39 answers

How to Get a Filthy House Clean

I am embarassed to post this but something has to be done. I have battled severe depression since coming down with post partum depression in 2002 and am in the recovery process after trying several therapies and medications, I finally found a combination that worked for me.

While I was ill my house fell into a state of chaos. I have kids and pets and you get the picture. About all I did was wash clothes and dishes, I vacuumed occasionally when the floor was picked up (usually done by my husband). Now I am in a state of shock as to how filthy the house is. I know I was ill, but now I am "normal" I cry whenever I walk into the house. It smells, it is so overwhelmingly filthy I don't know where to begin.

I cleaned the kids bathroom and my laundry room. There are mountains of clothes in my bedroom that I intend to throw out/donate. Craft/sewing supplies in the corner of my living room Stacked 5 foot high. The kids rooms are a mess and I clean them but they never stay organized. My living room looks like a kids clothing/toy store blew up in it. The carpets smell. The kitchen has boxes of stuff (i have no clue what all is in them) from where we converted the office (3rd bedroom) into the kids room and moved the office to the kitchen (we have no dining table) we eat at the coffee table and the floor underneath has the kids crumbs (the ones that are ground in even after vacumming) and drink spills all over it.

My main concern is getting started. It is such a mess I don't know where to start. I have tried to come up with a "master plan" but my limited time (I work 40 hours a week, and am a college student) has me struggling to get a task completed before it is messy again. I believe I will have to rip out my living room carpet and put down a vinyl floor ( it is vinyl planks that looks like wood) like I did in my hallway because of the pets and kids. I really need to get started as we are looking for homes to buy and want to sell this one (it is a mobile home) because we have outgrown it, but alot of work needs to be done before that can happen.

I am also trying to find home for two of my cats (I have three cats and a dog)which will help alot. If you have read this far, bless your heart.

What do you suggest I do to get this purging/cleaning started. I can not completely heal until this is done, I just cry when I see the mess thinking about how it affects my family, and can't seem to get one room done completely (save the laundry and guest/kids bathroom which are the smallest in the house).

I tried flylady.com for a few weeks but it is too slow I am waaaaay past that stuff, I need to do a major overhaul not just cleaning a little mess up. How much does it cost to rent a dumpster...seriously? It is so bad I wish that I could just grab a few necessities and move out and tear it down.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I want to thank everyone, I feel so supported right now. I was sure everyone would tell me what a bad mother I was and how the kids should be taken from me. I know there are people with way worse situations than mine and I am thankful that I got help before it really spiraled out of control. I am definately finding homes for the 2 cats, and we'll see how 1 dog and 1 cat does and if possible find them homes as well. I am ready to do this and I will keep you updated as I get things done. Please please keep emailing and encouraging me. My family is all 5+ hours from me, I have no close friends in my town. So I turned to MamaSource for a support system. (I hope this isn't creepy) I need you guys to keep encouraging and supporting me.

It is progressing slowly but surely. I am so busy it is hard to find the time to do much. Final exams are coming up next week So I will probably once again not get much done. My hubby is taking the kids out to ride tricycles this afternoon so I will hopefully have the chance to get some cleaning done while they are out of the house.

Featured Answers

Where do you live? I am pretty good at cleaning and organizing, and I'd like to offer to come help you. I know what it's like to be stuck in the middle of a disaster and feel totally lost. So if you need a hand ...

2 moms found this helpful

My recommendation would be one room at a time. First clean the room top to bottom. Once you have evenually made it threw the whole house then I would call stanley steamers (worth the price) and take the family out while they are cleaning. My main advice, One room at a time. I tend to work on one room taking everything to the living room and slowly putting everything in its place nice and neat and organized. It may take you a while but my recommendation is
ONE ROOM AT A TIME! you can only do so much at a time. GOod luck

1 mom found this helpful

Sounds like you need some help! I would be more than happy to help anyway I can. If you really want to donate some stuff, then maybe call 1-800-Got Junk. I know of some things that you can try, maybe have a yard sale. Just e-mail me and lets see what we can't do together.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

I would start with one room, get some plastic bins, mark one for donations, one to keep and one for trash. Do one room from beginning to end at a time. Don't worry about carpet replacement etc until all the clutter is gone and cleaned up. You can call your local garbage service and ask what the price of a temporary dumpster is, if it is something you can afford then have them deliver one (usually you have to call when it's full to have them empty it)
I would start with a to-do list by room, list everything you want to do to that room and create a check of sheet for each room, then allocate your available time to this project. I'd get your kids and husband to assist when possible. it is never to early to get kids to assist with the clean up. Most young kids "love" to help Mommy in the game of cleaning up. My 3 year loves to help, but doesn't like to do it by herself. If they are more of a hinderance than help if they have a favorite movie that will occupy them for a couple of hours while you clean don't feel bad about letting them do that while you purge.
I'd be happy to help you create your master plan, but I do believe if you take your house and divide it into pieces the master plan will build itself and you won't feel so overwelmed by the bigger picture.
I wish you luck.

3 moms found this helpful

Where do you live? I am pretty good at cleaning and organizing, and I'd like to offer to come help you. I know what it's like to be stuck in the middle of a disaster and feel totally lost. So if you need a hand ...

2 moms found this helpful

Choose a room that you would like cleaned first. Focus on just that room. Pick up/throw away/give away things, put things away. But only work on that room until it is done. Then move on to another room, etc. Sounds like it's going to take some time. Does your husband help out? Perhaps your kids could pick up their toys from around the house? Maybe they could gather laundry?

Another suggestion, if you can afford it, is to get the house picked up & organized, then hire someone to do the real cleaning, such as http://www.thehousekeepers.com/

Maybe you could load up things you don't need anymore and take it to Goodwill. Or, if you have a "Freecycle" (http://www.freecycle.org) group (or something similar) in your area you could have a "free yardsale". Pick a Saturday morning and set everything out in your front yard that you don't want/need anymore. Advertise in advance that you will do this, and let people come take what they want for free.

Do you have a friend or relative that likes to clean and/or organize things? Maybe even one who is OCD about it? haha My mom is the best, because she is OCD about everything being clean and organized! So I get her to help me out when she can.

I hope some of this helps! Good luck, I know how it is to have a messy house and feel like you can't do anything about it.

1 mom found this helpful

Go to http://www.flylady.net

She talks about taking it in babysteps. It didn't get dirty overnight, it won't get clean overnight. I've heard this program is especially good for people with depression because things get broken down to the basics, and you go from there.

Read through it. It's a good, fun read, and I think it really will help.

1 mom found this helpful

Heere are a few ideas.

First, send the kids to Grandma's for the weekend. You and your husband work together on the house. Pick a room and take everything out of it. Put it all in the front yard if you want. Then, sort all the stuff into 3 or 4 piles: Keep, Sell (optional), donate, and trash. Once the piles are sorted, haul off the trash and take the donate pile to your favorite charity. Clean the room from top to bottom and then put everything back where it goes. If it belongs in another room, put it there. It may take a whole weekend to get 1 room done but you will feel great when it is completed. If the rooms are small, you may be able to get 2 rooms done.

Second, you might want to invite some of your girlfriends over to help with the cleaning part while you and your husband sort. Be sure to return the favor to them later.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Sounds like you need some help! I would be more than happy to help anyway I can. If you really want to donate some stuff, then maybe call 1-800-Got Junk. I know of some things that you can try, maybe have a yard sale. Just e-mail me and lets see what we can't do together.

1 mom found this helpful


I see you've had plenty of response from other moms. I haven't had time to read them all so I don't know if I'm repeating previous advice. But who cares, right? =)

I made a HUGE discovery several years ago regarding the horrible mess in my daughter's bedroom - THE DOOR! I know that sounds silly, but I made a conscious decision to just not worry about it. That room is the one space that belongs to her and, if she's comfortable living in a mess, so be it. I did make a rule, though. I do not allow any food or drink into her room.

As for the rest of the house, it seems like you are overwhelmed with the enormity of the situation. I would recommend breaking the big, scary problem down into smaller, less scary ones. I would also involve the family. Even though your kids are small, they can still help. Give them simple tasks that they can turn into a game. Maybe give them a few chores to choose from. When my daughter was that age, she loved to help around the house. Even if they don't accomplish much at the age of 2, it's good practice.

Once you get things manageable, make yourself a chore schedule - laundry on Mondays, bathrooms on Tuesdays, etc, etc. And don't forget to reward the girls for helping!

I hope this helps!

1 mom found this helpful

I would suggest strongly getting rid of your pet(s) first and foremost if you have not already done so. Even though they are enjoyable, this may not be the time in your life for them that you and your family can give them what they need. That has to be an absolute since you have so many things going and don't need yet another responsibility that can be a mess, not to mention something else to take care of. Get your husband and kids in on the housecleaning, overhauling whatever you are calling it! lol. I need to do the same thing as far as organizing and getting rid of stuff, but it is little by little, day by day. I am even considering hiring a person to come in twice a month, or maybe more, just to do laundry so that can free up my time and I can have more time/energy w/my family to do what I need to, or whatever I want. Since what you have said seems to be such an undertaking, you can start with one room at a time and even pay your children for helping. I mean make them understand they should keep their rooms clean anyways, but you can get them involved in so many other ways and they will surprise you. Lastly, if you have family that supports you and lives close, ask them for help. Isn't that what family is for? Choose a Sat. morn. or whenever is good for you all and afterwards have a cookout or go out for pizza. You can put up the sprinkler if it is warm and get everyone involved and have a little fun too. Just some suggestions, hope it helps and Best Wishes!
Let me know what happens.

1 mom found this helpful

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