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The Illusion of Clean

Domestic CEO’s 4 expert tips on how to make your home seem much cleaner than it really is in just 10 minutes per day. How to fake a clean house for unexpected guests!

By
Amanda Thomas,
July 5, 2012
Episode #018

The Illusion of Clean

by Amanda Thomas

Let's face it, most of us don't have time to clean our house every day. Between work, school, activities, and personal time, cleaning tends to get knocked down to the bottom of our to-do lists. That doesn’t mean that your home needs to get super nasty, though. Wouldn’t it be great if you could fake your way to a clean house? So that even if you haven’t had time to clean in weeks, or even months, no one could really tell?  Well, you can!

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In today's episode, I will give you 4 things you can do each day to make your home seem cleaner than it really is. Doing these 4 things on a regular basis will not only make it appear like you have a clean home, but they can actually make the real cleaning a lot easier too. It’s an added bonus from me, your Domestic CEO:

Tip #1 - Make Your Bed

This is such a little step, it takes less than 2 minutes to complete, but it can have dramatic effects even outside the bedroom. Even if you don't take the time to create hospital corners, just pulling up your covers will give your room an instant feeling of tidiness. When you start your day off with this simple move, it will help motivate you to put away the stray shoes that are now lying next to your neat bed. And when you look at your nice, neat bedroom, it will help push you to tidy up the next area of the house.

If you can get each person in your home to be responsible for their own bed (or side of the bed for those who share a mattress), the joint effort will create a neat and tidy appearance all through your home.

Tip #2 – The 5-Minute Pick-Up

I don't know about your house, but things seem to wander around mine. Shoes end up in the kitchen, purses end up in the living room, and hair brushes end up in the office. And the busier your day, the more stuff tends to end up in the wrong place. The wandering items create clutter all over the house. But you can keep things where they belong in just 5 minutes a day.

While it would be great if our homes were super clean 24/7, the next best option is having the illusion of clean.

Each night, after dinner and before your relaxing time, set a timer for 5 minutes. Give each person in the house a basket and ask them to walk through the home collecting things that belong in their own bedroom. Start the timer, and watch in amazement as everything magically floats back to its own home. At the end of the 5 minutes, congratulate everyone involved, and even reward them with a special treat (maybe it's an impromptu movie night, or a quick trip to get ice cream). Use small rewards and encouragement until the habit has been established (it usually takes about 30 days for the process to become routine).

See also: How Routines Will Simplify Your Life

To make it more fun for everyone involved, turn on some music and have yourselves a Mary Poppins session. If you have someone who is resistant to the idea, start rotating the person responsible for timer-duty each evening. By allowing each person to "be in charge," you will help to get their buy-in for this tidy up session.

If it's just you in the house, or if you don't want to put in the effort to get others involved, you can do this on your own too. Grab a basket and start walking in a circle through your home. By the time you do 2 circles, you will have had the opportunity to pick up the misplaced items in each room and return them to their appropriate locations. Easy peasy, tidy home!

Tip #3 - Do the Dishes

This one is huge. A kitchen counter littered with piles, or even just a few dirty dishes, will set the stage for a dirty-looking home. By committing to keeping that surface clean, you will be telling everyone, be it your housemates or house guests, that you don't tolerate messes.

Each night, commit to loading the dishwasher. Even if it's not full, you will have gotten the dishes out of sight. If it is full, run it overnight, and give yourself 5 minutes in the morning to put away all your sparkling dishes. That way the dishwasher is ready to start collecting the dirties again. Likewise, if you don’t have a dishwasher or have pots and pans to hand wash, do these each night before bed. If you cook a lot, it can be tempting to trick yourself into leaving the pots to soak overnight so they are “easier to clean.” But why put off until tomorrow what you can do tonight? Get them all clean, then leave them out to air dry overnight, and put them back in the morning. Your kitchen will appear much cleaner just from not having any gross dirty dishes hanging around!

Tip #4 - Clean the Counters

Just like having clean kitchen counters will give the illusion of clean, so will having clean bathroom counters. It's easy to let stuff accumulate on these surfaces – "I'm going to use all this stuff again tomorrow anyway..." – but don't let that tempt you into getting lazy with your beauty products. Each morning, take the extra 90 seconds and tuck the products back behind closed doors. The easiest way to do this is to have all the items you use to get ready in the morning kept in one container. For example, put all your everyday toiletries in a little basket or bag. Pull it out each morning, then pack it all up when you’re done.

Yes, you probably have a bunch more stuff that you use for special occasions or when your mood changes, but for the most part, we all tend to use the same few items every day. Don't waste time searching for your favorite eyeliner or cologne just because it's buried beneath all your hair gel from last year. Just keep the things you need most often in this container. Likewise, keep all the hair tools you use daily in a basket within easy reach. Pull them out when you need them, then easily put them away to give the appearance of a clean bathroom.

See also: How to Keep Your Bathroom Clean Without Cleaning

While it would be great if we knew our homes were super clean 24/7, the next best option is having them give the illusion of being clean. After all, if you have unexpected guests, they probably aren't going to do white glove tests on your furniture checking for dust. As long as they don't see your dishes molding in the sink and random clutter all over the living room, they’re going to think you are a domestic goddess (or god).

Do you have a tip to share that helps you fool people into thinking your house is clean? Post it, along with any other questions or comments you have, in the comment section below, or on my Facebook wall or Twitter feed.

Until next time, I'm the Domestic CEO, helping you love your home.

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