Turn Cleaning Hate Into Cleaning Zen

Turning Cleaning Hate Into Cleaning Zen
You know you enjoy a clean home and don’t want to feel ashamed of it, you know you have a better outlook and your emotions are more balanced with the home is tidy and things are put away. So what’s stopping you from decluttering and cleaning the place up?
Do you find that you just don’t want to put out the effort to keep it clean?
I don’t blame you! There are so many more fun things that one can spend their time on… crafting, shopping, coloring, watching movies, reading books. Binge watching is a thing because pretty much everyone is doing it… what a great way to spend the next 17 hours… right?

Spending up energy

Either you put that energy into accomplishing something in your home, or you expend that energy avoiding it. No matter what, you are spending up that energy on your home and your belongings.
Changing the way you use your energy is in your capable hands. It takes a choice, and you’re the only one that can make that choice.
Is it easy?
Well, no. But nothing of value comes easy, does it?
If you want a good marriage, you have to work on communicating with your spouse. If you want good relationships with your children, you have to invest in their lives. If you want to go on a 3 week vacation to Europe, you have to save up the money. If you want a beautiful home, you have to work at it.

Think all the way through an action

Have you ever noticed when you have a stomach ache, it tends to be after you’ve eaten a certain food? Some people can’t eat very much red meat, some have issues with grains and sugar. And some foods make people feel good: Fruit can give a boost of energy, coffee wakes us up, etc.
If you can sit down for a meal and think “I better not eat the spicy side dish, so I don’t get heartburn later” then you can change your cleaning habits too. It just takes noticing outcomes.
Think about this: after you’ve eaten your evening meal, what do you do with your dish? Do you leave it on the coffee table and sit back to veg in front of a Seinfeld episode? Do you take it into the kitchen, but just leave it on the counter? Does it make it into the sink or dishwasher?
If you leave the plate in the living room or on the counter, you will have to make special effort to pick it up later and get it to the sink.

Don’t create a new habit, change the old one.

Studies show that it’s immensely easier to change habits instead of trying to stop or start a habit. How much energy would it take to take your dishes and put them into the dishwasher ASAP after a meal? A quick rinse is much easier than having to soak stuck-on food before scrubbing it off.
It’s just changing when you spend that energy to move the dish, it’s not taking any extra energy to do it, in fact, it’s freeing some up!!
Instead of setting the dirty dishes on the coffee table or “setting it aside,” get up, and put the dish into the dishwasher.
If you leave the dish on the coffee table, it will be on your mind all evening while you’re trying to relax and unwind from your long day. In the corner of your eye the dish will be jumping up and down and waving at you, and it takes a fair amount of mental energy to push it out of your mind so you can enjoy that sitcom.
But if you remove the dish right after eating, and then go back to the couch for some much needed R&R, well, your mind is much more free to enjoy the show.

It’s how you decide to use your energy.

You can make a choice with your time, and either put energy into avoiding the housework, or put energy into taking care of it. Both things require you to expend energy, but only one of them will take you to the place you want to be.
That is really a very empowering thought: If you don’t like it, you can change it.
But, what if I really HATE cleaning?
Well, you can change that too!! This is what all the self-help books call a “limiting belief.” Because you truly believe you hate housework of any kind, it limits you. It means the task will always seem bigger than it actually is. It means you don’t enjoy the outcome as much, because your mind is still stuck in martyrdom. And when someone messes it up… oh heaven forbid!!
Changing the way you think about cleaning and decluttering is easier than one would imagine.

  1. Write down the exact thought you have when you think about cleaning up the kitchen. It might be “I’m too tired.” or “I hate dishes.” Doesn’t matter what it is, just write it down.
  2. Rewrite the statement into something positive: “I love having dishes done.” “I have enough energy to do what I need to do.”
  3. Cross out the old belief.
  4. Repeat the new truth each time you set out to clean the kitchen.

Free PDF: how to shift that negative self-talk

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Building up cleaning habits is the first step

When people think of decluttering and getting their house into a tidy state, it’s typically overwhelming. They know they need to get rid of stuff, but there is just so much, where does one start??
It all starts with a simple cleaning routine.
Yes, getting rid of the excess is important, but you have to get some simple routines in place or it will never be enough.
Cleaning habits and the base, follow that with less material possessions and you’ll end up with a clean and welcoming home.
Start small: do the dishes in the morning and the evening. Clear the trash off the counters at the end of the day, and wipe the counters clean. Write out a list for yourself to follow or get a ready-made checklist you can mark off after each task.
You’ll find you enjoy seeing an empty sink and clean counters. And it won’t take long before you start doing the same thing to the dining table and the coffee table. And eventually you will find yourself picking up the house without putting in the mental energy it used to take.


Free PDF: how to shift that negative self-talk

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About Rachel Jones

Hi there! I’m Rachel Jones, and I founded Nourishing Minimalism in 2012 at the beginning of my minimalist journey after I'd been doing a yearly decluttering challenge for 4 years and started to see a change in my home. If you're looking for encouragement in your journey, please join our FREE Facebook Group: Nourishing Minimalism Facebook Group


  1. naomi on 02/14/2017 at 1:05 pm

    love your blog and subscribed to the emails. keep up the food work <3 naomi

    • Rachel on 02/14/2017 at 1:36 pm

      Thank you Naomi!

    • Kim on 02/21/2017 at 4:58 pm

      Could you give me info on motivation to declutter my home? I have zero and dont want to do garage sales etc!

      • Patricia on 03/08/2017 at 10:20 am

        I downsized and decluttered almost 4 yeArs ago and i love it. With every box you get rid of you gain a sence of freedom, from stuff, from the responsibility Of taking care of that stuff. Start with one box at a time. If you dont need the $ from selling it, donate it and give to friends and family. what i have kept, i use and love. I rarely shop anymorebecause i dont need or want anything, also very freeing! Good luck!

  2. Shelby on 02/15/2017 at 1:55 pm

    There was a saying in one of our homeschool books: “Lazy people do twiCe as much work.” We’ve often talked about that when it comes to a task that we Put off or don’t take the time to do it Well. It always makes more work in the end. Do it Right and right away.

  3. Mary on 02/15/2017 at 2:45 pm

    I like your ideas, and am going to try the rephrasing my thoughts for keeping kitchen tidy and the house also. Thank you for that idea.
    BUt the 21 days to change a habit was based on erroneous data – seems like i read somewhere. Personally, i’ve found that i have changed some habits over night and others have taken months or years. I’m not sure how this idea of 21 days came into being, but it surely has a life of its own!

  4. Roberta on 02/15/2017 at 3:38 pm

    I needed this today. I was cleaning the bathroom (which I hate to do!) and thinking about how happy I would be when I was done. When I’m done (with both bathrooms) I won’t have to think about cleaning the bathroom every time I walk in there. Thanks for the reminder and affirmations.

  5. Simone Arsenault-May on 02/15/2017 at 4:16 pm

    What a Wonderdul concept! Thank You!!!

  6. Daikuro @ SimplicityBlogger.com on 02/16/2017 at 4:43 am

    Definitely something that I can use as I tackle a mountain of laundry today. Sure, I am not that resistant to the act of doing laundry. But a mountain of them can dampen the most fiery motivation. But thanks. It reminds me to continue being present and thankful that I can even do this.

    • Ruth on 02/24/2017 at 1:10 pm

      How come there is a “mountain” of laundry? Isn’t it possible to do it more frequently? Also, are you making laundry more complicated than it has to be? Most things don’t need ironing if they are folded or hung up soon after they come out of the dryer, or if you hang them on the line in such a way as to blow creases out rather than in. Even if you’ve just come back from a trip so you have more, wash the things you need immediately first; you can take your time with everything else.

  7. Sammy Dolan on 02/20/2017 at 11:32 am

    The problem I have is that I want to clean, but I just can’t seem to find the time. I know that this is something I need to change and I need to find the time from somewhere.

    • Ruth on 02/24/2017 at 1:11 pm

      Hi – can’t you fit in 5 minutes here and there? Are your cleaning supplies/equipment easy to grab?

  8. Becky on 02/21/2017 at 5:32 am

    Changing my attitude toward housework has been pivotal! I love what you said about liking having the dishes done. That is exactly it for me. I consider the alternative: having to wash a spoon every time I need one, or just washing the dishes? Digging for a shirt in the laundry basket for my 4 year old when we’re getting ready, or being able to open his drawer and find a clean, folded shirt when we need it? I can tell myself I don’t like doing this task, or I can focus on the reward of having it done. 🙂

    • Rachel on 02/21/2017 at 5:38 pm

      Yes! That’s so great. Thanks Becky!

  9. kelly on 02/22/2017 at 7:24 am

    Thank you. “Sweeping is just sweeping”. xxxx

  10. Jon on 02/22/2017 at 4:55 pm

    I really enjoyed this blog post. I receive your emails, so I was able to read it and save it to my minimalist folder. I find having such information to be of value to me and I often re-read things I put in this folder. Thank you so much for all the help you and your followers have been to me. – Jon

    • Rachel on 02/23/2017 at 5:42 pm

      Thank you Jon!

  11. DIANE on 03/08/2017 at 3:37 pm


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