What the…. How to Clean Your Home After Weeks of Neglect

So it’s been a busy summer. Playing and working hard. Book layout, proofing, errands, vacations, parties, hosting, photo shoots, gun tournaments,  getting central air installed…

A week or so ago, I was packing our bags to go on a trip and doing my usual Ned Flanders post-it note rampage for the house sitter (Thank you, Wanderlusting, for that great article, by the way! ). Upon  making a list of everything I had to take care of before our vacation,  I realized our house is a mess…and not just a little mess. As my Dad would put it: “This place looks like a pig sty.” Or better yet: “This place looks like a bomb hit it.”


Now, as a “Domestic Perfectionist”, this is pretty unlike me. Usually if something’s out of place, my OCD kicks in, and if I don’t immediately jump up and take care of it, I at least stare at it for an hour and mentally clean it up until I find the energy to deal with it physically.  I also realize that there are different levels of mess for everyone. But for me, our house was at level 9 Red Alert Barely Habitable.  And I had less than 48 hours to get it into shape for a friend to live in for several days.
Here’s how I did it. You can take even up to a week to complete this list.

AC repair stuff probably constitutes category one due to the fiberglass and sharp tools.

Priority Items: These are items that, if left not taken care of, will lead to unsanitary or dangerous living conditions and spread more mess, bacteria, and germs. So no matter what you feel like doing first, or what is bothering you the most, do these first instead.

  • Take out the trash and recycling
  • Disinfect kitchen and food prep surfaces
  • Clean the bathrooms
  • Remove all pet waste from the yard/ cat box
  • Collect and wash dirty dishes (put the clean ones away first if they’re in the dishwasher)
  • Groom pets, if needed
  • Toss spoiled food
  • Move any fragile, sharp, or unsafe materials or objects to a place where they won’t cause injury or break.

This was my bed one evening.

Second Priority – Now that you have the worst jobs out of the way, it’s time to nip growing problems in the bud

  • Strip the beds of all bedding
  • Gather the laundry, and either set aside a day to do it that week, or throw in a load
  • Clean and tidy up any pet food areas and pet dander/hair
  • Sweep and Wash or vacuum floor
  • Clean out fridge
  • Empty dishwasher

This is a mess, but  besides the cherries, relatively contained and ok to leave for last.

Third Priority – These are unsightly and may be bothering you the most, but they are really the least offensive, as far as the department of health would be concerned. While you take care of priorities 1 and 2, you might decide to multitask and re-home major clutter as you move from room to room.

  • Re-home clutter (I go from room to room with a box and gather everything that doesn’t belong. When the box is full, I put items back
  • Dust and wipe down surfaces
  • Vacuum upholstery
  • Fold clean laundry, put away
  • Put away clean dishes
  • Put away any purchased items that haven’t found a home/ break down large boxes, etc. (I don’t know about you, but any time we get  a new item that comes in a big box, we tend to just let the empty box and packing material sit in our house for up to a week… don’t be us! Destroy the boxes!)
  • Reorganize closets or pantry, drawers, etc. that have gone awry

By now your house should be pretty much back to normal and you can resume your regular routine of keeping things in order. Or sit back with a drink and catch up on your DVR.

Or do what I did and get the hell out of town!



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