Maintaining a clean house may seem like a never-ending battle. However, it is possible to win both the battle and war against a cluttered, dirty house. A busy life may cause you to backslide without changing old habits. Waiting until spring to clean is okay, but you can maintain a clean house during each season. You can make your home a sanctuary of calm and cleanliness with a few helpful tips.

1. Put Things Where They Belong

The number one rule in your home should be to put back whatever is taken out. Leaving things lying around is a breeding ground for clutter. Have one place for outerwear and shoes when you enter the house.

A good practice is to take shoes off at the door to prevent tracking in dirt. If you have children, make this a requirement as well as for backpacks and lunch boxes that are also susceptible to mud.

Keep anything that does not belong in living areas out. Make sure your children put lunch boxes in the kitchen. Keep a wastebasket handy to throw away notices that your children may receive from school that are not important. If you wait to throw those away later, later might not happen.

2. Don’t Allow Dishes to Pile Up

It is tempting after a large meal to just relax and let the dishes wait. However, if you wash dishes immediately, you will not have to dread doing them later. Make it a family event, especially if you hand wash the dishes. One person can wash, one can dry and another can put the dishes away.

Another helpful hint is to wash dishes and utensils as you prepare a meal. For example, if you use a measuring cup, wash it out once you know you will not need it again.

3. Make Cleaning and Organization a Ritual

By not allowing your house to get dirty and unorganized, you really have to stay on top of things. It is easy to allow ingredients to clutter the kitchen counter when cooking. However, if you put things away after each use, you are not overwhelmed. Wipe down the stove and counters while your meal is cooking. You might also be able to quickly sweep or mop the kitchen floor.

Throw away junk mail as soon as it arrives. Have one area for magazines and catalogs that you might want to look at later.

Besides the kitchen, most people also dread cleaning the bathroom. Avoid allowing dirt, soap scum and grime to accumulate, making it much harder to clean later. Put used towels in the hamper or hang them on towel racks for reuse. Spray the shower and wipe down the sink. Keep cleaning tools and cleaners in the bathroom for convenience.

A few minutes each day will add up, eliminating the need to spend longer periods of time on accumulated dirt.

4. Create a Cleaning Schedule

You can create a schedule for daily, weekly, monthly and semi-annual cleaning activities. A schedule might help keep you and your family motivated.

Daily cleaning typically focuses on areas that have high traffic on a daily basis. The daily schedule might include washing dishes and cleaning counter tops. Practice keeping clutter under control with mail and school notices. Additionally, add cleaning the bathroom to the daily schedule.

Weekly cleaning activities might include vacuuming, doing laundry, changing linen and cleaning at least one shelf in the refrigerator. You can also wipe down floors in the kitchen, bathroom and/or hallway.

The monthly schedule could focus on one room, performing a top-to-bottom cleaning. Monthly you can dust the windowsills and vacuum under the bed. If you have a mattress that requires periodic flipping, now is the time to do it.

Semi-annually, you can devote cleaning time for all windows, carpets and organizing closets. Have a yard sale or donate seasonal clothing to a thrift store.

5. Organization, Organization, Organization

With work and determination, you can maintain a clean and organized house. Assign a place for everything in your house. Use storage containers of all shapes and sizes where necessary. Working smarter – not harder – will go a long way to keeping your house organized and give you more time for other things.

This post was contributed by George Baker, a writer and reviewer for an online store which deals with vacuum bags, and specializes in Bosch hoover bags, a widely used vacuum brand in England.

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