Home Cleanse Day 5: Clean
Let me add, I’m not really a clean freak. I’ve always said I can tidy all day but I hate to clean. Still, though, my eye notices tiny spots and corners that aren’t clean, and then I think about them and they make me frustrated. So, I needed to get better about cleaning. And I really didn’t know how to start. My mother was not really a clean-as-you-go person. She would clean in fits and spurts, so there were days where it was far from orderly. She also had the habit, as many of us do, of avoiding a cleaning task once it got too dirty and gross, which only made it worse (this is where gloves come to the rescue). One time, mushrooms grew the bathroom tile next to the bathtub. Legit mushrooms. Two of them. I have a picture. Another trait she handed down to me is the tendency to focus on a “project”, like organizing some bizarre out-of-sight storage shelf in the garage, and neglecting to do the regular upkeep like put my dishes in the dishwasher. I’m still working on that.
I feel very proud of my space and relaxed when my home is truly clean. I want to achieve this regularly. Let’s do it together.
I drafted this post largely based on my recent learnings from gocleanco, and also had a few friends review who I think are innately better at cleaning than I am, to make sure we cover all the bases.
Let’s start with recommended cleaning items. Don’t throw away everything you have that isn’t these items, but maybe consider moving in this direction as you use up what you have. Streamline the number of cleaning products you have, again, in favor of simplicity and tidiness. I have some Amazon links here so you can see what I'm talking about, but check the grocery store or Wal-Mart/Target first because some of these items are pricey on Amazon right now.
- Brooms (one for in your home, one for outside)
- Vacuum with a brush attachment (here is the recommended list from gocleanco)
- Mop (This is what gocleanco recommends, and I plan to get it eventually, but honestly, I like to just use a rag and make my way through on hands and knees. Swiffers are popular and certainly a viable option, but I don’t love how expensive their replacement cleaner is, and I honestly don’t love their floor cleaners because they leave a residue. Steam mops are wonderful but not ok for wood floors.)
- Duster (I grew up with a reusable one where you just tap the dust off outside, but many people love the disposable Swiffer one)
- Gloves (I prefer medical gloves, but cleaning gloves from the store are fine too)
- Scrubbing brushes (a small one, and a larger one. In my new deep cleaning journey I realized that toothbrushes do not do the job, because the bristles don’t stick out beyond the plastic head so you can never quite get in to a corner)
- Toilet brush
- Pail for your cleaning concoctions, if your mop doesn’t come with one
- Optional: Squeegee for your windows
- Optional: Small dust buster for little messes, or to vacuum your sweeping pile
- Paper towels
- Microfiber cloths, or if you’re like me and you hate how they feel on your fingers, rags are fine
- Optional: Coffee filters for wiping windows and mirrors – they don’t leave little fuzzies like paper towels do (a trick I learned working in food service)
- A non-toxic all-purpose cleaner you enjoy for countertops and simple messes. My favorite is Mrs. Meyers basil scent. A homemade combination of water, white vinegar, and a citrus essential oil or blend such as thieves oil is also a great choice.
- Bar Keepers Friend (liquid preferred over powder because its less of a hassle; for sinks, tubs, and even wall scuffs)
- Easy-Off (for ovens and stovetop)
- Weimans stainless steel products (for stainless steel appliances)
- Mr Clean (for cutting greasy areas; I prefer their “Clean Freak” spray product)
- Bona (for hardwoods – I’m obsessed)
- Dawn Dish Soap (the classic blue one. They also have a fun spray type now)
- Windex (for windows, mirrors, screens)
- Liquid bleach (they make splashless options that are a little thicker, which I prefer)
- Tide powdered laundry detergent (this will make your laundry machine way less grimy than a liquid detergent, and it’s recommended as a main cleaning agent for nearly all of gocleanco’s recipes. Tide+hot water and you’re good to go. It is also the ONLY product that is safe to mix with bleach if needed).
- White vinegar
- Optional: Magic Erasers (white cast iron and wall scuffs)
- Optional: Dreft stain remover spray
- Optional: Toilet tablets
For your “regular upkeep” items, I recommend setting a timer and going to town, at least until you get yourself into the habit. For my home, 15 minutes covers the upstairs (bedrooms and bathrooms), 20 for the main level (kitchen, living room, play room), and 10 for the basement (play room). Most days, it’s less than this, especially if I’m keeping up regularly.
For your “every one to two weeks” items, try to think of a time when you are generally available, like Sunday afternoons while you’re having lazy family time. If you have kids, I firmly believe in letting them see you clean so that they don’t associate it with something cumbersome and mysterious. It’s a part of the day like everything else.
For your “every one to two months” items, try to block off special time for yourself to accomplish this. Put on a playlist, clean with your sneakers on (my mom always said that having shoes on keeps you motivated), and go to town. If you have kids, this is a job for naptime or screentime, or you can ask your partner to take them to the park if they are home.
- Tidy all of your newly purged and organized items
- Fluff pillows, folding and draping throw blankets
- Make beds
- Sweep floors and wipe small messes
- Light a candle daily for all the feels
- Water houseplants as they require
- Floors (I prefer Bona, but gocleanco says you can use the Tide+hot water mixture of 1/2 tsp tide with 4 cups of hot water)
- Vacuum carpets, sprinkle baking soda before vacuuming to freshen up if desired
- Light fixtures with Windex
- Windows, TV screen, mirrors with Windex
- Wash linens including bed sheets, throw blankets, hand towels
- Door tracks with Mr. Clean
- Walls and light switches with Tide powder and hot water (1/2 tsp tide with 4 cups of hot water); liquid Barkeepers Friend or Magic Eraser for big scuffs
- Baseboards, window sills, doors, door frames and handrails with above Tide mixture
- Wipe down toys with above Tide mixture
- Blinds (dust and wipe with above Tide mixture)
- Trash cans (bleach)
- Throw pillows (remove cover if possible) and bed pillows by soaking in your tub with Tide. Many of these are surprisingly machine washable on the gentle setting, so take a look at your tags
- Remove couch cushions and vacuum furniture
- Keeping up with dishes
- Countertops and tables
- Transferring purchased food into containers if appropriate
- Stovetop with Bar Keepers Friend first; then Easy Off for anything still stuck on
- Inside microwave (1c water +2tbsp white vinegar in a bowl. Microwave 3 to 5 mins. Wipe out.)
- Bar Keepers Friend for your sink and drain; throw a few slices of frozen lemons in your disposal and grind away. A splash of bleach down the disposal isn’t a bad idea, either, if you’re noticing a smell.
- Stainless steel appliances including your range hood with Weimans stainless steel products (after getting any grime off)
- Oven interior with Easy-Off; racks can soak in your tub overnight in hot water and a few dishwasher tabs, then a bit of scrubbing the next day
- Fridge and pantry interior using powdered Tide and hot water (1/2 tsp tide with 4 cups of hot water; 4 tsp bleach if you’d like as well)
- Cabinet surfaces, tops, and handles using the above Tide mixture
- Chairs and chair legs, table legs using above Tide mixture
- Range hood vent (yes, this comes out, look it up)
- Dishwasher (you have a filter in there, take it out and rinse it. Then, pour ½ c bleach in the bottom of your dishwasher and run a hot cycle. No foaming cleaning products or else you will have suds halfway down your hall. Speaking from experience.)
- Backsplash, first with Mr. Clean to cut grease, then Windex for shine
- Wipe toothpaste drips and rogue hairs
- Hang/replace towels as-needed
- Declutter countertop
- Toilet with Bar Keepers Friend (after you’ve used your toilet brush, you can let it sit over the toilet to drip/air dry and use the seat to hold it down; this prevents buildup of mold on your brush)
- Bath with Bar Keepers Friend
- Counters with powdered Tide and hot water (1/2 tsp tide with 4 cups of hot water; 4 tsp bleach if you’d like as well – recommended in bathrooms)
- Add toothbrush holder to your next dishwasher load
- Tiles and shower doors by spraying vinegar and a drop of Dawn dish soap; let sit; squeegee. Polish with Windex.
- Replace toilet tablets in the toilet basin (be mindful to choose a product that is nontoxic if you have dogs or children who may touch the water)
- Polish towel racks and toilet paper holder with Windex
- Vacuum ceiling fan cover
- Cabinet surfaces, tops, and handles using above Tide mixture
- Showerhead by filling a Ziploc with vinegar and water in a plastic bag and using a rubber band to tie it on, let sit
- Tile grout with Tide and hot water as above, slightly increasing the quantity of bleach if needed. Use your little scrubber brush.
I recommend aiming to have one “laundry day” a week. It is exhausting to constantly have various loads in rotation and have clothes to fold every day. I realize I sound gross saying this – but resist the urge to throw everything straight into the dirty clothes pile. Unless it’s dirty, smelly, or overly stretched out, give it another wear or two. This will greatly reduce your laundry burden. Also, simply reducing your total number of clothes as you did in the purge phase reduces the load (pun intended). If you stick to this plan, there is no “regular upkeep” section, other than spot cleaning any big clothing stains that pop up (by the way, I love Dreft stain remover spray for all clothing stains, not just baby clothes).
Every 1-2 weeks
- Laundry weekly with powdered Tide (Free & Clear if you or your family has sensitive skin)
- Windex exterior of washer and dryer
- It gets dustier in here than in other rooms; consider a quick once-over with your vacuum hose while you’re doing your carpets
- Vacuum lint trap of dryer
- Clean sink with Barkeepers Friend (if you have one)
- In washing machines, most of the spots to dump in your liquid bleach, fabric softener, and detergent can be removed. If it’s super nasty, let it soak in hot water with a generous glug of bleach in it. Otherwise, use your scrubber brush w/ bleach to scrub the area.
- Front loading machines: that rubber seal is NASTY and it always has standing water in it. Dump in straight bleach and scrub with a scrub brush. From now on, leave the door open at all times to air out.
- Front loading machines; You also have a filter somewhere down lower on your machine. Wear gloves or you will never have the guts to accomplish this. Remove the cover and you will see a little black hose. Remove the cap and empty the water into a bowl. It will smell. Then twist off the filter cap, wipe it out, and bleach that thing. Re-seal the hose and filter tightly. Gocleanco has a great tutorial on this in Instagram stories.
- Top loading machines: you may not have a rubber seal. If not, just wipe it all down, and thank your lucky stars. If there’s a cap in the middle for fabric softener, dislodge it and let it sit in super hot water with a bit of bleach to loosen it up, then scrub clean with a scrub brush and return
As I mentioned earlier in this series, I truly believe that once your home contains only items you need and love, cleaning can be simple and even joyful. I hope you find the same thing.
I also wanted to make space in these posts to account for a concern that I had in the beginning of this process, and you may have as well. I was concerned that I would lose the warmth in my home by emptying it too much, and that I wouldn’t be able to “decorate” like I like and switch out different pieces of décor… basically… I wouldn’t be able to buy stuff, which I like to do, TBH. Let’s be real here.
Here are three remedies that have completely changed my perspective on this.
- Candles. I am slowly working through all the candles I already had, and then when they’re gone, I’ll enjoy grabbing a new one at the store as I need it. Plus, I’m really loving using a candle daily to make my home feel warm. (My favorite splurge: Voluspa)
- Greens and flowers. I am taking better care of my houseplants and have added a couple more to the mix (folks on my Buy Nothing group on Facebook give away little plants all the time). I also buy some at Trader Joe’s every now and then. I will cut greens from around my house and neighborhood to beef up the Trader Joe’s arrangements and make them look super big and glamorous! (My favorite splurges: flowers from Willow and Stock on the Northside, a bouquet delivery from Farmgirl Flowers, or a dried arrangement from Roxanne's Dried Flowers)
- Create a swap-out décor spot. For me, this is a rectangular wire basket that I hang vertically on my wall (kind of like this, but all wire; I've seen some cute bamboo ones, too). It is always there, and I can swap out décor and plop it on the basket for display as often as I’d like without ever getting out a hammer. I rotate several different décor pieces through here based on the season, and it gives me the freedom to mix things up without cluttering my space or busting out the toolbox.
Let’s actively discuss our projects and progress with each other in the Facebook event page. Don’t forget to sign up for a time to have any donations to the Shelter House picked up from your porch On Oct 25th or Oct 26th. Please sign up by Oct 23rd. The link has a list of eligible items. https://www.signupgenius.com/go/70A0444A4AD2FA2FF2-shelter
Thank you for joining me!