Category: <span>Cleaning</span>

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When they aren’t covered in shoes, laundry, Legos, Cheerios, and Tupperware, they still scream “Children live here!” with the tell-tale signs of dirt, sticky smudges, dust, and food residue. Kids eat three meals and 500 snacks a day, so there is an endless supply of yuck. When my first born was crawling, we went through a season where I decided not to pick up the spilled Goldfish, as he would eventually make his way back around to eating them. But for those times when you are ready to get your hardwoods shiny and linoleum rid of stuck-on food, here are some tricks and safe-for-crawlers cleaners to help us.

Generally, Vacuuming is Better Than Sweeping

You will never see me using a broom inside, unless it’s on a stairwell. I always recommend vacuuming hard floors with the vacuum floor attachment. It’s more efficient; it’s more effective. It’s great for getting under counters, in corners, etc. I have tried nearly every vacuum known to man – uprights, canisters, Dysons, Rainbows, Kirbys, Hoovers, etc. But my favorite is the Kenmore Progressive Canister. It’s affordable, extremely effective, and is super easy to maneuver on hard floors, furniture, etc. If you have mainly carpet, an upright makes sense. If you have a lot of hard floor, I will always recommend a canister. Try some out and ultimately get what you like!

My choice – Kenmore Canister Vacuum: amzn.to/1mKSOBr

Hardwood: Wet or Damp Mop

Real hardwoods are my absolute favorite. They are easy to clean and they are beautiful to me, even when messy. And you have the freedom of choosing between a wet or damp mop. Wet mopping requires you to fill a bucket with water and floor cleaner, while damp mopping uses a flat mop with a cloth cover and a spray bottle of floor cleaner that you spray on the floor as you go along.

Either works well, it’s just a matter of preference. If your house is full of hardwood, I would lean towards a wet mop, simply because it’s faster.

photo(1)(Proof that kids are eager to help us clean!)

Laminate: Damp Mop Only

When it comes to laminate, especially wood-design laminate, always go with a flat damp mop and mop cover. Using a wet mop will leave water marks and streaks. Remember to always mop along the grain to reduce any streaking. Also, make sure if you are using a concentrate floor cleaner in your spray bottle to have the right ratio of cleaner to water, or it will leave a residue.

Flat Mop: amzn.to/1n623Oj

Linoleum: Steamer and Magic Eraser

While hardwoods are my favorite, linoleum is my least favorite to clean, even though everyone’s house seems to have linoleum somewhere. They are easily stained, hard to clean, and I swear they are a magnet for sticky food. Two things I recommend trying on top of regular mopping – a magic eraser mop and a steamer. The floor steamer can be good for getting up dried food. The magic eraser mop is good for getting up stains.

Green Floor Cleaners

My top three favorite floor cleaners are:

  • Earth Choice Neutral pH Floor Cleaner : amzn.to/1kjPm3x
  • Melaleuca’s Tough and Tender 
  • Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day All Purpose Cleaneramzn.to/1nITyMt

These are all highly effective, safe for little hands that like to eat off the floor, and do well on all hard floor surfaces. The Earth Choice is probably my favorite, but tell me what you like and why in the comments!

What Maintenance Looks Like

The reality is, no one has the time or desire to vacuum and mop several times a week. I personally mop once every two weeks, and vacuum our kitchen/living room (highest traffic areas) several times a week. I did get a small $30 floor vacuum to stay in our kitchen, thinking it would be more convenient in cleaning after meals, but it only served to frustrate me more, since it had poorer suction than our Kenmore. Having a steamer on hand can be helpful after meals because it can get food up easily and you just toss the cover in the wash when you’re done. Ultimately, having clean floors just takes a little effort here and there throughout the week. Keeping the highest traffic areas vacuumed will help keep the rest of the house clean as well.

 

 

 

Cleaning Hacks

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When my husband and I first got married, I moved into the bachelor pad he’d called home for three years. He proudly boasted that he’d cleaned for over a week straight so it would be ready for me. When I stepped foot inside . . . I cried. Sobbed. Trash all over. Grit beneath my feet. Fans covered in dust. A red something all over the kitchen wall that I chose to believe was spaghetti sauce and not vomit. A grungy bathroom that had comet powder poured all over it . . . a week prior! And all I could think was, “what in the world were you doing for a week?!”

Does your whole house need a cleaning, but you don’t even know where to start? Overwhelmed at all that needs to be done? Cleaning comes naturally to some. Others genuinely need help in knowing where to start and where to go from there. This blog post is not for those with only 30 minutes to get the house looking great (though I’ll tell you tricks for that in another post!). This is for the folks ready to do a full, top-to-bottom cleaning.

When you are geared up and ready to clean, start by dividing the job into four parts: kitchen, bathrooms, dusting, floors. Tackling the job via category, rather than room by room, is a more efficient way to get it done. It will help you stay focused, and not get side tracked by each unclean area you see.

Before you begin remember to get your Cleaning Caboodle ready, and have your bags on hand for trash and item collection. I will be posting in depth tips on each category soon, but for now, try this general regimen the next time you need a thorough cleanup:

Kitchen

  • Empty sink of dishes
  • Spray counter and wipe clean with cloth (make sure to get under and behind items)
  • Wipe microwave door with glass cleaner
  • Spray stove top, oven door, and dishwasher door with all-purpose cleaner and wipe clean
  • Use a disinfecting wipe, to clean inside sink, and then spray with stainless cleaner or vinegar and wipe dry with a cloth

Bathroom

  • Spray mirror with glass cleaner and wipe clean with paper towel
  • Spray counter and sink with shower cleaner, scrub with a Magic Eraser and wipe dry
  • Using a cleaning wipe, go over toilet from the top of the tank to inside of the lid, the seat, all the way down to base. Wipe dry with cloth.
  • Clean toilet bowl with toilet brush and toilet bowl cleaner
  • Using shower cleaner and magic eraser, clean the tub and rinse
  • If you have glass shower doors, use the magic eraser and shower cleaner to first get soap scum off. Then, use glass cleaner and squeegee or cloth over glass. (use a wipe to clean out the track at the bottom of door)

Dusting

  • Use a long duster to go over ceiling fans, high corners, etc.
  • Use Swiffer on blinds, window sills, and furniture
  • Use polish and cloth on dressers, tables, wood
  • Go over visible baseboards with Swiffer

Floors

  • Vacuum carpet
  • Rather than sweeping, vacuum hard floors with the floor attachment.
  • Mop

If just scanning over this list has you exhausted, I understand! You’ll be surprised at how fast you can move through tasks when you have a guide with you. Using this map for cleaning will help you accomplish whole areas before you realize it. And if you only get through one area, that’s ok! Remember, progress, not perfection!

 

Cleaning Efficiency Hacks

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Alright, female readers. You remember caboodles, right? They were awesome! It was like a Mary Poppins tackle box. Everything in one place, organized, and you carried it with you. Likewise, any handyman (or woman) will tell you that it slows the job to a crawl when you have to walk back and forth to get one tool at a time. Thus, they carry a tool belt or tool box.

So before we start our on our cleaning schedule, lets get our tools together and bundle them into one neat cleaning caboodle. It’s so much easier to have all your supplies together so that you can carry them with you throughout the house, rather than having multiple cleaners in the bathroom, laundry room, kitchen, etc. As an added benefit, you can always see immediately any cleaners that need refilled, or supplies that need restocked.

First, you need a bucket, box, or caboodle. Then, you can stock it with whatever you like, but here’s what I carry with me:

  • All-purpose cleaner (Parsley Plus)
  • Glass cleaner or vinegar + water
  • Dusting polish (Method Wood Cleaner)
  • Shower cleaner (Method Shower)
  • Toilet bowl cleaner (Green Works)
  • Cleaning wipes (Seventh Generation)
  • Swiffer duster
  • Microfiber an cotton cloths*
  • Toilet bowl brush
  • Cup with magic eraser (I’ll explain why on the bathroom post!)
  • Spray bottle with floor cleaner (I like to use a flat damp mop and spray bottle for mopping – I’ll explain why in floors post!)
  • Trash bag**
  • Paper towels
  • Disposable gloves
  • Grocery bag***

*If you don’t have cloths, you can cut up old t-shirts or towels

**Whenever you start to clean, throw a trash bag in your bucket. You will surely come across trash, need a bag to empty bathroom trash cans, and can toss used paper towels while you go.

***The Grocery bag will come in handy if you have kids. Whenever you come across those random items (legos, one shoe, a tooth brush, etc) toss it in the bag and sort out later.

Other equipment to have ready when you’re ready to tackle a whole house cleaning: Long duster for fans and ceilings, vacuum with attachment for hard floors, and a mop. You can use a wet or damp mop, your choice. Have fun filling your caboodle with what you like! If you want suggestions or tips on what works best, just let me know in the comments!

Cleaning Efficiency Hacks

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That’s right. No tears. It’s time to turn up the tunes and take charge. If you have kids, give them a Swiffer of their own, a cloth and a spray bottle. There are so many ways to make this fun for all parties. My son chooses to ride the vacuum! It’s just like cooking or mowing the yard – kids love to mimic us doing productive tasks. Get them involved so you don’t feel like you have to choose between kids or cleaning. Get them to sort laundry and identify colors. Turn on the music, sing into the duster, and have fun!

Cleaning Parenting Stress

First, I want to thank every visitor for the amazing turnout during the first two days of my launch! So far, one request has stood out from the rest: “Give me a top to bottom cleaning plan!” I’ve heard you loud and clear! We have one coming down the pike shortly, but before you create an efficient top-to-bottom cleaning plan, you have to do one important thing.

ORGANIZE

Organization does NOT mean everything is always in place. All organization means is everything HAS a place.

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Mail, shoes, toys, stuffed animals, cleaners, toiletries, medications, magazines, books, etc. just need to have a home. Everyone can organize based on what makes sense to them.

I like to group items based on where I use them. Shoes always coming off in the living room and not the doorway? Put a shoe bin where it’s most conveniently accessible. Do your kids have a problem with not putting away trash upstairs? Put a trash can in every room to encourage them throwing it away. Laundry piles out of control? Put a hamper wherever your family tends to shed layers. Organize using sensible tactics for your family. And have fun doing it! Go to the container store, or Ikea, or Big Lots, ha! Get on Pinterest and build your own boxes!

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But if you want cleaning to be easier, items in your home need to have a home of their own. That way you’re not spending double the time picking things up. Think of ways to gather the chaos off the counter, off the floor and out of the way. Expose your house so we can get cleaning!

 

Cleaning Efficiency Organizing

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Why is it that with young children holidays can be anything but a vacation? Recently, Ben and I were out with the boys for a Saturday brunch and, of course, we are scarfing our food and guzzling our coffee to get home for their critical nap time. While hauling our boys, bags, car seats, etc in the parking lot (queue: Home Alone family running in airport), I heard a college student say to her friend, “Ok, I think I’ll go nap for a while, maybe lay out, and then head over to your house before we go out tonight.”

My jaw dropped. Was my life ever that laid back and free? What in the world did I do with so much time to myself? I spent the tear-filled car ride home day-dreaming about what I would do if I had a full day to myself. So. many. wonderful thoughts. It must be said  that our two boys make this new life far richer and more wonderful than a million personal days. Still, it’s true, I am not in a season of relaxation or personal freedom.

Our Memorial Day weekend was filled with a trip to the grandparents (and all the chaos that goes with packing up and heading out), visiting with family, and having a Monday morning meltdown. It’s 3 pm on this holiday, and it’s the first moment I’ve sat down since 5:55 am this morning. After getting the boys calmed down, fed, and in a happier state, the toddler gently pours out the entire cup of hot coffee onto the white carpet. Fabulous, son. My first thought? “Ben, take a picture for the blog!”

So, here you go, folks. The wonder of Sol-u-mel.

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Cleaning Parenting Stress

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Who really has time to dust? Who really wants to dust? No one. But who loves for their home to be free of the evil white coating? Surely I’m not the only one.

With all dusting, to do it well, always think ” top to bottom.” Start with a long duster to reach ceiling vents, fan blades, curtain rods, tops of book shelves, etc and just work your way down the room. In essence, you can clean in such an order: ceiling, crown molding, fan, chandeliers, window blinds, wall decor and bookshelves, TV, pictures, lamps, furniture and then baseboards. I love the Swiffer for dusting and Method Dusting Polish for cleaning wood and furniture.

Areas people forget or neglect to dust: lamp shades, light bulbs, molding, stair well baseboards and high corners, furniture legs, window ledges, tops of outlets and light switch frames, tissue paper holders, inside door frames, etc. Sadly the possible areas to dust are endless. Thankfully, we don’t have to lose out life to it.

The key to Fast and Easy Dusting, though, is regular maintenance. I spend less than ten minutes every week dusting. The trick is to have some things you dust when you do the semi-weekly house cleaning (book shelves, table tops, dressers, etc), and at other times spend five minutes here and there getting fans, baseboards, windows, light fixtures, etc. Sometimes the easiest way to start is just to dust when you see dust! You don’t have to get it all under control immediately. My goal is not to have my entire house completely dusted at one time. My goal is just to not have a house covered in dust. Progress, not perfection.

Cleaning Efficiency

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Cleanliness is a lifestyle. It’s true. Having a clean home is like having a clean body. Some people get in the trap of eating unhealthy food and neglecting exercise, only to get so fed up with themselves at some point that they try to detox, diet, purge the pantry of garbage, and run their first mile in six months. Only problem is, they revert to old habits quickly instead of adopting a new lifestyle.

My husband dropped over 50 lbs a year ago and has maintained it successfully, easily, and with great pleasure. Not by dieting, not by extreme exercising. Not by constant mental battle to do something he doesn’t want to do. He read a lot, learned a lot, and made a lifestyle change. He changed a few key factors in his daily life, stuck to them, and now eats as much as he wants, enjoys his food more, feels better, happier, and never wishes for an “off” day.

The trick to keeping a home clean (yes, even in the midst of babies, work, and unending chaos) is adopting a new lifestyle, a new perspective. When cleaning becomes a small part of our daily routine, it’s much less daunting and much more realistic to tackle. There are so many facets of our life of which we lack control. There are so many areas that we work at only to see the fruit of down the road. Cleaning is not like that. Cleaning promises instant satisfaction, instant fruit of labor, and it’s something in which we can gain expertise and efficiency!

Of course there are moments we can’t control it ALL, for sure. Perfection isn’t our goal. Good stewardship, good habits, and progress is our goal.

There are tasks that can be done daily, weekly, and seasonally that will help us stay on top of maintaining a clean home. I will be posting cleaning schedules to encourage the adoption of frequent cleaning habits. In the meantime, think of cleaning as you would healthy eating. The first step in any lifestyle change is altering our mindset!

Cleaning

Parsley Plus, Melaleuca Sol-U-Mel, Meyer's Clean Day All-Purpose Cleaner, Great Value Natural Multisurface Cleaner, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, Swiffer Duster
Clean home must-haves!

These are a few indispensable cleaning products that I use everyday at home and in my professional cleaning service. I have more, but these are some essentials to have in a kid-friendly, kid-messy home.

Why I love them:

  • Parsley Plus – This stuff is less than $1.50 at Wal-Mart and it’s amazing. Safe, natural, fragrant, and cleans counter tops and wood really well. I am not the biggest parsley fan when it comes to food, but I adore the smell of this cleaner.
  • Melaleuca’s Sol-U-Mel – Melaleuca is a great company that you have a membership with to purchase their products. Sol-u-mel is a wonder cleaner that I refuse to run out of. It can basically clean anything you want. It’s a teatree oil based stain remover. You can use in laundry, dilute and use on carpet, on walls, etc. I’ve even cleaned white leather furniture with it! It is also a fantastic deoderizer. Car mildew smell? Clay in white carpet? Grungy couch cushion covers? This stuff is your solution. (If you want to get in touch with an awesome Melaleuca rep, let me know!!)
  • Meyer’s Clean Day All Purpose Cleaner – This stuff is the strongest smelling cleaner that I will use. But their cleaners smell like you’re in a garden. Honestly. Lavender. Lemon Verbena. They’re heavenly. It comes in concentrate and you can dilute in spray bottles or use for mopping floors.
  • Great Value Natural Multi-Surface Cleaner – Okay. Believe it or not, Parsley Plus and this Great Value cleaner are the ONLY reasons I go to Wal-Mart. This super cheap cleaner is one of my all-time faves. It is corn, potato, and coconut based. It is 100% non-toxic and non-poisonous and has no smell whatsoever, which is great if you clean all the time. It cleans perfectly, without leaving streaks. I even clean glass and mirrors with it, stainless too!
  • Mr. Clean Magic Eraser – Yep, they’re magic. I never clean a bathroom without a magic eraser. They are superb at cleaning sinks and tubs, especially fiber glass tubs. They’re also great for cleaning doors (you know how it gets grungy around door knobs from dirt and oil), and kids’ art work off of walls. But bathrooms? Never go to clean a bathroom without one. And I always splurge for the thicker bathroom version. Definitely more durable.
  • Swiffer Duster –  Swiffer is one of the greatest inventions to ever hit the shelves . . . says a professional house cleaner. I have said many times that I need to purchase stock in them. They’re easy, work well, and you can toss them when they’re filthy. Not to mention the design of them allows for you to get in all kinds of corners, heights, and narrow spaces.

Cleaning