If you’ve lost your cleaning mojo, here’s how to find the motivation to clean house — no matter how out of control your home feels.
I get a lot of emails asking how to get motivated to clean. Even those of us who consider ourselves “clean freaks” sometimes need help to get out of a slump.
Read on for the simple steps that will lead you to rediscover your motivation to clean and keep you from losing it ever again.
How to Get Motivated to Clean
Why We Lose Motivation to Clean House
Sometimes, we lose our motivation to clean the house for predictable reasons. Life gets busy with school or work, for instance, and we have a temporary shift in our priorities. Once it’s over, though, we sometimes need help shifting priorities back to our homes.
There are other times when the cause is out of our control. Depression or illness strikes, and it’s all we can do to survive the day. Finding cleaning motivation isn’t even conceivable. At those times, cleaning house doesn’t seem worth the effort. We are grappling with more important, life-altering things. Honestly, that is okay!
I’ve Lost My Cleaning Motivation, Too
Several years ago, my husband was diagnosed with brain cancer. If you’ve never known someone with brain tumors, it’s a form of cancer that changes everything about a person. It’s a slow thing — so slow that sometimes you think you are the one losing their mind.
To make a long and very painful story short, between becoming my husband’s caregiver and later his widow, I lost my cleaning mojo for a while.
Wouldn’t you know, that was right as this website was beginning to take off? The irony wasn’t lost on me.
All of which is to say that I get it. I understand. I’ve been there, too.
How to Motivate Yourself to Clean
So, here’s what I learned about finding cleaning motivation. These steps helped me get my house cleaning groove back. I hope they’ll help you as well.
Start Small. No, Smaller than That.
Start with one surface. Not one floor of the house, not one room of it, not even an entire closet or one cupboard. Start with one surface. Don’t think about the rest of the house yet, and don’t feel guilty that you’re not doing more. You are doing something and that’s the first step.
In my case, the surface I committed to cleaning and keeping clean was our kitchen island. Also, it’s visible from every entrance of our home, so there’s no ignoring its mess. Plus, it’s the only convenient spot for food preparation. So, I decided that was the surface I’d commit to as I tried to find the
Commit to One Spot for Three Days.
Focus your efforts on that one surface. Clear it off. Polish it. Treat any nicks, scratches, or stains. Make a point to clean it every morning and again before bed. (Of course, I’m not implying that little gremlins are going to mess it up while you’re sleeping, though if your kids or spouse stay up later than you, they might.)
The point is, you are starting a routine of giving your home attention twice a day — you’re just starting small.
By picking one surface, you’ll get past any clutter blindness. Before long, h
Now, Reward Yourself.
You committed to cleaning an area, and you kept it clean on a schedule. You deserve recognition for your effort! Maybe don’t
For me, it was a fresh bouquet of gorgeous flowers — and not the kind that filled our home after my husband’s funeral. Seeing that cheery vase brimming with sunny blooms made me feel good. And feeling good made me want to keep going. (Related: How to Keep Your Home Clean Longer.)
Expand Your Focus.
Once you regain that sense of accomplishment, it’s time to start tending the rest of your house. It’s important to do this in small, manageable chunks.
Think you’re ready to tackle an entire room? Resist that temptation! It’s just too easy to get overwhelmed and give up — and that would start the whole cycle again. Instead, set a timer for 10 minutes and spend them cleaning in an all-out effort.
Feeling more confident now? Repeat that same all-out 10-minute effort in various rooms for a few days, then start working for 20-minutes at a time. By the
Let’s face it, we all feel ashamed when we lose our cleaning motivation. Shame makes us close up and keep to ourselves — we stop inviting friends to visit or discussing with anyone how the mess is overwhelming us.
The antidote to shame is validation.
Remember when you were a kid? Back then, validation came through gold stars, Brownie points, or praise from our parents. As adults, we have to seek it out ourselves. If your spouse isn’t the type to recognize your efforts, telling a friend about your accomplishment can work.
Or join our Do Home Better group on Facebook — we celebrate each others’ accomplishments and support each other through homemaking challenges!
Ready for more? Once you’re back into the swing of things, expand your cleaning efforts weekly until you’re covering the entire house. (Need checklists for the other rooms? You’ll find them here.)
Don’t panic if it takes a while the first time!
If you need to, work in 10 and 20-minute bursts broken up with rewards and validation. It’s okay to go at your own pace, just keep going.
Note the Time.
The more consistent you are about cleaning on a weekly basis, the less time it will take. Don’t believe me? Time yourself the first time you work in a room, then time yourself again a week later and compare your results.
Timing yourself overcomes the fear that cleaning will take forever.
During my cleaning slump, I put off cleaning my bathroom because it seemed like such an enormous task. So, I timed myself. Turns out, it only took 20-minutes. That’s it! Now, I get motivated to clean by remembering how much better I’ll feel in 20 minutes if I just do it.
Need more structure?
You don’t have to go it alone! If you need step-by-step guidance, you’ll love the plan in my book 30 Days to a Clean and Organized House. You just open the book and do that day’s tasks. Yep, it’s that clear-cut.
At the end of 30 days — or even longer, if you like — your home will be transformed, and you’ll have learned to keep it that way all the time.