Creative Solutions to Household Problems

In my last post, I said that a house that cleans itself is a house that is set up so logically and so efficiently that it practically cleans itself. So how does this translate to the down-and-dirty world in your home? I have a number of answers to that question, but we'll begin here by taking a look at our first option, a common technique known as Creative Problem Solving.

Creative problem solving involves isolating a problem then thinking outside of the box to find solutions to that problem. It takes a bit of experimenting and tweaking, but eventually you can solve most of the biggest messes in your house by simply circumventing those messes and preventing them from happening in the first place.

Before I walk you through an example of creative problem solving and how it works, I'm going to give you an assignment: Right now, take a look around your home and think of some area that tends to get messy or stay messy more often than others. In a comment to this blog or in an email to MindyStarnsClark@aol.com, tell us WHERE: the room or area, WHAT: the nature of what constitutes the mess, and WHY: why you think it's happening. For example, you might say

WHERE: The kitchen table
WHAT: My kids do their homework there, then they leave behind scraps of paper, glue sticks, crayons, and other related detritus.
WHY: Because they think that once the homework is done and put away in their backpacks, the mess they leave behind is going to magically clean itself.

WHERE: The master bathroom
WHAT: My husband uses a towel then tosses it on the floor where it sits, damp and stinky, until I pick it up and carry it to the laundry room.
WHY: Because he's lazy and doesn’t do his share!

WHERE: The car
WHAT: I tend to treat it like a roving junk-mobile, and it's always full of papers, clothes, tennis gear, fast food wrappers, and stuff like that.
WHY: Because it's a lot of trouble to clean out a car and I just never seem to have the time.

Get the idea? Tell us about one of your problem areas. Then we can talk about how to approach such problems for good—the House That Cleans Itself way!



  1. Where: The dining room table
    What: piles of paper/books/mail/everything!
    Why: we throw the mail there when it comes in, then open it and throw it back. I do homework there. Clean my purse there. dh puts receipts there. We both Lay stuff there when we bring it in. The busier we are the worse it gets! And it drives me nuts!

  2. Where: My "pantry" walk-in-closet (it has shelves and drawers and hooks too!)
    What: My writing files, books, office supplies, cleaning supplies, kids craft supplies, and paper goods (my husband wants it to be pantry items only, but I have a corner lazy Susan to hold these canned and dry goods - I have no idea where I'd put these other items in my house)
    Why: these items (to my husband's chagrin have take over, or rather are in constant disarray), the idea of a place for everything and everything in its place flies right out the window - or should I say off the shelf and onto the floor - with new items added or moved daily, I can't keep up with it all. Oh yeah, the sweeper and mops are in there too. The floor is as cluttered as the shelves.

  3. Where: the kitchen floor

    What: hubby's shoes and dirty socks

    Why: Because that's where he puts 'em when he gets home from a hard day of work. Every day.

  4. Okay Mindy, I bought your book (it was nice seeing you at the Philly writers conference by the way) and I took the first step, my home base zone is my kitchen island. I'm driving every nuts trying to keep it clutter free. My boys now (lovingly) tease me and say, "Uh, oh. Look out, don't put anything on Mom's home base zone..."

  5. Where: Living room
    What: Clean folded and unfolded laundry

    Why: Because I hate to carry the laundry up stairs I also hate to fold. Apparently I am not the only one!! LOL!!!

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  7. I'm having a hard time finding my base zone...any suggestions on how to narrow one down...perfectionist/ADD overload here:)

  8. Where: my desk
    What: mostly mail, but also anything else I can pile there
    Why: I don't know what to do with all my mail or don't want to deal with it

  9. Where: living room couch(sectional)
    What: clean clothes, jackets, books, blanket, diaper bag, my purse, crayon box(what's on it right now)
    Why: i know i need another bookshelf -- one for my kids' books; clothes were set there to sort through "later"; i do not have a set spot for my purse or keys

  10. Where: The Foyer

    What: Everything that is carried into the house - mail, bags, shoes, toys, umbrellas, strollers, empty Sonic cups - everything ends up in the foyer

    Why: Because we are too lazy to put things where they should go, we have two small children who usually want something as soon as we get home, and because we don't have assigned places to put certain things.