This Cleaning Tip from TikTok Was a Game Changer for My House—and My Life
One simple video from TikTok cleaning sensation KC Davis taught me how to reduce clutter in my house in 30 minutes or less
Ours was a home built around fun. Weekends were spent playing at the park, visiting museums or checking out new places to eat. Developing a cleaning schedule was never a priority. And while the house wasn’t exactly a mess, it was certainly controlled chaos.
Imagine my surprise when I attended my daughter’s parent-teacher conference and read a poem she wrote: “The House of Tomorrow.” The assignment, her teacher said, was to write a poem about something home related. Turns out my daughter called our place the “house of tomorrow”—an ode to our housekeeping skills—because whenever we talked about cleaning the house, I’d say there’s always tomorrow.
Cleaning has never been my thing. Ask my kids, and they’ll tell you I’m super organized when it comes to work, but I couldn’t share a single house-cleaning tip.
Get Reader’s Digest’s Read Up newsletter for more cleaning, humor, travel, tech and fun facts all week long.
Keep calm and clean on
When I was writing my book, 50 Ways to More Calm, Less Stress: Scientifically Proven Ways to Relieve Anxiety and Boost Your Mental Health Using Your Five Senses, one of the things I learned through my research is how cleaning can be calming and make us happier at home.
Could learning how to clean my couch be a form of meditation and mindful exercise that could not only calm me but also make my house cleaner and more organized? Determined, I started reading books on the subject and interviewing experts for my book. I was ready for cleaning to spark joy in my life.
And that’s how I learned about author and TikTok cleaning star KC Davis. Watching her go through her day felt oddly familiar—it was so similar to mine.
Sometimes (often?) our days are overwhelming. We get our kids off to school. We get our work done. We hit the gym. By the end of the day or week, the last thing I want to do is use up my remaining energy on cleaning my house.
From cluttered to clean in 30 minutes or less
Look, I’ll never be the Pine-Sol lady, but after watching KC Davis’s TikToks, I realized a small mindset shift had the potential to revolutionize the way I viewed cleaning. One of her tips really stuck with me: When clutter becomes overwhelming, start the process of cleaning in four steps.
My interpretation of her approach to resetting a space in 30 minutes goes a bit like this: Go through your entire space four times, focusing on a different aspect of cleaning each time.
- Round 1: Throw out any and all trash.
- Round 2: If something has a home but is misplaced, return it to its rightful location.
- Round 3: If something needs to be washed (or cleaned), either wash it or put it in the dishwasher or washing machine.
- Round 4: If something doesn’t have a set location, put it in a corner of the room dedicated to items without homes. You’ll add to this pile in the corner as you go through the space, then deal with it later. (But don’t forget to deal with it later! You’ll need to find homes for those odd items.)
Slowly, thanks to KC Davis, my “house of tomorrow” is becoming the house I want to live in today. I’m not done, but the one thing I’ve learned from this process is the importance of finding a place for everything. That way, I can more easily put everything in its place.
Cleanliness is next to happiness
Part of the reason we had so much visual clutter in our home is that the family never took the time to think through where everything needed to be. Walking through the door, I’d throw my coat on the couch. I’d toss mail on the dining room table, the kitchen counter or the coffee table in the living room. At the end of the day, I’d undress and fling my clothes on the bed because I didn’t have enough hangers in my cluttered and messy closet.
As an author and writer, I live and breathe books. Mine were strewn throughout every single room in the house (and yes, even in the bathroom).
Rather than tackle the entire house at once, I set aside 30-minute increments to work on a particular space. I started with my bedroom closet: Random odds and ends went in the trash. Most clothing landed in piles, either destined for donation, mending or washing. Items that didn’t belong in the bedroom closet awaited their future trial. Nothing was safe, not even the dust bunnies.
The rest of the items went back into the closet, this time with some semblance of order. Stacked sweaters sat on hanging shelves. Workout clothes categorized by type—leggings, shorts and T-shirts—went on thinner hanging shelves. Those two organizer pieces alone freed up a ton of space and created less visual clutter. With my clothes hung and closet organized, I thought ahead, adding empty hangers to the rack. Once the laundry was done, I could immediately hang up those clothes rather than pile them on my bed. Now, every single item of clothing I own has a place. If I buy something new, something has to leave the closet to make room for it.
While this might not seem like a genius tip to anyone but me, it was my lightbulb moment. I felt so empowered by the advice I got from KC Davis that I made it my family’s goal to have a clutter-free home by the end of this year—something I’ve never been able to achieve. What has always been a chore truly has become a calming opportunity.
Seeing each room slowly become clean and organized has made a marked difference in my family’s mood. I wonder if my daughter might consider writing a follow-up poem: “The House of Today.”
- KC Davis: “You’re not lazy, you just need non-judgmental, practical help”