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“My House is a Disgusting Mess” – Cleaning Tips

Are you completely overwhelmed with a house that is just completely disgusting and out of control? Look, life happens.  Sometimes, it feels like my house is a disgusting mess and before you know it, there are dishes piled up on the counters, you’re smell testing laundry to see if you can get away with wearing it again, and you’re at serious risk of losing your kids under the piles of paper clutter.

Also check out: How to Get Motivated to Clean When Overwhelmed by Mess

My House is a Disgusting Mess

I promise, you’re not the only one living in a disgusting house!

It IS POSSIBLE to get your completely messy, out of control house under control.

Please just put a little trust in me, follow these steps (that are going to sound ridiculous, but STAY WITH ME) and we will get through this together!

Why Does My House Keep Getting So Messy?

I’ve seen so many friends and family members completely lose control of their homes when life just got too crazy.

A life-altering medical diagnosis, depression, job loss, and relationship problems can be enough to make someone completely lose any and all desire to clean their homes.

For me, it was postpartum depression.

When I finally came out the other side of that, I decided I would share everything I learned with anyone who would listen.

My husband and I had to discover lazy home hacks to get our house under control with two small kids and keep it that way.

This is everything that worked for us and I hope with all of my heart something here is able to help you too!

my house is a disgusting mess








Related: How to Get Motivated To Clean When Overwhelmed By Mess

Where to Start Cleaning My House

The first thing I need you to do is let go of perfection.

How many times have you started to do something – clean your house, organize a closet, clean out your car – and give up a few seconds after you started because there’s just too much to do? You either don’t have the time to finish or you just get overwhelmed and give up.

If there’s one thing you need to remember, it’s that you can do A LOT in just 5 minutes! So if you have only a few seconds before you run out the door, go ahead and use that time to tackle some of your mess.

Now to the quick fixes that are going to make a huge difference in the least amount of time.

If your house is really disgusting, I’m imagining there is trash everywhere and lots of stuff we can throw away.

Our goal here is to whip your home into shape in as little time as possible, so I want you to grab a trash bag, set a timer for 15 minutes, and get to work.

Go from one room to the next, working in a circle, throwing everything away that is obviously trash.

Please stop right here and go do this step! Don’t let this be just another article that you read and forget about. I want you to actually DO this – set a timer for 15 minutes and get to work!

Loose wrappers, papers you know you don’t need – I won’t insult you by telling you what garbage is.

Just throw everything away that you possibly can, as fast as you can.

See something you haven’t used forever and that you no longer want?

Toss it in the garbage bag too.

When it gets full, tie it up, put it by the door in that room, and start again.

In 15 minutes, we can gather a TON of garbage that is no longer going to be an eyesore in your home.

Next step – decluttering. The no-nonsense way.

How to Clean a Messy House In One Day

If you want to get your house clean as fast as possible, this is the absolute fastest method you’ll find.

It sounds crazy, but IT WORKS!

Now, I want you to grab a box, grab a marker, and pick a room.

Stick with me here:  This is where it gets GOOD and you’ll notice an immediate difference!

Go into your most cluttered room, set a timer for 15 minutes, and start packing everything in that box that doesn’t get used on a daily or weekly basis.  

This includes sentimental items that you could never part with, but that add to the clutter.

Be sure to label the absolute crap out of that box so you can find everything later.

The purpose of doing this is to finally declutter.


You can dedicate yourself to going through each item you own, deciding whether to keep it or donate it, and then get discouraged at the lack of progress and give up 10% of the way through.

If I were a betting mama, I’d bet my life savings that you’ve tried this before…and more than once.

Instead, we’re going to take drastic action and actually see true progress.

Progress equals motivation.  Motivation leads to lasting results.

Packing away the things that keep you stuck is your biggest leg up in your battle against a nasty house.

After you get so much of that put away and out of site, you can start to see where you need to tackle next.

Soon a snowball effect forms and that’s where the real magic happens.

My House Is Messy Where Do I Start?

When I thought about why our house was so messy it boiled down to two things – I was overwhelmed and didn’t know where to start AND it was just plain hard.

I decided to make whatever changes I had to in order to make it easier to keep up with our house and stop living with the mess.

One of those things was to buy a cheap vacuum cleaner for our second floor.

We almost never vacuumed up there (true story) because with this many kids, there’s always a baby on your hip and it’s a pain to lug a big vacuum up the stairs.

I bought this one fully expecting it to sit unused in a corner. I use this vacuum upstairs almost every single day.

It’s been a life-changer – something as stupid as buying a cheap vacuum for each floor.

How to Finally Declutter

Our goal here is to absolutely declutter your house from top to bottom.

Bonus points if you actually decide to get rid of some of the stuff, but that’s not at all what I’m asking you to do.

Your goal here is to move through each room as quickly as you can, throwing everything into a box that you don’t use on a very regular basis.

Annually is not regular enough use to keep that item sitting out.  Box it up!

Now I know what you’re thinking…  You don’t have room in your house / garage / closet / attic for extra boxes.

Do you have room in your house for all of this extra stuff?  

Stuff you don’t even use on a regular basis?

If you’re overwhelmed by the mess in your house, then the answer is definitely not.

I’d rather you have a few boxes sitting in a corner somewhere than have that stuff scattered all over your house.

You see it, it literally causes you stress (there have been studies), and it quite seriously drops your ability to enjoy your time at home.

Your home should be a haven.  Quit arguing with me and pack that crap in boxes!

Fastest Way to Clean Your Kitchen

The Fastest Way to Clean Dishes

If dirty dishes and a completely full sink are a huge sticking point in being able to get your house clean, I want you to throw them away.

Yes, you heard me.

Throw your dishes away.

We can buy more later and eat off of paper plates and Styrofoam in the meantime.

You may have figured this out already, but my goal here isn’t to be the most environmentally-friendly, frugal, hand-holding friend to get you out of this mess.

It’s to get you and your family to a place where your house feels like a home that you can actually enjoy.

Throw guilt to the wayside, put those filthy dishes and silverware in a cardboard box, and take them to the garage or sit them outside.

They have to go to a dumpster or to the dump TODAY.

When you do buy more dishes (or if you decide to put the time in to cleaning the ones you have – I want you to rethink how many dishes you actually need.

It’s just my husband, our 3 toddlers, and I living in our house.  We packed all but 5 bowls, plates, forks…you get the idea. Anything we didn’t use all the time, I packed in a box.

This was absolutely instrumental in overcoming dirty dishes and a constantly messy kitchen.

Okay, let’s assume you’ve packed all of that away and it’s sitting in beautifully labeled boxes in a corner somewhere.

Let’s move on.

fastest way to do laundry


The Fastest Way to Do Laundry

If you’re surrounded by piles of laundry, here’s what I want you to do…

Set a timer for 25 minutes.

We’re going to get through all of those clothes in less than that time.

Put all of your dirty laundry in one spot, separating the clothes.

We need to separate what you want to keep from clothes you don’t love, as quickly as possible.

If these clothes are dirty, it is probably because you have worn them recently and that means you probably want to keep them.

I want you to rethink this a little bit.

How many clothes do you actually need? Do you love all of these clothes and feel good in them?

If you’re keeping them because you hope they’ll fit better in the future or because you’re hoping they’ll come back into style, get rid of them.

Keep only what you actually really want and love and feel great in.

Everything else can go in a separate pile.

Either throw all of those clothes away or if you think they still have some life left, wash them all together and put them in the trunk of your car to be donated.

Everything else is what we’re going to wash and put away.

I really want to encourage you to minimize the amount of clothes you keep.

This makes it so much easier to maintain your laundry instead of getting back into this situation later on.

Paper Clutter

Finally, tackle the paper clutter.

Set that timer for 25 minutes, but I doubt this will take you anywhere near that long.

Gather every single rogue piece of paper, put it in one place, and just pull out the absolute essentials.  

Bills that need to be paid are the only truly essential papers that come to mind.

Put them on your fridge and the rest of the paper clutter can go in a holding bin while we get the rest of the house in order.

This way, it’s contained, we know exactly where any item is that we might be looking for before we get around to tackling paper clutter once and for all, and we’re no longer staring at miscellaneous sheets of paper everywhere.

In just an hour and 15 minutes, you can have your house under control.

Now, we’re going to move on to de-grossing the house.  No one wants to live in a gross house.

In just another hour, we can have most of the nasty areas of the house tackled.

Speed Cleaning – Step – by – Step

Who wants to clean their house when you can work for hours or even days and not see a big difference?  No one!

But after you’ve packed everything you don’t use in a box and put it away, your house is almost completely decluttered.

Then it just is a matter of de-grossing everything, as I call it.

With 3 toddlers, there’s a constant layer of sticky everywhere.  The laundry never ends and I have spaghetti sauce in places I never thought possible.  

My point is, I feel you, but we can tackle this.

How to Clean a Messy House Step by Step

Here’s what works for me…

Cleaning Flat Surfaces

Next, we’re going to tackle all flat surfaces.  Kitchen and bathroom counters, tables, coffee tables, etc.

With a mixture of one part water to one part vinegar (do NOT use vinegar on granite!), I want you to quickly wipe down every flat surface you’ve got.  I use a spray bottle and microfiber cloth to tackle all of mine.

Maybe you’re noticing a pattern here, but I’d be setting a timer for each room.  Trying to play beat the clock seriously revs my motivation up to 10 and helps me get sh*t done!

5-10 minutes per room should be plenty!  Remember, we’re NOT aiming for perfection!


Next, we’re going to throw some baking soda down on the carpets and wait 30 minutes.

While that’s sitting, vacuum all of your linoleum, tile, and hardwood floors.  Here is my favorite vacuum for under $50!

Then, quickly mop or Swiffer (if that’s how you roll) all of your solid surface floors.

Finally, back to those carpeted rooms to vacuum up that baking soda.


Easily the most disgusting part of the house and the one we want to avoid.  If you spend just 15 minutes in this room, you can conquer the nasty once and for all.

Here’s how:

Buy a toilet wand, you’ll thank me later.

Swish this thing around your entire toilet bowl, flush, then spray down the outside of you toilet with your 50/50 vinegar and water mixture.

Head over to the shower and spray it down with the same stuff.

Come back to the toilet and with a different color microfiber cloth (because we are trying to be way less gross and using the same rags in the kitchen and bathroom is just…gross) wipe down the outside of the toilet, the rim, and anywhere else that needs it.

Don’t forget the handle.  Points of contact are always the “grossest”.

Now do the same thing in the shower (a dollar store squigee works wonders on glass doors) and you’re done.

Once you do this process once, you’ll NEVER have to do it again.

From now on it will just be maintaining a clean bathroom – not cleaning a completely disgusting one.

How to Keep Your House Clean

From now on, we’ll be living in homes without clutter and will be much more motivated to keep on top of the daily tasks that will keep our houses under control once and for all.

  • Keep a basket at the bottom and top of your stairs for things that go to the other floor.  We use cheap but still cute ones like this.
  • Keep a vacuum on every floor.  I know we’re worried about decluttering right now, but trust me when I tell you that keeping a cheap stick vacuum like this on my second floor gets my second floor vacuumed WAY more often!
  • Get rid of all duplicates.  The easiest place to do this is the kitchen. If you have two of something, pick the nicest quality one and get rid of the rest.
  • Put away most of your dishes. Only keep out enough dishes for your entire family for one meal. This one has been absolutely essential in keeping our dishes under control. They are NEVER piled up in our sink anymore. Ever.
  • Stop folding your kids’ laundry! We don’t hang ours either. Instead, we bought one of these cheap shelving units and we use two cubbies per kid. One for shirts and one for bottoms per kid. BONUS – Since we started using this clothes system, our kids put away their own clothes. Even the 2 year old.

How to Keep Your House Under Control With Kids

Listen, I’ve been where you are.

I have three kids ages 4 and under and another one on the way.

When we had our first son and I was pregnant with our second, I felt like we’d never figure out how to keep our house from being a completely disgusting mess.

Much less actually keep it organized!

I finally realized that what wasn’t working for me was trying to do “everything right.”

I did laundry and dishes the way I thought you had to. I filed our papers in a file system (that actually just meant keeping piles of paper everywhere because I never had any time to file it.

What mom of young kids has time to file their papers??

It was when I finally put lazy systems in place that worked for this particular chapter of life that everything started to change.

I describe exactly what I did, step-by-step to get our house in order here.  Check it out if you’re an overwhelmed mama too!

Messy House Depression

No one can deny that there is a strong correlation between depression and having a messy home.

Our house was at its absolute messiest during my bout with postpartum depression.

If you feel that you’re dealing with depression and your world is falling apart around you – I’m here to tell you that it WILL GET BETTER!

You just have to do the leg work to get there.

For me, that meant making an emergency appointment with our doctor and getting on anti-depressants even though I favor the natural solution anytime I can find one.  

I knew this was bigger than me and any diet change or supplement change I could possibly make.

In the meantime, ask for support absolutely anywhere you can and don’t be shy about telling people your house is a complete mess.  If a friend or family member is willing to come help you get your house back together – LET THEM!

Don’t let your home cause you more stress or plunge you deeper into depression.  

Get the help you need from a trained professional (remembering the entire time that a massive amount of people suffer from anxiety and depression – there is absolutely zero shame in it) and ask for help from those around you.

You’ve got this!

Check out this post on How to Clean When You’re Too Depressed

Frequently Asked Questions:

How do you cope with living in a dirty house?

You may feel motivated or empowered after reading blog posts or perusing Pinterest for cleaning inspiration only to look around and realize your home is far from a  clean house. While it is a daunting task for anyone with a messy house, the best way to cope while you’re living in less than ideal conditions is to simply start somewhere.Spend 10 minutes speed cleaning your living room or kitchen. Set smaller goals instead of trying to tackle your entire house at once. The first step is to take any step, no matter how small, and feel proud of yourself for pushing through the hard parts.

How much time does it take to clean a filthy house?

Obviously the answer to this depends on the severity of the mess, but the answer is almost always “less time than you’d think.” The key, in my opinion anyway, is to set a timer each time you start cleaning so you can wow yourself with how little time it takes. It takes me 5 minutes to gather all of the dirty laundry and start the washing machine. It takes me less than 1 minute to vacuum the laundry room. The more you do this, the sooner you’ll realize how quickly the hard work pays off.

How do you clean when you don’t know where to start?

​The most important thing is always to tackle the garbage first. All the other cleaning tasks come after that. You can’t clean floors around random scraps of paper and piles of laundry. Set a timer for 5 minutes, grab a black trash bag, and run around your living room as fast as you can gathering anything that you consider to be garbage. Move to the next room and go from there. 

What if I have no time to clean my house?

I hear this one all the time and as a mom of 5 kids, I get it. The thing is, mental health issues, small children, and jobs take a huge chunk of our time. The hard truth is, we all have the same amount of hours in a day. I believe everyone can find enough time to do the mall things that take a house from a dirty home to a clean home.The main goal isn’t to have a spotless house because a cluttered home can still be a happy one. Our goal here is to just gt rid of the piles of clothes and the pile of dirty dishes that inevitably lurks in your kitchen. 


fastest way to clean a house


Kristy Red Elk

Wednesday 27th of November 2019

I just wanted to take the time to say, and I mean this with all my heart, THANK YOU! Thank you so much! I am battling depression and have been since my dad passed 2 years ago. I am a single mom of a 7 year old son, and I work full time. My dad died as my son and I were moving into our current home & so I never really even got our home in order. The disgusting mess just makes me shit down, then I came across your blogs! You absolutely explain my struggle and you help me so much. You made me realize I am not alone. I wish I could afford your lazy hacks book, it sounds perfect! I have begun cleaning with you, I treat myself to reading another one of your blogs after I complete 15 minutes. I just wanted to thank you, you gave me motivation when NOTHING else would. You are simply amazing!


Saturday 4th of May 2019

Wow! I honestly think I sound like a crazy person when I say that I'm OCD about things which makes cleaning difficult because if I don't have the time to do it the right way or finish the job I can't start it. I have literally stayed up, multiple times, until 4 in the morning or later doing housework because once I start on something I can't leave it unfinished. And still feel defeated because it doesn't look like I've spent all night organizing and decluttering. This is going to be life-changing as I have a major need to declutter and 3 little ones (5, 3, and almost 1) at home plus 2 more that I babysit throughout the week. My confidence that it's possible to have a clutter free house has been officially restored! Thank you so much for writing this!


Friday 18th of May 2018

I just came across your article and wow....what a game changer. I have 5 kids, 4 at home and the idea of not folding towels blew my mind! Now I hand them to one of the kids and they put them in the cabinet and we move on with life. I also took extra plates, cups, and bowels out of the kitchen and boxes them up. I boxed up my Tupperware bowels and put them on the fridge because if we were out of clean bowels the kids would grab a Tupperware bowl and use it for cereal and I had a ton of dishes....all the time. I also quit folding the kids clothes and laid them in their drawers neatly because they always messed them up looking for something anyways.

Thanks for the tips to make the house more manageable so we can get out and enjoy the summer!


Sunday 10th of December 2017

Thank you so much. This will be my task for the week. And yes everything you put in order makes sense. After reading this in excited to get started. Again thank you!


Tuesday 21st of November 2017

This article is a true life saver!!! I was swamped in clutter and so overwhelmed that I lost hope of ever being able to conquer my clutter monster! Thank you!


Monday 29th of January 2018

Hi Christy! I'm so freaking happy this helped you! Life is too short to be overwhelmed by anything, especially clutter!

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