Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What is your favorite mop?

So, we're talking about mopping floors today, and I'm curious:

What is your favorite mop? Do you like traditional string mops? Or, sponge mops? Or are you a convert to the Swiffer?

Please let me know by leaving a comment!

Cleaning Linoleum Floors - Just a Little Soap and Water

We've talked recently about making those gorgeous hardwood floors shine, but what about linoleum floors?

This is an easy cleaning task, and one which will be over quickly and leave you with a gorgeous clean kitchen floor you could eat off of...if you'd ever really want to eat off your floors. Which is a question only you can answer.

What you'll need to clean lino floors:

- Mop and bucket (or...a sponge mop and squirt bottle - see the Happy Slob-style cleaning variation below)
- Mild liquid dishwashing soap (I like natural varieties best, that use a vegetable castille soap as their base)

In a regular size bucket, pour in about 5 drops ONLY of good mild dishwashing soap. (The ironic thing about cleaning your floors - whether it's lino or carpet - is that too much soap will leave behind a dingy residue that actually attracts more dirt to your floors! That residue holds onto dirt like greedy little dirt sponges, and I know that's not what you want for your floors when you're trying to clean them!) Fill the bucket with tap water and swish your hand around a bit to incorporate the soap. Dunk in your mop, squeeze out well and clean those floors in no time!

Happy Slob-Style Cleaning Tip:
Forego the bucket altogether! Use a sponge-style mop, and just put one or two small drops of dishwashing liquid in a clean spray bottle and spray the floors and mop up after. You'll just need to rinse out the mop when you're done. Mopping the linoleum floors just got easier than ever! And we happy slobs just love it when that happens.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Freshen the Carpets WHILE You Vacuum

Want a nice fresh scent added to your carpet while vacuuming? Here are a few tips on how to achieve it...

  • Add a fabric softener sheet the bag or cannister of your vacuum cleaner.
  • Add a few drops of natural essential oil or even a spray of perfume to the vacuum cleaner bag or cannister! Yes, people might look at you funny if they see you spraying your vacuum with perfume, but just ignore them. They're probably judgmental types anyway.
  • Sprinkle some baking soda liberally on the carpets before you vacuum, and then let the baking soda sit and do its natural odor removing work for about fifteen minutes or so. When you vacuum as usual you'll suck away dirt and muck - and a lot of nasty pet or smoke odors!

Maybe You Don't Need a New Vacuum - Tips to Care for your Vacuum Cleaner

Vacuum Cleaners - How to Care for Your Vacuum Cleaner - Repairs and Tips

Is that old sucker not cleaning like it once did? Maybe you don't need a new vacuum cleaner - maybe your vacuum just needs a little care, concern and attention! Here are a few handy tips to rejuvenate that old vacuum and get it working like new again...

  1. Clean off the beater bars - Threads, hairs, pet fur and all sorts of interesting things can wind themselves around the beater bars at the bottom of your vacuum cleaner, meaning it doesn't work like it should. Ensuring that the vacuum is unplugged, use a skewer, scissors or oversized tweezers to loosen these threads and hairs and remove them. The beater bars are pretty self explanatory - they agitate the carpet fibers and remove it so the vacuum can suck up the dirt, so it's important that these are functioning.

  2. To Bag or Not to Bag - If your vacuum is a bagged variety, then it needs to be replaced when full with a new, fresh and clean vacuum bag. If (like me) you prefer bagless vacuum cleaners, then just make sure you empty out the cannister before using the vacuum. A full cannister means your vacuum just can't suck in any more dirt!

  3. Filtering It Out - Many modern vacuums come complete with some pretty amazing filters to filter out allergens and dust - a great thing for families who have allergies. But, for optimal effectiveness, you need to clean and/or replace these filters. Check your vacuum's instructions guide to see how often this needs to be done.

You can do other DIY repairs on vacuums if you find that your vaccum really isn't working properly, but you know what - I don't suggest it. If after doing these three steps you still find that the vacuum doesn't suck like it should (haha) then take it to a professional to see if it needs real repair work done.

Otherwise, these simple tips should make your vacuum work far better - maybe as good as new again!

More On Vacuuming Tips and Hints:

Friday, October 03, 2008

Piles and Piles of Books - Reducing Book Clutter

Now this is one subject I completely and fully understand! For the past 10-15 years I've become quite a book collector. I have books on travel, tons of great novels, cookbooks, photography books, old textbooks, books on writing...and the list goes on (and on and on and on, to be perfectly honest.)

If you love books, you'll understand this predicament. So -- add to your Weekly Clean for All list: "Book decluttering!" Yes, the exclamation point is probably necessary in this case. As you do with all your decluttering chores, make separate piles:

  • Books to Keep
  • Books to Give Away (to charities, friends, whomever. Remember that nice books make beautiful gifts -- and you won't have to spend an additional penny!)
  • Books to Sell

Ah ha, yes you read that last bullet correctly - you can SELL your books and make a nice little chunk of change! I did some research on selling books online, and came up with a number of ideas for you, on how to turn a pile of books you no longer need into a little much-needed padding for your wallet!

  1. Sell books on eBay - This is the old standby, and years ago I used to do this when I needed a little extra moola! You'll get an especially good end price, of course, if your book is in demand, or a rare edition.
  2. - An online book store that buys your books. It seems to have a fairly good reputation - if anyone has firsthand experience, please post a comment.
  3. - An online campus bookstore that buys back used textbooks. You can make a lot of money if you have textbooks that are in demand. So if you have scholarly friends, offer to help them with decluttering THEIR books and then split the profits. :)
  4. Sell books closer to home - Within a ten block radius of my home I likely have at least 2 or 3 used book stores. Go in and talk to the owner and see what kind of deal you can get for your old books.
  5. Last but not least - garage sales. You won't make a lot of money selling your books at a garage sale, but at least you'll get rid of the clutter. Most people seem to pile those books into a box and label them at either a buck or a quarter a piece. Hey, at least your books will find a good home, and someone else will read and enjoy them.

Back to the Decluttering:

Take one area at a time to declutter your piles of books. For instance, if your Focus Room cleaning area today is the den, then take a few minutes to work on one or two bookshelves, separating the books into the categories listed above (sell/give away/keep). You'll be surprised that a few minutes of work, done often, can really reduce book - and all other types of - clutter! Happy decluttering to you, slobbos!

Ahhh...Fresh Air

Want to know one of the best natural air fresheners you can ever use? It's called Fresh Air, and it's as easy to find as opening up the nearest window! Stale, musty air makes your home feel (and definitely smell!) gloomier. Whenever you're doing your housecleaning, open up some windows and let some gorgeous fresh air come wafting in.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Lighter Fluid to Remove Sticky Stuff - Labels, Old Price tags, etc

A great tip (if not a slightly fume-y one!) to share with you today. If you're trying to remove a sticky residue, such as what is left behind after picking off a price tag or label - a bit of lighter fluid on a soft cloth should wipe that mess right away.

Just don't breathe too deeply while you're doing it! ;) Or you'll be a bit loopy by the end.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Club Soda to Clean (or Shine Up) Cars

Last week we went on an awesome road trip - winding through the roads of interior British Columbia, enjoying the gorgeous scenery and basically just being glad to get away from the hustle, bustle and busy-ness of the city. But, our car didn't get the better end of the clean stick, if you know what I mean. In fact, it was a pretty sad little bug cemetary by the end of the trip.

So - when I mentioned to a friend last night that club soda is really useful for cleaning, he asked if it might also work on shining the car! He's going to give it a try, and so am I. Will report back on the results. I'm not sure if it'll do the trick on our bug guts guess is it's a better Shiny Cleaner, not de-bugger. Oh, those poor bugs...

PS> If YOU have a great tip for washing the car, post it! Or email it to me at christina at Thanks fellow slobbos!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Deterring Cats from Scratching Furniture - HELP!

I'm looking for YOUR suggestions again, because my kitties are driving me bonkers! I have a new couch, chair and office chair. (Hurray especially on the office chair! My old one was so sad and rickety, you would've laughed to see it.)

The couch and chair we've had for around a year, and already we've had to drape blankets on it to prevent our two cats (especially one is guilty as charged, the little monkey) from scratching. I've tried a few natural ideas I've seen posted on the Internet - like spraying the area with lavender. But I think my cats (like me, apparently) love lavender! It didn't help a bit!

Is there any other way to prevent them from scratching up furniture? They DO have a scratching post...I've heard that orange oil might work. Has anyone tried this?

Thanks all!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Really Big Cleaning Problem - One Reader's Touching Email...and How I Hope to Help

I've been putting off doing this post, because I just know it's going to be an emotional post...but I promised Cleaning Challenged a reply, and so here goes...First, here is her email to me:

Dear Christina,

I noticed that you sometimes answer questions on your blog so I thought it might be worth it to take a shot. I'm a 24-year-old college graduate, but my cleaning "education" as a kid consisted of my mom going off on my sister and me every few months for "not pitching in," and going on what we called "cleaning binges" in which things were shoved out of the way into boxes or random drawers and we couldn't find anything later. I suspect this is because as a foster child she grew up without consistent guidance on cleaning.

As a result, I don't know how to clean. Because a mess was my normal environment, I just don't see clutter or things that need to be cleaned until they reach epic, discouraging scale, at which time I procrastinate until some emergency prompts my own cleaning binge. On average, my wardrobe is approximately 75% on my bedroom floor, 15% on my bathroom floor, and 10% still in the hamper from the last time I did laundry. I make bowls out of aluminum foil to get out of doing dishes. I know it's ridiculous but I don't know how to change what I'm doing when it's based in something I don't notice. I don't have a neat-freak roommate or close friend to learn from. I've tried to find books and websites to help me, but tips for getting a stain out of the carpet do me no good when I can't find the carpet.

If I ever have kids I don't want to pass this along to them. How do I fix my complete lack of cleaning habits?


Cleaning Challenged

(please don't use my real name online)


Hi CC,

Thanks for emailing me. I do apologize that it took longer for me to reply on the blog than I'd first told you, but I wanted to mull over your question for a while, and hopefully provide something constructive, something that would actually really help.

There are likely a lot of people in your shoes - people who grew up without a regular cleaning routine. So you know what? I really want to help you learn some gradual cleaning routines that you can stick to, so you don't feel overwhelmed by it all.

So, first things first - I want you to learn about cleaning bursts. They've really helped me (a recovering slob, but still with a 'happy slob' nature) to keep our place a lot tidier, so I won't freak out if people happen to stop by. Starting tomorrow, do one cleaning burst a day - even if it's for five minutes.

Second, we're going to set up some time for you every day to tackle the closet-out-of-a-closet syndrome that's going on. :) Seriously, you're not the only person whose clutter gets out of control! I don't want you thinking you are, and thinking you're somehow awful because of it. We can gradually decrease that and then learn how to keep it contained.

So, for this week, here are two goals for you:

  1. One cleaning burst a day. A cleaning burst is basically a timed period of cleaning. Aim for about 5 minutes a day and hit the areas that people (including YOU!) will see the most. My cleaning bursts always include kitchen, living areas, and main bath. Put 5 mins on the timer and then set to work tidying. DON'T WORRY IF YOU DON'T THINK YOU'RE DOING IT ALL PERFECTLY! Seriously, none of us do this perfectly, but over time we develop a few more cleaning skills.
  2. 5 minutes decluttering in your 'danger zone' - the closet! Once you touch an item that's out of the closet, deal with it. Again, put the timer on for five minutes. If you can work for a few extra minutes, that's a bonus, but if not - five minutes is fantastic. Aim to spend five minutes a day. Make a pile of things to give away, things that need to be thrown away, and things that need to be laundered, repaired, etc.

Next week I'll post again and see how you're doing. E-mail me back, please! I want to know how you progress, and I'm sure all of the blog readers will want to, as well. But, two steps to start is doable, right? And I'm really proud that you emailed me at all. We'll tackle this together! (And next week we'll start to tackle dishes and the kitchen in a more specific way.)

Take care,


P.S. Anyone who reads this and was as touched by CC's words as I was - please post an encouraging comment for her...Thanks!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Crazy Cleaning Tips - Cleaning with Vodka - Happy Slob Housecleaning Tips

Now here's a bunch of cleaning tips that should really grab your attention - cleaning with vodka! "Vodka??" You might ask. "Is she nuts?" Well...that's still up for debate, but on the topic of cleaning with vodka, I'm absolutely serious.

I've collected some of my favorite vodka cleaning tips for you, all right here. And remember: you certainly don't need a beautiful, expensive bottle of vodka for cleaning purposes. Just the cheapest old variety will do a fantastic job.

  1. Cleaning pet stains - of which I've encountered many! Vodka is great at lifting even tough stains. Since vodka is colorless and odorless, it won't add any additional staining to your carpet. I would be tempted to try a few tablespoons in my little carpet spot cleaner the next time the cats have a stomach upset...I'll post the results.
  2. Jewelry cleaner - Get those rocks sparkling again! Just let them soak in a tiny dish, swishing the jewelry around a bit to loosen gunk and grime that's had time to collect over the years. This is a tip I'm going to utilize this week - my old diamond solitaire is looking pretty UN-sparkly and needs a good clean.
  3. Cleaning leather - this was posted a couple of years ago by a Happy Slob reader: "I also used straight vodka to clean white paint off my son's black leather jacket. Worked great."
  4. Cleaning chandeliers - Now I don't have a chandelier myself, but I can only imagine the agony it must be to clean one! So I found this tip using vodka for all of you who DO have chandeliers to clean: "Vodka is also an excellent cleaner for chandeliers. Just mix one part of vodka with five parts of water and spray it on your chandelier. Let the excess drip onto a towel on the floor below."
  5. Cleaning clothing stains - Use it full strength to muscle away stubborn stains on clothing, including grass stains or food stains.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Happy Slob's Housecleaning - Product Review - Dirt Devil Spot Scrubber (Mini Portable Carpet Cleaner)

Product Review of:
Dirt Devil Spot Scrubber - Mini Carpet Cleaner for Spots
I was really fed up with some nasty stains in our carpet (ahem...let's just say that one of our pet cats has a real affection for finding the most obvious spots to barf up her furballs!). No matter what I did, I couldn't budge those stains, and in fact seemed to be making them worse with every attempt to clean them! Whenever I looked at one of those stubborn stains, it seemed to grin and chuckle at me, or wave as if to remind me of its very presence. As if I could've forgotten it!
So...hubs and I decided that it was time to finally buy some sort of carpet cleaner. But, we live in a modest 2-bedroom apartment without much storage space at all. Even our closets are just sort of wanna-be's with not much room for anything other than the absolute essentials. (And don't get me STARTED about our linen closet...) Wow, I'm in a cranky mood today, huh?
Right - back onto the topic at hand: our lovely new portable carpet cleaner! It's tiny and meant for spot removal as opposed to large carpet cleaning jobs. Just what we were looking for! Here it is:

We had planned on buying the "Little Green" spot cleaner, but both stores hubs went to were out of stock, so he purchased this one instead. And I'm very glad that he did! Our little Dirt Devil Spot Scrubber (the exact model shown - I've read that the smaller hand vac type doesn't work nearly as well) works like a dream. We used it on an old tea stain (that one was entirely my fault - I was climbing into bed one day with a full cup of hot tea, and well, I ended up in the bed, but the tea didn't make it onto the nightstand. It splashed dramatically all over the carpet!) and a few old kitty-tummy-upset stains with much better than expected results.
On the oldest, most stubborn stains, I think it will take 2-3 runs of the machine to get the stain out entirely, but we were both impressed by how it slurped up the old messes. The dirty water container got muddy-looking very quickly! I was thrilled to see those old stains start to disappear before my eyes. And relieved to see the demise of my old, mocking enemies...
Good Points:
  • Large tank size! We would only need to fill this and empty it occasionally. Considering it's just for spots - you could do a LOT of spot removal before the tank would need refilling.
  • Worked great with just hot tap water, about a quarter cup of white vinegar and the tiniest drop (literally) of liquid laundry detergent. I think you could very easily get away without even adding the detergent, but I knew these stains were particularly tough ones.
  • Powerful suction - you spray the solution on (in our case, vinegar and water and a drop of detergent - I didn't even bother with the freebie cleaner solution that came with the unit), scrub it with the brush and at the same time it sucks all the mess away. The suction was impressively powerful - better than I'd expected for this price.
  • A great bargain! Ours was on sale for $59.99, but is on regularly for $69.99 at Amazon and other online vendors. I thought it was well worth it...

What I Would Change if I Could:

  • Make the brush bigger - it's about 3 inches in length, and it would be nice to have a slightly larger brush to cover a larger area more quickly. It's not a serious flaw, though.

All in all, I really love this little gizmo. Now, when my beloved kitty has a stomach upset, I won't be in a tizzy to get the stain out, because this machine on fresh stains I think will be a true powerhouse. (And on old stains, it's proven itself already!)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

6 Ways to Use Vinegar Around the House to Clean

Don't scoff - white vinegar is an amazing all-purpose cleaner! I've posted countless ways here and on the site that you can use vinegar as a cleaner. Here are some of my all-time favorite vinegar tips, hints, recipes & all around good vinegar advice for Happy Slob Housecleaners.

  1. Vinegar as an All-Purpose Cleaning Spray - The Very Vinegar Spray is the one I rely on every day! Don't let the vinegar scare you...this is the best cleaning secret you can find, and it costs about 10 cents a bottle to make. Try it! Very Vinegar Spray Recipe
  2. Freshen the dishwasher - Just a cup or so in an empty dishwasher will freshen and deodorize your dishwasher naturally. And the acidity will help scrub that dishwasher clean - from the inside out!
  3. Remove pet odors and pet urine smells from carpet
  4. Freshen up bread boxes Bread Box Refresher
  5. A few extra vinegar cleaning tips from a reader: Vinegar Cleaning Tips from Roberta

And remember - to make a fun, natural foaming cleaner, just use some baking soda and vinegar mixed together in a bowl. Kids love cleaning with this foamy cleaner, and it's a lot milder than harsh chemical foam cleaners. Especially good for the toilet...which brings me to tip #6:

6. Clean the Toilet with Vinegar: Pour about a cup in the toilet, give it a good swish around with the toilet brush and close the lid and let sit. Sprinkle with baking soda and then scrub with the toilet brush, and flush the mess away. You should be left with a clean, sparkling toilet bowl!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Organizing Life Tips - Tip #1 - Make a Weekly Menu

Sure, this has nothing to do with cleaning. But, the Happy Slob mentality is all about simplifying your life, right? And one thing I find not only incredibly helpful with reducing stress - and reducing my bill at the supermarket! - is to sit down on Sunday nights and come up with a weekly menu or meal plan.

To simplify even further, you can have themes for each night, such as:

  • Monday: Breakfast for Supper Night
  • Tuesday: Soup & Sandwich Night
  • Wednesday: Try a New Recipe Night
  • Thursday: Dad's Night to Cook (Hurray!)
  • Friday: Homemade Pizza Night
  • Saturday: Eat out Night (Which is particularly easy to prepare...hehe)
  • Sunday: Proper Sit Down Dinner Night

With a theme in mind, you can create meal ideas for each day, and then make a grocery list that contains all the necessary ingredients.

Okay slobbos...what do YOU do to simplify meal planning?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Oh...and On that Buggy Topic - Mosquito Help??

Hi again all,

And while we're talking bugs (yes, we WERE talking bugs) any of you know the best way to repel mosquitoes? They seem really big, bad and nasty this year! I've heard about Skin So Soft and of course bug repellant...but I'd like to try some more natural ways. Please e-mail me or post a comment!


Homemade Bug Killer Spray - Most Popular Link on the Site Right Now

By far the Homemade Bug Killer Spray is the most popular page on the site right now! Using natural goodies like cayenne and garlic, this is an organic way to get rid of nasty old bugs...

Give it a try and post a comment!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Removing Cat Urine Odors from Carpets - Organic Cleaning Tips

Looky, looky! I just received this fantastic testimonial on using plain old water and vinegar to get out cat urine smells. And I own two cats, both of whom have had occasional 'oopsies' I know very well that particular TANG of cat urine. Ick.

Here's the original post on using water & vinegar to clean carpets:
Here's the email:

Hi Christina,

I actually used the Steam Cleaning Tip of Hot Water and Vinegar and unbelievably it cleaned out a cat urine smell. (my cat was ill and had an accident).

I had tried the commercial solution and it smelled like flowery cat pee LOL. I used the vinegar and water solution in my machine for 3 days straight and even though the vinegar smelled a little ripe, the end result when it dried was no odor, and the carpet was much brighter overall.

Thanks for the tip!


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Removing Pesky Water Stains from Wooden Furniture

Two funny (and yet very effective) tips for removing water stain rings from your lovely wooden furniture:

  • Minty goodness - yes, that regular toothpaste (not the gel type) can rub away that water ring! Just be sure to use a soft, lint-free cloth.
  • Make Mine Mayo - A dab of the oily gooey stuff (again on a soft cloth) will do wonders. Just let it sit a bit, and then it should rub easily away.

After either of these applications, do a regular polish and your wooden tables, nightstands - or whatever - will look as good as new. Easy, isn't it?

Sunday, June 08, 2008

An Update on my Original Happy Slob Dream

-- An Update on my Original Happy Slob Book Dream --

For those of you who have been visiting my website, reading my newsletter & visiting this blog since the beginning of my online journey - you'll remember that my original goal and dream of creating this blog & site was to get my book published. I wanted to get my book published, and when agents were interested, and yet not willing to take me (and my little book) on, I decided to switch things up and prove a point. Not out of anger, but just out a desire to show that my book COULD sell.

So far I've sold over 300 copies of The Happy Slob's Guide to Housecleaning - electronic version. I've had some wonderful responses from people as varied as social workers (who rely on the tips in the book to provide guidance to some of their cases) to arthritis sufferers who thanked me for coming up with simplified solutions to tackle daily cleaning chores that they felt were beyond them. They're not!

Without giving too much away...there's an interesting development brewing with the book right now. I'm trying not to get my hopes up, but let me tell you this much - it DOES give me a boost of motivation and inspiration! It certainly has made my Happy Slob skies far bluer! It's reminded me that this book is a good one, and if it helps even a few people - then I'm happy.

To all of you who read this blog regularly, and who have applied my simple house cleaning techniques, I thank you. I hope you'll continue to visit and continue to clean - in our simplified, happy slob way. And I promise to keep you updated on the interesting developments, too!

Thanks to all,

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

On A Budget? Homemade Cleaners Save Hundreds!

I love a good bottle of homemade cleaner, in fact my bottle of Squirt, Squirt (aka Very Vinegar) cleaner is the one yellow bottle I cannot clean without! I wanted to do a quick post before I go tackle some Focus Room Cleaning of my own...on the economics of sticking to homemade cleaners!

I'm going to take a few average prices around here of things I DON'T BOTHER BUYING:
  • Specialty cleaners, ie: toilet bowl cleaner or tub and tile cleaner. Total: $10.00 a month
  • Expensive all-purpose cleaners - fancy ones can cost $8.00 a bottle of more! And yes, the lovely scents and swoon-inspiring designs of those bottles ARE tempting. (Trust me, even I'm tempted by them!) But, you can create some lovely scents with natural essential oils or even just lemon or lime juice added to your regular cleaners. $8.00 a month
  • Automatic shower cleaner + refills = Total: $15.00 a month
  • Swiffer refills = $8.00 a month (at least!)
  • Maid service! (haha - sort of kidding; sort of not) = at least $50.00 a month
  • Assorted other specialty cleaners = $10.00 a month

GRAND TOTAL: Up to $109.00+ a month SAVED by keeping your cleaning products simple

By doing your own cleaning (bye bye, little Missy Maid Service!) and sticking to tried and true natural homemade cleaners, you'll save a bundle. And in this ever-tightening economy, those extra dollars really add up, and really HELP!


The Happy Slob's Guide to Housecleaning is a fresh take on cleaning!
Takes only minutes a day to keep your home tidy and cozy.
Order yours today at:

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

An Oldie but Goodie - Cleaning the Microwave with Steam Power

On the topic of steam of the most beneficial (and easiest!) ways to use steam to clean is in your microwave oven! It's sort of a natural little steam cleaner in and of itself.

All you need is a microwave-safe cup. (I really love using a Pyrex measuring cup for this. It works perfectly for me...and it's easy to pour from. More about pouring later!) Fill it up with some tap water, and a sprinkle of baking soda. For a freshening touch, I like to add a touch of fresh lemon juice - even a wedge of fresh lemon will do the trick very nicely indeed.

Anyhooo...pop the mix into the microwave and set it until the water comes to a nice rolling boil - it takes about 5 minutes in my microwave. The TRICK is -- let it sit and stew in all of that glorious, gunk-fighting steam for as long as possible! I like leaving it for at least 15 or 20 minutes, possibly longer if I have time.

When you do open the microwave door, you can pour a tiny bit of the heated water right out onto the bottom for a bit of extra scrubbing power. (I like to, but you don't need to...the steam is often all you need!) Just a regular sponge will easily wipe away all the loosened grunge and gunk and your microwave will look STUNNING! And the lemon and baking soda combo make it smell fresh and lovely, too.

Enjoy, slobbos!

The Cleaning Power of Water

So, you already know that I'm a bit passionate about cleaning with things like white vinegar, salt, baking soda, and fresh lemons. But, there is one often overlooked and powerful cleaner that a lot of us forget all about!

Water! Yes, you heard right - good old H20. Especially with sticky, mucky dishes or pots and pans that seem impossible to clean - usually a good, long soaking with water and a wee squirt of dish liquid will have that cookware shining and gleaming once again.

I haven't had the chance to try multi-purpose steam cleaners (not just for carpets anymore, no no!) but I would like to try one...these little babies are apparently a happy slob cleaner's best friend! They can help you get all sorts of surfaces clean and sanitized -- such as bath, tub, tiles, floors, etc. I would love to hear from any of you who have tried all purpose steamers for cleaning. time you're stuck with a sticky cleaning problem, give it a bit of a think and you might find that water will help you get un-stuck again!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

An Easy and Delicious Natural Air Freshener - Citrus Simmer

This is what I like to call my favorite natural air freshener - that actually simmers and bubbles away quite happily on top of the stove! You'll just need some citrus peels (a great way to use up leftover orange, lemon or lime peels after you've squeezed the juice). Add a couple of cinnamon sticks if you like, or even a sprinkling of fresh, whole cloves.

Combine the whole lot - citrus peels and spices - to a small pan of simmering water, and let simmer away and fill your home with a beautiful, natural clean aroma. Especially nice for when company's coming over!

Cleaning Cutting Boards with a Lemon and Salt

If you want to freshen up just about any old cutting board, try this quick and easy and all-natural little trick:

Chop a fresh lemon in half. Dip in chunky (kosher or sea) salt. Use as a citrus-fresh little scrubber to naturally clean and disinfect your chopping/cutting boards!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Reader's Question - Cleaning Fingerprints off Stainless Steel Appliances

Ah yes, the fingerprint prone stainless steel appliance! They look chic in your kitchen, but those smudgy fingerprints really wreck that distinguished look you were going for. Do you relate to this email sent in by Bev?

I was wondering if you or your readers have any good tips for removing those pesky finger prints off of stainless steel appliances? Cleaning has become a nightmare since getting these new toys!

Thank you,



Hey Bev,

I have a great solution for you that's not only effective, it's natural! (Oh, and did I mention cheap??) You probably already have this ingredient nestled in your pantry - olive oil! Just a tiny amount on a soft cloth or paper towel will work wonders at removing those fingerprint disasters that are smudging up your gorgeous appliances. Literally just a few drops is all you need.

Give it a go and let me know the results, okay?
Take care,

A Great Tip for Reducing Dishes - One Cup Each

I had to share this great idea that a friend of mine told me about. You know how we all get frustrated with the ever-growing monster that's also called DISHES? She has a great way to reduce the number of 'meaningless' dishes that pile up in the sink, waiting to be dealt with.

She says that each member of her family has their own cup (or glass) that they use each day. When they've used it, they rinse it out and have it ready to re-use later on. It's really that easy! I think the same could also apply to a dish or plate - for all those snacks that we munch on during the day. She also mentioned that a paper towel is often sufficient for holding snacks, and you don't have to dirty any dishes at all.

Thanks for the great tip, M!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

More Ideas on Swiffer Refills - DIY Swiffer Refills - Easy Mopping

I was doing a search to answer my own Swiffer question! :) Ironic, huh? Anyway, I found a number of different posts here on the blog over the past couple of years that have to do with make your own Swiffer refills. Here they are:

Using Blue Shop Paper Towels for Swiffers

Make Your Own Knitted Swiffer Cleaning Pads - Very cool for you crafty Happy Slobs out there! (Mine would look ridiculous and would likely fall apart, but I'm sure YOU could make one of these! hehehe

Also - check your local dollar stores. You can purchase a package of 6 or 10 dry sweeping cloths (for generic Swiffers) for $1. Then you could put that on your Swiffer mop, and just use a squirt of our Very Vinegar cleaner and away you go!

Swiffer Wet Mops - this Really Makes Mopping Easier

All of you know that I try to stay away from chemicals and commercial cleaners as much as possible. Instead, I always prefer to make it myself - using real and natural ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, salt, natural soaps, etc.

But, I was getting frustrated with my lack of mopping skills. Or rather - I was getting frustrated with my MOP! My husband (who to be fair probably mopped more than I ever did) and I tried a variety of mops, but to no avail. I just couldn't find a style of mop I really liked, and that did a job I was pleased with. All I wanted was a clean floor, but both the boat-style mop (the ones with long yarny threads - a traditional mop) and the sponge-type mops just didn't float my boat.

So, I gave in and bought a Swiffer Wet mop. I have to tell you - I love it! It came with one wet mopping cloth and two dry cloths. I don't mind sweeping the floors with a broom, so I won't be too worried about using those dry cloths (although I did try and it did a pretty good job.) But, the wet mopping cloths are really good.

So, I had a bit of a dilemma - how to have the EASE of the Swiffer mop, without having to use their refills all the time? I'm sure that a regular dishcloth or even one of those blue heavy duty paper towels (usually used in body shops) would work just fine. So, I'm going to be experimenting a bit...I think that dunking a clean, fresh dishcloth (or other smallish towel) in a sink of soapy water with a squirt of fresh lemon or lime would be ideal for mopping the floor. I'll be giving it a try and letting you know how it goes!

If you have more ideas on Swiffers, post a comment! Or email me at christina at

Happy sweeping and mopping, slobbo darlings!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

This Week's Organizing Challenge - the Kitchen Cabinets

This week's organizing challenge is one that might sound simple (Yay!) but actually will yield some impressive results. Here it is:

  • This week focus on clearing out and decluttering (re-organizing) at least three kitchen cabinets. This means completely emptying the cupboards, wiping down the inside surface (our Very Vinegar spray is great for this!) and then getting rid of the extra stuff that is either past it's food life OR passing on stuff you won't use to someone who needs it. Then neatly pile the food you are keeping inside.

You can also read more about the challenge at this week's newsletter:

Post a comment and let us all know how you did!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Groovy Shaker for Your Baking Soda Cleaner

Say goodbye to toxic old powdered cleansers, and hello to your baking soda in cute shakers! I got this brainstorm last night when I was decluttering a cupboard containing spices and baking supplies. I used the salt shaker, but didn't really need the pepper shaker since I'm a big fan of freshly ground pepper from my trusty pepper mill.

So...I rescued the pepper shaker, let it soak in the sink in some soapy water for a bit, gave it a good scrub and it's now my all purpose baking soda shaker! It just feels better to shake baking soda out this way, instead of from a boring box.

If you have an old pepper shaker that is similarily ignored, bring it back to life as a new addition to your cleaning kit! are some of my favorite shakers for baking soda...(I prefer slightly oversized shakers, so you won't have to be refilling it all the time.)

Okay, your baking soda is beautifully presented - now use it, slobbo darlings! Here are my favorite baking soda tips for cleaning (from the website & this blog):

Baking Soda Uses Database
Baking Soda as a Natural Air Freshener
Baking Soda Carpet Powder Recipe
Use Baking Soda to Clear Clogged Drains
All Purpose Baking Soda Spray Cleaner
Baking Soda for Cleaning the Walls
Baking Soda for Washing Dishes
Baking Soda Crayon Stain Removal Tip

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Few Survey Responses - What Area of YOUR Home Needs Organizing/Decluttering Help

A while ago I posted a question about organizing and delucttering and what specific areas of YOUR homes you had the most AGGRAVATION with! Here are a few of the replies:

  • The Kitchen - Kathleen wrote: "Hi, my number one problem area is the kitchen. Keeping track of food is the pits-expiration dates, freshness, food not gotten into the refrigerator, old stuff rotting in the back of the refrigerator, etc. My daughter sits in front of the refrigerator on weekends and tosses stuff. I have started to try this, but need a backbone to remember to do this. HELP!"
  • The Bedroom - Naomi wrote: "My biggest place for clutter seems to be the bedroom. If I want to remove things and can't decide whether to throw out, give away or keep, then everything seems to end up in the bedroom. I suppose the biggest problem is my indecision about what to do with things not being used at the moment.
    Anyway I much appreciate your column. "

Others mentioned the bathroom, home office and kids rooms. SOOO....I'll be trying to help you with occasional organizing tips for these areas that you're the most frustrated with! And that includes MY ongoing battles with tiny closets -- meaning, I need to continue to tackle my own closet clutter. :) Keep reading the blog regularly for more updates on organizing, and thanks for your responses, everyone!

Happy Slob's Housecleaning - Making Your Cleaning Bursts More Effective

So, you've read my book The Happy Slob's Guide to Housecleaning. You're pumped up, you're ready to clean like you've never cleaned before, you're dedicated to this new routine of cleaning. Hurray!

But...maybe after a while you find that you'd like to increase the effectiveness of your cleaning bursts. Lately, I've been thinking the exact same thing! And so I've made some tweaks to help all of us get the maximum 'punch' out of our morning and evening cleaning bursts.

Here's what I've done to make MY cleaning bursts have more BANG:

  • Create a list of cleaning burst essential activities. When you're first starting out, do as the book says - just tidy and clean whatever you possibly can in the time you've allotted for yourself. But, as you become (ahem!) a cleaning burst PRO, you'll want to take the cleaning up a level or three - make a list of essential activities for morning and evening cleaning bursts.

Here's what MY Cleaning Burst Essentials List looks like:

AM Cleaning Burst (I do it first thing in the morning!)

  1. Wipe down surfaces in kitchen
  2. Deal with the dishes (meaning - unload the dishwasher from the night before, and make sure the sink is empty of all dishes)
  3. Make the bed
  4. If time leftover - pick up in bedroom/living areas - wherever needs it most

This works great for me, because the night before I've already done another cleaning burst before I head to bed. So...moral of the story is -- for easier, less hectic and stressful mornings, make sure to do your evening cleaning burst!

My PM Cleaning Burst Routine

  1. Deal with the dishes - again, that means making sure that the sink is emptied out entirely. Pots that were left to soak after supper are scrubbed and set to airdry on the countertop. (And then put away in the morning.)
  2. Wipe down the surfaces in the kitchen AND bathroom. This sounds like such a minor thing, but having nice clean surfaces makes the whole room feel utterly lovely. And it takes (honestly!) just a few minutes to do. My cleaner of choice? Our Very Vinegar spray recipe - which is so easy you can hardly call it a 'recipe' at all! (Just pour a few tablespoons of white vinegar into a clean spray bottle. Add a few drops of natural liquid dish soap and then top off the container with water. Shake to combine and you're ready to go!)
  3. Sweep
  4. Clean cat litter & put on the Lampe Berger to destroy the stinky lingering odors. (What would I do without my Lampe Berger??)
  5. Throw out 5 things (decluttering). I honestly don't do this every single day, but I try to as often as possible, to keep clutter under control.
  6. Check garbages/recycling

That's it! So, your assignment for today is to make your own Cleaning Burst Essentials list, and then stick it on your fridge or a bulletin board - wherever you'll be able to easily refer to it when you're in the middle of cleaning.

And remember...this list will take some time to tweak and develop. I started with a different list, but then tweaked my own cleaning burst list until it did all that I needed it to. It's just a cleaning burst list, not rocket science - so have fun with it, adjust it, and don't stress about it. :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Reader Poll - What is the ONE Area of Your Home You want to De-Clutter?

In an attempt to get more organized and declutter more often, I'd like to hear from all of you on this question:

What area(s) of your home do you want to declutter? What are your biggest organizing challenges? Would regular email organizing tips help you stay focused on your organizing/decluttering goals?

Please post a comment on the blog OR email me at and let me know your answers! Thanks for participating everyone. :)

A Reader's Amazing Laundry Stain Removal Tip - Use Shampoo

Helpful Reader Alert!
I got this email from Nancy W quite some time ago, and I kept meaning to post it but (ahem) I'm not known for my fabulous memory! She shares a great and frugal cleaning tip to tackle your nastiest laundry stain removal problems. Here's the email:

Removing Laundry Stains with Shampoo
"I think the best thing I ever learned about laundry was to use shampoo for removing spots. I have a squeeze bottle and fill it with plain old cheap shampoo. When I have a spot, I squeeze shampoo on it and rub it between my fingers and toss it in the washer. It works and if you dilute the shampoo with 1/3 water per bottle, it really saves money."

Thanks again Nancy, LOVE this tip! If YOU have a great tip you want everyone to know about, then email it to me at christina AT happyslob DOT com

Washing Dishes - Getting out Tough Coffee and Tea Stains

I've recently found that even good dishwasher detergents don't always completely clean coffee and tea stains out of mugs and cups. If you also have a rather unappealing collection of stained mugs you'd like to get truly clean, here are a few tips to try:

  1. Lemon and salt - Cut a fresh lemon in half and dunk in some regular table salt. Use this as a little natural scouring pad to get stains out. (This is also really useful on laundry stains, believe it or not!) Keep a few fresh lemons on hand anyway, for a variety of cleaning purposes.
  2. Baking Soda - Dip a damp rag into a bit of baking soda and use this as your natural scouring powder for edging away those tough tea and coffee stains. It may take a little effort, but this can really do wonders for stained mugs.