How to Get Motivated to Clean When Overwhelmed by Mess


Do you want to know how to get motivated to clean when you’re overwhelmed by mess?

You are not alone. Everyone needs a bit of housework motivation sometimes.

Housework is overwhelming at the best of times. Life moves pretty fast. Whilst you are busy looking around and enjoying it, you end up with a cluttered house.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by a messy house. When you do finally spend some time at home, all you can think is “My house is a disgusting mess!”. It feels like a huge job but you’ve no idea how to start cleaning a messy house. 

By the way, it is no reflection of your character if you aren’t a natural cleaner. You aren’t lazy. You just have other priorities.

Some women thrive on housework, I am not one of them. If you are reading this, I’m guessing you aren’t one of them either.

I work long hours in a mentally exhausting job. By the time I get home at night, my pot is so empty it squeaks. I have nothing left for the mop or the hoover or any kind of cloth, Kermit or otherwise. You probably know the feeling.

My mum always had a “That’ll do!” attitude to housework that I have clearly inherited. As long as it is clean and reasonably neat, I am happy. Yet I still fall short of even this quite low standard during the week. Or at least I used to.  

I had to be really smart in how I manage housework and whilst I’m still nowhere near perfect, I have improved when it comes to keeping my home clean and organised.  I wanted to share my top tips with you to try and help you feel more in control of this area of your life. 

How to Get Motivated to Clean When Overwhelmed by Mess

It starts with a change to your cleaning mindset. Yes, housework is quite literally a chore that needs to get done. It is however also something you can do for yourself.

No one ever finished cleaning a filthy house and regretted it. Even the folk who cannot get past the fact that “It will just get messy again” have to admit that there is a huge sense of pride and accomplishment to having an immaculate home. Even if it is only for half an hour. 

Another aspect of the cleaning mindset that you need to be aware of it that there is an important distinction to make here. There is a big difference between an untidy house and a dirty messy home. 

Sometimes your house is clean, but you can’t see that through the clutter. You just assume that you need to start cleaning. It may not actually need a clean. You might just need a tidy up. 

However, when you have a cluttered home, summoning up cleaning motivation is really tough. You are essentially trying to clean whilst also trying to clear the clutter which is nigh on impossible. 

Some of you might not need to imagine this but bear with me. 
Imagine a cat that follows you around and sits exactly where you are about to clean just before you do it. Now you have to move the cat before you can clean. It’s annoying. It’s frustrating. It essentially doubles the amount of work you are doing. 

My first step in getting motivated to clean is:

Tidy Up the House

You should only be keeping stuff that you physically have room to store. 

If your stuff is out of control, it is time for you to try and grab control back by reducing the amount of stuff you have. 

Everything should have a place. If it doesn’t and you can’t find one, it might be time to let it go. 

I find that people worry that they are being wasteful or are overly sentimental. Yup, I’ve guilty of both of these things. Once I held on to ripped jeans for upward of 5 years with the intention of one day turning them into a skirt.

***Spoiler Alert*** I STILL don’t own a denim skirt. I don’t think anyone is surprised. 

When I asked myself what would give me more pleasure, keeping something I wasn’t using, or freeing up space, at least 80% of the time, I prefered the space. As a bonus, minimalist cleaning is a whole lot easier too. 

If you give things that are useful to people who genuinely appreciate them (a charity shop comes under this heading) then you aren’t wasting it. If a charity shop won’t take it, then likely no one wants it and you should let it go. 

In terms of sentiment, we a generally trying to hang on to memories by keeping the item. Sometimes I still wanted that item but other times taking a picture (of my graduation card from an Auntie who passed away since for example) and stashing it in cloud storage was enough. The paper wasn’t important, only the words upon it. 

More in-depth declutter help later but for now, know that if all your surfaces have piles of stuff on them, this is where you should start. 

Make Housework Easier

How do you do that? By getting organised. Don’t look at me like that, I am going to show you how. I can’t help it, you know I love being organised at home!

First up, have a housework schedule. And I mean use printable house cleaning checklist, that everyone can see. I know there might be members of your family that pull the “But I didn’t know what needed doing!” excuse out of the bag sometimes. Even if it is painfully obvious what needs doing. Having a printed chore sheet ensures that everyone can see the cleaning checklist by room or day. It clears up confusion and heads off excuses. 

Next, be consistent with it. Have the same chores happen on the same days every week. That way everyone knows where they stand and again no one can claim ignorance. 

Be clever about when you schedule housework too. If you know you are a morning person, don’t wait till an hour before bed to try to clean. Instead, try to get the housework done before work or the kids wake up. If you are an evening person, there is no point setting an alarm you are most likely to throw things at, then ignore. Have your cleaning session before bed and wake up to a pristine house in the morning. 

Finally, if you can’t have a mammoth clean every day, then break it up into smaller chunks. 

Stay On Top of It

It is far easier to clean my house when it is already relatively neat and clean than having to get the motivation to clean house when you know it’s going to be a very long marathon to get it looking presentable. 

Little and often. It’s the way to go if you need cleaning inspiration. 

As part of this, I would also say that you start with the things that give the most bang for your buck. The things that need to be done daily or thereabouts. Cleaning the toilet. Rush round getting rid of clutter. Whipping the hoover round. 

Focus on that one place that makes you feel like you are losing control. For me, it’s having clutter on the kitchen tops. If I take five minutes to clear and wipe these every day before bed, I feel so much better. 

If you do this, then if you don’t get to anything else that day, you can feel a tiny bit better that your bother spots have been taken care of. It will feel like a tiny win, in what previously would have been a fail.  

This way, keeping to the schedule the next day won’t feel so tough. 

Use Cleaning Products that Smell Good

I don’t know about you but I love a fresh-smelling home, especially when it is my own. 

So be thoughtful about the products that you use. Pick ones that make you swoon a little when you have a sniff. 

I am very much a Zoflora spray user and love some of those scents. Zoflora is fantastic and it makes my kitchen smell great. Check out my Zoflora Uses post if you want some inspiration or aren’t sure how to use Zoflora

I also use a mixture of fabric softener and water in my (non-scratch) Dishmatic to wipe down all my wooden doors, skirting boards and radiators. This makes the house smell lush.

If you have a child and pet free house, you can also put little organza bags of those laundry scent booster beads on the door handles to get an amazing smelling home.

Give yourself a Break

I mean this in two ways. 

Firstly, set a timer for no more than thirty minutes and don’t work past it. If this is too long, break it into smaller chunks. 

Secondly, make sure you remind yourself that you have spent years with your current, presumably less than ideal, habits. They won’t change overnight and if you push too hard, it’ll become overwhelming again. 

Be kind to yourself and celebrate your accomplishments. 

Put on Some Motivational Cleaning Music

Music is massively motivating. It makes difficult jobs, if not easier, then at least go by quicker. 

When you are shaking your butt to a favourite tune even the hoovering isn’t so bad. Yuck! 

I’m not going to say more on this as I think most of you will instantly get it. 

Not in the mood for a boogie? A podcast is also a good idea. There is no visual to distract you but you can still listen and laugh or work your brain whilst you scrub the oven. 

Plan your meals

My mental load on any given day is already massive. Why add the pressure of not only deciding what’s for dinner but also ensuring that you have the right ingredients. 

Yes, you may not fancy what you have planned sometimes but it’s sometimes worth sucking it up and sticking to the plan. Sometimes it isn’t and that’s fine as the world and your meal plan do not have to be set in stone. Just robust enough to take one more stressor off your plate. 

Ditch the Weekend Cleaning

I used to be the kind of girl that ignored the housework all week but then caught up at the weekend. My week was exhausting.

I was tired. Dog tired. I was too tired to do much of the things I enjoyed either. So I spent all week as a zombie and then my weekends were taken up with chores. Sound like a good plan? 

Heck no, it’s horrendous. I hated it. Now I never do housework on the weekend and it is glorious. But it took an amazing lady coming into my life in order for me to change.

Enter Gem – The Organised Mum

It sounds like I know her, but I don’t. I’m just one of her many fangirl followers. Oh, and by the way, you don’t need to be a mum to rock the housework via this method.

I kid you not, this woman changed my life when it comes to being overwhelmed by housework. I had no idea where to start cleaning my house before she came along. Ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but I could never find a cleaning schedule that worked for me. 

They were either too extensive or not comprehensive enough. I know, total goldilocks. When I found Gem’s method, it was like a thousand light bulbs went off in my head. I have never looked back since.

The Organised Mum Method (TOMM)

Basically, the premise of The Organised Mum Method (TOMM for short) is that you spend at most 45 minutes every weekday on cleaning and you have the weekends off. 

  • 15 minutes is spent on Level One or Daily Jobs.
  • 30 minutes is spent in the room of the day. 

Monday through Thursday are the same every week then Fridays have an 8-week rotation. 

Sounds complicated? It truly isn’t! Gem not only has totally free printable house cleaning checklists available but she also has a cleaning book and a house cleaning app to tick jobs off.

TOMM also has two extra weapons in its arsenal. To help get you started:

  • The Clutter Buster – If you are overwhelmed by stuff and don’t know where to start. It gives some great advice on how to start decluttering. 
  • Boot Camp – If you want to know how to clean and dirty house. If you need a deep dive clean before getting into a routine.  I started with this. It is very hard work but was totally worth it. 

If that wasn’t enough she has an organised Christmas countdown every year, is always around with a cheerful word and cheeky giggle on Instagram or Youtube. She even curates a daily playlist on Spotify which happens to be 30 minutes long so that you can truly rock your housework with some awesome cleaning music.  

This woman is truly amazing. I would really encourage you to check her out if you want to know how to motivate yourself to clean. 


I’m going to end there, pointing towards someone else. Gem does such a fabulous job of creating a foolproof system that I couldn’t not tell you about her.

TOMM has a friendly and engaged community to ask for help and motivation. It has everything you could possibly need to get motivated to clean.

Gem even has a button in her app where she says motivational things to you. What more could you ask for? Be your Future Friend and go take a look.