Nearly every morning I tidy the house and vacuum or sweep. This has been my routine for the last 30+ years. Recently I was asked what the difference was between tidying and cleaning. So rather than tell you, I decided to show you.
My two grandkids, 3-1/2 year-old Ivy and 2-year-old Calvin spent the night last night. They are VERY busy and they think my sole purpose in life is to entertain them. So when they’re here, I don’t get much done and the house usually gets trashed.
When they laid down for their naps today, I took advantage of the opportunity to tidy the house. Here’s a room-by-room account of what I did to tidy, not clean and if you don’t have time to read the whole article, skip to the photo of the living room at the end – it’s the worst!
This room wasn’t bad at all. All I had to do was put the blue pillow back in the living room and put the brown pillows back on the couch.
We had just finished lunch so I took all the dishes to the kitchen, cleaned off the table and moved that blue pillow to the living room.
I really lucked out on the kitchen. I’m not sure what happened. Usually it has stuff all over the counters. I put away the peanut butter and washed the Hello Kitty plate. I also washed all the dishes from lunch.
Ivy is potty training now so she spends a lot of time in the bathroom. You’d be amazed at some of the interesting things that end up in that room. Today’s tidy included dumping the trash, putting the brushes in the closet, putting the stool back in the kitchen and putting the rag (to the right of the sink) in the laundry basket.
This room wasn’t too bad. I put the bag of dirty kid clothes in the pink bag, straightened the quilt, put the changing pad in the drawer and hung the bag on the door.
Living Room (the worst room)
This is the room where we spend the most time and it always looks the worst. Here’s what I did in here:
- Put away the tent and tunnel
- Take the food to the kitchen (on the coffee table)
- Put away the large Sponge Bob pillow
- Put the cushions back on the couch
- Put the toys in the toy bins and put the bins back under the tv
- Put away the puzzle (on the coffee table)
- Put the pillows back on the couch
So in case you’re still confused (or in case I was as clear as mud!), the best definition of tidy is to put things back where they go. My tidy routine is to walk through each room and put things away. If something is really dirty, I’ll clean it – as long as it only takes a minute. When I’m finished, whether the house is actually clean or not, it looks clean and organized. Tidying the house is actually extremely satisfying. In a matter of minutes (depending on how messy it was to start with – the tidying I did in the photos took about 15 minutes), the house is transformed from a pig sty to a palace.
My cleaning routine is a completely separate operation. I do weekly chores weekly (duh!) and other cleaning chores as I have time. Cleaning usually involves getting out the cleaning caddy and spending some quality time with the cleaning supplies and dirt! It takes more time, more elbow grease and isn’t usually all that noticeable.
So there you have it. That’s the difference between tidying and cleaning. I do both but if I had to pick, I’d rather tidy. You know – for the instant gratification!