Do you dream of having a clean house even with kids running around under your feet all day?
If you’re a stay at home or work at home mum then keeping on top of a tidy house can feel like a completely uphill struggle.
I’ve worked while having the children with me for the majority of the day for two years. Before that I was working from home with the kids in nursery for most of the day.
Even with the kids out of the house, it’s difficult to keep on top of things when your day is divided between full-time work, picking the kids up for nursery and then keeping everyone happy until bedtime.
So we all know that raising kids leaves us with very little spare time to do things we like, let alone things we don’t really like such as keeping the house clean.
But I’m going to share my best cleaning tips for keeping a clean house even with toddlers and young children in the home.
These are tips for keeping a messy house tidy and whipping chaotic rooms back into shape.
The single most important thing to remember when you want to have a clean house even with young children at home with you all day is to let your standards slip a little.
Your home will not be show home perfect. Maybe there’s one corner you can keep safe from the whirlwind that is children, but for the most part every bit of your home will be touched by the chaos of kids.
So lower your standards a little and don’t expect a picture perfect home.
Having said that, you can keep on top of the daily chores and have a clean home if you try the following tips.
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1. Get these jobs done every day
There are a few key jobs to get done every single day that will automatically put you on the path to having a clean home.
- Clean dirty dishes or put them in the dishwasher as soon as you’re done with them.
- Wipe down the kitchen surfaces
- Make beds in the morning.
- Tidy away toys in the evening.
- Get some laundry done. This doesn’t mean putting on a load of laundry every day, but allocate time to either getting a load of laundry on if you need to or putting clean and dry clothes away where they belong.
If you’re totally exhausted then it can be difficult to get motivated but actually each of these tasks take a maximum of 15 minutes.
With the toys, your kids should be giving you a helping hand to get things put away every evening before they go to bed.
You can ask children to help you tidy up their stuff as soon as they can walk. Of course they won’t be very efficient at it then, but they do get better!
Remember to allocate 30 minutes before bedtime to getting your kids to help with the tidying up.
2. Start with the worst room
Although this can make it tougher to get motivated, because the mess may look scary, starting with the worst room means you’re working downhill rather than uphill around your home.
Also the worst room tends to be the one where you spend the most time, such as the kids’ playroom or the kitchen.
If you’re wondering where to start, point yourself in the direction of the worst area of the room and just get going. Move stuff out of the way so that you can reach surfaces to tidy. Put things back to where they belong.
Work clockwise around the room so that you can look back and see the progress you are making.
There are tons more tips about cleaning a messy house from top to bottom on this post.
3. Focus on high traffic areas
High traffic areas are the places where you and your kids spend the most time.
These will probably be the areas that bug you the most, because you have to see them all of the time.
Set a goal to always have these areas tidy before the kids go to bed at night.
This way you can actually enjoy a tidy house when the children have gone to sleep and it’s time for you to have a bit of time to yourself.
4. Keep cleaning products in the right place
You can make cleaning a much faster process by having your cleaning products to hand. Keep bathroom cleaning products in a cupboard under the sink (secure from children of course).
Try to have your laundry products within immediate reach of your washing machine, and have everything you need to dust your home in an easily accessible place.
5. Work from the top down
Start at the top of a room and work your way down, as dust and dirt will be knocked to the floor as you work.
I like to clean my whole house by job, rather than working room to room.
So first of all I tidy every room, then I dust and then I clean the floors and/or vacuum.
6. Have a decent laundry stain remover
Some times you need more than just your laundry detergent! Have a stain removing spray that you can pop on clothes before adding them to the washing machine to add a little extra power.
Vanish is pretty much the best product I’ve used for getting rid of tough stains, but if you prefer an eco-friendly approach then Soda Crystals can also get the job done. You simply soak the clothes in a sink with a cupful of soda crystals and some warm water before the wash.
If you’re in a rush though then a spray stain remover is the way to go.
7. Leave cleaning products to dwell on the surface
This is particularly important on tough stains, but also important for disinfecting things like kitchen surfaces.
Give your product at least a minute or two to work on the surface before you wipe and rinse away with a damp cloth.
When it comes to getting rid of limescale, you need to leave most products on for two to five minutes to start to dissolve it, especially on stubborn spots. For really hard water stains then you will need to leave it overnight.
8. Speed up cleaning the toilet
Have a separate cloth for cleaning your toilet than the rest of the bathroom, Start by putting bleach down the toilet to clean the inside of the bowl and below the water line. This should be left to work for at least an hour.
Next use the cleaning cloth, or a wipe such as these, to wipe down the toilet. Start with the top of the toilet seat and work your way inside to underneath the toilet seat.
If there are serious stains beneath the water line from hard water then pour 300ml of vinegar down the toilet and leave overnight before flushing.
9. Move your furniture
Whenever I move my living room sofas I discover several toys, a lot of dust and occasionally some bowls leftover from meal time.
Underneath your furniture can be a real trap for dust and dirt, so pull the furniture out and give underneath a really good clean once a month.
If you struggle to move your furniture, and you have hard floors, you can try getting a microfibre cleaning broom that has a flexible head. These allow you to get under the furniture and sweep stuff out without having to move anything.
10. Have a rolling list of seasonal jobs
There are certain jobs there just won’t be time to do every week, and also there’s no point in doing them on a weekly basis!
But you can do one or two of these longer-term cleaning jobs a fortnight to help you keep on top of things.
- Cleaning the windows
- Oven cleaning
- Dusting the tops of doors
- Vacuuming the mattresses
- Descaling the kettle
- Washing the front door
- Using a carpet cleaner for both carpets and fabric sofas
- Cleaning out the fridge, ditching out of date food and wiping down the shelves
11. Move stuff out of the way to dust
When you’re dusting the surfaces it can be tempting to just scoot all around the stuff on the surface.
Avoid doing the dusting until you have a chunk of time to do it. It tends to take me roughly 30 to 45 minutes to dust my entire four-bed house.
That’s if I have a chance to be totally focused on the job.
If you need to distract your kids while you are doing this, try giving them a feather duster or a dry cleaning cloth to do their own bit of dusting. Keep them away from the breakable ornaments though!
12. Use vinegar to shine taps
Vinegar can bring back the sparkle to your bathrooms and kitchen.
Plus it requires no elbow grease. I recommend leaving it on overnight for best results.
To use vinegar on taps I tend to soak some kitchen paper towels in vinegar then put them all around the base. Then you can cover with a little clingfilm just to keep the area moist and leave it.
For the ends of taps, and for shower heads, get a plastic freezer bag for food and fill with vinegar, then attach it to your tap with a hairband. Leave overnight then rinse and any limescale will be gone.
13. Keep bad smells away from appliances
To stop your appliances causing a stink, and help them keep working efficiently to clean your stuff, wash them regularly.
With your washing machine it’s as simple as putting it on the hottest wash possible, with nothing inside the drum. You can add Soda Crystals or vinegar to help keep the pipes clear of any gunk.
For your dishwasher, try adding some white vinegar in a small bowl (with the bowl turned upright not upside down as you would normally) and run on a hot cycle.
14. Make your house smell great
Tidying and dusting are great ways to make your home feel clean, but the smell is a huge factor in making you feel good about your house.
Use cleaning products with nice scents that appeal to you. For a speedier way to a nice smelling home, try using Zoflora which has a ton of uses.
It’s also a disinfectant so can kill off any germs in a variety of places around the home.
My favourite ways to use Zoflora are:
- Pop a capful down the loo (makes the bathroom smell amazing)
- Put a capful down the sink plughole and chase with a kettle full of boiling water to make the kitchen smell great
- Spray diluted Zoflora onto rugs, carpets, your entrance hall to make rooms smell amazing
15. Speed up cleaning the microwave
A greasy microwave with nasty burned on stains can look a little daunting.
You can simply add a damp cloth to it and zap for 40 seconds to release some steam to make the stains come off easier.
Alternatively, pop a half a lemon into a small bowl of water then zap for around three to four minutes.
16. Make cleaning windows easy
Get some proper window cleaning cloths, these ones are the best, and use a good window and glass cleaner such as Astonish.
You could also try making your own glass cleaner with vinegar, lemon and a little water. You can ditch the vinegar smell by adding a few drops of essential oils of your choice.
17. Declutter excess items
Decluttering is something I try to do as a rolling tasks. Sometimes I will get a chance to have a huge KonMari-style sort out and purge a whole bunch of stuff.
But most of the time I will throw clothes or toys that aren’t played with anymore into a box and then when that box is full I take it to the charity shop to donate them.
If your storage is overwhelmed then your rooms are going to look messy because everything is hanging out of drawers and cupboards. Plus when it comes to tidying things away, you will struggle if you can’t find a place for everything.
Toys are especially hard to keep tidy if you don’t have the right storage for them. To keep toys in order I thoroughly recommend you organise them by category, so building, dressing up, dolls, soft toys, puzzles, for example.
You can also try the following things to keep toys in order:
- The IKEA Kallax. It’s super cheap but holds a ton of stuff. You can get it in a variety of sizes to suit any room size. We have one in the play room. You then get boxes and/or baskets to keep the stuff organised and looking neat.
- Simple basket unit. Something like this one is perfect. Go for units that let your child reach things themselves so that they can help more with putting stuff away at the end of the day.
- Toy hammocks. A hammock is a great way of keeping soft toys stored all in one place but out of the way of the floor space.
Final thoughts on keeping a clean house with kids
I hope you found some great tips for keeping on top of the cleaning even when you have young children.
Some weeks it will feel impossible, but when it does try to take a step back and think about what might make your life easier. Do you need different storage? Or do you need to cut back on how much stuff you have?
Take a look at the bigger picture and you can make some effective changes.