How to Clean your house Yet Keep Your Sanity

Everyone has a different way of cleaning house unless you are just starting out on your own then you may need a little advice. It is especially hard for those of you who are relatively newlyweds and are starting a family. Things can get overwhelming at times when you are no longer just taking care of yourself. It also depends on what you were like as a single person. Were you the one that kept everything so neat that your friends were afraid to touch anything or were you the one that had to wade through the clothes on the floor to get to the bathroom? If you are anything like me I fell somewhere in the middle of those two extremes. Half of my full size bed was covered in clothes, never on the floor; after all I only slept on one side of the bed. The dishes could always wait until later and the bathroom got cleaned once a week. The fridge was always questionable.

I roomed with my brother and his roomie for awhile after college and got a taste of the kind of men I did not want to be married to. I actually did not know if I was going to make it out alive in that living situation. I just knew if the salmonella didn’t get me that some evil crawling insect or vermin would get me while I slept. The first time I was awakened by the roomie handing me a can of Raid screaming “roach attack” in the middle of the night I became just a tad bit concerned. Not to mention the dirty pots and pans I discovered hiding under the sink. I shudder when I speak of it but to spare you all I will not continue this vein of thinking.

Another thing that taught me quite a lot during this living adventure was how I would do the laundry in the future. The experience I had during this time in my life really made an impact on me. I ha
d literally never seen a mountain of laundry such as I witnessed here. They did not own a washer and dryer so it was off to the laundry mat and they were the executive type and refused to stoop so low. They previously had been taking it to someone to “do” for them. Before I knew what I was getting into I told them that I would do their laundry when I went to do mine, for pay of course, after all I had seen the piles. The local laundry mat was a colorful place where you sometimes had to compete for a dryer. Some of these women were veterans too so you had to keep your wits about you.

I would show up there with three or four large black trash sacks of clothes and immediately I would become arch enemy number one in the laundry mat circle. Have you ever spent six to eight hours in a laundry mat? You might be thinking I’m some kind of an idiot about this time but they were paying me good money, not to mention my rule number one when doing someone else’s laundry. If there is money in your pockets it is mine. They agreed. You may think that would not add up to very much but you would be wrong. You see, I went on Sunday afternoons for a reason. My two roomies would go out partying on Friday and Saturday nights and come home just a wee bit inebriated, strip off their clothes and fall into bed. They never checked their pockets and probably did not even remember how much money they had spent or had left over. This is where my motivation came from.

Now before you think that I am being cruel or heartless remember they knew the rules. I even felt bad the first couple of times and offered them their money back. They were just out of college and it was the early eighties and they were banking some coin compared to where they had just came from in the dorms so they told me to keep it. Besides the fact that coming out of my room was like going into a war zone of debris and I did my best to clean. I felt I deserved my profits from their pockets. Some weeks I hit the proverbial mother load and came out over a hundred dollars richer! I was just starting out so this helped me out quite a bit.

Another life experience I had that helped determine the way I cleaned house was being around one of my close friends. Visiting her house was like visiting a shrine. I was not even sure where I could sit or how to dry my hands in the bathroom. I admire people like that, I really do. They have beautiful homes and I love spending a little time there but I could never live in a home like that. She was the type of person who had to completely clean house including the baseboards before she could go on vacation. When she returned from vacation she could not rest until everything was washed and put up out of the suitcases. Admirable, but not going to ever happen in my life.

I do not subscribe to either one of these extremes and if we are all truthful the majority of us do not. Just keeping things picked up and clean enough not to get salmonella or critters scampering through our houses will suffice. My primary rule in keeping house is everything has a place and when you are done using it put it back where you got it. If you follow this one simple rule you can keep your place neat. This is not so easy with children but if you start with them at a young age and make it a game it will become a habit. You may have to do this with husbands too, God help you if you married one of my roomies.

Another thing I learned is to do laundry everyday. This is not so important for the singles or even if it is just the two of you but if you have a family and have enough to do a load a day then do it. It is much easier to do a load a day than to let it build up. Often times I throw in a load in the evening and wander back to put it in the dryer sometime later. Then as I am watching television with my family I throw it out and share the wealth of folding and then hand them their piles to put away. Even if you have small children they can fold wash cloths or socks and put away clothes in their drawers. It may not be the right drawer but it is good for them to learn.

I pick up the bathroom everyday but I still only clean it once a week. That goes for vacuuming too unless there is a loblolly in the middle of the room that was drug in by one of the kids. That is when the small but powerful vacuums pay off, especially because the children can use it themselves!

I still fall down on the job when it comes to the fridge but to ensure no one gets salmonella I do my best to keep up with anything turning unusual colors or giving off distinct odors. Since no one in my house seems to like leftovers anyway I do not worry too much and I try to never have them.

The best advice is never have so much stuff that you do not have a place for everything. If you have stuff that you can not find a place for then you need to throw something out because it will never be neat. And when you are cooking always, always put up the ingredients you just used before going to the next step. It will keep the kitchen clean and help you keep track of what you are doing. This is mostly common sense to many but when you are young and inexperienced that is the main thing you need, common sense. You won’t stress over the mess if you do a little every day and keep everything in its place.
About the author:

Sara is an active nanny as well as an active freelance writer. She is a frequent contributor of 

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