How to Get Motivated to Clean When You Are Overwhelmed by a Mess

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​It doesn’t matter how neat or messy you normally keep your home. We all get caught up in life and end up struggling to get daily cleaning tasks done. When you are in a slump and can’t bring yourself to clean, read our guide. This may help you figure out new ways to get motivated to clean when you are overwhelmed by a mess.

When You Are Stuck in a Cleaning Rut

First of all, you need to stop beating yourself up. Accept that you are not able to get the tasks done in the regular way you usually do. You may be facing some health problems, emotional trials, or maybe you are just overwhelmed by the things going on in your life.

If you’re looking for how to get motivated to clean when you are overwhelmed by a mess, the first thing to do is not beat yourself up. You’ve got this!

It’s OK to Have a Slump

​You may be in a rut right now. Or, maybe you are looking for better ways to manage cleaning your home. Either way, it’s going to be alright. We have all been there with no motivation to do anything. Here are a few ways you can accept the slump so you can move through it.

Messy living room

Even individuals who keep that museum-like tidy home get into slumps like these, so there is nothing to beat yourself up about. Being negative is only going to hold you back from being able to climb out of the slump. Also, the sooner you accept it, the sooner you can find other ways to get your motivation back up and running.

Basic Ways to Bring Yourself out of a Slump

​Here are a few ideas you can apply when you are learning how to get motivated to clean your house.

Set a Timer

​A timer is going to be your friend in these no motivation times. Use the microwave, the stove timer, or ​any app in your phone that can​ set a countdown for seven minutes. That’s it. Just seven minutes. You could even call out “Alexa, set a timer for seven minutes”.

You have seven minutes to get up and clean.

  • ​You can choose to focus on a single area like the kitchen counters, or opt to pick up around the living room.
  • ​You are free to clean or do whatever you please. The only rule is that you have to clean non-stop for seven minutes.
  • ​When the alarm sounds, you can sit back down in your comfy chair and rest.

The timer gives you a short burst of cleaning. When it is over, you can feel proud that you were able to get up and do something.

You can also create daily cleaning alarms. These alarms go off in intervals during the day and remind you to get up and clean for a set amount of time. You just have to hold yourself accountable and make sure you clean when the alarm reminds you.

Use ​TV Commercials

​Unless you really enjoy watching commercials, you can use this time to clean while you are watching your favorite show.

When the commercial begins, stand up and start to tidy. It’s best if you can stay close to the room where the TV is, so the moment your program comes back on you won’t miss anything.

The average TV program has about 15-16 minutes of commercials per hour. This gives you ample time to focus and clean just one area of your home while you are watching TV.

How to Get in the Mood to Clean

​Having quick breaks to clean isn’t going to be enough to really tackle a messy home, so the next thing you need to work on is your mood. One of the most important factors when you are learning how to get motivated to clean when overwhelmed by mess is adjusting your attitude.

It’s not easy to clean when you are feeling blue, stressed out, or aggravated. Follow these mood boosting tips to refresh your mood and get you in the right mindset for cleaning.

Black headset on the wooden table top

Add Music

​Adding in fun music is the difference between cleaning your home and cleaning your home. There are so many funny videos online of individuals acting silly while cleaning and jamming along to their favorite song.

It’s a contagious feeling to just want to move when the right beat drops. Harness that energy to sweep along to a great song.

If you aren’t energized by music, put on an audio book to listen to ​as you straighten each of the bedrooms. It will give your mind something to focus on and stay entertained while you are cleaning.

Create a Better Atmosphere

​Your home could be attributing to your lack of cleaning motivation just by being stuffy. This can happen in the winter time due to the lack of warm sunlight and fresh air circulation around. On a nice day, open a few windows to reset the home’s mood and bring in a nice breeze.

You can also set some spices on the stove in the kitchen to simmer a little. This will give your home a nice smell, which can brighten your mood and help you want to clean. Meanwhile, setting the laundry up and throwing your linens in the washing machine can also give off the smell of a fresh, clean home.

​Talk While You Do Mindless Activities

Another way to boost your mood when you are stuck doing mindless tasks like laundry or the dishes, is to call someone.

Strike up a conversation over the phone with a friend or family member. You can keep your spirits high by chatting away while you fold the laundry, not realizing how quickly it can go by thanks to a stimulating conversation.

How to Get Motivated to Clean When Overwhelmed by a Mess

​Even if you aren’t in a rut, sometimes getting motivated to clean your home can be a challenge. Maybe you feel overwhelmed by how much you need to do. Or, maybe you just really don’t want to clean.

Here are some ways you can combat the low motivation and find the best way to get your cleaning routine finished.

Clean in The Morning

​Sometimes the best way to clean is to get up and get it over with. While this may not be the best time to insert your cleaning time if you have a houseful of kids to get off the school, you can still ​aim for a morning time after the kids are out of the house..

Cleaning in the morning is one of the higher motivation times. You usually have higher levels of energy in the mornings than you would after a long day.

You may be a night owl or do better in the afternoons. Find your best time of the day and plan to clean around then so that you can harness the most energy.

Dirty dishes piled on the sink

Avoid Distractions

​When you decide to start cleaning, put your phone out of easy reach. Let there be no chance that you can fall into a Facebook scrolling black hole or get sucked into watching funny videos while you are supposed to be productive.

If you have your phone playing music, try to link it to a bluetooth speaker or to your Amazon Echo, so that you can put it in another room.

The further away your phone is, the harder it is to pick it up.

Define Your Cleaning

​Another big distraction we don’t realize, is that we get off topic in how we are supposed to be cleaning.

For instance, you may be doing a simple tidying job in the living room. The point of this cleaning is just to pick up things off the floor and do a light vacuuming. Then you notice that your DVD collection is a bit untidy, so you start to rearrange them by title. You may even begin to pull out old movies you don’t watch anymore for a pinch of decluttering.

While there is nothing wrong with wanting to clean deeper, you should set aside a specific time to do this, not during a quick tid​y of the space. This is because after you are finished unexpectedly going through the DVDs you may lack the time/energy to continue tidying up the living room and any other rooms that were on your schedule to clean today.

Stick to your planned level of cleaning. If you see an area that needs special attention, use a notepad to jot it down and work it into the cleaning routine for later. This way you can set aside time to really focus on that area for a deeper cleaning or decluttering.

Simple Ways to Increase Momentum

​When you are trying to clean with low motivation, you will want to create an easy to follow cleaning routine that gives you quick victories. Some of these victories can include:

  • ​Making your bed in the morning.
  • ​Clearing dishes and unnecessary items off the table/kitchen island.
  • ​Tidying pillows on the couch.
  • ​Tossing toys into a basket.
  • ​Clearing items off the vanity.

These quick tasks are great for giving you a boosting win for the day, since each of them creates a clean space somewhere in the house.

You may have a sink full of dishes after tidying off the breakfast area, but you also have the clean surface to help boost your mood so that you can tackle the dishes.

It’s also a good idea to have the children pitch in with the chores so that cleaning the home will not only be quicker and easier, it’ll also motivate you to work when you see your kids are helping out.

Work in Zones

​Another way to help with the struggle of how to get motivated to clean when overwhelmed by mess, is to clean in small zones. This way you aren’t looking at a tidying list for the entire house. Instead, you can just work on the living room.

A few ways to help with zone tidying it to remember:

  1. Keep it light: your focus is to just tidy, not deep clean and reorganize. The reorganizing can come later.
  2. Stay active: if you get overwhelmed then move to an easier task in the same room. Don’t move from room to room as this will take more energy and not give you a single clean space win.
  3. Have a box: have a few designated baskets to catch items that don’t belong in this room.
  4. ​Strive to meet at least two goals: if your room that you are tidying is a huge mess that can’t be cleaned in an hour or so, then focus on just two goals to meet. Clean off one surface and one area of the floor. This will help motivate you to see that you are getting things done so that you can continue on later.

Working in zones can help you save energy of moving from room to room and will also only let you focus on one mess at a time.

Use a Designated Basket

​Having a basket or two set aside in the messy room that you are tidying is a huge relief. Instead of having to struggle with where something will go, or running back and forth putting away items, you can instead just toss homeless items in to a basket to be sorted and put away later.

If you expect to be sorting through a lot of items that are not in their correct space then you may want to have a few empty laundry baskets ready. One for the kitchen, living room, kids room and your own bedroom. This save you the sorting step that comes later.

Book in a brown woven basket

Add in Some Decluttering

​When you are dealing with a large mess on a constant basis, you may want to look into decluttering your home.

While it can be an unwelcome idea in some homes, it is still something that you should consider. Who needs 8 spatulas or ​​a closet full of clothes that you haven’t worn​​​ since 2001?

How to Get Motivated to Clean and Declutter

​Before you declutter, treat yourself to a break and look at home magazines or famous home cleaning blogs. Take the time to look at each photographed room and see which ones you really like. Then notice how much stuff they do and don’t have in the room’s decor.

You can even pin up a few pictures to help you see what kind of vision you have for your home to help declutter and find that zen balance.

When it comes to decluttering, you may not know where to even begin. There are a few tips and tricks that you can try to help you begin decluttering without really putting in too much effort.

  1. Turn all of your hangers in the closet backwards. Each time you wear an outfit, turn the hanger the correct way. After 2-3 months, see which hangers have not been turned around yet. This will let you see what you are not wearing, so you can determine if you should donate or start wearing it.
  2. Place kids’ toys on a higher tucked away area. After a month or two, if a toy is still up high and hasn’t been requested to be played with, it’s a good sign you can donate or sell it.
  3. When you are dusting your shelves, take all the books and knick knacks off. Hold each one before placing it back on the shelf. Ask yourself if you really need/want to keep this item in your life going forward.
  4. Use stackable totes to place items you aren’t sure about donating. Seal and stack the totes away in your garage or an unused area out of the way. After 6 months, if there are ordinary items still in the tote and haven’t been needed or used, you will feel better about donating them.

Instead of getting upset about getting rid of your things, try to find a fun way to incorporate decluttering. This can make it easier. Just know that whether you get rid of 10 items or 100, you are working towards an easier to tidy home that you and your family can enjoy.

Take Breaks

​This may be the most important part of learning how to get motivated to clean when you’re overwhelmed by a mess. You can’t clean for hours and hours, only to burn yourself out and not be able to clean for a few days.

Instead, plan to clean for an hour or two each day. Ensure that you take a few breaks, maybe one each half hour or hour.

A break not only lets your body rest, it also helps refresh your mind. However, when you are in the middle of a cleaning routine, you will want to make sure you are taking the right kind of breaks. Try a few of these motivation building breaks instead of just dropping down on the couch and watching TV.

  • ​Step outside for some fresh air.
  • ​Perch on a stool and have a cup of coffee or some cool refreshing water.
  • ​Lean against a counter and indulge in a sweet treat such as a Dove Chocolate or mini muffin.

Each of these breaks lets you sit without sinking down into a comfy chair or couch. When you are in the middle of cleaning and being motivated, you will want to stick to standing, leaning, or sitting in a more rigid chair that won’t allow you to get too comfortable.

Woman sipping on a hot coffee

Stick to a small snack or drink so you don’t get into a food coma halfway through tidying. You also don’t want to turn on the TV and get sucked into a show or start scrolling through Facebook just yet.  


​Struggling to clean is something we will all face, no matter how large or small the mess is. What you need to remember when learning how to get motivated to clean when overwhelmed by mess is that you need to find what works best for you.

Everyone is not motivated by the same exact cleaning routine and mood boosters. While you are cleaning, figure out what brings you a better mood and makes you feel proud of your home. This will help with you finding the motivation to fit in time to clean and cut down on the mess.

Lauren Moldvay is a freelance writer from Virginia and the mother of one (not always) sweet little girl. She specializes in trying to help others find easier ways to clean, manage the home and save money with DIY projects.