Embrace Your Cleaning Personality (Help for Frustrated House Cleaners)

“What do you love more?”

The answer to this question will help you align the wishes you have for your home with the reality of your cleaning personality.

For example, I love the look of matching, lidded containers filled with art supplies and stacked neatly on our craft shelf. And I love tidy bunches of markers standing at attention in their caddies, ready and waiting for my children to select just the right colour to create their masterpiece.

But guess what I also love?

I love when the craft shelf stays tidy, even after several sessions of kids crafting and then cleaning up after themselves.

The question is: What do I love more? Because I can’t have both. It all has to do with my family’s cleaning personality…

How to Align Your Home with Your Cleaning Personality

Mindy Starns Clark’s practical and encouraging book The House That Cleans Itself: 8 Steps to Keep Your Home Twice as Neat in Half the Time* has greatly influenced how I manage my home.

One of my favourite bits of wisdom from her book of household tips is to recognize my cleaning personality or “put-away style.”

“One of the most self-deceiving and self-defeating things we do around the house is set up systems that don’t take into account our own unique put-away styles. Your put-away style, or PAS, is the manner in which you usually put something away when you’re finished with it.

Think about it. For example, what’s your PAS when it comes to extension cords? When you finish using one, do you neatly wrap the cord up before you put it back in the closet? Or do you cram it back in there in a big messy wad, thinking you’ll straighten it out later?…

A cleaning expert might say, ‘Oh, come on, it only takes a second to wrap up a cord before putting it away.’ But I say, if you were going to do that in the future, you would have already been doing it in the past. If your PAS means that nine times out of ten you cram extension cords away in a wad, then instead of denying reality – or beating yourself up about it – why not just face facts, anticipate it, and create a space for it? Then your usual action, your default PAS, will become the correct method for storage. Once again, you will have changed the house to fit the behavior, which is the goal of every House That Cleans Itself.”

(Credit: The House That Cleans Itself, pp. 125-126, Mindy Starns Clark, Copyright © 2007,2013, Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon 97408, www.harvesthousepublishers.com)

Now that we’re facing facts, we can match our house to our “put-away styles.”

Step #1: Recognize Your Cleaning Personality and Adjust the House Accordingly

Here are two examples of how you can avoid self-sabotaging your cleaning efforts by aligning your house with your cleaning personality:

To Fold or to Drop?

When you change into pajamas at the end of a tiring day, do you take the time to fold your sweater (the one you wore only once and plan to wear again) and place it neatly back into your dresser drawer? Or, do you drop it on the ground?

If you’re a drop-er, the tidiness of your bedroom would increase if you placed hooks next to your bed (or inside your closet) where you can easily hang a sweater or housecoat.

To Hang or to Fling?

What about toques? Do your kids consistently hang their toques onto specially marked hooks when they come home from school? Or do they fling their winter gear across the entrance as they undress?

If they’re fling-ers, they’d likely be more consistent with tidying their outerwear if there was a toque bin or an open cubby to fling their toques into!


Small adjustments can often make a big difference to the tidiness of your home when you choose to work with your family’s “put away style” rather than against it.

Even so, sometimes the solution isn’t so simple.

  • What if there’s an area of your home that’s always messy because each family member has a different cleaning personality?
  • Or, what if you know the décor in your living room doesn’t suit your family’s cleaning personality, but you really don’t want to change it?

In these cases, you’ll need to progress to step two…


Step #2: Decide What You Love More

Figure out which messes are worth the extra effort to you (and which messes aren’t) by asking yourself the essential question: “What do I love more?”

Here are a few areas of my house where I, too, needed to answer this question in order to find solutions…

To Tuck or to Chuck?

Remember those art supplies I mentioned earlier? The ones neatly tucked inside their designated sorting containers and handy caddies?

I ditched that system.

My family (myself included) has proven to be a family of chuck-ers, not tuck-ers. When we tidy, we chuck stray markers onto the craft shelf all willy-nilly because it takes too much time to stand each marker back up inside the caddy, or to close the lid of the sticker container and stack it on top of the glue container.

Our “laziness” used to frustrate me. I hated the mess “chucking” created.

But after reading Mindy’s book, I decided that I love a consistently tidy craft area more than I love cute containers. So, I adjusted the storage system to align with our cleaning personality.

We now have open bins lining the craft shelf. They’re filled with markers, crayons, tape, glue, etc. No lids or caddies in sight.

Shortly after making these changes, my youngest child said, “Mom, I really love this new system with the markers. When I’m done, I can just throw the marker in the bin!”

To Eliminate or To Tidy

I love my bookshelf. I know from experience, however, that its horizontal surfaces attract clutter. And as much as I dislike tidying random piles of items off those surfaces, I love my bookshelf and my books more than I dislike the decluttering they require.

So, I choose not to eliminate my books or my shelves, which means I tidy them often and even rearrange the books every six months or so. But I enjoy the process. Just a little while ago, when life was crashing in on me and I felt I couldn’t cope with the pressure, guess what project I took on? Rearranging the library shelves! Don’t ask me why, but I find it therapeutic.

To Display or To Hide

Do you have throw-blankets in your living or family room? How do you store them?

I love neatly folded blankets stacked on the ottoman in our living room. The layers of patterns and colors make me happy. When I see one of those blankets left crumpled on the couch, however, the whole room feels messy to me.

Stacked blankets suit my cleaning personality because I’m highly motivated to fold them while tidying.

We also have another room in our house that holds a lot of blankets. The basement play area. It’s where my kids love to build huge blanket forts. But when it’s time to clean up their fort, do you think they fold each blanket and stack them? Hah! Not unless I haul them back down and force them to do it.

Since our “put-away styles” are so different, I’ve come up with a compromise.

In the main living room, I love folded blankets more than I dislike getting after the kids to fold them. Therefore, they’re expected to fold these blankets when it’s their turn to tidy.

In the basement play area, I love the peace of not getting after my kids more than I love those tidy, folded layers. So, I gave the kids a huge bin that they can easily throw fort blankets into while cleaning up.


Help for Frustrated House Cleaners

God cares about the whole you and every part of your life, even your house cleaning frustrations. In fact, he loves to grace you with more wisdom and help you discern where your efforts are well-spent, or where you need to let go.

“But if any of you needs wisdom, you should ask God for it. God is generous. He enjoys giving to all people, so God will give you wisdom.”

(James 1:5 ICB)

Why don’t we quickly pray together before you continue on with your day?


A Frustrated House Cleaner’s Prayer

Dear Jesus, You’re wonderful, and you love us unconditionally. You’re always patient – faithful to guide us when we ask for help. Thank you for paying for our sins on the cross so that we could be blameless and approach the Father at any time with any concern! Today, we’re asking for wisdom. Help my friend and me to discern when we need to let go for the sake of a more peaceful home; and when we can embrace our decor because it reflects our uniqueness, and it’s worth the effort. Thank you for creating each of us with different gifts and needs. Our homes won’t be managed in the same way, because we have unique families. Thank you for the gift of giving us families and homes to love and care for; yet, help us to love you even more. The most! Amen.


Your Takeaway Challenge

Pick at least two areas in your home where your organization set up doesn’t match your family’s cleaning personality.

  • Ask yourself, “What do I love more?”
  • Then, pick one of the following actions:
    1. Change the set up to align with your family’s cleaning personality.
    2. Keep the set up as is because it’s worth the extra effort to keep tidy, to keep it looking how you love it.
    3. Find a way to compromise how the area is organized so you can reduce frustrations that arise from clashing cleaning personalities.

Encouraging Resources

Today’s blog post is the sixth 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:

  1. Sweep Away the Lies You Believe (About Your Home)
  2. Outsmart Your Messy Zones
  3. Create Handy Stations
  4. Convert Chores into Family Fun
  5. Take Your House on a Prayer Walk
  6. How I Changed My Entrance, Bathroom, and Laundry Room to Fit My Family (Help for Frustrated House Cleaners)
  7. 21 Practical Home and Family Management Hacks

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.

With love,

www.saralivingfree.com signature

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