Category: <span>Hacks</span>

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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 presetStreak free shine!

It’s a guarantee on almost every glass cleaner, and for the most part, it’s true. I’ve discovered the trick to streak free shine is in the method, not the solvent. I choose not to use any cleaner that has ammonia (Windex), but you can use what you like. Honestly, you can even use multi-purpose cleaners for glass a lot of the time, since most are just water and surfactants. I like to use Method Glass Cleaner or Trader Joe’s green Multi-Purpose Cleaner. You can also use vinegar. There are two tools I keep on hand for mirrors and glass: a squeegee, and the hardest, cheapest, least absorbing paper towels. I’ll explain…

Squeegee:

My preferred brand is Ettore. I’ve tried several, but for me this brand works best. And it only costs $3-$5, depending on the size. I have several sizes, but I find I only use the smaller one, so I would go with that. A squeegee is perfect for large bathroom mirrors, glass shower doors, and outside windows. Just spray, swipe, and wipe off any moisture in the surface corners.

 

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My husband will go to the store and come back grinning with nice, soft, absorbing paper towels, and I fall to my knees and wail. No, it’s not that dramatic, but it is on the inside. The softer, more absorbent the paper towel, the more likely it is to leave behind fuzz, causing smudges and streaking. The cheapo paper towels are great at leaving behind nothing. You can also use newspaper, but who regularly has that on hand?

You can also use microfiber cloths:

Microfiber cloths can be great at cleaning glass, but you must adhere to a couple rules of thumb:

1. Only wash with other microfiber cloths. Microfiber cloths are a magnet for fuzz, so washing them with any other material will render them useless as they will leave behind fuzzy streaks.

2. Wash only with water and no detergent. You can add a little vinegar if it needs something stronger.

 

Cleaning screens:

If you are wanting to clean tv, gadget, or computer screens, the safest thing to use is isopropyl alcohol mixed with distilled water. Just a couple drops to remove smudges and wipe with a microfiber cloth.

I clean our bathroom mirrors once a week and wipe down our smudgy, toddler-peanut-butter-kissed doors and windows several times a week. After wiping down the table and kitchen counters, it just takes a 2 second swipe across the glass and then . . . there it is! That streak free shine 😉

Happy Cleaning!

 

Cleaning Hacks Uncategorized

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

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

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

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

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