In the past, I’ve made cleaning harder than it needs to be. I’ve believed that housework is difficult and inconvenient, that it’s more like a project than a few quick tasks. With this mindset, cleaning becomes an overwhelming, consistently avoided chore.
But I’ve discovered a secret in the last year that helps me push past my “cleaning project” mindset. I’ve learned that cleaning is far less overwhelming when you create handy stations throughout the house.
How Stations Can Reduce Your Cleaning Frustrations
Mindy Starns Clark, author of The House That Cleans Itself: 8 Steps to Keep Your Home Twice as Neat in Half the Time*, taught me the genius behind creating stations in my home.
In her book, Mindy states that a station is simply a collection of items that are always used together. To give her readers an example, she refers to those cute coffee stations that all hotel rooms have. Everything a guest needs to make a cup of coffee fits on that one, tidy tray (Clark 2013).
Mindy says that there are two benefits to thinking like a hotel by setting up logical stations throughout your house:
- Chores will become easier and faster.
- There will be less mess to clean up in the first place.
Sound too good to be true? Let me show you how it worked for me.
Benefit #1: Create Cleaning Stations for Easier and Faster Chores
After reading Mindy’s advice and suggestions, I immediately trudged over to my biohazard area. (Otherwise known as my bathroom.) After assessing the grimy situation, I created…
The Bathroom Cleaning Station
Just the idea of cleaning the bathroom makes me feel tired. You know why? Because in order to get the job done, I have to:
- walk downstairs to the laundry room,
- grab the toilet bowl cleaner and baking soda, and
- carry them back upstairs.
Once I’ve scrubbed and polished the sink and toilet, I have to bring everything back down again.
An inefficient setup, right?
And when my mom-brain is already full of schedules, supper to make, laundry to switch, and your cousin’s wedding shower present to buy, the thought of those extra steps becomes the difference between a sparkling, or a neglected, bathroom.
I realized that if everything I needed to get the job done was right there in the bathroom, cleaning it would only require ten minutes of my time and absolutely no stairclimbing.
So, I created a cleaning station beneath my bathroom sink. (Of course, you’ll have to place these items higher and out of reach if you have little ones at home).
My bathroom cleaning station has everything I need:
- Toilet bowl cleaner;
- Disinfectant spray;
- An old toothbrush for scrubbing; and
- Vinegar to clean the mirror.
Now, all I have to do is grab a cleaning rag out of the cupboard beside the toilet, and I can get my bathroom cleaned in half the time it takes my kids to watch a Netflix cartoon. Hah! It worked so well that I created a separate cleaning station in our second bathroom as well.
Benefit #2: Create Handy Stations to Minimize Mess
Once I realized that Mindy was right, that creating one simple cleaning station in my bathroom made a huge difference, I scoured my house for opportunities to test the other half of her theory – that creating logical stations (like the hotel room’s coffee tray) could reduce messes in the first place.
Here’s what I came up with:
The Toast Station.
The cupboard directly above our toaster used to hold the butter, honey, peanut butter, and cooking spices. It was constantly greasy and sticky because I never wiped it out.
Why didn’t I clean it? Because it was “hidden” behind the cupboard door. Something about the butter being behind that door caused my brain to think that it only needed to be wiped out and tidied once a year when I spring-cleaned.
I know. Ew. Yet, that was my reality. But no longer!
If you remember from last week, I cleaned off my countertop to declutter the sightlines in my kitchen. I guess that was step number one for me because I discovered I still needed a solution for making toast in the morning.
Now, all the items our family needs to make toast sit on a tray in the corner of our kitchen counter. This is especially handy because my youngest child can reach everything she needs on her own (and self-sufficiency means fewer tasks for mom!).
Does the toast station always look this tidy? No, but because it’s out in the open, I do wipe it frequently when washing dishes. And my spices are safe in the cupboard – honey-free!
The Mail Station.
I love snail mail. I love to pay bills through snail mail. Call me old-fashioned, but a mail station is still required in my home.
Trouble is, I used to keep:
- the envelopes in my desk on one end of the house,
- my stamps on a bulletin board on the other side of the house, and
- my pens in a drawer in a third room.
For someone who is naturally organized in so many other ways, it behooves me that I lose all logical order in other areas of my life.
Thank goodness for Mindy.
It turned out that my scattered bill-paying supplies required a simple fix: setting up a little mail station in my desk drawer.
Since all three items are in one place, they’re easy to return to their spots as soon as I’m done using them; whereas before, the envelopes, stamps, and pen would sit around until the next time I tidied the house.
The mail station is accessible and easily tidied. I call that a win.
The Gift-Wrapping Station.
Every time either I or my kids wrap a present, the wrapping paper, tape, scissors, sharpie, and ribbon are left lying around the main floor after we’re done.
The wrapping paper especially gets on my nerves. It leans against the kitchen wall until days or weeks later when I finally lug it back downstairs and shove it into some obscure spot in the storage area of our unfinished basement.
This happens. Every. Time.
In a perfect world, I would set up a gift-wrapping station in our main living area. Perhaps in a convenient utility closet. But I live in an old house with zero closets on the main floor. The basement is my only option.
So, I put everything we’d need for wrapping gifts in a bin directly across from the deep freezer downstairs. The freezer top, which always remains clear anyway, is now the surface where I wrap each gift. When I’m done wrapping, I easily throw the supplies back into the bin which is within arm’s reach), leaving no mess behind.
I can’t remember the last time I had to haul the wrapping paper back downstairs! That’s epic!
The Nose and Rag Station.
Are you intrigued? This may be my favourite station. It killed two pesky cleaning problems at once.
Problem #1: The stairway landing between the kitchen and the basement has housed, over the years, a constant pile of used kitchen rags. I don’t like this, my husband hates it, and I’ve never been able to get myself or my kids out of the habit of chucking rags on the landing rather than bringing them to the basement laundry room.
Problem #2: Since my son has allergies year-round, there’s no end to his nose-blowing. Poor guy. Over the years, I thought that the more tissue boxes there were around the house, the better. But I’m getting tired of:
- un-monitored garbage cans overflowing with tissues;
- Kleenex boxes wandering the house and being abandoned on the floor, the tv stand, the computer printer, etc.; and
- the pileup of used tissues on random surfaces (like the dining table) rather than ending up in a garbage can.
Here’s the amazing nose and rag station that saved the day:
- The bin on the left solves Problem #1. It holds wet dishrags and damp tea towels from the kitchen. When it’s full, I carry it downstairs and throw in a laundry load of towels. Done.
- The bin on the right solves Problem #2. It’s obviously the kitchen garbage. Seems ordinary, right? But it’s not! This simple bin fixes all three tissue problems:
- Since I’m in and out of the kitchen all day, I notice when the garbage needs emptying and tissues rarely overflow onto the ground.
- The tissue box is attached to the fridge. Therefore, it never wanders.
- There are now rarely any tissue pile-ups on random surfaces around the house, because every Kleenex box in the house (inlcuding this one in the kitchen) is strategically placed next to a garbage can.
It’s been over a year since I set these five stations up, and I’m thrilled to report that they’re all still functioning as they should.
Help for Frustrated House Cleaners
God cares about the whole you and every part of your life, even your house cleaning frustrations.
“You know when I sit down or stand up.(PSALM 139:2-3 NLT)
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.”
Why don’t we quickly pray together before you continue on with your day?
A Frustrated House Cleaner’s Prayer
Dear Jesus, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for gifting both my friend and me with unique talents and abilities.
Help us to use the skills you’ve given us and to add to them by learning from others. Open our eyes to new and creative ways of making our homes run more smoothly, and give us the grace to accept the areas of our homes that can’t be changed.
Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus and how he made a way for our hearts to be forever clean and blameless in your sight. We’re washed with the blood of the Lamb, we’re white as snow and precious in your sight. Help us to never link our worth to the state of our homes; but rather, to find our worth in your perfect love for us. Amen.
Your Takeaway Challenge
This week, create at least one handy station. Here are two ideas to get you started:
- Consider which cleaning jobs you avoid the most: Can they be made easier by creating a cleaning station customized to that chore?
- Walk around your house and take an inventory of stray items that seem to always be lying around: Are any of them used for one particular task/activity? Can they be grouped into a handy station to stop them from migrating across the house?
Today’s blog post is the third article in an 8-week series written to offer you hope and help for your house cleaning frustrations. It’s an honest account of my journey through Mindy’s book.
Other articles in the “Help for Frustrated House Cleaners” series that may interest you are:
- Sweep Away the Lies You Believe About Your Home
- Outsmart Your Messy Zones
- 4 Playful Ways to Convert Chores into Family Fun
- Take Your House On a Prayer Walk
- Embrace Your Cleaning Personality
- How I Changed My Entrance, Bathroom, and Laundry Room to Fit My Family (Help for Frustrated House Cleaners)
- 21 Practical Home and Family Management Hacks
*Many of the tips, insights, and ideas herein must be credited to: The House That Cleans Itself, Mindy Starns Clark, Copyright © 2007,2013, Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon 97408, http://www.harvesthousepublishers.com
Stay tuned for more helpful articles as I journey through Mindy’s book – tidying and changing my house to work with who I am and implementing many of Mindy’s amazing tips. I hope that as you read them, you will also find hope and freedom for your own messy frustrations.