Our System for Keeping a Clean House

Because (unfortunately) beds don't make themselves.
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Because (unfortunately) beds don't make themselves.
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Running an expanding business with a one-and-a-half year old at home means G and I don't have a lot of time to tend to anything else during the week. In the beginning—before we realized we needed a system—we'd dedicate three hours every Sunday to cleaning the house top to bottom. During that time, G and I would do double-duty, throwing toys into baskets, running loads of laundry, stripping the bed sheets, and cleaning out the refrigerator—all the while entertaining Sloan. By the end of it, we would be too tired for any additional Sunday plans and spend the rest of the day in a half-awake state instead of really savoring our weekend. Within the past few months, we've started to make some small changes to our daily routines that have made a huge difference in cutting down the need for a massive Sunday clean. By the end of the week, we only have a few things to tidy up (instead of: everything), and can spend the day with friends or actually relaxing. Below are the tips we've been using for keeping a clean house all week long:

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In our house, whoever cooks does the dishes/cleans up as well, which is the opposite of how most of my friends do things but hear me out: Doing things this way ensures that whoever cooks is held responsible for not making a huge mess, which actually minimizes cleanup time and ensures that it gets done. If you know that someone else is handling the dishes, you're less motivated to clean as you go and use as few dishes as possible. This system works extremely well for G and me. 

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Between Amazon Prime and work-related items, we get several boxes per day, so we've had to come up with a policy: As soon as a box comes in, we open it up, take down the box, and put the item away so that they don't start to pile up. I also have a designated shelf in my closet for returns which I make a point of keeping clear so that I make sure they're taken care of.

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For years—until we purchased this house—G and I didn't have a washer/dryer in our building, so we're more than familiar with the routine of lugging bags to the laundromat, which is only to say that I know this tip isn't possible for everyone. However, if you're fortunate enough to have laundry in your house or unit, something we've started to do is use a smaller laundry basket. Whoever is the last person to fill it up (usually me) is responsible for putting it into the washing machine right then and there. Even though we do it more often, our machine has small load setting, so it's made laundry feel less like an ordeal and just part of our daily routine. 

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When I try on clothes—whether it's for an outfit post, for work, or to go out—I've been guilty of leaving a humongous pile of "no"s on the bench at the end of our bed that only grows throughout the week. Now, I make the effort to hang each piece I'm not wearing immediately after trying it on. The same applies to our bathroom counter: As soon as I put on makeup, I put it back into the cosmetics bag I keep in a drawer by the sink to keep clutter to a minimum.

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This tip should go without saying, but since our bedroom is the one part of the house that isn't immediately viewable by guests, making the bed is also the one thing that often gets pushed aside when we're in a rush. To avoid this, G and I have made a deal that the last one out of bed makes it in the morning, no excuses. Added bonus: We basically race each other out of bed in the morning now, so our day gets going earlier. 

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Since I've been in the habit lately of washing my face every night after I put down Sloan, G has started to use this time—usually about 15 minutes—to do a quick straightening-up of the house. We've found that just spending this small amount of time to put back appliances, sort the mail that's accumulated on the counter, and wash any errant dishes goes a long way towards keeping the house from that moment when you look up and all of a sudden realize it looks like a tornado hit the kitchen. 

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We have as many cats as we have humans living in our house (three), so keeping control of their shedding is a priority. To tackle it, we mostly take preventative measures, by grooming them frequently with a tool called a Furminator. We also have a small vacuum with a pet hair attachment that we pull out about once a day to quickly remove any fur from furniture so that it doesn't get out of hand.

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Before we had a place to corral Sloan's toys, every evening, they'd end up haphazardly tossed in the corner or, even less ideally, on the coffee table in the living room. We now have a designated basket for Sloan's toys that we take down from a shelf when she's in the room, then put away at the end of the day so it doesn't always look like we're living in a play pen. She's also now at the point that she's able to help put away her toys which has become part of our nighttime routine with her.