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
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?
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?
Food-borne illnesses often begin in the kitchen. Bacteria that tend to live in kitchens include staphylococcus, salmonella, shigella dysenteriae, and e-coli. These germs tend to proliferate on sponges and cutting boards, but they can be on countertops and other surfaces as well. I am less of a germaphobe since my green journey began and I fear the harsh chemcial cleaners more than most germs. Since meat rarely makes an appearance in our home anymore I don’t have to worry as much either but I still like to keep things sanitized… as long as it is done safely.
You can combat most kitchen germs with natural remedies. Here are some natural substances and their role in kitchen sanitization.
1. Grapefruit seed extract, or GSE
GSE is an extremely broad-spectrum antibiotic substance. It is made from the seeds (and sometimes the peel and leaves) of grapefruits and grapefruit trees. I use it in this natural carpet cleaner recipe.
According to author and herbal scholar Stephen Harrod Buhner, “GSE has been found to be more powerful as a cleaning disinfectant than standard hospital preparations.” In other words, it works better than the disinfectant the hospitals use! GSE is active against a large number of bacteria, including the ones listed above. It is even effective against haemophilus influenzae, which causes ear infections, sinusitis, and meningitis. To make a disinfectant spray, add 30 to 40 drops to 1 quart of water and shake.
An acidic solution, vinegar kills some germs and microbes and inhibits their growth – if it didn’t, it would not be used to preserve foods (think pickles). To make a sanitizing spray from white or apple cider vinegar, mix 1/4 – 1/2 cup vinegar per cup of water. You can add some essential oil of bergamot, orange, or lemon to this solution to make it smell good and add even more antibacterial action (bergamot is a citrus fruit and its essential oil has, like all citrus, antibacterial action). I use white vinegar in my own cleaning as well as Vinegar of 4 Thieves which is vinegar with clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus radiata, rosemary. I get the Thieves oil from Young Living. Love that stuff!
3. Hydrogen peroxide
A 1996 study showed that hydrogen peroxide, when combined with an equal amount of vinegar, is a potent bacteria killer. Salmonella, shigella and e-coli were all vanquished by this solution. You can also spray hydrogen peroxide directly onto countertops, or mix it with an equal amount of water.
4. Tea tree oil
Also an anti-fungal, clinical research has shown tea tree oil to be effective against many antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It definitely works to kill staphylococus, e-coli, shigella, and salmonella. In a spray bottle, combine and shake 2 cups water, 1/2 tsp. liquid soap, 2 tablespoons white vinegar, and 20 drops of tea tree oil.
5. Neem oil
Neem oil comes from the seeds of a tree that is native to India, and is more than a sanitizer. It is also an insect repellent, and keeping insects at bay is an important component to kitchen cleanliness. It does not dissolve well in water without some sort of emulsifier, such as liquid soap. The best way to make a neem cleaner is to mix the neem oil in a vegetable-based, liquid soap such as castile (think Dr. Bronners). Then, use a few drops of this soap to clean your kitchen counters or try mixing the neem-soap mixture with water in a spray bottle. Shake it well. You can also use Neem Oil spray soaps in your garden and in the shower. I love Neem oil!
Don’t let anyone tell you that green means dirty and germy because it just isn’t so! My younger brother likes to call me a dirty hippie to bait me… well he got the hippie part right at least.