Today's the Day

I've had one eye on the clock all day, waiting for the show to air at 1:30 pm, my time, which is coming up very soon. Hope you'll be a able to watch as well!

Until then, I thought I might take a moment to explain the difference between the first version of The House that Cleans Itself, which came out in 2007, and the revised and updated version, which came out in 2013. I’ll make it quick, though, because I have an appointment with my television in just a few…

The original version of The House That Cleans Itself centered around what I call the CONVERT system, a specific (but somewhat time-consuming) step-by-step approach for turning a messy home into a house that stays so clean it almost feels like it’s cleaning itself.

The second version of The House That Cleans Itself contains most of the same information, but this time it's presented in a way that allows you to implement the system in smaller, less intimidating increments. Instead of the CONVERT method, this version features eight different steps that you can take—on a small or large basis—to accomplish the same ultimate goal.

More on this later, right now it’s six minutes to air time, and there’s a spot on the couch with my name on it.

Blessings to you!


It's TV Time

Q - What am I doing in this picture?

A - Getting all made up to appear on the show Lifestyle Magazine to talk about The House That Cleans Itself!

The episode was pre-taped but will air this Thursday, Dec. 5th, at 10:30am Pacific Time (which of course means 11:30 am MT, 12:30 pm CT, or 1:30 pm ET) on Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN).

You may also be able to view it on alternate stations and times, depending on your location, as well as via webcast, satellite, radio, or your mobile device. Use these links, below, to find out how and where you can watch:

• Locate your local TBN station in the US
• Locate your TBN station outside of the US
• Locate alternate stations and times for the show 
• Watch via webcast
• Watch via satellite
• Listen on the radio here or here
• Watch the show on your mobile device with the TBN Mobile App (available for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, Android, Blackberry, and Windows Mobile)

I sure hope you have time to tune in. It was a lot of fun doing the show, the hosts were great, and we all had a lot of laughs. Hopefully, if you watch, you'll find yourself laughing along as well--even as you're learning more about how to have a House that Cleans Itself.



Announcing the Winners...

Everyone who entered was listed in order:

1 Caren
2 Erin
3 Mikey
4 Kendell
5 Courtney
6 Anonymous
7 Taylor
8 Julia
9 Melanie
10 Dzhennifer
11 Paige

Then I ran the random number generator, which picked 4, 9, 2, 8, 10. That means the winners are:

2 Erin
4 Kendell
8 Julia
9 Melanie
10 Dzhennifer

Congratulations!  Winners have been notified via email and will be sent their free book as soon as they respond to me with their choice of book and mailing address.

Thanks to all who entered!!!!


Just Got My Copy

Well, it's official, the new, revised version of The House That Cleans Itself has been released! It's always fun when a book comes out, especially that moment when it gets delivered to my door, fresh off the press. Here's the cover, which I think is a great update of the original:

I'm so glad to see folks entering my free book giveaway.  Keep those comments coming, because you can still enter for a few more days. See my last post, Enter to Win a Free Book from Mindy, for details.

Anyway, I just wanted to pop in to celebrate the fun of this new release. This is my 21st book, but that amazing feeling of holding it in my own hand for the first time never gets old. :)

Thanks for being a part of it!


Enter to Win a Free Book by Mindy

Greetings and welcome to The House That Cleans Itself blog. I'm so glad you're here! If you've been a reader before, or if you take the time now to peruse the archives, you'll see that I haven't been actively posting for a long while. I'll explain why in a sec, but first I wanted to let you know that I'm back and will be posting on a regular basis from here on out. I hope you find the information to be helpful!

Why the break? It's kind of a long story (which I'll probably share on here in the near future), but the bottom line is that in April of 2011 I suffered a brain injury and had to eliminate all but the most necessary computer tasks from my schedule. Now, more than a year and a half later, I'm still suffering from some lingering side effects of the injury, including daily headaches, but I am able to spend a bit more time on the computer than before. I've been wanting to take up blogging again, and now that the revised and updated version of The House That Cleans Itself has just been released, I thought it was the perfect time to jump back in with both feet.

To kick things off, I've decided to give away some books. One week from today, on February 1st, five entries will be chosen at random using a number generator. Winners can choose to receive ONE of the following:

The House That Cleans Itself (original version) 
The House That Cleans Itself (revised version) 
A Pocket Guide to Amish Life 
Under the Cajun Moon 
The Amish Midwife 

Here's all you need to do to enter:

 1. Answer one of the following questions in a comment to this blog:

What is the messiest area in your home right 
now--and why do you think it got that way? 


 If you win, which of the above books would 
you like to receive--and why?
2. Be sure to include your email address with your post.

3. One entry per person. Your comment must be posted by 11:59 pm on January 31st, 2013.

4. Winners will be notified via email and can then supply a mailing address for us to send the book.

I do hope you'll enter--and that you'll help spread the word that I'm back and posting again. I've got so many great ideas to share, and I bet you do too. Thanks so much for stopping by, and I'll see you again soon!

Mindy Starns Clark



Pardon the interruption. Be sure to check back next time as the series of posts on housekeeping authors continues.

In a recent comment to this blog, a reader posed a question that I thought might be of interest here. Following is her question and my answer. Please feel free to chime in via comments to this post if you have any other suggestions I didn't think of. Also, please feel free to post your own household cleaning questions for me to address in future blog entries as well. Thanks!

Q - Charity said:
I have hidden a small garbage can in our entry so that we can immediately purge any incoming things from making it into the rest of the house. It is an old metal milk box that used to sit outside on the porch for the milk man to fill each week. I absolutely love the way it looks and the way it conceals the garbage but it is scratching the wall..bad. I have tried putting sticky felt on the part that scratches but it doesn't seem to help. Any suggestions?

A - Mindy said:
Hi Charity, great question. I have a similar issue with a clothes-drying rack in my laundry room. My solution is to paint the wall the exact same gray color as the scratches that the rack makes. (No kidding, I actually held paint samples up to the scratches till I found the closest match!) I haven't painted it yet, but I've purchased the paint and hope to get around to it soon. I'll be sure to post about how it goes once I do. I doubt the scratches will disappear completely but at least they should be less noticeable.

Any chance you could do that in your entryway?

If not, I wonder if it might help to paint the metal box the color of the wall (or at least the part of the box that makes the scratches.) Hmmm, not sure if that would do any good or not, but it's worth a thought. Or perhaps there's a varnish that could be used on the box to seal in the surface and eliminate some of the discoloration that the scratches are making? You might ask someone at a local home repair store about this approach.

How about hanging a tapestry or curtain or other fabric item on the wall behind the can? I'm surprised the felt idea didn't work, maybe you just need to try that again but use thicker/better/different colored felt this time.

Finally, if it were me and none of the above solved the problem, I would consider buying a small, square seat cushion or similar and hot-gluing it to the back of the box. (Unless the box is a valuable antique or something.) That way, the only thing hitting the wall would be the padded fabric.If you don't want to hurt the box, maybe you could just affix the cushion to the wall directly behind it instead.

Anyway, these solutions are just off the top of my head, but they might get you thinking in the right direction. Thanks again for asking, and best wishes on your own House That Cleans Itself!


Farewell Stephen Bly, 1944 - 2011

Pardon the interruption. Be sure to check back next time as the series of posts on housekeeping authors continues.

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing my friend Stephen Bly for a video I was making about Christian Fiction. Later, when I was editing the footage, I couldn't get over what a "presence" he had on the screen. I figured if he ever got tired of writing, he could certainly pursue a career in television!

In the end, I used two different clips of Stephen, one to open my film and one to close it. Today when I heard about his passing, I dug up those clips and spliced them together to create the above short video in his memory. (Please excuse the shoddy camera work; the filming was quick and off the cuff, using available lighting, no tripod, and an old Super 8 camera.)

Stephen Bly was an incredible writer, a Christlike individual, and a wonderful husband to Janet. I only knew him from various professional functions, but every time I spotted his cowboy hat in the crowd, I couldn't help but smile. I know many others felt the same. He was so sweet, so funny, and such a joy to be with.

Please pray for Stephen's widow, the lovely and gracious Janet, and his entire family. I know they are grieving and rejoicing at the same time. Please also consider joining with his many friends and fans in buying a copy of his newest release, Throw the Devil off the Train, from the BLY BOOKS website or wherever books are sold. Let's s honor Stephen's talents by celebrating his books, his long and fruitful life, and, most importantly, his deep and abiding faith.

So long, Stephen Bly. No doubt, God allows cowboy hats in heaven, which means the angels are the ones spotting you in the crowd and smiling now! :)

Mindy Starns Clark

Books, Books, and More Books

So what does the author of The House That Cleans Itself reach for when she wants to read about housekeeping? I'm glad you asked! Starting this week, I'll be profiling some of my favorite authors who write about cleaning with the same “out of the box”-type thinking that my book—and this blog—have always encouraged.

I’ll start with one of my favorites, a real clever lady and an icon in the industry:
Julie Morgenstern. Julie is an organizing and time management expert -- not to mention a New York Times bestselling author. She has spent the last 20 years helping individuals and companies get organized and function smoothly.

The first book of Julie’s I ever ran across was Organizing from the Inside Out.

The advice in that book is quite unique and really resonated with my housekeeping-challenged brain. If you’d like to enhance your House That Cleans Itself approach to housekeeping with some helpful supplementary material, I strongly recommend you give this book a read.

I also once ran across a DVD of Julie’s at the library, called Time Management from the Inside Out.

I took it home and watched it and really loved what she had to say there as well. Time management is an ongoing challenge for me, so while this wasn’t exactly a final solution for my struggles with time, it did lead me to ask myself some good questions and help me to re-focus my priorities.


Other books Julie has written (which I haven’t read yet but that also look interesting) include:

SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life: A Four-Step Guide to Getting Unstuck

In this book, Julie explains how to use her four-step process SHED: Separate treasures, Heave the rest, Embrace identity from within, and Drive yourself forward. This looks like a good book for all of us who have emotional connections to our stuff but want to overcome the clutter piles once and for all!

Never Check E-Mail In the Morning: And Other Unexpected Strategies for Making Your Work Life Work

This one is for all of us working women (and men) who want to take control of our fast-paced workdays, but keep a balance between work and life. Julie gives innovative, easy-to-implement tips about improving performance and efficiency on the job. Not checking email in the morning (or at least for the first hour of work) is just the start. She also covers the dangers of multi-tasking, how to trust yourself and your skills, how to refuel by doing what you really love, and much more.

Organizing from the Inside Out for Teenagers: The Foolproof System for Organizing Your Room, Your Time, and Your Life

I always thought it would be wonderful to co-write a book with one of my daughters, and that’s just what Julie and her daughter Jessi have done in this teenage-version of Organizing from the Inside Out. Rather than messy homes and offices, this book focuses on messy bedrooms, backpacks, and cluttered social calendars. If your middle- or high-schooler needs practical advice about getting organized or managing their space and time, this sounds like the book for them. Jessi makes the process fun by adding her own comments and experiences. I should have picked this book up for my girls when they were teenagers!

And there you have it, recommended reading for the housekeeping impaired.
Come back next time to learn about another author, one who spells messy
as “Messie” for a reason!

My Office

Hi Friends, I'll be launching into my new series next week, but for today I thought I might share some fun links and a few photos with you. My webmaster has recently uploaded some pictures of my home office at my website. There you can see my treadmill desk, my amazing two-level work-surface, and even my Oreo Cookie cows.

When you're done there, you might check out this article, for which I was interviewed. Home offices can be so great--or so disastrous. If you're housekeeping impaired, don't let your mess take over the space you've designated as your work zone! Apply the House That Cleans Itself principles throughout the room to get yourself organized--and stay that way.

Recently, I ran across some old before-and-after photos of my office. Here's the before:

and here's the after:

(What, you thought I was kidding when I said my home used to be a disaster?!) I've since reorganized and gotten different furniture, etc, but it's still fun to see these pics and realize how far I've come. Here's hoping you can do the same.

See you next time!

Happy Easter

My daughter Emily made this cake, which I'm proudly showing off here. She's just so darn talented.

I hope you have a lovely day, full of family and food and celebration and JOY.

HE IS RISEN!!! Hallelujah!

Clean Travel Tip #9

Enjoy the scene captured in this shot taken near Hanalei Bay, Kauai, then let's wrap up this travel series with one last tip: ABOVE ALL ELSE, TRY TO PACK LIGHT!

There are plenty of reasons for packing light--less trouble, easier on your back, avoiding extra airline charges, etc.--but here's the biggest reason of all, at least for the housekeeping impaired: the less you pack, the less mess you can make at the other end.

It's that simple.

HAPPY TRAVELS TO YOU! Here's one last photo for the road, a shot I took from my hotel room in St. Louis last summer. Talk about a great view, huh?

See you next time, when I'll share some of my favorite housekeeping books with you!

Clean Travel Tip #8

I snapped this photo with my iPhone while on Maui. Just looking at it makes me want to grab my suit and jump in... And now here are a few more handy tips for clean and peaceful group travel: - Everyone should establish their own separate, personal KEY ZONE. That's because this is where you dump your pockets, and you don't want to dump together lest you lose and/or take each other's stuff by accident. When traveling with others, I'll usually set up my KEY ZONE somewhere on the side of the dresser that's closest to where I'll be sleeping, or maybe even in a top drawer that no one else will be using. - If you are traveling with a super neat freak, offer to contain any non-zone personal items to a specific but out-of-the-way area, for example in a back corner or behind a chair. You may even choose to drape a blanket over the pile when its not in use. That way, all your traveling companion needs do in order to avoid seeing your mess is not peek under the blanket. - If you tend to be messy, be sure that every night before you go to sleep you take a quick look around to see that you haven't left anything out on the floor or in the way. This is unfamiliar territory, remember, and you don't ever want your mess to cause someone else to trip and fall during a midnight bathroom run! - Be generous with the distribution of drawers, hangers, horizontal surfaces, plugs, etc., making sure that everyone sharing the accommodations gets an equal right to the storage options. This should go without saying, of course, but I'm including this here just in case you tend to act without thinking things through fully. Remember: A considerate travel companion would never hog all the hangers, take the top drawers of the dresser, monopolize the only table top, etc. 'Nuff said. - If there is someone you travel with frequently, such as a spouse or co-worker, try to learn from any past conflicts/mistakes/needs and solve the issues so that they don't come up again. For example, on your last trip did you... .
..lose the keys to the rental car, making you both late to an important function? If so, then you need to establish a better ZONE for those keys, or perhaps allow the other person to take charge of them whenever they're not in use. ...realize that sand was getting in your bed(s)? If so, then you need to come up with a solution for sandals, beach wear, beach toys, etc., that better limits the sand to a balcony or bathroom. ...misplace important receipts among all of the other papers that accrued? If so, then you need to establish a RECEIPT ZONE that's separate from your PAPERS ZONE so that it won't happen again.
and so on. However you deal with past problems, doing so promptly and with grace can insure that such issues are less likely to crop up again. Remember that travel can be stressful on everyone! Even the smoothest of trips can involve hassle, delays, waiting in lines, unfamiliar bathrooms, different mattress types, etc, causing temporary irritation or discomfort. If keeping your things a little neater than usual will help to ease the stress for others, then by all means give it your best try! And if you're a neatnik traveling with someone who's housekeeping impaired, remember that messy tendencies often go hand in hand with other things that you love about this person--especially on a trip--such as their spontaneity, sense of humor, or generosity. Show them some grace whenever possible. And who knows? By the end of the trip perhaps one or two of your neater habits just might have rubbed off on them!

Clean Travel Tip #7

My hubby took this photo in Hawaii, when we were cutting across the parking lot of a large apartment complex. I suppose you could call this handy surfboard rack one way to have a House That Cleans Itself--Hawaii Style! This week's traveling clean tip is about establishing "group standards" for travel cleanliness. If you are traveling with others, it's important that everyone be on the same page about the level of cleanliness you'd like to maintain as you travel. This is for the benefit of all who are on board, both the messy types and the neatniks. Somehow, regardless of how you do things at your homes, you'll need to find a middle ground of cleanliness that will work for everyone who is together on this particular trip. This may require some compromise on both sides, as those who are naturally neat may need to agree to accept a little more mess than usual, and those who are naturally messy may need to put in a bit more effort to stay neater than usual. As you sort this out, try to remember that this situation isn't forever, it's simply for this one trip! As my mother-in-law likes to say, "A man can get used to anything--except hanging!" I've been talking here about establishing various "zones" in your hotel room/condo/etc. as soon as you get there. This step is doubly important when you are traveling with others. Though some zones will be for your own personal use, you'll probably want to establish a few communal zones too. For example, two women would likely keep their ACCESSORY ZONES or their MAKEUP ZONES separate but might choose to combine their FOOD ZONE. Follow whatever procedure works best for all involved. For communal zones, you can establish them by committee, so to speak, but before you do, see if one of you is more eager than the other to be the chief zone-establisher. If so, you can save time, effort, and debate in the long run by letting one person establish the zones for all and simply inform the others what and where those zones are. When my hubby and I travel together, I choose most of the zones for us and simply clue him in once I'm done. But I do this with past trips in mind and with regard for how I know he would choose, if he were the one doing the choosing. For example, he's very tall, so I know he usually likes his KEY ZONE up high, like on a shelf above the TV, if there is one. Come back soon for more handy trips on clean and peaceful group travel.

HTCI Interview Part 7

Here's more from my recent interview with blogger Kristina Seleshanko, who has been implementing the HTCI system in her home and blogging about it online at Proverbs 31 Woman.


A lot of magazines and books discussing home organization provide costly examples of how to change our homes. Does it have to be expensive to set up an organized home? What are some examples of inexpensive ways to organize problem areas?

Mindy: Over the years, I’ve spent a personal fortune on organizational items that proved useless in the end. Somehow, I think I feel better about a problem if I throw money at it!

It is true that sometimes, yes, money needs to be spent, even in a House That Cleans Itself. The broken window blinds that hang crooked and give a messy feel to the whole room need to go. The moldy grout that has resisted every product you’ve thrown at it needs to be replaced.

But more often than not, achieving a House That Cleans Itself costs nothing at all. For example, consider the Sight Zone principle. In the book, I explain that every room in your home has at least one “Sight Zone”—that area you see first when you stand in the doorway and look inside. (A room with multiple doorways will have multiple Sight Zones.) I suggest that you evaluate the Sight Zone for every room in your house. Next, for each of those rooms, decide which elements tend to stay neater and cleaner and which tend to get messier. (For example, you might be pretty good about making the bed but pretty bad about letting your dresser top get cluttered.)

Then—here’s the key—rearrange the furniture in each room so that the part that tends to stay neater is the part that sits in the Sight Zone, while the part that tends to get messy sits in that area of the room you may not see at first.

Using the above example, you would arrange your bedroom so that the bed sits across from the doorway in plain sight, but the dresser rests against the wall beside the door, maybe even with a plant or a curtain on the near side that blocks it from full view of the door. How on earth does this give you a cleaner house? It’s a mental thing, which has physical repercussions. Allow me to explain.

Before implementing this principal, every time you walked into that room, your eyes landed on the messy dresser and your first thought was “This room is a mess.” Even if you came further into the room and saw that the bed was made, your brain said, “Look at that, I tried to do something neat to this messy room.”

Now consider the impact after implementing the Sight Zone principle. If every time you walk into that room you spot the neatly-made bed, your first thought is, “This room is neat and clean.” Then when your eyes finally catch sight of the messier part you think, “Oh look, there’s a messy spot in this clean room.”

Do you see the difference? In the first example, not only does the house feel messier, but if this happens in room after room, the mess can seem so overwhelming and hopeless that you don’t even try to clean. In the second example, not only does the house feel cleaner, but by allowing you to see the mess as an isolated issue you are more likely to jump in and clean it up as well.

Household experts and those who are naturally gifted at housekeeping would probably call this concept crazy. They would instead lecture you about that messy dresser, sell you a bunch of containers, and tell you to try harder.

Not me! I already know the cold, hard truth: If you are housekeeping impaired, lectures won’t change your behavior, containers create a whole new kind of clutter, and no matter how hard you try, you’re never going to change simply through sheer force of will.

That’s what makes the House That Cleans Itself system so different. That’s why it works, even when nothing else has ever worked before.

Clean Travel Tip #6

I took this travel pic with my iPhone, in Kauai. We were on our way to the airport to fly home and made a quick stop at one last sight we'd wanted to see all week but had never gotten around to. Thank goodness we did! It was an eyeful, for sure, and well worth the trouble. Talk about a great way to end a vacation!

As for traveling clean...

In a previous post, I talked about having an ELECTRONICS ZONE in your hotel room. Depending on the number of available electrical outlets and how they're placed, you may have to split this zone into two or more areas. For example you might have to keep your computer and related equipment on the desk, your cameras near the plug by the window, and your phone charger in the plug nearest the bed.

Though necessary, this can be risky because it's easy to miss seeing one or two chargers when you are packing to leave! To be safe, you should always follow this handy "reminder" tip so that no charger is ever left behind again.

As you are first unpacking, think in terms of something you are absolutely going to need on the day you leave, but preferably not until then. For example is there a pair of shoes or some article of clothing you know you won't be wearing until you're ready to go home? If not, maybe use an empty suitcase, an airline ticket, or something else necessary for when you leave but not needed during your stay.

Whatever item(s) you choose, integrate it significantly into your less noticeable ELECTRONICS ZONE(S). Thus, for example, when you plug in your phone charger, wrap the cord around your shoe. If you know for a fact that those are the shoes you'll be putting on when you're ready to leave, then there's no way you can miss spotting your phone charger as well. Or, run the cord for your camera charger through the handle of the empty suitcase. When you grab that suitcase to pack it, you'll see the camera charger and grab it too.

Why does your reminder item have to be something you're not going to be using during your trip? Simple: Because if you are housekeeping impaired, I can almost guarantee that you won't "re-rig" your reminder if you have to disassemble it for use. The first time you grab that shoe because you want to wear it during your stay is likely the last time the shoe and the phone charger will ever be in such close proximity again, at least while on this trip. If you are by nature a sloppy person, you're never going to remember to set up this reminder once you're finished with the item and take it back off.

If you're traveling light and don't have anything that you won't be using during your stay, then at the very least wrap something unexpected around the handle of a suitcase--such as a long wad of toilet paper--to serve as a vivid reminder of your chargers. When you are packing to go, you'll see the funky handle, wonder "What on earth?" for just a moment, and then that will jog your memory to grab your chargers.

The naturally neat might read the above and simply shake their heads or roll their eyes. But if you are housekeeping impaired, chances are you're nodding right now and going, "Good idea. I totally get it."

Isn't it great that God has filled the earth with both kinds of people? Come back soon to hear what I have to say about clean travel when your trip includes others.