PSA: Wash it while it’s hot!
Sometimes decluttering has nothing to with getting rid of stuff, but rather the habits you keep to maintain the things you have.
One such thing is the dishes. A full sink and dirty pots on the stove in the kitchen equates to piles of laundry on the bed in the bedroom. It’s clutter. We’ll really, it’s mess because mess can be cleaned up and put away. Clutter is where stuff goes to die and serves no purpose, but anyway, lingering mess, like true clutter, will still give you rising anxiety and stress.
Dishes, laundry, and clearing flat surfaces are three chores that are best managed ongoing. As a homeschool mom of two, I’ve developed the habit of washing my pots immediately after cooking. Hear me – “It’s not easier to throw them in the dishwasher.” Pots and pans are clunky and usually don’t wash without leaving residue from the dishwasher. They take up so much space that you’ll fill it faster and run your dishwasher more often.
I typically use 1-2 pots when I cook. Rinsing or washing them hot has been factored into the time when I put food on the plates, before we eat. Usually, because the pot is still hot, all it takes is a strong spray off to clean it, or at most a lightly soaped wipe down with a rag and then rinsed. No dishes piles up in the sink, no cramming into the dishwasher. Cups, dishes, bowls, silverware are the only things that go into the dishwasher.
Want to start a conversation with a mother? Complain about doing the laundry and you’ll find common ground. Laundry is just one of those things you have to do, but nobody wants to. My clean laundry spends more time in the dryer than it does in my closets, however, there is a time when I have to take it out of the dryer (to dry the next load) and I don’t want to put it away.
I don’t throw clean clothes in a chair. Cringe! I have a specific shelf in my laundry room for my clean-clothes laundry basket whether it’s empty or full. My folded clean clothes live in my clean clothes laundry basket quite often. It’s like a halfway house before they make their way back to the closet. I also have a clothes’ bar above my washer and dryer where hung clothes go as soon as I take them out of the hot dryer. I don’t care how many times I have to re-dry a load, unless it’s towels, the laundry is coming out of a hot dryer because I’m not ironing. Irons are for crafts.
My kids have the chore of collecting empty hangers from the closet once a week and we hang them on this bar to use while, again, the clean clothes hang out until they make their way back to the closets. Behind the bar is a shelf that holds a basket for single, lonely socks, until the mates are found because I don’t have time to worry about finding missing socks, nor do I want to look at the solos until I do. Essentially my laundry room is like another closet because sometimes we just rewear the clothes from there and they never make it back to the bedroom closets. Nonetheless, having this middle holding space keeps the laundry off the bed, chairs, couch, or wherever and allows me to not have to wash, dry, fold, sort, put away all in one continuous effort.
Flat surface spaces (i.e. floors, counters, tables) can be managed by asking yourself one question every time you walk from one room to the next: “Is there anything in here out of place that I can put up where I’m going?” Is there a backpack in the kitchen? Are you leaving the kitchen to walk to the bedroom? Are you walking through the foyer on the way? Are the backpacks hung in the foyer?
Are there empty cups in the living room? Are you walking to the fridge to get a snack? Do the empty cups belong in the sink in the kitchen where the fridge also is?
Instead of waiting until the end of the day to clean up, create mindfulness by scanning a room anytime you leave it. You’ll start to notice things that need to be resorted, and since you’re moving anyway, be the courier to return that item. Even better if you can teach your kids to do the same. If you do, let me know how.
Lastly, none of this works if you don’t use your storage spaces properly. If you don’t have enough shelf space to keep an empty laundry basket on, where does the laundry go? If you have too many dishes in your cabinets and the dishwasher stays full because it’s essentially a storage space, where do you put the dirty dishes? If things stay on counters because the drawers are overstuffed, what’s the point of bringing things back to the appropriate room?
Living beyond the means of your home creates clutter in itself and until there are empty spaces to return things to, quick chores fail to prove useful because the true clutter (the stuff that’s dying) doesn’t allow places to return the mess (the stuff you use to live). To read more on mess vs clutter, click here.
May you find yourself on the pursuit to a Life Less Cluttered.