Why Is It So Hard to Keep My House Clean?

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It's time for a little self-examination.

Cleaning a house can feel like endless work. By the time you get everything organized, it falls back into a state of messiness and the whole cycle begins again. But if you're feeling particularly overwhelmed by keeping a tidy home, there could be some obstacles making it even harder for you. Consider the following list of problems (taken in part from this article on Apartment Therapy) and assess whether these are making your cleaning efforts less effective than they could be otherwise.

1. Too much stuff

This is a very common and significant hurdle to keeping a tidy house. If you simply have too much stuff crammed inside your walls, it will be nearly impossible to maintain a state of organization and to clean efficiently. As Shifrah Combiths wrote on Apartment Therapy, "You need to get rid of things in order to live within the parameters of the physical space you inhabit."

2. No proper spot to put things

My mother has been misplacing her keys for decades, but I attribute the problem to the fact that there is no logical place to put her keys when she walks through the front door. Installing a hook on the wall would fix that instantly. Having a spot that's not only right but also intuitive to put things away makes cleaning far easier. Don't fight your instincts. If you never want to use a coat hanger, get a stand or a wall hook. If you never carry shoes upstairs to your bedroom closet after use, make a place for them downstairs.

3. You don't know where to begin

Sometimes you can feel like you're in too deep when it comes to clutter. Let the experts guide you at this point. Read some detailed cleaning guides (there are lots on Apartment Therapy and Clean My Space). Pick up a book on decluttering; I'm a fan of Joshua Becker's writings on this topic, and Marie Kondo also never fails to inspire. It's amazing what a difference it makes when you have someone telling you exactly what to do.

4. Not enough time or help

Is your life jam-packed with dozens of other activities that make housecleaning fall to the bottom of the priority list? Don't let it! A disastrously messy house will affect your mental wellbeing and create even more stress in your life by eating up time spent searching for things.

Eke out some cleaning time in your weekly schedule, even if it's just a few minutes each day. Make sure everyone in the household is pitching in, even children. If you're able, hire a house cleaner to come in weekly, biweekly, or even monthly, just to help you stay on top of things.

5. You're too hard on yourself

If you feel perpetually discontented with the state of your home, perhaps it's time to reevaluate your own standards. Are they unrealistic? More wisdom from Apartment Therapy:

"What's really bothering you? Is is that you don't possess your Pinterest wishlist of decor? Is it that you think your home should be 'magazine' ready at any given moment? No one lives like that. And if they do, guess what, they aren't you."

This is a concept I've struggled to accept over the years. With young children running around the house (who like to play in the dirt) and very limited closet space in a 100-year-old home, there's more clutter than I'd like to see, but I realize it is a natural side effect of my current life circumstances. The time will come for more orderliness, but it's not right now.