11 Surprising Reasons Your House Still Isn’t Clean

11 Surprising Reasons Your House Still Isn't Clean
Have you decided the answer to your organizational woes is to become a minimalist?
You’ve been getting rid of items by the hundreds. Filling out your beautiful chart, proudly coloring in box after box, and your house still isn’t clean and organized.
Maybe you even already know that routines are the key to keeping your home clean and clutter-free for good, but you haven’t been able to establish them.

Consciously, it seems so easy:

  • Sort your stuff
  • Put it away, give it away, throw it away
  • Create a home for everything
  • Keep your routines
  • And so on

You’ve read all the great advice; you’re making some progress, but you just can’t get there day in and day out. You certainly haven’t experienced any minimalist utopia, or any of Marie Kondo’s “Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”
You find yourself in a swirling mess of chaos, no matter how hard you try to escape it.
If so, you are not alone. Some struggle with organization and routines, no matter how few possessions they have. And with a family, you are always going to have some stuff to manage. Cutting the excess makes it easier, but it doesn’t solve all the problems.
It doesn’t have to be that way forever. In order to makes some lasting changes, you first need to start paying attention to what’s getting in the way.

So what is getting in the way?

Some of us spend far too much time (years even!) on something that doesn’t have to be so complicated.
Why? Because we don’t address the root problem.
We get in our own way; we self-sabotage!
There are some definite ways that we sabotage our own cleaning efforts. If you struggle with creating routines that tackle the mess consistently, and have trouble beating the chaos in your life once and for all, you will probably relate to more than one.
As you read them, really think about which ones might pertain to you. In identifying them, you can begin to overcome them.
Here they are:

1. Perfectionism

With perfectionism, no matter how hard you work, it never feels good enough. You take the picture as a whole, so even though you are working in the kitchen, you are also thinking about the mess in the basement, and the closets, and under the beds.
As soon as you make progress you feel good about in one area, someone messes it up, which is really frustrating! As a result, eventually you give up and don’t try at all, because you just can’t deal with the fact that, try as you might, it never feels finished.

2. Trouble setting boundaries

You set your boundaries. For example:

  • Eat only in the kitchen
  • No food in the car
  • No accepting bags full of hand-me-downs
  • Saturday is “Clean and wash the car” day

But these “rules” only last for a few days or weeks, and as soon life gets busy, they get thrown out the window.
Or you have trouble saying no to others when they make requests of you. This causes your schedule to be too full, which makes it difficult to keep up with your home, and to keep the other boundaries you’ve set.

3. Inconsistency

You change things up frequently, which makes it impossible to establish routines. You start a system, it works okay, and then it fizzles out and you create a new one. Or you work really hard on a project, then give up before it’s finished, and move on to another one.

4. Resistance

You know what you need to do, but for some reason, you avoid doing it.
For example, keeping the dishes washed, dried, and put away is the most important chore to complete to feel good about your home each day, but you save it for last. Instead, you do something counterproductive first, such as sorting bins of Legos by color.

5. Lack of focus

Instead of cleaning one drawer, or one room, or one area, you flit around the house doing a little bit here, and a little bit there.
The result: you don’t have anything concrete to show for your efforts.

6. Indecision

Often indecision is the reason we have boxes and bins full of items sitting around for far too long. Instead of taking items right to the car for donation, we hold on to them because we can’t decide.
Will you need it someday? Will you regret getting rid of it?
So you keep it, for now, and it interferes with your progress.

7. Limiting beliefs

These are false beliefs that we replay in our heads, often subconsciously.
Thoughts like:

  • “I’m just a messy person.”
  • “I’ll never get it together.”

Limiting beliefs keep us from making positive changes.

8. Unrealistic expectations

You expect too much of yourself.
You think it’s possible to go grocery shopping, steam clean the carpets, wash all the dishes, pay the bills, clean out the closets, and do the carpool all in the same day.
By creating a list of to-dos a mile long, you set yourself up for frustration.

9. Control

You try to do it all yourself, instead of requesting, or accepting help from your husband or children.

10. Procrastination

Instead of doing it now, you put it off until another time.
It can manifest in many ways:

  • leaving the clothes in the dryer instead of folding and putting away
  • soaking the pans instead of washing them now
  • hopping on social media instead of running errands that need to be done

11. Fear

You hold onto things because you might need them someday. You don’t trust that your needs will be met.
The result: a cluttered home, full of things you don’t really need or love.

The simple first step to overcoming

What’s the simple first step to changing lasting patterns of disorganization? Awareness.
Yes, that’s it!
Start paying attention, and identify the patterns. Once you identify what’s getting in your way, you can shine some light on it.
You can start asking yourself “Why?”
You can start to challenge yourself. There are some great books and resources out there to empower you with knowledge, and of course, it’s always good to connect with others who have the same struggles to see what’s worked for them. You are definitely not alone!
Then you will be on the road to making changes that will finally lead to achieving your goal of a clean and organized home.
Which one of these sneaky things are getting in your way of a clean and organized home? Have you noticed any others?

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. Tony W on 06/27/2017 at 1:49 pm

    Perfectionism was getting in my way to a clean and organized home. Not in the usual way. Perfectionism prevented me from even getting started. I could not decide on a process or system. I found myself doing more and more research.
    I finally just decided to get started and do what I could do each day. It has been somewhat unorganized but I am making consistent progress.

    • Tine on 07/01/2017 at 8:59 pm

      Yes!! I have been paralyzed. Even though I know it’s ridiculous, I just keep searching for some magic potion instead of just starting 😞 Hoping to get rolling again and start making some progress. Good luck to us!!

  2. Julie on 06/27/2017 at 5:09 pm

    hi! do you have any recommendations regarding connecting with others to ask for advice etc? i’m thinking facebook groups mostly but any other tips would be helpful?

  3. Stephanie on 06/27/2017 at 10:16 pm

    Ha, I have all of those roadblocks except for fear… get rid of all the stuff!! The more I eliminate the better I feel!

  4. Helen on 06/28/2017 at 8:28 am

    Oh my goodness – I can relate to all of them!

    • Hidayah Kendall on 06/29/2017 at 1:01 am

      I can, too, unfortunately.

    • Tine on 07/01/2017 at 9:01 pm

      Yes!! I have been paralyzed. Even though I know it’s ridiculous, I just keep searching for some magic potion instead of just starting 😞 Hoping to get rolling again and start making some progress. Good luck to us!!
      I think about all of them describe me 🙄

  5. Lola on 06/30/2017 at 4:37 pm

    hahaha me too, all of them!!!

  6. Eileen on 07/05/2017 at 12:03 pm

    No matter how much stuff I purged, and relegated to much smaller containers, I still found myself surrounded by clutter. A therapist helped me identify that each time I created space, I managed to fill it in to create a fort or wall around me. There would always be a path to maneuver, but in the largest space around me, boxes, etc., were used to build a wall of sorts. It has been difficult to break this habit, but each time I get a surge for decluttering, I get rid of more things, thereby having less building materials. Still working on getting past this.

    • Gayle on 02/22/2018 at 4:59 am

      Good for you! That is tough to do.

  7. Tabatha on 07/05/2017 at 12:41 pm

    Alot ring true, however the biggest one is Perfectionism. If it can’t be done right, why even start it? So battling this and trying to just start without thinking there must be a better way than this.

    • Wendy on 05/21/2023 at 2:00 pm

      Me too Tabatha
      My mum used to say ‘ if a jobs worth doing it’s worth doing properly’
      So in case i can’t do it properly it’s easier not to start .

  8. Dianne on 07/05/2017 at 4:45 pm

    I can relate to most of these. I have kept my kitchen routine though and that has been a great help. Almost always clean and tidy, ready to make a meal or snack.

    • Tracy Grauer on 07/06/2017 at 4:57 pm

      I, too, can relate to most of them. I am keeping my kitchen clean through routine also, and love it! It is a wonderful sight to come into the kitchen and see bare counter space! It’s rather empowering.

  9. Dustyn on 07/05/2017 at 7:10 pm

    Unrealistic expectations here for me. Always always my to do list is a mile long.

    • Carmene on 05/04/2020 at 12:33 pm

      I did that too until my son suggested to make my list for the week, this way you get to cross off something everyday but expect to have more on the list. You do what you can that day and I’d doesn’t feel like You’ve failed because You have all week to do it. Just a thought, it helped me.

  10. Sammy on 07/06/2017 at 6:24 am

    I find myself cleaning and organizing little bits of everything, instead of focusing on one area and finishing that first.

  11. Sanjana on 07/11/2017 at 1:38 pm

    Oh wow. This post hits the nail on the head. I feel like I try so hard yet my life and home are so disorganized, I literally lose money and peace of mind because of it. I feel mildly depressed and resigned because all my work leads to such little result.

  12. Jeanette on 07/15/2017 at 8:19 am

    I see myself in all the the categories you listed! (Now to use this information to make more joyful rooms in our home!)
    Thanks for caring for us, Rachel!

  13. Joanna @ Fantastic Services Australia on 11/06/2017 at 7:13 am

    My arch enemy is my perfectionism when organising my home. If it isn’t done right, I don’t do it at all.
    I actually do purges periodically and my house is generally clean and tidy. But I do feel small sentimental objects cause clutter. I never get to them (luckily I read your article on this topic and hopefully I’ll have a few changes around).
    I’m intrigued by your chart and I’d love to use it, as it might help me tidy up and clean my house more efficiently. It might as well help me with my work, as I am a cleaner.
    So, the problem is I tried downloading the schedule but the link in the email doesn’t work. I’d really love to start decluttering and see what you’ve prepared for us. Is there another way to get it? 🙂

  14. Gayle on 02/22/2018 at 5:07 am

    I just get tired. I am not young and have some medical issues. I am finding my best way and it may take a little longer. After two years, downsizing from a bigger house, and greeting my share of obstacles, I continue to move forward. Holidays are my set-backs because all of a sudden there are more people and more stuff. These are great touchpoints for me to keep in mind. Thanks.

  15. Sally on 07/21/2019 at 11:02 pm

    #10 Procrastination is a big one for me personally. It’s so easy to rationalize with your own mind and put things off for another time. Great list Rachel! Can’t wait to read more.

  16. Barbara on 07/04/2020 at 10:13 am

    I love this post, it’s a real eye opener!
    Thank you so much for sharing your journey.

  17. Chelsea on 06/25/2021 at 4:27 am

    Yes, I can relate too. There will be days when we don’t feel like doing anything. Cleaning may sometimes be too big for a task especially if we have other things to do. For me, what I do is hire someone who can do the cleaning so i won’t have to think of cleaning the house after along day.

  18. Jenna on 07/12/2022 at 1:56 pm

    So basically if you have ADHD you will struggle. It listed nearly all the traits. 😆

    • Mama K on 03/26/2023 at 8:55 pm

      I was thinking the same thing!! Stay focused? Finish a task before moving on? Be consistent? Hahaha!!!! I think that climbing Mt Everest sounds easier. 😂😩

  19. Emily on 09/24/2022 at 3:25 am

    Are you reading my mind? This list perfectly summaries why I can’t keep a clean home (well minus health issues which are slowly me down).

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