Keeping on top of things has always been easy for me. I suppose I’m pretty organized. So I have some tips for tackling household chores and cleaning.


1) Control what comes in

I do this by bringing in the mail, and going through it before it’s ever set down to gather dust. I throw away the mail that I don’t want, and put aside the bills to be paid.

To make it even easier, I pay most of my bills with online banking’s auto pay, so that I don’t forget and have to pay a penalty of any kind. 

And then when a bill comes in that isn’t a utility and which I would have to put a stamp on and send out, I just call them and give them my debit card over the phone. And it’s done.

So if you rid yourself of unwanted mail, it won’t gather somewhere just inside the door, day after day until there’s a pile to be dealt with. A waste of time!


2) Wash as you cook

I don’t cook like I did when I was married or had children at home. But when I do cook, I wash as I go. When a pan is emptied, I either put it in the sink to soak, or wash it right then and there. 

I have a dishwasher, but I don’t like to use it, so I don’t. I think it’s a waste, as it seems to just go on and on. But then it’s probably old and not energy efficient. 

My goal is to be able to sit down and eat without having a sink full of dishes already waiting for me to tackle. Then when I’m done eating, I just wash my dishes and put them into the drainer. 

Of course all this is harder when you have family to cook for. But it is doable.


3) No “I’ll throw it away when the show is over”, etc.

If you let them slide on this one, you’ll end up with wadded up trash from food and whatever else on every end table, coffee table and surface in your home. I don’t advocate a trash can in your living space. So be firm.

When they’re done eating or using something that has a wrapping paper that needs to be tossed, train them to toss it as soon as they’re finished eating. Otherwise you’ll end up with scattered trash and sticky surfaces.

Yeah, I know it’s strict. I was strict. I don’t like clutter and I don’t like bugs. Stay on top of cleaning with this rule and you’ll have neither. There has never ever been a pizza box setting in my living room after a meal is over. 

4) Beat the dust bunnies

I haven’t been as on top of this with my ankle. But I hate dust. And worse, I’m allergic to it. I don’t make a big deal out of grabbing all sorts of cleaners out. I just take a dish towel relegated for this task (in other words, one of the older worn and less pretty ones), dampen it, and go to town. 

Go top to bottom. In other words, work your way down. If you have ceiling fans, dust them first. That dust will fall on bookshelves, etc. So those are next. Then the tables and lamps. While you’re at it, clean the remote controls (germs, ya know).

I know many of you don’t have home phones anymore like I do, but if you have them, wipe them down. When you’re after germs, you will need something stronger than a damp cloth. You’ll need something anti-bacterial to clean with. 

Don’t forget door knobs, light fixtures and faucet handles in the bathroom.

And while I’m at it, I tackle the bathroom.

Then I vacuum and mop. That dust ends up on the floor. So best to just rid yourself of it altogether.

5) Clean the coffee maker after you’ve had your coffee

It’s easy to forget about the grounds and residue of coffee. But when I finish my one cup of coffee per morning, I pick up my coffee cup and go over to the coffee station. 

I then take the little paper filter filled with sodden coffee grounds and set it in my coffee cup. I grab the glass coffee carafe, and take the two to the kitchen.

I toss the used filter, wash the coffee carafe, and it’s ready for the next morning. You know you don’t want to wash your coffee grounds and carafe when you’re ready for coffee the following morning.


6) Don’t let the laundry pile up & don’t let dried laundry sit & get wrinkled

I have one of those European type washers and dryers in one machine. I hook it up to the kitchen sink to get water to the washer. And when it’s done washing, I turn the water off, dismantle the piece that fits to the faucet, and turn it on dry. 

Now these type set-ups don’t dry very well. So I take the laundry out after it’s spun for awhile, and layer them over furniture. I take my clothing out and immediately hang them up. 

Yeah, I used to dry stuff all the way when I had a typical washer/dryer. But the longer you dry, the faster you’re wearing out your clothing. So it’s best all around to get some of the moisture out and just hang it up. I hang mine in the closet.

Living alone, I don’t have to do laundry often. But when I had the girls at home, I had quite a bit of laundry to do. One thing you NEVER ever saw in my house, because it is a pet peeve of mine, was dried laundry smooshed up in a laundry basket, getting wrinkled. 

It doesn’t make sense to do that. Most of the time your dried laundry gets wrinkled, and you end up washing it again to get the wrinkles out. OR: you have to iron it. What a waste of time, water and effort. 

So when your laundry is ready, fold it or hang it up as soon as the cycle is over. Much less work in the long run.

7) Purge, and purge often

I just took about 100 or so books off my book shelves. I’m donating them to whatever business or organization that will come get them. 

I’ve been toting these books around for years, thinking I needed them. Even reference books lose their usefulness as time goes by. 

I was brutal in choosing what needs to go. I didn’t dally and look through each one and reminisce on what I liked about it. That will just cause you to put it in the “keep” pile. 

Same goes for clothing. If you haven’t worn it, referred to it, or used it in six months, it’s time to go to someone else.

8) The more you have, the more you have to store

I’ve been doing away with dishes and glasses and everything in the kitchen each move. And in between. 

Yes, I like pretty plates as much as the next woman. But space is an issue. Maintenance is an issue (as in dusting them). Need versus want is an issue. 

Figure out how much you really need, and donate or sell the rest. Give it to someone in the family or a friend who is just starting out.

You’ll feel gratified when you open your cabinet doors and see that things aren’t all jumbled up. And there is less to deal with.

9) If something big comes in, something big goes out

I have to do this, because I live in a one-bedroom apartment. I simply don’t have room. If you start taking pieces of furniture to your attic or garage or basement, it’s likely to sit there for years. 

Before your space becomes overwhelmed with odd bits of furniture, etc., plan a day to donate it. If it’s just taking up space at your home, then it may as well go to someone who really needs it. 

10) Keep all your cabinets organized. 

It really isn’t that hard. I get confused and agitated if I open a cabinet door and cans and glasses aren’t lined up. Yes, it’s an OCD issue. But it feels so good to open that door and see things all laid out in rows. 

It’s easier to find things. It makes your life easier. It looks better. 

So resist bringing groceries in and just throwing them hither and yon into the cupboards. You won’t see what you have and it might pass its expiration date. Then you’ve wasted money and have to toss it. 

So just do it as you bring it in. That way you don’t have to deal with it twice. 

And one final thought: Make your bed. It’s so gratifying to walk in the door and see a bed that’s all ready for your tired body. It gives you a more positive state of mind. It gets your day started on the right foot. 

You can ask my girls, I was often a hovering mother to grow up with. I didn’t allow junk or trash. I stayed on top of things because I simply can’t stand everything out of place. They grumbled about it then, I recall.

But remember you’re teaching them how to go out into the world and be organized adults. 

Go by: There’s a place for everything, and everything is in it’s place, and you’ll have a much happier and well-organized home.


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  2. I'm the same way and agree with all of your tips. The only one I'm bad about is folding the laundry right away. It's my least favorite chore, but right now it's all done and folded since yesterday đŸ™‚


  3. You and I are so much alike! I do all of these things because it makes it easier to clean a little at a time than do everything all at once. And the house stays neater that way! How much longer in the boot?

  4. Great tips but some of us have to deal with handicapped children who drool, make messes, strip off diapers, and generally make life very interesting. While I would love a perfect house, moderately clean is all I can manage. Nice dream though.

  5. I loved this post. I went back and read it a second time hoping it would sink into my head.I wish I had a little bit of your OCD. I would love for my house to be as neat and organized as yours is. I guess some of us just don't have what it takes. Sometimes I start and get so overwhelmed I could cry.I wish I could part with "lots" of books, but can't bring myself to. I can't stand dirty dishes or unmade beds. The organized part I just don't have.

  6. Great tips. An organized life is an easier life. My husband and son laugh because my spices are in alphabetical order in the cabinet BUT I know where try are when I want them.

  7. Great tips, Brenda! Now if I could just get my husband to follow along it would be a snap! I am the "neat" one and he is the "messier" kind. He DOES prefer a neat house though so we're almost there! At least he doesn't love a mess!

  8. Great tips, Brenda, and I agree with all of them. And try to practice most of them, too. I do have to work on keeping things too long…you know, the old "I might need it sometime" mentality.

  9. We are so much alike…I would go crazy if I had counters filled with everything I used to cook with! And I'm a stickler for making beds…my mom insisted that we do that and it carries on I think. I recently got rid of all my books other than gardening, decorating, etc. There are so many more to read!

    Jane x

  10. Yes…to everything you have suggested. I am better about some things than others. Ha! With downsizing after 25 years in one house…I recommend purging and not filling up the attic and basement like I did.
    Out allergist suggested that I dust with a slightly damp cloth…and then rub good wood with a dry cloth. Also…I clean painted woodwork with white vinegar water solution. Wring cloth very dry.
    Good post. Sheila

  11. Hi Brenda, I love this post and you are right on with every point. For me staying organized and keeping up on everything is the key. I even stand over the trash can as I go through the mail. LOL Can't stand clutter!
    Doesn't have to be perfect,but at least straight and organized.

  12. Try as I might, I just can't get neat. Get rid of something = need it the next day! But for people with better memories than mine, who can remember things they have to do, these are some swell rules. (My best fella was always complaining about his daughter leaving drinking glasses all over, when she lived with him awhile. I don't bother to mention that when he spends time here I'm always carrying HIS glasses to the kitchen.. LOL)

    Except for the rule about making the bed, I'm going to try again…….harder. I just heard on NPR that studies have been done and when we make our beds the next morning, we keep the dampness from our bodies inside the bed and the little critters that live all over the place will have a great breeding ground. "They" say that airing the bed during the day lets the fabrics dry out, and the desiccated little bugs are heaven-bound. But my grandmother taught me to leave the bed open to dry, but do it neatly so the covers just need pulling up at night. Anyone who goes into my bedroom has not business there, IMO! The little critters are the kind that people are allergic to, btw.
    Clutter being my middle name, I recently cleaned 2000 +letters out of my inbox. Shows you how bad I am!!But no sneezing in my bed…….!!!

  13. Those are all such great tips. I really like the one about when something new comes in something else goes out. I do that a lot because I don't live in a huge house and I don't want it too look crowded or cluttered.

  14. My husband use to ask me if its a want or a need when I bought something he didn't think we needed. I kept telling him that at our age everything is pretty much a want and that after 47 years of marriage he should know better than to ask me that question. LOL!

  15. #2 is me!! I cannot abide things in need of washing sitting in my sink or on the counter. It truly does make me crazy. I have to have a clean environment to cook in and everything has to be in it's place. These are all very helpful tips and I am purging more and more every day as I grow older. I already think of downsizing and don't want others making those decisions for me.

  16. I agree with all of these pointers! Clutter and messes make my mind crazy. I need things orderly…not perfect but orderly. Life just feels better that way. đŸ™‚

  17. Good stuff. I need, desperately, to go through my cabinets and purge. We are getting ready to put our house on the market, and I don't want to move everything that I moved last time (plus what we have acquired while we have been here). I'm seriously considering purging it all and buying new.

  18. #2 and #5 made me smile. My husband can never understand how he will have the whole kitchen out when he cooks and I just have the plates ready to serve the food. I get very controlling when I'm in the kitchen. My downfall, the coffee maker! I always forget!! Some great tips here Brenda. Have a wonderful week xx

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