Woman happily cleaning

27 Smart Tips to Get Motivated to Clean a Messy House

  • Cleaning can become something you do, but don’t dread doing
  • Cleaning doesn’t have to be hard (there are ways to make it fun!)
  • It’s 100% possible to be a real human and find motivation to clean (you don’t need to be Martha Stewart)

If Mount Everest could be made of laundry, it’d be in your living room. Oh, and if clean dishes were real, they would have to look like unicorns (because they’d be so rare).

And are you so unmotivated to clean . . . because it’s just all so overwhelming?

Yup, it’s hard to feel like there’s hope when you need a Hazmat suit to get to the bathroom in the morning.

SO, how do you get the motivation to clean? What’s the first step? (And is there a step zero? ‘Cause I’m sure I need a step zero sometimes).

It comes down to having both the right mindset to motivate you and the right methods to make it happen.

Today, I’ll break down some ultra-awesome methods to get cleaning motivation. I’ll share tips in the following three categories:

  • Instantaneous Motivation for Cleaning
  • Cleaning mindset shifts to get more motivated
  • Longer-term strategies to motivate you to keep your house clean

1: Just start

Mark Twain once said that “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

And it’s true! Tell yourself that the most important thing is to just start. And as soon as you do start, everything will begin to feel easier (I promise).

The decision to act is yours, and you alone can choose to do it.

2: Tell yourself to do it one. thing. at. a. time.

This is the sister secret to deciding that you’ll “just start.”

When we think about our entire to-do list, it’s overwhelming. And when we feel overwhelmed, it’s easy to procrastinate without realizing it (and then *nothing* gets done).

But if you give yourself one task at a time to focus on, it feels easier, and that’s a great motivator.

I tell myself that I’m just going to wash one dish. So I do it. Then I tell myself that I just need to wash one more. Then one more. And before I know it, the dirty dishes are all done. I have clean dishes! And then I keep going.

Before I know it, my entire house is clean, and I did it all by thinking of everything as a small task that I needed to do next.

(Remember, though, accomplishing one small task doesn’t mean that you can take a break just yet!)

3: Listen to an audiobook

Listening to an audiobook helps the time to pass sooooo much more quickly. Plus, it’s a great way to broaden your horizons and improve your vocabulary.

Where to find great audiobooks

I have a few favorite places to find audiobooks. One is paid, and the others are free.

The paid one is Kindle Unlimited. It’s a bit expensive ($15 a month, though the rate per month goes down as you pay for a longer subscription), but there is a great selection of free books that are included. You can also occasionally get a free trial.

Other free sources for audiobooks include the following:

  • Librivox (A site with public domain audiobooks)
  • Project Gutenburg (A site with public domain eBooks and audiobooks)
  • YouTube 
  • Libby (This is a super cool app that works your local library system and lets you check out ebooks and audiobooks)

4: Pick great music

What’s the best way to make cleaning fun? HAVE A DANCE PARTY WHILE YOU DO IT!!

Okay, this sounds cheesy and obvious, but if you find yourself lagging in your house cleaning, you can make it a little bit more fun by turning on music.

Plus, you can pick whatever music you like. (Though, I personally pick more upbeat music to boost my energy level.)

I love to combine music with timers. (See my tip down below!)

5: Call family or friends and talk as you clean

Time flies when you”re having fun . . . or having a good conversation.

This tip works best if you have a well-defined task at hand, like folding laundry.

If you start chatting with a family member or friend without knowing what your to-do list is, you’ll likely just talk for a long time instead of cleaning and talking.

So be sure to start with a clear picture of what you’re going to do while talking so that you can enjoy your conversation and your cleaning.

6: Set a timer

Try setting the timer for 30 minutes and say “I’m only going to clean during this time.”

Setting a timer is an easy way to get things moving there’s a lack of motivation. It gives you a clear finish line for your cleaning, and helps to prevent procrastination.

I found that when others are overwhelmed by the mess in the house, this is a good way to get them working with me too.

Here’s a simple 30 minute timer from YouTube (there are lots of really fun ones out there too):

7: Pray and ask for help first (Or at least meditate if prayer’s not your thing. It helps you start with a calm, clear mind 🙂 )

I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and I LOVE to pray before I start cleaning (or work) because it calms my heart and clears my mind,

I often ask for help and motivation, and I believe that God gives it to me.

You can try it too!

8: Start by just putting away everything

This secret is magic (my mother-in-law told it to me, and it works!). To get a jumpstart cleaning a messy house, begin by putting away as much as you can. 

This reduces visual clutter, which makes your home feel clean more quickly than any other strategy on this list.

It also boosts your energy levels and gives you motivation.

Plus, it’s easy to mop, vacuum, clean bathrooms, etc. once the items everywhere are gone.

While you do this, though, keep the following in mind:

Don’t get hung up on organizing. Putting things away and organizing are two different tasks. Organizing often creates more mess while you do it, and you do NOT want to create more mess, lol.

9: (Briefly) plan out your time and/or tasks before you start

It might seem like more work to plan out your time and tasks before you start, but believe me, a simple plan can make cleaning take waaaay less time in the long run.

Planning can be as simple or as detailed as you want.

Here are a few ways you can plan out your time and/or cleaning tasks. Some of them can build off of each other:

  • Make a list of tasks to be done (This helps you to focus on those tasks, and you can check them off as you complete them)
  • Assign days for when you’ll do specific cleaning tasks (this can be the beginning of a cleaning routine, which makes a HUGE difference in creating a tidy home!)
  • If you only have one day to do this, assign each cleaning task a realistic time chunk in a “block cleaning schedule” (Focus on the most important tasks first, and worry about the small ones later)

10: Figure out your “Why” and let it motivate you

I’m not sure if I heard this tip somewhere or if I came up with it out of my head, but deciding why you’re cleaning in the first place can help you find motivation to do it.

Some examples of a “Why” could be the following:

  • You want to give your family the benefits of having a clean living space
  • You know that living in a clean home will boost your self-esteem and productivity
  • You want to feel in control of your life

Remembering my “why” motivates me to do that “first thing” and keep going.

11: Have a snack to break things up (Or remember that breaks are your friend, if used correctly)

There is nothing more depressing than endless cleaning without hope of a break.

As you clean up your dirty house, make sure to reward yourself now and then with a short amount of time to rest and regroup.

This doesn’t need to be about extensive “self-care” or “me time.” It’s simply about taking a deep breath and gathering yourself for the next step of your cleaning.

I love this youtube video about taking time to recharge throughout your day (I know it shows someone in an office, but it applies to cleaning, mental health, and so many other things too!)

12: Listen to motivational or inspiring speeches (Try some good Ted Talks)

In the morning, before I listen to audiobooks, I put on inspiring talks.

Hearing something uplifting at the start of my work day gives me a boost, and sometimes it’s the difference between an unmotivated day of work and a successful, productive, motivated one.

I listen to talks from my church’s General Conference. You could also try listening to speeches from other sources you trust.

13: Do the most intimidating tasks first

Maybe you prefer to start small, and if that’s you, I get it.

But sometimes, if you do the scariest tasks first (I think of them as my “dragon” tasks), the success springboards you into completing the rest of your to-do list.

Let me say this again: addressing the most intimidating cleaning tasks firstcan help everything else fall into place.

Just try it. You might be amazed how well it works for you.

14: Have a dinner plan for when you’re done (Hello, Dino Nuggets!!)

If you’re spending a day deep cleaning, let’s be real for a second. If you have little kids (or even if you don’t), you probably won’t have much time to cook a lavish dinner between scrubbing the toilets and rediscovering the color of your kitchen floor.

I’m not telling you to go spend a bunch of money on eating out. Some of us don’t have that money (though I’m genuinely glad for you if you do, haha).

What I am suggesting, though, is that you take a little time and think ahead before you clean. Have things in place for a ridiculously easy dinner when you’re done.

Eat leftovers, have canned soup, or even–and I’m serious–pull out the Dino Nuggets.

15: Don’t get hung up on details (Seriously; don’t do it)

Have you ever started washing the counters in the kitchen, only to realize 2 hours later that you’re re-organizing the cabinets (while the rest of the house still looks like a horror movie)?

This is survival. Don’t get hung up on smaller tasks. Focus on the vital jobs that MUST get done for you to have a (semi) clean space.

I P-R-O-M-I-S-E that if you focus on the big things first, there will be enough time for the details later.

16: Make sure you’re not hungry when you start

This makes me sound like a hobbit, but I swear that if I’m hungry, I get nothing done in my cleaning time.

So please, go feed yourself. Don’t start your cleaning hungry.

Just don’t let eating take up all of your cleaning time (not that I’ve ever done that before . . . ).

17: Invest in some good cleaning and decluttering books or courses

If you are REALLY struggling and can’t ever seem to get your house clean, now might be a good time to invest in some high-quality cleaning books or courses.

You may simply have too much stuff, or you may just not know a good method (for your brain) to organize your time or items. Here are a few resources I recommend that have helped me and my family:

The STEP program from April Perry and her husband ($250 self-study) .This is an amazing course that teaches you to make a system to get things done in your life. It’s incredible, and I highly, highly recommend it, even though it may seem pricey.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. This is a pretty famous book, and I’ve read a lot of it. It teaches you how to declutter your entire house in one big sweep. It may be too extreme for a lot of people, but there is still a TON to be learned about decluttering and storing from her methods.

Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana K. White is also an excellent decluttering resource for real moms and real people (like you and me).

clutterbug.me from Cas Aarssen. This is a helpful site that teaches 4 different organizing mindsets. It helps you figure out your “type” and how to organize in a way suited to your brain. I haven’t used it a lot, but my mother-in-law loves it!

18: Invite someone over (This might not be what it sounds like)

Have you ever done a desperate, 5-hour marathon to clean up a messy home before a guest arrived?

Yeah, me too. So what if you invited someone over to give yourself a tidying deadline?

It might just be the cleaning inspiration you need!

19: Don’t give up

This is exactly what it sounds like. Maybe you have zero motivation. But I’m here to tell you NOT TO GIVE UP!

You can do this. Get up and try again.

And just for fun, try listening to one of my favorite songs. Maybe the beat will give you some motivation to do this 🙂

20: Don’t plan to do too much all at once

It’s easy to want to scrub the bathrooms, vacuum the entire house, clean the kitchen counters, run every load of laundry, mop the floors, and just get it ALL done all at once.

And I’m not telling you that you can’t clean your whole house in one day (or 2 hours), because you kind-of can. BUT, you’re not going to do ALL the big and small steps in one day.

Break it up. Be realistic and smart, because you will overwhelm yourself if you try and do it all at once. Take it one step at a time and remember, you can do this.

21: Create a cleaning schedule and/or daily chores

Sometimes the motivation you need is a plan to make sure that the mess can’t happen again.

I discuss this more in other posts, but I’ve discovered that the secret to having an organized life or home (or whatever) has to do with routines in a big way. If you can’t get your house clean, you likely need some new habits and a cleaning routine or schedule that you can do on a regular basis (daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly).

22: Watch a video of someone cleaning and transforming their life (then start on yours!)

Watching someone else do a cleaning marathon in 5 minutes can be extremely satisfying, and it might be the motivation you need to do the same to your house.

Just don’t let the next video start playing. Turn it off, and get to work.

This is a fun video to watch from “Do it on a Dime.”

23: Remember that you can ask family or friends for help

So you think having a cleaning buddy is really what you need?

Ask family or a friend to help you out. Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who understand that it’s hard to keep your house clean. If you think you need someone to work with, find that someone.

Text them now and ask.

24: Realize that in specific cases, other help may be needed

Maybe you can’t clean much because you have a disability or health condition. Or maybe your house is really, really dirty and you don’t know what can be done for it.

If that’s you and you think you need some professional help, know that some people figure this all out by hiring an organizer or a house cleaning service.

Alternatively, find out if someone you know (or one of their kids) would like some pocket change. I cleaned several times for one of my friend’s moms when I was  a young teen, and I know we were both happy with the arrangement!

25: Simplify

Many people feel unmotivated to clean because they’re overwhelmed. That’s why it’s important to simplify what you need to do.

I mean . . . I can’t be the only one who wants to run away screaming when I look at cleaning checklists with things like “polish the door knobs” and “lightly dust everything in your closet” as WEEKLY TASKS on them.

I don’t want to get to the end of my life and realize I’ve (cumulatively) spent DAYS and DAYS of my life dusting my closet.

So, I’ve broken down my main “Cleaning tasks” into 3 big things I do each week:

  1. Clean the bathrooms
  2. Vacuum the entire house (I dust with a soft brush on my vacuum)
  3. Mop the hard floors

Dishes, tidying, and sweeping the kitchen are maintenance tasks that I do when they need to be done. I do 1 load of laundry each day, and that’s pretty much it.

There is a little more to it, but . . . not a lot. I keep it simple.

26: Declutter

I know this kind-of goes with my “Invest in courses and books” point, but I just feel like it deserves to be said on it’s own.

Less stuff = less mess and easier clean-up.

When you have fewer items, it’s simpler to give every item in your house a home. And when every item has a home, your house is much (much!) cleaner.

Like I said before, I highly recommend either the book The Life Changing-Magic of Tidying Up or the book Decluttering at the Speed of Life (I actually love combining principles from both).

27: Tell yourself it’ll be easy (and it’ll become easier)

Don’t look at all of your cleaning and think “This is going to take forever!!!!”

Because if you think that way, it usually does.

However, I have discovered that if you tell yourself “This is going to be easy” over and over again, it becomes easy.

Cleaning the 2 bathrooms in my house used to seem like a monumental task to me. But yesterday, I cleaned the bathrooms in a total of 20 minutes time. 

20 minutes. And I used to think I just couldn’t do it.

This is easy. You can do it. You’ve got this.

Final Thoughts About Motivation

I hope you found some tips that helped you! Let me know in the comments down below what gets YOU motivated to clean. I might even add your tips to the post later on 🙂

And if you’re needing some extra love and motivational words right now, check out my post with quotes for overwhelmed moms.

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