Housework is like stringing beads with no knot in the end, or getting caught in a revolving door. Nothing inspires cleanliness more than surprise guests. Hiring someone else to do it is the best solution, provided it’s in your budget.

A longtime friend prominently displayed this plaque in her home: “My house is clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy.” In other words, lighten up!

A peaceful, non-chaotic environment is crucial for me to function. So, in my 50-plus years as a wife and homemaker, a few of my best tips have resurfaced. Some will recognize the simplicity and practicality.

Anyway, here goes.

My first hint is that if your ceiling fans need cleaning, just keep them turned on low, and they will rotate fast enough that the dust is unnoticeable.

If sunbeams illuminate all the dust particles and pet hair, for heaven’s sake — close the blinds! That will also disguise dirty windows.

The top hint is you cannot clean — or organize — clutter. Thinking otherwise is delusional. It can be shifted and shuffled, packed and repacked, but if there is still more stuff than there is house, you have a problem.

Decluttering is a lifetime journey. For every new item brought into our home, an old one must go. This helps maintain my current clutter level. So much stuff distracts from actually cleaning the house, because I keep finding so much cool stuff.

Unless you absolutely love it or need it, get rid of it.

Do you love to dust? Not me. A wise little old friend said it best, “If I dust only once every six weeks, when I actually do it, it looks as good as if I had done it every day.”

On the other hand, dust is a protective coating for furniture finishes. “From dust thou art and to dust thou shalt return.” Removing it might be getting rid of a dear friend, so why risk it?

Households may need to be swept and vacuumed every day or only once a week. Keeping things in order and organized helps tremendously in the appearance of your living quarters. Even when the house is in sad need of cleaning, if it’s tidy, it doesn’t look half bad.

Overflowing trash is not appealing, so keep wastebaskets emptied as a quick way to spruce up an area. Put away folded laundry. It’s OK to leave a load of towels in the dryer overnight, but do avoid leaving permanent press in there for too long, causing you more work later.

One thing I love is keeping my kitchens sinks empty and clean. The entire kitchen appears cleaner and well organized if shiny sinks greet me, especially first thing in the morning.

Listen to advice from old people. They have lived long enough to know what is truly important and what is not.

Of course we desire our dwellings to be clean as well as tidy, but please, please remember me for something more than that—an influence for good, an encourager, a great cook, a good daughter or wife, an honest person or even someone who adored children is much preferable. As a reformed Immaculate Irma, let me assure you that there has never been chiseled into a granite headstone the words, “She was a spotless housekeeper.”

If food is very badly burned onto the surface of a pan, consider just tossing it in the trash. Especially if it’s old and worn out anyway. It was both exhilarating and liberating when I actually did it once.

Cleaning glass shower doors used to be my nemesis. The doors were bad enough but those tracks were insanely wild. I finally convinced hubby to remove it! Problem solved! A rod and shower curtains were quickly installed. Tip. Buy cheap shower liners (think Dollar Tree) so you never need to wash them. When they get too crusty and soapified, toss them and put up a new one.

The best way to fold a fitted sheet is to roll into a big ball and stuff into the linen closet unless you’re an alcoholic. That will help you not to care. If you really do attempt it eat your Wheaties because it will require all your strength and half a morning to fold one.

Keeping a few get well cards sitting around on the mantle or coffee table will assist your guests to assume you’ve been sick, especially if you wear your jammies all day.

Besides, laughing is better than crying and helps keep eye makeup intact. I’m still waiting for my fairy tale life to produce those animals that do all the housework for me. Until then, it appears that my dust bunnies have killed my cleaning fairy.

— Hill describes herself as a cook and cookbook author, jack of all trades and master of none, a Christian wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

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