A Reformed Dirty Person Offers Cleaning Tips

Learn how local mom Katie Day keeps her home tidy with these genius and easy tips she has acquired over the years.

By Katie Day

Jun 2019

Katie Day with her husband and children.
Photo by Janae HardyA few simple hacks keep Katie Day from wasting precious family time cleaning.

Maybe you are one. Maybe you are married to one. But here we are, adult-aged children who never quite built the habit to clean up what we just got out before moving on to the next creative idea that just popped in our head. We maybe don’t “see” the mess the way you normal actual adults do. Fear not! There’s hope.

Hi, I’m Katie Day and I’m a dirty person. At least I used to be. I’ve spent the last two years bingeing home management podcasts and reading books about tidying. (There are books about tidying! More than one! I know, right?!) I’m here to share the top four strategies that finally took me from garbage person to neat-freak (…ish).

Purge As Much As Possible

The fewer items you own, the fewer items to dust, launder or put back in a basket. Only keep items that you absolutely adore. Let go of the rest.

Every Item Has a Home

(Ughhh. I can’t believe I just said that to you. I’m so annoying.) But it has to happen. The only reason dirty people procrastinate putting something away is because they don’t know where “away” is. So it requires overcoming a mental hurdle to simply figure out where those awkwardly taller boots that don’t quite fit on that shelf should actually go. Then they might as well toss them just anywhere. Find everything a home. Label the spot if that helps. Draw a picture of underwear on your kid’s underwear drawer. Just get it done.

The One-Touch Rule

Imagine you come home from work, take off your jacket, and lay it on the countertop. Then later you go to cook dinner and move the jacket from the counter to a dining room chair. To eat the dinner, you move it from the chair to the stair-rail. Then finally before bed, you move it from the stair-rail to the coat closet. You have now touched the jacket four times. Instead, think “I’m going to get this item to its home in one touch.” While I was learning this rule I would mentally repeat in my brain “one-touch, one-touch, one-touch!” (You know… like a psychopath!) Now I have the strategy memorized. It’s built-in.

Schedule the Mundane

For me, the key to my freedom was the dishwasher. I had found myself all day long deciding if I should run it or wait until after the next meal’s dishes, only to find that the next meal produced too many dishes to quite fit. This forced me to pile the excess dishes in the sink and wait. I could never quite catch up. Now I have set the non-negotiable task that I will run the dishwasher every single night before bed and empty it every single morning while I’m brewing my coffee. Which means every dirty dish also has a home: inside the dishwasher! Saturdays, I do all the laundry. Sundays, I do all the week’s meal planning.

Now that my household management is on autopilot, I can reserve my brainpower for the creative things I love. It’s amazing how much easier it is to try out painting when you know where all of your paints are! Hey, why not learn the ukulele using those 15 extra minutes a day I’m no longer spending searching for my keys? Tidy up, my fellow Garbage People! We got this!