Messy House? How to Clean Your Home When You Feel Overwhelmed!

I’m guessing if you are reading this post then you have a messy house. Maybe you are feeling overwhelmed or paralyzed by the mess? Maybe you think that you’re just not one of those people that can have a tidy home?

It’s OK! You can get your house clean and it really is possible to keep it clean! I promise!

I’m going to help you step-by-step to get control of your messy house. Say goodbye to the chaos!

Messy House?

I take pride in having a clean home. It’s not always perfect, but most of the time the mess is under control.

I don’t spend hours every day cleaning. Hell, I probably don’t even spend hours every WEEK cleaning! I have a busy life (like everyone else!) and I don’t have time or energy to clean like my mother used to (my mother could have put Martha Stewart to shame!)!

So I found short-cuts and quicker ways to keep my home clean. Check out my post all about my Quick Cleaning Tips for Busy People.

But my home wasn’t always like this. I wasn’t always in control of the mess. In fact, I used to live in a VERY messy house!

This is a photo of my daughter’s bedroom. This wasn’t a particularly bad day either! Her room just ALWAYS looked like this! 

It’s kind of a long story, but the edited highlights are: I had three children under 4, my husband ran his own business and worked 14+ hours a day and I was suffering from depression. I literally had no desire to even get out of bed, let alone clean my messy house.

But over time, I found what worked for me and I was able to slowly start tackling the mess. I found routines and systems that helped me stay on top of things. And once the house was tidier, I found it soooo much easier to keep it that way!

Why You’re Overwhelmed By a Messy House

We’ll get to the step-by-step help soon, but first I want to talk about WHY your home is messy and you just can’t seem to get it clean.

I’m going to be honest right now – you probably feel like a failure? I know I felt like a complete failure!

My family all have super neat homes and I lived in a pigsty! I was so embarrassed! What gene did they have that I missed out on? They were just as busy as me, how could they keep their homes clean, but I couldn’t?

There was just an endless loop of negative thoughts in my head – sound familiar?

Messy House? How to Clean Your Home When You Are Feeling Overwhelmed!
This is my sister’s home…. seriously!
Messy House? How to Clean Your Home When You Are Feeling Overwhelmed!
And this was my home!

The two photos above can explain it all! The top photo is my sister’s home. The bottom photo is how my home USED to look! No wonder I always felt bad!

Over time I’ve learned that there are actual reasons why some people have a messy house than others don’t (pssst… and being “lazy” isn’t one of them!).

So here’s a rundown of some of those reasons. Which one do you think is you?

  • Low Priority – for some people cleaning and tiding their home is a lower priority. They don’t mind a bit of mess. It doesn’t stress them out and doesn’t affect their lives.
  • Too Busy – sometimes we are just so busy that even if we WANTED a clean home, we just don’t physically have time to do it all (my Quick Cleaning Tips will help!).
  • Lack of Motivation or Energy – Lack of motivation to clean can be caused by many reasons. I actually have a whole post just about cleaning motivation! But some of the reasons might be:
    • Illness, new job, new baby, mental health (more on that below, ), moving house, or another big life change
  • Mental Health – This is a biggie! One of the worst symptoms of depression is losing all motivation to do the things in life that you know you should. Some days all you can manage is getting out of bed and having a shower. No way are the toilets getting scrubbed! And that’s OK. Before you can tackle the outside mess, you need to get help for yourself. Please see a doctor or therapist and they can help you on the road to recovery.

Whatever your reason for not wanting to clean, they all result in the same situation – feeling overwhelmed.

I’ve talked before about the “Stress-Cleaning Cycle”, but it’s so very true!

Quick Cleaning Tips | The Stress-Cleaning Cycle... Or "Why your house is dirty when you want it to be clean"!

The messier your home, the less energy you have to deal with the problem! Don’t worry, I’m going to take you through the 5 steps to get control of the mess and stop it from controlling you!

5 Steps to Taking Control of Your Messy House!

As I mentioned above there are many reasons why you might be overwhelmed by mess.

If one of your reasons is your mental health, then please seek professional mental health help BEFORE trying to tackle your mess. Otherwise, your chances of succeeding will be less and you will just beat yourself up even more!

If you want help with decluttering your home, then pick up my FREE Ultimate Guide to Decluttering Your Home ebook. I take you step-by-step through the decluttering and organizing process… and it’s totally free!

Step 1: Commit to a Tidy House

I’m not going to promise that you will have a clean house by the end of the weekend – anyone that promises that is lying! Yep, sorry to be blunt, but there is no quick fix for re-forming bad habits.

The first step is to make the commitment to yourself and your family, that having a clean and tidy home is going to be a higher priority. It might take a bit of time, but you are prepared to be consistent until your new habits are formed.

It’s not going to be easy… but it WILL be worth it!

Step 2: Start Small

I talk about “starting small” in my “How to get motivated to clean” post. And it applies to this situation too.

Don’t try to take on too much at once. Pick a small area and tackle that first.

Definitely don’t try to tackle an entire room. Just pick one area – maybe one section of your kitchen counter, or the area by your front door.

Once you’ve picked an area, then start by putting things away. It’s really hard to clean if you are cleaning AROUND things.

So go through every item in that area and either put it away, donate it or trash it.

If you want to keep the item, but you don’t have somewhere it put it, then solve that problem right now! Don’t just put it back on the floor and say that you’ll figure it out later. Nope… figure it out now! Put it away!

Step 3: Clean

Once you’ve gone through the clutter it’s time to clean!

I’m betting that underneath the mess, it’s probably pretty dirty! That’s OK, you’re going to clean it now!

Depending on what the area is, will depend on what cleaning product or tool you will use. But generally, a good multi-surface cleaner – Method’s Pink Grapefruit cleaner or my own homemade cleaner (see Tip #2 in my Quick Cleaning Post for my recipe) are great – and a microfiber cloth is enough.

Take the time to get the area really clean. I know you might not feel like it, but remember we are just doing one SMALL area.

Once you’ve cleared and cleaned your first small area. You need to move onto the next. Don’t try to do too many in one day. Pace yourself!

You don’t want to get part way through a new area and then realize that you’re too tired (or have run out of time) to continue. Less is more right now.

Step 4: Get a System

Slowly you will work through all the problem areas of your home and get them clear and clean. But how do you stop yourself back-sliding and having a messy house again?


While you are clearing and cleaning think about what kind of clutter accumulates in that area. Is it a big pile of mail? Is it your clean laundry waiting to be put away? Maybe it’s kid’s toys?

Whatever the “biggest” problem is, you need to think of a way to solve it.

Maybe open your mail while standing over your trash can or recycle bin? I actually open my mail outside, while I’m walking back into the house, and I dump the junk, flyers etc in the outside recycle can before I even come into the house!

Find a system for your laundry. Maybe saving all the laundry to do at weekends is just too much work? Would you be more likely to put a smaller load away a few times a week instead?

Messy House? 5 EASY Steps to Clean Your House even if you DON'T WANT TO! Stop feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed by the mess. Learn how to clean your home and keep it clean! The secrets to a clean house from a recovering "hoarder"!

Kid’s toys are always tough. First you need to go through them and get rid of the excess toys they don’t play with. If you don’t want to part with them, you can always box them up, keep them in a closet and rotate out the different toys every few weeks. This has the added bonus of engaging the kids with more because they will seem “new”.

If you can’t figure out a system, for your “trouble-spot”, then please feel free to email me at [email protected]. I’ll do my best to help – together we can figure it out!

Step 5: Maintaining the Calm

Once you’ve got your home a bit cleaner and neater, you’re going to want to keep it that way. And really the only way to do that is to stay on top of the chores! Sorry!

A clean home does take a bit of work – it doesn’t need to be hours and hours every day. But you do want to spend 15-20 minutes a day picking things up, wiping down counters or cleaning the floors.

A few minutes a day is a better investment of your time than hours and hours once the problem gets too bad! Stop yourself sliding back into your messy house habits!

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” as my mother used to say (as you get older do you find yourself quoting your parents more? Ugh… I might be turning into my mother!)

One way that I try to maintain the “calm” is by using a robot vacuum cleaner. I LOVE my robot vacuum. I schedule it to run every day, so my floors are always clean!

Want to learn more about robot vacuums? Check out my Definitive Guide to picking the best robot vacuum cleaner for your lifestyle!

You are Worth it!

You might think that it just seems like too much work to get your messy house back under control. And yes… it is going to take a bit of work. But if you are feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed by the mess – is that really how you want to live your life?

You DESERVE better! Take the time to do something for YOU (and your family!). Yes, it might feel like a chore now, but just think about how GREAT it will feel when it’s all clean!

You can do it!

5 thoughts on “Messy House? How to Clean Your Home When You Feel Overwhelmed!”

  1. Hey i have really lived in a messy home the rest of my life todate, that is why i have been endlessly hiring and firing helpers because i need a clean and clear home but to no avail. maids do it as if it is me just cleaning in a hurry!
    Thanks for the tips but i still need more. you see my life is too busy ; i spend 8hrs at work and 1-2hrs at church every day after working hrs. i am always tired and lazy to do household chores thereafter. how can i overcome this challenge? During weekends i go to social activities and on Sunday to church two times; morning and afternoon…..

    • Hi Lucy. You really do have a busy life! It is difficult to keep up with all the chores when you are so busy during the day. I’m in the process of putting together customized cleaning schedules (because there is no such thing as a “one-size fits all” cleaning schedule). So check back in a few weeks and that might help!
      In the meantime, I would say that setting a timer for 15 minutes every evening and do as much as you can until the timer goes off. It’s amazing how much you can get done when you are against a clock! Concentrate on cleaning up as you go, so you don’t have bigger messes to clean up.

  2. Great tips! I know people that are using the Kon Mari method, but I felt it was too much for me as I had to read the book first which was too much effort to start with. I work full time, spend 3 hours a day getting to and from work, and when I get home I collapse in a chair and that’s where I stay other than heating up something to eat. I’m 61 and have my nearly 30 year old daughter living with me. I also suffer from depression and take medication for it but one of the side effects is tiredness although I can only sleep three hours a night as I worked and studied doing a degree for eleven years which has wrecked my sleep patterns. If I do happen to get more sleep I feel worse. Saturday is a bit of a rest day and I go out to a friend’s house on Saturday night and make cards with her. Sunday is washing and lawn mowing day for me. I’m on my own so there is no man to do things like trim trees or clean out the guttering. I do those things. My daughter moans about the mess but the reality is it is basically untidy but not really dirty, except for the kitchen. I taught china painting for 20 years at home, and so the kitchen, dining area and lounge were pretty tidy but since starting work full time 7 years ago and giving up the classes the whole place has gone to the pack. I have a sewing room I can’t get into because my daughter and I have just put stuff in there when we are too busy to sort out where it should go. Being a librarian I have loads and loads of books and not enough shelving for them. I don’t read e-books as my job is spent on a computer all day and the last thing I want to look at when I get home is a computer unless I’m watching You Tube. So that is one area I need to organise. I also have a small craft room which a friend built for me but both my children used it at different times as a bedroom, my daughter being the last one. They walked out of it leaving their mess and neither cleaned it up, it has been left for me to do, consequently I have bits of craft and card-making stuff in every room of the house. My daughter cooks, but only for herself, as she only cooks Korean food which she loves. The problem is that she won’t wash dishes and we don’t have a dishwasher. She washes something as she needs it , consequently the kitchen is disgusting, so I refuse to eat anything that is cooked in the kitchen. I’m refusing to clean it as all that will do is reinforce the fact that she makes the mess and I clean it even if I don’t eat the food. One day she wanted a party (3 years ago) and I told her to do the dishes and she could. I get home that night to a party but couldn’t find the dishes in the draws and cupboards, they were in black sacks in the sewing room (when you could still get stuff in it lol). The next day I pulled them out of the sewing room and back into the kitchen where they have been since the party with her refusing to do anything about them. Needless to say there have been no more parties. However I am inspired by your 15 minute area clean ups so after I get home and do the lawns I’m going to clean up one area.

    • Oh goodness Sylvia, you are dealing with a lot. I’m sorry that your daughter isn’t helping more.

      It is very difficult to find the energy to clean and do chores at the end of the day. I really hope that the 15 minute routine will help you.

      Make sure you go easy on yourself though. Remember that our homes don’t have to be perfect. It’s so easy to see all the fancy photos on Facebook and Instagram and believe that our homes should look like that too! Those aren’t real! Those photos are all very carefully staged! I bet they have a sink of dirty dishes too!

      Whenever you start a new routine, remember to start small. Just find one thing that you want to change and then focus on that. Maybe something as simple as making your bed each day. Once that habit is formed, then you can add something else.

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