Category: <span>Cleaning</span>

August has been full of action, that’s for sure. John started crawling this month, and Jeff had his 2nd birthday party! I’ve been super busy working and taking care of the boys, and while I haven’t had much time to blog about each daily detailed cleaning task, I’ve found that my initial 25 minute plan was way too long. I have implemented a new PLUS ONE MENTALITY. I found that by doing one extra task each time I was doing an already necessary job, I was nailing detailed jobs left and right without dread and usually under 3 minutes. For example, when starting the laundry, spend a few seconds wiping off the washer and dryer for detergent residue and dust. Even if you choose only one tiny area per day, it really adds up in a week! Here are some more plus-one jobs that I have been getting done around the house:

1. Rinsing out the coffee maker with vinegar and water.

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2. Washing the light fixtures in the bathroom.

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3.  Taking off the deck screens and cleaning the windows with glass cleaner and squeegee.

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4. Pouring vinegar down the disposal, letting it sit, and then running the disposal for a minute. Most people do not run their disposals enough, leading to smelly buildup.

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5. Cleaning out the crumb tray and wiping down toaster with vinegar.

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Other things that have been done: microwave cleaned out, bathroom drawers cleaned and organized, and my cleaning supplies in the garage organized. The reason I blog about  this is not to say, “I’ve cleaned a  ton of stuff!” Rather, I am trying to say, “Life is super chaotic, but it’s been really rewarding to do little things here and there that make a difference.” Adding one small detail to your normal routine may take 2-10 minutes to complete, but it’s really beneficiary to your home’s appearance and cleanliness.

Let me know your tricks for getting tasks like this done or specific areas for which you’d like suggestions.

Happy cleaning!

 

Cleaning Efficiency Hacks

Day 5: Toys R (of course) Us

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Jeff’s 2nd birthday is coming up in a week and I am prepping for the incoming gifts. Our boys are the only grandchildren on both sides of the family so they are very, wonderfully loved. I could tell you that I’m not in favor of gifts for birthdays, but that’s just not true. I love them. Specifically, I love homemade gifts  that we can always treasure or super cheap $1 gifts that can be enjoyed and given away later on, guilt free. Jeff and I spent twenty-five minutes going through the little toys in his room – organizing into trash, donate, and toy categories. So many items couldn’t be played with well, because they weren’t together with the appropriate set. I did successfully get one full trash bag (since so many of his toys were old baby food lids and random household items) and one full donate bag.

Here is a good post on toys and minimizing: http://www.becomingminimalist.com/why-fewer-toys-will-actually-benefit-your-kids/

 

Day 6: Back Door Dirt

photo 3(8)Our entire garage door area needs work, but our back door is the most-used and thus looks the most . . . used. Taking care of little areas like this can add up over time, and lessen the burden if the time ever comes when we want to sell our house. I of course used a Magic Eraser, and voila:

photo 4(4)The scratches will need a touch-up paint job.

Magic Eraser Hint

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, I love Magic Erasers. However, I love them mostly for two areas: the bathroom and for high gloss paint. I do not like them on satin walls, flat walls, anything texturized. But glossy trim, metal doors, sinks, bathtubs, and anything smooth . . . erase away.

All Natural Rip Off

I love to go to Fresh Market to browse. It’s a pleasurable array of scents, lighting and displays, and classical music. It is not where I go to shop. You can usually find the same products they offer elsewhere for better quality (organic, grass fed, etc) and significantly lower prices.

photo 3(9)I wanted to show you that they also offer Parsley Plus, for nearly double what Walmart offers. But if you are a shopper that detests Walmart, you can find it here.

photo 2(18)I also wanted to show you that this Charlie’s Soap (recommended for cleaning nearly everything) that costs $10!!! is simply water, detergent, and sodium carbonate. You can make this at home, folks! And $10! It took me a while to get over that one.

photo 1(16)Natural is good. Organic, even better. But $10 for one bottle? Nope. But this is a good lesson to always look at ingredients. Know what you’re paying for and know what you’re putting in your home, your skin, your lungs.

Happy cleaning!

Cleaning Efficiency Money

So, I did do some detail action yesterday, but I did not blog. You are just going to have to believe me when I say it was ca-razy. In the past 34 hours we’ve dealt with colds, missed naps, busted lips, 22 time outs, and . . . strep. That’s right strep. No fever, no symptoms, but low and behold my difficult toddler was flaming with strep. I may or may not have bought him a new $3 truck because I felt oh-so-guilty for those timeouts in the midst of silent strep. :-/

Day 3: Linen Closet

Our linen closet has been in a state of disarray since Jeff was born. Jeff, my 2 year old. I am not kidding. Here is a “before” shot:

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetThat pile of bottles in the middle, that’s our medicine cabinet. Clearly it takes me an hour to find what I’m looking for when an illness arises. Cortisone cream? Sure no problem, let me look through EVERY medicine acquired since our wedding day.

True to my word, I spent 25 minutes taking everything out and organizing it. I divided it into sheets, pillow cases, towels, hand towels, comforters, and meds. The meds I actually separated into a storage container that was previously holding baby onesies. I separated those into Rx, OTC, and children’s. It’s not perfect, but it’s progress!

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Organizing Tip:

The more specific you are when finding a place for items, the better your system will be. For example, if you are organizing your laundry room, you may start out by designating a place for household cleaners and laundry detergents. It’s a good start! But what you’ll find is your space can still get chaotic. A better approach (and one that takes a little more effort on the front end) is to designate places for detergents, stain removers, bleach, commonly used cleaners (like your cleaning caboodle), carpet cleaners, appliance cleaners, etc. It makes it easy to find what you need and easy to know where new items should go.

 

Day 4: Under Kitchen Cabinets

Ok, this is about to get real. Here is your warning to not look below if you are easily repulsed. You cannot see underneath our kitchen cabinets when standing, and this is an area that I have not cleaned since we moved into our house. We bought our home when I was pregnant with Jeff, and we were doing projects until he came. This area . . . well, I did not get to. I am so sorry.

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I spent 10 minutes cleaning underneath all of them, and the result was not magazine worthy, but it was okay baby you can eat off the floor worthy.

photo 2(16)10 minutes. And I waited 2 years to do that? Sheesh.

Happy cleaning!

Oh . . . and watch out. Your entire family may have strep and you not know it. Kidding. Sort of.

Cleaning Organizing

For months I have glared up at the living room ceiling fan. I keep the blades dusted, but they’ve had a dark residue on them that the duster alone can’t get. I know some folks never even think to dust their fans, and they may normally have an inch or two of dust on top of the blades. I am truly a non-judgmental house guest. If I ever go to someone’s house, I do not think about what needs to be cleaned . . . unless you have fur growing on top of your fans. That is the only item I can’t un-see.

photo 1(12)I spent about ten minutes wiping down the blades, globe, and motor cover with disinfecting wipes. It’s just faster than paper towels, and they stay wet, and for whatever reason they work better than wet cloths. You can see the darkened ends, and the tops had a sticky residue as well.

photo 4(3)Finally, clean blades.

 

I had 15 minutes left, and chose to clean the dead bugs that have been shading our front door and kitchen area for the summer months. Bugs in lights are worse in the summer, I find, and I hate seeing black death in the bottom of globes. I also hate cleaning them out. It’s not hard to get the covers off, it’s super easy to clean them, but then it takes a good hour and a half of sweat and cursing to get them screwed back on right.

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This one doesn’t look bad, and I actually cleaned this light back in the fall. But when the lights are on, you can see fifteen little dead bugs and that super gross caterpillar. I didn’t take an “after shot”, but let me tell you, it’s pretty satisfying to rinse these out and have bright light shine through. What isn’t satisfying is realizing you wish you could switch out every light fixture in your house.

(Confession: I have pinned those pictures of chandeliers hanging in laundry rooms multiple times. I once mentioned it to my husband, and after a good ten minute discussion about it, I still believe he thought I was joking. Light fixtures are one of my favorite things. “I love lamp.”)

I also cleaned the large overhead light in the kitchen. This one is the worst, as bugs LOVE their florescent homes. Here is the after:

photo 2(15)I know, I know. This photo is pure art. The way I captured the . . . light. Kidding. Terrible photo; terrible joke. But there are no more dead insects. 🙂

Day 2, two tasks, done in 25 minutes. Thank you, wet wipes.

Happy cleaning!

Cleaning Hacks

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Phew what a busy month! In the midst of working, vacationing traveling, making repairs on our basement rental, and traveling more, it’s been all I can do to make sure we have a few clean clothes and dishes along the way. Oh, the laundry. Above, my almost-two-year-old is dusting the pile of clothes; clearly, they have been there too long. We have had very little time to maintain our routine, and along the way tasks seem to have piled up in a similar fashion to the laundry.

In the moments when we are home and I attempt to get the bare necessities taken care of, I am constantly seeing areas that I haven’t had time to get to in months. Some areas I haven’t even had time to get to since we moved into our house over 2 years ago. Many detail jobs just haven’t been priorities in the midst of work, babies, regular home maintenance and life. . . ya know, like ridding the kitchen cabinets and drawers of who-knows-what and yucky-yuck, wiping the walls down, washing the air-return vents, etc.

So! For the rest of this month, I am going to be detail-cleaning one area of my house each week day and blogging about it. I guarantee I will spend 25 min or less on each task.

I have two priorities here:

  1. That I will actually CLEAN some of these areas I’ve had to overlook the past two years, and make visual improvements on our home in short segments of time.
  2. That it will help some of you be able to tackle areas of your home that are usually overlooked or under-looked.

Some items may not apply to your house (or your cares), but hopefully my efforts will stimulate motivation in you. Your tasks may require more than 25 min to complete, but just remember: Progress Not Perfection.

It’s August. School is starting back. Schedules are getting back in the swing, and I am going to tackle (quickly!) these little things that have been irking me for months!

Day 1: Kitchen Cabinets & Floor Vents

I do not have a “before” photo, but you should thank me. It could have induced vomiting. But it took only 5 minutes to clean the floor vents in the kitchen and downstairs bathroom. They were DISGUSTING. I washed with water and dish soap, and here is the after:

photo 3(6)Note: The glass of wine is a must for these 25 min detail jobs. So is Pandora.

I had 20 minutes left to work on a problem area, and so I chose the kitchen cabinet doors. Ours are white, and they keep no secrets. They tell all your dirty past, friends. All of our cabinet doors contain this grime in the molding, and this photo does not do the filth justice:

photo 1(11)20 minutes later . . .

photo 2(13)I used a wet washcloth and Method All Purpose Cleaner (grapefruit). You can just use dish soap and water. The trick is just wiping it down!

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s task.

Happy cleaning!

Cleaning Efficiency Hacks

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Tips From Your Realtor

When you decide to put your house on the market, most realtors will give you a list of goals for your house, which probably consist of:

  • Walls painted a neutral color
  • Reduce family photos to create more neutrality
  • Reduce clutter and move it into storage
  • Create a welcoming front doorway/walkway and make any necessary repairs
  • Reduce closet clutter and organize
  • Use this in-depth checklist for more tips

Tips From A House Cleaner

Speaking from a house cleaner’s point of view, I would add these suggestions:

  • Beds made (always)
  • Floors picked up and vacuumed (keep bins around for easy toss and store – you can find really neat wire and metal bins for under $15 at places like Marshall’s and Lowes).
  • Kitchen counters and appliances cleaned and wiped down (SINK EMPTY and wiped down)
  • Bathroom mirrors cleaned, counters cleaned, and showers free of mildew
  • Scent. Okay, many realtors will tell you to bake cookies or light candles. I say throw this in with “don’t spray fragrances.” This may be just a personal thing, but I would shoot for NO scent. So, empty ALL trash cans before viewers come, make sure the disposal is cleared out (pour vinegar down to help), and all toilets flushed. Also, if you have pets, make sure your vacuum bag is or filter is clean, otherwise it can smell like you just vacuumed and pet hair is burning.
  • Keep blinds and curtains open to allow light. I am a HUGE fan of natural light and you want your house to appear bright. Also, it will allow you to see areas that need a quick dusting/wipe down (Swiffer, baby).
  • If you don’t have time to mop, just look around for any stuck-on food, trash, etc, and use a wet wipe to clean.
  • If you have time, clean any entry-way windows with a glass cleaner and squeegee.

Tips From A Home Maker

Speaking as a home maker and as someone who spends way too much time thinking about houses, I would say make your house feel like the viewer’s potential home. This may mean rearranging rooms. Try to think in terms of spaces. People are looking for the places they are going to spend their lives, so create rooms that allow for the maximum use. Brainstorm what it is you love when you visit B&B’s or friends’ houses. You may not think you have a special laundry room or space for an office, but I guarantee you there is potential for more in every home.

Spaces for:

  • Cooking
  • Creating/Crafting
  • Business
  • Reading
  • Relaxing
  • Visiting
  • Laundry
  • Cuddling babies
  • House guests (guest room/bath)

Another tip specifically for small spaces is mirrors. Mirrors are great for making a small room seem bigger. And try to arrange furniture in a way that flows with the room. As you walk through a room, try to keep it balanced and allow for easy access. And of course, if you would like help maximizing and staging YOUR space, then call me! I would love to help.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetBest of luck in selling your home!

Cleaning Decorating Money Organizing

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetThe boys and I went with our friends to the botanical gardens today. I love it there. I noted to Casey how much I loved the smell of all the plants in the atrium. So clean. So pure. So moist. It reminded me of one of my favorite decorating tips: house plants. I have a house plant in every room in our house. I have had a house plant ever since my first day as a freshman at UGA in Russell Hall.

Green Decorating

House plants are a must for several reasons:

  • They are easy to care for, hard to kill. Most house plants take in little water, like succulents and philodendrons
  • They add life and color to rooms at a low cost
  • They remove pollutants from the air, even harmful chemicals and VOCs
  • They can multitask, i.e. aloe for burns
  • They are GREAT for those of us who are not outside plant people. (I envy those with beautiful yards. It’s one of my long-term goals, but sadly, we are poor yard folks. House cleaning barter anyone??)

Check out this article on house plants!

http://www.mnn.com/health/healthy-spaces/photos/15-houseplants-for-improving-indoor-air-quality/a-breath-of-fresh-air

Cleaning Decorating Hacks

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White Carpet. Whoever had that idea didn’t have much foresight. You might as well surrender on the spot if you have hopes of it staying white. I have tried several stain removers including Melaleuca’s Sol-u-mel, Oxy-clean powder for carpet, vinegar + baking soda, and the above listed, biokleen Bac-out and Folex. I used them on old stains in addition to new ones, and my first and second choice are biokleen and folex. Both are non-toxic and safe.

Why I Like It

Biokleen is safe and uses natural enzymes to remove stains and odor. It smells amazing. Most importantly, it works great! I used it on poop stains, coffee stains, milk stains, and clay. It worked best on upholstery and new stains. There is no rinsing. Just spray and blot. If you have pets, this is a great one to fight odors. It uses lime extract, so it doesn’t smell like a fragrance, just fresh. I would ditch any Febreze and use this. I found myself using this on the baseboards just because it made the house smell clean!

Runner Up

The Folex was my choice for runner-up. It promises stain removal in carpet with a money back (plus tax) guarantee. It did a noticeably better job than the oxy-clean, but it lacked the odor fighting side that the biokleen has. One woman told me it got red lipstick out of her white carpet.

How to remove stains

The first thing you want to do with any new spill is BLOT, don’t wipe. You want to soak up as much as possible into a paper towel or old rag. You have the most power if the stain is still wet. Same goes for clothing. If you have a stain, remember you can wash over and over until it’s out, but as soon as you toss that shirt in the dryer, you are sealing your fate, so to speak. Stains can still be improved upon, but your best bet is to work while it’s wet.

 

 My Solution

photo 2(3)I am a HUGE fan of the indoor/outdoor rugs for inside. They’re durable. They’re dirt and stain resistant. They protect the white.

 

Let me know your favorite stain removers! Also, if you have trouble stains you can’t seem to get out, let me know and I’ll see what I can find!

Happy cleaning!

Cleaning Hacks

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Is this how you feel when you’re about to battle the great, disgusting bathroom? I am almost immune to the gross factor of bathroom cleaning, since I do it on a daily basis for our family and others . . . almost. There are still certain times I want to dip my body in acid afterward. But having a filthy bathroom is one area I just can’t handle.

20140617-183953-67193686.jpgI post this picture to show that we are in the middle of potty training. I haven’t been as consistent as I should, because it’s hard and I work and well, I can only clean pee and poo off the floor so many times before I cave.

My husband referred to bathroom cleaning a few weeks ago as “Slaying the beast,” but the phrase is faulty. You can never conquer it once and for all. The soap scum, the mildew, the . . . hair . . . always come back. You can, however TAME the beast. It is possible. I once thought that cleaning a bathroom was something everyone knew how to do, common sense. After six years of professional cleaning, I know full well that this isn’t the case. For whatever reason, many people do not know how to clean a bathroom or how to clean it well. And of course, many just avoid cleaning it because they detest it. My own sweet husband thought cleaning bathroom meant sprinkling comet in the toilet and walking away when I first married him. No, no, sweet husband.  I am writing this post to help you tame your monster, conquer your dread, and do it on a professional level!

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Supplies

  • Disposable gloves (I prefer nitrile over latex)
  • Glass cleaner/paper towels
  • Swiffer duster
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Dry Cloth
  • Toilet bowl cleaner/brush
  • Magic Eraser (Bathroom erasers are stronger and will last longer)
  • Shower Cleaner (I like Method Bathroom Cleaner)
  • Small grout brush

Cleaning Guide

(wear gloves at all times)

  1. Dust your light fixtures, toilet paper holders, window frames and baseboards.
  2. Clean mirrors and windows with glass cleaner (Method glass, vinegar, etc). (FYI unclean mirrors are my #1 pet peeve. I can get over a lot of yuck, but I cannot get over splattered tooth paste and water marks on mirrors. If you are quickly getting ready for unexpected guests and only have time to do a couple things, clean your bathroom mirrors. It instantly spruces it up).
  3. Spray bathroom cleaner on counter and in sink. Use a magic eraser in sink, and make sure to clean around and behind the faucet. Use a tile brush to clean around drain. Dry counter and faucet/handles with cloth.
  4. Use a disinfecting wipe to clean the outside of the toilet and dry it with a cloth. Remember to clean under lid, behind seat hinges, underneath the seat, around the outside of the bowl, and the base of the toilet where it’s bolted down. (Yes, this gets gross, but consistent cleaning and GLOVES make it doable.)
  5. Scrub inside toilet with cleaner and brush and flush when done.
  6. Use a disinfecting wipes on any baseboards that have residue or stubborn dust.

SHOWERS

Showers get their own section. First of all, there are many different types of tubs and showers – fiber glass, ceramic, subway tile, stone tile, etc. The most common that I clean are fiberglass and they are the easiest to clean. Below is a photo of water buildup on one of our showers in a week’s time, and another showing the magic that magic erasers do. I know I talk about them all the time, but I truly do love them. It’s easy. It’s effective. And you aren’t constantly spraying cleaner. I spray cleaner one time, and then just stick to the magic eraser.

Processed with VSCOcam with p5 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 presetShower Cleaning Guide

  1.  Spray cleaner on shower (whatever you use, just know you don’t have to  use harsh chemicals; if you have trouble breathing while cleaning the shower, choose another cleaner).
  2. Use magic eraser –  it’s great for removing soap scum on all surfaces, even stone tile. I also use magic eraser on GLASS DOORS to remove soap scum and water buildup.
  3. Use grout brush on any grout (with cleaner or baking soda and vinegar), around drain, shower door racks, etc. Rinse.
  4. Clean shower doors again with glass cleaner and cloth or squeegee.

Maintenance

Cleaning a  bathroom is something that needs to be done regularly, but there are certain parts that are most important, in my opinion. I would say keeping the toilet flushed and the outside clean of urine are the biggest.  For appearances, I would try to keep counters and mirrors clean. One more trick for helping to reduce odors is to line your trashcans with grocery bags and empty often. And of course, if cleaning your bathroom is just something you do not want to do, then CALL ME!  😉

Happy Cleaning!

Hallie

**Referring to the top picture of my son, no children were harmed in the making of this post. I made him a bowl of cereal . . . because he asked for a bowl of cereal. A perfect reason for a meltdown. Please see: http://jasongood.net/365/2012/12/46-reasons-why-my-three-year-old-might-be-freaking-out/

Cleaning Efficiency

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Since we all have different schedules and personality types, I’ve come up with a couple of options as far as cleaning schedules. Some folks would rather do a full house cleaning once every 1-2 weeks. Others would rather work on one area each week day and avoid having to do the whole top-to-bottom cleaning at once. I’m also providing a Daily Household Tasks Checklist that you can refer to for routine upkeep. And these are just a guide, so alter the plans to fit your style and needs! Happy Cleaning!

Daily Household Tasks Checklist

Daily Cleaning Checklist (PDF Download)

Weekly Whole House Cleaning Checklist

Weekly Cleaning Checklist (PDF Download)

Mon-Fri Cleaning Schedule

Monday-Friday Cleaning Checklist (PDF Download)

Cleaning Efficiency Hacks Organizing