A frequent goal of my organizing clients is to have their home decluttered enough to hire a cleaning service. They want to have the home dusted, swept, mopped, vacuumed, or deep cleaned, but the clutter is too overwhelming. Most cleaning companies do not declutter before cleaning, and when the floors, countertops, and tables are covered with clutter, or some rooms are inaccessible, a cleaning service will say that you need to declutter first. Some people just feel shame, embarrassment, and overwhelm, not knowing where or how to start.
In general, getting your home in better shape starts with decluttering and organizing, that’s where hiring a professional organizer can help ease the process. After organizing, a cleaning service is often hired. Sometimes, living in a clean and organized home leads to homeowners wanting to change the interior design, repaint, remodel, etc. All of that is an ongoing step-by-step process, but you can’t start if there are floors you can’t sweep, mop or vacuum, and furniture you can’t dust due to clutter.
Here are my tips on the order to best tackle decluttering before hiring cleaners:
Start with just one room, usually a bathroom or kitchen is the best starting point, and begin on the floors. Have trash bags and recycling bins, and some boxes for donations ready, or just boxes to help you move items into other rooms. It can be helpful to set up an empty folding table, if there’s space, so you’re not crouching on the floor as you declutter. Begin by clearing one section of floor and slowly work your way through the room. Move from one room to the next, until you can see all floors, so they can be swept, mopped or vacuumed by cleaners.
Once the floors are cleared, focus on the flat surfaces gathering items on the kitchen and bathroom countertops. Determine what needs to be kept, tossed, or moved to another room, and place some things in cabinets, drawers, pantries, or closets. Cabinets, drawers, pantries and closets may need decluttering also, but if you’re in a rush to just get cleaners to work on the main surfaces, save those areas for another time.
3. Tops of Tables
Continue to sort thorough and clear off flat surfaces such as the tops of kitchen tables, dining room tables and desks, so those areas can be dusted and polished. You may again be filling drawers and closets, but you are clearing the surfaces.
4. Tops of Dressers and Nightstands
Focus on the tops of any dressers, and then make sure you can close all dresser drawers, this might involve a small amount of decluttering clothes. Just make the dressers and nightstands clear enough to dust and polish.
5. Any Boxes or Bins in Living Areas
You may have unpacked boxes or plastic bins from a move, delivery packages that were were never opened, or boxes or bins of miscellaneous stuff taking up valuable space in your home. Sort through those boxes, empty what you can into the proper rooms, recycle some, and move what you’re keeping to a closet or storage area where the cleaners will not be going.
6. Clothing and Luggage
Empty any unpacked luggage into your dressers and closets, and launder and put away any piles or baskets of clothes, so that loose clothing is not in the cleaning company’s way, unless they also do laundry.
Further Declutter After the First Cleaning
Focusing on those six things will generally get the home decluttered enough for cleaners to come in and work. If you want to take it further, and open up room in the storage spaces behind closed doors, you can continue to declutter inside drawers, cabinets, closets, pantries, attics, basements, etc. after the cleaners have been there at least once, so you’re starting from a clean baseline.
If doing this on your own seems overwhelming, and you’d like further guidance and assistance from a Certified Professional Organizer, On Task Organizing offers virtual organizing sessions over Zoom or in-person organizing sessions in the Raleigh, North Carolina area. You can also search by zip code for qualified organizers near you on The National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals site. Please contact me to learn more about On Task Organizing’s services.