So, you’ve got two years’ worth of Vogue magazines sloppily piled up on the floor next to your sofa. And you’ve got enough makeup scattered around your bathroom vanity to beautify the entire cast of “America’s Next Top Model.” And your kids’ toys look like they’ve been through a Toys R Us raid.
Now, take a look at your home and take a look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself: “How have I gotten myself into the mess, and what am I going to do about it?”
Obviously, the scenario above refers to our female readers. Yet plenty of guys are just as guilty of untidiness—pizza boxes stacked all over the place, beer bottles littering the kitchen and dirty clothes that haven’t been close to a bottle of Tide in months.
But the same question—“What am I going to do about this mess?”—applies to the guys.
OK, untidy people. Help is on the way. We’ve rounded up 13 tips from experts on how to keep your home tidy.
1. Think twice about bringing new stuff into your home, said professional organizer Hazel Thornton of Albuquerque, NM. Do you really need it? Where will you put it? Who’ll be responsible for it? “The biggest enemy of tidiness is clutter,” said Jeff Gordon, a “clean lifestyle” blogger. “The first step in preventing clutter is to avoid it.”
2. Corral the clutter. Place attractive baskets in places where clutter tends to pile up, Thornton said, and “put the items away before the baskets overflow.” Cleaning and organizing expert Anna Moseley pointed out that baskets can be expensive, but stores like IKEA and Dollar Tree sell low-price options.
3. Regularly schedule a “10-minute tidy-up” for yourself and everyone else in your home. “Make it a game for the whole family,” Thornton said, “then do something relaxing or fun.”
4. Set up a “donation station” where you can put things as soon as you realize you no longer love them or use them, Thornton said. Then carve out time to donate those items to a favorite charity.
5. File important documents. Paperwork like insurance policies, birth certificates and appliance warranties can become a “huge headache” if they aren’t organized well, Moseley said. She keeps important documents in well-labeled files stored in an inexpensive filing cabinet. Another solution, courtesy of Gordon: Scan documents and store them electronically.
6. Clean as you go. “Everyone loves to cook,” Gordon said, “but no one loves to clean up—at least in my house.” When fixing dinner or hosting a party, avoid a massive cleanup job by washing dishes, loading the dishwasher and wiping the counters as you’re preparing the food or undertaking other tasks.
7. Buy furniture that features storage space. Some beds, coffee tables and other types of furniture offer drawers and other nooks where you can stash stuff to “immediately eliminate clutter,” said Laurie Shader Smith, vice president of Personal Mini Storage in Florida.
8. Look into off-site storage. If you’ve got belongings you want to hang onto but don’t have room for them, renting a self-storage unit can help get rid of clutter around your home.
9. When you open mail, do it over a shredder or recycle bin. “This forces you to get rid of junk mail immediately so nothing will pile up on your counters,” Smith said.
10. Store out-of-season clothing, like heavy winter coats, in vacuum-sealed bags. The bags are compressed into small packages that easily fit into closets or under beds, Smith said.
11. Never go upstairs or downstairs empty-handed. Virginia Underwood, a professional organizer in Hilton Head, SC, recommends keeping a small basket at the top of the stairs and another at the bottom of the stairs. Items that need to be returned to upstairs rooms get put in the basket at the bottom, while items that need to be returned to downstairs rooms wind up in the basket at the top.
12. Create a schedule for daily cleaning tasks, said Grant Pettegrew, owner of Certain Service Housekeeping in Centennial, CO. “Vacuuming and dusting schedules are the most important,” he said, “as this can make your home feel and look more tidy and comfortable.”
13. Consider hiring a housekeeping service if you constantly find yourself straining to maintain a tidy home. “There is a reason the housekeeping industry is growing. People are getting busier and busier,” Pettegrew said. “Hiring a residential cleaning service will give you more time and comfort in your life.”
Top image courtesy of slowyourhome.com