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How a Messy Mom Cleans: Clean Categorically

 It's time for another Messy Mom post.  (In fact, it's time for this messy mom to clean her house!)

Last time, I shared The 15 Minute Method.  While that is still my favorite way to clean, 15 minutes isn't always enough.  When the house is even more out of control, I break out the big guns and Clean Categorically.
How a Messy Mom Cleans

Clean Categorically
Method: Clean Categorically
How it works: Pick things up in a specified order.
Purpose: To make large areas of the house functional and presentable in a short period of time.

Our clutter tends to fall into 4 different categories:

1.  Garbage
2.  Kitchen stuff
3.  Dirty clothes
4.  Toys

When I clean categorically, I pick up junk in that order.

First - the garbage.  Wrappers, toddler paraphernalia, junk mail, "fluff" the kids tore out of the couch cushions.  You get the idea.

Second - kitchen stuff.  Usually includes sippy cups, water glasses, and empty bowls from the kids' snacks.

Third - dirty clothes.  Are my kids the only ones who seem to shed clothing all over the house?

Fourth - toys.  At this point, I throw all the toys in the ottoman or toy baskets

messy boy's bedroom

clean boy's bedroom

Finally, the room is ready for dusting/vacuuming.  Occasionally there is a stray piece of "stuff" that doesn't fit into one of those categories, and I put that away before moving on.  But usually, those four categories cover it.

I put the categories in the order of least forgivable to most forgivable.  I figure, if someone called to say they were coming over, I'd start with garbage, and if I didn't get all the way to toys, I could just say something like, "The kids have been playing so well today!  I didn't want to interrupt them to clean up the toys!"

Those categories work best for the living room, dining room and kids' bedrooms at my house.  Other rooms might have different categories.  What would your categories be?  Leave some feedback here or on my facebook page. 

Would you like to comment?

  1. My categories tend to be:

    1. Kitchen
    2. Trash
    3. Donation materials (outgrown, unused, etc items)
    4. Upstairs (bedrooms)
    5. Toy room

    I bring several laundry baskets with me when I clean....two of them lined with trash bags - 1 bag is for actual trash and the other bag will go to Goodwill to be donated. The other baskets correspond to the categories.

    I do a monthly huge clean-out of the toy room, where I use this same method. In our toyroom, I have baskets and bins for specific things (cars/trains/planes, legos, train and car tracks and sets, dolls, book shelves, and a big container for loose toys that don't find a spot on the shelves. This makes organizing the toy room much easier for me.

    If we have people coming over soon without much notice, I take laundry baskets and shove stuff in them and tuck them into a closet or spare room to be sorted out later. I'm like you, trash is always a first, then dishes, then toys.

    1. Wow! Sounds like you have a great method that works for you!!! I think I need to buy more laundry baskets. That must be my problem. :)

  2. I'd add the category "school stuff" because with 4 kids in grades 1 up to 7, (and I'm a teacher, as well!), there are always school papers laying around, books, notebooks, pencils, permission slips, notecards, etc.. I collect stuff that needs to be saved and make a pile, we have a bin for school supplies, some things just need to be shoved back into backpacks. This is really my nemesis from about October until May...

    1. Yes! Sometimes, "papers" is one of my categories, too!