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How to Clean a Messy House When the Mess is Out of Control

I guess you are here because you are looking for tips on how to clean a messy house. Hopefully, you will find this detailed step-by-step guide very helpful.

We’ve all been faced with it at one time or another – that messy house!

The mess could be a result of entertaining and housing several relatives over the holidays or letting that housework go when you are trying to juggle a full time job and taking care of your family.

Honestly, the reason behind the mess doesn’t really matter. Bottom line is, you are faced with what seems to be an overwhelming chore.

A messy house with text how to clean a messy house

My Room is So Messy I don’t Know Where to Start

Yes, cleaning a messy house or room can feel overwhelming. In fact, it can cause you to feel completely paralyzed, with no strength at all to clean up the mess because you don’t know where to start.

The truth is that everyone will have their own idea on how to tackle the mess and clean it up. But for those who simply don’t know where to start this step by step guide will help you get the job the done.

14 Tips on How to Clean a Messy House Fast

#1. Start by Setting Aside a Day and Time for a Total House Cleaning

If you are not used to cleaning up a really messy house then you are going to need to set aside a day when you can be free for a few hours to tackle that house cleaning.

Don’t make any other plans for the time you have set aside and make sure that you have all of the cleaning supplies you will need on hand in advance to the day.

You may also want to get this printable cleaning planner to help you be on top of things and keep your home clean and tidy. With this planner, you can easily schedule your daily, weekly and monthly cleaning as well as seasonal and room by room cleaning tasks.

Cleaning planner

#2. Give Your House the Once Over to Collect All the Trash

Grab a garbage bag and start at one end of your house and work your way through every room picking up all of those items that need to be thrown away.

To make the overall cleaning easier, pick up the dirty laundry in each room and pile it in a chair or on the bed so that once the trash is all collected you can quickly go through each room with a laundry basket and pick up the dirty laundry that is already gathered into a pile.

#3. Collect All the Laundry and Start Your First Load of Wash

Once you have collected all the trash and disposed of it go back through the house and pick up the piles of laundry and get your first load of washing started.

You can then change the laundry around and fold the clothing in between cleaning rooms or when taking a break.

#4. Start at One End of the House and Clean Room by Room

Once the laundry is started, start from one end of your house and clean one room at a time.

Leave the kitchen for last so that you can leave cleaning supplies out on the cabinets and have access to water when needed without messing up the area you have already cleaned.

Some people go from room to room and do one task in all of the rooms such as making beds, dusting, running the vacuum etc.

However, I find that by cleaning each room entirely before moving on to the next room, you can actually see the progress you are making, which helps to keep you motivated to finish the job.

#5. How to Clean a Messy Bedroom

When cleaning the bedrooms in your home, start by making the bed. If sheets need to be changed then do so, otherwise just make the bed since making the bed makes the entire room look neater almost instantly.

Pick up various items in the bedroom and put them away. Straighten items on the dresser and the stand, dusting as you go along.

When dusting, make sure to dust all window sills and the top of your doorways as well as wall lights, ceiling fans etc.

Any items that don’t belong in the room, remove and either put away or take to the room the objects belong in.

(You can carry a basket from room to room and place objects in the basket that need to go into other rooms and then take care of the basket full of objects once the rest of the house is cleaned.)

Vacuum or sweep and mop the bedroom and clean the windows if they need to be cleaned.

#6. Living Room Clean Up

Straighten up all the stands in your living room removing and putting away any items that belong to other rooms.

Vacuum any overstuffed furniture making sure to remove the cushions and vacuum both sides of the cushions. Dust all of the furniture from top to bottom.

If you have throw rugs take them outside and shake them well and then vacuum them once you bring them back in. Clean windows and use a wand on vacuum or duster to dust all window frames and the top of your door frames.

Don’t forget to dust any ceiling fans and wall-mounted picture frames or lights.

Make sure that any curtains or drapes are also free of dust and dirt.

Sweep and mop your floor or vacuum your floor if it has carpeting.

#7. Cleaning the Dining Room

Not every home has a separate dining room, but if your home does, then chances are you only use it occasionally and it should be the least messy of any room in your home.

However, your dining room can become a catch-all for opened mail, and other small items, so you need to spend a few minutes picking up and putting objects where they belong.

Then go through and dust the room from top to bottom including the table and chair legs. (You can learn how to reduce dust in your home here)

Make sure that you clean the chandelier and all of the picture frames. Then clean the windows, curtains or drapes and sweep and mop or vacuum the room.

#8. Bathroom Cleaning Tips

Clean off all of your bathroom countertops, putting away items as you pick them up. Spray down your tub with a spray cleaner and then put toilet bowl cleaner into the toilet bowl.

Now would be a good time to take care of some of that laundry you have been doing as you cleaned your home.

If the laundry is already done, then go ahead and load the dishwasher or take a short coffee break while you let the cleaners in your bathroom do their work.

Go back and clean the toilet from top to bottom. If you need to remove the toilet seat to clean the back of the toilet properly do so. Use a toilet brush on the inside of the toilet and a soft rag for the outside of your commode.

Then move on to your bathtub and shower unit and wipe down all the walls with a damp cloth and then dry the walls with a clean dry cloth.

Wipe down the shower curtain or shower door, then clean the tub properly and dry it with a clean dry cloth.

Clean the sink, empty the bathroom trash can. Clean the mirrors and any windows and sweep and mop the room. You can get more bathroom cleaning tips here.

Related: How to Deep Clean Your Bathroom

#9. How to Clean the Kitchen

Start cleaning the kitchen by emptying the dishwasher and putting away the clean dishes. Then clean off your countertops, putting any used dishes in the dishwashers as you go.

Once everything on the countertops is put away, begin cleaning the countertop, stove, refrigerator, backsplash and everything else.

Clean your windows and dust window frames. Clean any throw rugs and sweep and mop the floor. (Here is a comprehensive kitchen cleaning list.)

Except for possibly a few more loads of laundry you are done.

How to Clean a Messy House – Other Helpful Tips

Here are some other helpful tips that can help make cleaning that messy house easier.

#10. Set Small Periods of Time Aside

If you don’t have a large amount of time to set aside for cleaning your house, try setting smaller periods of time aside and cleaning one room a day.

Make sure you go back to the rooms you previously cleaned and give them a quick once over to keep the parts of your house you have already cleaned clean.

#11. Get Your Kids Involved

If you have children old enough to help with the clean up engage them in helping clean the mess. One can go through and pick up the trash, another can collect the laundry and another can pick up the toys in the kids’ room. This can save you a good deal of time.

#12. Don’t Get Discouraged

If clean up is going slower than you thought it would, don’t get discouraged. Keep at it, taking one room or one chore at a time until the task is completed.

#13. Order Take Out Food

If possible, order take out food or pizza delivery for your day of cleaning so you don’t have to worry about meal prep while cleaning your house.

#14. Put a Plan in Place to Keep Home Clean

Once your house is cleaned, school yourself and your family to pick up after themselves so the house will stay clean longer. You can also assign after school chores to each of your children and offer rewards for each week they do all of their chores.

You may also want to read this post on the daily cleaning routine that outlines 8 simple things you can do each day to help keep your home clean.

So there you go, a step by step guide on how to clean a messy house to help you out for when you are overwhelmed by the mess.

Related Cleaning Articles:

A dirty room with text clean a messy house guide and tips

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Friday 19th of July 2024

I love this step by step guide. Sometimes it helps to just know where to start. Thank you


Friday 19th of July 2024

Hi Sarah,

I'm happy to hear that you love the step by step guide on how to clean a messy house.


Thursday 17th of November 2022

Hey Carol, thanks for the tips. It's super easy for me to get overwhelmed with cleaning everything, but this guide is really nice as it helps to break things up in manageable chunks. I appreciate you!


Monday 31st of October 2022

This is great to know. With a house full of kiddos, I often feel pretty overwhelmed at getting my house totally clean. So thanks for sharing!


Thursday 11th of November 2021

We have a baby coming in just a few weeks so deep cleaning is on the agenda this weekend! Your tips are so helpful. We're going to create a cleaning plan that goes room by room just like you suggested. And we're starting the weekend off with professional carpet cleaning! I love having our carpets cleaned and it gives me such peace of mind that our home is clean from top to bottom before baby comes.


Thursday 21st of October 2021

I get the feeling that you've never seen a house like mine. If I dared send you pics, you'd likely have a stroke. I cared for my husband for 14 years after he became totally disabled. We had 6 week old twins at the time of his disability. We lost him a couple of years ago, and I went into a deep depression, and can't seem to climb out of it enough to get anything done. I bought a counter-top dishwasher, and that has helped. But with three autistic sons, it's hard to get anything done. I'm putting certain changes in place (such as eliminating clean laundry from ending up behind the bed by putting everything on hangers). I also try to force myself to do at least one load of dishes and one load of clothes every day. But I cannot see the individual trees for the forest - I see huge mess and have a lot of trouble cutting it down in my mind to smaller tasks - a product of my own autism and Major Depressive Disorder. I need more help, I fear, than you can offer. But your suggestions are helpful, and I will try to put some of them into effect.


Tuesday 12th of July 2022

@Stormdancer, I just want to say I appreciate your honesty so much I often feel like we as mother's of autistic kiddos try to down play how much help we sometimes really do need. Your words have given me courage and inspiration. When in my own shit I feel like nobody knows how hard things really are for me. But it's true what they say. "We might have it bad, but someone else always has it worse," but you keep moving forward, even if only one step at a time Cliche.


Thursday 28th of October 2021

Hi, I'm sorry to hear about your situation, I can only imagine what you've gone through and what you are still going through. I'm happy that you found my suggestions helpful. Just do what you can and take it one day at a time.

Wishing you all the best.

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