This is the time of year when you will begin to be bombarded with magazine articles and blog posts about spring cleaning. I certainly understand the idea and full support it because after those long winter months cooped up in the house I am more than ready to start fresh and clear the cobwebs. Spring is my favorite season and I am so energized by it that even cleaning is bearable…and seriously, by then I really do have lots of cobwebs to clean.
There is a step that comes before spring cleaning though, at least for me. I call it winter nesting. It begins in early to mid February. The thrill of the holidays is well past gone and the long, dark days are starting to get to me. I am ready for spring but it is still a long way off, or so it seems. I have to get ready for spring gardening and indoor planting. The urge to start cleaning is strong also but logistically I need to declutter and purge first. How can I clean the kitchen when the pantry, the drawers, and the counter tops have all become collection grounds for all manner of items? How can I clean the cobwebs out of the cupboards when things are falling out on me? Yes, this is when the urge to purge comes in.
Before I even think about scrubbing my baseboards with a toothbrush I need to think about how to get rid of the clutter. This year in particular it has bothered me more than usual and I have been asking myself lots of tough questions. Do I REALLY need this? Have I used it or wore it within the past year? Does it enhance my life in some way or just sit there unused and unappreciated? My children have to answer these questions as well. What clothes do not fit me anymore? Can they be passed down to a sibling? Since I haven’t used it in over six months should I sell my 3ds? Kids tend to have a lot of clutter and it is good to teach them to let that go.
Here are some ways to declutter before you get to the deep cleaning…
Wardrobe – Evaluate what you REALLY wear. If you are anything like me you tend to wear the same stuff over and over again, washing it as needed. If you have some good quality basic items then you don’t actually need a whole lot of clothing and you can still look stylish. The No Brainer Wardrobe ebook is a quick read that teaches you how to do this. I highly recommend it. If you haven’t worn something in a long while or you consistently look at some items and then choose something you like “better” then let them go. This goes for clothing you bought in smaller sizes too, hoping that you would lose weight and they would fit someday. Don’t give up on your fitness goals but don’t hang on to clothing you cannot wear either.
Papers – It is tax time so when you are going through papers, receipts, and documents to get them ready for your taxes go a step further and purge the stuff you don’t need. You probably don’t need utility bills from three years ago or user manuals for products that have long been broken or donated. Go through your filing cabinets and desk drawers and do a major purge. Scan some of your receipts and other documents that you need to keep so that you can store them digitally from now on and let go of the physical clutter.
Electronics – We tend to hold on to pricier household items even if we don’t use them anymore. Yet if we use our iPhones and a sounddock to listen to music then we don’t actually need that stereo anymore. If you find it easier to use your phone as an alarm clock then the actual alarm clock can go. Find a place where you can resell these items and earn a small profit. Try places such as ebay, Craigslist, and Music Magpie. You might be able to earn enough to pay for a professional cleaner to help you with that deep cleaning come spring.
Pantry/Kitchen – Once again it is all about how much you used the items you choose to store in the kitchen. Don’t use the dehydrator or yogurt maker? Let them go. I just let go of my dehydrator and my back up crock pot because they were just dust collectors. I never used them. Go through all your pots, pans, and baking items and see if it makes sense to keep them. Do you need two stock pots? Do you need three muffin tins? Do you actually use all of the spatulas, tongs sets, ladles, and serving spoons you have? It is easy to think that “someday” you may need them but think about it. That is what you say EVERY YEAR and yet another year has passed and you didn’t use them. What does that tell you?
Books – I KNOW how hard it is to get rid of books. You always imagine that you will read them again or need to use them for reference but years pass and they never get read again and you didn’t even touch them. With excellent public libraries at our disposal though there is no reason to hang on to fiction books for years and years that you think you might someday read again. If you truly do want to read it again, you can borrow it. If it is a recipe book go through and see how many recipes you actually cook. If you actually cook 3/4 of the meals found inside it, then keep it. If you only use 2-3 recipes then copy them down (or scan them to your computer) and let the actual book go to a new home. Amazon is is excellent place to sell used books. I sell there frequently.
What tips do you have for decluttering your home? I would love to hear.
Cleaning the kitchen is one of those things that I know needs to be broken down into daily tasks but an actual plan of action seems to elude me. I always seem to get the bare minimum done… aka cleaning the counters so I can prepare the day’s meals or loading/unloading the dishwasher so we have clean dishes to eat off of. But cleaning the spray off the backsplash and stove, wiping down the walls, or cleaning up stray peas underneath the kitchen table… forget it! This year I totally planned to hire someone to clean the kitchen for me 2-3 times a month but contributing to our retirement accounts before the deadline has taken precedence. It’s always something. Even though I LOVE the idea of having outside help, and I DO hire someone a couple times a year, I really struggle with forking over money for something I can do myself.
So I decided to sit down and write out a 30 day plan to see if I can tackle this once and for all. We shall see how it goes. I figure each item should only take 10-15 minutes tops and it will hopefully help me stay on top of the kitchen so it never gets so bad I decide that takeout sounds like the best option. I plan to hang this on the fridge and check things off each day after the relevant task is accomplished. I have my bottle of vinegar, castile soap, and tea tree oil at the ready. I also acquired a Neato Automatic Vacuum Cleaner that will clean of debris from my kitchen floor for me. I just have to remember to press the button at least once a day and “Cheese” as my son lovingly named him, will cleanup those stray peas for me. As a bonus he will even clean the rest of the first floor! I highly recommend a Neato if it is in the budget.
So…assuming that I can make the time to wipe down counters and do the dishes daily here are my 30 day tasks…
1. Wipe down all appliances (stove, fridge, Vita-Mix, ect. )
2. Wipe down and de-grease cabinets
3. Mop floor
4. Wipe down and de-grease the backsplash
5. Deep clean and shine sink
6. Clean the trash can inside and out
7. Clean drawers and declutter counters
8. Mop Floor
9. Wipe down all walls and baseboards
10. Clean out the fridge/freezer (refrigerator water filters should also be changed upon expiration)
11. Wipe down all appliances (stove, fridge, Vita-Mix, ect. )
12. Clean under the fridge and stove
13. Mop floor
14. Deep clean and shine sink
15. Wipe down and de-grease cabinets
16. Clean windows and sills
17. Clean out the pantry
18. Mop floor
19. Wipe down all appliances (stove, fridge, Vita-Mix, ect. )
20. Deep clean and shine sink
21. Deep clean stove
22. Wipe down interior of cabinets and pantry
23. Mop floor, wipe down and de-grease the backsplash
24. Wipe down all walls and baseboards
25. Dust light fixtures and vent covers
26. Wipe down all appliances (stove, fridge, Vita-Mix, ect. )
27. Deep clean and shine sink
28. Mop floor
29. Organize pots and pans
30. Wipe down and de-grease the backsplash
Do you have any advice or tips to offer?
The Green Moms Weekly question for this week is “What are some simple tips to go green with your household cleaning?”
LOVE to talk about green cleaning. No really, could talk about it all day long. I do not understand why so many folks rely on mainstream cleaners with their noxious and toxic chemicals. The green stuff works just as well and it is safe for humans and safe for our planet. There is just no reason to buy up most of the stuff you will see in the cleaning isle of your conventional grocery store. NO REASON. And before anyone brings up price I will concede that bottle of mainstream all purpose cleaner “may” cost less than a bottle by Seventh Generation. But you don’t have to buy pricey bottled cleaners at all. Ever heard of vinegar, baking soda, lemons, borax and the like? Yeah, I thought so. Cheap and effective green cleaning for pennies.
Here is what I use in my house:
Vinegar - Words cannot describe how much I love to clean with vinegar. I keep it in a spray bottle under the kitchen sink and I use it all the time. I use it as an all purpose cleaner, floor cleaner, laminate floor cleaner, window and glass cleaner, and I use it as a follow up to baking soda in tubs, sinks, toilets, and showers. AND I also use it as a hair rinse for our No Poo routine. Just recently one of my kids got head lice (the offender shall remain nameless) but we used vinegar daily to dissolve the glue from the nits. We got the lice under quick control and no one else in the house got lice either. How much more amazing could this stuff be?
Baking Soda – A scrubbing powder for grime. I use it in tubs, toilets, showers, sinks, etc. It can also be mixed with essential oils to make a scented scrub. Just put it in a Ball jar, drop in some essential oils such as Tea Tree or Lavender, slap a sprouting lid on top of it for a homemade shaker! This can be used to deodorize carpets as well. Sprinkle and let sit for 20 minutes and then vacuum up.
Essential Oils – Many essential oils have antibacterial properties that make them perfect for cleaning. Plus they make the house smell great. My homemade kitchen floor cleaner is vinegar, water, and tea tree oil. My homemade shampoo is pure castile soap, water, and peppermint oil.
Pure Castile Soap – Safe, natural, and effective. We would be LOST without our big bottles of Dr. Bronners. In addition to adding it to homemade cleaners and shampoo I also use it in my washing machine and to clean my carpets with my SteamVac.
Borax – I use this in my dishwasher coupled with baking soda.
Natural and Green Cleaners to Purchase
I will on rare occasions buy a cleaner. Some of my faves are the Seventh Generation Cleaner with Lemongrass and Thyme that I linked to in the first paragraph and the Cedarwood and Sage Cleaner from Trader Joe’s. I really like both of those and will buy them when the mood strikes me.
If you need further help I have a FREE green cleaning ebook you can read with homemade cleaner recipes! I made it in 2009 but it is still relevant of course. Pass that link on to anyone you know who may benefit! I also like the book Creating Your Perfect Cleaning Schedule. It is not green per say but it has a great tips about getting it all done in less time.
So what do you use to clean your house? How do you keep it green?
House Cleaning has got to be one of the most repetitive and thankless jobs on the planet; it has to be done, but who wants to do it? What’s more, who has the time?
Our schedules are so hectic these days that it seems we hardly have time for the important stuff; let alone daily housecleaning chores. So is there a solution? A few months back I heard someone taking about once a month cleaning and it was a light bulb moment. We HAD to try and see if this helped us in our home. I actually don’t dislike cleaning but with 3 messy kidlets and a husband who works long hours outside the home I was getting burnt out. Plus I work to, I just do it at home. That cutesy saying about rocking your babies instead of sweeping your floors isn’t so cute when your kids are getting older. Also my aversion to having company when the house is untidy was being challenged with the arrival of new neighbors who are always over at our place it seems. Thankfully there is a way that you can reduce your housecleaning to just once a month; mind you it is going to take a little advance planning, but it can be done.
Steps to Once-a-Month House Cleaning
Reducing your housecleaning to just once a month entails a good deal of organization and advance preparation, you are also going to have to enlist the cooperation of the rest of the people in your house, because it really will take everyone working together to make it work. It goes much easier if you come prepared to make it worth their while in the allowance department. I know some don’t like the idea of allowance but we use it primarily to teach money management and they know that helping out is required whether there is payment or not. Everyone who lives in our house has to contribute to its management.
Before you start your once-a-month housecleaning there are a few preparations that you are going to need to make. The first is making a list of the housecleaning chores that you normally do on a daily or weekly basis. Once you have made this list, split it up into chores that HAVE to be done on a daily basis (such as washing dishes, picking up toys, feeding the pets, etc. ) and chores that do not have to be done on a daily basis.
If you look at the list, chances are that you are going to find things like “cleaning the bathroom” and “mopping the kitchen floor” and things of that type. Let’s use cleaning the bathroom as an example: it is quite feasible to clean the bathrooms just once per month PROVIDED that the rest of the individuals in the house are willing to take steps to keep the bathroom from getting messed up before the month is up.
This means that towels will need to be hung up; that everyone who uses the sink will need to wipe it out with a sponge when they are finished (which will be under the sink) and that the last person to use the shower in the mornings needs to wipe it down. Clothing removed before showering needs to be tossed in the hamper (which is in the corner) and anyone who accidentally sprays the mirror needs to clean up their mess (rags are under the sink too).
As you can see, while it will take cooperation, there are also some things (such as having the right equipment in the right places) that will make the job much easier. Go through each of the housecleaning chores on your list like this and find ways that you can keep the chore from NEEDING to be done more than once a month. For things that need to be done daily or weekly we have the back bone of our cleaning system which is our 15 clean-up that every member in the house does daily. We do it together, turning on some music, and then assigning sections of the house. This means that main rooms are picked up and swept daily, dishes are done, plants and garden are watered, laundry is brought down to the basement, etc. Due to the once a month cleaning schedule we don’t assign bathrooms anymore with the exception of once weekly when the trash is collected and the toilet is cleaned in both bathrooms. We also don’t require any mopping unless the floors are really dirty. We actually have gotten lax on these cleanups since we moved into this house last September but part of our once a month cleaning plan was reinstating those sessions and making a chart to keep track of jobs more specifically.
Once you have made the necessary preparations to prevent the need of the chore being required more than once a month (and made sure that everyone is aware of what they need to do) you then need to make a housecleaning list of the chores that you can do once a month and estimate how much time will be required to do each one. Chances are that if you can complete all of your household chores in 1-2 days depending on the size of your house and the number of people in your household. Our once monthly jobs are mopping all hard floors, shampooing our carpeted areas with Dr. Bronner’s soap, cleaning and organizing closets and dressers, cleaning garage and basement, finishing laundry, washing windows, sweeping the porch and deck, cleaning walls and baseboards, scrubbing the kitchen and bathrooms, and all the bigger jobs that you don’t need to do weekly or that are much more manageable due to everyone being required to keep things cleaner on a daily basis.
Now, choose one weekend a month that you can devote to cleaning. Start early on Saturday morning and simply clean your way down the list, top to bottom. Now you have three weekends at your disposal – not to mention all your free evenings (minus 15 minutes for us); time you can use for the important things in life!
Now your turn. What cleaning method works best for your family?
I am not one who feels inspired to clean in the springtime. I grew up in Arizona where winter was a whole different ball of wax than what you find here in Ohio so when Spring rolls around… you won’t find me inside the house cleaning! I am going to be outside enjoying the sunshine and early spring flowers.
While I am not a fan of the cold I do not get depressed in winter as so many do… due to lack of outdoor time and sunshine. I do find myself drawn indoors most of the time but I find it sets off a sort of nesting instinct. Out come the warm quilts (I have a blanket fetish), I clean and declutter, and generally just try to make sure our hybernation chamber is comfy and clean.
This week I bartered for help cleaning house. In fact I plan to get permanent help in that regard but I can’t wrap my mind around paying someone to do what I can do myself so I just have to concentrate on making more money this year so that I can justify it.
This week I got busy cleaning carpets, cleaning windows, cleaning the oven, scrubbing everything down, rearranging furniture, and cleaning out closets. In return for help with all that I am teaching someone step by step how to set up an online business and make money at home.
We have a very drafty closet on one end of the house so that got loaded from floor to ceiling with fabric, rugs, blankets, books, storage bins, etc to insulate more. We brought a futon out into the living room for the kids since the cold leather couch was discouraging them from sitting out there to read or watch DVDs. And a Wii is going out here after Christmas so we wanted it to be cozy. Next week I will set to work making a draft snake (filled with rice) for the front door, because we have a wicked draft coming in at the base of the door.
Oh and anyone else ever get sick from the Peppermint Castile Soap from Dr. Bronners?? We used it to clean the carpets and the peppermint smell was so strong and it made me so nauseous that I had to leave the house for awhile to avoid vomiting. Guess I need to use less of it next time… either that or I am so sensitive to fragrance that I need a plastic bubble now.
So tell me… do you “nest” in the winter? What do you do?