June 14

How to Know Where to Begin Cleaning



Sharing is caring!

We've all been there. Sometimes the house is such a mess that you don't even know where to begin cleaning.

Hint: my Cleaning Workbook can help with that, but sometimes you just need to clean now, without any extra work added in. I get it.

So what do you do when the whole house is trashed, you're tired, and dinner needs to be on the table soon?

I've got a bunch of ideas. Let's get to them and you can figure out which ones might work best for you. Actually, a lot of them might work; it just depends on the circumstances.

Come to think of it, my example above wasn't a very good one. If the house is trashed, you're tired (presumably from working all day), and dinner needs to be ready soon, cleaning should be sort of an after-thought. Clear off the table so you can eat, take care of the dirty dishes at some point, and concentrate on the most important thing at the moment: dinner.

Now if the idea of ordering pizza is your idea of getting dinner on the table in this situation, then have at it. We've all been there. And while you're waiting, you can take care of some of the most urgent cleaning tasks, like doing the dishes and clearing off the table.

I know you're tired - probably too tired to want to do anything at all - but that's for another blog to solve. One on say, nutrition and self-care.

First Things First

Before you begin cleaning, you should know the order of cleaning. Why, yes, there is an order. Some of it makes perfect sense and some of it makes no sense at all. We'll stick with the sensible stuff, OK?

The biggest rule is to clean from top to bottom. The other rule is to clean clockwise around the room starting at the door.

Why? Will you get lost? Forget what you already cleaned? If you're cleaning Queen Elizabeth's palace, that might make sense. But for my house and yours? Not so much,

The top to bottom rule is important, but only if you're cleaning the entire room. Or if you're like me and always begin cleaning the stovetop before you remember that you also have to clean inside the microwave, which is mounted over the stove. Which means that you will clean the stovetop twice.

If it's your day to vacuum, or the floor just needs sweeping, then do it. Don't worry about anything but the floor. 

Now if you're dusting and doing the floors, the rule says to dust first. That way, anything your microfiber cloth doesn't grab will end up on the floor, which hasn't been cleaned yet.

Kitchens and Bathrooms First

To me, the most important areas to keep clean in any home are the kitchen and the bathrooms. That's where you should begin cleaning.

clean kitchen counter

Why? Because they're directly related to your family's health.

These are the only rooms that you typically disinfect on a regular basis. Any other room, such as a bedroom, only gets disinfected when someone has been sick.

If things are really, really bad, I would begin cleaning the toilet and the sinks in the bathrooms and kitchen. The kitchen sink is one of the germiest places in your home. 

Think about it: if you're cutting up a chicken for dinner, or maybe just taking it out of the packaging and rinsing it off a bit, you do that in the kitchen sink. If you cut it up on a cutting board, what do you do next? Rinse the cutting board and knife off in the sink. 

And if you have a garbage disposal? Yuck. By the way, the best way to clean it is to put some ice in it and then add either salt or vinegar. I would go with the vinegar. It can do some disinfecting while the salt will just be used as an extra abrasive to get all the gunk. Or you could do both.

If your kitchen and bathrooms aren't completely gross, then take the time to clean the rest as well. The whole kitchen would be first, then the bathroom that gets used the most. After that, if you have more bathrooms, then go by which needs it the most.

A Quick Option with Fast Results

If you're just looking for a place to begin cleaning, maybe something that will motivate you to do more, then start with the trash.

Now I'm not implying that your home is filled with garbage, but we all have stuff laying around that just needs to be thrown away. 

Junk mail, anyone? My husband always likes to look at the Costco booklet when it comes. And then of course he leaves it by his chair. Along with the bottle of water he had that morning and his coffee cup. Oh, and that packet that he put in his water to flavor it? It's on the kitchen counter. Right next to the trash can.

You could probably grab a plastic bag from the store and go around your house collecting little things like that. I know it's not really your job. It's everyone's job to take care of their own mess. Well, you could do that too. Start passing out plastic bags!

Did you know that we actually ran out of plastic bags from the store a couple of weeks ago? With the stay at home rules, we hadn't been out much, and we tend to grocery shop at Aldi or Costco so we use our own bags. I was a little shocked when we ran out. It's like looking around your house the day after you take down the Christmas decorations and not seeing a speck of glitter. How can this happen?

Anyway, the point is, just going around collecting all of the things that should have been tossed out and weren't will make a difference in the way the house looks and feels. And that's a good thing.

James and the Giant Mess

Another place to begin cleaning is the messiest room in the house. Or maybe the messiest room that you are willing to clean.


When my kids got old enough to clean their own rooms without help, I pretty much left it to them. Of course, I had to remind them a lot, and there were times when I helped or even did it myself. But that's your decision.

You get to decide what rooms to clean in your house. Just like you get to decide what laundry you will and won't do.

So pick the room that's bothering you the most and begin cleaning. Now, if it's a big task, I truly do recommend using my Cleaning Workbook to help you make a plan. It is free.

But if not, you know the drill: clear out the trash, remove anything that belongs elsewhere, and clean top to bottom. And depending on how much work needs to be done, set aside some time in your planner.

The Aggravation Factor

Another great place to begin cleaning is whatever area is aggravating you the most. If you can't stand to look at it another minute, that might be the place for you.

Sometimes it isn't a whole room, but just part of one. The kitchen counter, for instance, seems to attract a lot of mail, papers in general, and car keys.

Or maybe your closet is bothering you. Getting dressed in the morning should be a simple, easy task. If it isn't, maybe you could begin cleaning there. And if anyone ever figures out this whole capsule wardrobe thing, let me know. I'd love to have a wardrobe with just a few things and look and feel great all the time.

Something you may want to think about while you're cleaning - or even before you begin cleaning - is why the space you chose bothers you so much.

Are there too many things there? Do they all belong there, but you just don't have proper space for them?

Is it a family dumping spot, like the kitchen counter? What could you put there that might solve that problem?

Is it functioning the way you want it to? For instance, if you're making a meal, is everything in the best possible place? Are the pans near the stove, and the glasses near the sink? Are your spices a mess?

Thinking about these things might give you some idea of how to make parts of your home more useful to you and your family.

Please Come In

Maybe you want to begin cleaning in the public rooms of your house. The ones that other people see, like the kitchen, bathroom, living room, and family room. The rooms where you can't just close a door and pretend its not there.

In one of our previous homes, our son's bedroom was the first one down the hall. You had a clear vision of it from the kitchen and you had to pass it to get to the bathroom. I gave up on trying to keep it clean and learned to keep the door shut as much as possible. Although, to be fair, he wasn't nearly as bad as his sisters.

If you decide to work on the public rooms, obviously this will take some time. That depends, of course, on how much you have to clean.

If your living room is the first room people see, then you might want to pay extra attention there. The kitchen and bathroom would come next, and I would prioritize the bathroom over the kitchen. As long as it isn't too messy, people aren't going to think much about seeing some dirty dishes in the sink.

family room

And if you have a family room, well, it's a room for your family. It's supposed to be laid back and comfy. I would worry least about this room, assuming, of course, that you don't have cobwebs hanging from the ceiling and old pizza boxes laying around.

A Couple of Tricks

I hate to call them "tricks". It implies that we're being deceptive, and that's really not my intention. But they are both tried and true ways to give people a better impression of your home and make you feel better about it, too.

The first is to make your home smell nice. I love fragrance in just about any form, so this is something that I've always done in my home.

I don't think there is an evening that goes by that I don't light a scented candle. It's just part of my routine and my family has come to expect it and enjoy it. I love Yankee Candles and their tarts because they are an easy way to make your home smell wonderful. The White Barn candles are nice too.

Sometimes I use my diffuser and some essential oils instead. Essential oils tend to be a lighter type of smell, plus they have health benefits as well.

My second tip is to distract with decorating. 

I learned this at my Aunt Jenny's house. Her home is always gorgeous; she has a real talent for decorating.

I was visiting once and needed to use the bathroom. This was the only bathroom in the house and it was what they call a Jack and Jill bathroom. There were two doors opening into it from different rooms. Not only that, but it was old and could have used a little updating.

You would only notice those things, however, if you took a really close look. In other words, if you were being nosy like me. I was just trying to learn from her ideas. And I did.

Her bathroom was charming. Everywhere you looked, there was something to catch your eye. It wasn't overdone or cluttered, just beautiful. I only noticed it's faults because I was studying it all so closely.

So there you go. Light a candle, study some decorating blogs, and get busy!

About the author 


My name is Brenda and I was born without the "clean gene". I believe that you can keep your clean and tidy in minutes a day and still have time for yourself.

You may also like

The Top 3 Spots that Need to be Decluttered

Can We Just Say It? Housework is BORING!

5 Ways to Keep Cool and Save Money

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Get Access to the Library and ALL the FREE Printables!