One of the greatest struggles many people tend to have in their homes is the constant mess level. This can lead to stress, anxiety, and discouragement. Learning how to always keep your home clean is a key component to increasing your well-being, lifting your mood, being ready for drop-in guests, and giving you the freedom to enjoy life in a totally new way.

Though not everyone requires, or even wants, a picture-perfect living space, most of us would do well to spend less time agonizing over the disarray and disaster that comes from the normal cycles of living in our home. Just making things more manageable can help free up your time, as well as make you a happier person.

Here are some neat tricks you can try to help you always keep your home clean, without hiring a maid or scrubbing all day long:

#1: Minimize & Declutter

Yes, it’s all the rage. Learning to live with less is really a key component in having a fuller life. Oftentimes the more objects you own, the less usable time you have for non-cleaning activities.

This is because every item requires some kind of maintenance or care, even if it just means that you have to keep putting it back in its spot. Whether you are cleaning items in your home or cleaning around items in your home, every single thing must be worth the effort it takes to use, clean, and store it.

So the best advice here is to simply remove whatever you find isn’t truly fulfilling a need (or clear want) in your home. Decluttering is the #1 thing that will help your home feel cleaner. Visually it clears space and practically it removes another step of cleaning by removing the need to further sort, organize, dust, wash, fold, wipe, sanitize, or otherwise care for that item.

So, set out to clear your home of duplicates, dust-collectors, gifts you didn’t need, broken items that you never fixed, stuff you no longer use, freebies that hitched a ride home, poor purchase decisions, stuff you’ve already upgraded from, bits & bobbles, or anything that “might come in handy someday” but hasn’t yet.

#2: A Place for Everything…

So, once you’ve cleared out the excess, take inventory and figure out what you are left with. Now, decide exactly where every item in your home needs to live. This is its permanent spot that it will always need to be returned to once you are finished using it.

This may require that you invest in neat storage solutions, such as bins or baskets. Having organizational skills can really come in handy when choosing just where everything should be stored, but if that is not your strong point, making any decision is better than none. Leave no stone unturned. Make sure every item in your home is assigned its own place.

One way to help you decide where an item should be stored is to simply realize where that item is used most of the time. Just because a roll of tape ended up in your kitchen doesn’t mean it should live there. Move it to the office or utility room. Think logically about placement and don’t be swayed just because something has been misplaced for a long time.

#3: …& Everything in its Place

So now that you know that every item that you need (or want to keep) has a spot where it permanently resides, this step involves putting things back where they go after use. Oh, but isn’t this easier said than done?

Well, the awesome part about this is that you won’t be handling unnecessary items, due to step #1 above. Automatically your workload has decreased because you only need to take the time and energy to deal with stuff that is useful to you.

Nevertheless, the habit you want to form here is that of quickly putting away whatever items you’ve used to do a task once that task is finished. Don’t wait and let multiple projects pile up before deciding to pick up. Even your children can be taught to put away the blocks before bringing out the puzzles.

Occasionally as we move throughout our day, however, we aren’t necessarily working on a particular project. Because of this, we do generate general everyday life clutter. To ward against this type of mess becoming overwhelming, the trick is to have 3 times each day where a 5-10 minute decluttering becomes your new norm.

So, this means in mid-morning, stop between tasks and pull together whatever has accumulated and put everything back into its place. Again, repeat this in the mid-afternoon. Finally, go through a final walk-thru in the evening and again see what needs to be returned to its own special cubby before heading to bed.

These quick pickup actions will catch the objects that might otherwise threaten to overtake your home if left unattended. Don’t get sidetracked with any major cleaning or organizing actions during these moments. They are strictly for the easy stuff.

#4: See a Need & Fill It

This trick centers around having a watchful eye. Get in the habit of never walking by or over something that could be swooped up and dealt with immediately. Train your family members to adopt this practice also because this mindset needs to be adopted by all.

Hopefully, with time, this will actually lead to less clutter left initially, as everyone learns that it is their responsibility to fill a need that they see (because obviously if they are creating that need, they would be the first to see it). But by working together, your household will quickly benefit from these movements that can happen almost without thinking.

Each time you leave one room, take with you whatever needs to be returned to the room you are going to. In this way, you will decrease the messiness factor and keep your house look better as you move throughout your day.

#5: Beware of Horizontal Surfaces

You are probably all too aware of the catch-all that tables, desks, counters, and shelves tend to become. They can literally be the downfall of a clean house. You will need to be extra diligent in areas that have horizontal surfaces, so make a point to keep them clutter-free.

Try placing some simple well-placed decor in the center of any necessary pieces, to send the message that they are best left uncluttered. If you have unnecessary horizontal furniture pieces, don’t be afraid to eliminate them entirely. Many homes do fine without coffee tables, end tables, and extra shelving.

#6: The Basket Method

This awesome trick is great if you have children that tend to leave clutter hanging around. It also works fantastically when you have more than one story in your house. Simply leave a basket at the bottom of the stairs (or some other inconspicuous location) and drop in items throughout the day that need to be sorted and put away in a different area of the house.

This helps to keep the general area of your house clutter-free even if someone doesn’t have time to put everything away properly at the time. After the basket is full, or at the end of the day, then make the time to neatly put away everything in the basket so that it will be ready for the next day.

#7: Surface Maintenance

This trick is all about making your home appear freshly wiped, swept, and vacuumed in between deep cleanings. It’s fairly simple and straightforward, in that it only requires quick wipe downs of counters and sinks, sweeping/mopping of spills, and a quick vacuum of high activity areas of your home.

The idea with surface maintenance is that it isn’t intended to involve every corner, nook, and cranny, but it is thorough enough that deep cleanings can be spaced out. So this means that instead of walking away from a bathroom sink each morning that has bits of toothpaste in it, take a wipe and do a quick over. Swish the toilet brush every couple days through the toilet bowl to freshen it up. If someone tracks in mud, pull out the broom and deal with it before it gets tracked all over the house.

#8: Never Go to Bed With a Full Sink

One last trick to always keep your house clean is to never leave for tomorrow the dishes that can be done today. Make this your mantra. Of course, the real trick here is to leave enough energy at the end of the day to deal with this one last chore.

If you have a dishwasher, this is as simple as loading up whatever is left at the end of the day and letting it run overnight. If you don’t have a dishwasher, it is even more important to not let one day’s dishes spill over into the next day.

Once you make this routine, you will come to so love the freshness of your clean kitchen each morning, that it will likely propel you to make and eat healthier breakfasts, feel more energized and relaxed, and in general, give you a great start to your day.

So there you have my 8 neat tricks to always keep your home clean. Just take it one step at a time and before you know it, you will always be only moments away from feeling ready for guests and finding true relaxation!