16 Tips to Clean a Messy House When You’re Overwhelmed (Podcast or Post #27)

How do you clean when you feel overwhelmed by a messy house? Here are 16 cleaning tips for when you’re feeling overwhelmed with housework.


Cleaning your home can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re struggling with a messy, cluttered house.

I’ve been there, but I was thankfully able to overcome my cleaning anxiety.

In today’s Podcast or Post, which you can either read or listen to below, I’m sharing the top 16 tips that helped me to stop feeling overwhelmed with cleaning my house.


⬇ ⬇ Below you can read the post or play the podcast version- about 27 mins. ⬇ ⬇


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Download our free Daily Cleaning Roadmap here. It includes cleaning checklists for each room & lists tasks in the best order to do them in.

This is the Daily & Weekly Planner I recommend, which you can grab on Amazon here. It has hourly time blocks which are a must for scheduling. (Unfortunately, a lot of other planners are missing this feature.)

Join our Calm Kitchen Clutter Course here, which is on sale for a limited time. This will walk you through uncluttering the most important room in your home- your kitchen.

11 Ways to Get Your Family to Help Clean the House (Podcast or Post #8)This previous Podcast or Post Episode will help you to get your family involved with cleaning, so you aren’t doing it all yourself.

How to Get Your Toddler to Help Clean UpThis post shares 7 tips to get younger kids and toddlers to help, so you aren’t stuck with cleaning up after all their messes.

Check out more information on the 2018 study by The Mental Health Foundation here.



Play the audio for this podcast (above) or download it by clicking on the 3 dots to the right of the volume control. (Otherwise, you can read the post below.)



1.) Decide how much time you’ll allot to cleaning each day. 

woman looks at her watch deciding how much time she will spend cleaning each day so her house isn't a mess

I have a set amount of time I plan on cleaning each day.

Personally, I usually clean for 6 days out of the week. And I plan on cleaning the same amount of time each day. 

Because I’ve already determined how long it will be, it doesn’t feel as overwhelming to me. I don’t feel like it’ll take all day because I know it’s only for a specific amount of time.

How much time you personally decide to spend cleaning each day will depend on a number of factors.


6 Things to Consider When Deciding How Much Time to Spend Cleaning: 


1.) How big your house is

2.) How many people live in your house 

3.) How much others in your household are able/willing to contribute 

4.) How dirty your house gets 

5.) What you can reasonably do with your schedule & circumstances 

6.) How much time you think it will take to keep your house in a clean state


Keep in mind that you can always change how much time you spend cleaning. So don’t overthink it and get stuck here. 

You just want to have a set amount of time to start with. And as time goes on and circumstances change or you get faster in your routine, you can easily make adjustments.


2.) Schedule the times you’ll clean each day.

woman adds her daily cleaning routine into her weekly planner writing down when she plans to clean

Use a daily planner with hourly time blocks to keep track of your schedule, including when you clean.

This can be a digital or physical planner. I personally prefer physical planners, but use whichever format works best for you.

If you like physical planners but don’t have one with hourly time blocks yet, here’s one on Amazon that I really like.


This is the best physical planner I can find available currently. It offers a daily, weekly, & monthly schedule with hourly time blocks. It’s undated so you can start using it at any time.

If possible, try to be consistent and schedule cleaning at the same time every day. 

But if you can’t do it at the same time every day, then find the best time to schedule it for each individual day you’re able to clean. 

If you don’t or can’t clean literally every day, that’s okay. But try not to skip more than one day in a row. 

Once you start to miss consecutive days, you can get behind on your home. 


3.) Make a cleaning checklist for each room in your house.

woman checks off cleaning tasks on a cleaning checklist for each room in her home

To make this easier, download our free Daily Cleaning Roadmap.

It will walk you through the recommended cleaning tasks in each room, in the best order to do them in.


It’s best to list tasks in the order you’ll do them in so you can easily follow the checklist in order each time you do your routine.


4.) When you’re about to begin cleaning, start a countdown timer. 

woman looks at clock when she's about to start her cleaning routine

There are physical countdown timers you can buy, or you can just use a timer app on your phone.

The benefit of using a countdown timer is that you won’t feel like you’re endlessly cleaning, which means you’ll be less likely to feel overwhelmed. You simply stop once the timer goes off. 

It will also help you to focus more and not get distracted as easily because you’re setting aside a specific, limited time just to clean.

And you’ll likely be more productive when using a timer as well. 


5.) Start in the kitchen and do your dishes first. 

woman does her dishes first when starting her cleaning routine in the kitchen

I always recommend starting your cleaning routine in the kitchen.

For 99% of people the kitchen is going to be the room that’ll have the biggest impact on your house as a whole. 

And in the kitchen, I recommend starting with the dishes first. 

As people, we need clean dishes to eat, to cook, and to store food. It’s no fun to have to stop what you’re doing and wash dishes when you’re ready to eat or cook.

And getting behind on dishes will make your house look messy quickly and take a whole lot longer to clean.

Other areas of the kitchen are important when it comes to being clean as well, such as counters and surfaces. This gives you space to prepare food. And of course, you want them to look nice.


If you have a lot of clutter in your kitchen, I have a course I made that can be taken at your own pace, called Calm Kitchen Clutter. It walks you through, step by step, how to declutter each area and category of clutter in your kitchen. 

Calm Kitchen Clutter Course by House Gone Sane

You can get it on sale for a limited time here.

I designed this course to help others unclutter the most important room in the house. Because sometimes it can be overwhelming trying to do a cleaning routine when you have too much clutter in a room. And often the kitchen is one of the rooms people struggle with when it comes to clutter. 

I used to really struggle with kitchen clutter and felt overwhelmed, before I learned how to get it under control.  

But it is possible to conquer kitchen clutter. And the Calm Kitchen Course I made will walk you through how to do it.


6.) When you clean, work through your cleaning checklist, focusing on one task, in one room at a time. 

a woman sits at her kitchen table crossing off tasks on her cleaning checklist

Don’t multitask and try to clean different areas at one time.

Going back and forth and switching cleaning tasks is not productive. It will overwhelm you, tire you out, and take a lot longer to see visible progress. 

I’ve found personally that when I feel overwhelmed with cleaning and other tasks, the majority of my anxiety has disappeared once I broke bigger tasks down and began focusing on one step at a time.

When you focus on one task at a time in one area of one room, you’ll see results quicker. And that will motivate you and give you confidence to keep going. 


7.) Listen to something you enjoy while you clean.

a woman smiles holding her red headphones as she listens to music while she dusts during her cleaning routine

Listening to something you enjoy can in turn make cleaning feel less overwhelming. 

I daresay it might even be almost fun. (I did say ‘almost,’ because I know for myself, it’s still not fun, but it can certainly become less unenjoyable.)

This may shock some people, but as much as I talk about cleaning in these Podcasts or Posts, I still really don’t like to clean.

I like the results of cleaning; I enjoy my house being clean and how it makes me feel after. But…I still don’t love cleaning. 

So whenever I do my daily cleaning routine, I always listen to either music, a podcast, an audio book, or a video, (such as a YouTube video,) that I don’t need to look at.

I don’t usually play videos or movies while I clean that I want to watch and give my full attention to. 

But if it’s something I can just listen to and not miss much by not looking at, then I’ll let it play while I clean.

This makes cleaning a little bit less of a chore. 


8.) Reward yourself at the end of each cleaning session & practice self-care.

woman prepares a luxurious bubble bath with rose petals as a reward for self care after cleaning her house

No one wants to work hard and not feel acknowledged or have a sense of accomplishment afterwards.

So when you’ve finished a cleaning session, stop and acknowledge what you did.

Even if you have others in your household who you don’t feel acknowledge or appreciate all the effort you put in, you can still acknowledge yourself. 

And take a break after, even if you only have time for a short break. Then do something in that time to reward yourself for what you’ve just accomplished. 

It can be anything you enjoy that makes you feel good and puts a smile on your face.

I might have a snack, put a pretty sticker on my planner, read something I enjoy, or play a video or computer game for a bit. 

Also, I always try to incorporate self-care into my day in general. I schedule an hour of self-care into my day, every day.

Because if you’re anything like me, the vast majority of my day involves taking care of everything and everyone but me. 

You are important too, and it’s okay to take time for yourself in a constructive way that you enjoy. 

Even from a Biblical standpoint  I had to realize this was okay.

One of the most famous sentences in the Bible is to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

In order to follow this, you also have to love yourself.

Just as you take care of your family or take other people’s needs and wants into consideration when it comes to coworkers, neighbors, or friends, your needs and wants are important too.

When you take time to take care of your own needs and wants, it will keep your cup filled. And other things in life will feel less overwhelming, cleaning included.


9.) Be consistent & maintain the areas you’ve cleaned to eliminate overwhelm. 

a woman wipes down kitchen counters so her kitchen stays clean

This is why I recommend going through your cleaning checklist in the same order each day.

When something is already done, you just skip it and move onto the next task.

One of the most important things I learned when it comes to keeping your home clean is this: You must maintain your progress, then make more progress. 

Repeat this process every day you clean, making more progress until your home is under control. Then all you have to do is maintain it.

When you don’t maintain the areas you’ve cleaned, itll take you a lot more time and energy to get them under control again.

For years, I made the cleaning mistake of not maintaining what I already cleaned first. 

And it’s tempting to make this mistake.

Because if I just cleaned my kitchen yesterday, and my bathroom is a mess, why would I tidy up my kitchen again?

Here’s the deceptive problem with that line of thought:

If every day you only focus on cleaning the rooms that look the worst, instead of first maintaining what you already cleaned, what was already cleaned is going to get messy and gross again. 

It always takes a lot longer to reclean a messy area than to maintain an already clean space.


And you’ll be stuck in a vicious cycle of not being able to fully stay on top of your home. 

But what if you can’t reasonably get through your entire cleaning checklist each day at first?

This is a common problem when you’re trying to get into a routine while your house is a mess because it’s going to take longer initially to get everything under control.

In this case, pay close attention to the next tip. And that is…


10.) If you aren’t able to get through your whole cleaning list in a day, use a portion of your cleaning time for ‘damage control.’

a woman stands feeling overwhelmed in the middle of a messy room she needs to clean

When you know you won’t be able to get through your whole cleaning list in every room, use part of your cleaning time to address the worst areas of your home.


3 Things to Keep in Mind When Doing ‘Damage Control’ When You Clean:


1.) Unless you have an urgent mess, do the portion of time with your cleaning routine first.


Of course, if you have something really gross that needs attention, it’s okay to make an exception and address that issue first.

For example, if you have human or animal bodily fluids that need to be cleaned up, food out that is moldy or attracting bugs, or another gross mess that would concern CPS or animal control, then please take care of that first.

If it’s just general messes and there is nothing that can’t wait another 15 minutes to an hour, try to at least maintain anything you’ve already gotten through in your cleaning routine.

Aim to get farther in your routine than you did the day before or the last time you did it. 

Even if it’s just one extra surface you get under control, try to make progress each time you do your routine, until you’re able to get through your whole cleaning checklist each day you clean. 


2.) When doing ‘damage control’ in areas of your home you haven’t gotten to with your cleaning routine, focus on what areas need the most attention either visibly or when it comes to impacting day-to-day life.


Maybe the toilet looks dirty, the floor has crumbs on it, or you have clothes that need to be washed today before someone runs out of clean underwear. 

Whatever tasks need the most attention, focus on those. 


3.) Use this time to prevent your home from getting any worse. 


Even if this is all you accomplish in the damage control portion of your time, that’s enough.

Because if you stay consistent with doing your daily cleaning routine and you’re following your cleaning checklist, you’ll eventually catch up on every main area of your home. 

Once you’re able to get through your whole cleaning checklist each day, you can eliminate doing damage control. 

If desired, you can replace this time with a mini-organization session or something else you need/want to do.


11.) Don’t get stuck on one task for too long.

woman is on hands and knees scrubbing her floor with a brush

Sometimes people get overwhelmed and stuck on one task and it ends up being a time suck. 

If you’ve cleaned something as well as you reasonably can but there are still stains or stuff that won’t come off, it’s okay to move on to the next task.

After you’re done with your cleaning routine, you can research how to clean the area that is stained or has tough spots to clean. And if needed, invest in a different cleaning product that will do the job. 


12.) Ask for and accept help when possible.

a woman's husband and son help her clean the kitchen after she asks for help so she isn't overwhelmed cleaning it all by herself

If you have others in your household who are physically able to help, it’s okay to ask for help.

➡ In a previous Podcast or Post- episode #8, I discussed how to get your family to help you clean the house. So you can go back and listen to or read that if you need some inspiration.

I also wrote a post about how to get your toddler to help clean up.


As far as getting your spouse or another adult who lives with you to help out, I like using a phrase I learned in the book The Empowered Wife by Laura Doyle.

In general, I always recommend this book to all wives because it helped me tremendously in transforming my own marriage. (If you’re a wife, definitely check out this book if you haven’t yet.)


This is the marriage book for wives that works miracles when you follow it, even if you think you’ve already tried everything. (Husbands often help clean up more too!)

This book teaches wives to communicate with their husbands in a way that resonates with men and gets a better response from them.

And I have had success applying the skills in the book to other relationships as well.

Instead of nagging my husband to clean something or expressing an expectation of something being done by a certain time or certain person, I’ll use a cheat phrase to express my desire.

And that cheat phrase is, “I would love…” followed by whatever my desire is.

So instead of complaining to my husband and saying, ‘I’m tired of all your clothes on the floor. Can you please pick them up?’,  I’ll instead say:

“I would really love for the floor in our room to be clean.”


Because men naturally have a desire to please their wives, when you use this approach without nagging or an expectation of how or when your desire is fulfilled, it often inspires them to act or find another solution that fulfills your desire.


Something else amazing that I’ve found is that when I take the initiative to keep the house clean and maintain it, my husband and kids will naturally help keep it clean more. 

Could it be that I’m not the only one who feels overwhelmed by cleaning a messy house, but that they also feel that way too? 

And the thing is, if a room is already messy, it’s easy for another mess to get lost and not stand out.

But if a room is clean and there are a few dirty dishes or toys out, the mess visibly stands out. And the person who makes the mess will be more conscious of it.


Another way you may want to consider asking for help is by hiring someone to help clean. There’s no shame in that if you can afford it and you are struggling to keep up with everything yourself.


Along those lines, it’s also okay to ask family or friends for help if you need it, or to graciously receive any help they may offer. 

I’m currently about 7 months pregnant. And my sister offered to take a day off of work for a few weeks after I have the baby, to help me with the house. 

And I accepted her future offer, especially because I know I’m not supposed to do housework for 2 weeks postpartum.

Now, granted, I do know my husband will be doing stuff too. But I could also use the help of another female, so I swallowed my pride and accepted it.

It’s okay to not do everything yourself sometimes. It doesn’t make you weak or a failure when you accept help.

And it’s also okay if the help you receive is done in a way differently than how you’d do it.

Other people are not you. They may not wash the dishes or clothes how you do or tidy up as well as you do.

Show appreciation for the help you receive regardless of the differences in how it’s carried out. And then you’ll be more likely to get help in the future again.


13.) Take good care of yourself in general, including mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

woman lays back on couch relaxing as part of her self care so she doesn't feel overwhelmed by her messy house

As I mentioned earlier, it’s important to practice self-care.

There’s something about slowing down and taking care of yourself that helps you to destress, which helps immensely if you feel overwhelmed.

You also want to eliminate stress from other areas of your life.

According to The Mental Health Foundation, a 2018 study reported that ” 74% of people have felt so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope.”


Eliminating or lowering stressful triggers will look different for different people.

In some cases, it may mean spending less time on social media or less time watching the news, if these things are contributing to your anxiety. 


It may be that you need to learn to say no to things that are beyond what you can physically or mentally handle. 

Personally, I don’t volunteer for tasks with my stepkids’ schools because I just don’t have the time to do it.

I know other moms who volunteer to help with school events & activities. 

Some of them are fine with it because they’re able to fit these things into their schedule. But others have too much on their plate right now and they end up burning themselves out. 

I’ll go to my stepkids’ school events and support them in various ways. But I can’t at this season of my life be all things to everyone.

My priority is to my family and home, not to a school. 


Another example would be not overextending yourself when helping people out in general.

Before I was married with kids, I had more time to help people out in various ways. 

After getting married and now caring for both my stepkids and biological kids, I don’t have as much time to help other people at the drop of a hat.

I still have at times been able to help people when circumstances allow. But if I genuinely don’t have the time or emotional energy, I’ll respectfully let the person know I can’t help. 


In real life, being superwoman or supermom (if you’re a mom,) doesn’t mean you need to be perfect and do everything for everyone.

It is possible to show love to and support to others without being all things to everyone all the time. We’re only human, and we can only do so much. And that’s okay.


Unfortunately, one thing I found in the past is that one of the effects of having a messy house is that it can contribute to a person’s anxiety and overwhelm, which is why it may be so hard to get yourself out of that situation.


In some cases, you may want to discuss your struggles with a medical and/or mental health professional, such as your primary physician or a therapist. 

Just as it’s okay to ask for physical help with your home, it’s also okay to ask for mental and emotional support. 


I personally used to struggle with bad anxiety and frequent panic attacks.

I definitely used to have anxiety over my messy house.

Looking back now, it does feel like I had what some people refer to as ‘messy house depression’ or ‘clutter stress syndrome.’ Those are just fancy ways of saying that my house was contributing to negative mental health.

And the opposite can be true. A clean house can help you to have a more positive mental state- as the saying goes, “a clean house is a clean mind.”

In my situation, as an adult, the state of my home was definitely a factor in how I used to feel (in a negative way,), as it used to be really messy.

There were other things that contributed to my anxiety as well, such as things that had affected me emotionally since my childhood. 

I didn’t know that it was panic attacks I was having, until I finally had one so bad I nearly passed out. Then I finally went to my doctor’s, and the nurse practitioner told me that it was a panic attack. 

I had been having panic attacks for years- since I was about 11 years old. But I didn’t know that’s what they were.

After that doctor’s appointment, I was prescribed anxiety medication, and I took it for a few years. 

I thankfully don’t really get panic attacks anymore or have extreme anxiety like I used to. In my experience, I eventually received a lot of healing from God. And I believe He also pointed me in the right direction to find resources that I needed as well. 

Thankfully, I no longer need medication or have the daily struggles I used to with anxiety.

But for years- about a decade and a half- I did struggle with severe anxiety. And I may have coped better if I had sought out more support from the start. 

So if you need extra support, I encourage you to seek it out and prioritize taking care of yourself- whatever that means for your situation. 

And I encourage you to pray about your situation as well.


14.) Write down the reasons you’re motivated to keep your house clean. 

woman writes down what motivates her to keep her house clean

When it comes to motivation, your reason for doing something needs to be bigger than your reason for not doing it.

And writing down your reasons for keeping your house clean will help you reaffirm your motivation to follow through.


Reasons I Personally Want to Keep My House Clean


*It saves me time when I’m consistent and my house is under control.

*I want my house to look clean and be sanitary.

*I want to be comfortable having guests over and not feel embarrassed when someone stops by.

*It’s important to me to teach my kids to be clean and to manage a house well.

*I want my house to be a haven and be a peaceful and stress-free atmosphere.


So those are my reasons for wanting to keep my house clean.

Your reasons may be different than mine, but whatever they are, write them down.

Our motivation for doing things can move us to act and override any feelings of overwhelm we have. 


15.) Be confident in the abilities you have & give yourself grace.

woman confidently opens curtains as she's about to clean her home

Sometimes I have to remind myself that God gave me the ability to live up to my responsibilities. 

I used to feel like I just didn’t have it in me to keep my house clean or be organized.

But that’s a limiting belief I had that wasn’t true.

It turns out I am capable of keeping my house clean. I was made to be able to do this, along with other abilities and talents I have or skills I have developed.

And even if keeping a house clean doesn’t come naturally to you, as it didn’t for me, you are also capable.

Don’t tell yourself that you can’t do it, because you can. And it’s important to believe that you can do something or you won’t try. 

That’s not all, though.


It’s also important to give yourself grace.

You don’t have to be perfect. And your house doesn’t have to be perfect or look perfect at all times.


I’m all for a clean house, and I usually clean most days. 

But you know what? I’m only human. And life happens. Even right now as I’m talking, my house is not perfect. And that’s okay. 

I’m giving myself grace right now because I’m taking care of 5 kids, (including my teen stepkids and a 1 year old who still nurses,) I’m 7 months pregnant, and I’m homeschooling a kindergartner & a second grader.

I spent most of the day yesterday cooking & homeschooling, and I had family stop by for a bit. And my husband was reorganizing our living room and we still have some stuff out from that. 

But instead of letting myself sink into feeling overwhelmed, which in the past is what I’ve often done, I’ve decided to give myself grace today. 

And you know what?

Later today, I have it in my schedule to do my cleaning routine. And my house will still not be perfect. But I know it will look a lot better by the time I’m done with my allotted cleaning time for today. 

So give yourself grace. Don’t expect more out of yourself than you can give when life happens. And just do what you can do. 


16.) Practice gratitude daily.

napkin says, 'Gratitude changes everything'

Believe it or not, writing down gratitudes or even expressing them verbally to loved ones or to God goes a long way in dealing with overwhelm.

When we feel overwhelmed, we’re focusing on what’s wrong.

And when we focus on what’s wrong, even when we have very real and valid problems or concerns, it usually doesn’t help us to manage our situation any better. It often brings us down and makes us feel worse.

On the other hand, when we practice gratitude, we’re choosing to focus on what’s going right and well in our lives, despite whatever hard things we’re dealing with. 

This is not to dismiss difficult challenges and circumstances that you’re dealing with. But it will help you to have a better mindset to cope with the problems you have.

Having a positive mindset will help give you the strength to persevere through whatever challenges you experience. And the result is that you’ll feel less overwhelmed and you likely won’t be so hard on yourself either. 


So those are 16 cleaning tips for when you feel overwhelmed. It is possible to overcome that feeling of overwhelm and to get your house under control.

I know because I was able to. And if I of all people can be successful with this, you can succeed too.


Don’t forget to download our free Daily Cleaning Roadmap.

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Next time, we’ll be discussing how to save money on groceries. 

DISCLAIMER: All of our articles and podcasts are for informational purposes only, and we are not liable for anyone acting on or failing to act on anything on our website. For better reading, the written version of ‘Podcast or Post’ episodes are worded differently than the audio version, but the main points are the same. Read our full disclaimer policies here on our Terms of Use page.

Have a great day and thanks for reading!

a messy house with clothes all over the bed that need to be cleaned


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  1. Blanks | 24th Jun 24

    Great tips for tackling a messy house when feeling overwhelmed! 🧹🏠

    • Ellie | 24th Jun 24

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Amanda Reid | 27th Jun 24

    These tips are a lifesaver for tackling a messy house! Practical and easy to follow.

    • Ellie | 30th Jun 24

      I’m glad you found them helpful. Thanks for stopping by!

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