Practical Tips for Cleaning an In-Home Disaster Area

It happens to all of us. Or at least I hope it does – I would feel horrible if it was just me! You have a crazy-busy couple of weeks, you have to move everything out of your storage unit and try to fit it into the space you live in, you pack last minute for an eight day trip and leave a disaster in your wake. What about all three? 🙂 However it happens… You end up with a trashed room/apartment/house/whatever and when you finally do have the time (and energy) to clean you are overwhelmed as to where to begin.

Well I’m here to help! Not. actually. to help you clean… But to help YOU help you clean.

Start by doing some laundry (if you don’t have on-site laundry then just get it ready to go). Strip your bed, grab all of the dirty towels/clothes/kitchen rags and start a few loads!

Open a window and put on some music. Don’t let yourself be distracted picking out the perfect “cleaning” music – just throw on something upbeat and loud 🙂

Look around the space you are trying to clean and pick up anything that can be thrown away. Throw it away. The obvious is trash. The less obvious is stuff that’s been hanging around that you never use. If you are afraid to throw out something that could be “useful”, set it aside to donate to a local thrift store. Don’t spend too long hunting for every little thing that you could throw away – just take about five minutes and grab anything that obviously needs to go.

Pick up any dirty dishes that are lying around and stick them in the sink to wash later. If you only have a few and you happen to have an empty dishwasher you can go ahead and load them, but only if you have a few. Don’t want to get sidetracked on scrubbing cupboards! (Believe me… It happens.)

When you’re ready to begin putting things away, be sure to have a damp cloth handy to wipe down shelves and surfaces. You should try to clean as you go but try to only clean what is necessary. Don’t pull everything out of the game cupboard to deep clean the shelves. The goal here is to get your space in livable, working order! If you just really want to crawl into that closet and start scrubbing – make a note and plan on going back in the near future.

As you pick up and put stuff away, focus on specific types of things. Example: books, games, electronics, etc. Put away as much of one type of thing at a time as you can. It makes it easier to clean when you have a goal such as “Put away all of the books” and helps you to stay focused. Try not to be distracted by all of the cool stuff you find as you clean! (Other ways to look at the “groups” is by which room they belong in, what color they are or which activity they go with. This is also a good way to get kids to stay focused on a task!)

Don’t forget to switch the laundry!

Once you get most of the “big” stuff thrown away, picked up, folded or put away – start working on the smaller stuff. This can sometimes be the hardest stuff to deal with. Just looking at that collection of cords, batteries, pens, receipts, coins, notebooks, candles, tools and emergenC packets can be overwhelming! The same principle as above applies in this case as well. Throw away any of the papers and receipts that you don’t absolutely need. In fact – if they’ve been on the floor or in that old purse for a couple of weeks, chances are you don’t need them and probably only need to glance through them before tossing! Pick up all the writing utensils and stick them in a jar. Wrap up all of the cords and get rid of any old head phones and cell phone chargers that you haven’t used in the last 6 months.

Keep going until the only thing left to do is vacuum or sweep/mop the floor! Make sure that any empty surfaces have had a quick wipe down (including desks and window sills) and then finish the floors.

When your laundry is dry – re-make the bed, fold, hang up and PUT AWAY anything that was cleaned. As you are hanging up the clean clothes – try to pull out a few things to get rid of! An old shirt, a dress that no longer fits, a scarf that you were given but haven’t worn in two years. It’s amazing how easy and refreshing it is to clear out stuff you look at but never use!

(If the room you’re cleaning is the bathroom or kitchen you should first clean and put away anything that normally sits on the counter top so you have a bare space to work with. Next clean areas such as the shower/tub, toilet, sinks, stove top or microwave. Scrub and wipe down the counters and any open shelves. Lastly – clean the floors.)

Last step: bask in the cleanliness that you worked so hard to achieve!


I would love to hear how you clean when you have a big mess to work on. Leave me a comment below!


3 thoughts on “Practical Tips for Cleaning an In-Home Disaster Area

  1. Sniff…my little girl has learned her lessons well. Actually, you didn’t mention one of the lessons you learned in our home; when all else fails cram it in a cupboard and walk away!


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