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Maintain your gains

When you have cleaned up your house, how do you keep it cleaned up? Are you worried that you will let it slip back into squalor? Has it been so long (if ever) since you did "regular" housekeeping that you're really not sure how often to do certain household chores?

But first... Congratulations!

Take a moment to look around you - at the enorrmity what you've achieved! See everything that's not there any more: all the free space where once was clutter and garbage. You faced your problem head on and met the challenge. You should be very proud of yourself. Well done, you!

Squalor Survivors is proud of you!

Maintain all your cleaned areas

To keep squalor from encroaching on your home again, do a little cleaning every day. Don't let tasks build up until they become overwhelming.

Daily Cleaning Goals

  • Make your bed
  • Put dirty laundry in a designated area
  • Wash and dry the dishes

Weekly Cleaning Goals

Try doing just one weekly cleaning goal every day for six days of the week (on the seventh day, even He got a rest!) Examples:

  • Vacuum rugs and carpets
  • Dust furniture and blinds
  • Clean bathroom (toilets, bathtub, shower, vanity)
  • Clean kitchen (stovetop, sink, benchtops)
  • Mop floors
  • Take out garbage and recycling

Monthly cleaning goals

  • Clean out refrigerator, throwing away expired items. If in doubt, throw it out.

Twice a year

  • Check battery in smoke detectors
  • Inspect fire extinguisher
  • Change vacuum cleaner filter

"Little minutes"

"Little minutes" means taking frequent opportunities to do a job on a small scale, so that you never, or seldom, have to do it on a large scale. For example, when you put your clean, folded laundry away, straighten up the drawer at the same time. Just before you pop that towel in with the dirty laundry, take a little minute to shine the bathroom mirror. If, when a cabinet or the refrigerator (or even one refrigerator shelf) is nearly empty, you give it a quick wipe, you may even be able to eliminate "Clean out refrigerator" as a monthly cleaning goal. Using little minutes is a painless way to ensure there is never a need for a cleaning marathon.

I added one thing to my routine. Each morning while coffee is brewing, I empty the dishwasher. It's made a world of difference in my kitchen. I used to just stand there watching the coffee drip out so slowly. Now it's like: can I finish this task before the coffeemaker is done? It seems like the coffeemaker got real fast. ShopGirl

One of our members investigated how many tasks she could carry out while preparing ramen noodles. She set her timer for three minutes and then she...

  1. Took the elcheapo Magic Eraser knockoff and cleaned the spots off the windowsill
  2. Wiped off the glass door of the oven using the same eraser (had noticed its condition earlier in the day) and dried it using the other side
  3. Emptied the rest of the flour bag into the new plastic container she'd bought for the flour and put it in the lazy susan corner cabinet
  4. Put the cordless phone back into its cradle
  5. Picked up a piece of cereal off the floor, left over from the morning, and threw it into the trash
  6. Got out her little strainer for the ramen noodles

... and then the timer went off.

Enjoy Your Home

Invite friends over for coffee and a chat. This helps keep up your motivation to keep your house decluttered and clean. It also lets your friends, who you may have been keeping out of your house, know that you want to spend time with them, and they may respond by inviting you over to their house more frequently.

Decorate Your Home

Does the house look a bit spare now that the clutter has been removed? All that clutter may have prevented you from decorating your home.

In your decluttering, you may have uncovered items you can use to decorate your home and make it look "homier". Use what you already have: photos, pictures, calendars, frames -both with artwork or without, plates, china, baskets, candle holders, silver, furniture, fabric, gardening things, and antiques. Experiment with what's on hand before you go shopping.

On your wall you can group like items together, such as a montage of old family photos or a grouping of plates. Mirrors on the wall give a sense of added space.

Simply rearranging the furniture - floating it away from the walls, or turning it on the diagonal -- can transform a tired room. Moving a piece of furniture from one room to another can improve the look of both.

Now that the clutter is gone, it is a good time to create a warmer and more inviting home. What would inspire you and motivate you to keep the house clean?

[fresh flowers in a vase on a tabletop]

Put fresh flowers on tabletops.

More tips

Store new items straight away

When new items enter your home, put them away immediately - don't succumb to "shop and drop" syndrome. At most, it should only take five minutes to put away an afternoon's shopping, now that everything has a place. No matter how tired you are, take those five minutes to put everything away, and make it a habit. Otherwise your future holds weeks and weeks of cleaning clutter again.

Assign a purpose to each area

Another strategy you can use to maintain your home is to establish some boundaries about what activities can be carried out in each area. If you pick a desk, or a drawer, as the "bill-paying area", you will store all your bills there and prevent them from being scattered throughout the house. Likewise, if the kitchen table is designated the "eating area", you won't end up with a trail of crumbs and dirty dishes in every room.

M*A*I*N*T*E*N*A*N*C*E

M
Motivation: I want this for myself, not for inlaws, outlaws, neighbours, family
A
Attitude: I am choosing to do this: I don't resent my work: this is MY home
I
Imagination: I'll do anything to inspire me: stickers, treats, rewards, List-zillas, chat challenges, charts
N
No: I say NO to the things that do NOT enhance my life: especially volunteer projects that are NOT RIGHT for me at this time
T
Truth: I don't run away from the reality of my circumstances. If Life is messy, I admit it.
E
Energy: I work with what I have: my day, my strengths, my weaknesses
N
Now: Do it NOW; the 30 second rule; anything to fight Procrastination
A
Arithmetic: it all adds up: 15 + 15 + 15 = progress!
N
Nice: clean sheets, flowers on the table, shiny sinks, fluffy towels, neat closets
C
Clutter: the Enemy. Along with Dust. My war cry: Onward & Upward!
E
Eventually: maybe not today, tomorrow, or even this year. But I will reach my goal. Eventually.

Contributed by Script