If you’ve been struggling with how to clean a messy house because you are either suffering from anxiety & depression, or you’re just plain overwhelmed, this guide will set you on the right path to cleaning up the mess.
If you have been suffering from mental health issues, the mess probably isn’t doing anything to help you feel better.
Depression takes a toll on every aspect of your life, especially your home. Trying to clean your home when you are completely overwhelmed by the mess probably seems impossible right about now.
How can you be expected to keep a clean house when you can’t get off the couch and all you want to do is sleep? Cleaning your home when you’re depressed or overwhelmed is incredibly difficult.
What are the Effects of Living in an Untidy House?
There are definitely psychological effects to living in a home that is untidy or dirty. Overstimulation can play a big part in making you feel anxious and overwhelmed.
Overstimulation occurs when your senses are in overdrive – too much stimulation can lead to anxious feelings and associated feelings like anger, depression, and more.
Just look around you right now. Look at the mess. How does it make you feel? Happy and relaxed, or worried, anxious and guilty?
Getting the mess cleaned up is going to be a big help in making you feel better.
The Effects of a Messy Home on the Whole Family
Living in a cluttered or disorganized environment can add to the stress levels amongst the whole family.
Children absolutely thrive in a structured environment. When your home is messy and disorganized, it typically is also unstructured.
I can tell you that I have experienced the exact same thing. My home went from “always ready for unexpected company” to me praying nobody would come over because then I’d have to attempt to clean it up.
In the past, my kids were always on a pretty tight schedule as far as meals and naps and bedtimes. Suddenly I was taking “going with the flow” way too literally and bedtimes and meal times went out the window.
Goldfish for breakfast? Sure, because that meant I didn’t have to go into the kitchen and look at the mess.
Laundry wasn’t done, dishes weren’t cleaned, and I was so overwhelmed by the size of the mess that I just didn’t know how or where to start.
So instead of starting, I just stared at it, day after day. And all that did was make me feel even more anxious and out of control.
I hate having a messy house. It drives me crazy and makes me feel awful, but I literally felt like I couldn’t do anything about it.
I feel bad that my kids were living in this type of unstructured environment because of my depression. Our homes should be calm and peaceful – or as peaceful as it can be with kids running around and siblings fighting.
The last thing I wanted was for my kids to feel like they were always living in chaos or to experience any of the anxiousness I was feeling.
Fortunately, I eventually got on the right combo of medications and very slowly I started to feel like the old Christina again.
There was no sudden burst of energy but one day I did wake up and feel really inspired to finally get my messy house cleaned up.
But I still had a problem knowing where to start. Just because I was feeling a little better does not mean that I wasn’t still overwhelmed by the magnitude of the mess.
Keep reading and you can follow the same plan I used to finally tackle the mess!
How to Get Motivated to Clean When You’re Overwhelmed
When you are feeling paralyzed by the mess because you are so overwhelmed, its really hard to have any motivation at all to clean it up.
Honestly, I don’t really think there is anything I can say that is going to magically give you lots of motivation to start cleaning.
But, there are a few things that I can recommend to make the task seem less daunting:
- Put on some good, loud music.
- Take before pictures. Now when you are finished cleaning for the day, you can see the progress you’ve made. Having a sense of accomplishment is very motivating.
- Understand that you are going to start small. This is not an action plan to get the entire house clean in one day.
- Set a timer. On top of starting small, you can also set a timer (20-30 minutes) and only do a little bit at a time. Knowing that you won’t be cleaning for hours and hours should help you get going.
How to Start Cleaning a Messy House
Cleaning your home when it has been ignored for a long period of time can be intimidating. You’ve probably looked around many times and wondered how to start cleaning up your messy house.
Don’t let the feelings of being overwhelmed keep you from getting started. All you need to do is to start somewhere and take it slow.
Cleaning a dirty house is a lot of work, but this isn’t a race and that means that it doesn’t all have to be tackled in one day.
Depending on the size and condition of your home, it could take several days to several weeks.
Don’t let this overwhelm you! The key is to start now and keep plugging away until you’re done.
This is a guide to help you focus on what needs to be done and hopefully make it less overwhelming.
Related: How to Get Rid of Clutter Fast
How to Clean a Messy House Step by Step
First of all: You are amazing and you can do this!
The first thing you should do is gather up one load of laundry and get that started. Create a goal to get 1-2 loads of laundry completed and put away each day.
Cleaning Up Your Bathrooms
Start in your main bathroom. It’s important to keep this area sanitary plus it’s great to start in a small space.
First, pick-up and take out all the trash.
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Spray your toilet with cleaning products and then use Lysol Black in the toilet bowl. This product is absolutely amazing and will get just about any stain out of your toilet! It’s a must-have if your toilet hasn’t been cleaned in a while or if you have hard water stains.
Get your vanity sink and counter scrubbed and make sure to wipe down the outside of the cabinets.
Don’t forget your mirror. This is my favorite glass cleaner for mirrors and windows. It’s cheap and it doesn’t leave any streaks. (The one I have linked is currently the best value – during the pandemic cleaning products are always out of stock and prices have increased.)
Before you clean your toilet, apply your cleaner to the bathtub/shower. Let that sit for a bit while you clean the toilet. Bar Keepers Friend is another amazing product that gets really dirty things really clean. Plus it
Once you’re done with that, get your shower cleaned and you’re done with one space!
Making Lists to Help You Feel More Accomplished
Once you’ve completed your bathroom make a list of what needs to be done to get your whole home cleaned up. Lists are great to work with because it will encourage you to continue on and give you a sense of accomplishment when you are able to cross something off the list.
I love this to-do list because it looks so motivating and it’s pretty! Pretty lists always make me feel more enthusiastic about cleaning.
Time to Clean the Kitchen
(Don’t forget to move your laundry to the dryer and start another load.)
Next, move on to cleaning your kitchen. This is the main hub of our home and when it’s clean I always feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Plus, when the kitchen is clean, everything else seems much cleaner as well.
Start by throwing out all the trash
Put away all the stuff you have sitting on the counters.
Move on to the dishes. Start by soaking anything that needs it and then wash those last. Blue Dawn dish soap is my favorite!
Wipe down the counters and then sanitize them.
Vacuum or sweep and then mop the floors if you feel like it. If not, no biggie! Save it for another day.
How to Clean Up Your Living Areas
Move into your living space. The key is to look for a small area and start there. For example, clear up the clutter piled up on your dining room table or on your coffee table. Clean this area completely before moving on. It will make you feel better to see it completely clean plus it will help you see the amazing progress you’re making.
And don’t forget to throw things away! You will be amazed at how much junk you find lying around that nobody uses and that nobody misses.
Continue to move around your living space and get rid of clutter. When the clutter is all clean, dust and then vacuum. You’ll feel so good when you’re done!
How to Clean The Bedrooms
Move on to the bedrooms. If you have children I would start with their rooms. Start by picking up any garbage. Pull their sheets off and get a load of laundry started. Then start putting things back in their proper place.
If you’re up for it, now would be a good time to make a bag for donation filled with clothes that don’t fit and toys that aren’t played with.
Once everything is picked up and put away, vacuum the floors and then take a break!
Move into the master bedroom and complete the same steps as you did in your kids’ rooms.
Clean the master bath by following the same steps you competed for your main bath.
Last but not least, don’t forget about your floors. This is my least favorite chore! Do it in stages if you need to. I have a ton of tile in my house and I can never seem to do it all at the same time. Do one room per day if it makes it easier for you.
Something that makes it much easier for me is my Bissell Crosswave. It’s a vacuum and mop all in one. It’s basically what all my cleaning dreams are made of lol! I had to beg my husband for this one since I have a bit of a mop collection already. I’m so glad I got it because it gets used almost daily!
Plus, this is a great way for kids to be able to help out around the house as well. This mop/vacuum is so easy to use and kids seem to find using it fun.
How to Continue to Keep Your Home Clean
Moving forward, you need to put some systems in place so that your home continues to stay clean and does not get out of control again.
If you have children that are old enough for chores, you should establish and enforce a chore system for them. This will help so much by taking some of the weight off of your shoulders.
Depending on ages, your kids can help out by doing things like emptying the dishwasher, sweeping up the kitchen after meals, wiping down bathrooms and feeding animals. You can see more examples of chores by ages here.
Overall, your home will stay cleaner when others are putting away their own messes plus helping out with other tasks. This way you can focus on the larger cleaning versus spending all your time picking up and putting away clutter.
You can read all about How to Create a Chore System for Your Kids HERE. There are a few different really cute free printable chore charts in that article that you can use for your kids.
Establishing a Weekly Cleaning Schedule
The next thing that is very important in keeping your home clean and organized is following a weekly cleaning schedule. This will break down for you what needs to be done on a daily basis, so you won’t get overwhelmed and then start avoiding cleaning.
The weekly chore schedule is broken down by days and by areas of the house. So for example, Mondays are “Bedroom Days” plus there are certain daily chores that need to be done.
Keep this list on your fridge and check things off as you go. As I said before, checking things off a list will help keep you motivated.
If you’d like access to my free Weekly Cleaning Schedule Checklist so you can continue to stay organized, just sign up below and it will be delivered to your inbox.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
See if a friend or relative can help you clean. Or, if you have children, see if someone can babysit while you’re cleaning. Those little ones make accomplishing things around the house very difficult! I know it’s hard for me to get anything done when I’m home alone with my three kiddos.
Woohoo! You did it! Having a clean house always makes me feel so much better. I hope you feel better too! Cleaning up a very messy house can be so overwhelming and I know for me it led to avoidance and then agitation. I can’t stand a messy house but I also couldn’t work up the energy or interest to clean.
Just remember to start small and go from there. You don’t need to do everything all at once – do it at your own pace. And if you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it.
Related: How to Get Rid of Clutter Fast
I hope that this step by step guide for how to clean a messy house when you’re overwhelmed or anxious has been helpful!
Knowing how to start cleaning a messy house and getting the motivation to clean are half the battle. Once you start, you’ll be so much happier when you start looking around and seeing clean spaces. That should give you the motivation to keep going.
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Wishing you all the best!