When you know you want to do something about the mess in your house but feel totally overwhelmed be the enormity of the task it is almost impossible to know where to start. As my house has several rooms that require a lot of work I know the feeling well.
Where to Start
If your entire house is overrun with stuff, clutter in every corner of every room, chances are you do not have access to proper kitchen or bathroom facilities. Likely they both are functional but because of the overspill of clutter into those rooms, you cannot use them for the purpose for which they exist.
Although we have to eat we can manage with fast food in the interim. Is it healthy to eat fast food for any length of time? Of course not, but when the kitchen is unusable because of clutter there really is very little choice. It’s either fast food or starving, so fast food wins.
Because of being able to get fast food I really believe the bathroom is the first room that should be tackled. You may be looking at the entire house and thinking things such as ‘but I don’t have anywhere proper to sleep’ or ‘but I can’t even sit and watch television’. These are valid thoughts but lack of proper bathroom facilities is not only an inconvenience but also has potential to be a health hazard.
Getting the bathroom fully functional again is what I consider to be the top priority. At the very least get a hand basin and a toilet clear of stuff so you can use the toilet and have a stand-up wash in lieu of a shower or bath for now. The shower tub can wait a little longer until you have the hand basin and toilet decluttered and usable again.
How to Begin
Let’s start with the toilet. Why the toilet? While you may end up exuding some body odor from not washing your life doesn’t depend upon washing. Going to the toilet is vital. There is no denying this bodily function and having access to a working toilet is absolutely critical.
If your toilet has been out of action for some time be prepared to be met with a filthy stain when you lift the lid. This is quite normal when a toilet has water standing in it for any length of time. Fortunately, it is quite easy to get rid of the stain. But first, you need to clear any clutter away from the top and sides of the toilet so you can use it without fear of stuff falling on you.
Even if you have to put things into a box, provided you write on the outside of the box what you have placed in it, you won’t be harming any efforts to tidy up further down the track. Right now we are focusing on getting you a functional toilet so you don’t have to find a 24-hour gas station next time you need to ‘go’.
Once you have a cleared area around and on top of the toilet you can tackle the cleaning of the bowl. Start by flushing the toilet and letting it refill with clean water. The first flush may produce dirty water that has been sitting in the pipes since the last time the toilet was flushed. Just let it fill completely and then flush again.
Once the water that is refilling the toilet is clear again you can use a cleaning agent to work on the stain in the toilet. There are plenty of cleaners you could use but you may not have access to most of them, particularly if your kitchen is cluttered.
Attacking the Stain
I recommend that you purchase a can of Coke. Bear with me, please, as I promise you I have not lost my mind. Coca-Cola has been proven to be an effective toilet cleaner. Make sure the toilet is freshly flushed and refilled with fresh water. Once the refilling has stopped pour the entire can of Coke into the bowl. Put the lid back down and leave the Coke to work its magic. I recommend you leave it at least two hours before flushing again.
If you have access to a general purpose cleaner or white vinegar you should work on cleaning the seat and surrounding area of the cistern. Clean it as well as you can. Don’t worry if you cannot get to a cleaner or white vinegar. Most cities and towns have a 99c store. You can buy a general purpose cleaner there or baby wipes can work too. We are not aiming to have everything perfect at this point. We just want the toilet to be clean enough for you to use it.
Once you are satisfied that the toilet is clean enough to use again then move onto decluttering and cleaning the hand basin. Again, if necessary, box up stuff that is sitting all over the vanity top. It doesn’t have to be perfect but you do need to be able to use the sink, the faucet and a have a little bit of space on one or both sides of the sink to keep your toothbrush, toothpaste, and some soap.
You can use the same baby wipes, white vinegar, 99c store general purpose cleaner or whatever you can get your hands on at the time. If your toothbrush has been sitting amongst clutter for some time I would recommend you buy a new one. Your toothpaste should be fine provided the cap was kept on it.
As with the toilet, the first time you run the faucet you are likely to have dirty water come out of the pipes. Just let it run slowly until it clears. Do either the hot water or the cold water first. Don’t try and run them together because you won’t know which has cleared and which hasn’t, thereby wasting more water than you probably needed to. Make sure any drain filters are clean. You can use your old toothbrush to scrub them if necessary.
Method of Decluttering
I always start every area the same way. Rubbish first. Recycling second. Good stuff third. By getting rid of the rubbish first you get rid of any possible health hazards and can work in a much cleaner environment. While you may not have much in the way of actual trash in your bathroom chances are there are some things that can get tossed immediately. Empty toothpaste tubes, bar soap wrappers and the like should be tossed into a trash bag and disposed of as soon as possible.
Next, I would bag up any recycling. This would include such things as toilet paper center rolls, the plastic wrap from toilet paper packets, any empty plastic bottles and the like. Any made of paper or plastic is generally able to be recycled. Don’t be too worried about making the decisions about what is able to be recycled and what can’t. The staff at the recycling center will sort it anyway. Bag it all up and put it out in your recycling bin. Now all that is left is the ‘good stuff’, which will need organizing.
I have a couple of more recommendations for you at this point. Keep two small trash bags where you can easily access them in the bathroom. One for recycling and one for trash. Every time you empty a toilet roll put the cardboard center straight into your recycling bag. Every time you have some trash put it straight into the trash bag. Once a week put them out in the trash and recycling bins. In this way, you should never have to worry about picking up trash or recyclable items ever again!
The second recommendation I have is that you get a general purpose cleaner (if you didn’t already find or purchase one) and keep the toilet and hand basin clean. The toilet seat can be wiped once daily and the hand basin after every use. In this way, it should never get really dirty again. Maintenance is the key here. It is what prevents the clutter and dirt from building up again. Make a habit of doing it at the same time every day. Pretty soon you will do it automatically.
Well done for making it this far. You now have a functioning toilet and the ability to have a standup wash! Doesn’t that feel great? Think of how much better your life is just with this small improvement. Enjoy the progress you have made. Celebrate every little win no matter how small. You should feel proud of yourself. You have just taken the first real step towards getting your house back in order.