Finding cleaning motivation can be as elusive as finding a bra that doesn’t ride up.
Then you shrink it in the dryer and have to start all over with that measuring-tape-wielding silver-bouffant lady getting a little too handsy in the dressing room at Macy’s
Wait – what were we talking about?
Oh yeah – Motivation to clean your house can be hard to find. Luckily, I can help.
You knew I’d say that…
How to Get Motivated to Clean When It’s the Last Thing You WAnt to Do
Even if you don’t exactly hate cleaning your house (but even more so if you do), I’m sure you can think of about 1,500 other things you’d rather do than wash dishes, dust, or scrub a toilet.
So how do you motivate yourself to clean your house when you’d rather play online Catan?
As an expert in Cleaning Avoidance (and a someday-expert in online Catan), I’ve also (reluctantly) become the Master of Cleaning Motivation – out of sheer necessity.
Because I’m a grownup.
And because nobody else is going to clean my house if I don’t.
Half the time I struggle to get myself to do anything that’s not super easy or super fun. But I actually do like my home to be at least somewhat clean, so I’ve tried a million ways to get motivated to clean house during my tenure as Mom.
And since it’s rare to find busy moms who don’t need motivation to clean once and awhile, I decided to share my best 21 motivational tips and tricks.
Guaranteed to get you off your rear end.
- Accountability – the Best Cleaning Motivation
- Biting Off Little Pieces of the Elephant
- Get Motivated to Clean by Making Cleaning Suck Less
- Cleaning Inspiration
- Get Motivated to Clean Before Resistance Really Takes Hold
- Remember Why You Even Care
- Conclusion: How To Use These Tips to GEt Inspired to Clean
- Related Posts:
This post may contain affiliate links. For my full disclosure policy, click here. As an Amazon Associate (and from other affiliates) I earn from qualifying purchases. This doesn’t cost you anything extra and means this blog may break even someday. Who knows? It could happen…
Accountability – the Best Cleaning Motivation
My top 5 cleaning motivation tips are all about accountability.
Maybe I have low self-esteem…
…but just knowing someone else is watching pushes me to get going and gets me motivated to clean my house.
If you need cleaning encouragement, find someone to hold you accountable. Either in real life or online.
1. Body Doubling In Person
In real life, you can try an ADHD focus method called “body doubling.” Basically, someone sits with you while you work to keep you accountable and from wandering off.
No need to have ADHD to try this – sometimes we all need a little encouragement.
2. Accountability Online
If you don’t have someone to hold you accountable in real life, find kindred spirits online.
I, personally, belong to a private Facebook group for accountability and motivation to clean my house.
I’ve even thought about creating my own (if you’d be interested in that, let me know).
In our group, we post photos and goals and then get them done “in front of” everyone else.
3. Co-Working Online
If just posting isn’t enough and you need live accountability online, you can co-work in a Facebook room with online friends or join focusmate.com to virtually work live with strangers.
I use focusmate.com to co-work while I write blog posts and sometimes my “workmate” is cleaning.
There’s just something about having to report back to a live person that keeps you focused.
And focusmate.com is free for three sessions a week.
4. Arbitrary Deadlines
Another accountability tactic is to set an arbitrary deadline. The key is to put it on your calendar as a real deadline.
I do this for fall deep cleaning (I try to get any deep cleaning that won’t get messed back up by Christmas done by November 1).
With time-blindness, having set dates helps keep me aware of the passing of time and gets me motivated to get things done.
5. Cleaning Motivation via Drastic Measures
And if you’re really desperate for motivation to get cleaning, do something drastic that will force the issue.
Schedule a service visit where you know someone will be in your house. Or if strangers don’t motivate you to clean your house, how about family or friends?
Invite a houseguest to stay overnight.
Since you don’t know where they’ll end up wandering around, you won’t be as tempted to stash things in odd places instead of cleaning for real.
Biting Off Little Pieces of the Elephant
In addition to accountability, I also find it very motivating to know I can do a tiny bit of a cleaning chore at one time. I call it chore-chunking.
I accomplish chore-chunking in all sorts of ways, depending on my mood.
Here are 4 ways to try it yourself when you’re feeling overwhelmed by cleaning…
6. Motivation to Get Off the Couch 100 Seconds At a Time
If I just straight up cannot get moving, I tell myself that I will get up and work for 100 seconds only.
Some people say to try this for 15 minutes, but there have been times when I’m so exhausted or depressed or just unmotivated that 15 minutes sounds like an eternity.
Shockingly, 100 seconds can make a real dent. If my kitchen is wrecked, 100 seconds can get all the food and condiments put away, get the sink cleaned out and get all the dishes stacked next to it. And that may be enough to provide sufficient cleaning motivation for me to go further.
You can also use a timer to keep going or help you stay focused on your goal.
If your goal is to get the whole first level of your home picked up, set a timer for 5 minutes and work on one room.
When it goes off, move to a different room. Cycle through until you’ve hit your goal.
It’s very motivating to know you don’t have to do the entire room at once, and you’d be surprised what you get done in 5 minutes.
And since your goal was to pick up the entire first level, you won’t hyperfocus in one room for hours when you do not have hours to spare.
7. Micro Cleaning Task Checklist
If I’m not feeling super lazy, just overwhelmed or dreading cleaning a whole room, I use what I call a “micro checklist.”
Checklists can seem overwhelming and even anti-motivating to some, especially those who panic when they see a long list.
But instead of looking at a long checklist of tiny chores and getting overwhelmed, try to notice how little you can do to actually get something checked off.
I make checklists of chores so tiny that in 15 minutes I can knock out 5 or 6 things.
I love micro checklists because they mean I can flit around my house, doing one thing here and one thing there and still accomplish something.
A micro checklist can provide a lot of motivation to clean because, if you’re avoiding a huge task like cleaning up a trashed kitchen, it means you can nibble away at it a little at a time between other tasks you’d rather do.
For instance, you can go in, put away the food, and leave.
Then go back in, put away condiments and spices, and return to doing something else.
Each time you do something small, you’ve accomplished something on your micro checklist and get closer to finishing a bigger chore almost painlessly.
If a Micro Cleaning Checklist Overwhelms You
If my cleaning checklist overwhelms me, I number it and then attack it by using a random number generator (like this one) to choose chores for me.
Or I hand the list to my husband or kid and tell him to pick 5 things and assign them to me.
Go do the 5 things, come back, pick a few more numbers, and keep doing that here and there throughout the day.
Sounds a little crazy but you do what you gotta do sometimes.
7. Count as You Go to Stay Motivated to Clean
You can also accomplish chore-chunking by counting to yourself as you go. This is how I used to straighten my house when the kids were little.
I’d set a goal of picking up a set number of things. I could keep chipping away at the number even if I had to stop and make juice or change a diaper.
I talk more about this way of cleaning in this post.
8. Use Blinders to Clean a Little at a Time
To get motivated to pick up a really messy area, it can also be helpful to break it up by area.
For example, when my kids were small, I’d put a hula hoop on their floor and have them pick up the toys only in that area. Then we’d move it to the next area.
I would even do it myself when it came to picking up thousands of legos or something else that seemed overwhelming.
I’ve talked about this before and recently someone reached out to me to tell them that the “hula hoop” method has made a big difference for them.
Get Motivated to Clean by Making Cleaning Suck Less
But maybe it’s not general cleaning that’s got you unmotivated. Perhaps you’re avoiding chores that suck.
Instead of avoiding cleaning, maybe it’s possible to make it suck a little less.
These 7 tips are all about un-sucking your cleaning list.
9. The Procrastination-Drama Cycle
If you hate certain cleaning chores and procrastinate on them because they’re horrible, may I suggest the putting-off-ness may be causing the horribleness?
For a non-cleaning-related-but-tangentially-related-to-cleaning example in my life:
We used to let our recycling build up to monumental proportions. By the time we’d get to it, it took an hour or more to gather it, break it down, package it neatly in several larger cardboard boxes, cram it in the car, then race to the recycling center which closed at noon on Saturday.
It was such an ordeal, we’d ignore it for another 6 months and then repeat.
Then I realized cardboard recycling wasn’t a big dramatic “thing” for other people. I noticed this phenomenon where our neighbors would tote their tiny pile of cardboard out to their cars on Saturday mornings and truck it down to recycling on their way to the grocery store.
Oh. Why didn’t I think of that?
So now we have a plastic tub that collects our cardboard and I take it to recycling on errand day every week. This previously monumental procrastination chore is a tiny blip on my radar now.
You can apply this to cleaning your house, as well.
If you have a chore that’s just borderline awful, maybe you can make it easier by doing it more often? And then it won’t be awful (or as awful) anymore?
If you dread the bathroom cleaning because it’s just so gross by the time you work up the nerve to do it, try a tiny bit of daily effort.
I talk about this more in this post about my daily bathroom cleaning routine that takes less than two minutes a day.
This won’t apply to every chore (no matter how often I cleaned our ferret and guinea pig cages, it never really got pleasant – although the cages did get extra rank if I left them for way too long).
But if you have a chore that builds up and up, getting worse and worse, try making it part of your routine.
10. Stop Starting Over from Scratch
Another thing that can make a task harder and then perpetuate the cycle of procrastination is forgetting how to do it each time.
Maybe it’s something you don’t need to do frequently, so it becomes a hassle when it’s time to do it since you can’t remember the steps?
For example, I don’t need to clean my furnace filter daily or even weekly. Monthly is about right.
I’m not going to clean it more frequently when it doesn’t need it. Doing that just so I can remember how to do it each time would be dumb.
By the time a month rolled around, I’d already forgotten how to latch the stupid furnace door correctly and which way the filter should go back in. Then I’d go into avoidance mode.
Sometimes for years. Not kidding…
After watching the furnace repair guy wash off months and months and months of gunk, I decided I needed to do better.
So I fixed the furnace filter procrastination problem by writing out instructions in a checklist form and taping it to the furnace.
If there’s a cleaning task you put off because you can’t remember how to do it each time (removing the dust cover on the bottom of the fridge comes to mind – I still haven’t taken my own advice on that one), put a note in your planner or email yourself with instructions using this method or put a post-it right next to or on the thing you need to clean.
11. Keep Cleaning Products Nearby
If your cleaning motivation is lacking because it’s a pain to gather what you need and you don’t feel like going on a cleaning product scavenger hunt, make up a little caddy for that chore. Then keep the caddy near where the thing that needs to be cleaned.
I just recently did this with the bidet in our master bathroom. It was supposed to be a fun little Christmas gift but quickly turned Grossy-Mc-Grossness.
- The way it’s installed, stuff (we don’t need to define “stuff” here) gets under it…
- And the only way to clean under it is to remove it…
- And the only way to remove it is with a wrench (don’t ask me what kind because I have no idea, I just know what it looks like!).
And me being me, it didn’t seem worth it each time to go all the way to the garage to get the tool to do a cleaning job I didn’t really look forward to in the first place.
Finally, I got the wrench, told hubby where it was if he needed it for anything else, and permanently stored it in the bathroom cleaning caddy.
And now that I clean it more regularly, I don’t even dread it anymore.
12. Use Better (or at Least More Fun) Tools to Get Motivated
If you need motivation because it’s almost impossible to get the cleaning done correctly or easily with the tools you have, it’s possible there’s a better product or tool out there to make it easier.
It can also be motivating to buy a cleaning product that’s a little pricier but just more pleasant to use.
I know a woman who hates doing dishes but loves different scents. So she spends a little more money and buys Mrs. Meyers dish soap. The smell makes her happy while she does dishes.
I’ve used Mrs. Meyers and let me tell you, her products smell a-maz-ing. They throw a scent out through the entire kitchen and it sticks around.
If you’re into dish soap scents, I also recommend Palmolive in the blueberry almond scent. It doesn’t last the way Mrs. Meyers’ dish soap does, but it makes washing dishes a bit more pleasant.
13. Distract Yourself
You can also make chores more doable by distracting yourself.
Yes, I know the trend is to be mindful and think about what you’re doing.
But I seriously need to take my mind off sock-sorting or vacuuming so I don’t just stand and scream. Otherwise, my brain will convince me that eating cookies in front of Schitt’s Creek is way more importanter than socks anyway.
Thusly, I use audiobooks and sometimes podcasts to keep my brain happy and directing my hands to the vacuum instead of my mouth to the box of Oreos.
I just had a mental picture of lying on my couch and using only my mouth to pick up and eat an entire box of Oreos.
The milk-dipping part might be a little rough.
But I like a challenge.
You can next level this by making your listening pleasure a reward and saving your book only for when you’re doing distasteful tasks. So it becomes something you look forward to.
Although figuring out how to open a box of Oreos with only my mouth sounds kind of fun too.
14. Reward Yourself
You can also just plain old reward yourself for a set number of tasks. Either with a break for every certain number of tasks or by buying fresh flowers for your newly clean table.
Or Oreos. Just sayin…
15. Perfectionism – That Guy Again?
If perfectionism is blocking your motivation to get your house cleaning done, try allowing yourself to do the job less perfectly.
For example, if you never clean inside your window track because you know that no matter what you do, there will always be that little bit of dirt in the corners, maybe make peace with the dirty corners?
It’s better than half an inch of sludge.
I also love using inspiration – both negative and positive – as cleaning motivation.
Two ways I inspire myself to get going when I need to clean the house:
16. Confront the Mess
One way of using negative cleaning inspiration is to take a photo of each room.
I’m confronted with hard evidence of the mess, and I have a starting point to work from and am inspired to get it back together.
This goes really well with the Facebook group accountability method I mentioned in #2.
17. The Voyeurism Method
And if I need positive inspiration, I’ll sometimes watch Clean With Me videos on YouTube.
Watching someone else clean a beautiful house inspires me to try to make my own look better.
Get Motivated to Clean Before Resistance Really Takes Hold
Another method I’ve been using for housework motivation lately is the Frog method to tackle cleaning tasks I’ve really been putting off.
If you’ve got a cleaning chore you’re really dreading and need to just start it already, try one of these two motivational tips:
18. Eat a Frog
Mark Twain is quoted as saying:
Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.
So the Frog method, as described in the book Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy, is getting the least pleasant task of your day out of the way first. Because then your day can only get easier.
This is kind of the opposite of the 100 second method I mentioned, where you just try to start with a small amount of time and the easiest jobs.
Both have their place when it comes to motivating me to get my house cleaned up, though, depending on my mood.
I tend to use the frog method when my butt isn’t planted firmly to the chair. It’s for when I have plenty of energy but am really dreading a certain chore.
Usually it involves my family room dungeon. It’s dark, dirty, rarely used, and easy to put off. But even the dungeon’s gotta get cleaned sometimes.
So to eat my frog, I’ll go down there before I’ve even done my morning routine and just get it done.
19. Take Advantage of Your Energy
Similar to the frog method, I also motivate myself to tackle lower priority cleaning by rearranging the order of attack.
If I’m constantly putting off a lower priority, distasteful cleaning chore that I can easily talk myself out of, sometimes I’ll shake it up. I’ll put the low priority task first, before the important stuff.
It’s a risk, since the other stuff has to get done. But because I know I won’t end up procrastinating on the more important cleaning, getting the low priority task done first means that cleaning chore will finally get done.
Remember Why You Even Care About Cleaning
And the final two motivational tips I have for you involve your “Big Why” and your “Big Why Not.”
20. “Why Am I Cleaning?”
For me, the “Big Why” of getting my cleaning done, especially the dreaded floors on Fridays, is I absolutely love to wake up Saturday morning to a house that feels clean.
Do you have a “Big Why?” Do you know why you even care about cleaning things up?
If not, visualize what your house will be like once it’s clean.
Think about what you could do with your life if you weren’t spending it dreading, ignoring, and avoiding cleaning.
21. “What Happens If I Don’t Clean” Motivation
And my “Big Why Not” that keeps me from procrastinating on the bulk of my weekly cleaning, best done early in the week, is that I don’t want to have to do it all at the same time as the dreaded floors.
I also use my “Big Why Not” almost every night for the kitchen. I don’t want to wake up to a mess, obviously – who does?
But if that’s not enough, I picture the times I’ve skipped it and regretted it.
Like when I’ve put it off before and had an early morning visitor, or overslept and had to scramble to get ready in a wrecked house, or had a middle of the night emergency and the dirty kitchen was the icing on the crud cake.
Conclusion: How To Use These Tips to Get Inspired to Clean
So basically, if you need to get motivated to clean because…
- Your heiney is spreading out all over your loveseat while you avoid housework
- The housework you need to do is just really crappy or easy to put off
- You want to quit and do something more fun
- You’re bored and need to distract your brain from the monotonous task at hand
- The room (or whole house) you need to clean is overwhelmingly wrecked and too big to conquer all at once
- Or all of these (plus more)
…try one of the tips above.
Or combine two or more cleaning motivation ideas. They’ll help you:
- Get yourself motivated to at least start moving
- Find a way to make the task you need to do more pleasant or at least less boring
- Conquer the overwhelm and break up the mess into smaller parts or shorter sessions.
And, speaking of total overwhelm when facing a mess that’s above and beyond, this post offers step-by-step instructions to get up and tackle the mess without giving up.
Because everyone deserves to live in a clean house.
And also to have a bra that doesn’t ride up.