10 Steps To A Cleaner House, part 1

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Doing a few things differently around the home can save a lot of time and reduce the need to clean as much! Here are 10 easy ideas about How To Have A Cleaner House!

10 Steps To A Cleaner House - How To Clean House And Prevent Messes

10 Steps To A Cleaner House: Preventing Messes

There really is some truth in the old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. We may say that all the time but do we really know what it means and even more importantly — do we practice it?

There are so many times in our daily living if we would take one or two extra minutes to prevent or fix a problem, no matter how big a hurry we are in, it will save 30 minutes or more dealing with that same problem at a later time.

Little things like wiping that sticky spill you make on the counter immediately with a rag instead of waiting until later when you have to chisel off the mess can make your life so much easier.

Try these suggestions for preventing headaches later. They may sound like common sense, but it’s amazingly easy to throw them all out the window when we’re “busy”. These all may seem like little things, but they add up over the course of a day. Staying ahead of things can keep your home looking neater and make your whole day run smoother, saving you time and energy.

  1. Use a spoon rest. Even a small saucer or dish works. Its is easier to wash one dish than to try and scrape 5 or more spots on the stove or counter where you kept laying the spoon.
  2. Make and cut sandwiches on the plate you are going to eat them off of to prevent messes on the counter (or cut bread on a bread board instead of the counter).
  3. Rinse dirty dishes right away. I couldn’t figure out why I see so many people fill their sinks full of hot soapy water and vigorously scrub them before putting them in the dishwasher. Then it dawned on me that since they aren’t rinsing them immediately after using them they have to scrub them before putting them in the dishwasher. Why even bother with a dishwasher then?
  4. Empty the trash before it is too full. Too many of us wait until the trash is stuffed and overflowing. Then you put something in the trash and it won’t fit, so you stuff it in there. If someone less patient or less responsible throws something in the trash and it falls on the floor, they leave it. It’s not their problem. Soon you have trash piled everywhere.

    Then along comes the “trash emptier person” (That’s a new term I made up — like it? 😉 trying to step around trash to get close enough to the trash can to empty it. This person then proceeds to stuff, push, pull and stretch until everything is squeezed into the one bag to avoid making two trips. What happens next? Of course the bag splits open or gets dumped in the process of stuffing it. This happens all the time. I know because if it didn’t they wouldn’t have invented “Hefty, Hefty, Hefty.” If you’re a “stuffer” you’ve probably experienced this personally.

    How much easier would it have been to take a moment to take it out before it was overflowing? Most of us have done this because when we don’t want to mess with it we convince ourselves that it is easier than having to make an extra trip to the trash can, but it isn’t.

  1. Eat only in the kitchen or dining room. Don’t allow family members to drag food all over the house. I don’t think we realize how much of a mess we make when we eat all over the house. Besides the crumbs and spills, eating away from the table usually means that people leave empty wrappers, cans and containers all over. And don’t forget about the sticky rings and spots all over the furniture.

    I like to eat while watching TV. We all do. That’s OK, but try to keep it under control. Have the kids eat their after school snacks at the table or if you want to let them watch TV, then put a small table in the family room where they can eat their snacks.

    Make sure that all extra messy and crumbly items (like crackers) are eaten at the table. Leave the less messy things for the family room or bedroom.

You may find that it doesn’t work well for you to use all of these specific examples. The point is to try and think of something different you can do that will work for you. Every little thing that you can do to make your home function better will make your life easier.


For more easy cleaning tips to make your life easier, check out our Keeping It Clean e-books.

Read Part 2 of “10 Steps To A Cleaner House: Preventing Messes” here.


  1. Anonymous says

    I have a great idea for those dining table messes. I use old cloth diapers as placemats. I had my kids draw all over them with fabric paint to take the “diaper” look out of them. Now when someone spills, it’s very easy to clean up.

  2. Anonymous says

    I agree 100% with everything you said, except: rinsing dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.
    Dishwashers today are made to wash off the remains of food left on dishes. If the remains are large or you are not going to run the dishwasher for a couple of days, use a rubber spatula to scrape the remains off into the garbage. This is especially helpful in areas, like in my SW Florida area, where we are under a severe water shortage. Bellen

    • Dee Rhodes says

      I have a new dishwasher and if I didn’t rinse my dishes a lot of stuff would still be on them. I have had many have to be washed afterwards that did not come clean because the food was just stuck on them too hard. This is especially important if you don’t run your dishwasher everyday.

  3. harriet says

    I don’t rinse dishes at all and my dishwasher always gets them clean.

    Secondly, I always use black lawn and leaf bags in my kitchen garbage instead of kitchen bags. That was they can be overstuffed, but they never, ever break. I buy them in bulk so they’re really not very expensive, and it’s worth it to me not to have to clean up split trash bags.

  4. says

    Re:10 steps to a cleaner house. It seems like common sense. I guess some folks just need to be told. Keep letting everyone know how great it is to be “unencumbered” in all things.

  5. Judy Nelson says

    I read somewhere that the dishes aren’t done until the kitchen is clean and ready for the next meal to be prepared. THis makes sense because you are trying to run a safe and sanitary kitchen and you must clean the services before you can start another meal. If you leave dishes and food on the counters, there is no room to start the next meal when the time comes to do that. It is kindof a duh thing.

    • says

      This is true Judy. I also have written that one one of the main things in keeping a house clean is to be sure to follow through on a job. For example don’t just wash the clothes and dry them but finish the job by folding them and putting them away. Dinner isn’t done until the last dish has been washed and the table and counter cleaned.

  6. Sarah V says

    How do you encourage your spouse to take a few extra seconds to do these things without seeming like a “nag”?

    • says

      Sarah we get this question so often I really need to write an article on it because I don’t have room to answer it all here but here are a couple of things you might try. Talk to your husband some time when he is well feed and rested and ask him what would help him to remember to do things and see if he can come up with some suggestions that way it isn’t you nagging but his ideas. Also teenage boys and men seem to do better if you write a list of things you need for them to do. It is that visual thing they have. Be sure to go into details on the list too. Don’t just say clean counter but say put all your lunch fixings away and wipe counter etc. Hope this helps for the moment. Will try to write more on it later.

  7. Savvymama says

    I will fill the dishwasher and run it under full load just so I don’t have dishes sitting in my sink. I also don’t rinse my dishes in the sink but in the dishwasher. I read somewhere that using the rinse cycle uses much less hot water. I also make up a bucket of hot soapy water for almost every meal. This gets used to wash kids up and then to wipe up any messes. With three kids four and under washing hands is a must or I end up with grimy hand prints everywhere.

  8. Dee says

    To me dishwashers are not a time saving thing ;not to mention they waste water and electricity,even the “new” ones. If I have to rinse,why not just get a sink full and wash dishes. I am always having to wipe stove and cabinets not to mention some pots and pans require hand washing from stuck on food or what they are made of.

  9. Jennifer says

    Aah, the spoon rest! Guess where mine is? In the utensil drawer! I’m getting it out right now to put on the stove after I cean up the half-dozen spots. Thanks for the reminder. :)

    • says

      You sound like me Jennifer. Had to laugh at your comment. It took me years to finally figure out to make my life easier by using a spoon rest.

  10. Grizzly Bear Mom says

    I’m all for conserving God’s resources. If you want you can rinse dishes over the dishpan, and use the caught water to rince the subsequent dishes. Than I pour it in a bucket and use it to flush the toilet.

    • Stacey says

      How cool is that; I am in Colorado as well. Welcome to one of the most gorgeous states in the country. I admit it, I don’t own a spoon rest, but am thinking I need to get me one. Just tonight in fact, I was flustered over the dried on ucky stuff on the stove from where I cooked dinner. I had never realized how rice goo could become rice glue in a matter of minutes…sheesh. lol.

  11. Bea says

    These ideas are so good and practical. Jill you have a great mind. You always inspire me and I have learned so much from you. I’m truly grateful.

  12. Deana says

    I agree that dinner isn’t done until the dishes are done as well. Getting up and walking into a clean kitchen just starts my day right. If my dishwasher isn’t full I can always find a tea pot or something in the kitchen that stays out on the counter that needs to be washed, so in it goes. This way I always run a full load and I don’t have to spend a whole day cleaning all the little thing that stay out.

  13. Linda Cabler says

    I always use my dishwasher. I wait until it is a full load before I use it however. I feel that the extremely hot water is far better at removing grease and germs from the dishes than you could achieve by hand washing them. I do not have to rinse my dishes prior to washing them in the dishwasher. I just scrape the food off with a spatula first.

  14. Sherry says

    I also don’t rinse before using my dishwasher and I always run it full. If I have any empty spots, I fill them up with anything that is dishwasher safe from around the house. Canister lids, ceiling light shades, knick-knacks, pet bowls, etc. It uses the full potential of the dishwasher and makes cleaning the rest of the house easier.

  15. Sheri says

    I remember reading in a book, (I think it was Messies Anonymous)about the hamper that was never full, but it was piled high with dirty clothes. What to do? Take the top off! Then everything lands IN the hamper! It really works! I would recommend reading that book. It has more very practical cleaning and organizing advice.

    I think the best use of the dishwasher is to hold and rinse the dishes I just washed. It’s bigger than my dish drainer and I don’t have to do a balancing act to let those things drain and dry.

    • says

      You might have read it on our web site because I talk about the same thing Sher. When I was first married my husband would through his clothes always at the hamper but never put them in until we went to visit his parents. I found out he had not lid on his hamper growing up so I just took the lid off of ours and he got the clothes in there every time from then on out.

  16. nancie says

    For dirty laundry I used 3 rectangle plastic kitchen trash cans White, other and dark. We would sort our dirty clothes as we tossed it in…whites, lights and dark were my choice. Then I could take a full can and go do laundry. I hated having the sorted piles all over the bathroom floor sometimes for 2 days or more. Now the 3 bag hamper has been invented! I now use the 3 separate bags (white, light and dark). Some hampers come fastened together so I have bought 3 mesh laundry bags for my friends to pin or clip in each compartment for ease of lifting out to take to the machine.

  17. Donna Friend says

    Love this artcle, enjoy being inspired to keep a cleaner place.I take an empty laundry detergent bottle, use a utility knife and cut off the top where the spout is,then I use the bottom part for my toilette brush as a holder.It smells nice, easy to clean & easy to replace when it gets too rough.

  18. Paula says

    Hubby broke my spoon rest….Still don’t know how (he never uses it!), so I improvised! Coffee can plastic lids are a perfect spoon rest (cheap too!!!)…. I also use them as coasters for his water bottle on the nightstand….BEST of all…they’re UNBREAKABLE!!!! Thanks for all the GREAT tips!!!

  19. Cocoa says

    I sometimes save the lids from pasta sauce jars and use them as spoon rests. I keep a few in the drawer near the stove and the one on the other side of the counter. They take up less room than a traditional “spoon rest” and can be tossed in the dishwasher as well. I also feel like I am keeping a little more out of the landfills.

  20. Maggie says

    My husband has been helping with the dishwasher since he retired. Before this, he never did anything with it. Now he will put his breakfast and lunch dishes in there and if it is full, he will turn it on. The only thing is – he will empty the bottom rack and leave everything still in the top. He says it is because it has the plastic containers I use for my lunch or storing leftovers and he doesn’t know where they go. I said just look around and if it looks similar put it there. Between you and me, I think it is because there is usually a lot of items there and he just doesn’t want to mess with them. But from where he was to what he is doing now, I am happy. And if I keep working, who knows where this will go. :) Laundry??? I did get him to use a spoon rest – finally- since I got one from Lss Vegas where we went for a Feb vacation. He likes it so is now using it. Less mess is good.

  21. says

    I wondered what kind of people do not empty the rubbish every day? Empty the rubbish from every room in the house every evening when you are tidying up after the evening meal, or at least your own evening meal. You would not go to bed with make up on your face because of the damage it might cause; so you not go to bed with rubbish inside the house for the same reason. Bacteria, viruses, fungi, ants, cockroaches, flies, … the list goes on. These can all be doing damage in your home while you sleep and there are many hours of it.

  22. chris gane says

    Hi. I am a working mum of 6 children with a helpful husband, from Tasmania, Australia. It is really great to read your hints and all the encouraging comments and feel part of a worldwide community who feel that running a home well is a worthwhile achievement. Thankyou for your encouragement. Somehow it is not a sexy or powerful conversation topic in general, so it is marvellous to find a ‘secret [or not so secret] society’ who celebrate all things domestic in such a happy and helpful way. Well done and thanks and looking forward to more :)

    • says

      So tickled to have another Australian reader. As I have told some other readers I am crazy about Australia and England, Scotland, Canada and New Zealand etc. anyway I read mostly books that are set in those areas. So love having you as a reader. It is so much fun to learning how you do things in your area – how we are different and alike in things. I have been on a craze this past week of hitting quilting and embroidery web sites that are in Australia so I do love you guys.

  23. Rhea Bell says

    Tawra & Jill,
    We agree wholeheartedly with your list for a cleaner House.
    We’ve always believed, even when our kids were young, that if everyone picked up after themselves, it was much easier to have a clean, organized home.
    One extra thought, we have small waste baskets in bedrooms and bathrooms, but NONE in Kitchen. We keep a
    plastic bag in the sink and take it out to trash after EVERY meal.
    At night, we empty all waste baskets to take outside to Trash barrel.

  24. halleycomet says

    Love the metal jar lid idea! I used to use a glass kitchen square–the sort you put under your messy jars etc–inbetween the burners of the stove. Worked great AND you could put a plate or hot pot down on it with no worries. After cooking you just wiped it down or rinsed it in the sink.

    Now I have a different stove and it just won’t fit! And since I have a very small kitchen and am handicapped my mobility confines me to the stove area for a lot of cooking. But the metal lids could withstand a pot as long as it was centered or held on to and also true for plates etc.

    Thanks for a great idea!

    Now—anyone have an idea for those annoying shallow gas stove burners that refuse to SIT in their little spaces—and REFUSE to allow the use of an under burner liner? Driving me up the wall! As soon as you touch a pot the darn things shift and a few times pots have been at a dangerous angle. I looked at a lot of NEW stoves (mine was used and an emergency purchase when my old one caught fire) and these things are on LOTS of stoves so I cannot be the ONLY person being affected by this!

  25. Heidi M says

    We don’t have a dishwasher and I am raising 9 children..5 still home. I tell folks I have 5 dishwashers! Anyway, Fill sink or dishpan with water (can be soapy) before dinner. Ask each person to clear their own place by putting dirty dishes in water.then, just pull them out when it is time to do the dishes, refill with hot soapy water and your dishes are pre-rinsed. Remember to fill your cooking pots and pans with water before you sit down to eat and they will be easy to clean afterwards.

    • Barbara says

      I had a housefull of ‘dish washers’ too! Everyone had their assigned chores and hand washing dishes after each meal was just the way we did things. It is fast and dishes do not pile up.
      Even with fewer children in the house now we still do that. I have some older teens from outside the family living here now also and they pitch in and wash the dishes. We have been in this house 20 years and have never used the dishwasher that came with the house. I love all my ‘home made’ dish washers!! Or should that be “home maid’ :)

  26. Michelle says

    I love all of the fabulous ideas and tips on your website! I learned this tip from my grandmother and thought to share it. When peeling potatoes, FIRST line your sink with a plastic bag (I cut it along both sides to open it up). This makes for a quick clean-up and keeps peelings from going in to the drain.

  27. Heidi M says

    Yes, Michelle..or line sink with a piece of newspaper and the whole thing can go into your compost.

  28. says

    My aunt taught her older kids to eat crumbly or drippy snacks over the kitchen sink. That way if there were messes it was in the sink and could easily be washed down. I picked this up in their home and, since I figured largely on the kitchen crew in my family’s home at that time, I thought it was a great idea. 😉

  29. Gabrielle Miller says

    My daughter sent me scrubs. Tops and bottoms bought in a 2nd hand store. Grd kids picked them out. Very pretty. I’m not in the med field. My SIL is. Some were his. They wash easy, wear like iron, don’t take up space in a travel bag. They are good to sleep in or wear at home for daily chores. I’m not a fashionista. My “uniform” is tshirts and sweatpants. I’m clean and comfy, don’t care what I look like. I also wear scrub tops at my work. I work in a copper mine. So work clothing is not regimented. Has to pass safety regs is all. Don’t take up much space in closet either. Better if received as a gift.

  30. says

    From England a tip I found useful when my h.m soup has stuck to the bottom of the saucepan whilst cooking: To clean it, put in about 1″ depth of hot water, sprinkle in a dollop of washing powder (for the automatic washing machine) dissolve the powder and leave to soak overnight. Washes off easily the next morning.
    This works too with any burned-on cooking in saucepans.
    Hope this helps

    • says

      Nicky you are so right this does work great. I have said it before but will say it again I do get so tickled to hear for our English readers. Thanks for popping in.

    • barbs says

      my mom taught us that if you burn something on a pan or pot just put some water and heat it on the stove for a few minutes and it easy to clean after….

  31. Teresa says

    Thanks for all your ideas. Here is one I would like to share. We use the plastic bags from the stores as our kitchen garbage bags. We hook it over a door knob in the kitchen, then it is easy to grab it, tie it up and throw it in the trash outside when it is full. If it is not full, we make sure to take it out every night and replace it. It is really easy to get rid of the trash in a hurry when needed, like company coming over, etc. It also allows the garbage to be double bagged, which helps keep the larger bags from breaking. If they do happen to break, the clean up is easier.

    • getforfree says

      I use grocery bags for my trash too. I specifically bought small trash cans to fit them. I also hang a bag over the drawer knob in the kitchen for the recycle trash. I have the smallest outside trash can that is available to save on the trash bill, and it’s never even full. I also double bag my kitchen trash because I noticed that in some stores the bags get thinner and thinner every month or so. I never pay for the trash bags.

  32. Kay Fitzgerald says

    Years ago, we bought a house that had new (to me) toys, including a dishwasher. I found that colds were not going through the family like before (the dishwasher). So, even now, when I am the only one dirtying the dishes, I use the dishwasher. Sometimes it takes most of the week to fill up, but that’s OK. You do need more dishes, though. If necessary, I give them a quick rinse right after eating, and into the DW they go!

  33. Barbara says

    I get the bags from the store and fold then up and put them in a store bought small bag holder. I uise them to line the cans in each room. The veggie bags I fold up and put in my Service Dogs Vest to pick up her dumpies, always handy! I had one huge bad this year that I was able put my duvet in 2 days ago for storage. I also keep some in the car in the trunk for odds and ends.

  34. Mary Jane says

    For years, I have kept a covered pail or canister ( an ice-cream pail will work), near the kitchen sink, to keep compostable food scraps, coffee grounds, egg shells or vegetable peelings in. Use throughout the day and keep the lid on it. After the dinner dishes are cleaned up, take the contents of the bucket out to your chickens or the compost heap. Wash the pail, and you’re ready for the next day. We burn all paper in our wood stove, and sort the tin, glass, and pop cans in large bins, and take them to town to recycle when we go on our next trip. Between the compost bucket and the paper burning, we have very little garbage to take care of.

  35. says

    I have the trash can problem going on at my house! I finally realized that, hello, our two person trash can was just not big enough for our growing family! So, it was Dear John to the wastebasket, Hello handsome big stud (at least that is the plan.) Moms, let’s make it easy for ourselves!

  36. Magdalen says

    You recently published your cleaning routine, Tawra which looked useful. As i was busy, I gave it a quick look but now can’t find it. Please tell me where to look.

    • says

      Magdalen we have so many cleaning and organizing posts I’m not sure which one you mean. Here is one you could try and if it isn’t the one you might search under cleaning on our web page and see if you can find it. I’m sorry but we just have so many but you might try this one.

      Speed Cleaning Your home

  37. Sasha says

    I have recently been diagnosed with ADD which comes with a number of difficulties but s clean house is my toughest challenge. It was awful and embarrassing.

    What worked for me was taking on the Zero Waste Home concept (google it).

    I basically cleared my house and its surface of every piece of junk and clutter and it has made life much easier. I highly recommend the system to any chronic messy home sufferers who feel at wits end.

    Another thing that helped was treating myself to some luxury cleaning products like rise ironing water and detergent and scented diffusers. Ironing is now enjoyable aromatherapy! It makes me take pride in my home and want to keep my things nice.

    And lastly I set an alarm to prompt me to begin getting dinner ready at 3pm daily so it’s ready to pop in the oven for in time for my partner’s arrival. This prevents cooking up a storm under pressure of a deadline then being exhausted afterwards and facing a bomb zone kitchen mess in the evening which is easy to only half do til morning…

    And lastly, reward yourself with a cup of tea after a task is done.

    I love this site I’ve just discovered and I’m really enjoying browsing your tips. Please keep them coming.

  38. Mary Jane says

    Just read this post again, and am intrigued by the Trash-can Emptier Person. Is that person by any chance related to me? At my house, despite having a husband and four kids, I alone possessed the secret knowledge and power to change the toilet paper roll…even if a new roll was sitting next to the nearly empty holder. Paper rolls would pile up around and even on top of the simple dowel that had a spring mechanism, that was actually designed to hold the vital supply. No fancy mechanisms, no covers, no screw drivers or wrenches needed. It was apparently a super power that was required to accomplish this task, and I alone have it.

  39. Tommie Ellis says

    Mary Jane, I am so happy to know there is another person who has a doctoral degree in toilet tissue . I really used to think I was the smartest person in the world because I could put new rolls of tissue on. Funny!!!!!!!! Regarding kids eating all over the house—-try letting them eat a snack in the living room while watching tv with friends (or similar activity). If they make a mess (especially if deliberate)) make them clean the mess and back to the kitchen they go. They will get the message that they aren’t allowed to be messy pigs and nobody wants to clean up after them. Tommie

  40. grizzly bear mom says

    because dishwashers heat water to a high temperature than hand washers can stand, they disinfect better than hand washing. They also used less water. If mine worked, I would use it for that reason alone. Also, why work is the dishwasher will do it for me?

    • says

      Dishwashers do heat hotter but unless you have a newer one that sanitizes most germs and bacteria are not killed by even very hot water. That is why you need to add soap to a dish washer because the soap does the job.

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