They know how to make space
sirastock/ShutterstockEven if you don't consider yourself a collector of "stuff," that "stuff" always seems to pile up in every corner and on every countertop. "Start following the one in, one out rule going forward," says Nancy Haworth of On Task Organizing in Raleigh, North Carolina. "When you buy something new, toss, sell, or donate an older item to create space for the new item." For more expert advice from clean freaks, check out what professional house cleaners do in their own homes every day.
They smooth surfaces
All About Space/ShutterstockJunk drawers have a habit of spilling out onto what should be an otherwise clean, empty surface. Countertops and tables are practically begging to be littered with stray mail and other odds and ends. People with clean homes tackle that problem immediately. "When you keep large, flat surfaces clear, not only are they more visually appealing, but easier to wipe down as well," says Carrie Higgins, author of Organization Hacks and founder of the blog Making Lemonade. "Don't store appliances on countertops or clutter on your desk."
They set cleaning systems in place
REDPIXEL.PL/ShutterstockClean homes don't just miraculously clean themselves—neat people have a protocol in place to keep things maintained and orderly. "People with neat homes tend to have a cleaning schedule and routines so dirt and laundry don't have time to pile up," says Higgins. "For example, they set a designated day to vacuum or do laundry every Monday so those big tasks don't get skipped." Be mindful that you're not actually over-cleaning your house in one of these 10 ways.
They think clean when they step in the house
OSORIOartist/ShutterstockSometimes it really is the little things that lend themselves to a sparkling abode. Bailey Gaddis, a certified professional organizer and author of Feng Shui Mommy, starts with a shoes-off policy. "When shoes are left at the door you prevent toxins, soil, leaves, and other goodies that quickly dirty up floors from making their way into your home," she says. Find out even more reasons you'll want to institute a "no-shoes" policy in your home.
They have a place for everything
rustycanuck/Shutterstock"If you have too much stuff without a place to go, the clutter and piles in your home become impossible to actually clean," says Jennifer Snyder, owner of Neat as a Pin Organizing Experts in Waco, Texas. So if you have a peg in the kitchen for your keys or a shelf for your mail, use them.
They clean as they go
Africa Studio/Shutterstock"People whose homes always appear clean don't wait until it looks like a bomb went off," wrote Brittany Bergman on HuffPost. Rather, they have routines. "This might mean rearranging throw pillows and folding blankets when they're done in the family room each night, having kids put toys back in the toy box, hanging up clothes at the end of each day, and folding the laundry right when it comes out of the dryer." Here are some more organization tips you'll wish you had known all along.
They find clever ways to store more
ali blumenthal/rd.comPeople with clean homes use their smarts when it comes to products that help them stay organized. "An over-the-door organizer has a variety of clear pockets where you can store jewelry and make-up, sorting by type—pencils, lipsticks, brushes, and eye shadows," says Paloma Baillie, a DIY expert with the 5mile app. "Everything is laid out, so you have easy access and can see items more clearly." You can do a similar thing with office supplies if you don't have room for a desk.
They hire help
Andrey_Popov/ShutterstockNot every household budget has room for a regular professional cleaning service, but those who do tend to keep up with daily maintenance for one very important reason. "It's a good motivator to get things put away or moved along into the recycling bin when you know tomorrow is cleaning day and your house won't get as clean if the cleaning service has to clean around all your stuff," says Mary Gagliardi, Clorox's in-house cleaning and laundry expert.
They know how to delegate tasks
R. MACKAY PHOTOGRAPHY, LLC/ShutterstockUnless you live alone, mess and clutter is a group effort; therefore, cleaning should be a group effort as well. "Everyone should have weekly chores (dusting, emptying trash, vacuuming, sweeping, etc) that not only build responsible adults out of kids but also makes it easier to keep the home clean—something everyone in the home should care about," says Gagliardi. Teach your family these smart storage hacks to beat clutter.
They make cleaning feel less like a chore
Alexeysun/ShutterstockIf it's not your thing, it's hard to imagine putting a fun spin on cleaning. But there are ways to complete a task while distracting your mind. "Make cleaning enjoyable by listening to your favorite podcast," says Tisha Morris, author of Clutter Intervention: How Your Stuff Is Keeping You Stuck. "Get wireless Bluetooth headphones to give you the freedom to move all around the house. You might even get enough steps in on your Fitbit for it to count as a workout."