How to Get Motivated to Clean – Even if Your House is a Mess!

If you watch enough TV or read enough magazines then it’s easy to convince yourself that you should have a perfectly clean home all the time.

Have you ever noticed that the homes on TV are always tidy? They don’t have piles of mail on the kitchen counter, they don’t have discarded school bags on the floor, and you certainly wouldn’t see a pile of laundry ANYWHERE!

That’s just not what the real world is like! In the real world, homes get messy! So that means we have to clean! 

In theory, it should be easy for us to keep our homes clean. After all, you just have to clean up after yourself, right? We’re adults, surely we can manage that?

But, again, real life isn’t like that! You get busy – sometimes it’s easier to throw the dirty dishes in the sink, instead of putting them in the dishwasher. Sometimes there isn’t enough time to fold the laundry as soon as it’s dry.

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Life gets busy! Before you know it your home is a mess! I get it… I’m speaking from personal experience here!

And then on top of that… you just don’t WANT to clean up! You would literally rather do anything else than face cleaning your kitchen. Dental root canal? An algebra test? Sure! Why not… if it gets you out of cleaning your kitchen!

Motivation is the problem. You know you NEED to clean. But you just DON’T WANT to. So how do you get the motivation to clean?

I’m an expert at procrastination and lacking motivation, so I’m going to give you my best tips to help you finally get control of the mess and find your motivation to clean!

Check out my FREE Ultimate Guide to Decluttering Your Home!

Psychology of Cleaning

Yes, there really is a psychology behind cleaning! There are many studies into the effects of a messy home and our mental wellbeing.

One thing I’ve learned over the years of working as a Professional Organizer and helping people through this website is that psychology plays a MASSIVE part in our motivation to clean.

Your house isn’t messy because you are lazy. 

Hang on, I’m not sure if you heard me properly…


I mean it! Your house is messy because your motivation has gone.

Missing Motivation

To do anything in life we have to have motivation. Otherwise, we just don’t do it.

Maybe you used to have an immaculate home. Maybe Martha Stewart would have been jealous of your house. Or maybe you’ve always struggled to find your cleaning groove. 

Life tends to throw us curve balls. We get sick, a loved one gets sick, we change jobs, we move… there are a million reasons we can be thrown off our stride. But once we’ve fallen off the cleaning wagon, it can be REALLY hard to get back on.

This is where the psychology comes into play. You know you need to clean, but you just can’t quite manage to do it. Something always seems to hold you back.

Have you ever heard the expression “Fake it, until you make it”? Well, that’s what you need to do with cleaning too!

Your cleaning motivation won’t suddenly REAPPEAR! You have to make active changes to your mindset to be able to take back control of the mess.

Finally getting motivated to clean might take a little time, but if you follow the instructions below then it will happen.

Patience Grasshopper!

Need more cleaning help?

Check out all my CLEANING & ORGANIZATION POSTS for more advice on keeping your home tidy and clutter-free.

Stress-Cleaning Cycle

In my “Quick Cleaning Tips for Busy People” article, I talk about the stress-cleaning cycle.

Basically, the messier our homes get, the more stressed it makes us. The more stressed we are, the less motivation we will have!

We have to learn to break that cycle for the sake of our own mental health!

So that leads us to our question of the day… How to get motivated to clean – even if your home is a mess!

How to Get Motivated to Clean

If you are feeling completely overwhelmed by the mess and lack any motivation to clean, then these next steps will help you regain your motivation and have a cleaner and healthier home!

I’m going to break my process down into 5 easy steps. There’s no time scale attached to these – you should take them at your own pace.

The important thing to remember is not to beat yourself up about having a messy home!

Once you start the steps towards a clean house, then you need to congratulate yourself for making progress (even if it’s small progress), rather than berating yourself.

Promise me that you will be kind to yourself! Pinky swear!

Step 1: Knowing the Problem

If you are reading this article, then you have already completed the first step towards getting motivated to clean!

Yep… Congratulations! Step One is complete!

The first step is KNOWING YOU HAVE A PROBLEM! 

It’s very easy for us to get blind to the mess and clutter. There’s a lot of people that don’t even realize they have a problem. By admitting that you can do better, you are one step closer to a clean and tidy home!

Step 2: Start Small

You might have heard this advice before… but you need to start small.

We are not going to try to find the motivation to clean the entire house, or even an entire room. We are going to start with just one small area.

Where you decide to start is completely up to you. Maybe pick the area that bothers you the most or causes you the most problems.

Here’s some ideas:

  • Dining table
  • Kitchen sink
  • Coffee table
  • Area by the front door
  • One spot on your kitchen counter
  • Bed
  • Bathroom counter
  • Desk

You will pick just ONE SMALL area and you are going to clean it.

You can start even smaller if you want, and pick one item to clean. Why not try cleaning your silver jewelry? Or wiping down your desk?

Just that one thing – don’t try to cheat and clean more! We don’t want to get burned out by doing too much on the first day.

Step 3: Hyper Focus 

Once you have picked the first spot that you want to clean, then you need to REALLY focus on it!

If it’s your dining table, then you need to clear the junk off the table, polish it and make it look nice.

Every day in the morning and evening you are going to check your table is neat and clean.

How to get motivated to clean

Keep at it until it becomes a habit. This might not take long – maybe just a few days or maybe a little longer.

But you want to make sure you stay focused on that one area. That is your Special Spot!

Once you have that area under control you can move onto the next step…

Step 4: Reward Yourself

You’ve worked hard over the last few days to keep one area of your home neat and tidy. You deserve a reward!

It doesn’t have to be anything big. Just treat yourself to something that makes you happy.

I love scented candles, so I reward myself with a new scented candle (bonus… it makes my home smell better too!). Just pick something small and reward yourself for all the hard work you have put into your project.

Step 5: Expand Your Horizon 

Once you have your first area under control, it’s time to add a second area.

You can either just expand the area you are already work on, or you can pick another area in the house.

Now you will focus on both these areas. Remember to check them twice a day – morning and evening – to ensure they are clean and clutter-free.

You can probably guess what you will do next… Once you have established a routine of cleaning the first and second area, you will add a third one!

How to get motivated to clean!

And then a fourth….

And then a fifth….!

You get the idea!

Now if at any time you start to feel overwhelmed and out of control again, then you need to go back a step. You need to drop an area and just concentrate on your original areas. 

If you are feeling overwhelmed it is because you tried to take on too much, too fast. You need to scale back your expectations.

You just need more time for your routine to become a habit, and then you can move on again and re-introduce another area.

Bonus: Motivation Hacks

Even if you are following the above five steps for how to get motivated to clean, there will still be times that you JUST DON’T WANT TO CLEAN!

You’re tried and just don’t have the energy to clean even ONE SMALL AREA!

That’s OK. It happens! Try one of the following ideas to kick-start yourself into the Motivation Steps:

  • Play your favorite music – playing your favorite upbeat song might be enough to give you the energy to tackle your problem spot. Or listen to a podcast or audiobook.
  • Tell someone – an accountability partner when starting a new habit is a BIG help! Tell a friend or family member what you are planning and check-in with them regularly.
  • Picture It Clean – Close your eyes for a few minutes and picture your area clean and tidy. You can even take “Before” and “After” photos!
  • Time Yourself – Sometimes we don’t want to do a chore because of how long it will take. Instead, why not set a timer for 10 minutes and just do as much as you can in that time. Don’t worry if you don’t get it all done.
  • Make it Smell Good – Use a nice smelling cleaning product or light a scented candle.
  • Rewards – And of course, don’t forget to reward yourself! The thought of a bowl of ice cream at the end of a chore might be all the motivation you need!

Your Home is Worth it… YOU are Worth it!

If you follow these five steps (and use the bonus motivation hacks when needed), then you will slowly regain control of your home. Your stress levels will go down and you will feel more content.

YOU deserve to have the home of your dreams. It doesn’t have to be a big or fancy home, just somewhere that you can escape to and relax! Your home should not be a source of stress in your life!

It’s not always easy… but it’s worth it!