How clean does your house really need to be?

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I love nothing more than a clean, tidy, organized home!

But those are three completely different things.

Clean, tidy, and organized are not the same thing! Have you found your sweet spot yet? Share on X


What’s the difference?

Clean = the absence of dirt, dust, grime, pet hair, bugs, etc.
Tidy = no visible clutter lying around on surfaces such as counters, tables, and floors
Organized = you can find what you need when you need it, and get stuff done on time

Many of my clients bemoan the fact that their house isn’t as organized as their friend’s or neighbor’s. I ask them, “Have you seen inside their closets and drawers? How do you know they are organized? Can they find their scissors when they need them? Do they get their bills paid on time? How do you know? Maybe their house is just tidy.”

On the other hand, it’s kind of hard to have a clean house if it is dis-organized and un-tidy. A common statistic claims that you can get your house 40% cleaner if you are organized. My interpretation of this is that you can access 40% more of the surfaces that need cleaning if you have decluttered and assigned homes for everything, and have a system for staying organized.

When it comes to having company, a tidy house gives the appearance of a clean house, even if it’s been awhile since you vacuumed the corners. Your friends aren’t actually bringing white gloves with them, are they? (If they are, you need new friends.) No, they are coming to see YOU. They do need a place to sit that is free of magazines, fast food containers, and pet hair. And the bathroom is a nice room to clean before they visit. If you are serving food, then clean and tidy the kitchen and dining room too. But otherwise…

Find your sweet spot

The diagram says it all: Find the “sweet spot” for your comfort level. Your house doesn’t need to be 100% organized and tidy and clean at all times for it to be functional, comfortable and company-ready!

Have you found your sweet spot?

Join the conversation by leaving a comment!

Copyright 2014-2019 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
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  1. Janet Barclay on March 12, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    You hit the nail on the head! For me, TIDY is the priority. When it’s tidy, it appears clean, so I don’t have to worry about people popping in, and the organization is for my convenience, not that of visitors. Though I do strive for a certain level of cleanliness and organization too, of course!

    • Hazel Thornton on April 8, 2014 at 8:25 am

      Moderation in all things leads to a well balanced life. I just made that up. Do you like it?

  2. Sabrina on March 25, 2014 at 6:25 am

    Wonderful post! Love your diagram and how it shows how the different tasks layered creates a more organized life. I will definitely share with clients. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Hazel Thornton on April 8, 2014 at 8:23 am

      Thanks, Sabrina!

  3. Maryellen on May 25, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    My brother suggested I might like this web site. He was entirely right.
    This post actually made my day. You cann’t imagine simply how much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

  4. Audrey Cupo on April 8, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    My house is admittedly not always clean as you described, but it is tidy and organized. I prefer it that way. Love the statistic too! That was one I had not heard about but it makes perfect sense. Great post!

    • Hazel Thornton on April 8, 2015 at 2:09 pm

      Audrey, it sounds like you have found your “sweet spot”!

  5. Sarah Soboleski on April 8, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    Love that Venn diagram! Flashback to high school geometry! This visual reminds me that sometimes good enough is really okay.

    • Hazel Thornton on April 9, 2015 at 8:39 am

      Thanks, Sarah!

  6. Seana Turner on April 22, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    You and I are kindred spirits, Hazel. Love a Venn diagram:) This is so true. I’ve noticed that people can be obsessed with one of these factors and completely disinterested in the others. I find that the “organized” part is key, because it impacts how hard it is to be clean and tidy. Get things organized, and it is much easier to run the vacuum and clean the surfaces. Also, when things are organized, keeping them looking orderly is pretty easy. Love it all!!

  7. Carol Jones on April 22, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    Yes, Hazel! Very good distinction between the three ideas. And I knew you would have a great diagram for it!

  8. Linda Samuels on April 22, 2019 at 2:53 pm

    As always, I love how you’re able to distill a topic in such a unique, straightforward way. I agree that the distinctions you wrote about do exist. And aside from determining your own “sweet spot,” it’s great to understand what your client’s perspective is too. In my own home, I appreciate all three being present, although, that’s not possible 100% of the time. I often do what I call a “quick clean.” It takes under 15 minutes to “hit” all the main areas with a wipe, dust, vacuum, or scrub.

  9. Janet Schiesl on April 23, 2019 at 5:05 am

    Another great visual and definitions of clean, tidy and organized. I’ll remember these. Go thing to go over when giving presentations to the public. Thanks.

  10. Nancy Haworth on April 23, 2019 at 3:05 pm

    Great post! I love your diagram and your explanation of the differences between clean, tidy and organized. I am sharing this post with my organizing clients!

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