Tag Archives: cleaning

Conquered: Cleaning!

On Monday, I talked about how I’ve conquered doing the dishes. Today, I want to talk about cleaning.

Here’s my lessons I’ve learned so far:

1. Getting the clutter off of surfaces as quickly as possible (but not in an OCD way) is the big secret to not being embarrassed when friends stop by or you have to give a maintenance worker access to your house. I start near the door and make my way back through the open areas. It’s my thing. You’ll have your own. But stick with it!

2. Don’t take on the whole house when you tidy. Stick to a room or two, and purposefully move throughout the house each day. Combine tasks so you don’t have to get the same supplies out. Mop all the moppables the same day. Spritz and wipe all the mirrors another. By the end of the week, all the major areas will have been tidied or cleaned, and you’ll have more free time for the weekend! (I don’t know where the idea that Saturday should be for deep cleaning came from, but it’s a miserable way to spend your time off. Take 15-30 minutes each day during the week, and only have a handful of chores before playtime on the weekend!)

3. Don’t be rigid about scheduling. Here’s the thing about that “schedule” for dishes or tidying/cleaning: almost everyone I’ve read has specific days for specific things and a schedule to get through the house on a regular basis. That’s great if it gets you going, but for me? Meh. I like variety. The idea of every Tuesday from here on out being “dust and vacuum day” makes me yawn. Outside of mopping (which, lets face it, is just a hassle), I like to choose a room or two to focus on each day and then just get it done, whatever “it” needs to be to make the room presentable. This isn’t the time for perfection, but the accumulated effort over time will result in low-key cleaning and the occasional deep clean, instead of daily chaos.

4. Life sometimes gets in the way. That’s okay. You’re not a failure. From personal experience, I can say that the past two months have been unusual for me and my family, so some weeks were better than others. In fact, in addition to helping a family member move, I decided to focus on my fiction writing last week, and yes, the chores suffered. But not so badly that I can’t pick up and keep on moving forward with them now that things are settling down again. Just keep up that forward motion!

5. Do it for you. Not for your mother whose voice you hear chiding you in your head. Not for the fear of friends seeing the truth. Not for your nosy neighbors. For you. And your family who lives with you, if any. Do it because when you do, you feel free. Do it because you’re giving yourself the gift of time to do other, more pleasant things, without guilt!

There. That’s what I’ve been learning the past two months of silence here on the blog. I hope some of it will be useful!

photo credit: Pragmagraphr via photo pin cc

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Conquered: Dishes!

Oh my goodness. I can barely believe it myself, but I think I’ve finally got it. I conquered dishes.

And I’m winning the battle of cleaning on a schedule, as well (more on that Wednesday).

Crazy.

If you’re like me and you have a household nemesis or two or three (*cough* laundry.dishes.mopping *cough*) and you want to conquer it/them, you’ve probably hopped on Pinterest, searched Google, talked to friends, listened to familial advice, and come up with a lot of how-to’s and do’s and don’ts and probably a lot of well-meaning but completely off-track advice for you. You may have tried some of it. You may have failed miserably. You know what? That’s what works for them. What works for you?

Well, that’s what I was trying to find out.

Here’s what I discovered. First the dishes:

1. Finish the dishes. Completely. Every day. (I know; that’s kind of a “duh” statement, but man it has not been easy for me). I let hand-washed dishes dry in the rack, but what I need is a clean counter top after every meal, or before bed, whichever fits with my daily schedule better. That counter top is my clutter barometer. If it has stacks of dishes and mail and leftover Starbucks coffee cups on it, the rest of the house goes to pot (if it hasn’t already). I’ve heard this called the broken window theory. As I type this right now, I do have dishes on my counter, but I’m about to attack them. While watching TV. Which reminds me …

2. If you can, watch some guilty-pleasure TV while you wash dishes. Or, you know, jam to those pop tunes you’re embarrassed to admit are on your iPod. It takes the edge off the misery of a thankless, daily, unending, bottomless, disgusting, boring, necessary task.

3. If you must fudge on the dishes, at least put the clean ones in the dishwasher up into the cupboard and then pile the dirty ones inside.

4. Use a nice multi-purpose spray to clean your counter and sink when the dishes are all done for the day. You don’t have to scrub, but oh it is so nice to have sparkling counters and a sink without leftover dish scum. Plus, my mom always told me this was part of the job of dishwashing.

5. If you’re in a relationship, form an agreement with your spouse/significant other: one cooks, the other washes dishes for each meal. You can share the tasks, or if you find you love dishes AND cooking you can always do both, but since dishes is one of those never-ending chores, I say make it clear that the responsibility is shared. And then, always cook. I’m just kidding! Actually, I’m more the dish-washer and Daniel is more the chef in this family. (Works for me, as my man can cook. He’s definitely a keeper.)

6. Whenever possible, only buy cookware and dishes that are machine washable. I mostly say this in jest, but I can guarantee that our copper, cookie sheets, cast iron, and stoneware have the tendency to stay on the counter, unwashed, the longest. They’re needy. And I’m a throw-it-in-the-dishwasher-and-forget-it kind of gal. That being said, nothing cooks like copper, cast iron makes the BEST biscuits, a pizza stone is a girl’s best friend, and cookies are best without rust. Just sayin’.

7. To quote Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never, never give up.” Not when you miss a meal or a day. Not when there’s a strange funk coming from the garbage disposal. Not when you break a glass. Not when you leave a pot soaking too long. Never.

You can do it! I did.
photo credit: E R I via photo pin cc

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Celebrating Small Victories

{Image: Camdiluv}

After taking my shower this morning, I was getting ready for the day and I looked at the floor next to my shower and I couldn’t take it any longer. I’ve noticed it for a couple of days now and had ignored it to get on with my day, but this morning I felt a compulsion to wipe the floor and side of the tub down to get rid of the dust that had accumulated and gotten damp.

I had a compulsion. To clean.

I’m not sure how to explain how huge this is for me. I’ve been working for most of my adult life to get myself to have those compulsions. My childhood little messy girl had stayed with me for far too long.

I’ve said before that this journey to home organization is a lot like weight loss. It is tough, requires accountability and self-discipline, and there is some shame in admitting you have a problem. Well, in this case it is definitely like weight loss in a positive way, because while it takes awhile, eventually you start getting used to eating healthier. You start reaching for the whole grain pasta or the wheat bread over the white bread. Walking or working out becomes a habit instead of a chore. It does happen, and when it happens you wake up one day and realize you’re actually looking forward to your trip to the gym. Then you step on the scale, and you discover you’ve lost two pounds.

That’s what this is like.

Slowly, over the past year, I’ve been reaching for that sponge to wipe down the tub, or the broom to sweep the floor. I’ve tackled dishes before they became a mountain. I’ve purged the refrigerator before adding the new groceries to it. I’ve made regular trips to our local thrift shops to donate items I realize I don’t use. I’ve even kept the laundry to a dull roar recently. The funny thing is, I didn’t even notice it happening. It just happened. I’m not perfect–far, far from it–but I’m on my way, and that is a great place to be!

New to this blog? Here’s a quick overview of my organizational journey so far. If you like what you read, why not subscribe via RSS?

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5 Ways to Get Motivated to Clean or Organize

{Image: Rubbermaid}

If you’re naturally clean, you don’t need to read this. If your motivation to clean leaves the building on a regular basis (like mine did, the other day), here’s a few things that might get you moving:

  1. File your taxes. Nothing like the fear of the wrath of good ol’ Uncle Sam to make you find all those important documents. Bonus points if you pretend you’re getting audited. You never know … it could happen. Doesn’t hurt to be prepared.
  2. Have a yard sale. This is the perfect time to sort the laundry, clean out the garage, and declutter the attic. You’ll get PAID to do it.
  3. Buy (or make) new cleaning supplies. I’m drawn to pretty packaging and things that smell good. It’s probably a disease, but hey, what can I say? I love me some well-designed labels or bottles or boxes and fragrances. So much so that I tend to make excuses to use them so I can admire their gorgeousness and feel all fancy-like for using them.
  4. Bribe yourself. Set a doable goal and assign a much-anticipated reward for attaining that goal. Watch that tv show episode, buy a new pair of shoes, or just give yourself a gold star. Never underestimate the power of a shiny gold star.
  5. And finally, if all else fails … Have company over. No, seriously. It works like a charm. I just did this yesterday! It got clean, fast(er). Go for broke and throw a big bash to celebrate your success.

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Take a Breath. Life Happens.

It’s hard to believe that January is already coming to a close. I never believed it as a kid, but time really does fly.

Today I wanted to take a moment to stop and reflect and see how far this organizational/decluttering journey of mine has come. Last night, a dear friend of mine wanted to come over and talk, on a whim. It was so nice to just say “come on over!” and not be running all around to clean up for once.

My house is not perfect. In fact, at this point there is clutter in the living room, little muddy dog prints on the tile floor (I just mopped it a short time ago and already it needs it again. Thanks for nothing, rain), and dishes I haven’t done are sitting on the kitchen counter. I can see them from my couch.

But it isn’t terrible, either.

I find it easy to get caught up in the fact that I haven’t cleaned my living areas enough and it wasn’t ready for a home decorating magazine beauty shot. But the reality is I don’t live on a set, and neither do you. Life happens.

Let it.

And then go wash the dishes. Kinda like I’m going to do now …

If you’re new to this site, welcome! I hope you’ll look around. Start here to learn more about my organizing journey, or subscribe by RSS. See you soon!

 

{Image: Emergency Brake/Evil Erin, via Flickr}

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10 Quick Ways to Spruce Up Your Home Today in 10 Minutes or Less

Everybody loves a quick fix. I know I do. So today’s post is quick and easy. Here is a list of things you can do in ten minutes or less that will improve your home. These things frequently get forgotten or put off, but they all make a big impact from little effort.

What can you do in ten minutes or less?

1. Dust your lamps with a lint roller.

2. Vacuum your mattress. (Not kidding!)

3. Throw out any food in the refrigerator that is old or out of date.

4. Shine your sink.

5. Change your air filter.

6. Wash the doorknobs (betcha didn’t know they’re the dirtiest place in your house!)

7. Freshen up the trash disposal in your sink. (I drop in some coffee grounds or a lemon peel and turn on the mechanism for a few seconds. Works like a charm!)

8. Weed your DVD or Blu-ray collection.

9. Organize your spices.

10. Throw out junk mail. (Hint: I trash it as soon as I bring it in the house!)

Happy organizing!

If you’re new to this site, welcome! I hope you’ll look around. Start here to learn more about my organizing journey, or subscribe by RSS. See you soon!

{Image: Polina Ivanova}

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Homemade Laundry Detergent and Softener

Just what does this girl do with all her new-found time?

She cleans up good, that’s what. And, in the process, participates in a Pinterest Challenge thrown out by Sherry at Young House Love and her cohorts.

Like a kid at Christmas who just got a new chemistry set (okay, okay, so I’m a geek at heart, what can I say?) I have been giddy for the past 48 hours over the prospect of making my own home cleaning supplies out of natural and/or inexpensive ingredients. For the past few months, I’ve been thinking about making this lovely little recipe I found at the Yellow Brick Home blog (I’m an avid reader, so I read it first, pinned it second–that still counts for the challenge, right?):

Looks so pretty and cheerful, doesn’t it? Well, it was calling my name. Kim found it via That’s Church, who in turn found it on Tall Tales. But believe it or not, the ingredient list is no longer than the attribution list.

(For even gentler laundry, use 1 bar of solid castile oil soap, such as Dr. Brommer’s … I’m trying that version next, but I bought the Fels-Naptha first.)

Here’s the step-by-step:

1) Grate the bar soap as finely as possible into a container. Despite the fact that the majority of Fels-Naptha ingredients are plant-derived, it is still an irritant in large quantities, so I wore a rubber kitchen glove for a little extra protection during the process. There was a small stub left at the end which I threw out rather than grating my fingertips down to a pulp.

2) Measure the Borax and Washing Soda into the container. If you like, you may add a few drops of your favorite essential oils to add fragrance.

3) Mix it all up. I used a plastic spoon to break up the large Borax pieces and then put the lid on the Tupperware container and shook it to combine the mixture.

Then I stuck a mini (roughly 1 Tbsp) aluminum scoop in it and tried it out.

The recipe says to use 1 tablespoon for small loads of laundry, 2 for large, and 3 for extra-large. I opted for 1 tablespoon, but I added a couple of extra steps at the end. First, I added 1/2 cup of vinegar into the fabric softener compartment of the washer. I stole this from another pin:

Then, I added a squished and rolled-up ball of cheap aluminum foil into the dryer with my guinea pig towel load, to reduce static cling. Yet another pin!

The result? Oh. My. Goodness. Where has this wonderful detergent and its cheap assistants been all my adult life? Daniel had done a load of towels our old way earlier in the day, so I had the ability to compare the two loads.

I’m sensitive to many fragrances and cleaning agents, so we don’t use fabric softeners or dryer sheets. The first load with our normal detergent had the typical clean, but rough towels. However, the homemade method produced soft, unwrinkled, nearly static-free towels that didn’t bowl me over with a heavy-handed perfume. If my sensitive skin doesn’t react to this soap over the next few weeks, I think I may have found “The One.” Of the soap, variety, of course.

Fingers crossed!

 

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