Skip to Content

How To Clean A Messy House: A Step-by-Step Guide To Conquer The Chaos

Have you ever felt completely overwhelmed and paralysed by your messy house? The task all feels too big and you don’t even know where to start! Don’t worry, this step-by-step guide will show you how to clean a messy house in one day, even if it all feels impossible!

This cleaning plan will help you conquer the chaos and bring back some inner peace to your life by getting your house back into order!

This guide is not for how to declutter your house. Our goal right now is to help you to tidy up your dirty, messy home, rather than targeting clutter. You can read my whole house declutter guide instead if you are struggling with decluttering.

Woman feeling overwhelmed by cleaning her house, sitting on lounge room floor with mop

The Messy Home Cycle

Being surrounded by mess impacts our mood. Seeing dirty dishes stacked on the sink, piles of dirty laundry on the floor, toys all over the place, wardrobes overflowing, and random items where they shouldn’t be. It’s just too much.

The messier the house gets, the worse you start to feel. And the worse you start to feel, the harder it gets to clean the mess. 

And so the messy house cycle just keeps going until you take action and get it sorted. The whole cycle is dreadful for your mental health.

Thankfully, this is exactly what I am going to help you do today – Clean your entire house in a single day! 

My House Is A Mess! Where Do I Start?

Woman feeling overwhelmed trying to work at home and manage her home

Most of us can relate to this feeling at some point in our lives and if you are reading this guide, there’s a very good chance this is how you’re feeling right now.

Life is busy and some seasons of life are especially chaotic.

Working full time. Parenting. Celebrations. Illness. Hobbies. Binge-watching the latest Netflix show. Exercise. Cooking. Studying… the list of things competing for our time goes on and on.

Perhaps you’re in the newborn baby stage of parenthood and can hardly get an uninterrupted nap, let alone time to sort the washing pile. 

Perhaps your family has just had a horrible run of poor health and you’ve either been in bed resting or taking care of other family members… just trying to get through the week! 

Or perhaps you’re just feeling pretty crappy at the moment and the very thought of having to clean your house just feels really hard right now. Big hugs! 

Regardless of the reason, your house is a mess and it feels ick. But you’re ready to take the first step to get it back under control. 

30 day cleaning challenge printable on pink background with cleaning supplies.


Where To Start Cleaning A Messy House

The best place to start cleaning a messy house is the place that has the biggest impact on our life. For many of us, this area is the kitchen! 

If you have a messy kitchen, this makes mealtimes stressful.

It likely impacts your motivation to want to cook in there and might even have impacted your eating habits, choosing fast food or unhealthy convenience foods over healthy home-cooked family meals

With no clean dishes or no uncluttered kitchen counters, the whole kitchen can feel like a disgusting mess! Yet it can be one of the easiest tasks towards a clean house!

Starting your messy house clean up in the kitchen is a great quick win that will have a huge impact and help give you a motivation boost to keep going. 

If the kitchen isn’t an area of your home that is a mess, you might instead choose to start in an area that is, such as a bathroom, the laundry or a bedroom. 

Get The Family Involved

Husband wife and daughter cleaning their house together

As they say, more hands make light work! This could not be more true for dealing with a huge mess of a home! Get the whole family involved and your goal of having a tidy home will happen much easier! 

The team effort of turning your dirty home into a spotless home will not take much time if everyone gets involved. 

Keep It Clean Tip: Kids of all ages benefit from doing chores and older kids can help with most of the cleaning tasks at home. 

How To Clean A Messy House: Step By Step Guide

The process of cleaning a really messy house (or a dirty house) is different to a weekly cleaning process or deep cleaning your house. It’s also very different to speed cleaning your home in preparation for guests. In those cases, things probably aren’t too bad to start with.

When it has been a while since you’ve cleaned all or part of your home, it can become a much bigger job to tackle, but with this step-by-step process, you will learn how to clean a messy house in one day:

Step 1: Prepare Your Cleaning Supplies

Woman standing in front of a pile of mess with bucket of cleaning supplies

Before we can get right into the nitty-gritty of cleaning your messy home, it’s important to set yourself up for success. This means the first thing you need to do is get prepared with the essentials that you will need to get the job done.

These items will help you get your untidy house sorted:

  • Laundry basket
  • Basic cleaning supplies (cleaning cloths, all-purpose spray, bathroom cleaner)
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Mop
  • Trash bags

My cleaning essentials: The products I use most are microfibre cloths, Scrub Mommy sponges and The Pink Stuff cleaning product range.

Step 2: Determine The Areas Needing Attention

The next step is to figure out what needs to be done. Walk around the house and make a list of all the tasks you need to complete. Or if making a list feels too overwhelming, simply take this time to identify the highest need areas.

Often if we allow our surroundings to become messy around us, we stop seeing just how messy they are to an extent – the mess becomes familiar.

This whole process of first taking a look at your surroundings is a way of resetting your brain to identify the biggest problem areas so you can prioritise your time properly.

Step 3: Quick Sweep 

Before you start cleaning, do a quick sweep of your surfaces to eliminate any obvious rubbish. Grab your garbage bags and collect anything that can immediately be thrown away

This includes empty packages, catalogues or magazines you don’t need, broken items, empty boxes, etc. 

This is also a good time to collect anything that is not in the correct place. It can be helpful to use a spare laundry basket or box to collect items that are out of place and put them where they belong as you move from room to room.

Essentially your basket will be filling and emptying as you go.

This works well for simple items that have a set place in the home – shoes and clean clothing left out, books, accessories, toys

FURTHER READING: The 5-minute daily pick-up habit to keep your house tidy

Step 4: Collect Dirty Clothes & Linen

Woman with armful of dirty laundry

Grab your laundry basket and fill it with any dirty clothing and piles of laundry that you find in your house. Check each bedroom, the living areas and the bathrooms. 

This is also a great time to grab the sheets and bedding off all the beds in the house and wash them. 

Put a load of laundry on in your washing machine and move on to your next task while the cycle runs. Start with bedding if you are washing your linen. This can take longer to dry if you plan to hang it outside. 

Step 5: Wash Your Dishes

Kitchen counters and sink stacked with dirty dishes

At this point, it’s time to tackle that important kitchen area. Of course, if any of these areas aren’t an issue, skip them and move on to the next step.

If you have a dishwasher, unpack it and restack it with dirty dishes. If not, take this time to wash your dirty dishes, dry them and put them straight away in the cupboards where they belong. 

Use your all-purpose spray and a cleaning cloth to wipe down all your kitchen surfaces – the benches, sink, cupboard doors, handles and kitchen appliances. This should only take you 5 or so minutes to do a wipe down of your entire kitchen! 

Step 6: Clean The Bathrooms

At this point, bring your cleaning supplies and make quick work of your messy bathroom by spraying the surfaces with your preferred bathroom cleaning spray. Add toilet cleaner to your toilet bowl and allow it to sit while you clean the rest of the bathroom. 

Use glass cleaner on your glass shower screens. Wipe down your bathroom surfaces, including sinks, benchtops, cabinets, tapware, bathtubs, shower screens etc.

Come back to the toilet and scrub the toilet bowl with your toilet brush and give the toilet seat and lid a wipe down.  

If your grout is getting mouldy, a grout scrubber can help get rid of some of this. Although, it’s okay to leave this for another day when you’re ready to deep clean your bathroom. Right now, the goal is to just eliminate the mess.

By this time, your load of washing might be ready to hang or switch over to the dryer, ready for the next load. 

Step 7: Dust The Surfaces

It can make a huge difference to your surfaces and how clean your house feels after dusting on a regular basis. It can also help keep away allergies! 

Take this time to use a duster or a slightly damp microfibre cloth to dust all your flat surfaces, including cabinets, televisions, shelves, decorative items and tables. 

Keep It Clean Tip: Always do this before you clean your floors since the dust will settle on the floor afterwards. 

Step 8: Clean The Floors

If you have small children at home, there’s a good chance your floors are covered in toys. This is one of the most overwhelming things as a parent when trying to keep your house tidy. 

We’ve all had those moments where we finish picking up our kids’ toys only for the toddler to tip a tub of blocks all over the floor 5 minutes later. Arghhh! 

And it’s okay to have a few toys on the floor. That’s part of making memories and raising a family. But right now, we have floors to clean so if your kids are around to help, get them packing up their toys. 

If you’re solo, this is the time to tidy your floors and pick up anything that shouldn’t be left lying around that you didn’t already pick up during your quick sweet in step 2. 

Now grab your vacuum cleaner and do a thorough vacuum of all your floors. If it has been a while, make sure you empty the filter a couple of times during your vacuum so it doesn’t end up clogged! 

After you have finished vacuuming, grab your mop and mop any hard floor areas that need to be mopped. 

Dirty floors are one of my absolute pet hates and usually the reminder that I’ve let things slide a little longer than I should. Especially the kitchen floor. Icky. Clean floors make a huge difference to the entire home. 

Step 9: Make The Beds

The final step is to make your bed with fresh sheets and bedding. Do a master bedroom reset by making up your bed and tidying your space. Do the same for the other bedrooms in the house.

Having a tidy bedroom can make a huge difference to your quality of sleep and your ability to wind down after a long day. 

This is why it is a great habit to get into with making your bed every single day, even if it’s just a case of pulling the blankets back up and straightening your pillows every morning. 

Step 10: Put Away The Laundry

By the end of your messy home clean, you will likely have a big pile of clean clothes and clean laundry to put away. Rather than letting that sit for another day, get it put away today.

Fold the clean clothes for each member of the house to put away in their own cupboards and drawers. If you have young kids, you might need to help them to do this.

This is one cleaning task that few people enjoy so make it more enjoyable by putting on a tv show or listening to a podcast while you sort and fold. Or, make this one of your kids’ chores in future so that it gets done each week.

Keep It Clean Tip: Another method that works for a lot of people with big families especially is to do a single load of dirty laundry most days so there is only a small pile of clean laundry to put away afterwards. 

Deep breath! You’ve just transformed your very messy house into a clean and organised home! It might not be perfect, but it’s a whole lot closer than it was when you started! Well done. 

Finishing Your House Tidy

After you have done all these areas in your home, there’s a good chance you’re already feeling a heck of a lot better than you were to start with. 

The big task no doubt felt huge and overwhelming, but if you have worked through this list, you have done an amazing job! Even if you’ve only tackled a couple of these steps so far, you’re doing great. Every little bit helps.

If after you have done all of these tasks your house still feels untidy, this is where it is worth reassessing your space and working out what areas are causing you to feel most uncomfortable about your space.

Perhaps it’s some clutter that you’re ready to tackle in a quick 10-minute decluttering session or items that you can throw away to reduce the amount of stuff in your home. 

Or maybe there are some really icky parts of your house that you have forgotten to clean for a while and you’ve got the motivation right now to give them a deep clean. 

Otherwise, you can enjoy the feeling of having taken back control of your home and making it tidy again! 

6 Ways To Make Cleaning Your Home Easier

Family emptying dishwasher

There aren’t many of us that love cleaning our homes. But the feeling we get once it’s done is great. Most of us have good intentions that sometimes fall away during our busy seasons.

Here are some ways to make cleaning your messy house easier:

  • Play upbeat music that you love – Music can have a positive impact on your mood so if you play the music that makes you feel good, it can help motivate you to do the hard cleaning work.
  • Let in the sunshine and fresh air – Open your windows wide and pull back the curtains to let in natural sunlight and fresh air (providing it’s a nice day) as these can help boost your mood.
  • Surround yourself with uplifting scents – Having a house that smells great will give you a mood boost. Essential oils, automatic air fresheners, diffusers and candles can all help do this. 
  • Pair cleaning with things you enjoy – Sort and fold laundry while you watch your favourite tv show, mop while you listen to an audiobook, or play cleaning games with your kids while you work. 
  • Invest in the right cleaning tools – Cleaning tools and products that make your cleaning tasks easier are worth it for the time they will save you. Check out these cleaning hacks and these ways of making cleaning quicker to give you some ideas.
  • Create a cleaning caddy – Have essential cleaning products in a caddy or tub that you can take from room to room easily. Anything that makes the job easier will help you get started.
  • Wear what feels good – Put on your favourite workout gear or your brightest t-shirt, wear your comfiest sneakers and feel good as you work through each of your cleaning small wins
Daily weekly monthly cleaning schedules shop banner

Tips For Keeping Your Home Tidy

The best way to avoid feeling paralysed by a messy house is to do a little bit each day to keep the mess under control.  Here are some tips to help you:

  • Create a weekly cleaning schedule – Having set days when you complete certain cleaning tasks can help build it into your routine and make it easier to maintain your clean home.
  • Get the family involved – A messy house is not your responsibility alone! Make sure all family members are responsible for keeping the house clean and organised, whether it be with set chores or helping out with bigger tasks.
  • Do a daily kitchen reset – Make it a habit of resetting your kitchen each day before bed. Stack the dishwasher, wipe surfaces and put away anything that has been left on the kitchen counters.
  • Do a 5-minute daily pick-up – Spend 5 minutes tidying up your home. This could be putting away toys, decluttering small surfaces, throwing away trash etc.
  • Declutter regularly – Aim to do 10 minutes of decluttering each week, focusing on one area in your home. Most of us can easily spare 10 minutes and this small action means less stuff in our house to clean and less feeling overwhelmed
  • Have a place for everything – Having an organised home is much easier to maintain than a cluttered one. So having designated areas and storage solutions can help you keep your home tidy with minimal effort.

Cleaning a messy house does not have to be a daunting task. This cleaning guide will help you tackle your mess and get your space tidy again, even when it’s downright filthy! Start taking back control of your house today with these simple yet effective steps to clean your house.

I hope this guide on how to start cleaning a messy house helps you bring some calm to your home!