20 Habits of People With Really Clean Houses

Ever walk into a friend’s home and immediately notice how clean it is? They don’t have a housekeeper, so how do they do it? And how do they keep it that way? To get answers, I surveyed friends with the cleanest-of-clean homes and asked them for tips.

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: codyulrich.com

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Wynne H Earle Photography

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Andy Vinson of Loch & Key Productions

Photo By: Léon & George

Photo By: Martin Poole

Photo By: Lauren Rubin Architecture

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Twist Tours Photography

They Keep High-Touch Surfaces Germ-Free

There’s no denying that wet wipes make disinfecting surfaces easy (and satisfying). Keep a container handy, and use wet wipes once a week (or daily during flu season) for attacks on light switches, remote controls, drawer pulls, banisters and doorknobs.

They Own a Broom They Love

A daily sweep of the home collects and keeps the dirt at bay, and if you have furry pets or are a family who wears shoes indoors, any efforts to clean the floors can make a huge difference in the cleanliness of your home. Regular brooms may be fine, but buying my 24" microfiber dry mop was a life-changing experience. Its width makes it easy to wipe down the floors in our entire hallway in one swift back and forth, and it articulates easily to reach under beds and around dining room chairs.

If They Clean Anything Before Bedtime, It’s the Kitchen Counters

There’s nothing quite like waking up to a clean kitchen in the morning. Load the dishwasher, scrub down the sink, and make sure the countertops themselves get a complete wipe down so they’re free of grease, germs and crumbs.

Their Dedication to Mail Organization Will Make You Jealous

Make it a goal to spend 30 seconds with that stack of mail every day. Immediately recycle or shred anything you don’t need — and don’t feel bad about getting rid off any non-subscription catalogs that don’t warrant your time. If you have extra time, make a call to take your address off their mailing list. Get in the habit of using an app on your smartphone to scan and digitally organize important items so you have less paper trail — and then shred any of those personal items to minimize the amount of paper you're storing at home.

They Invest in the Laundry Process

If you can install a laundry shoot in your home that drops clothes right beside your washer and dryer, do it (you’re living the dream). If not, consider investing in a laundry basket that you love. The perfect laundry basket will double as a decorative accent that — dare I say — you’ll engage with more, keeping the dirty clothes from piling up on the floor. Here are 10 laundry baskets to jump-start your inspiration.

And... They Don’t Let Laundry Consume Their Lives

It’s easy to pause and ignore the laundry for a week, but it sure is a bummer when you spend a full eight-hour day rotating loads and folding laundry. Keep up with it by adopting a consistent routine, such as committing to running loads two nights a week, and put the clothing back on hangers and in drawers immediately to check the chore off your list.

Their Routine Includes Making the Bed

As soon as you roll out of bed in the morning, make an effort to make your bed, or at the very least, fold the comforter and toss the pillows back where they belong. Your room will always look presentable and clean, and it’s guaranteed to make you feel like you have your act together even if there are still dust bunnies hiding beneath the bed frame.

They Make Clean-Up As Easy As Possible

In two-story homes, there’s a perpetual battle of trying to keep things that belong upstairs, upstairs, and things that belong downstairs, downstairs. Adopting a system for moving items between upstairs and downstairs will make this chore easier since you're probably already running up and down all day anyway. Place things that eventually need to go upstairs in the basket, and then remember to complete the chore next time you hike up. Same goes for bringing items down — save yourself a trip, and carry the basket with items back downstairs with you on your next run.

They Commit to an Orderly Linen Closet

Commit to order in your pantry and linen closet. Storage spaces behind closed doors can quickly go from zero-to-chaos everytime you buy groceries, or wash sheets and towels. If your linen closet constantly spills out everytime you open the door, you may be less inclined to properly put clean items away. So take a few moments to organize the closet and enjoy the cleanliness and orderliness it brings to your life. (Psst... also, learn how to master the art of folding a fitted sheet.)

They Run the Dishwasher Every. Single. Day.

Owning a high-efficiency appliance makes this routine economical. Make it a habit of loading the dishwasher and running it every night after dinner, and unloading it as your coffee brews the following morning. If you only produce enough to fill some of the dishwasher, keep in mind that many appliances have a half-load setting that targets the top rack and uses up to 30% less water.

They Have Clean Refrigerators

Achieving refrigerator organization feels a lot like getting the high-score in Tetris, but keeping the shelves and drawers clean is a sure-fire way to level-up. Every time you’re planning a grocery run, take a moment to shift items off the top shelf, give it a thorough wipe-down, and then re-organize. Next week, focus on cleaning the next shelf down, and then shelf #3, and so forth. By the end of the month, you’ll be rinsing out the lowest crisper bins, and reveling in how clean your fridge has stayed by taking it one level at a time. Note that you'll never have to completely empty your fridge to get this chore done when you take it one shelf at a time!

They Incorporate Air-Purifying Plants Into Their Decor

Indoor plants help to soften living spaces and make a home feel cozier, but they can also improve the air quality in your home. By filtering toxins and producing oxygen, you might find that you’re healthier, more relaxed and more productive. Lush, green plants and large succulents such as the Philodendron, Pothos or the Snake Plant all make for great indoor air purifiers. If you’re looking for a hookup, check Léon & George for its variety.

They Own the Best Vacuums

Powerful cleaning starts with a high-performance vacuum. Pet owners especially will value a tool that works well for them. Most of the best pet vacuums are outfitted with extra attachments that help remove fur from upholstery, and make it easier to reach into hard-to-access areas. If you need help narrowing down your options, this article reviewing vacuums will help.

They Clean Throughout the Year

Seasonality doesn’t need to dictate when we decide to clean our homes, so forget you ever heard of "spring cleaning." Instead, make purging a routine (monthly, or quarterly) to keep the excess to a minimum, and keep minimalism at the forefront. Keep donate, hand-me-down, and recycling bins in well-marked and convenient spots to help make it easier to master an ongoing method that works for you.

They Work Hard to Keep Messes Small

Messes are inevitable, especially when it comes to areas where the kids play. If you focus on cleaning a little bit at a time before it gets out of control, it’s easier to keep yourself in check. For example, remind them to put away the paints before they get out the glue and glitter, or, in adult world, clean dishes as you cook.

They Make Pet Grooming a Priority

Whether it’s getting in the habit of brushing Fido daily, or pampering them with a routine trip to the day spa, it’s easier to keep your home clean when your pet is clean. Adapt your routine and find that you have less fur and dirt to clean up from your furniture and floors. Here’s a DIY rosemary oatmeal dog shampoo recipe that our dog adores (OK, tolerates), as well as a DIY dry shampoo option to keep your pet fresh between baths.

They Take Off Their Shoes

Cleaning and removing your shoes when you enter your home (and requesting guests do the same) not only reduces the amount of actual dirt trekked into your home, but also limits your exposure to the "other stuff" you walk through. A comfortable, livable home starts with clean floors, and floors paced with dirty shoes require extra maintenance.

They Remember to Clean the Ceiling

Remember that time you were embarrassed to notice — mid-party — that there were webs in the corners of your living room, and hoped none of your guests had keen vision? Yeah. Hands down, the easiest way to clean the ceiling, the upper corners of any room, and around light fixtures, is to attach a microfiber cloth to the end of a broom. A rubber band secures the cloth well enough, and with the extra reach, you’ll be able to zip around your home in minutes.

Also, They Know How to Clean the Walls

Whether you notice it or not, there’s often a lot of dust built up on the walls of your home. Routine dusting can keep buildup at bay, and washing the walls also keeps it free of oils, dirty fingerprints and, kindly nodding towards my children, evidence of jam hands. Learn how to clean the walls of your home in this post, where we review processes for painted drywall and wallpapered surfaces.

They Favor Drawers and Doors Over Open Shelves

Open shelving units and floating shelves might look great, but they require more upkeep than closed door cabinets, especially in the kitchen if they’re located near your cooking areas. When you’re choosing how to display your belongings, remember to factor in how much time you’re willing to invest in cleaning the surface. (Bonus: Drawers and doors also help to hide a mess, if, that is, you have something to hide.)