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9 Reasons Why You’re Failing at House Cleaning

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Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh, but I think I know why many of us feel like we are failing at keeping up with cleaning our homes. Before I dive into all of the uncomfortable, in-your-face reasons, know I AM RIGHT THERE WITH YOU, SISTER! This is not about judgement. It is all about finding solutions!

Stack of dirty dishes in the sink.

Get more tips for cleaning the home here and specific tips for cleaning an entire bathroom here.

Tips for Keeping Your House Clean When you Don’t Know Where to Begin

I just finished a couple of different series on my blog related to organization and house cleaning. Several women have engaged with me about the struggles they are having in their homes.

Most seem to know HOW to clean their home, but there are a number of factors that are keeping them from starting the process, and of course, getting it done.

Sweeping wood floors with swiffer.

After some of the discussions I’d had with friends and blog readers, I realized these are things I often struggle with as well.

So while this post is intended to be a bit of a kick in the tail to help motivate you to get things done, it is also an encouragement.

Know you are not alone.

I do not know a single person that has a spotless home with little to no effort.

All of the pretty Pinterest pictures you see are just a moment in time. Do YOUR best and forget all of the rest. As we all know, different seasons of life can bring struggles. If you have littles at home, your house will not be the same as an empty nester’s.

No matter what “season” you are currently going through, you have your own set of challenges. We are going to try to address those today!

Reasons Why You Are Failing at House Cleaning

SO…What are the main reasons you might be failing at cleaning your house?

1. You are Overwhelmed

You are not really sure how it happened, but you look around and your home is a complete mess! Where in the world do you even start?

When any problem seems too big, it’s easy to feel paralyzed and do NOTHING. Unfortunately, if this is the approach, the mess will only get messier!

A common saying that fits is ‘the only way to eat an elephant, is one bite at a time’.

Yes, this is a strange and somewhat disgusting saying. BUT, what it really means is that it is crucial to break big tasks into small, manageable pieces that you can actually accomplish.

When eating an elephant take one bite at a time.

Creighton Abrams

This might mean that the entire kitchen is a disaster, but by doing something small such as unloading the dishwasher, you have taken the first step.

If you have a big mess, perhaps begin by focusing on one particular room. Then, within that room, determine what initial steps you can take in order to see an improvement.

Stack of clothes on hangers on twin bed.

2. You have too much junk

During my recent organizational challenge, my family cleared out a ton of junk in our home. When you commit to getting rid of things you no longer use or need, it’s amazing how freeing it can be.

I think there are several methods for sorting through your things with the goal being to purge. But I have found the following strategies to work very well for clearing clutter:

  • Clear everything out of the space you are cleaning
  • Sort through your things, placing them in piles to KEEP, DONATE, or TRASH
  • Envision how you plan to use the space when you are finished
  • Find organization containers to fit the needs of the space you envisioned
  • Label everything!

I’m a big fan of the KonMari Method. I do not follow every detail of her organizational methods, but I think she has some wonderful suggestions to help you get rid of things in your life that you simply no longer need.

Purging junk from garage for better home organization.

3. You are too busy

Little by little, you have overcommitted yourself. Maybe it’s at work, with helping family, with neighbors, volunteering for school projects for your kids.

Whatever the reason, when you are going in a hundred different places (either physically or even with your thoughts), it is impossible to get things done well.

Take a moment to sort through commitments in your life that you feel are draining you mentally and physically. Are there obligations you are able to eliminate?

Perhaps you get roped into doing things because you have trouble saying “no”. Believe me, I have been there so many times!

A sweet friend from church, who happens to be about 10 years older and wiser than me, suggested a phrase that I absolutely love: “I would love to, but have to say no at this time”. She further discusses how you can be a good person with a kind heart and still say no.

I would love to, but have to say no at this time.

Julie M.

When someone tries to rope you into helping with a task (even if it’s wonderful and you love the idea), but you know you just do NOT have the time, nor the energy, it is ok to say no.

It is also ok to not give a reason or excuse. I used to say things like “I just don’t think I can right now, BUT if you can’t find someone else to help let me know”.

Almost always, I would get a call that no one else could help and I ended up doing the thing anyway.

I realize it sounds hateful, but sometimes you just have to say “NO” and save your sanity.

4. You are not getting enough help from other family members

Are you a micromanager?

Once again, I am not pointing fingers as this is so often me. Sometimes it seems easier to just do it ourselves because our family members don’t complete a cleaning project how we think it should be done.

Unfortunately, this can mean nothing gets done at all!

That is not better, you guys!

Plus, it robs our kids from valuable life lessons for their future. Some day, our kiddos will move away and won’t it be a shame if we haven’t provided them with proper guidance on how to manage a household on a day to day basis?

It’s also ok for a husband and wife to both have cleaning duties around the house. Of course all of our circumstances are going to be quite different.

BUT, if you need help, ask!

School age girl with brown hair reaching for bowl in kitchen cabinet.

5. Your expectations are unrealistic

If you are expecting perfection when it comes to house keeping for your home, you will likely be disappointed every time.

If you have very small children, chances are good it will never be spotless. This doesn’t mean you are a failure in any way. It merely means this is where you are in your life.

I’ve noticed as my kids get older, currently they are 14 and 12 years old, our home stays a little cleaner than it did a few years ago. Most days.

But, it still is an ongoing battle for me.

I try to realize that a spotless home is simply not as important to my kids, or frankly to my husband. They care more about having fun, enjoying company of family or friends, or just hanging out.

There is a lesson in that, I believe.

Let’s try to actually LIVE in our homes instead of striving to make them magazine cover worthy. That pressure is just too much.

Friends and family care more about spending time with us than marveling over how perfectly clean every little nook and cranny in our home might be.

Get over the pressure you are putting on yourself for house cleaning perfection and adopt the “good enough” mentality. Sometimes we must strive for our absolute best, other times, it is ok to just not.

6. You have poorly planned organizational systems

Another lesson I learned during my organizational challenge and cleaning-the-entire-house series is that it’s easier to fail with house cleaning if your organizational systems aren’t convenient.

This is especially true with kids, but I’ll be honest in that it holds true for me as well!

Every item in your home should have a specific AND CLEAR location it belongs, so family members don’t find it a huge inconvenience to put things away.

Did you know that the Disney parks have trash cans no further than 30 feet apart from one another? They do this so people are much more likely to actually throw away their trash versus letting it fall to the ground.

They made throwing away trash convenient, so people use the trash cans and in turn, there are much fewer incidents of trash being left on the ground or other areas of the park where it doesn’t belong.

I’m not suggesting you keep trash cans in every corner of your home;-)

BUT, I think you get the idea that your cleaning and organizational systems need to be convenient!

7. You need to be more efficient with your time

I’m learning that I am really good at finding distractions to keep me from diving into a house cleaning project.

The biggest perhaps is social media. Instead of perusing Facebook, start sweeping the floor or whatever task you know needs to be done.

It’s also helpful to complete all of one particular task at a given time, while you have the supplies out. For example, if you are cleaning the toilet in one bathroom, do it in all of the bathrooms while you’re at it.

Another example is dusting all areas of the home at one time. Then, it’s all finished at once and you know it’s done!

8. You are not planning ahead

Admittedly, I am a planner.

I love having schedules and lists. Even if this is not you, I think you could benefit from having a structured system to help you plan your cleaning for the week.

Snag this free house cleaning schedule from freeorganizingprintables.com.

It is really helpful to plan the deep cleaning tasks around crazy times in our week. There is no shame in finding ways to make your life a little easier.

For example, if I know I have an evening full of kids’ activities, I will make my cleaning tasks minimal and stick with only the basic tidying that day.

By the way, I have a super simple cleaning hack I think you’ll love! Click on the image of the glasses to see how I get rid of nasty water spots on glassware:

Water spots on stacks of glasses.

9. You are tired

I get it. You are on the go all of the time, making sure your family has everything they need.

Take some time to rest.

It’s like the discussion on an airplane…put the mask on yourself first, and then help others.

If you are consistently spread too thin and running on fumes, you are not being effective. Take care of yourself!

In conclusion: 9 Reasons Why you are failing at keeping your home clean:

  1. You are overwhelmed. JUST START
  2. You have too much junk. PURGE
  3. You are too busy. Learn to SAY NO
  4. Not enough help from family members. ASK FOR HELP
  5. Unrealistic expectations. Your home is a place to LIVE
  6. Poor organization. Make putting things away CONVENIENT
  7. You are inefficient with your time. DON’T GET DISTRACTED
  8. You aren’t planning ahead. Use a WEEKLY CLEANING SCHEDULE
  9. You are tired. REST

Best of luck with tidying your home. Remember, being perfect is not the goal. Strive to make your house a home!

If you missed the week-long house cleaning series, I’ve linked all five days below!


Don’t forget to pin WAYS YOU ARE FAILING AT HOUSE CLEANING to your favorite Pinterest board!

9 ways you are failing at cleaning your home.

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    1. Sherry, if I’m being honest, I despise house cleaning. So I get it! BUT, what I try to remember is how I feel when my home is in order. That is worth the effort to me. I also have found that convincing my family that it is a team effort helps. We have a few “clean everything you can in 15 minutes” moments. It doesn’t take care of all the mess, but it makes a nice dent. But of luck to you!

  1. This is really interesting and useful tips. I have been trying to clean my old store room from a while now, but everytime I end up thinking where to begin. LOL!

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