Category: <span>Efficiency</span>

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It’s the season for travel, and it’s also the season for fruit flies and ripe produce. Most of the time when we are prepping for travel, our attention is solely on the packing, but there are a few cleaning tips that taken care of prior to travel will make your return a much more pleasant experience. The smallest bit of food, produce, trash or moisture left for a long period in a warm environment will lead to a less than welcoming homecoming. Make sure to prepare your home for your vacation as well as your suitcases.

MUST DO’S

  • Empty sink of all dirty dishes (and run disposal)
  • Remove produce from counters (discard, give away, chop and freeze)
  • Empty trash cans (kitchen trash, bathroom trash, diaper pails, etc)
  • Flush toilets
  • Run dishwasher so no dishes are left unclean
  • Make sure there is no trash or places of sitting moisture (water in glasses, food wrappers under beds, wet laundry, etc

SHOULD DO

  • Wash and dry all dirty laundry
  • Empty fridge of food that will perish while you’re away
  • Pour a little vinegar down your sink and rinse
  • Turn the AC up (but not off)

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YOU’LL BE GLAD YOU DID

  • Put clean sheets on bed and make them
  • Wipe down counter tops and surfaces
  • Straighten up living spaces and bedrooms
  • Vacuum

The last thing you want to come home to after a trip is work. A few things to work on the night before and morning of departure will ensure a better homecoming. And of course, if you are lacking time or energy to do these things, then make it a point to schedule a cleaning while you’re away! You would not regret scheduling a professional cleaning for the week of your vacation.

Fun travels and happy cleaning!

Cleaning Efficiency Stress

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For years (YEARS!) I hated cleaning stainless steel. Many of my clients have stainless steel appliances and while I think they are the most beautiful of appliances, I also found them to be so very aggravating. Stainless has come along way in the last few years and many appliances offer a special smudge-proof coating now that in my opinion is totally worth it.

This past year, however, I’ve had a deep love develop for stainless. For one, I  have found a safe and natural stainless cleaner that I actually love. For a while I had to choose between harmful cleaners (seriously, some commercial stainless cleaners had cancer warnings on the can… no, I did not use them) or poor cleaners.

I’ve had a couple people ask me about what I use, so I wanted to post a short response:

Microfiber cloths and (drumroll…)

IMG_5745I buy Einshine at Earth Fare for around $8, but you can find it on Amazon. It lasts a long time, you only need a small spritz or you’ll be wearing your arm off rubbing it in.

The Trick: Initially when working the cleaner over the stainless, I actually go against the grain and once it begins to disappear, I rub with the grain, so as not to have streaks. Another trick is to clean often. The longer oils sit on stainless, the more work it will take. Just remember, soft cloths, safe cleaners, and frequent cleaning.

Happy cleaning!

*The fridge above is a client’s fridge I cleaned yesterday. So beautiful 🙂

Cleaning Efficiency Hacks

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetWet wipes. I love wet wipes. Only for certain jobs, but for those jobs they are perfect. I have 3 places around the house that I always keep a tub of sanitizing wipes: the bathrooms, the laundry room, and the kitchen. This makes specific cleanups a cinch.

  • Bathrooms – I wipe down our toilets a couple times a week. 15 seconds  max, and bam! Pristine porcelain. I also wipe the bathroom sinks with them. I can be brushing my teeth, notice the sink is getting  icky, and wipe it down while I brush. It is true, the more you do something, the easier and faster it becomes. I spend under 2 minutes on most jobs around our house.
  • Laundry room – this is a perfect place for wipes. Laundry rooms can get VERY dusty. Dryer lint and detergent-spills build up on top of machines, and floor boards. Toss in a load, swipe the dryer top, hit start and there ya go! Honestly, go look at your baseboards in your laundry room – I promise you they will be dustier than anywhere in your house. You’re welcome.
  • Kitchen – I actually do not like to wipe counters with wet wipes. I prefer a cloth and spray for that. However, I LOVE them for swiping over the floor after my sweet baby eats his jasmine rice and ground beef. It makes cleaning up after a self-feeder a breeze. Wipe floor, wipe seat, dump and wipe tray – 3 times a day.

If there are supplies you use multiple times a day and at different places, create stations. It’ll encourage you to do it more often and it’ll save you time.

Happy cleaning!

Cleaning Efficiency Hacks Parenting Stress Uncategorized

 

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There is a forecast of possible snow this weekend, a high in the 50s on Sat. In preparation for winter weather, I like to do a couple of specific cleaning jobs, to help carry us through the cold months.

  • I first make it a goal to switch all of the fans – there is a switch on the motor of your ceiling fans that will cause the fan to rotate the opposite direction. The result is air circulation, but not wind in  your face. I also make sure to go ahead and dust all the fans.
  • Speaking of dust, the change of weather is a perfect reminder to switch out air filters in your return vents. I try to change ours every couple months, and before you start blowing the heat, it’s good to have clean filters. The dry heat is stuffy enough, without added dust. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI changed this 6 weeks ago. Yuck.
  • While I’m at it, I go ahead and clean out the boys’ humidifiers. I put a drop of bleach and fill with water, rinse and let air dry to help kill all mildew and bacteria. If you run your humidifier a lot, make sure to clean it regularly or it can spread mold spores. Also, make sure it’s not causing too much moisture in the air – there should be no evidence on walls or carpet of water. I try to use ours only when the heat is running it’s highest or the boys are congested.
  • Lastly, I try to think of things I’ll be too cold to do – straighten up the garage, do a little preparation-for-winter yard work, etc. I am a Southern girl, and cold jobs are undone jobs.

Stay warm and happy cleaning!

Cleaning Efficiency Hacks Uncategorized

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On Fridays my attitude towards chores and the house is something like: Leave the dishes, let the wet laundry sit until tomorrow, let’s get pizza, and give the boys extra bubbles in their bath, and we should have a Harry Potter marathon (again), and can you bring me a beer and let’s imagine what it would be like to sleep in on a Sat, and and and happy-pleasure-sigh.

On Saturdays my attitude towards chores and the house is something like: Let’s tackle this mildew, and I’ll get the coffee going (6am), I would really like to vacuum these soggy cheerios up off the floor and change the boys’ sheets, and should you or I mow the lawn while the boys nap, and THEN let’s go out and have a family outing, because . . . it is Saturday.

Tonight I was inspired to make a blogging nook in our bedroom, away from legos and toy cars, away from the sounds of the dishwasher and washing machine, away from tempting tasks and distraction. So I rearranged for the 487th time since we moved into this house (Side note: rearranging is my FAVORITE past time, and I am sadly aware that my sons will one day marry their wives with the stipulation that they must NEVER move a single piece of furniture). Sitting down to work on the new cleaning profile schedule, I thought it would be better to let readers know this blog is not intended to say you should be getting more done in your house than you are. It was not made to say: if you have spare time in your day, you need to be cleaning. I simply wanted a project of my own where I could write about what I love and do professionally, so that when readers are ready to have a Saturday mindset, they could be better equipped. There are many times that Friday perspectives should win out. Life  is brief. Life with our babies is even briefer. Balance is the goal. Good stewardship AND good relationships. Efficiency and effectiveness (in anything). Pleasure and productivity. And of course, Harry Potter marathons and bubble baths . . .

Happy Saturday Cleaning 😉

Cleaning Decorating Efficiency Love Parenting Stress

As I was vacuuming this morning I started thinking about how most people do NOT love cleaning like I do. Most people love it being done, but do not love doing it. I clean everyday. I clean for others; I clean for my family; I clean for myself.

This past weekend our folks were up for Jeff’s 2nd birthday, and my dad spent over 3 hours motivating and helping me get the yard in great shape. I mowed and he trimmed the edges, bushes, trees. He even blew off the grass and leaves. It looks the best it ever has. “Too bad the satisfaction is so short lived,” he noted. Our neighbor across the street has an immaculate yard. They literally (LITERALLY) work in their yard every day. It blows my mind. Their grass is cleaner than my carpet. It shouldn’t shock me, though. I am the same way, only inside. My mom noted while I was cleaning the deck windows that she just doesn’t clean regularly. She doesn’t enjoy it like I do, and so she finds she just does it maybe once a month, and at that point it’s overwhelming.

So, back to my vacuuming . . . I was thinking how I wished I had a plan to keep our  yard looking so good. We only do the bare minimum when the whole thing starts looking like a jungle. It seems harder to me than housework for several reasons: what would I do with the kids, the labor is so strenuous and time consuming, and I don’t know where to begin.

I realized these are probably common reasons folks dread and neglect house cleaning as well. I want to help the non-cleaners become better cleaners. I want to make progress easy for you to obtain. I am going to be working on schedules and cleaning plans for multiple non-cleaner categories, like:

  • Families with young children with daily tornado storms
  • Empty-nesters with a nest full of stuff
  • Families with laundry busting out the front and back door
  • Families/couples with pets and all.the.hair.
  • Families/couples/singles who work full time/over time and have little time to spare

I will keep you posted as I update the blog with new cleaning plans. Please tell me about your problem areas or why you lack the motivation, and please let me know if you find these helpful.

Happy cleaning!

Cleaning Efficiency Hacks Stress

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

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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

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetIf you are like us, every evening when Ben gets home our conversation goes something like this, “We need to mow the yard, and do laundry, and we have GOT to get your retirement account set up, and we should listen to a sermon together, and I need to clean the bathrooms, and I think we are due for a date night . . .”. And then the only thing we accomplish is getting the boys to bed and getting the kitchen cleaned. We have seriously put off setting up my retirement account for months. We talk about it several times a week. So I came up with a system. I don’t know if this is on Pinterest, but it should be!

How It Works

Basically, we have our days written out and then we have our category pins. We try to plan out the week on Sunday, and choose one category per day. Ben has a master reminder/to-do list that he keeps on his iPhone, and we check his list each night to see what things apply to that category. As the week progresses, if you need to switch, no problem. Ben had the idea of using magnets, but we had clothespins on hand. Being able to move the categories around is fun and faster than writing it out.

Our Categories

  • Groceries
  • Budgeting/Business
  • Home+Garden
  • Repairs
  • Laundry
  • Sermon
  • Movie
  • Family Night
  • Date Night
  • Blogging
  • Organizing

Why It Works

Having a long list of tasks is overwhelming to think of every day. Having large categories allows you to compartmentalize and focus on one area at a time. It’s not stressful. It’s actually a relief. Need to pay bills and do online banking and also need to weed the garden and clean the windows and grocery shop? Tonight’s Monday, so all we need to do is get the groceries. Tomorrow is Tuesday, we will sit down and budget then. Ben and I know that the typical time for us to accomplish the category is when the boys are in bed. We have a set time to do our tasks. If we cannot finish a category, no problem. We can move the pin to another day in the week, or rest in knowing we will get the rest of the budgeting done next Tuesday.

We talk a lot about not having time for things. I understand being in chaos mode. We are hitting the terrific/terrible-two’s, and it’s a roller coaster. But the truth is we do have at least some time each night. Strategically planning a time to do specific categories of tasks helps to knock items off the list quickly. We have a family night and date night on the schedule every week.

PLAN FOR FUN!

Hope you have a productive week, and as always, happy cleaning!

Efficiency Hacks Money Organizing Parenting Stress