Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How To Kill A Monster Mess

Don't you hate it when the mess monster invades your home?  Sometimes it comes with a construction project, sometimes with a pile of company, and sometimes it just jumps out of nowhere.  It is easy to be overwhelmed by a huge mess, but you can kill a giant mess with patience, persistence, and a few tips.

#1  Clear out a pile place
This should not take long.  You just need to clear a large area so that you can make piles.  In a bedroom, I will strip the bed, put the sheets in the wash, and tumble the comforter or hang it out on the line.  In  other rooms, I just push things in the middle of the room to the edges so that there is an empty space in the middle of the room.  This doesn't have to be pretty and should take no more than 5 minutes.

#2 Go to the corner
No, you are not in trouble!  A corner is a logical starting point for two reasons.  First, things tend to pile up in corners.  Cleaning out a corner will give you a great sense of accomplishment.  Two, the starting point is defined by the room, not the mess.  As you clean, you will always be able to tell how far you have come.

#3 Work clockwise picking up everything you come to
This is the real trick.  Work around the room, dealing with EVERYTHING you come to.  You are just sorting and putting away in this step - no dusting, sweeping, mopping, or vaccuming.  If an item belongs in the room you are working in, put it away.  If it belongs in another room, put it in a pile to be taken to that room later.  If you don't know what to do with it, figure it out QUICKLY.  If you can't, put it in a pile to be decided on later.  As you continue cleaning, the solution may come to you.   The key is to not get stuck on one item or project.  If you can't fit something in a cabinet it belongs in, DON"T STOP to clean the cabinet.  Lay the item beside the cabinet and tackle that project another day.  STAY FOCUSED on the clockwise picking up of the room you are in, working your way around the room until you have returned to your starting point. 

#4 Put up those piles
Now take each pile to the room it belongs and put those things away.  You will be surprised how much time and energy you save by first gathering and then taking things to other rooms.  My mother-in-law always says "If you don't use your head, you;ll have to use your feet." True, dat!

#5 Decision time
All that should be left of the clutter is the pile of things you couldn't decide about.  Now it is time to decide.  Should you keep it?  If you need it and can find a place for it, the yes.  If not, no.  If you need it, but you have no place for it, you don't really need it.  If you truly needed it, you would get rid of something else to give this item a home.  To keep something, it must have a place. Period. 

#6 Finish up
Get your cleaning supplies, and look start in the same corner, and go around the room dusting.  Don't forget to dust the middle of the room at the end.  Now clean the glass, scrub any fixtures, vaccum, sweep, and mop.  Now, get a glass of iced tea and a good book.  Go sit in the room you just cleaned (even if it is a bathroom!) and enjoy the fruits of your labors.  Bask in the calming cleanliness and the waves of accomplishment.


  1. Yay! I've been waiting for another inspiring practical cleaning post. My biggest challenge is staying focused (in step 3). Where I differ is that I have to actually put away everything as I come to it instead of waiting until Step 4. The piles frighten me, and I tend to take longer to do away with them. :) Pro: I get exercise! Con: It's inefficient. Also, I always tackle a monster with two trash cans: the one that goes to Savers every time I go to Ft. Smith and the one that goes to the curb on Tuesdays. If I can't decide right away, it goes into one of the trash cans (again, since piles frighten me) Great post!

  2. Piles can be scary, but not if you determine to not be done until they are gone. Maybe sorting into a basket or box for each room would make you feel better. It really is a time saver, if you can do it. But putting each thing away also works, and I'm sure you can get a good workout - especially if you run from room to room!

    I love your trash can habit. I use paper grocery sacks for my give away items. A trash can would be a much better option!

  3. i think i do that for the most part...my biggest problem is not letting the monster attack. I use boxes, baskets, and bags to contain my piles. Using white bags for trash and black bags for give away. I'm even lazier using a rolling computer chair to wheel my way around the room pulling my bags and boxes behind me as i clean. I do sweep as i go but it's just a rough sweep. and when I get to the end everyone helps me put away the "piles". Works well now if only i could keep the monsters from attacking

    1. Easier said than done, I know, but the best monster prevention is good habits. Loading the dishwasher every night and unloading it in the morning; 15 minute family pickups just before lunch, supper, and bed: a load of laundry washed, folded, and put away every day; a quick wipe down for every bathroom; and ten minutes on trouble spots that catch clutter: these are definite monster stoppers. Now do just DO it!!!!