We are all inventors, each sailing out on a voyage of discovery, guided each by a private chart, of which there is no duplicate. The world is all gates, all opportunities.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Household Tips I Actually Use

The reason for it all:
I'm a homemaker by choice and a self taught cleaning maniac by necessity. Keeping a clean house is very tough for me, and for several years after getting married, I struggled with keeping our home tidy. I never learned how to do it growing up. I've slowly taken steps to teach my chore hating self to bless my home and my family with a clean home. I benefit from it too! Having a dirty home put me on edge and affected my mood in the worst way. Let's not even talk about the stress of having company come over and the inefficient speed cleaning sessions I subjected myself to just to get the house 'decent'. So, I've finally devised steps for myself to keep a clean house without it taking up my entire day. This page will be a place for me to write those steps down for future reference. I still loathe cleaning. It's still hard to push myself to do a little bit every day. But I remember these things:
-I'm happier when things are in their place.
-It's easier to take care of a toddler when you don't have to jump over piles of clutter to change a diaper.
-I have more time to play with my Baby Boy when I'm not overwhelmed with chores.
-Being on a cleaning schedule leaves me more time to do the things I love (crafting, decorating, creating spa recipes & trying them out).
-Cleaning a little every day means when I'm done with that day's chores, I'm done until the next day!

So here goes, below are tips and homemade cleaner recipes. Anything that helps keep me sane in the middle of cleaning chaos, really. I'll be adding things as I remember them, so it may be sparse for a bit.

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Cleaning Tip #1: Keep a washcloth soaked in vinegar water in an empty baby wipes tub under the bathroom sink. Once a week, as Baby Boy's taking a bath, I wipe down everything in the bathroom starting from the towel bars, working my way down to the baseboards. I promise my son takes baths more than once a week, I only do a full wipe down once a week :). When I'm done, leave a fresh washcloth in the wipes tub and toss the used one in the dirty clothes hamper. It makes keeping the bathroom clean much easier! *I believe I read this in a magazine a year ago and it's one of the best tips!

Cleaning Tip #2: Never walk empty handed. If I'm headed into the living room, I take something that needs to go there. Vice versa. When I walk into a room I pick up the first out of place item that catches my eye and put it where it needs to go. That could mean putting it away in another room or if it's trash, throwing it away. Only ONE item. This has made a huge difference in keeping clutter down for me! Think of how many times you walk into every room in your home. If you put something away each time wouldn't you see a change? If you walk into a room and nothing is out of place, dust/clean/or straighten one thing.

Cleaning Tip #3: When detail cleaning a room, clean from left to right from the top of each wall to the bottom. Then clean the floor. This way, you don't miss any surface and know exactly where you've cleaned. Just move on to the next wall until you're done! I found this tip on a maid service website and it has helped immensely because I get easily distracted and forget what has already been cleaned in a room. This methodical way of cleaning an entire room helps me keep track and not to get overwhelmed because I can see my progress.

 Cleaning Tip #4: Once a day in each bathroom, do Flylady's Swish and Swipe. Don't get distracted and start detail cleaning! Just do it quickly and get back to your day. It's amazing how this simple step can keep the bathrooms clean throughout the week.

Cleaning Tip #5: Choose one thing to get done every day, besides your daily maintenance chores to keep a clean house without having to clean all day.  This one is just my preference. For instance, the daily chores like making beds, doing dishes, sweeping and decluttering take up a lot of time. So I choose a non daily chore to do every day to help maintain the rest of the house. Maybe one day I'll do a load of laundry in addition to my daily chores. Another day I'll shake the dust out of all the rugs and febreze them. Or I'll scrub the shower. You get the idea. Knowing I only have one "big" chore to do every day helps and leaves me with the time needed to do necessities (like taking care of Baby Boy and cooking meals) and fun stuff (like going for exploration walks with my little luv or crafting).
 

Cleaning Tip #6: Use an old toothbrush, hot water and a bit of dishsoap to scrub your dryer's lint screen every few months. Rinse well and dry off with a clean lint free cloth before replacing.
You'll be amazed at the gunk that was unseen on the filter!
Tiny pieces of lint and residue from dryer sheets collect to form a film on the filter that keeps your dryer from performing at it's best. 
This simple tip will help clothes dry faster and when coupled with routine removal of the little blankets of lint after every load, will prevent your lint trap from becoming a fire hazard.
I learned this from my grandparents who owned a laundromat where I worked during my free time growing up.

Cleaning Tip #7: Keep your fridge effortlessly spotless by wiping down shelves and drawers as they become empty. You know the inventory in your refrigerator keeps rotating. Things get used up and/or thrown out. When a shelf is emptied, before you start rearranging the existing items on the other shelves to fill the empty one, clean it! Take a sponge dipped in hot water or my favorite, vinegar water and give the shelf a good wipe down. The vinegar will help to lift any stubborn stains and remove odors as well. This has been a life saver for me! I dread the epic clearing out and scrubbing down of the refrigerator every month, but with this tip, I don't have to do it. Ever. Again.






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Homemade Cleaners for moments of dire need:


Lika's Cabinet Degreaser
2 tsp liquid dish soap
2 parts water
4 parts vinegar

Combine in a spray bottle. Shake well before use.
Spritz on cabinets and let sit for a few minutes.
Dip a sponge in hot water and wipe solution off, rinsing sponge in running water when dirty.
Continue to dip, wipe and rinse until gunk is gone. That's it! 
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Easy Microwave Cleaner:

A little bowl of vinegar will help. Any kind will do.

2 minutes on high. 


A wipe with a sponge and hot water leaves it sparkling. 
Well, as sparkling as this ancient thing can get. 
The brown spots you see are permanent. 
From that fateful fork in the microwave fiasco several years ago.
But we won't talk about that.
At least the food particles are gone. The vinegar really softens them so that they can be easily wiped up. 
And once you rinse well, no more stale food smell! Vinegar is my hero.
*I love this vinegar tip for the microwave! I found it on a cleaning service website and once I tried it I was hooked. So easy and quick.

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Frugal tip:
Did you know you can wash plastic shower liners? I recently read about it and nope, I've never thought of washing them. I was going to toss this one but after reading that tip, the cheapskate in me protested. I checked the liner for rips and it was perfectly fine, just discolored, so I figured I'd give washing it a try. After all, it's one of those better quality mold resistant ones and if it can last a little longer, why not? Saving a few pennies is always a good thing in my book!

Before.
A strange pink film collects on the shower liners and in every corner of the bath areas in both bathrooms. As you can see, it's only on the bottom half of the plastic curtain.

Into the washing machine it went. Hot water, gentle cycle.
Some people online were saying their liners weren't coming out clean, so I added a few towels for friction and a cup of vinegar.
I've gotta say, it worked pretty well. Not totally back to it's original color, but definitely clean.
It would melt in the dryer, but since it's plastic, it doesn't matter. It can be rehung on the shower curtain rod wet and air dry just fine.

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Frugal Bug Repellent:
Every Spring, I invest in a can of Black Flag, and a huge bottle of baby powder (regular, not the pure cornstarch one) to discourage the bug invasion that tries to happen once the weather turns warm. I get the Black Flag for ants, roaches and spiders. The baby powder is extra protection against ants. Yup, baby powder.

Bug prevention is a three day process around here:
DAY ONE:
I walk around the outside of the house, scrubbing the window frames, clearing any trash or accumulation of rubbish or vegetation where the house meets the ground. I can usually get half the outside done one day one without collapsing in exhaustion at the end of the day. Dinner, daily chores and a baby also have to get taken care of, you know.

DAY TWO: 
Repeat steps from day one on the rest of the exterior.

DAY THREE: 
Starting at the front of the house and working my way around, I spray Black Flag around door and window frames and all along the bottom of the walls where they meet the ground. If I'm feeling particularly like super wife (and if there's enough Black Flag), I also spray the edges of the driveway.
Then I sprinkle a thin layer of baby powder all around the house as well, but not flush against the bottom of the wall like I did with the spray. Maybe about 2 - 3 feet from the wall. Just a sprinkle, trying to make it a constant trail without any breaks in it. I don't leave a thick carpet of baby powder and I don't fill in the entire space from the powder line to the wall. That's it!

I remember reading the baby powder trick (to keep ants away) somewhere after we got married. I scoffed, but hey, it was cheap! So I tried it and what do you know? It works!

NOTE: I don't constantly replenish these 'bug barriers' every week. I probably should, but I think it then becomes way too expensive. Mostly, I just spot apply when I see a new ant trail on the outside walls. I make sure to reapply the whole shebang after a big rainstorm, though, as the virtual bug fence will have been washed away.

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