Deep Cleaning and Decluttering Your House

I wouldn’t say that I like cleaning any better than anyone else, but I do like to be able to find things and have places to put them at the end of the day. Decluttering and deep cleaning go hand in hand. I’ve studied a couple of methods over the years and have taken what I like from them to create my own system.

The Fly Lady Method for Deep Cleaning

The basic idea behind this method is to divide your house into zones and tackle 1 zone per week. For my house, the zones include the following:

  • living room
  • kitchen
  • bathrooms and laundry room
  • bedrooms
  • the cars

I used Fly Lady’s deep cleaning list, along with several others online, to create a week-by-week checklist for my house. She suggests spending 15 minutes a day on deep cleaning and decluttering. I find that I divide my list into tasks Monday – Friday and work on them until they’re done, not really paying attention to the time. This list doesn’t include things that I already do every day or once a week. It is just the monthly and yearly tasks. (I sure wish I could do the dishes just once a month, though!)

Some of these tasks are a bit unpleasant, even if I keep up on them, so I’ve been hiring them out to my kids recently. I have no regrets. I really don’t like washing walls.

See the Fly Lady website for more details.

Just for fun: a picture from the old prison in Boise, ID.

The Marie Kondo (Konmari) Method for Decluttering

Though I like Fly Lady’s ideas for deep cleaning, I much prefer to declutter every year instead of every week. Sometimes I’ll do it after 6 months if it seems like we’re accumulating a lot of stuff. (I find decluttering to be a good mood-booster, the perfect thing for a dull, January day.)

I love Marie Kondo’s book and the Netflix show that followed. The basic idea is to declutter your life by categories and keep only things that “spark joy”. Her categories:

  • clothing
  • books
  • komono (miscellaneous)
  • papers
  • sentimental

Again, since I love lists, I typed up my own and expanded the categories by how my house is set up. I can generally declutter my entire house in 10 hours or so, split up over a few days, and I always love the result.

Let me refute the complaints that “so-and-so’s method didn’t work because my house got messy again.” (Yes, I have gone and read the reviews on her book, and I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t love it.)

Decluttering is NOT a one-time thing. (Sorry!) More stuff will enter your house. Kids (and adults) get new clothes when they outgrow the old ones. Things lose their usefulness or break completely. People will give you gifts. Clutter doesn’t “just happen” though, so you might as well face it: you need to declutter every once in a while. I do think once a year is sufficient, usually. I like to involve the kids in the process. When we get rid of the stuff that’s no longer “sparking joy’, we make room for better things.


Keeping a home clean and organized is a constant battle, but it’s one worth fighting. A little time spent decluttering and cleaning makes a place that’s pleasant to live in. I’m grateful to have more than enough “stuff” and plenty of things to clean. It means I have a family making the messes. The real dream will start when I successfully get them to clean up after themselves. 😉

(More posts on organizing here and cleaning here!)

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