13 Cleaning Motivation Tips (For When You Really Don’t Want to)

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Let’s face it — cleaning can be hard. It’s tough getting into a cleaning routine. Sometimes, I get started but lose my cleaning motivation and focus on other (more fun!) projects. With our busy lives, cleaning can slip toward the bottom of our list. Who wants to clean when you can be out having fun?

Even now that my kids help out, it’s still hard to keep up the momentum. Unfortunately, my house needs to be cleaned on a regular basis (I haven’t met the house-cleaning fairy yet!).

Why Can’t I Motivate Myself to Clean?

We all want a clean home, but it’s hard to get (and stay) motivated to do the house cleaning work. Why is that? Here are some common reasons:

  • I’m tired – This is a big one! At the end of the day (or week), cleaning might be the last thing you want to do.
  • It’s overwhelming – You might not know where to start, and it can feel like cleaning up will take forever.
  • I don’t want to clean up after everyone – When you’re responsible for doing most of the cleaning, you can get sick of it.
  • I just cleaned – Often, we feel like as soon as we clean, it’s dirty again, so why bother? Between kids and pets, it seems to get messy again too quickly.
  • I’m too busy – You don’t have much extra time, and it can feel impossible to add another task to your full to-do list.
  • I don’t like to clean (or I’m not good at it) – Cleaning isn’t always fun, or you might feel like you never do a good job.

We might not feel motivated to clean, but unfortunately, it’s something we need to do. To help out, here are thirteen motivational tips that inspire me to clean. Try some (or all!) the next time you need cleaning motivation.

How to Get Motivated to Clean (Even When You Really Don’t Want To)

Whether we like it or not, we have to clean our house. Here are thirteen of my favorite ways to get pumped about cleaning, and they work!

1. Change Your Mindset

As moms, we’re often responsible for cleaning our homes. Especially when you have little ones who can’t help (but make a lot of the mess) or your family doesn’t see the value of cleaning. You might feel like you’re the only one who cares.

It’s easy to feel resentful about how much you do compared to your family members (just a guess).

But that thinking isn’t helpful (for you or anyone else). Instead, reframe your thoughts on cleaning. Remind yourself that it makes your home more enjoyable. Changing your mindset to focus on why a clean home is important helps you feel less resentful and more motivated.

2. Start Small

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, start small. Begin by focusing on one category. Look around and choose something you can easily tackle. Maybe it’s picking up the books, or washing the dirty dishes. When you’re finished, move on to another category, and keep going!

Another tactic is choosing a small space — the kitchen counter, for example — and cleaning that first. When you’re finished, move on to another spot. Starting small and choosing one task helps you focus on something manageable. It gives you a quick win to build your motivation.

3. Find a Time That Works For You

When cleaning is on your to-do list, tackle it when you have the most energy. If you’re at your best first thing, clean early, so you’ll have the rest of the day to do other things (and enjoy your clean home!)

For most people, morning is the best time to knock out difficult tasks. But maybe you’ve got more energy in the middle of the day, or you might even like to clean in the quiet after the kids are in bed. Pick a time that works best for you.

4. Create a Cleaning Routine and Schedule

Another great tip is to create a cleaning schedule. Maybe you can spend an entire day cleaning your whole house, but that doesn’t work for everyone.

An easy solution is working in blocks of time. Set aside a short period of time (for example, 25 minutes) followed by a break (say 5-10 minutes). Using a timer helps you stay on schedule. This method works well for anyone who feels overwhelmed.

Complete as many blocks as you can at a time — one, two, three, or more! I find that once I start, I’m more motivated to keep going. Besides, you’ll be surprised by how much you can accomplish in one to two hours.

Another option is to spread your blocks out over the week and focus on specific tasks on certain days of the week. By the end of the week, you’ll clean your entire house!

Print out a cleaning checklist so you don’t forget anything. This list is broken down by rooms in your home (living room, bathroom, dining room, etc.).

Another thing I like to do is schedule specific times for deep cleaning. My favorite times are whenever the seasons change, especially spring and fall.

6. Make It a Family Event

One rule in our house is that cleaning is a family responsibility. Of course, it seems easier if I do it for them, but then my kids won’t learn how to take care of their things! They also won’t gain the skills they’ll need as adults. Most of the time I won’t do anything for my kids that they can do on their own, like picking up their rooms and doing their laundry.

And don’t forget that if everyone helps, you’ll be done quicker and ready for some quality time. It’s a win-win! When cleaning is a family affair, you might be surprised that it’s actually fun, especially if you play fun music and dance!

Since kids have different abilities at different ages, give them age-appropriate tasks. You don’t want to frustrate them (or frustrate yourself!) by giving them a project that’s too advanced. But as early as two years old, kids can help! I’ve created a list of age-appropriate chores to give you some ideas. 

Another way to encourage your kids (especially the little ones) is to use a printable chore chart. This can include pictures or words (if they can read). They can check off items as they complete them or make them a sticker chart as a reward system.

Now that my kids are older, we create a family plan for cleaning together. They’re more engaged and helpful because they have a say in what they help with.

6. Make a Game of Cleaning Tasks

Another fun way to clean with your kids is to turn it into a game. Kids love playing games, so maybe you’ll get more done with less complaining.

If you use a timer for your cleaning blocks, consider a little challenge to up the fun factor. Set your timer (10 minutes is good) and see what you can accomplish. Then try to beat your time tomorrow. When the kids were little, I loved using this visual timer.

7. Organize Your Cleaning Products

When you need to clean, there’s nothing worse than having to traipse all around the house to find the supplies. We created a cleaning station where our natural cleaning supplies live.

I’m a huge fan of natural cleaning products (as you know), and for years I’ve gone the DIY route. Now that my kids are older and we’re often busier, I don’t have as much time to make my own cleaning supplies. Instead, I’ve found a new favorite that I use for almost everything! 

Branch Basics cleaners are plant-based (read: safe) and effective but also versatile, and I can use one cleaner for most of the house. Using one product for so many different tasks makes cleaning easier. We don’t have to pull out multiple ingredients to make cleaners when we run out. Plus, it’s a great cleaning hack because you just need one product!

8. Listen to Music or Podcasts

Do you hate cleaning because you’d rather be doing anything else instead? Why not make it fun to help get motivated?

Create a fun cleaning playlist with some upbeat music and dance around the house. Or, listen to your favorite podcast, and you’ll probably learn something new! As a family, we sometimes listen to a motivating TED talk or audiobook together while cleaning.

10. Keep the End in Mind

It’s easy to get discouraged when you need to clean but don’t want to. One way to stay motivated is to keep the end in mind. Think about how nice it is to spend time in your clean space and how less stressed you’ll feel when you have a tidy home. It’s worth the time (and I bet it will take less time than you think).

11. Declutter So You Have Less to Clean

With kids, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with artwork, toys, games, and dirty clothes. I’m a big fan of living a minimalist life, so we’ve worked hard over the years to keep our home free of clutter. Less stuff means a less messy house and makes the job easier (and quicker).

Studies also show that the amount of stuff in a home is directly tied to our stress levels. A 2010 article revealed moms with cluttered homes had higher cortisol levels (our stress hormone) during the day. Most of the dads in the study however didn’t perceive their homes as cluttered, even though they lived in the same space. And the more clutter someone has, the more likely they are to procrastinate with tasks.  

If you have difficulty getting motivated because you’re overwhelmed by clutter, consider decluttering and embrace minimalism. I know it might sound impossible to do with kids, but I’ve found it to be very successful with my family. I’ve talked about decluttering on my podcast before if you want to learn more while you clean!

12. Reward Yourself

Who doesn’t love a reward for a job well done? Giving yourself a small treat is a great motivator to clean. It doesn’t have to be expensive either. After cleaning, reward yourself with a nice cup of tea, some time to read, or even a nice bath (in your newly cleaned tub!). Looking forward to a reward will help keep you motivated.

13. Let Go of Perfectionism

The most important thing to remember is that you don’t need a perfectly clean house. Your kids are only little for a short time, and it’s not worth stressing about a perfect house. Shift your mindset and have fun with them while teaching them how to care for their things. This helps them grow into well-adjusted, responsible adults.

And don’t forget that it’s nearly impossible to keep your house perfectly clean…because you live there! Life is messy, especially with kids, but that’s part of the fun. And when the kids help but don’t do a perfect job, remember that it’s done and you didn’t have to do it all by yourself. Sometimes it’s fun to embrace the messy house, leave the dirty dishes, and pile in the living room for a movie night.

Lastly, striving for perfection can lead to procrastination because it will never be perfect, so why even bother? Remember that a clean house is important, but a perfect house is impossible. Just make sure it’s clean to a level that’s good enough, and let go of perfectionism. You’ll feel so much more motivated to clean if you look at it that way!

How Is Your Cleaning Motivation?

Next time you feel discouraged about cleaning, take a look at these tips for cleaning motivation. You can even make a cute printable with cleaning inspiration to help you and the kids get inspired on those days when you aren’t feeling it.

What’s your best tip for staying motivated to clean when you don’t feel like it? Leave a comment and share below!

  1. Saxbe, D., & Repetti, R. L. (2010). For better or worse? Coregulation of couples’ cortisol levels and mood states. Journal of personality and social psychology, 98(1), 92–103.
  2. Lucchesi, E. (2019). The Unbearable Heaviness of Clutter: A cluttered home can be a stressful home, researchers are learning. The New York Times.
Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


9 responses to “13 Cleaning Motivation Tips (For When You Really Don’t Want to)”

  1. Marta Avatar

    All good tips! I’d add, however, maybe even as #1: learn how to do it!
    So many of us were raised without learning the skills to clean a house and keep it clean, efficiently and quickly so that we can move on to other things. Nothing is more daunting than feeling incompetent.
    I’ve learned so much over the years from professional housekeeping videos, books, and blogs that teach the nuts and bolts of how to get in, clean, and get out. It’s methods, not fancy products or gadgets.

  2. Trudie B. Avatar
    Trudie B.

    I am a single 69 yr old. I’ve never been a cleaner, I collect lots of stuff bc having things around me makes me feel secure, but other people comment I’m messy. I live in a 1 bedroom apt with 2 dogs. It is my hope to one day move into a house. I have an extremely hard time doing house cleaning. Usually it has to pile up so badly that it takes days to accomplish. Once I start I go for hours. Even tho there is just me and the dogs there is a lot of cleaning. I find the most effective thing to do cleaning is if someone is coming over, but even then I don’t let people in. I suffer from depression and an anxiety disorder. I take meds but still have trouble getting motivated. Sometimes turing off the TV and putting on aerobic exercise music sometime helps. I’ve recently fractured my back and the pain is a big deterrent to doing anything. I’m very frustrated…

    1. Jamie Larrison Avatar

      I’m sure that’s a lot to deal with! One interesting thing is that studies show the amount of clutter and items we have in our homes directly affects women’s mental health. The more stuff, the higher the rates of anxiety and depression. It might be worth pursuing some more support for your mental health if you can to help you feel less frustrated and overwhelmed. Sending you hugs!

  3. Carol L Avatar

    Well, the first point does not apply to me as I live alone. I am also a bit of a collector (WHY did I choose cookie jars to collect instead of thimbles???!!!) No, really.
    But I do choose to be prepared and have NO storage in my home for extra water and food, hand appliances in case of a power outage (which happens EVERY year, at least once). Extra blankets, ways to cook and heat my home, etc. (Country life, with livestock and a well for water, and a very old house) SO.
    My problem is storage, which always makes my home look horrible. I am trying to ‘downsize’ my things, but it is such an awful chore! Many times in the past, I have gotten rid of something and seriously, the NEXT day I need one and have to go buy another one which is more expensive and made cheaply. None of these are covered in this nice post. Wish someone would come up with suggestions based on THESE issues!!!

    I will try the timer suggestion. I may be able to get a few things done that way…

    Also, I know you are a mom with small children, but they are not the only people that get tired or have fatigue issues. I am 65 and still working a very physical job and come home exhausted (partially due to stress). Cleaning isn’t do-able when I have just put in a 12 hour day and come home as I left: in the dark… Then on the ‘weekend’ I don’t feel like I should have to work as well; it is my time to rest and try to restore for the next week of hard work…
    Sometimes I’ll get most of one room done (usually the kitchen), and then time constraints (I have to sleep SOMETIME) happen and then the rest of it gets put off until the following weekend and I have to start all over! It just continues to pile up exponentially!

    I know I’m being negative here, and hate that, but, well, these are real issues I, as others I’m sure, face as well.

    1. Karen Avatar

      You sound like a really hard worker. So. Two things to keep in mind
      1) You are WORTH a nice clean space
      2) You don’t HAVE to clean and organise. You GET to treat yourself to the home you deserve.
      Sending you a hug ?

  4. Balazs Avatar

    Hello Katie, your tips are great! I usually plan in advance what’s next (bathroom, fridge, windows etc.) and as I am doing sedentary work, when I am tired or stuck, I just stand up and do one thing as rest. During the process, my mind cleanes up a bit too.


  5. Eileen Alholinna Avatar
    Eileen Alholinna

    Our dining room table gets to be such a mess during the week! And there are only 2 of us! The kids are grown and gone. But on the weekend I make it a point to try to clean it off, JUST IN CASE, we get visitors! If the dining table is clean, the rest looks good, too!

  6. Cynthia Avatar

    I set the timer for 10 minutes for smaller projects and 30 minutes for bigger ones. When timer goes off, I am done and do not have to clean anymore. But I have to give it 100%. Most times when timer goes off, I am on a roll and keep cleaning. Or I finished my task in 5 minutes and had to seek out other cleaning.

  7. Lauren Wine Avatar
    Lauren Wine

    Your recommendation once of A Mother’s Rule helped me tremendously! Thank you for this post as well, definitely going to use some of these tips this week.

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