Ever wonder how some people manage to keep their homes spotless?
There’s a secret to it. The secret? Small daily habits. Habits that only take a few minutes, but compound for a huge, refreshing effect.
With the start of the new year comes an opportunity to make fresh changes and habits for your everyday life and the overall state-of-being for your household. For this, we turn to Country Living Magazine, who polled home bloggers and other busy women to find out what little daily habits they have formed to keep their homes fresh and presentable, even at a moment’s notice. Each of these tasks takes only a few moments at most. Take one (or several!) of these tips, and you’ll always be ready for a surprise visitor or last-minute drop-in.
1. Leave your shoes at the door
In Danielle Lackey’s home in Carrollton, VA, shoes are not allowed past the front door. “I have three children who frequently play on the floor. Our shoes carry germs and dirt!” Her family is well-acquainted with the rule, and a cute wooden sign at the entryway lets guests know the request, so she doesn’t have to. This “no shoes” rule means it’ll be a rare occasion that someone tracks mud, dirt, or worse through your home -- and a bonus effect is that it’ll make sweeping a breeze.
2. Make your bed first thing
Before she even thinks about leaving the house for the day, interior designer Amy Bell makes her bed. “Even if the rest of the room isn’t picture-perfect, a neat bed instantly makes the whole space look pulled together.” By making your bed first thing in the morning, you are putting yourself into the mindset of having a productive day, while also making one less thing your future self has to worry about later. And after a while, it becomes almost automatic.
3. Squeegee the shower
"We squeegee the shower door after every shower to prevent water spots and grime," says Deanne Goodman, Oceanside, CA. "It only takes about 20 seconds, and it keeps the glass looking clear and bright."
4. Wipe down the bathroom sink
Blogger Traci Hutcherson keeps a container of cleaning wipes under her sink. "Just pull out a wipe and give the sink a quick cleaning." Make it habit to do so after brushing your teeth in the morning and you'll never have to look at toothpaste dribbles again!
5. Wipe down the kitchen counters
"I wipe down our kitchen counters nightly with a homemade solution—one part vinegar, three parts water and a squirt of almond oil dish soap—that I store in a spray bottle," says blogger Camilla Fabbri. "The vinegar cuts through grease and also does a great job clearing up the smudges on our stainless appliances." You can make your own homemade cleaner, but just about any mild cleaning solution will do the job.
6. Clean as you go
Blogger Chelsea Morhman never likes to go to bed with a dirty kitchen. The trick is cleaning up while she cooks. "If I have something in the oven, I wipe down counter tops and wash dishes while I wait for it to finish," she says. "I try to have almost everything cleaned up by the time dinner is ready, so that all we have to do after dinner is stick our dirty dishes in the dishwasher." Believe us, your future self will thank you. Never worry about waking up in the morning just to remember that the dishes are still in the sink, because it’s already taken care of.
7. Swiffer before bed
Mary Beth Cooper spends a few minutes every night Swiffering her way through the downstairs rooms. A quick pass goes a long way and prevents dust bunnies from taking over the house.
8. Do a five-minute cleanup
This one involves enlisting everyone to help out a bit. Before bed, Camilla Fabbri gets everyone to pitch in for a quick tidying up session. The family of four picks up the dog toys, puts away the mail, hangs up jackets, and puts items back in their place. "With everyone helping, it usually takes less than five minutes, and I feel so much better when I come downstairs in the morning and the house is organized."
9. Put clothes away at night
Debra Johnson, a home cleaning expert from Merry Maids suggests: "Before you go to bed, put dirty clothes in the hamper or re-hang clean ones in the closet." Almost every master bedroom has one chair that starts off empty on Monday and is covered with clothes by Friday. This simple tip keeps those clothes from piling up day after day.
10. Open a door or two
Always keep your house feeling fresh with this tip from Sherry Petersik, who, along with her husband, wrote the upcoming book Lovable Liveable Home: "I throw open the front and the back door to air out the house every day, even just for a few minutes if it's cold outside. It helps to fight off stale air—or any random lingering odors from dinner—and it makes the house feel fresh and breezy."
11. Close a door or two
This is another easy one that parents are always a fan of. Blogger Jeanne Oliver knows that the entire house will never be clean and organized at the same time—especially three kids' rooms. "I've come to accept that and I just shut their doors," she says. "If the main floor is tidy and I can just close off the mess, I'm likely to invite people over more."
And there you have it: the secrets to successfully keeping your home feeling and looking fresh and clean. The real secret is in making daily habits of spending a few minutes tidying here and there, along with a strategic combination of cleaning up as you go along.