The Difference Between Cleaning and Organizing

This article was originally published on Declutter Me, by Shelina Jokhiya.

Many times during the week I will be compared to a maid. It seems to shock people when I explain that I do not provide a maid cleaning service, but provide an organizing service which enables you to be organized moving forward. Organizing and cleaning are entirely distinct undertakings which require you to have different thought processes and actions. So here is my explanation of what is cleaning and organizing (or in other words the difference between a professional organizer and a maid):




Cleaning involves the use of cleaning products such as dust cloths, disinfectant, brooms, mops, cleaners, etc. Examples of cleaning activities include mopping, sweeping, scrubbing, vacuuming.


This means sorting out the clutter and items in your home or office and deciding what to keep, donate or throw away. You need to decide on the value of these possessions and what you really use or need in your area. Most importantly organizing means creating systems to help you locate items at any time in the future.


I am not a fan of cleaning my home especially dusting and mopping the floor, so I hire a maid to come once a week to clean the house from top to bottom. Any items she doesn’t know where to store, she leaves in a set space for me to sort out and organize when I return home.

Organizing is a very personal and emotional process managing your belongings. It requires time and patience to go through the items and decide what to discard or keep; this is why I work 1-2-1 with my clients and do not have assistants hovering around. We also work together to decide how to organize the items that are remaining in the home, so that we can create a system that will work for them in the future.

Often you will hear organizers tell client’s to not tidy up before we come to start the session. Cleaning is advisable especially if there are dirty dishes around and trash bags, but we can go through the rest of the items together to declutter and organize.

I don’t know which should come first, cleaning or organizing, (and then cleaning again afterwards) but what I do know is that you cannot set unrealistic goals for doing them both at the same time.

In both cases you can get assistance to help you clean and organize, but just remember they are different services. If a maid service advises that they organize, be sure to check what credentials they have for organizing.

At the end of the day, do what you need to enable you to be happy in your environment.

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