Eight Ways to Keep Your House Tidy (Whilst Living in a Building Site)

I feel like I am actually fairly well qualified to give some advice on this subject matter. I have a long haired, big, black dog, a cat who likes to bring us ‘presents’ from the surrounding countryside, two children under the age of two, and a husband who is always doing messy jobs. Add in the fact that not only do we live in the countryside and are surrounded by mud and flies, the dust from all of the renovation means keeping a tidy house felt next to impossible for me for a long time.

For the first couple of years I didn’t bother cleaning much. Enough to keep things tidy, especially if we had visitors, but realistically the house was always filthy. We were building an extension where our living room used to be, and the room we were using as a make shift living area was the access to it. The door to the workshop was in the kitchen and a lot of the work we were doing was upstairs so all of the main traffic routes through our house just got dirty and there was nothing we could do about it. On top of all this I really disliked the house and cleaning it not only made me miserable but felt pointless (it really was just polishing a turd!).

Now however, thing are a bit different. we’ve finished quite a few rooms in the house. We’ve worked hard on them, we’re pleased with how they look and they cost a sizable amount of money to get to this point so I have no plans to have to redecorate any time soon! In addition, to this I have two kids who make a very different kind of mess (felt tip pens, thrown food etc..) which means I need to clean more. And I know germs are good for them, and some level of dirt is fine, but I don’t want them picking up bits of plaster in chokable sizes all because we’ve just been too lazy to tidy.

So a few months ago I turned over a new leaf and started to keep on top of all the jobs and today I’m sharing what I believe are the best tips and advice I’ve picked up:

1. Always make the bed.


I was told a while ago that the first thing you do every day is make your bed. This is because if you can achieve the first thing on your to-do list in the first 10 seconds of being up you’ve got your day off to a good start. (Genuinley it’s great advice).

As well as this though, it makes everything feel organised and clutter free. I had quite a few people comment that the house felt so neat and tidy when they came to visit Harris and they didn’t know how we did it with a new baby. The truth was it wasn’t tidy at all, but because the bed looked nice their eyes were drawn to that and they didn’t notice the rest of the clutter.

And chances are if you’ll spend 30 seconds making a bed and arranging scatter cushions, you’ll make the effort to tidy away the random shoes and glasses that lie around your bedroom that don’t actually belong there.

2. Clean little and often.

If you haven’t already found The Organised Mum (#teamTOMM) then it will change your life. Essentially it’s a system that will revolutionise your cleaning habits – 30 minutes of cleaning a day and no jobs on a weekend. Your house is clean and it becomes addictive. Gemma is amazing, and is so active all over social motivating people.

Lee takes the level one jobs (quick hoover of main footfall areas, bathrooms wiped down and washing on) and I tackle a different room ever day.

The secret to the method is that if you don’t finish the jobs in that room in your thirty minutes it doesn’t matter – you leave them and then start with those jobs when you come back to that room the following week. I honestly couldn’t recommend this enough!

3. Decorate sensibly.

People often comment that I’m mad for painting my living room white. It’s pure brilliant – so as pale as you can get. But I believe there’s method to my madness. Not only is it silk (which wipes well), it’s also the cheapest paint you can get.

I know I wouldn’t fork out a lot of money to get a tiny amount of a specialist colour remixed if felt tip pens got all over my walls, but I’m more than happy to just touch up the white if I need to.

I’ve also got a very pale sofa (very impractical I know) but it has the stain protection with it so I get it professionally cleaned frequently, I also bought it second-hand, meaning there’s more money in the budget to get it recovered when I need to.

As well as this the carpet in the living room is wool and the rug is jute. I try and go for natural products if possible, because they just clean better. (Nature is just clever like that!) and it’s less likely that stains will ruin them.

4. Get tough with visitors.

People got used to the fact they could walk through our house with their muddy boots on and we (really!) wouldn’t mind. Now however we do, and people who’ve not been round for a while don’t always remember. It just means we have to ask our friends to take their shoes off and to feed their kids in the rooms that we don’t care about as much. Literally no one ever has a problem with being asked to take their shoes off!

5. Get the right tools.

If there is no incentive to clean, I don’t do it. I need something to motivate me (I do really hate it!). For me the two biggest motivators were buying cleaning products that looked and smelt beautiful (yes I have the method range and am obsessed with it. I’m also slowly becoming a Zoflora fan).

They make such a difference because not only can I see results, I can also smell that the house had been cleaned. Everything just feels nicer, and that’s a massive change for me as I was used to the smell of dust and rotting insulation!

6. Buy a cordless vacuum cleaner

I cannot stress this enough. If you don’t have one, it will change your life. (This sounds stupid, but I know I’m not alone in this).

When you have a heavy corded version, it’s such a faff to get it out from where you keep it, plug it in, lug it up and down stairs and then wind it all back up again that even if you’re tidy regularly you probably only vacuum once a day. I used mine ALL THE TIME. It’s so easy to just pick up the dog hair, or some coco-pops that have been thrown over the floor. It’s amazing for doing the sofas and it’s light enough to dust cobwebs. I cannot rave about it enough.

We have the dyson V8, but I’ve used the cheaper V6 and love that too, and have also seen brilliant reviews for the Shark ones.

7. Shut rooms off.

When renovating it’s so important to try and issolate the mess. If at all possible do work in an order that means you’re moving from the furthest points in the house back towards the door so that you’re not messing up the ‘finished’ areas, but this isn’t always possible. Be obsessive over making sure doors to both the messy and clean rooms are shut, have ‘spare’ carpets that you can walk over first to gather any dust and don’t get lazy removing shoes if you’re going in an out of rooms.

Another brilliant piece of advice I was given was that if you have any old heavy velvet curtains lying around that you can hang over a door, they’ll do a brilliant job of collecting dust for you.

8.  Don’t feel bad for getting help.

We’ve had a cleaner professionally clean the house twice. I was pregnant both times, but more importantly – I just couldn’t face doing it. I had let the house get to the point where it was filthy, but amazingly once it was clean I didn’t want it to get dirty again so I made such an effort to stay on top of it all.

Hopefully there are a couple of pointers there that may be of some use to you. Do you have any of your own you can share?