Creating a Life Free From Chaos

The Lazy Mom’s Guide to Decluttering and Cleaning the Living Room

The Lazy Mom’s Guide to Decluttering and Cleaning the Living Room

The living room (or in some cases, the family room) is where you entertain guests, relax after work, and hang out with your family. Since you use your living room for lots of different activities, it’s common to battle random clutter on a daily basis. It is, after all, called the “living” room for a reason. Thankfully, it’s also one of the easiest and quickest rooms to tidy.

Quick pick up

Grab a laundry basket, and start by gathering up all the items that should not be in the living room. We can then use the basket to go room to room, dropping off items back where they belong. Let me give you some examples of stuff I picked up in my living room, as well as where they should go.

  • 2 DVDs and an Xbox One disk, should be in the disk binders in the living room media cabinet
  • Dirty pair of abandoned boy socks, should be dropped in that kid’s laundry basket
  • 3 pairs of boy shoes, should be in their rooms in the closet
  • kids’ laptop, should be in the living room cabinet
  • 9 kids’ books, should be in the bookcase in the living room (or if being actively read, in the kid’s room)
  • 2 remote controls and 6 coasters, should be in the basket on the ottoman tray
  • Nintendo 3DS left out charging, along with a random phone charging cord. We’ve got four cats, so charging cords cannot be left out or they’ll end up as chew toys. We’ve got baskets for those.
  • Couch pillows all over the floor, should have been put back ON the couch after the fort came down
  • A telescope. Honestly, I have no idea why this has been sitting here (for a couple of months now!) Needs to be covered and put in the garage
  • A mass of school papers and school supplies brought home from locker clean-out. Useable school supplies should be in a bin in the office, and the papers need to be trashed or filed as appropriate

It appears that my boys are behind most of the “clutter” in the living room. Is anyone really surprised?

Why did I walk you through all that? Partially so you’ll know exactly what you’re looking at when you go into the war zone with your basket. It can be overwhelming seeing piles of clutter and not knowing where to start. Breaking it down into bullet points in your mind can help you sort through the stuff faster. I also wanted you to see that each item that’s “junk” in your living room DOES have a place to go somewhere else. If you’re at a loss for where that place is, it’s wise to reconsider whether you want the item in your house at all.

That’s your task: take your basket, grab up all that junk, and redistribute the stuff back to their appropriate homes. If it’s your kids’ stuff laying around, hand them the basket and supervise while THEY grab their junk and take it back where it belongs. As always, trash and recycling go straight to the bins, and if you happen to find used dishes in the living room, take those back to the kitchen to be washed.

Look at the space with fresh eyes

Now that the clutter is gone, it’s a good time to do one more thing. Look at your newly decluttered living room with fresh eyes, specifically seeing your decorations. Do you have a lot of knickknacks that need to be dusted? Old pictures that need to be updated? Extra furniture that doesn’t get used? Too many couch pillows (guilty as charged here). Consider removing some trinkets to give your living room a lighter, summer look (and save yourself some dusting). Make a note to update old photos, replace artwork you don’t like, or freshen up your sofa with new pillow covers. Maybe sell that unused extra chair on Facebook. What little tweaks can you make to your living room to make it feel fresh and new?

Time to clean!

When cleaning the living room, start at the top and work your way down. Grab your dust wand or a microfiber dust rag and dust any photos or artwork that you have on the wall, then head over to the mantle if you have one. If it’s not too dusty, you can just sweep your dust wand around the items on the mantle. If it hasn’t seen a dust rag in a while, go ahead and take everything off the mantle and use some all-purpose cleaner to wipe down the mantle and each item as you place it back on the mantle. Do the same thing for any other flat surfaces in the living room. 

Use the dust wand to wipe off the TV and electronics — if you must use a little cleaner to get rid of fingerprints, spritz just a bit on a clean rag and wipe the fingerprints away.

Clear off the coffee table completely and clean it using either all-purpose cleaner or wood cleaner, depending on the material it’s made of. Your living room will automatically look cleaner if you can keep your coffee table clear, so try to find other homes for the items you may typically leave on the table. Our “coffee table” is an oversized ottoman, so I use a tray with a small basket on it to corral remote controls and coasters. Stack magazines and books on a shelf in an end table or a bookcase and roll throw blankets in a basket by the fireplace or use a blanket ladder to hang them neatly against a wall.

The vacuum: Your living room’s best friend

Once you’ve dusted and cleaned the flat surfaces, grab the vacuum, even if you don’t have carpet in the living room. Before hitting the floor, use the handheld attachment to clean off the couch and any chairs you have, making sure to get in the crevices and gaps between cushions. If you’ve got access to the space under the couch and chairs, use the handheld attachment to clean the dust bunnies from underneath. You can also use the handheld attachment and extender hose to vacuum off the window sills, corner cobwebs, and baseboards.

All that’s left is to vacuum the carpet thoroughly or use a dust mop if you don’t have carpeted floors. Mop if necessary.

Keeping it clean

Here are some quick tips for how to keep the living room guest-ready with very little effort throughout the week.

  • Each day, spend a few minutes putting away clutter, fold throw blankets, discard read magazines, toss trash, pick up dirty dishes, and put away DVDs.
  • Once a week or so, take a dust wand and go over artwork, decorations, and flat surfaces.
  • Use a lightly damp sponge to wipe pet fur off the sofa and chairs.
  • Once or twice a week (as needed), run the vacuum around and make use of that handheld attachment to get rid of cobwebs, stray popcorn kernels from movie night, pet fur, and tracked-in dirt.
  • Keep your end tables and coffee table clear of clutter, and once a week or so, wipe them off with wood cleaner or all-purpose cleaner to keep them shiny.
The Lazy Mom’s Guide to Decluttering and Cleaning the Living Room

Ridiculously Simple Shortcuts to Clean and Declutter Your Bathroom

Ridiculously Simple Shortcuts to Clean and Declutter Your Bathroom

Hello friends! It’s been a while since we did a series, and with spring cleaning in the air, it seems like the perfect time to start one. This week, we’re starting a new four-week series to spring clean, declutter, and simplify your home. 

We’re starting in the bathroom. Why the bathroom? I like to start here because it’s the smallest room in the house and full of items that are generally not sentimental or overly expensive. If you have more than one bathroom in your home, start in the one you use the most OR the one that bothers you the most. We have three bathrooms in our house — I’m starting in the boys’ bathroom (EWW!), then attacking the half bath (small and quick to finish), and then I’ll finish in the master bathroom (biggest and the most stuff to deal with).

Grab your supplies.

Start with the basics — grab a large trashcan, a box for donations, and a box for items that belong in a different room. You’ll also want some basic cleaning supplies for a quick deep clean once you’ve decluttered.

Hit the shower.

Beginning with the shower/tub, remove any items you don’t use — those half bottles of shampoos you don’t like, the empties, the spent razors, the soap slivers. Toss the trash and set aside anything useable. If you have several bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, shaving cream, etc. that you use, consider leaving only one set in the shower and moving the others out until the first set is used up. Remove washcloths and bath towels and set them aside for the laundry.

Tackle the vanity.

Going drawer by drawer, cabinet by cabinet, take everything out of your sink vanity (or other storage space if you don’t have a vanity). Discard the trash and anything that’s old, expired, or that you don’t like. If there are toiletries you won’t use that are still sealed, place them in the donation box. If they’re open and you know you’re not going to use them (be honest), trash them. Remove anything that belongs in a different room. 

Organize the keepers by category — shampoo together, soaps together, dental supplies together, you get the idea. Gather up all those extras and put together a stockpile in a cabinet or plastic container so you can shop your stash before you go out and buy anything new.

Clear the counter.

Now that you’ve cleared the cabinets and drawers, let’s clear off the countertops. Toss the trash and anything you’re not going to use — be honest with yourself and pare down to just the stuff you use and love. Organize the keepers and, if possible, find space in a drawer or cabinet for these items so you can keep the countertop clear. 

For make-up, I like to use a plastic bin that I can store in a drawer but easily set on the counter while I get ready. Consider using a plastic silverware tray in the drawer to organize toothbrushes and toothpaste. Using bins and baskets makes it easy to bring your stuff to the counter while you’re using it but stash it discreetly away in a drawer or cabinet when not in use.

Instead of leaving bottles of hairspray, mouthwash, and hand soap laying around, grab a pretty tray and corral it all in one spot. It’ll make it easier to keep the counter organized, and you’ll be able to wipe down the counter in seconds.

Clean up.

Now that you’ve cleared the clutter, it’s time to give the bathroom a quick deep clean. Before you get started with the scrubbing, save yourself some elbow grease. Mix up a batch of this awesome Blue Soap, and spray it all over the shower/tub walls and floor to loosen up hard water stains, soap scum, and other nastiness. It helps to mix the Blue Soap up a bit thicker so it’ll stick to the walls. Let the Blue Soap soak for at least an hour, longer is better.

While the shower soaks, we’ll work on the rest of the bathroom, dirtiest areas to cleanest. Toilet cleaning is the one place I go non-green and head straight for the bleach bathroom cleaner. I have one bottle and it’s only used in toilets. Here’s why: once you scrub the inside of your toilet and get it nice and clean, all you have to do is spritz bleach bathroom cleaner in there once or twice a week, let it soak for about 10 minutes, and flush. It keeps all the grunge from building up. I rarely have to scrub the inside of the toilet anymore (the outside… well, I have sons…!) Go ahead and spray it well, close the lid, and let it soak.

Grab all the towels and washcloths and start them in the washer. Wash all the towels and put them in the dryer promptly — you might want a shower by the time we finish cleaning the bathroom!

Once the toilet has soaked for a few minutes (like, while you were starting the laundry…), grab that toilet brush and get to scrubbing. Start with inside the bowl and work your way out. Make sure to get under the rim. Once the inside is clean, flush, then grab cleaning wipes or spray cleaner and wipe from top to bottom, with special attention around the base of the toilet (boys…!) When you’re finished, check the toilet paper supplies and restock from your stash if necessary. Almost out? Write it on the shopping list!

Once that toilet is clean, wash your hands and move on to the sinks and counters. You’ve cleared the clutter, so it will be much easier and faster to clean. Use a step stool to wipe the dust off any above-mirror light fixtures. Spritz the counter down with all-purpose cleaner and scrub it clean. Wipe off dusty bottles from the counter, the speckles on the faucet, that little space behind the faucet that collects all that gunk. Wipe off the exterior of the outlets, the light switch, and the doorknobs. Use glass cleaner to clean the mirror.

The shower/tub has been soaking with Blue Soap the whole time you’ve been working, so it’s ready to be cleaned. Using a damp scrubber or brush, work the Blue Soap around the tub, concentrating on any spots that were especially dirty, corners and crevices. If the Blue Soap has been soaking for a long time, the gunk should come right up. Rinse well. Use a squeegee or rag to wipe the water off glass shower doors. If you have a shower curtain, remove it and run it through the washing machine, then hang it back up to dry.

Side note: I have handheld showerheads in every shower in our house — they make cleaning so much easier! Instead of tossing cups of water at a soapy shower wall or at the suds in the back corner, you can just aim the handheld shower at it and rinse everything in seconds. Also incredibly useful for scrubbing children or dogs.

Finish up by cleaning the floor. Grab a broom or vacuum, and clean up all that dust and hair, particularly the stuff that congregates in the corners. If you have rugs that are vacuum-able, vacuum them too — otherwise, shake them out outside and toss them in the washing machine. Grab a mop and give the floor a good once-over. Or, do what I do: pay the kids a couple of bucks to hand wash it!

Hang up some clean, fresh towels and then stand back and admire your hard work! I know this may sound like a lot of work, but it really only takes 15-20 minutes and even less after your initial cleaning.

Maintain it.

You’ve worked hard to declutter and deep clean your bathroom, so don’t let all that hard work go. Here are some quick tips for how to keep the bathroom sparkling clean with very little effort throughout the week.

  • Keep a canister of disposable cleaning wipes in each bathroom for quick touch-ups. These will come in especially handy for cleaning up the toilet!
  • A couple of times a week (or as needed), wipe the toilet seat, rim, and outside of the toilet (including the base) with disposable cleaning wipes and toss them. It only takes about 30 seconds. Spray the inside with bleach bathroom cleaner, close the lid. Let sit for 10 minutes, then flush.
  • Keep a dish wand filled with equal parts dish soap and vinegar in the shower. Once or twice a week while you’re in there, use the dish wand to do a quick scrub of the shower walls, then rinse well before you get out.
  • Eco-tip: got half-used bottles of shampoo or body wash that you don’t really like from your decluttering? Combine them, then use them to clean the shower while you’re in it. You can even fill your dish wand with it.
  • If you have glass shower doors, get in the habit of using a squeegee after every shower to wipe down the door. Trust me. It’ll keep the bathroom looking nicer between cleanings and it will prevent scum from building up on the glass door.
  • Use a tray to corral bottles on the counter — it’ll make it easier to maintain the cleanliness. After you brush your teeth each day, use a disposable wipe or a damp washcloth/rag to wipe off the counters, faucet, and inside the sink — you’ll save yourself from the dried concrete that becomes of toothpaste blobs. If spots appear on the mirror, use a damp towel corner to wipe them away.
Ridiculously Simple Shortcuts to Clean and Declutter Your Bathroom