are about a million other things I would rather do than clean my house, and not one of them involve a toilet brush or a mop.

But here’s the thing:  I love living in a clean house.

There's nothing quite as satisfying as a nice, clean kitchen.

While cleaning has not always come naturally to me, I have found that my love of living in a home that is neat and tidy far outweighs my distaste for scrubbing toilets and vacuuming the floors. In fact, I once wrote a whole post about all the reasons I keep my house clean, which included everything from the fact that it just looks better to the reality that I can find the things I need, it saves money, and that I simply get more done when my house is clean. That post has generated a lot of response over the past couple of years, including many requests for a step-by-step guide to keeping your house clean.

Making the bed each morning helps the day go smoothly. Here's my four post bed all made up with white and green linens.

A few years ago I wrote my Beginner’s Guide to Coupons as helpful, baby-steps reference to learning how to save big on groceries by coupons. I then followed that with a Beginner’s Guide to Savings, which is a step-by-step guide to learning how to budget and save. This year, I thought it might be fun to add some new Beginner’s Guides to the mix, starting with this, the Beginner’s Guide to Cleaning.

If you already keep a neat and tidy house, most of what I include in this very basic how-to guide will probably be review for you. In that case, I would love to have you add your own tips and advice to the comment section at the end of each post! On the other hand, if cleaning is a struggle for you, then this guide might feel a little overwhelming at times. Try to take it slow and give yourself grace. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and a lifetime of untidy habits won’t be broken overnight.

But I promise you can do it!

So this week let’s just start with the basics—the why and the when of cleaning. Next week we can worry about the what, and then, for the rest of the series we will focus on the how and the where. Sound good? Alrighty then, let’s get started!

First, the why.  What is the point of neat and tidy house? Why do we even bother, when it is all just going to get messed up anyway? Why do we bother making our bed when we are just going to sleep in it again 12 hours later? Is it really worth stressing over?

Honestly, that answer truly depends on you.

My reasons for keeping a clean and tidy house will not be the same as yours, nor should they be, just because I am calmer, happier, and more productive when my house is clean doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be. That said, if you truly want to be successful in your quest for a clean house, you must first figure out why it even matters to you.

Because let’s face the facts. If a messy house really, truly didn’t bother you at all, you probably wouldn’t have taken the time to click an article called “The Beginner’s Guide to Cleaning.” Right?

Or, maybe a messy house doesn’t necessarily bother you but it does bother your spouse, in which case, making peace in your marriage and finding a way to compromise is what matters most to you. Maybe you are just sick of never being able to find things, or you are tired of being too embarrassed of the mess to invite people over.

Whatever your reason for wanting a clean house, name it.  Take the time to write it down on a piece of paper that you tape to the refrigerator or bathroom mirror, or get a big chalkboard for your living room and write it on there. Remembering YOUR “why” every single day will help motivate you to create new habits.

Printable journal prompt to remind you why keeping a clean house matters to you.

{Get printable worksheet here}

Once have convinced yourself why this matters to you, it is also time to start working on creating a cleaning schedule that works for you. I promise it is much easier than it sounds! In fact you can do in just three easy steps using these free printable templates.

Printable weekly cleaning schedule to help you keep up on the housework.

Part One Assignment

And that’s all there is to do this week! Remember, this is the Beginner’s Guide to Cleaning, which means we will be taking this process one baby step at a time.

Just to review, here is your first assignment:

  • Create your own cleaning schedule using the instructions found here. If you have no idea what kind of cleaning schedule will work for you, just guess for now. You can always change it later.

The LWSL Beginner’s Guide to Cleaning

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Why does a clean house matter to you? What is your biggest cleaning challenge?

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  1. Tracy
    March 4 at 09:38AM

    YAY!!! I am so excited for this series!! My mom was a terrible housekeeper and I feel like I never learned how to clean properly. I don’t want my kids to grow up in the craziness that I grew up with! Can’t wait to get it all figured out!

    • Meghan
      March 4 at 03:31PM

      Ha, my mom always did everything for us and never taught us to do anything for ourselves so I kind of have the opposite experience! I guess I thought houses magically cleaned themselves. My bed was made for me every single day until I went to college and rarely gets made since then. The problem is that since I grew up in a clean house, I WANT one I just was never taught the tools to accomplish it. Now that I am adult, I realize I must be held responsible, but it is truly so hard for me to be disciplined in this area. I am very excited for this series as well!

      • Tsu Dho Nimh
        March 4 at 05:48PM

        Your mom probably thought she was helping you.
        I griped a lot about my parents making me do things, but I knew hopw to cook, clean, sew and fix things around the house which savced me tons of money over the years.

  2. Danielle
    March 4 at 10:17AM

    I read another post of yours that talked about speed cleaning in the morning for 45 minutes. That helped me so much, just being reminded to wake up and get to work. I used to speed clean right before my husband got home, but when my baby grew into a toddler, that seemed impossible. Now I clean what I can right away and I get the momentum I need for the remainder of the day. My husband loves coming home to dishes done and dinner cooking rather than a frazzled wife! Thank you!

  3. Rhonda
    March 4 at 10:48AM

    I’m excited! I always want a clean house but I never seen to be able to keep it clean or even to get the entire house to be clean at the same time 🙂

  4. Linda Sand
    March 4 at 04:24PM

    Step one: move into a right-sized abode. If you have more house than you use you will be cleaning space you don’t use. Why do that?
    Step two: reduce clutter. The less stuff you have to clean, the less time/effort it will take to keep things clean.
    Step three: Do step one from this blog post. 🙂

    • March 5 at 11:15PM

      I totally agree with step two! Keeping my house clutter-free helps ALOT!!!

    • beth m
      March 6 at 07:01AM

      One way I keep things de-cluttered is to have a stylish 3 drawer dresser in my living room that I put each of my 3 kids’ things in that I find throughout the house. Obviously, I prefer the kids put away all of their own things but this is for the times they don’t. This way they are responsible for putting away their own things (or know where to find them) and keeps my house looking tidy.

  5. March 4 at 10:10PM

    Love the pictures. Your house is so uncluttered! I love having a nice clean house, especially if it shows off something that I’ve made or redone. We put hardwood floors in the house — and what a difference it makes! Now, I get out the broom every day because I want my nice floors looking great every day.

  6. Meaghan N.
    March 4 at 10:29PM

    I definitely feel more calm in a clean house. Being able to find what I’m searching for with ease is just….blissful!
    The biggest reform I’ve had to come to terms with since getting married is laundry can’t happen just once a week anymore. I’ve finally come to the realization that our household needs it done EVERY Wed. and Sun. Hard truth that was, but better than spending an eternity on it on precious days off!

    • Meaghan N.
      March 4 at 10:40PM

      Just read the top “10 Reasons…”
      It reminds me of what I love about staying in a hotel or being a guest in someone’s home…that sense of comfort, luxury, enjoying “the process” of a task, like you mentioned cooking. Those attributes I love about being away from home, would do well to be incorporated in my own. Thanks for putting that emotion into words!

  7. I don’t like to clean either. But HOME is the place where I can totally relax myself, and therefore would like to make it clean and comfortable. As a working mom, I sometimes find it extremely difficult to squeeze my time for cleaning. The idea of cleaning schedule sounds fantastic! Thanks for sharing 😀

    • Krista
      March 23 at 05:42PM

      Let me know if you come up with a good routine. I too am a working mom and can’t ever seem to find the extra hours that I need each day.

  8. March 5 at 01:04PM

    I LOVE a clean house. I get so much more done and feel much more relaxed. My issue is that my husband and both of my kids are slobs and they think I am the weirdo for wanting my house clean and organized. My house isn’t dirty, it just isn’t as clean and tidy as I would like. And getting it to that place is stressful for me because it means constantly harping on my husband and kids to keep it clean. Honestly, my husband is the biggest offender. How do you keep a clean house when you live with slobs?

    • Anonymous
      March 21 at 04:30AM

      Veronica, i am with you. My hubby is a (loveable) slob and doesnt see the mess and chaos around him. He is very very laid back and over the years i have told myself that its better to have a happy and relaxed family than a spotless house. I have lived like this for nearly 22 years, and the kids are v happy, well adjusted and fun so i guess it has kinda worked out. Now that they are grown i am trying to take back control of the clutter. Its not easy and i dont have any tips except maybe try a little at a time. And ensure there is actually a place to put things away. Good luck with your house!

  9. amanda
    March 7 at 03:35PM

    What is 15 minute prep? What is this used for? It is on the daily to-dos, so I assume it is important. Thanks for your blog. I find daily inspiration here to be a better person, a great mom and a loving wife. Keep up the good work!

  10. Cyndi Wheeler
    March 8 at 04:29PM

    My mom was an awful housekeeper and so was my dad. I learned on my own but never knew how to make it flow. Most of my adult life I’ve lived in a messy house and these posts have helped me come so far! I have much less stress when you there is a clean floor and no dog hair in everything. Thank you for being here 🙂

  11. March 8 at 10:47PM

    While I love living in a clean house and keeping it clean, what I really need is a post on how to keep the house clean while my kids keep making messes where ever they go. I don’t want to stifle their creativity, but when all the bedding on every bed goes into making “tents” or trains or whatever the chosen game is – every day!! – then you know why I gave up making beds a long time ago.

    Actually, what I need is a guide to teaching my kids to not make messes. Anyone?

    • Anonymous
      March 17 at 09:58AM

      Maybe teach your kids to make their beds and tell them it needs to be done everyday, reward them how you want, if they want to make tents fine but they have to put it back together or the reward is taken away?

      • Anonymous
        April 3 at 11:39PM

        With six kids 8 years and under, we opted to keep it simple by using only the fitted sheet on the bottom and an easily folded fleece or other kind of blanket on the top. There are two children to a bed, and each have their own blanket and are responsible for folding it up each day. Then it’s not a problem if they want to take their blanket and make forts with them or to pull the unused top sheet out of a drawer someplace and use it also for Fort making -since that’s all it’s used for. 🙂 It’s not the prettiest method but it’s neat, tidy, and doable for the little ones. (And keeps a saner Mama.)

  12. Candice
    March 11 at 12:10PM

    Love this post! On an unrelated note…where did you get your bedding??? It is gorgeous!

  13. Erin
    March 11 at 12:33PM

    Your posts and cleaning and organizing have really helped me start to get a handle on the clutter. It can be daunting to think about organizing an entire room or even an entire household, so it helps me to think of everything in very small zones (de-clutter the nightstand, then the dresser, the book shelf, etc.). During the week, when I am busy, I try to keep an eye out for things to drop in the recycle bin and or giveaway box every time I know I will be passing by it. This makes me feel like I am still making progress, even though I am not committing a significant amount of time to organizing during the week while I am working.

    • Anonymous
      March 12 at 09:20AM

      THAT was an EXTREMELY helpful tip Erin. I look at my house & am SO overwhelmed & opt to find things to do, other than clean.

  14. March 12 at 05:08PM

    I love this! I too LOVE having a clean house and having the bed always made. I’m not a neat freak, but if the kitchen is clean and bed is made, house vacuumed it feels like the whole house is cleaned.

  15. March 17 at 09:08AM

    I’ll definitely be following along with this series – I have trouble in the cleaning area. I think my biggest problem is clutter and finding room for everything since we have a pretty small space. The crafting/sewing supplies never have a home and seem to always be all over the place!

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  22. Dana
    September 14 at 12:12PM

    I just found this today and I am SO glad. I was never brought up in a “kept up” house. Not dirty just not picked up and now that I have my own house I am really trying to turn that around but it is a serious shift and thinking and actually really hard! Most of my friends don’t understand that it takes effort and a lot of thought! So thank you for this!! I can’t wait to go through it all and the organizing series and I signed up for the October Challenge too!

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  26. Cindy
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    It stresses me out to have a dirty house. I have been known to take a day of vacation from work in a Friday so I can clean my house-then I can relax and enjoy the test if my weekend. There is nothing better than walking into a tidy house with beds made crisply and the sun shinning thry the windows! & the smell of bleach!

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