The fact is not all messes are made equal. Here in episode 7 of the House Gone Sane Podcast or Post, (where you can either listen to the Podcast version or read the post,) we’re going to talk about a couple types of clutter that will make your home dirty fast.
So to get started, we’re going to talk about what these 2 types of ‘dirty clutter’ are. We’re going to discuss why these are the messiest types of clutter, and some tips for keeping them under control.
(Below you can read the post or play the podcast version- about 20 mins.)
✅FREE Printable Daily Cleaning Roadmap– This includes cleaning checklists, tips, and extplains the best order to clean a room in.
There are 2 types of dirty clutter- dirty dishes and dirty laundry. The reason I call these ‘dirty’ clutter or the messiest types of clutter is because when it comes to dishes and laundry, you have to not only pick them up and put them where they go, but you also need to clean them, before putting them away.
With few exceptions, almost anything else that could be considered ‘clutter’ that you have to pick up or put away, is not something you also need to clean.
For pretty much everything else, you either clean it where it is OR you put it away.
So, for instance, if you have a pile of papers, you can file them, shred them, recycle them, etc. But you don’t need to wash the papers first before you put them where they go.
Or if you are picking up toys on the floor, you don’t usually need to clean them before putting them away.
On the other hand, most other things you clean besides dishes and laundry are stationary. Almost everything else you clean is not something you need to put away after cleaning it.
For example, when you clean your sink or toilet, they are stationary. You don’t move them elsewhere. It’s not a two-step process of clean and then put away, like with dishes and laundry.
So those 2 types of clutter are unique in that way.
When you have dirty dishes or laundry starting to accumulate, they can make your house look messy quickly. And they do take time to clean and then put away.
Because of that, dishes and laundry are things we really want to stay on top of in our home.
I want to break these down and talk about each of these individually, and share some tips for each one.
Now, there may be some exceptions in this area, for people who don’t need to worry about dishes too much. This could be because there’s someone else in the home who always stays on top of dishes. Or they may use disposable dishes- like paper plates and plastic silverware. Or they may get a lot of takeout/eat out a lot, and not really cook/eat with dishes at home.
Most people reading this, though, will need to make dishes a priority.
And the thing about dishes is if you don’t stay on top of them daily- or most days, they’ll quickly make your home look dirty and cluttered.
So now let’s talk about some tips to keep dishes under control.
I do have a free printable Daily Cleaning Roadmap you can download.
This roadmap recommends what tasks you do in which rooms, in a specific order, has some extra tips, and there are pages for you to write out a personalized custom cleaning routine.
Unless you’re one of those people who doesn’t use many real dishes, make sure you’re keeping up on dishes towards the start of your daily cleaning routine.
That way, if you only get through part of your cleaning routine on certain days, the dishes will be done.
Putting away any clean dishes, then putting any dirty dishes in the dishwasher are the first 2 tasks on my current daily cleaning routine.
I know there may be some people who listen to this and don’t have a dishwasher. I actually have a separate post I wrote a while back, on tips for doing dishes by hand.
I started my daily cleaning routine before we had a dishwasher. It took me longer to get through my daily routine without one, especially since we have a family of 6.
But even then, the first 2 tasks on my daily cleaning routine were to put away any clean dishes in the dishdrainer and to wash any dirty dishes.
We now have a countertop dishwasher, which I love. If you don’t have room or funds for a regular dishwasher, this is a smaller and more affordable solution.
It hooks up to your sink. We did have to buy a different size adapter for our faucet so the hose could connect, which was maybe around $12/13 at Home Depot. But besides that it has connected and worked fine.
I suggest checking the height/width/depth measurements before purchasing it, though. Because for some people, including us, and it was actually too tall for our countertop, so we had to put it on a separate stand where it does fit.
I will be honest that for myself, there are some days that I don’t get through my entire cleaning routine. And there is actually one day a week that I take a break and don’t do my cleaning routine.
But by having dishes at the beginning of my routine on the other 6 days I plan to do my routine, it ensures that I stay on top of them. And the result is we don’t have dirty dishes all over the house, which is good.
If you have a dishwasher and don’t need to run it more than once a day, I’m not saying to run it after each meal. But at least try to put all the dirty dishes in the dishwasher or sink after every meal. Then they won’t be spread all over the house throughout the day.
If you don’t have a dishwasher, it’s best to do dishes immediately after each meal. Then they won’t pile up and food won’t harden on and make it harder for them to be cleaned.
But if you don’t have a dishwasher and you don’t have the circumstances to clean them after each meal you are home for, then at least try to put them in the sink after each meal. And wash them once a day as part of your daily cleaning routine.
The good news is once you establish a good routine with keeping dishes under control each day, it sets the tone for anyone else in your household.
So if you have kids, and you are asking them to bring the dishes to the sink/help with dishes, they’ll already see you have set the example as their parent and that it’s the normal thing to do.
If you have one or more adults sharing your home, (a spouse/roomate/other family or friends or another adult who is not one of your kids,) I don’t recommend trying to force them to take care of dishes or do other cleaning tasks.
Because otherwise it may end up straining your relationship, and still won’t get you clean dishes. Regardless of whether another adult in your home helps you with dishes or not, when you take care of them each day, it sets the tone for a clean home and they will be done.
I personally used to be really bad at keeping up on dishes daily. But once I started doing them as part of my daily routine, my husband and kids have naturally picked up the pace with taking care of their dishes more.
Now my husband even runs the dishwasher sometimes without me asking him to. Not all the time, but because the norm for our home is now that dishes get done every day, my other family members are working along with that more.
Because I take responsibility for my daily cleaning routine, I don’t get frustrated at my husband for any time he doesn’t help with dishes. It’s something I already plan on doing in my daily cleaning routine.
It’s possible you may have a small kitchen and not a lot of space to put away dishes. Another possibility is you may have too many dishes or you may not be utilizing your space well.
Regardless of which of these are true for you, you do want to find a solution. If you don’t have room in your cupboards for all of your dishes, you won’t be able to put them away when they’re all clean. And while it is certainly a step up from dirty dishes, a counter covered in clean dishes still looks cluttered.
Not having enough cupboard space for dishes is also problematic in that it will not exactly motivate you to do dishes if you know you don’t have anywhere to put them once they’re clean.
So here are some solutions to having storage space for all of your dishes:
Or if you aren’t utilizing higher shelves, you can put up dishes you don’t need every week.
These can take up a lot of space, and getting rid of what you aren’t using can free up space.
My mom always used corelle dishes because they’re thinner, stack well & save space, and are easy to clean.
Sometimes you can fit 2-4 times the amount of dishes in the same space when you use corelle. Another plus side is that they don’t break super easy in my experience. Most of the dishes I’ve broken haven’t been corelle.
Obviously, I don’t recommend throwing them on the floor to test that out!
But I can say from my own experience, when I’ve dropped them, (which I’ve done many times because, well, I’m clumsy,) with only a couple of exceptions, they’ve fared much better than other types of delicate dishes.
The kitchen is the ideal room to add storage to, if possible, since it’s where you wash dishes.
Something that’s important to realize is that if you’re keeping extra dishes in part because you can procrastinate washing them, you’re still going to have to wash the same amount of dishes. But the more behind you are, the longer it’s going to take you.
If you have a dishwasher, you can only fit so many dishes in a load.
Or if you’re washing them by hand, days old dirty dishes are going to be super gross and difficult to clean if they have hardened food residue on them. So do yourself a favor and only keep what you need, and push yourself to clean less dishes more frequently.
So now that we’ve discussed some practical tips for keeping dishes done, let’s talk about laundry.
Laundry lying around where it’s not supposed to be can quickly make a room look dirty. So it’s best to make sure any clothes are put in the proper place daily. This means you are either putting away or putting in your hamper clothing you’ve already worn, depending on if it’s still clean or not.
You also want to put freshly washed clothing away once it’s dry. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this to be the case for you, but for our family, I’ve found that if I put a pile of clean laundry somewhere, without putting it away, things end up on the floor or eventually get mixed in with dirty clothes.
So when you do your daily cleaning routine, make sure you put away or take care of any clothes.
Something I do to prevent the procrastinator in me from messing up my house with clean clothes, is I only use 1 laundry basket.
Yes, I did just say that I only use 1 laundry basket. Although we have 6 people in our home, I only have 1 laundry basket.
This means I have to put clothing away soon after it’s clean, because, well, we have a family of 6. And that means I can’t wait forever to use the basket for the next load.
Now something I also mentioned in this tip was to wash all dirty clothes weekly. I personally don’t do a ‘laundry day’ where I wash a week’s worth of clothes in one day. We do have a day we sort the clothing in everyone’s hampers and bring them to the laundry room.
This way I’m not going to forget to do anyone’s clothes. And they’re right there and ready for me to wash them.
Personally, I’ll do laundry a few days of the week, until I wash all of the clothes for that week.
Whether you wash clothes daily or do a ‘laundry day’, you can still do laundry weekly by making sure everything is at least brought to your laundry area weekly. Then make sure that week’s worth of laundry is done before you do clothes that have been worn more recently.
This means you want to have enough regular clothing, undergarments, work uniforms, school uniforms, sheets, etc. that will last you between each week of laundry, so you don’t run out. But the nice thing about doing all of your laundry every week, is you don’t really need a ton of clothes when you wash them regularly.
On the other hand, if you were to only do laundry once a month, that’s a month’s worth of all types of clothing you use, bedding, etc. that you absolutely need to have. It will take way longer to do a month’s worth of laundry that a week’s worth. And once everything is clean, that’s a lot of stuff you need to take the time and find room to put away.
By doing laundry weekly, whether you do a full laundry day or break it up over several days, it will make the task of laundry less daunting and time-consuming.
Perhaps you don’t have your own washer or dryer and you go to a laundromat.
If this is the case for you, I still suggest doing laundry weekly, if possible. I’ve been there, so I understand if it’s hard to get to the laundromat every single week.
But try not to go more than 2 weeks at a time between laundry trips. (And you’ll want to apply the next tips I’m about to share, whether you wash your clothes in-home or not.)
Keep a hamper in every bedroom and any room clothes are changed in, such as the bathroom. We have hampers for each person’s room, including the kids’ rooms, as well as both bathrooms.
People are way more likely to put things where they go when it’s convenient.
If there is no hamper in the bathroom, clothes may be more likely to end up on the floor. Because realistically, not everyone is going to take the time to bring dirty clothes into another room after changing.
Once a hamper is full, the clothing can be brought to the laundry area or set aside for later washing. Some people have stationary laundry baskets/bins in their laundry room to keep dirty clothing contained in prior to washing.
You can also put dirty clothing in a laundry bag. Or you can even use a garbage bag, (just don’t accidently toss out your clothes!)
When you do your cleaning routine each day, it’s good to check that no hampers are overflowing. Dirty clothing on the floor will both visually and physically mess up a room.
If you have no more room in your dresser and closet, but you have clothing that’s not put away, you either need to get rid of clothes you don’t have room for, find an additional place to put it away in, or pack it away elsewhere.
Having a lot of clothing items can be nice because it gives you options for what to wear and matching different things. But you still want your house to be livable. When things are put away, they are naturally more organized. And this gives you the best chance of actually using more of what you have.
Sometimes we really just need to be honest with ourselves. For some reason, there’s been clothing items I’ve had, that I liked enough to not want to get rid of, but I never really wore them.
Now I’ve gotten to the point where I’m more realistic. I ask myself, ‘Ok, am I really going to wear this?’
And if the answer is no, I pass it along to someone else or a secondhand store.
Personally, I feel more content with less things that I actually use regularly versus extra things I might use someday or sometimes but don’t need them or really have enough room for them in the areas I normally keep them.
When everything is put away and fits in my drawers or closet, I have a lot less stress and anxiety than if I have 3 times the amount of clothing options but they are in clutter piles, or hanging out on a chair that has too much stuff, that no one gets to sit in.
In Podcast or Post #6, I talked about the only decluttering question I ask. This helps me let go of extra clothes and things that aren’t serving my home and me as a person.
The fact is, I would rather have less clothes, be able to find my clothes, not feel overwhelmed by the amount of laundry I need to wash, and have a home that feels and looks clean and tidy, than have too many clothes, when I’m not using them all anyways.
I am one person, and I can only wear one outfit at a time. And I do laundry every week, so I don’t need a ton of clothing.
I try to keep enough of each type of clothing item that I realistically need and use. Whenever I need to get rid of some items, I focus on keeping the clothing that looks nice on me. Then I let go of items I don’t need- things if I I didn’t have them and saw them in a store, I wouldn’t buy.
Keeping only items I use, want, and have room for allows me to actually have room to put things away. The fact of the matter is that if you have more stuff than you have room to put away- whether it’s clothing or something else- you won’t be able to put it away and keep that area of your home tidy.
So today we talked about the 2 types of clutter that make your home dirty quickly. By being consistent and taking care of dishes and clothing daily, you can prevent your home from getting out of control in these 2 areas.
Don’t forget to grab your free Clothes Decluttering Cheat Sheets PDF.
These include decluttering questions to ask when sorting through clothes, as well as tips and steps to take when decluttering clothes.
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Thanks so much for reading, and have a great day!