10 Messy Habits to Break for a Cleaner Home

Routine and habit are at the core of life. Much as we might like to think of ourselves as free spirits, most of us live to a set rhythm dictated by work, family and sleep. We’re often creatures of habit too, but not all habits are healthy. At home, certain lazy practices can lead to a messy home and an unhealthy environment. From not taking off your shoes by the front door to overindulging the dog, here’s a rundown of common offenses and how to resolve them.

1. You wear shoes inside the house. Rather than taking off your shoes as soon as you come through the front door, you get distracted and end up circumnavigating your home in mucky footwear.

Solution: Dedicated storage will encourage you to remove your shoes as soon as you get home. Specially designed racks near the front door are ideal, but a simple basket into which you can toss your footwear is a start.

RELATED: Shop for a Shoe Rack

2. You let your pooch sit on the sofa. Letting your dog snuggle on the sofa inevitably leads to hair and sometimes mud transferring from hound to upholstery.

Solution: Create a lovely bed for your dog and encourage him or her to use it. If the message isn’t being received in your furry friend’s brain, then cover your sofa with a washable throw, which you can remove once it’s time for the humans to sit down.

3. You pile up used tea bags. If repeated trips to the kettle for your morning brew or a visiting bevy of thirsty friends leads to a mountain of used tea bags piled perilously on your countertop, act now!

Solution: Treat yourself to an attractive — and here’s the trick — lidded container that you can place where you make hot drinks. Toss the bags in there, then compost them later.

4. You dump clothes. From throwing your coat over the banisters to shedding your clothes onto the bedroom floor, dumping clothes makes a big mess — fast.

Solution: Anything you take off should go on a hook, in a drawer or closet, or in the laundry basket. Remove any tempting dumping grounds too, such as a chair in the bedroom, which can easily become a spot for long-term, messy clothes storage.

RELATED: Tidy Up With Help From a New Dresser

5. You store cleaning products badly. Yes, that’s right, it’s possible to do such a thing. If you keep your cleaning products in a mix of locations, a jumbled state or buried at the back of the cabinet, you’re putting up boundaries between yourself and getting on with cleaning.

Solution: Buy a bucket or caddy for all your cleaning gear and keep it where it’s easily accessible. Try storing a separate cleaning caddy in the bathroom, where it’s handy for a quick cleanup, and one in the usual under-the-sink location in the kitchen.

6. You don’t finish what you start. You cleaned part of the bathroom but couldn’t face tackling the shower stall. You hung up the laundry, but now it’s sitting in a pile, waiting to be sorted. You vacuumed the living room floor but left the sofa alone.

Solution: Do less, and allow enough time for each task, so you can finish what you start. Not completing a job is almost as bad as never embarking on it in the first place. Half-finished tasks are also deadly for morale.

7. You can’t help collecting. If you’re one of those people with a passion for books or period decor, you may have reached critical mass when it comes to collecting. This can create a messy home that’s overburdened with “stuff.”

Solution: Have a clear-out. There are heaps of great advice on Houzz for doing a comprehensive declutter, but you can begin by sorting items into piles for charity, storage or the trash. Then, aim to restrict your collecting habit, or schedule another clear-out in six months’ time.

8. You go to bed when you’re too tired. You know how it goes.… You’ve nodded off in front of the 10 o’clock news again and wake up only to blearily stumble up to bed. This creates mess. Any glasses, plates, papers or books you were using end up being left on the floor or coffee table. Throws are lazily cast aside in a heap, cushions tumbled onto the floor and crumbs scattered.

Solution: Go to bed 10 minutes earlier, before you’re super tired. Before you go, clear the living room of all dirty dishes or glasses, quickly straighten up the sofa and turn off the lights. It’s never nice to be greeted by last night’s mess when you come downstairs in the morning.

9. You hoard condiments. It’s very easy to amass a huge quantity of spices, sauces, pickles, relishes and spreads, especially if they’re stored deep within a closed kitchen cupboard. This can gobble up storage space and quickly become a sticky, tumbling mess of jars and bottles.

Solution: Edit your condiments. Toss anything that’s past its use-by date or hasn’t been opened or eaten more than once (a sure sign that you don’t actually like it). Then, routinely clear out your condiment cabinet to prevent buildup, or better yet, relocate all jars and bottles to a neat rack, where they can be seen, used and kept in order.

10. You’re a piler-upper. Piles of paperwork, magazines or books are not the enemy of a tidy home, but messy piles are.

Solution: Tidy and organize your piles. Stacking your books neatly can turn a jumble of reading matter into a beautiful library. If free-standing piles never stay put in your home, invest in a few simple pieces of storage. Shelves, baskets and boxes will impose order on any errant books or papers.