Amy's a longtime freelance writer. Her favorite topics to write about are parenting, working from home, and life advice.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning a Dirty or Messy Room
When you think about cleaning your room, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Is it that you don't have time to clean? Is it too overwhelming? Is there just too much stuff?
Believe it or not, you CAN clean your messy room quickly and still find everything you need when you need it! These four easy steps will have it done in no time!
Step 1: Get Rid of What Doesn't Belong in the Room
The first step in cleaning your room quickly is to get rid of everything that doesn't belong in your room. Throw everything in that belongs in another room into a laundry basket or a box.
To make sure you find everything, make a sweep of the room, looking for what doesn't belong. Start at the door and move along the walls, starting to the right of the door. As you go, look on furniture, on the floor, and under the bed. Anything that isn't yours or belongs in the kitchen, living room, bathroom, etc., goes into the box or basket. Don't worry about where it will end up for now—just know that this is your holding bin for everything that needs to get out.
Once you've made it all the way around the room and back to the door, take the box out of your room. We'll deal with it later! For now, all that stuff just needs to be outside of your room.
Step 2: Organize What's Left Into Piles
Now that your room only has the things in it that belong, make another sweep of the room and create piles of things that belong together. As you did before, start with the room and keep moving to the right, looking on top of furniture, on the floor, and anyplace else you might have stashed things.
These piles should have one thing in common—they will end up in the same place when your room is clean. Here are some examples:
- Clean clothes
- Dirty clothes
- Books and school stuff
- Jewelry and other small items
- Computer-related items
As you go around the room again, throw each item you come across into a pile with other items that will end up in the same place. By the time you finish this second sweep, your room will be organized, even if it doesn't look like it yet!
Step 3: Tackle the Piles!
Now that your mess is somewhat organized, it's time to tackle the piles! Each pile contains things that belong in the same place, so it will be faster to clean up one pile at a time. Here are some examples of how to get rid of the piles quickly:
- Clean Clothes: Take all the clothes that belong on hangers straight to the closet and hang them up. That should make a sizable dent in the pile! Then take all the clothes that need to be folded (jeans, etc.), fold them, and put them into drawers. Finally, take all the little items (socks, etc.) and put them away. In five minutes, that pile should be gone. One down!
- Dirty Clothes: This is an easy one—they all go into the laundry hamper or to the laundry room. Done!
- Shoes: Match up the pairs, then line them up on the closet floor.
- Books and School Stuff: Stack them neatly on your desk or dresser or on the floor (as long as it's a neat stack). Keep it all together.
Each pile should take no more than a few minutes, now that you've organized them by where they are going. Your final "pile" is that box you stashed in the hallway. Drop those items off into other rooms where they belong.
Step 4: Organize for Next Time
Now that you've finished the piles and remember the color of your carpet, it's time to plan ahead so this doesn't happen again. Even if you aren't interested in keeping your room perfect, you can take steps to make your clean-up time even shorter next time.
Keep the "piles" strategy in mind. Try to keep things together that belong together. Even if they aren't put away, make sure that like items are together. Instead of throwing that shirt onto the bed, at least throw it into a pile with the other clothes. Of course, hanging it up is even faster in the long run!
Schedule a nightly clean-up. At the end of each day, set aside five minutes to put away the mess from that day. Follow the same steps as above, and you will see progress quickly. If you do this every day, you won't have big messes to tackle anymore. Ready to tackle your closet now?
Questions & Answers
Question: My room is really messy, how do I keep it clean?
Answer: There are many tips in this article! I definitely think starting in one location and moving around the room is a great way to start. Plus, I think using piles to sort quickly is the way to go.
nick on August 02, 2020:
nick on August 02, 2020:
it really worked and now
i can get my own room (:
Alex on July 31, 2020:
It’s so hard to clean a room
Rouda on April 22, 2020:
My room is still messy like when I mean messy no not the clothes on the floor it is like There are papers flying around like hanging and then on the desk it is messy my clothes are in the closet and there are bags under them my bed has alot of things under it and it is just annnoyiiinnnnggg mmmmeeee help meee plzzzz
amelia on March 14, 2020:
thank u so much, I'm 11 so this really did help getting me off my phone and focusing on my messy room i am now aloud my friends round so thankssss
Amy on November 02, 2019:
It teally worked for me and I finished my super dirty room in 10 minutes I can't believe that I searched for this website for about 8 months and now I can clean my room so easily because of u by the way I am only 11 so this is so helpful that I can hangout with friends and go to the swimming pool whenever I want thaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnkkkkkkk uuuuuu a lot lot lot
Emma on June 25, 2019:
I've had a lot of room issues, always have. It took me an entire night once to clean just a small pile of garbage in the back, eventually, the room was clean. (1 week afterwards)
It's gotten pretty bad recently, so I hope this will at least partially be able to decrease wasted time.
JOYIE on June 21, 2019:
My room hasn't been clean for a year! imagine the collected dust and baby powder piled up, plastic bottles, papers, dirty unused clothes and all kinds of clutter.plus the dirty bedsheets, pillow, hair strands, everything that should have thrown straight in the garbage are scattered and occupied 80% space of my rm. cant do it. dont have the strength. i guess i'll just hire someone to get rid of the mess
Zoe on April 23, 2019:
My room is beyond the pile cleaning technique.
Keira on May 24, 2018:
I have so much more stuff that isn’t on your list
Liz on December 31, 2017:
This helped but i just have soooo much junk in my room that i cant find anywhere to put stuff!
Calley on December 30, 2017:
It didn’t help ...
gracie on September 28, 2017:
thankyou so much
Fiona Norieen on August 07, 2017:
Thanks I used this tip and finished cleaning my room in an hour. This was perfect because my friend wanted to sleepover but she had to be over by a certain time or her mom would say no.
Cami vandermolen on August 01, 2017:
Aghhhhh my room is to messy !! There is no room for the piles !!!! By the way I'm 10 I need help QUICK
Elieen Sanchez on March 12, 2017:
Angelica. Sanchez. Clean. Room.
Nadine on February 03, 2017:
I am wondering what you do next with the box of all items that do not belong in the room ?
Frankey on November 20, 2016:
My dad told me to clean my room and I followed these instructions and now my room been clean for over 3 yrs!
Awesome on October 08, 2016:
Thank you very much
pat n debra on October 08, 2016:
this helped so much( the piles) we moved and the rooms are smaller and closets also, this helped us to throw away stuff we don't use or needed!!! thank you
sarah on September 05, 2016:
im a teenager and my room is a mess and this actally helped. I never can figure out how to clean my room faster than i do and i read your article and it is such a good idea!!! im using this everytime i clean my room now!!! thank you
Sharilee Swaity from Canada on August 04, 2014:
Amy, this is really useful for me. My issue that we moved in a while ago, but we were both so busy at work that we never really moved in all the way. And mess got added unto mess. So, thanks for this. This gives me a fresh perspective on how to deal with this rather big mess I have managed to make for myself. I need all the encouragement I can get!
Suzie from Carson City on August 04, 2014:
Amy......Caught a glimpse of your title and knew I had to visit. I haven't always been "this way"...thank heavens.....BUT, since I retired, somehow my inner child ( or demon) seems to have assumed "retirement" covers every single aspect of life!
I have gone to the d-o-g-s! and as hard as I try...or as well-intentioned as I can be....I feel stuck here. I do like the word, "overwhelmed," because I certainly feel that way most days.
I am religious about clean bathrooms, beds, doing laundry & my own personal hygiene. All the rest, forget it. The pictures in your hub look painfully familiar. In fact, the one next to Step 3 looks like a photo of my office (where I sit at the moment amongst outrageous clutter!)
I keep thinking I need a "helper" to jump start me. Someone who can work alongside me. Problem is....I would be ashamed to let anyone I know, see my mess! This may be funny.....except that it isn't.
I thank you for the inspiration and instruction. A big girl like me reduced to a sniveling bump on a log.
Your hub has helped me to face the music.....now I have to pick up on the beat and start dancing.
I'll let you know how it goes. If you don't hear from me....I guess you can assume just about anything !! Up+++
Amy Gillie (author) from Indiana on September 19, 2012:
That Grrl - I have the same issue with all the stuff that's left. I have to try to be ruthless!
Laura Brown from Barrie, Ontario, Canada on September 16, 2012:
I read your other post where you suggest working with a buddy, that isn't practical for me. I don't want other people involved, judging and making comments and trying to decide everything for me. I like working alone, especially when I have the house to myself. This list (in this post) is good for me. I'm already moving things out that don't belong. The only problem is going to come when I deal with all that's left and has nowhere else to go. :)
Amy Gillie (author) from Indiana on July 04, 2012:
Thanks Letitia! I hope these tips help. I have a couple of other hubs on quick cleaning closets and bathrooms too, if you'd like to check them out.
LetitiaFT from Paris via California on July 03, 2012:
These are actually terrific tips. I always see the mess as one massive block, feel overwhelmed, and turn on my heels. I think I'll print this one out and tape it inside my closet door!
Amy Gillie (author) from Indiana on June 02, 2012:
Thanks for sharing, Lady Wordsmith! I'm glad to hear this method works well for you. I find it much easier than yelling also!
Linda Rawlinson from Lancaster, UK on June 02, 2012:
This is exactly what I do :D I go in with the dustbin liners first, and throw out everything that is never used or is broken. Then I get rid of that immediately (otherwise I would have bin liners lying around for weeks). Then I put things into quite tidy piles - sometimes there are piles all over the house, but they're easier to look at than just mess spread all over. Then I deal with the piles whenever I have a spare few minutes. It soon gets done.
Great hub! This process absolutely works, and it seems to get the housework done with much less effort than the 'get frustrated and shout at everyone in the house a lot' method!
Amy Gillie (author) from Indiana on May 30, 2012:
Thanks, RJ68! I feel that it doesn't matter if the process is neat, as long as the outcome works! Glad it was helpful!
RJ68 from Memphis on May 30, 2012:
Oh my goodness. This was so helpful.
Crystal Tatum from Georgia on May 20, 2012:
Fantastic! You've broken this process down into manageable steps to help it seem less overwhelming. Voted up and useful.
Amy Gillie (author) from Indiana on May 06, 2012:
Thanks, alliemacb! Teens sometimes respond well to this method because it falls within the way they organize - just piles of a different type! Let me know if it works for you!
alliemacb from Scotland on May 06, 2012:
Oh, how badly I needed this hub. I have a very messy teenager's bedroom to tackle. Voted up
Amy Gillie (author) from Indiana on April 29, 2012:
Thanks for reading and sharing!
Tonette Fornillos from The City of Generals on April 29, 2012:
Loved the tips Amy. Perhaps the only thing we all need to do after all the steps is to make sure to do them. Very useful and informative. Loved the photos too especially that room with a touch of violet. So relaxing! Thank you.
Amy Gillie (author) from Indiana on April 28, 2012:
Thanks, adjkp25! Let me know if this method helps! Sometimes "piles" seem to be easier to grasp.
David from Idaho on April 28, 2012:
Your first image reminded me of our teenage son's room. We have to really stay on him to keep his room livable, according to our standards. I think I will make him read this, thanks for putting it together. Voted up and useful.
Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on April 27, 2012:
This is a systematic outline of how to organize the tasks and get a grip on the feeling of bring overwhelmed you can get when facing a room that's gone out of control. Great job! Voted up and useful!
Yvonne Spence from UK on April 27, 2012:
My kids have just been trying to tidy their rooms today - not sure how successful they’ve been as I haven’t yet had a look. Now I can print this out and give them both a copy for next time (or it could be for this time!)
A very useful hub, thanks. Voting up.