How to Clean a Room When You’re Gross

Cleaning Advice From a Certified Slob

Well, who can believe this? Who do I even think I am, trying to give you tips on cleaning? You guys know I’m a slob. (Remember my office?) While it’s true that I am totally gross, cleaning a room and keeping a room clean are two very different things. I know I’m the last person you would ever expect to get this advice from, but I actually do know how to clean a room really well. I’ve got a method… And, this week, I’m sharing that method with you. You’re welcome.

How to clean your house before picture

The picture above shows a typical mess at my crappy house. I rarely show you my mess because… well… it’s embarrassing. Usually, I creatively crop my photos so you don’t see my mess, but this time, I creatively collaged my photos so my mess looks super cute.

Jaunty, even.

When I was a kid, I read a book called, What to Do When Your Mom or Dad Says Clean Your Room. I actually already knew what to do when mom says clean your room (you freaking clean your room or she cleans it for you and your Huey Lewis and the News cassette ends up in the trash next to your rubber Madonna bracelets and your back issues of Teen Beat…), but I wasn’t so clear on the “how to do it” part. My mom never taught me how to clean! (Clearly, this is all her fault…) That book had a perfect method for cleaning a room that I still use to this day, in my grown-up house, when it starts to look like this:

before pictures of house mess

How to Clean Your Room Before Mom Flips Out

Here’s the method from the book (that was written for kids…): You make your bed, then you put every single thing that isn’t where it belongs onto that freshly made bed. Then you can dust and vacuum and, hey! The rest of the room looks great now! Except for the bed. That’s a mess. So, one by one, you take items from the bed and put them away. There’s built-in incentive to finish in one day. Unless you want to sleep on your (freshly vacuumed!) floor, you really have to commit to the process.

I have literally cleaned this way ever since I read that book at thirteen years old and it freaking works! For that unsightly wreckage above, I used my kitchen island as my “bed” and I piled everything on it that was out of place.

When I was finished, my living room looked like this:

Living room cleaned

Creatively cropped to omit this, of course…

Living room clean with messy island

And my kitchen was super clean:

Super clean kitchen

But only up close…

Clean kitchen with messy island

My dining room table hadn’t been seen in ages!

Dining room cleaned

Just don’t look to the right…

Dining room cleaned with messy island

Honestly, the task does become less overwhelming when it’s condensed into one spot like this. It took me about a day to clear the island of my crap, but I did it!

Here. Have a look around… (It’s one of those 360° photos, so you can drag the image around and explore.)

Amazing, right? I know.

Some of my crap had homes and had just lost their way getting back to them (because I was too lazy to provide transportation), but other things were homeless and needed a permanent place to live. I was like a real estate agent for transient crap. Negotiating new crap homes during a housing shortage is difficult, and I made zero commission, so is it really any wonder why I procrastinated the job for so long?

Dining room after picture

So, that’s how I clean a room. Keeping it clean is where I crash and burn. This is what my (formerly) nice, clean office looks like now:

Messy Office

And this is why you never see my bedroom:

My messy bedroom

(Well, one of the reasons. Clearly, this room needs a lot of work. It’s next on my list…)

Unless I can get a handle on the “keeping it clean” part, I’m doomed to live in a perpetual state of disarray.

But I have hope! A kind soul, who took pity on me and my plight, recommended I read the book, ‘Decluttering at the Speed of Life’, by Dana K. White.

Decluttering at the Speed of Life book

I’ve read many books on organization, but they’ve all been stupid. Marie Freaking Kondo is not my people. I haven’t finished it yet, but this book seems to be much more my speed. (The speed of life!) It’s really helping me to understand my packrat ways and how to address this very unflattering side of myself, and the author has a funny, down to earth writing style that I’m really digging. Kind of like a certain witty blogger that we all know and love…

(Oh, come on. You know who I mean…)

So, maybe 2021 is the year that my house stops identifying as an obstacle course o’crap. I’ll probably gain weight because navigating the course is my main source of exercise, but I’m willing to sacrifice my health for a clean home. I’m hard core. You guys know.

How to clean a room pinterest

If I find success with this latest self-help book, I will be sure to let you guys know in a future post. Subscribe below so you don’t miss it.

Princess Spackle says, “Help me, Dana K. White. You’re my only hope…”

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  • Phyllis

    I wish I had a friend like you who lived close by. You are so funny and after I read your posts, I am always in a better mood! If I clean up too, I will probably gain weight! LOL!

  • Em

    Love that book! I still haven’t finished mine yet, but I read enough to love it (and if you’re not using an affiliate link for that, go back and add one, haha).

    I am currently inundated with Christmas decorations and an obscene amount of dust and, you-know-what. But our oldie dog is having some big issues and I am in both emotional and physical paralysis until the vet comes tonight.

    THEN I will join you in the fight against gross…love your approach! (My mom didn’t teach me either!)

    Thanks for the great read!

    • My Crappy House

      I am not at all surprised that you love that book because YOU are the one who recommended it to me!

      I’m sorry to hear about your dog. Life comes before cleaning, always. Hugs to you

  • LaFawne

    Woohoo! That book is on Kindle Unlimited, so into my hoard of books to read it goes! I am always happy to check out new cleaning hints, currently doing the Bowl of Lemons Challenge for the first time.
    I have found that breaking chores into smaller pieces works for me. Wash dishes, leave on counter to dry. TAKE A BREAK. Put dishes away. TAKE A BREAK. Clean stuff off bar. TAKE A BREAK. Being a member of the “Retired So You Can’t Make Me Do Anything I Dont Want To” union has its perks.
    Always enjoy your posts- hugs to the kitties

    • My Crappy House

      I just had to look up the bowl full of lemons challenge. I’m disappointed it doesn’t involve an actual bowl full of lemons…

      I’m a big fan of the “take a break” method. I use it myself, often. And not just for cleaning. Pretty much for every task in life. The only drawback is that I don’t get much done, but I can live with that.

      I will pass the kitty hugs on. They love those

  • Le

    That is such a good idea, the bed thing. I will teach it to my kids (or the girl, she seems more interested in cleaning.)

    I am going to get that book through your link. Make sure you get your money! I need to learn how to clean as I go. I may not do it, but I need to know how to do it in case one day, I decide not to be lazy.

    • My Crappy House

      I think the girl could do it. The boy would probably put everything on his bed and then sleep with it all…

  • Lisa

    You did SO GOOD! Who’s a good girl? YOU ARE YOU ARE! Yes, keeping it clean is a big old pain in the arse, but for inspiration, just look at how incredibly gorgeous it is when you can see all of the hard work and painstaking care it took for you to transform your (not so crappy) house.

    • My Crappy House

      Haha I want a treat! I wish I could keep it this way. I’m reeeeeeally going to try. Hopefully, the book will help me purge. I just have too much crap!

  • Mom

    All lines lead to mom. Do you remember how I got rid of the clutter on the dining room table? I got rid of the table. Maybe I should write a book.

  • Carrie Pankratz

    This is brilliant! I struggle with this so much. I am a slob… but a messy house stresses me out! How in the world did I get like this? I can absolutely relate… my mom never taught me how to clean either, I was just told to do it, and it was paralyzing. I’ve focused on actually teaching my kids this year… as I figure it out myself. Thank you for your humor and honesty. I really enjoyed this post.

    • My Crappy House

      Thank you so much! Cleaning is one of those things that we’re just expected to know. I have no excuse though because I actually read that “how to” book as a kid and I’m still a messy adult. I really don’t know wtf my problem is!

  • Maria B

    Thanks for the laugh today. I really needed it! I can relate. Being retired means I can eat dinner on the couch so the dining room can handle all the extra stuff.


    • My Crappy House

      Wait. I was supposed to wait for retirement before I could eat dinner on the couch? I’m definitely ahead of schedule. Or maybe I’m just wishing I could retire now and I’m acting the part…

  • Barbara H.

    Oh dear, why did I wait so long to read this post? Oh, that’s right – overwhelmed with life and the world but things have receded a little so cleaning out my Inbox tonight. That book – highly recommended by someone else last year sometime. Your pictures helped me feel so much better about my house, though I too will win no awards for cleaning. Sigh – but there is always hope.

    • My Crappy House

      I think it’s just nice to know that the world isn’t full of instagram worthy rooms 100% of the time. Real life usually involves real messes. I’m feeling pretty good about getting on top of mine. The rooms I cleaned above still actually look this way three weeks later. I’m making progress!

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