1 Rule for Keeping Your House Clean and Orderly

This article was originally written in January of 2016. It has been updated and edited in July of 2018.

Oh the feeling of a clean house! I love it when someone gives you a great piece of advice that actually makes a difference in life. As a mom, ANY advice that helps me keep my house clean is invaluable!

I feel like I clean CONSTANTLY just like about every other parent out there. It’s a never ending task.

I once heard someone say that clutter is like emotional noise. It must be true cause when my house is cluttered, I can feel it screaming in my ears! 


This one rule has made a huge difference for me. I warn you, it will seem SO EASY but if you’re not used to following it, it will take practice! I learned this rule during a class given my Marie Ricks. Are you ready? Here it is…

1 rule for keeping your house clean and orderly


Have you ever wondered why your house gets dirty so fast even after you just cleaned it? It’s because the occupants of your home are either not finishing or are relying on YOU to do all of the finishing and YOU can not do it all! 

Here are some examples of not finishing.

You need to do some laundry and here is the process

  1. You start a load of laundry,
  2. Transfer the clothes to the dryer
  3. Take them out of the dryer and place them in a basket. 
  4. Let those clothes sit there for weeks until you find time to fold them.

That my friends is one item unfinished....

When I wash the dishes, but don’t put them away, there’s another item not finished…

If my kids come through the door after school and fail to hang up coats and back packs but throw them on the floor for ‘later’ there is ANOTHER thing…

Dinner is made but the ‘evidence’ is still all over the counters,keeping a house clean

The van has been cleaned and vacuumed but the bag of ‘stuff’ that was removed FROM the van is still sitting in the front entry way waiting for SOMEONE to be motivated to put everything away. (Yeah, that never happens!)


If I know I’m not going to have time to finish 4 loads of laundry, then I should only do 1 or 2. Otherwise, clothes get left in the dryer and because I REFUSE to iron wrinkled clothes,  they have to get rewashed or run through the dryer again. (I hate ironing so much, I don’t even own an iron anymore!)

Sometimes we all get ambitious and bite off more than we can chew. This usually creates not only a lot of stress but also a lot of unfinished projects lying around. Do yourself a favor and embrace the FINISH rule. You might feel at first like you aren’t doing as much but life will get a lot less hectic when you don’t have all the ’emotional noise’ of all the unFINISHed work lying around your house! 

Why don’t we finish projects or a chore? Many times we feel tired or not motivated anymore. At the end of a hectic day, it’s so much easier to just ditch the dishes and flip on the TV. But waking up to a sink full of dirty dishes is a miserable way to start your day. Rule For Keeping Your House Clean

If you don’t believe me, give it a shot! Start with just one thing that is driving you nuts, whether that is the laundry, or your dirty car, or your bedroom. Try finishing for a week and see if it makes a difference!

When you’re ready to ORGANIZE your house (closets included), check this post out: 10 Easy Tips For an Organized, Clutter-Free Home

As your family grows, the way you clean your house is going to change! Here is our POWER HOUSE CLEANING TIPS that has changed our cleaning system in our house! 

You might also enjoy this post from Mother’s Niche on decluttering:

For more great tips from Marie Ricks I highly recommend this book.

***My other favorite tip for cleaning is using E-cloths! A friend told me about Norwex and I was so thrilled with everything those cloths could do WITHOUT using harmful cleaners, but I about choked when I saw the price tag on just ONE cloth. NO WAY was I going to pay that much! I immediately researched to see if I could find a similar product without the multi level mark-up that I hate . You can get Ecloth on Amazon for a MUCH better price. My sister asked one of her friends (who sells Norwex) if she thought there was a quality difference between the two and she said β€œhonestly, they are pretty similar, it just depend which product you are introduced to first.” So…your welcome! πŸ™‚

I have been using E-cloth for 2 years now and they are still looking brand new and working like a charm! If you have never used microfiber cleaning cloths before, the 8-piece home cleaning set is a great place to start!

What other methods have you found to help with keeping your house clean? Please share!


House cleaning is never ending! This cleaning tip will help you keep a clean house


 best advice to Keep a house clean


52 thoughts on “1 Rule for Keeping Your House Clean and Orderly”

  1. After reading this post I went about my day with the info in the back of my head. I began to notice all of the “unfinished” projects, chores, etc. that were all around me creating chaos!! I went to work finishing up the ones that I could, and already felt much better. What a great, simple way to improve home life!! Thanks!

  2. Um… This is the story of my week – my clutter has been screaming at me and I have started way too many projects without finishing. Good advice. Now I’m gonna go finish dinner.

  3. Wow this is great advice. I, like you, am grateful for any advice given to me for my house. I’m a mother to just our one daughter, I stay at home and go to school. She’s 2 and everything I clean up its right back out again. I am trying out a new little cleaning plan that I found and now applying your “finish” concept, I am proud to say that today I have finished cleaning a few things. For my first day trying out this new cleaning project and your finished concept, it’s great! Thank you. I shall keep this in mind as go about doing chores throughout the day.

    As for your dryer comment, take your shirts out and hang them up in the bathroom and spray them with water. It helps with the wrinkles. Or just turn the dryer back on for a few minutes. Hope that helps πŸ™‚

  4. This is great. Thank you. I’m starting today! My reason for not finishing though isn’t tiredness or lack of motivation. It’s almost always one of my four little ones needing something! I am forever interrupted. But I’m hopeful…

  5. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Such a simple concept and it works! For the past two days since I saw your pin I have attempted to finish everything I have started. I consider myself a tidy person but sometimes things get away from me and then I feel like it really doesn’t matter. But it does matter. Thanks for your pin.

  6. This is such a good idea. I always feel like I have so much to do. Most of the time it’s because I started to many things and didn’t finish any of them.

  7. At my house we call it “the curse of the half-done.” It seems as though everything gets only gets done half-way. For example, the dishwasher gets unloaded- half-way, which leaves the person assigned to load and start it wondering if those dishes are clean or just rinsed. Laundry gets left at some point in the cycle: maybe in the washer, maybe the dryer, or usually in the laundry basket waiting to be folded – or more likely waiting for either someone to throw it back in the wash, not realizing it was done already, or for the cat the cat to nap in it, shedding cat hair on it so it needs to be washed again.

    Not finishing causes a lot of extra work around here – no wonder it never seems like we make any progress on getting this place clean. Time to commit to finishing!

  8. I’m really pleased that these days there is a plethora of storing and organizing stuff. Ever since I started my own home, decades ago, I have been into storage, especially in the bedroom. In those days you would get gifts of stationary in really strong boxes. The lids were nearly as deep as the box so I would lay them all side by side in my dressing table drawer. Then I could put the makeup in one, hankies in another, jewelry etc in another. The boxes were open so you had ease of access as well as seeing everything. It saved a jumbled mess.
    Shoes came in boxes and they went into the other drawers for bras of different sorts, tights, stockings panties. Again, I was able to go to the box I wanted. Leaving the lids off saved time to.
    Being short of storage in an old cottage, I dispensed with the bathroom wall cabinet and replaced it with a nice mirror. I then purchased a plain white double kitchen wall unit for the other wall and this held sheets, towels and all the shampoos etc. A friend copied this idea and sprayed it pink to match the walls.

    Always ask yourself can this be used for something else?

    Another thing to ask is does it really need doing? One days dust looks the same as three days to me. A man rarely comments on dust and stuff for two reasons. I] most never notice 2] if they said anything they might be given a duster lol.

  9. Haha! I love what you said about dusting Joanna! There are 2 jobs that I rarely ever FINISH in my home and they are dusting and cleaning the shower. I think my brain just ‘chooses’ to forget those household chores because I hate them so much! πŸ™‚

  10. I think it’s important to teach our kids to wait. If it’s urgent, such as; your child is hurt, or needs help making it to the potty… then it’s reasonable to be interrupted. Otherwise, let them know you are in the middle of something and you will help in 5 minutes. I think making them wait their turn teaches them to respect other people. πŸ™‚

  11. I’m actually getting out of my bed to start a load of laundry and empty and load the dishwasher… But I have 2 grown up men at home whom I would have to TRY to persuade not to leave dirty dishes all around the kitchen at night… They usually go to bed later then I do, so it really doesn’t metter how shiny my sink look when I go to bed… In the morning it’s full of dirty dishes again ((( poor me!!!

  12. Thank you!
    I will finish things. My problem is I’m not finishing my stuff cause I’m finishing my family’s stuff (the things they neglect and do not finish) That stops today.

  13. This is great advice and I know from experience that it works. I always finish what I start and feel like I get more accomplished when everything is finished. However even though I don’t have kids yet, I’m always finishing what my fiance starts and doesn’t finish. It’s so annoying! This is something I’m trying to work with him on. I want to be his wife, not his mother!

  14. The one thing that seems to have made a difference for me is when I see something that needs to be done, I ask myself if it can be done or finished in 2 minutes or less. Usually it can. I am pleased with the results.

  15. This is the best post I’ve read in a really long time, and that is A LOT of posts!!! Thank you so much, this is my week to FINISH!!! πŸ˜‰

  16. Excellent advice! This is now my goal for the week. So often do I try to start a load of laundry, while washing dishes, and tidying the living room… and then nothing gets fully finished. Maybe one task at a time start-to-finish, or at least going back to it in the same day.

  17. Here’s what I do to keep a clean house, I clean as I go. So there is never a lot to do. If I am cooking I clean my mess while I cook and that is when I put away dishes, so it can be loaded again after dinner. When I enter any room before I leave I look around to see if there is anything I can pick up or wipe down. So my house is always easy to clean.

  18. Even the “three seconds” rule is very handy in keeping a home tidy already! My grandma told me “if it takes less than 3 seconds to do, do it immediately”. I am still far behind on actually daily using this rule, but when I do I am always surprised about how many “three second” things I can do in a few minute, and how much better my room looks afterwards.

  19. Why are grown men are leaving dirty dishes in your sink? Have you asked them to stop doing that? My husband knows that a respectful man doesn’t leave a mess for his wife to clean up. He takes responsibility for his own mess/clutter, as any adult should. And he’s great at teaching the kids to be respectful as well…to not leave their things laying around for someone else to clean up.

  20. This is exactly my hang-up on laundry! I have no problem getting things through the machines, but then the clothes sit in baskets, and we just keep grabbing them out and wearing them, haha. That’s why my cloth diaper laundry is actually my favorite–no sorting or folding required. For the record though, I’ve been doing better since we moved. Having a bigger washer and dryer really helps by creating fewer loads, and therefore fewer starts-and-finishes.

  21. Hi! This finishing thing seems simple but I need to do it. I think this will help me tremendously! By the way, if I forget a load of laundry in the drier and it gets all wrinkled, I just throw in a wet washcloth and run it for a few minutes. Wrinkles gone! And I don’t have to do the whole load again! France G.

  22. I have been fighting this for years! Guilty!! Today…my “new” word is: FINISH I’m going to start today as if I never thought of it before!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for the kick in the pants!

  23. Thanks for sharing France! Yes, I recently learned I can also throw a few ice cubes in the dryer with wrinkled clothes and it works the same way. Thanks!

  24. You are most welcome Sheila. I was just reading your comment this morning and think I need to give myself a kick in the seat of the pants too. Ive been lazy the past few days!

  25. A friend of mine with two teenagers used to throw their stuff down the cellar stairs. When they asked where their sneakers, jeans, book, etc. were? She said, “in the cellar”. They soon learned to put things, at least, in their rooms or somewhere safe. Kids are perfectly capable of helping. Give them an opportunity!

  26. THIS!!! I opened this thinking, okay, another article telling me to pick up after myself for a forever clean house. Duh! Seems dummy proof but what about the dirty clothes or dishes or vacuuming that has to be done for an actual clean house?! But this hugs the nail on the head! I’m one of those overachiever that tries to do was way too much once. Now I’m going to work on just completing a task from start to finish, rather than multitasking ten tasks and feeling like I’ve gotten nothing done. Thank you for this advice!

  27. Awesome Angela! I hope it helps you feel less overwhelmed. I hate feeling like I have to perfect at everything all at once. It just doesn’t happen. Best of luck!

  28. When I was young, my mom would never allow me to leave anything laying around. Everything had to be put away when I was done with it. My mom worked full-time and she didn’t want to come to a messy house. I started the dinner from a very early age and being an only child I was stuck with more chores than most of my friends that had siblings.
    When I became a mother I did a lot of things that my mom didn’t because I didn’t work, but that did not mean my boys got away without picking up after themselves. I remember I was very upset about them always leaving their bookbags and coats on the floor by the door. After telling them a hundred times to pick them up and put them away, I put everything in the garage (we have an attached garage). When they asked where their stuff was I said, “I don’t know, maybe you should look in the garage.” That was the last time they left their stuff laying around (hahaha). Sometimes we have to use drastic measures!
    Now my husband is retired and I am still working (for a few more years) and he is the culprit when it comes to leaving things laying around. He does a lot of the chores being home all the time, but when he is working on a project and that project is done, I still see stuff laying around that could be put away. I guess I will have to put everything in the garage, to get my point across, but he will probably think, “Oh, she put it all away for me.” since that is his work space (hahaha).

  29. This has to be the BEST article on keeping a tidy home I have read. I had not really considered it before, but not finishing is the #1 problem that plagues my home. Thank you for putting out there plain and simple….no lists, no gimicks, no systems….simply finish.

  30. This is a great idea. The one danger I see is the one that I have struggled with for so long. I love to finish things so much that I have a tendency to do the all-or-nothing approach. this means that when I look at the cupboard full of dishes and I know I don’t have enough time to do them all, I end up doing none of them instead. Of course this only makes for a bigger job and the problem just perpetuates itself. I had to learn that some is better than none. Yes my clothes may not be folded but at least they are clean and my kids can find them in the laundry basket. I do love finished projects SO much, but I have learned that unfinished projects and some time with my kids is better than a clean house and me putting my kids off all the time. Moderation and balance on both counts are important.

  31. Thank you! It`s all I can say! After reading the post, I`m going to enter the kitchen and start doing some ordering stuff now! God bless you!

  32. This is great; we sometimes need someone else to state the obvious for us to “get it”. Another thing I need to embrace more is the “You-can-do-anything-for-15-minutes!” philosophy. (Flylady.com) Meaning, you’d be surprised how much you can do within a 15 minute block. Turns out you could easily empty the dishwasher AND set the table AND take the trash out, AND fold n put away a dryer full of laundry. All in 15 min! Part of the trouble is we think just putting the dishes away takes fifteen minutes all by itself.

    I will try the FINISH WHAT YOU START method ’til it becomes second nature. I have a feeling it might make all the difference.

    That, and a meal plan/shopping list.

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