How to Tackle a Messy House

I had the best time this weekend!  I mean, THE. BEST.

There were so many favorite things involved: helping friends organize and decorate, finding treasures in my mother-in-law’s kitchen, lunching at my favorite local restaurant, Saturday night crafting, Sunday afternoon thrifting and taking K.K. to her first princess party.

I normally keep up with basic housekeeping on the weekends by using morning and evening routines.  It’s simple stuff that keeps my life from spiraling down into general untidiness.

But this weekend, I just didn’t wanna.  After waiting way too long to engage in social activity, I got out and didn’t want to go home.

On Sunday when nightfall came, all good things came to and end.   I found myself in the doldrums of Sunday evening under three days worth of dishes, laundry and crafting.

I was faced with a choice.

A.) Put children to sleep, lock into robo-cleaning mode and wake up to an orderly house.

B.) Go to bed at a reasonable hour and tackle it fresh in the morning.

C.) Wallow by ignoring the mess and logging on to Pinterest instead.  Let mayhem ruin my productivity for the week.

I chose “B” on account that there was no time for “C” and I am a morning person, not a night owl.   Staying up late is the enemy since I cannot necessarily count on those warm-n-cozy hours of sleep between 1 am and 5 am.

I was glad I went to bed early right in the hot mess.  I got up the next morning, despite my dread, and tackled the mess.  By noon it was history.

One of my most popular posts on From Faye is about the ways I motivate myself to do housework.  At the time I wrote it, it was just for fun.  Well, apparently it is much more serious to the Googlers and Pinners of the world!  (Mkay, I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t also Googled “housework motivation”…because let’s face it, I have.)

Therefore, the only reasonable thing to do would be to write a post about my method for tackling a messy house on a Monday morning!  (Also known as “crisis cleaning.”)

How to Tackle A Messy House

The secret to this method?

Gain momentum by eliminating the decision-making that slows us down and gets us off-track.  In other words, less THINKING, more DOING!

I break the process into stages because as a mom of two littles, my life is lived in fifteen minute increments!  Having a method gives me a sense of accomplishment and helps keep me on track even with frequent detours.

Here’s a little bit of what I was greeted with on Monday morning when I woke up:

How To Tackle A Messy House On A Monday Morning 2


How to Tackle A Mess House On A Monday 1

Yes, that is a dirty diaper on my kitchen table.  And a play cookie on an iPhone.  I don’t know.  These things happen.

Here is how I handle these delicate situations.  Take a deep breath and repeat to yourself:  I AM BIGGER THAN THIS MESS.   Now channel your inner June Cleaver as you do the following:

The first step is to get myself together.

How to Tackle A Messy House on A monday 4

You’re useless to the world in pajamas.  Grab some basic hygiene, your supplements and some coffee.  Trust me.  It works better this way.  (If you want, you could dress to shoes).

You are now ready to face anything.

You will need two laundry baskets and a plastic bag.

How to Tackle A messy House on A Monday 5

When your house is in utter disarray, the worst thing you can do is start obsessing about the details.  You need instant, visual gratification so you can gain momentum.

After years of studious analysis, I have concluded that all messy houses are made up of three things:

1.) Dirty Laundry

2.) Trash

3.) Stuff that Does Not Belong (either needs to be donated or put away)

We address these first because it will make your house feel insta-clean.


Grab a couple of laundry baskets and a plastic bag.  One of the laundry baskets is for dirty laundry.  The second basket is for stray items that do not belong.  The plastic bag is for straight up trash.

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Without much thought, fly through each room of the house gathering dirty laundry, trash, and all stray items.


Stray item = basket.

If a particular item belongs in that room (like blocks on the nursery floor), you can leave it.  You will get to that later when you do basic tidying.

Not sure if it’s trash?  Basket.

Find a $100 bill?

Basket.  Basket.  Basket.

Your basket should be a fairly random pile of foolishness.  Receipts mixed in with a pile of headbands and play cookies will make your OCD start to twitch, but just ignore it.  I had two baskets of mayhem when I was done.

Here is what the inside of my “stray items” baskets looked like:

DSC 0683

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When I’m finished gathering, I put my laundry, trash and stray items in one spot where I can deal with them later.  For me, that spot is the kitchen table.

There it is.  My messy house.  Yours may be a bigger pile, or a smaller one.  Doesn’t matter.

How to Tackle A Messy House Final Step

Once the the bulk of the chaos is cleared away, I can actually think straight!  My quality of life just went up like 100 points.

I move on to the next step which is my basic tidying.  That includes tasks like making beds, picking up toys, and doing the dishes.

How to Tackle A Messy House On A Monday 3

When this step is done you’ll start to feel like life is worth living again.

You are ready for step 4.

Trash and Laundry

Take the trash out and start a load of laundry.  Ah.  Instant gratification.  Two big things are instantly cleared from your pile.  Plus, the washer is going, which makes everything feel better anyways.

Your final step is to put away the foolishness in the baskets.

Step 5

I save this for the end because it requires the most thought.  If you want to, you can leave this part for when the house is quiet and the kids are napping.

I complete the last step by sorting my baskets into piles according to where they belong.  Like this:

Final Sort

Then I deliver each pile to it’s home.  I have to credit my mom with being the queen of the oh-so-tedious “sort and deliver.”  She taught me her ways.

And there you are.  You have just tackled a messy house and showed it who is boss.

This particular day, I started at 9:30 and was finished by 12:30.  This was with snacks, lunch, naps,  a silly toddler and a little teether by my side.

So, how do YOU tackle a messy house?  Give me your secrets!  Pinterest is waiting!

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  • Eco Chic Mama

    LOVE IT!!! This was my exact situation this week and I had a GRAND plan to dash home from work wednesday 1 hour before my husband arrive to deal with 1) randoms 2) 3 days of dishes.. we are talking 3 meals, 2 deserts kind of dishes- gag.

    As im leaving the store I get a text “wow” from the husband.. home early from work (this never happens)
    I think.. uh oh SO BUSTED!!!!!
    So he said go get chipolte and I might not kill you… I went and got dinner and came home to a tidy house. You might give that one a try one day??!!! JK!!

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE and testify to “life is worth living again” so true.

    Clean and inspire on sister friend.

    • JMSeibel

      Miss Faye, Sounds like 701 Stuckey. You learned well. Love DAD

  • Rachel Bobbs

    “because as a mom of two littles, my life is lived in fifteen minute increments! ”

    I cannot tell you how many times I have thought the EXACT same thing. I tackle every single project in my home the exact same way, what can I do in 15 min increments? Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Jess

    This is amazing! What an innovative way to tackle all that randomness around the house!!! Love the random basket, will I get motivated to unrandomize it? Lol but I love that I can carry it all around to reach individual room to make organizational “stops” instead of running around like a crazy mad woman retracing steps already made. Thanks for sharing!

  • Cheryl S.


  • Amy S.

    I totally use the trash bag and basket method (clothes & shoes for one and everything else in the other). Almost exactly the way you do –except that if I’m not careful I’ll leave the random baskets sitting around the house for weeks. EEEK! This is a great practical post.

  • Emma

    I just sat down to the computer (instead of tidying my horrid mess, formally called home) to avoid it I googled ‘I dont want to clean my messy house’ found this post and am now about to get some baskets and bags. Thanks a lot! No, really. :)

    • frugalfaye

      Emma, you would be shocked at how many people find my blog my Googling the same thing! Ha ha! I even do it myself!

      • TRG

        Ditto Today!

      • Bridget Kay

        that is what i just did. i left my messy kitchen past my kid horrid room, then my room with has been invaded with laundry and into my crazy living room sat at my computer and got on pinterest and searched “how to clean a messy house.”
        so glad i found this. thank you

    • Kupu CM

      I did the same thing.. We don’t have baskets so I’m using diaper boxes.. which I might just re-enforce and paint. Thank you so much Faye ^^

  • Kelsey

    omg! first i’m dying over Emma’s comment just below mine :) my house is crazy town and i seriously just googled “my house is a mess” and a bunch of pictures popped up of super messy houses and I already felt better about mine. LOL!!! and this link came up and i feel super motivated!!! this is such a brilliant idea!! THANKSSSSS.

    • frugalfaye

      Okay, you just made me have to Google the same thing and I did…yeah I feel pretty good about myself! Ha ha!

  • Jen Antoniou

    When we had hard flooring, before we moved here, I would just sweep everything into one huge “hot mess” pile, and instantly felt a boost as there were clear areas. Then I sorted trash, clothings, toys and misc. It is so much easier that way! I do use a method like this, when I do it. However, mine consists of 1) LARGER baskets and 2) LARGER trash bag. LOL… I should have taken a pic of Sunday’s mountain of clothing… the great clothing purge courtesy of my littles… now I realize they really don’t need much for winter, short of shoes and more outerwear. Perhaps some warmer pajamas, but overall, we are pretty good. Love this post. Wish I read it BEFORE physical therapy as I am all motivated and unable to do anything much about it right now. Darn. Guess I will take a nap and see if that helps so I can get to it this evening… still dealing with remnants of wardrobe mountain.

    • frugalfaye

      I’m looking forward to having hardwoods someday so I can use the sweep method!

  • amoma

    Im going to get me some baskets too!


    Looks like a good plan… Not for addhers though! I couldn’t spend 3 hours straight cleaving without giving up and doing something more entertaining. Id get all the way to the point of doing the dishes and stop before i even got the dishes half way organized for washing and the baskets would sit for at least a week. Works better me to grab all that belongs in bathroom and put it there and so forth… Then take a while break and force myself to organize the dishes then come back to them later to wash.


      And goes totally against the logic my mom pounded in my head to never touch the same thing twice while cleaning (aside from.dishes of course) Totally makes sense to do it that way, i see how it would work way better… But as i said was pounded in my head lol hard to ignore!

      • frugalfaye

        So funny! I’ve never heard that one before!

    • frugalfaye

      Yes, my mother-in-law is ADD and she cleans by zones too! Says it keeps her on track :)

  • Jessica Couture Cox

    I Love Love Love the random basket idea!!! I have Attention deficit disorder and have a hard time sticking to one room to clean because of having to go back and forth when I find things that don’t belong in the room I’m cleaning. I will be cleaning the bathroom and I will find something that belongs in my daughter’s room and then all of a sudden I start cleaning up in her room. The random basket method has worked wonders!!! I am actually able to clean a whole room without having to leave it!!!! Thank You!

    • frugalfaye

      I’m the same way…I get distracted and hung up on decision-making when I should be cleaning up!

  • Jessica Couture Cox

    Great idea!!!!! A trick I have taught my children, when cleaning there room is to take everything they have all over the floor and put it on there bed with the exception of garbage. The room looks cleaner and like the basket method you then just put everything back in its place. This always worked for me when I was a kid. It works great because if you don’t put everything away then your sleeping on the floor. LOL

  • Kristie Drury Lent

    Although this seems like a good strategy, it seems like the basket if randomness would end up never getting tackled in my house! It would just continue to grow more out of control and I’d be back in the same boat. Also, the sort and deliver method as you call it hardly ever works for me either because by the time I sort in to piles I am so tired of doing house work that the piles end up staying where they are and then I am right back at where I started in the first place. Any other methods you have because this one definitely doesn’t work for me.

    • frugalfaye

      Yes that is definitely one of the “cons” to this method! The other methods I like are to clean up by doing one zone at a time (like a countertop or other surface) or by seeing what I can do in two minutes!

  • Dee

    All I can say is thank you for this post. You saved my day.

  • Lynn

    Love this post, instead of one put-away basket for everything, I allocate one to each person in the house (me, husband, 3 kids) and put their stuff in the baskets which they can sort themselves …. saves me a little bit of work.

  • Star Anise

    Let’s see how this goes… I was totally unmotivated and found you by googling “housework motivation” – was taken to the post about motivation before this one – and now feel a wee bit more prepared. I am off to get myself ready and then start the sort process!!!

    Thanks for such great posts!

  • Ms.emily.28

    I love your sorting at the table. I’m bad about grabbing one or two things to put away, and getting lost in lala land before I make it back to the random things basket. About to try this now!

    • Joanne Ward

      Me too … I wish I didn’t have to start with clearing the table!

    • Linda Napolitano

      I think I saw you wandering around in lala land. I go there quite often! But this info has definitely helped me more than once. So nice to know I’m not the only one who has clutter issues!!

  • Naya

    I blew out a huge sigh of relief after reading this post. Firstly because it helps knowing other women are struggling with the same housework craziness but I also gleaned some really, really helpful suggestions!
    Thanks a million! Def using that basket trick!!!

  • Claire Carter

    Searched how does my house get messy in one day! Every single day its a disaster from just 3 people. LOL and found your blog and I feel like cleaning but i’m going to go to bed becuz its like 12:00 am and got to get up at 6:55 totake daughter to school at 7:45 and then off to work at 8:00. Morning doesn’t work for me either. I have to get atleast 8-9 hours of sleep, but most the time I don’t cuz I clean a little but it doesn’t all get done. I have been cleaning and did 3 loads of laundry for like a hour already. I’m always dead tired when I get home from work anywhere from 3-7pm since I work at a hotel and clean all day and then I don’t want to come straight home and clean again! blah… Any advice? Thanks!

  • Mommyhatter

    I have a 3 year old,a 2 year old, a 2 month old and all of the clutter that comes with a crazy family of 5, plus I’m completely exhausted. This is genius!!! Thank you!!! Nothing has ever given me as much motivation as this instantly gratifying method. Off to clean up.

  • Tina Chambers

    I’m going to try this method! I moved last November and I still have boxes in the dining room that need emptied out. It was easy at first because the boxes were all from the same room, so I could take a box to the room and unload and then pitch the box. But I’m down to the boxes that were packed last and are a jumble of random stuff. So I look at them and think “I really need to do something with these” and then feel overwhelmed and go watch tv.

    I guess I need to sit down with one box at a time, sort things out, and then put them up. Your method makes sense. One step at a time. Or, three really, but it’s still one step, right?

    • fromfaye

      I am SO with you right now! I have a dining room table and a whole room full of random, jumbled stuff. It is hard to do one box at a time because sometimes you have to find all the items of that one category before you can know exactly where to put it..if that makes sense. I’m saying if I’m unpacked by Christmas I’ll feel really good!

  • Mia

    Love this blog I just googled how to motivate me to clean my messy house

    • fromfaye

      I don’t know how many times I’ve googled that myself! Ha ha! I’m glad you found us!

  • Beth

    This is really good! We live in a studio type space with a bathroom and a kids bedroom and I have 3 kids under 3 so things get crazy real fast. Sometimes I will literally put every single thing onto my made bed so that the floor and surfaces look clean and then I can actually think about where things go. Before that I’m too overwhelmed.

    • Beth

      Oh, and I also got on Pinterest looking for cleaning motivation and found you…so thank you!

  • Alaina

    Having the washer going really does make everything better! I’ve never actually verbalized that thought but I feel that every time I do laundry. Seriously, wash a load of laundry-conquer the world.

  • kristi

    I love this!!! It reminds me of how I Clean my car out! Never thought to use the strategy in my house! Totally going to do it!

  • Aliira

    Everytime I don’t want to clean I bring this page up and instantly feel the urge to tidy up and clean up my act! THANK YOU SOO MUCH!

    • fromfaye

      Yay I’m so glad! I was at dinner with my brothers and parents and we were all laughing about this post because it’s how my dad taught us to clean up….there were seven of us kids about 2 years apart!

  • Niha

    Wow. I’m at a point where I need to start getting things together in my life and a messy house is one of it. Looks like I’m about to do laundry for the first time ever!

  • Ariel

    WOW !!! you just have saved my life at this moment. I don’t know how it happened but this was a very busy week and everything in my house is a mess , and I felt overwhelmed , and the worst part is that I was wandered around like crazy without really completing anything, went into a room and wanted to organize there, went to another and the same, and NOTHING !!! totally paralyzed , then I sat down and search for something to help me, and voila , your post appeared !!! Excellent , excellent , thank you !!!

  • Kristin

    Have been avoiding the mess all weekend and searched “how to clean a house” on pintrest. So happy I found this. It just made the entire process much more manageable. Bless you! :)

  • Danette Shults

    Think I need two dump trucks and a front loader. So out of control. This is great advice. I need something to get over the overwhelmed that is to the point of unliveable! Have not been able to have guests in over a year.

  • Phoenician Sparks

    I just literally ran across this by accident. I’ve got one sick kid, one well kid who’s all male and wide open, and me…who’s oldest child shared her cooties with. My house in just a few days (take into account boxes of Christmas decs) is upside down to me. Probably not as bad as I see it, but AARGH! This really helps me, especially with me feeling unwell. Even if I can’t tackle all things today (bodies tell you when enough is enough when fighting a bug), I know I can at least look like I’ve accomplished something! And as I have the energy, I’ll attack each pile one by one. Thank you tons! :) Feeling like I’m not totally buried now!

  • Krissy

    I got on Pinterest and put clean my house fast, so here I am. I took your idea and ran wild with it. I went to each room of the house, followed your rules, then after the crazy was gone, did the cleaning in that room, dusting, mopping, toilets etc. I ran the washing machines (yes, I have 2 sets

    • Jenn

      My mother passed away Monday & I let basic things slide. So today, I brought one of my kids to school, came home, saw the mess & crawled back in bed. I googled motivation to tackle a messy home on my phone & came across this. I know I’m useless in pajamas , I’ve always known this. So gonna throw some clothes on (the shower can wait til later) some shoes & get busy. My mom always worked hard around the house , never had a lazy day or a pajama day so with your help I’ll have a clean house before I pick up my daughter. A small way to honor my mother. Thank you.

      • fromfaye

        Jenn, I am so, so, sorry to hear about your loss. I can imagine the grief would make anyone want to crawl right back into bed. What a beautiful way to honor your mom. Sending prayers your way!

  • Beth

    I guess just knowing there is someone else going through the same thing is helpful. I work 12 hr shifts and I am a single mom of two boys. It’s so easy to just put off the house until it’s nearly ready for the health department eviction. I appreciate the basket method and I have used the timeclock in the past, but with over an hour on the clock. I think less time would be better. I look forward to your tips. Great site.

    • fromfaye

      It is truly impressive that you are a single mom of two working 12 hour shifts AND tidying your house! I am inspired. Moms like you make this world go ’round.

  • Aurora Sevier

    Thanks… I googled how to motivate myself to clean my house, I found you. This is entertaining and informative. I first was on to your other article about motivating and found this one very useful very similar to my own tactics thanks again, off to clean.

    • fromfaye

      I am so glad! You wouldn’t believe how many people Google that term! The struggle is real! Hope your house is peaceful and sparkling. :)

  • Farheen Imran

    ok I am too a messy person. I want a clean house(partially becahse my husband is a cleAN FREAK).but cleaning sounds to me a complege wastage of time. now my.ptrioblem is I clean the house everyday but my toddler with ita apilssn crumbs floor I.dint to.anythin is always appearing with itemz on counger. cuz I am confused aby qhr to.put.what. I finally made sectiona for.ev thing but my out.wvrythingfrom the lower secton. n yes single.socks,clips and n the laundry rak.all.loaded makes me sick. my toddler exactly.stands in the spot cleaninv n tht eventually out. my husband comes for.lunch I.have to serve food twice obv I reheat fkr lunch. so dunno what to do.during mu todd nap. cookinf cleaning grooming what??

    • fundad

      Your message is almost incomprehensible. Is a cat walking over your keyboard while you type? Sorry, but I wish I could understand what you were saying because I want to understand the minds of messy people.

      • LDA76

        I can’t speak for others, but in my case, it has to do with avoidance of choices. You have to make decisions about what to keep and what to throw away. If a person is depressed or anxious, it can make them freeze up, feel overwhelmed, and chuck it all to the side and watch tv.
        Also, when I was growing up, cleaning was done by maids (we lived overseas so it wasn’t because we were super rich) and when we moved back to the States my parents decided I would be the maid. I became really resentful of cleaning in general.
        I’m not saying that it makes sense, or is a sane way to live, I’m just telling how it has been with me.
        I am now tackling my emotions and having to tell myself that the only person getting punished by not cleaning is ME.
        I’m always going to be messy. But I want a better quality of life, and I am not going to give up on finding a system down that works for me. This article may do it.

  • Livinguptoexpectations

    This may be my saving grace! I’ve been struggling for a long time and thought I was the only disorganized SAHM out there! Thanks for the steps along with pics to confirm I’m not alone!

    • fromfaye

      You are not alone! I had to us this multiple times over the holidays to get the chaos under control! We all get disorganized when live throws us curve balls and routine changes! Six months after moving and I’ve still got major cleaning out to do!

  • Ericka Kelsey Hardin

    I love Faye! Seriously this was the most helpful post about housecleaning I’ve ever read. Everything else I’ve read seems to start with this, “I love cleaning and organizing!” Seriously? I’m mean, you really love it?! Well, all I can say is, that is not my situation. So instead of the post helping me with the overwhelming feeling of dread towards cleaning my house, these posts just make me feel overwhelming dread PLUS guilt because I don’t enjoy…it…at…all.

    Your post on the other hand let me know that there are others whose homes get messy, which is the first reason I love Faye. But your post also gave me tools that instantly got me over the feeling of dread and ready for action! Hi-ho-silver-AWAY! I literally read this post 1 hour ago and then went and did it. I got all the sorting done! And you’re right, I feel SO much better…which is the second reason why I love Faye.

    • fromfaye

      Thank you for your kind words Ericka!

  • DublinIreland

    I am 76 years old with 2 schnauzers and two cats, all of whom are house trained, litter box trained and don’t create a single mess except their beds need occasionally washing. So where does all this cotton picking chaos come from? It must be me. A week of constant appointments kept me out of the house and doing nothing inside, yet I still managed to mess everything up. The pajamas thing is so true. I have always needed to be clean and fixed up, with shoes, to get any house work done. Weird. Going to try your methods come Monday and see how well I do. I just read this quote somewhere today, and it might apply to those of us checking the net on how to clean our houses. It goes “Too much research is procrastination’s most elegant excuse”.

    • fromfaye

      I don’t know why, but a week out of the house always makes mine messier too! I don’t get it! What’s the deal!?

      • DublinIreland

        You made me laugh Faye. I don’t know what the deal is; one of the mysteries of life I guess.

  • Wzy

    I need some tips on how to get my bathroom cleaned, organized and maintaining it. It’s the one room that seems to constantly get ignored cause it’s just tough to keep on top of and now I do not know where to start. Plus, it’s ‘basics/foundation’ is gross (we rent). On top of that, due to my back issues, I cannot even get started on the bathtub. Have I complained enough yet? Seriously, it’s the one room that is just dirty all of the time and when I clean it spic & span, it just still looks so terrible. I’m not motivated and my back really HATES it.

    • fromfaye

      I am right there with you on the bathroom! We moved to a different house this summer and all the bathrooms are original 1987 with no updates at all! The basic foundation is well, gross! Even when I clean it, it still looks dingy because of age! I broke out the chemicals for it! I had a cleaning lady who came to do a once-over after we moved in (it was formerly occupied by bachelors) and she said she was glad I realized that. The only exception so far has been when my mom came last week and she was determined to clean my shower…I told her good luck. She found my chemical cleaners and went to town for about an hour with a scrub brush and tooth brushes! It looked better after! She has an older home and she says it just takes months and years of cleaning to get it looking better! Just all that to say…you’re not alone! My best tip is to just keep it simplified and picked up. That’s the best we can do!

  • sarah

    Thank you for this post, I’ve been doing something like this but this method really helps. i just cleared a lot of clutter using one basket while making myself some tea.

    • fromfaye

      That is awesome! Multi-tasking mama. I’ll have to try that!

  • Sharon

    This is super! Just what I needed Faye! I’m guilty of weeks worth of ‘things that don’t belong’ lying around the house. I’m doing this TODAY!

    • fromfaye

      I just had to do a mini version of this last night when I scheduled a last-minute play date and my house was a wreck with stuff everywhere! I ended up doing piles because my baskets were filled…but hey! It got done!

  • natuli729

    Thank you sooo muchhh ! Reading your post its what i really needed to get started! Really

    • fromfaye

      You can do it!

  • guest

    im a terrible procrastinator and my biggest obsticle is just the overwhelming mess that happens every single day…. i got a 3 year old and 2 cats to care for but besides that i get overwhelmed very easily….. i usually wake up in the mornings, look at the house (not overly messy but not clean either), and cringe at the thought of doing this…. i like this method and i’m gonna try it… maybe even get my 3 year old to pitch in a bit…. he loves to help momma and putting things where they go…. thank you Faye…. this little tip may just have saved me lots of heartache as my hubby is getting tired of the constant mess

    • fromfaye

      You can do it! I know just how you feel. Even the organized people get overwhelmed…I do usually every Monday morning!

  • odean

    Hi I’m always in a mess in my home, but I felt that if I organized how to tidy up it would be beneficial to me and it was!
    First, I got several plastic bin bags and wrote on each one the types of things I had laying around; books, clothes, toys, shoes, etc.
    Choosing a random room, I then I laid the bags out in a row. One by one I placed each object I to their designated bag.
    It was amazing how quickly each room became tidy and with what seemed like very little effort!
    It was refreshing not having to play, what I call, the ‘Domino Effect’ where you just end up shuffling objects around in your home like Dominoes!

    Hope this idea helps too! Good like and have fun …I did!

    • fromfaye

      That is a great idea! A little more of an organized approach than the basket method!

  • Kat

    This is how I do my “crisis cleaning,” too (which usually happens a couple times a week). The main thing that I do differently is that I start off in my kitchen- unload/load the dishwasher, wipe the counters, and throw away any trash (usually only like 10-15 minutes of work); then I move on to picking up all the kids’ toys, which I make them help with- we just throw the toys into their room and clean their room at another time. I’m also a stay at home mom with a 4 and 2 year old, so I think, “I can sneak off and scrub the tub until they discover I’m gone!” When they find me (in like 5-10 minutes), I just stop scrubbing the tub and that’s just as clean as it’s going to get today. This takes a lot of stress off of me when the kids keep interrupting my cleaning. I’ll hang out with the kids until they’re playing on their own, then sneak off to clean until they find me LOL! It’s actually kinda fun to furiously clean while hiding from the kids.

  • Hattieand Amos Deyo

    I love this idea!! So going to do it! But my house will need a few more baskets and bags… Finding the TIME is the problem for us. 4 kids, succesful home based business, toddler and infant (still nrsing) And a wonderful hubby who just doesn’t get “Everything has a home”. Nothing really has a home in our house… and that is what makes me crazy! Thanks for the tips. Will use them!

  • Laursaurus

    This is a great system because it’s so simple! I have a messy and dirty house (Google search brought me here, too. Amazing how I’m not the only one struggling with this).
    I did ALL the laundry yesterday. So YAY! But I’m sure I’ll find stray socks under the beds or a jacket all balled up somewhere.
    I really like tossing all the stuff that doesn’t belong in one basket. Making decisions is the hardest thing to do when you’re overwhelmed. So gathering up all the random stuff and sorting through it at the kitchen table is a great strategy. You’ve actually managed to motivate me with this upbeat post.
    I think once the tidying is done, I can just go to the room I need to clean, gather the items that belong in that room in a basket, knock out the dusting, vacuuming, etc, and put everything back in place. Thanks for planting the seed!
    One thing I’ve done that seems to help, is I have one of those laundry basket type hampers and a trash can in each bedroom. It just made it easier to tidy up, as well as, to train my kids, all boys, to drop their clothes in the hamper instead of the floor. They’re 13 and 16 now, so they’re old enough that I can just ask them to bring their laundry to the washer or take the trash out at least once a week the day before trash pickup. In the beginning, you have to show them regularly, I have all boys, so this process took some time with lots of reminders and reinforcement. I have my own organizational challenges, such as procrastination, being easily distracted, and even worse, thinking I have to do a perfect job, or why do anything at all. It’s not much, but I’m glad I was able to teach my boys a few good habits.

  • Tammy Parry

    Faye – Found this blog through google search! So excited to have a PLAN now! As a night shift nurse it’s hard to have energy to clean in the day, but I know it has to happen. But FIRST, some Tylenol, a quick nap, a Diet Coke….THEN – I’ll grab those baskets! Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Cheyenne

    A new job and having a cold in the same week… my house showed it. This method is a miracle! Thanks.

  • Liz Kole

    nicely done!

  • fundad

    Hi Everybody. Has anybody heard of, or could you imagine a mom that keeps the house messy most of the time, and gets upset when someone (ie. me) tries to do a serious cleanup? There are areas of the house that are an embarrassment, but she likes everything where it is and gets loud and upset when I try to make it look clean. The end result is, I feel helpless to do anything about the clutter.

    • fromfaye

      There is a book in listening to on audio which addresses that very issue. I HIGHLY recommend The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo! It’s a game changer. You can get it at the library or you can listen to the entire book for free on You Tube! Good luck with your tidying…it is contagious!

      • fundad

        It looks like it’s available on Thanks for the recommendation! Though in my situation, the clutter is only a symptom of a much larger issue. It’s about life-style and feeling comfortable in your own home. It’s about having a good relationship with your spouse and not being too embarrassed to have parents, friends, family over to visit! I hope your book addresses these things, though I’m afraid that changing another person’s habits towards tidiness is futile unless they understand the gravity of the problem and wish to change it.

        • fromfaye

          Yes I’m currently listening to it right now. I know the struggle with a messy spouse is real… mine has an extremely difficult time discarding things. Our first huge fight was over messy paperwork. I’ve had to take a very gentle approach and make sure he feels like I respect his things. His spaces (office and parts of the garage) are in disarray as well as all of our digital files. But as he has seen how nice it is to have tidiness in other parts of our lives, he lets me discard more and more. Thankfully, he is also the type of person who will follow a system if there is one. I have finally stopped being resentful that he is not naturally tidy/administrative and figured that’s why God has us together! Eight years of gently asking he is finally letting me throw some of his things away!

  • Farheen Imran

    ok fundad
    I got your rude reply.
    thanks for getting done with tidying up the flip side of your carpet and I totally understand how constructively busy lives of you neat freaks are….!!!
    someone. Truely said
    if you keep looking on the floor all you see is dirt.
    btw I have alway seen you clean freaks being rude to other people and just being big within your tidy bubble about how well you guys throw ppl out of your houses to keep that house clean.
    .. I m sorry for the mistypes tht was my kid snatching phone from me. Anyways.. Just because you have a cleaner house and you prefer spending years on cleaning and you defer replying to your message this long doesn’t mean you have a license to screew up others life!.. Thnx alot..
    manners come first cleaners come a bit late!

  • Victorious Tanaya Brooks

    I love the basket idea. When i clean its alwAys me walking in circles trying to put things away. I wander around get side tracked and i never complete everything. Im going out early in the morning to grab baskets more tradhbags and coffee. Im ready like Spongebob

  • kate sarginson

    I googled this because my house is a disaster right. I have been laid low by a virus for 10 days and just starting to feel a bit better. I live alone but not really as I have 7 cats and also was pet sitting two others for what was supposed to be 10 days and ended up for a month. My problem with the basket solution is that I never sort the baskets! I have a pantry filled with about 9 baskets filled with junk I just can’t deal with. I am a real clutter bug. I was sort of hoping some nice person would come and clean my house but so far none of my friends have volunteered. They all seem to have developed allergies to my cats. Great site by the way. Thanks for the tips.

  • Lisa

    P.S. I love the photos LOL!!!

  • Danielle L

    This is my life. I’ve been trying to FLY with Marla but I just can’t seem to stick to my routines! Fluttering about is my normal mode so I can’t seem to take off and FLY. This blog…perfection!

  • Kristen @ a Modern Mrs.

    This is great. The basket method is one of my favorites! Tried and true, actually. Remember, folks, sometimes the mess gets bigger before any progress can be made. ^_^

  • Lynzee

    Stumbled across this in the hope of an organiser of some sort to help me get my junk yard home sorted. This is far better than that. Makes getting tidied up and putting things away quick, easy and straightforward. Never thought I’d hear myself say that! The rest of the housework is a breeze with the clutter out of the way. Thank you!

  • Sandra

    “You’re useless to the world in pajamas.” So awesome and so right. Your blog is an inspriration and I’m so glad I found it. :) Pinning this, and probably leaving open on my IPad forever (or at least until my kids are school age). Thanks again!

  • Jazzie

    I am 7 months pregnant, working 9 hour days at the salon and still trying to be the ultimate wife. I came home to disaster and instantly went into Netflix and pinterest mode otherwise known as avoidance and procrastination! To feel like I was productive I googled “motivation to clean” and your blog appeared. Guess how much I love you right now…? I think you may have just changed my entire life and my future as a Mom! You rock!

  • disqus_qp6EQp0b4F

    Thank you! I just retired, partly because I could no longer seem to keep up with my life outside of work. I have box after box of stuff piled around here, because I do not know where to to put it. I feel so lost. Tv has been my only salvation, but then I look around and it is so depressing! I think your idea of gathering things, then sorting is going to help me. I hope! I will need more than a couple of baskets, but I really think this could work for me. Like you said, I need instant visual gratification! Thank you! I do not know if you read these any longer, but I believe your blog is still helping many of us out here! : ) Have a terrific day everyone!

  • Christine Brown

    It is funny that this is what I found after googling “Constant Messy House”…while simultaneously avoiding cleaning. It is nice to know that I am not alone. I have a husband and 3 girls as well (…but live in Michigan).

  • Joseph Leon Boose

    Like I did the same thing with the Baskin method also a dump it and go through it like organized and then I put everything away and I’m a guy and I love cleaning

  • allison

    I’m digging it. I usually tackle one room at a time and keep tossing the junk/trash/clothes/ misc into the next room as I go. Your method will no doubt save time by eliminating the same hurdle that is me moving all my crap room by room by room. Thanks so much for the post! Super helpful:)

  • OMGawd McPuddle

    Feeling overwhelmed, mess has taken over me. Livingroom, kitchen, hall, two bedrooms to be done. About to start with your advice in mind. Will come back when I have finished lol. Thank you

    • OMGawd McPuddle

      ….and the bathroom :(

  • Michelle Johnson-Zummo

    Thank you I love you

  • Tammy

    I have those days of I can tackle the world. Then others that make me look around and cry. Those days are the ones I focus on the basics. Dishes and laundry. Then when that is done I can grab the things that belong in either the bedroom or bathroom. If I get more motivation, I continue onto another room. I usually save my room for last. It’s also the room that has the most stuff to put away by the time I am done cleaning the other rooms. I do try to focus on one area of the room and move onto another room. Some days I run around like a chicken with it’s head cut off. Those days take me hours to get done and then I feel completely drained the next few days.

  • Rebecca Kirk

    I like this idea, but I find on my worst days any collection of things leads me to drift off. I do sort outs by collecting a few things, say for the bathroom, in the bedroom, when I have delivered them I collect thinge for another room and deliver them. Every item I move goes away in its correct home (rule -avoids processing things more than once). This keeps me moving so I feel energised and is particularly good as a shake up if I find I am focusing on one room and have become stuck to the floor listening to the radio and can’t be bothered to move, or have lots of small items to make decisions about. It is ok to move just 1 item as by the time I end up back in the room I have probably put away five and each item feels possible rather than an overwhelming pile.

  • Amanda

    Nearly three years after you’ve posted, I have found your blog. And my God, I think I love you. I’ll check in after my house is clean to see how long it took!

  • Krystal

    I googled “My house is a mess, where do I start?” And this popped up! Thank you!

  • Matthew MacKay

    I love this! Thank you for the great advice!

  • Teresa

    I just ran across this article and can’t wait to put it to use. I struggle with my house mainly because of how busy I am and how I’m always in a hurry. I just flat out don’t pick up after myself. I always think I will “get it later”… and before I even realize it, my house is a complete disaster and I feel overwhelmed and I don’t even know where to start. Even when I have managed to get it clean, I will do good for a while but always fall back into my old, bad habits. I just had this conversation with my Sister last night. She has 3 kids and always has a clean home. Her advice to me was to put things away after you use them (duh, but why don’t I??) and to never go to bed without picking up first. Every single night, pick up before you go to bed. If you do this every day, it stays in control and doesn’t take long to do. That is her strategy and definitely works for her!! I’m trying to get in this habit myself. Seems simple enough!

  • StacyA

    Ha Ha, I googled How to clean a messy house. You know, this does make sense. I have so much crap in my house. I have 2 kids and I wish I could figure out a way to deal with the toys! That is my biggest issue, that and mail… so much mail! Thanks for the motivation!

    • Teresa

      I don’t have kids but I have found the best way to handle mail is to deal with it as soon as you bring it in. Most of it can be thrown away immediately. Others go right into a bin. It really helps to keep it under control. :)

  • Laurian

    This is such great advice. Before I read this I was so lost in my messy home now I am sitting here in what looks like a totally different place! Thanks so much!

  • Rini Verhees Rembert

    oh my, you make it look SO do-able, and i am just reading now and telling you this. I need to get started, but my biggest question at the moment is: what in the world do i do with meaningful or awfully cute knick-knacks, of which i have too many?
    also, i can’t seem to throw out well, i have make up items and soaps, jars etc. all over bathrooms…. i truly am overwhelmed and i have an innate dislike for cleaning up..

  • Joseph Leon Boose

    I’m a guy and I just love cleaning the house I am using your basket method which works awesome.

  • EJB87

    Thank you Emma, Definitely needing this today! Got so much to do and my blooming back is hurting from a spectacular fall at work. Should have sent it to ‘you’ve been framed’ I may have won me £250. So basket method it is today, simpler, easier kinda fun! Looking forward to what random stuff i have accumulated this week! Thanks for the motivation! :-) x

  • Rene

    Mine is definitely a bigger pile! like the whole house. I cannot even use the kitchen table because there is too much crap on it!

  • Kimberly

    Hi! I’m an editor for and am writing to request permission to use one of your photos from this post in an upcoming post on our site. We would like to feature this in a round up and would include a backlink and clear credit to you.

    Additionally, we routinely publish round-up style posts on our site and if you’re willing to allow us to use one photo from other posts you’ve done, we would love to add you to our directory of sites to feature. As a bonus, your site would then be on our radar for possible Facebook shares as well.

    Please let me know if this would work for you. Thanks for your consideration!


  • Robin

    I just sat down after my husband told me that I need to get a handle on the house. I know it’s messy..I can see it! Really don’t need reminding…I just don’t know where to start! I live with two of the biggest pack rats known to mankind..So there is crap everywhere…It’s like it reproduces overnight! This blog has been so helpful..I’m just so overwhelmed until I just want to cry!

  • Kristine Klassen

    Do you have an email address? I’m interested in using your picture on this blog post for a link back to this article.

  • Janet Cucharo

    When does the cleaning part come in? I’ve got dust & dog hair EVERYWHERE!

  • Al Fernandes

    Great idea… going to try it right now!

  • Amanda Nichols

    This is perfect. I seriously need to clean and I thought “I’m going to look on Pintrest at how-to’s to clean house instead”. HAHA!! I love this because I ALWAYS stress on details while trying to tackle everything. So, I end up with about 45% of clean in each room and a huge feeling of defeat. I’m going to try this way instead!

  • SCB

    I like this method, and have attempted to do it, but this clarifies it a bit more.

  • Wendy

    This was a great article! Such a great way to tackle what seems like like a 5 hour project of housekeeping

  • Patricia Pena

    Thank you for sharing this genius system!

  • Sophie Zackery

    I think I will need a 10×10 foot basket, no, 2 of those. Plus 800 contractor trash bags.
    Sounds excessive but my ex was a… hoarder? slob? freeloader? I don’t know what the exact ‘honorific’ should be, but I gave up after awhile. The mess grew alongside my bitterness. Alas, he is finally gone, and I want my house back.
    Thanks for the inspiration. Less thinking more doing. Duh, I knew that.
    Maybe I should get drunk first and take the thinking quotient to zero!

  • theGreyCatt

    My joint pain and fatigue are really acting up but I HAVE to clean the house on my final day before heading back to work after some time off – thank you for this, I’m hoping it will work for me.

  • Lisa Hayes Holtslander

    It’s so nice to see that I’m not the only one that (tries) but doesn’t always keep a tidy home and searches for google solutions for motivation. Feeling the love.

  • Mistress Kitty

    THANK YOU SO MUCH I work a full time job with my hours vary all the time trying to catch up was impossible. in 30 min I can see my bedroom again and feel accomplished and not so overwhelmed