How to clean - tips for messy people

06 January 2017

Rachel Hoffman, author of the practical, no-nonsense guide to sorting out your mess, Unf*ck Your Habitat, gives us some quick and simple spring cleaning tips to help keep your home tidy all year long.  

1. Take pictures!

Your brain  doesn’t always 'read' every thing that’s in a room when you look at it, but a picture will let you notice things you might have otherwise missed.

2. Open a window and stick anything musty outside.

Direct sunlight will clear up mustiness in almost anything. If something’s smelling a little musty and weird, just stick it outside for a few hours on a sunny day. (Make sure to bring everything back in before it rains or nature starts to have its way with your stuff.)

3. Start from the top and work your way down.

Dust falls, and the floor should be the last thing you clean.

4. Wash your damn dishes.

Gather up all dirty dishes and put them in a sinkful of hot soapy water to soak. If you have more than one sinkful of dishes, just get them all to the same general area. Wash the first sinkful of dishes and put them away. Repeat until you’re done.

5. Pick up all laundry.

Put clean clothes away and dirty clothes in the wash. Anything fabric that isn’t clothes and can go in the washing machine? Wash it.

6. Laundry and dishes have three steps: wash, dry, and put it away, goddammit

Don’t consider the task complete until every thing is put away. Otherwise, you’ll find that clean clothes  will live in definitely in the dryer or laundry basket, and clean dishes will take up space in the dish drainer or dishwasher until it’s time to turn them back into dirty dishes.

7. Start with the largest flat surface (counter, table, etc.) and put everything away.

Take care not to just relocate the mess; instead, put things away in their proper homes. If something  doesn’t have a home, find one.

8. Is something in your fridge possibly gaining sentience?

Throw it out.

9. Pick up everything from the floor.

Start with the largest pile or worst area and keep working until the floor is clear of every thing that  doesn’t belong  there.

10. Do you have a vacuum? 

Well, it’s not doing you any good just sitting there. Use it. Use it on anything you can: floors, walls, weird spaces under  things. Don’t use it on your pets. They get cranky.

11. Change the batteries in your smoke detectors.

Fire is a terrible way of dealing with a mess.

12. The biggest step you can take is to just get started.

Even twenty minutes of work is a step in the right direction, and then  later  today or tomorrow or next week, you can do another 20/10, and another, and before you know it, you’ll be back on track  towards getting your  house hold chaos back under control. 

Unf*ck Your HabitatRachel Hoffman's simple, practical guide to tidying up is out now. 

Interspersed with lists, challenges and other how-tos, Rachel's no-nonsense advice relies on UfYH's 20/10 system (20 minutes of cleaning followed by a 10-minute break; no marathon cleaning allowed) in order to help you develop lifelong habits.

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