How To Clean Your House In 10 Easy Steps


My mother-in-law once told me that trying to clean a house as a mother is like trying to clean in a hurricane: it’s kind of pointless. She was right. Cleaning my house these days requires several things: deep reserves of patience, bucket loads of energy, a severely short term memory (to instantly forget the frustration of your current task at hand), chocolate (bribery), TV (also bribery), and whatever toy that has been living in timeout for at least three days (possibly best bribery of all but will last only 5 minutes before you freak out and put the damn thing back in timeout).

This is how you clean your house. Ready? Here we go:

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Step One: Round up the children and threaten them with kingdom come if they dare throw juice on the floor, a sandwich at the dog, dump out a box of Lego’s, throw pillows down the stairs, build “cozy nests” out of the clean laundry and ALL the linens in the house, or scream at the top of their ever-loving lungs when the vacuum is turned on.

Step Two: Do the dishes. This is likely in the top three of the absolute worst jobs in the house. So you know what? Throw those fuckers in the trash. Just kidding. Wash them as fast as you possibly can – or fill a dishwasher if you have a bigger kitchen than mine – and mutter curses on your family for dirtying up as many dishes as humanly possible since breakfast.

Step Three: Toss in some laundry. I hate laundry. Hate isn’t even a strong enough word for it. I have to do 4 loads of laundry every day. Every. Single. Day. Don’t bother sorting. Who cares about sorting. Just toss in as much as will fit in the damn washer, because girl, you are running out of time. Caillou is about to come on and you will lose your shit if you hear that whiney voice belting out of the TV. You gotta hustle and get the next kid friendly distraction ready.

Step Four: Tell the kids that the TV needs a nap and it’s time for them eat lunch. The kids are excited to help. Yay! Make a giant fucking mess in the kitchen. Mutter to yourself about how you just did the dishes. And what the hell is that sticky stuff dripping all down the front of the counter? Wait, why is the dog eating off of your four-year-old’s plate?! Shove a piece of chocolate in your mouth and brace yourself for step five.

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Step Five: While the kids are chomping away at lunch, fly through the kitchen and clean as much of the cooking experiment as you can. Then run to the bathroom and change the trash, grab all the wet towels and boxers shorts and other shit your husband left on the floor (seriously, three feet from the damn hamper?!) and then, faster than fast, scrub out the toilet. Toss in one of those blue thingies and flush. Race back to the kitchen.

Step Six: Clean the kitchen again. The kids got excited to “help” and made a water park out of the sink while attempting to do their own dishes. Such sweet kids. Also, there appears to be a small pond forming on the floor. Slip in the pond and almost fall. Try not to yell. Hold it together, lady! You still have to vacuum.

Step Seven: Tell the kids that they can play outside when you are done, in the meantime more TV. Yeah, yeah, yeah…too much TV. Get off your soapbox. Pull out the vacuum, unravel the cord and start Hoovering your way through the house. In the background, the kids are screaming their little hearts out. Try not to let them break your spirit. You are tough! You can do it!

Step Eight: In the middle of vacuuming, you hear the washing machine sounding like it is trying to take over Tokyo judging by the screechy thumping sounds. Run to the laundry room and turn the machine off. Open it up and kick yourself in the ass for putting too much in. Move the contents around until it looks balanced and turn it back on. Run back inside because the kids are fighting over the remote. And a cat just threw up in front of the front door.

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Step Nine: Pour a glass of wine.

Step Ten: Instantly forget that you were trying to clean the house. Go outside with the kids and let them burn off their energy. Sit and do nothing. Maybe check out Facebook…oh, look, Scary Mommy posted some crazy new story about cleaning a house. Read that then order a pizza for dinner.

See? Cleaning is no problem. Just follow these ten super simple steps and your house can look like mine. That is, if you’re going for that an-asteroid-just-hit-my-house look. And the next time someone makes a cheeky remark about how hard it is to clean a house when kids are around, tell them, “Psht…not my house!” You totally got this.

Related post: How to Train Your Kids So That You Actually Want to Live With Them

About the writer


Maine based writer Sarah Cottrell is the voice behind Housewife Plus at the Bangor Daily News and is a regular contributor to Scary Mommy. She is a co-author in several books including "I Still Just Want To Pee Alone" from the New York Times Bestselling series. Follow her fun on Facebook and Twitter.


Dedicated to House Cleaning 6 months ago

I am a little bit afraid to leave the kids outside. They may fall from somewhere, because they are very disobedient. But I will give it a try. Sometimes I have the feeling that I haven’t clean the house, cause when I turn my back I see the same mess.
Thanks for sharing your tips :)

Perfect Home Cleaner 7 months ago

Before I had a baby I thought that it can’t be harder than cleaning before the baby. Unfortunately, I wasn’t right. It took me several weeks before I could change my cleaning habits. Also it was hard to get used to the fact that my house will never be clean as before. However, at the end it doesn’t matter if the sink is full with dishes when I spend time with my little boy and he smiles at me.

Eva Brown 12 months ago

I hate the laundry part, too! And I agree with everything you said in this post! I’m so happy that someone else is thinking like me!

D 1 year ago

We have a maid that comes twice a month because I was exclusively pumping. It became easier to have a pro clean and we just try to control the mess. I’ve been trying to teach 17 month old to clean…..can you say tantrum city? Ugh. And H?! It’s like having 2 toddlers!!!! He “tries” to help, but “forgets” a lot.:/

Laura A. Lord 1 year ago

All hail the power of paper plates and wine!

Catherine Cobb 1 year ago

This was great. I only have 1 (for now) and it amazes me the messes she can make on her own and why I even try lol.

Pria @ Carpet Cleaning Brisbane 1 year ago

I hope I could make it until step 10. Everyday clutter makes me really lazy and frustrated. Thanks for the encouragement. It really is just cleaning the house I guess I should really practice doing what I can already before things pile up.

Kristy Engel 1 year ago

Clean is relative and life is too short.

Amanda 1 year ago

Love the sarcasm. One question though: WHY four loads of laundry every day?! What are you washing?

Attie Lordan 1 year ago

This gets better and better. Working moms are Supermoms, and sahm moms must be just lazy if their house is untidy ? What a crock ! I am SAHM who works from home running our business and my kids are not in daycare.

Melanie Denney 1 year ago

It’s true. All of it. Haha!

Jasmine Cirulis 1 year ago

I got to wine and forgot the rest :)

Theresa DiPietro Ruocco 1 year ago

I can tell you how to clean you house in one easy step. Bribe your children. LOL

Kasi Sullivan 1 year ago

I agree Hannah … Having been a working mom and a stay at home mom, I have found the messes are endless when the kids are doing projects at home all day! Keeping house was a breeze in comparison when we were only home between 5pm and 6am!

Hannah Horsch 1 year ago

Julie Young-Clines When you have a full time job you’re not at home long enough to mess the house up the same way. Also like I have to remind my husband, the change in scenery and break from screaming children is helpful for moral. I don’t see the need to mom bash. Both roles have their ups and downs.

Hannah Horsch 1 year ago

I have a clean house every other week. Lol That’s good enough for me right now and I refuse to feel guilty about it. I’m pregnant and have a very active 2 year old and a husband that works all the time.

Linda 1 year ago

And, by the way, housework is like Sex. It never stays done. ( take it from me, a mother of three, and grandmother of three!)

Linda 1 year ago

Trying to clean house with the kids at home is like brushing your teeth when your mouth is full of Oreos.

Risa 1 year ago

I totally relate to this. Just yesterday, I mopped the floor in the kitchen and vacuumed the dining room. Then, a few hours later, I gave my almost 2 year old dinner. This dinner ended up ALL over the dining room and in the kitchen (I swear, my son is going to be a baseball player). So much for cleaning.

Samantha Jordan 1 year ago

Like does express my love for this article.

Attie Lordan 1 year ago

Oh good grief the lot of you. Grow the he$% up. I have a spotless house, I don’t cos I spend quality time with my kids. Go ahead tear each other down, miss the point cos your blowing smoke up each others ass.Daft the lot of you. As long as you do you do your best by your kids. I know both sides,seen it, been there and back. How pathetic to make somebody feel worse so you can feel better about yourself ? And over what a tongue in cheek article ?

Corrine Jacob 1 year ago

Lol. This is great!

Shannon Sokol 1 year ago

From the dishes to effing Calliou & the washer, this is exactly my daily life.

Melissa Anderson 1 year ago

Yeah it’s easy as long as you don’t have a man!!

Christina McPartland Carter 1 year ago

I ❤️ you!

Shalane 1 year ago

Awesome! This is exactly what I needed today after cleaning up Tornado debris. No, not the kids – an actual tornado…thank you for the laugh!

Cassandra Lee Jones 1 year ago


Melissa Ann Marie Robertson 1 year ago

Scary mommy -I love you. I got this?! Nope I got chocolate…thank you for letting that b ok! Ive got four kids under seven and its a constant battle over chaos. Why yes of course I wanted to clean the very same things I cleaned yesterday so that I can’t get anything MORE done today, I love the two steps forward one step back drowning in summer-vacation-hyped-up-kids-have-to-get-this-done-guilt-ridden-im-not-enough cycle!!

Mandy Engelbrecht 1 year ago

found FLYlady to be a life-saver in this aspect

Zury Apolinario 1 year ago

Lol loved it !

Bethanie Vi 1 year ago

LOL I thought this was going to be some kind of yummy mummy, happy shiny, perfect sickening nonsense. I am relieved to see that it is infact reality and hilarity combined ;-D

Linda Stephens Lively 1 year ago

I love this!!!

Sylvia J Sattler Hofland 1 year ago

I understand, agree, but I have a clean house, and 4 boy’s, Full time job. I like a clean house. But, their own rooms? Absolute Pits

Kellie Herbert 1 year ago

Argh. It’s like banging my head against the wall. The word lazy is what is getting you into trouble. And telling me to go fuck myself. Nobody is lazy if they try to clean their house and their children undo the work. Why can’t you understand that? I’m off now. By the way. Your crazy is showing. Might want to tuck that back in

Ingrid Wolker 1 year ago

yeah… my house …totally lol

Jewels 1 year ago

I had to laugh at the toy in time out bribe. I thought I was the only one that did that!!

Sarah Peerless 1 year ago

My future! Though step nine might occur much earlier in the sequence of events :)

Connie Elliott 1 year ago

I live for this blog! Every morning while my kids are yelling about this or that at breakfast, I hop on to read the latest? gets me through the day now! I love it so spot on! So thank you for bringing some sort of sanity back to my life knowing I’m not alone in this! I will be 48 in two weeks and am raising my grand kids who are 6 and 5 some days I wonder if I can make it through the next five min as they are constantly screaming about the craziest things even as I sit here and type this….thanks for making life a little brighter for me!

Florent 1 year ago

Great articles but how is this directed at women only? I am a man and I do my fair share of house work. It just seems I tiny bit unfair that this blog post is intended to women and not to anyone who does stuff around the house even though, like I said, the advice is good :)

Catherine Townsend-Scott 1 year ago

Love this

Lisa Kingslayer 1 year ago

I am now officially subscribing to your blog. I have read some of the funniest and truest shit on this blog in the last couple of days. You truly are awesome. Thank you for keeping it. real. And I like step 9, A LOT. I use it often. I have twin 5 year old daughters… need I say more?

Lisa Kingslayer 1 year ago


Lisa Mair 1 year ago


Kristen Hollingsworth 1 year ago

10 steps? That sounds like a lot.

Michelle Anderson 1 year ago

Love it! I’m a mother of 3, carrying our 4 and I can tell you right up front that if you come to my house you will not see a spotless place… Unless you come over after 10pm when thy have all been asleep for awhile! Lol but I wouldn’t Change a thing! :)

Mary Mays 1 year ago

I’m glad it’s a joke!

Cindy Sinclair 1 year ago

Great laugh!

Lindsay Goggan-Jones 1 year ago

I think the idea behind this article is to be humorous. I don’t think this woman seriously runs around her house all day and I’m sure almost all of you laughed at the idea of behaving like this to keep a clean house. I didn’t take it seriously and I was cracking up pretty good. Relax ladies and the a second to laugh at the crazy lady who cleans all day.

Diane Hood Vergara 1 year ago

LOL. I totally agree with your feelings on Caillou. Ugh that whiny voice.

Lisa R. Petty 1 year ago

I’m one of those weird type-A people who has never found it difficult to work FT, have 5 pets and a teenager, cook dinner on most nights, and have a super clean house. I do like wine, though. and vodka.

Cindy Esdale 1 year ago

Now I know what I’m doing wrong! I keep forgetting step 9! Right Wendy Grant!

Mathieu Tessier 1 year ago

I think all of us should not compare each other and judge how our house is cleaner than the other family.
If your life’s resume to judge your friends/family house‚ you should revise your priorities.

Some stuff is more important in life than looking at a dirty spot on the floor.
Too many kids don’t eat everyday. Too many kids dies everyday for religion bullshits and money/power.

Raise your kids with love and learn them how to love everyone and beeing good in life. That’s important.

Tammy Clarke 1 year ago

Best article ever! Haha I like the “throw those fuckers in the trash” tip the best!

Kate Peterson Henna 1 year ago

Hilarious and oh so true

Shannon Fitch 1 year ago


Barbara Lovesapintandadance Jones 1 year ago

Anyone who has a toddler at home who has a spotless house cant spend much time with their child, as long as you make sure your house is tidy and its a safe environment it doesn’t and can’t be a showhouse!

Amanda D’Aloia 1 year ago

Just because I am a SAHM doesnt mean that I should be solely responsible for all the cleaning in our house. My partner works full time but he helps out when he can as he makes some of the mess as well, and recognises that it is only fair he do a bit cos he knows its not always easy to be a SAHM all the time – a job shared is a job halved. Yes I do the majority of the daily cleaning – dishes, vacuuming, laundry, general clean up after 2 kids (18 months and almost 3) etc but I hate to clean the bathroom (have a major aversion to it) so that is one thing that my partner does on the weekends and he doesnt mind doing it either. It works out well that way and even though I sometimes get a bit frustrated with cleaning constantly I do it because it needs to be done and I hate seeing a kitchen full of dirty dishes (clean dishes waiting to be put away are a different matter – they can sit there a day or two for all I care) or dirty counter tops or standing in food crumbs in the carpet or having piles of laundry in the bathroom/bedroom. I still get quality time with the kids and my partner and if something doesnt get done then we dont stress about it and just try to do it the next day. We (as in women) are our own worst enemy and constantly compare ourselves and our homes to other women and its silly – live your own life and be happy with your own life and if your house is spotless and sparkling good on you, but dont judge others who have a house not as pefect as yours. Each to their own.

Vicki Ware 1 year ago

Oh and while I was typing that, my 2 year old got hold of the sunscreen and tried to cream herself and got it all over the carpet, meh….

Laura McCulloch 1 year ago

Lol. My mother in law came to stay 2 weeks after i gave birth. (The worst birth) and told me off for not cleaning under the sofa…. she hasnt been invited since.

Danielle Robinson Van Barneveld 1 year ago

These post get un real. I think when “scary mommy ” posted this article it was not refering unhealthy dirty parent home cause clearly someone thinks that is your house is dirty it means piles of dirty clothes every where, and I think I read animal shit on the floor. This is suppose to be funny. The average home with children can be spotless one minute then destroyed the next. The point is it’s never ending crazy messes with children. And all parents should feel a bit less pressure to keep a home pristine when you have children. A home can be clean and we’ll lived in. And all parents should say Fuck it on some night

Helen Russo 1 year ago

uh huh

Gs Arriaga 1 year ago

Luv u guys always make my day!!! (Wiskey on my hand look at the time)

Nikki Short 1 year ago

thats exactly how the cleaning goes in my house, minus the wine tho lol

Kay 1 year ago

I was almost hating you till I read the article, then, Thank you, I am normal (ish) so long a I keep on top of the random bits of food so nothing is actually a health hazard the dust can gather quietly in the corner, its one of the few things that is quiet. washing is in a constant state of washing basket or hanging on the ‘living artwor’ that is the airer. If all washing was done and dry It wouldnt all fit in the drawers ! I just dread sitting down after a huge effort to clean the voys bedroom and then hearing that unmistakable ‘swoosh clatter’ of the box of lego being turned upside down……NOOOOO

Danielle Robinson Van Barneveld 1 year ago

My house is clean and tidy as it’s gonna get. my day goes something like this…. I work full time nights. I get home at 7:30am my husband who has. Woke the kids made my kids get showers or baths and get dressed and fed them in the less than 1hour they haave been up ( thats a chore and half getting them motivated and done) and her runs out the door the door his work. I do lunches hair andmake sure teeth and all that’s done. Tidy breakfast pack school bags and out the door before 8am. Go home sleep a whopping 6 hours before picking my kids up from school. The home to do homework. Make dinner, eat dinner (which is very time consuming itself with kids that are picky), clean dinner and with the help of young children who do help around the house (also very time consuming and can be more messy while teaching them chores and responsiblity),by this time it’s already 5:30-6 ish and we usually have after school activities a few times a week and by the time that’s done it’s time to come home to get ready for bed. Then my hubby starts laundry and does a sweep and a tidy of the house ( cause young kids seem to leave a trail of food somehow even when they remain at tables to eat)
and relaxes for a bit while most the time I go for a nap before work and we do it all over again. Leaves very little time to do much and to heck if I am gonna clean on our free nights together. My kids are working on doing extra chores and they clean up their toys and crafts but still we have to help. Sometimes it’s glitter or paint or play dough what ever it’s never ending messes with young kids and I can say for sure you can walk in to my house and dishs will be in the sink. And colouring stuff on our table and stickers and pokemon cards on the floor cause we stop what we were doing and cuddled before bed with a bed time story. Not always enough time and just don’t give a f&#k

Carla Ross 1 year ago

Got 4 kids n a nice house the only timr mine stay clean is at a wknd wen the kids r gone but hey it looks lived in

Lisa Hamelin 1 year ago

hate this post…my house is in constant disaray…
not because im a messy constantly cleaning when im home….you see i also work….as a nurse…night shift…its not easy….2year old and 4 year old at home…but in all honesty…if i was to die tomorrow…i really dont want my tombstone to read…”here lies Lisa Hamelin…a great house keeper”….no i want it to say things like…”…here lies Lisa hamelin…loving and devoted mother..who always found the time to be with her children to laugh and play…and worked hard for her family”…..who freakin cares if your house is messy with toys…my house is lived in….that is all

jenny luff 1 year ago

I think the worst bit, is you hoover front room, then turn round and cereal is already being crushed into carpet…arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!

Sarah Karmawillgetyou Carpenter 1 year ago

I manage to keep a clean house and i have a child

Amber Cozad 1 year ago

Ya I see what you’re saying…although having a clean house is a lot easier to control than having a crazy abusive husband and having to leave and start your life over as a 23 year old single parent with absolutely nothing…but I do get what you’re saying and next time I’ll approach with more sincerity

Karen Austin 1 year ago

Baby nap time is my chance to do some housework (provided I dont need a nap too or eat a meal). I am just on edge wondering what I can complete before he wakes! My house is far from perfect :(

Nominique Chico 1 year ago

You got that shit straight! *high fives all around*

Michelle Anderson 1 year ago

Lol riiiiight

Kelley Jackson 1 year ago

I hate to say it because I am a mom of four…during the summer..with chores and all …I’m lucky if my kids keep my house clean for five mins…I mean its mostly their clutter. ..I have a clean kitchen and I mop an vacuum. .BUT walk into my sisters house…who has two girls 6 &10 and you would have NO clue she has kids…her house looks like something out of homes and gardens….but who wants to seriously follow behind their kids with a sponge? I don’t…its her ocd…and hey more props to her for keeping so clean 24/7….but I know in my house that just won’t happen!

Margaret Keenan 1 year ago

I get my house tidy, it just gets hit by the child bomb 5 minutes later! Two boys under 3 tend to do that!

Vivian Kroet 1 year ago

Hahaha Thanks! You made my day!

Amanda Manton 1 year ago


Jennifer Osso 1 year ago

My house is clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy :)

Michelle MischaMayhem Snyder 1 year ago

You don’t have teenagers, yet, I’m guessing. They travel in packs, eat more than a small army, & they never ever know where a garbage can is. They will fill a sink of dishes in minutes without batting an eye. They ruin carpets, walls, & furniture in a single visit. And, they smell bad.

Melanie Connors Irwin 1 year ago

My house is never sparkling clean any more. I homeschool my three kids, divvy up the chores and just pray that it looks presentable. I’d rather build memories with my kids than worry about what the neighbors think about my house :)

Madelyn Stearns 1 year ago

I nanny for a couple who have a 5 year old boy and a 2 year old girl. I get there at 8 am. My mom boss is up, dressed, and barefoot and cleaning. Laundry is going, she’s unloading the dishwasher while mopping up a mess from the night before. I always do the dishes and important kid laundry if needed while she is at work but DAMN. My lady boss must get up VERY early in the morning. I kinda feel like I should bow in her presence.

Valarie Bradshaw 1 year ago

I’m doing some belated spring cleaning next week, sending the kids to my best friend’s for the day to get it done, lol!

Mary Shipman 1 year ago

Ha! Totally my life! Unless I dedicate two entire days of gut wrenching, sweat pooring cleaning…then it’s clean for a total of 5 min. That 5 min is how long it takes for the kids to come inside, wake up in the morning, or come out of a secluded bedroom where the TV was on constantly for hrs on end. Lol There is always a crazy mess or something being broke in my house!


Mom of 6 (baby-13, step, adopted step & biological), wife & full time college student.

Katy M. Porta 1 year ago

Keeping a clean house or a not so clean house doesn’t make someone a better mother :-). I know mine isn’t perfect, far from it, but I know I spend every moment with them, that makes me feel good, more than keeping a perfect house ever would.

Dillon LaBonte 1 year ago

OMFG we can’t use the kids as an excuse, whatever. Sometimes thats exactly my reason. Hahahahahahahaha

Sherlolly Watson 1 year ago

omg, that was hysterical! Specially about Cailu and the cat puking at the front door. Totally my house, right there.

Joanna Yearta 1 year ago

You’re just an awesome writer, that was too funny– and real!

Veca Blajine Weberg 1 year ago

While they are having lunch you run and clean the bathroom?!?! When you have time to eat and talk and enjoy with your kids?? My twins are 1 how they can help?? I’ll have tons of time to keep my house shining like a diamond in the meantime I keep the house as clean as I can but I don’t mind to see their toys over the table or socks in my pillow….

Crystal Coyle 1 year ago

Erica McCormick you already got step 9 down, everything else is a piece of cake (crumbled on the floor)!

Betty Wallace Cornwell 1 year ago

Sooo true!

Jennifer Grubar Schultz 1 year ago

Too funny!

Amanda Gore 1 year ago

The accuracy is astounding. Now to read the arguing comments…


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