How I Learned To Love Cleaning
I’m going to be honest here: I love cleaning! I know that might sound crazy to some people. Like, really? Cleaning? But yes, I do love cleaning. And not just the by-product: a clean house. The process is totally meditative for me. It’s only exhaustion or timelines that force me to quit once I get into a cleaning project.
You might be thinking, oh that’s just part of your DNA. You were born Type A and a little neurotic. I’LL never learn to love cleaning. And maybe that’s true. Maybe I was a little bit suited for cleaning and organizing from childhood. But I’d like to offer an alternate explanation…
I didn’t always love cleaning. As a homemaker, though, it was kind of part of my job description. Every job has its own downsides, and I thought cleaning was mine. It was something I HAD to do just to function and keep my house running, but it wasn’t something I loved to do. Because of that, my house would pile up and up with clean and dirty laundry piles, dirty dishes in the sink, and a yucky bathroom. Things got done… eventually. There just wasn’t much of a system, a routine, and it was done with a lot of reluctance on my part.
I realized that I was just making my life harder by not digging in. I had two choices: I could either stare resentfully at my laundry pile, grumble, and get it over with or I could embrace this task and make the very best of it. I really had to come up with creative ways to get motivated and love cleaning otherwise I would keep dreading it and procrastinating.
I started this project with some research. I was just really honest with my google searches: “I hate cleaning,” “how to like cleaning,” and “how to get motivated to clean.” I stumbled on a few resources and tips that worked well for me. I wanted to share those and some things I discovered myself in the hopes that you too can actually love (or maybe just like) cleaning. Here goes…
+ make a playlist
Or in my case, find a playlist you love. If you’ve ever powered through a workout by blasting your favorite music or made your commute just a little less sucky by listening to a podcast, you’ll have a better idea of what I’m talking about. For me, music is the difference between cranking out a bathroom clean and just being cranky. Lots of people use services like Spotify or Pandora to find or create a get-motivated playlist. You can also create a few in Apple Music or Google Music.
My favorite way to get myself motivated is to tap into a few pre-made playlists on YouTube. I read a study recently that the non-music music that Starbucks plays is great for productivity because it’s enough white noise to help tune out other conversations and the focus is more on the beat and the vibe than the lyrics or meaning. I couldn’t agree more. With that in mind, there are a TON of chill playlists on YouTube that I love to pop on while I’m cleaning. alexrainbirdMusic and Chillhop Music are favorites. alexrainbirdMusic is more folk and pop and Chillhop is low-fi hiphop. Podcasts works well for some people and there are a zillion and one of those on your favorite topic.
+ the right tools
My husband’s favorite hobby is tinkering around with our cars, especially our vintage 1969 Mustang. He can spend hours in the garage making improvements, repairs, and shining things up. He’s always said, “The right tools make all the difference.” If you have broken tools or just ones that aren’t right for the job, it can turn a simple repair job into a total disaster. The right tools are also motivating! Who doesn’t want shiny new, top-of-the-line tools for your favorite project?
I think the same principle holds for cleaning. The right tools like a handheld vacuum, spray mop, grout brush, and sturdy broom can make cleaning much easier and more enjoyable. I also think that adding a few fun scents to my cleaning supplies cheers things up considerably in my home. I like to make my own DIYs and buy a few delicious smelling products too. Sustainable brands like Method, Seventh Generation, Honest Company, and Mrs Meyers have so many great scents and formulas. It might seem like a simple thing, but working toward a great smelling house is hugely motivating to me.
+ time yourself
Have you ever noticed how much cleaning you seem to get done around the house when you have houseguests on their way over or some dinner guests about to arrive? That’s when I really kick it into high gear, prioritize, and just crank it out. With that in mind, if I’m really low on cleaning motivation, sometimes I’ll set a timer and do a speed clean. There’s also this concept of a “power hour” clean that’s been floating around homemaking blogs and YouTube channels. It’s when you make a list of things you’d like to get done, set a timer for an hour, and see how many things you can check off your list in that hour. You can also try to beat your best times or challenge people in your house to do the same. As my son gets older, this will be a fun way to make a game out of tidying up.
+ watch others clean
I would say watching cleaning videos on YouTube is my best motivator. The idea of watching other people clean might seem strange to some people. For others, it’s hugely inspiring. Some of these “clean with me” videos have hundreds of thousands of views. Really! I think it’s worth a try if you’re really looking to get motivated to clean.
These YouTubers film “power hour” cleaning videos or “clean with me” videos because this style of video been hugely motivating for them. It’s nothing special. Just a well-filmed video of someone cleaning out their bathroom or fridge or entire house. I’ll admit, sometimes the stay at home parent life can be a little isolating. This makes cleaning a bit more social and makes the time fly. I’m a big fan of Love Meg and Beauty by Kristy, but there are cleaning videos that appeal to everyone: big families, working parent families, small families, rich, poor, you name it. I do have to warn you: it’s pretty addictive once you start!
+ find your why
I think this is a great tool any time you’re looking for a little motivation for a specific goal or a motivation boost midway through a project. If you have a compelling reason why you want to clean, then you’re more likely to do it. It’s important for me to create a calm home environment that allows me some ease and peace during the day. If I’m digging through clutter or working with a sink full of dirty dishes, I’m less likely to do my job as a homemaker well and it injects a huge dose of stress to my life.
If I’m working TOWARD peace and calm instead of AWAY from clutter and disarray, I’m more likely to have good, positive feelings about the process. You can use a vision board, journal, or just a good conversation to solidify the things that a tidy and clean home will give you. It’s important to make it personal to you, too. If you’re doing it for your partner, your kids, or to impress your neighbors or in-laws, then it’s going to be much less motivating.
How tidy and clean your home is sometimes reflects the inner order of your heart and mind. At least it does for me. I find that when my brain is all scattered and over the place, my house usually follows suit. It also works in the reverse for me. If for some reason, I’m not able to tidy my home or get pulled away mid-clean, the buildup of dirt and clutter really gets to me! I start stressing out and being frustrated for no reason. Once I clear away everything, I immediately have a sense of calm and well-being.
I like to remind myself that cleaning my surroundings is an essential act of self-care. Just as important as dentist appointments, showers, a little bit of blush, and a great pedicure. I would actually put it somewhere between dentist appointments and showering in terms of its importance. It’s THAT important.
Taking care of our things is a physical way to practice gratitude, care, and tending that is essential to our sense of self. I know I am much more grateful with what I have an content with my life when the things I own are well-tended. Looking at newly vacuumed and fresh smelling carpet makes me less likely to start eyeing hardwood floors at Home Depot. I’m not just taking care of my things when I clean, I’m taking care of myself. And that’s hugely rewarding.
+ embrace the zen
Last but not least, there’s something so mindful and meditative about a good clean. Physically doing something is a proven way to get out of your head and the repetitive nature of cleaning can help anyone relax. Don’t believe me? Try scrubbing grout for a half hour. It’s not super easy, you have to pay attention, and if you hate it, your mind is so focused on hating the job that you’d don’t really think about all the other stuff in your life. It’s also a good excuse to be left alone! Nobody really wants to clean, so my husband is far more willing to take up some childcare duties if I’m offering to clean the bathrooms. I find that if I have some good music, space and time to myself, and end up with a satisfying result (a clean room), then I feel kind of refreshed when I’m done. Win win!
Those are just a few of the ways I learned to love cleaning: some deep and some just fun. I challenge you to give one a try! And if none of these work for you, try coming up with some of your own ideas. Comment below with anything that makes your cleaning more fun and enjoyable!