Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Housecleaning Tell-All - Tell us what YOU Did Today (and I'll tell you what I did too!)

Now here's something occasional "Housecleaning Check-In" where you come and let all of us know what you did around the house today! And you know what - if you didn't do much, that's fine too. We all have days like that, right? And the comments of other posters might get you motivated to get up off the sofa and lift more than a remote control...maybe a duster or a broom?

Here's what I did so far today:

  1. Worked on my book! Ack! (I'm getting a little bit stressed about the upcoming deadline next week...) And whenever I talk about it or type about it, I always end it with 'Ack!' as I just proved. Ack! (Because I got thinking about it again.)
  2. Cleaning burst early this morning - dishwasher unloaded and reloaded with the few dishes in the sink. Made the bed. Simple and fast - probably took about three minutes, which is all it should take, I believe.
  3. 1 load of laundry...not my favorite thing in the world to do, but I DO love clean laundry on the other hand. So, one sort of goes hand in hand with the other.
  4. Made cookies. See, I can't eat wheat and am trying to eat very little refined sugar, so that leaves me baking. Often. But these were very good, so it was all worth it. I'm eating one now, in between typing fits.
  5. Focus Room Cleaning...To do later today. 10 mins or so in our bedroom decluttering the bookshelves. Man, they were awful! I started this a few days ago and am working away at it bit by bit.
  6. PM Cleaning Burst...Later, before bed. Hub will do sweeping floors, cat litter. I will make sure the dishes are under control, wipe down surfaces in kitchen and bath and tidy up VERY briefly.

Wow, to me that looks almost like a productive day! And it sounds like I cleaned a lot, but in reality it takes very little time - which is the point of it all.

Okay...YOUR turn! Post a comment and let the rest of us know what you did. I especially can't wait to hear about how you're using Cleaning Bursts and Focus Room Cleaning in your day-to-day routine. Spill the beans, please! (But then sweep them up. hardy har)

Are You in a "Note-y" Mood? Notes and Housecleaning

Are You in a "Note-y" Mood? Sticky Notes and House Cleaning

I don’t think I’m alone in my belief that sticky notes are hugely important in any household. They come in all sorts of fantastic designs, colors, shapes and sizes. Sort of like us Happy Slobs when you think about it…But, more importantly, (and hopefully unlike us happy slobs) they stick to any surface! (Important note: If YOU are sticking to any surface, time to the nearest shower.)

They are great for:

  • Honey-do lists. I often leave one in the morning for my husband, who is incredibly well intentioned, but has a memory as feeble as my own. "Please take out the garbage," with a huge heart added for good measure works wonders around here.
  • Kiddy-do lists. I don’t have any kids, but I can imagine that sticky notes would be very helpful in motivating the little ones to help out. Oh, I know! Stick it on their box of Pop Tarts - they'll never miss it that way.
  • Me-Do Lists. Wow, my grammar is incredible, isn't it? "Me can do! Me can do!" Sure, we're big into cleaning delegation around here, but we still need to remind OURSELVES to get up off the sofa and do a cleaning burst for heaven's sake. It can't ALL fall on our poor unsuspecting families.
  • Motivation – "I am a mopping maven!" or "I can handle this toilet…it’s all only one flush away from clean!" And similar notices can help you keep the housecleaning in perspective.
  • Inspiration – "Oprah says I can!" is sometimes all it takes, written in bold strokes across a sticky note. This one fits nearly any situation in life, making it incredibly useful. Feel free to stick the sticky on your forehead if you need extra inspirational power.

See, now don’t you have a sudden urge to hotfoot it to the office supply store and replenish your supply of sticky notes? You just never know when the next opportunity to use one will strike…Oh, and look...just when you think you've seen every sticky note known to mankind, they go and make ones that looks like these:

OH, so pretty! These would surely inspire us all to 'stick' with our cleaning routines. hehehe Sorry about that one...

Happy cleaning all!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Beyond Bleach to Disinfect...and no, It's Not Vinegar!

Ha, I'll bet you thought I'd suggest vinegar! (I do have a bit of a vinegar dependency issue...but we'll deal with that another day.) Today, the disinfectant of choice is hydrogen peroxide. AKA: My favorite new cleaning necessity.

Maybe you're the sort of person who grew up cleaning with bleach. You might have fond memories of Mom scrubbing the bathtub with scouring pads and bleach, her yellow rubber gloves tightly snapped on. Those bright yellow gloves meant business. And darn it, that cleaning business included heavy doses of chlorine bleach! Those fumes lingered in the air for days...ahhh, the memories.

But...since then a lot of us have decided that we're not so fond of cleaning with bleach. Mom (and Grandma, too) might deny that any other cleaner can clean as effectively, and can kill just as many germs. So, maybe we should keep this news of a 'new' bleach-y type cleaner all to ourselves.

Ta da! It's simply that bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide that you keep stored in the medicine chest for small scratches and assorted boo boos . This stuff is also an amazing, powerful disinfectant agent. And, if you're not so fond of the vinegar (which I've already admitted having a powerful bond with) then you'll like the very UN-vinegar-ish odor of hydrogen peroxide. Basically, peroxide has no odor. I smelled it today to make sure, and I can confirm 100% that it is practically odorless.

So, to whip up a natural cleaning and disinfectant cleaner, take a clean spray bottle (not one that has stored other chemicals - you just never know if there will be weird reactions) and:

  • Fill about one half full with 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • Fill the rest of the way with tap water or distilled water, if you so choose.
  • Give the bottle a wee shake-up for good measure...
  • And then clean to your heart's content! It's especially fantastic in those areas where germs like to gather - like the kitchen and bathroom.

More hydrogen peroxide tips to come...and if you have one to share, just post a comment or email me. Another quick one is to use hydrogen peroxide (just the 3% pharmacy stuff, not the ultra-powerful industrial strength 35% which is actually seriously heavy duty stuff) full strength on stains - really great on grout stains. (Just pour some on an oversized cotton pad or cotton ball and smoosh it right on the stain and let it sit a while. If you're worried about possible bleaching, just do a test spot somewhere inconspicuous first.)

Happy cleaning to you! (Yes, that is possible...You crazy cynics, you.)


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

How NOT to Clean Stainless Steel Sinks - How This Common Cleaner Causes Rusting

Say no to Steel Wool to Clean Stainless Sinks!
This is an interesting little cleaning tidbit that I just learned the other day. Are you a fan of steel wool for cleaning your stainless steel sinks? Well, after reading this, you might find a new cleaning pad to rely on.

The problem with cleaning your stainless steel sinks with steel wool is the fact that the steel wool can easily break down, allowing small bits of the steel to imbed into the sink. This inferior grade of steel can then rust! So, cleaning your stainless sink with steel wool could actually cause tiny bits of rust to form all over the surface of your sink...maybe causing you to think that your sink itself is rusty, when it actually isn't.

How SHOULD I Clean my Stainless Sink?
What to use instead? Switch from steel wool to natural scrubbers. Did you know, for instance, that you can use natural loofah to clean with? You can! It's a good, natural and non-toxic scrubber that is sink-friendly too. Or, you can find stainless-safe scrubby sponges at supermarkets now - just remember to clean with the grain of the stainless steel to prevent a lot of scratching and marking.

My all-time favorite way to get a stainless sink sparkling is by using either liquid or powder Barkeeper's Friend. People roll their eyes at this suggestion...until they try the stuff. It is now one of my favorite all-purpose cleaners and I use it all the time! If you can't find a retailer that carries Barkeeper's Friend cleanser, order it online from their website or Amazon. It is SO worth it! (And cheap...a few bucks a bottle.)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Wow - So you CAN Make Homemade Oxy Clean

Two clever readers had ideas on making homemade Oxy Clean...basically it all revolves around using hydrogen peroxide - or H202 - to clean. Here are their emails:

Robbyn wrote:
"Hi,I don't know about making an Oxyclean equivelent in the powder form, but I have read that hydrogen peroxide is similiar to Oxy Clean and can be used in the same ways. I have tried it in laundry, and some homeade cleaning solutions with great results. Also, at our grocery store, you can buy an offbrand product for $1 that seems to work just as well."

And R.B. wrote:
"homemade oxyclean:
mix WELL. 2 parts hot but not boiling water
1 part washing soda (dissolve in water)
1 part hydrogen peroxide (add to mixture)"


As for cleaning with hydrogen peroxide, I was already a fan. It's fantastic at safely removing stains - really good for cleaning grout, and I love how it makes my dishwasher, fridge and other white appliances sparkle and look good as new. Try dousing a sponge or cotton ball with the stuff and then leave it on grout lines that are looking really will 'bleach' it away better than bleach!

Monday, January 05, 2009

What is your most hated housecleaning chore?

Fess up, happy slob housecleaners...what housecleaning chore do you HATE the most? I can't wait to read your comments!


Cleaning and Household Hints - Removing Black Scratch Marks from Plates and Dishes...

So, you just went and bought yourself a beautiful new set of dishes...and after the first use you see all sorts of nasty greyish black marks left behind - from your cutlery! Aarrgh!

Before you freak out entirely, there are a couple of ways to remove these black scrape marks from your dishes. These tips might even help remove old marks left behind on old and much loved dishes - thus revitalizing them, and making them seem as good as new!

  1. Bar Keepers Friend Cookware Cleanser & Polish
    - I love this stuff! This amazing all-purpose cleaner does just about everything you can imagine - it cleans pricey All Clad pots and pans (or any stainless cookware - All Clad just happens to recommend it), porcelain, copper, brass. It's fantastic in the bathroom to clean stubborn stains from sinks or tubs or tiles. But, in this case, Barkeepers Friend is pretty adept at removing those nasty scratch marks on your dinner plates, bowls or mugs. Just make a paste of Barkeepers Friend (which is a very fine powder cleanser) and water, and use a soft cloth to rub the stain marks out. Often, these aren't actual scratches - just marks that CAN be removed.
  2. Scotch-Brite Scrub Sponges
    Online I found an expert who suggested this as another way to remove these marks. Just moisten the scrubby pad and use it gently to rub away the marks. I guess using this together with the Barkeepers Friend would be an unbeatable solution!

Wedgwood China suggests Barkeepers Friend to remove the 'pencil marks' that are sometimes left behind due to minerals rubbed off of inexpensive cutlery. They also recommended tooth powder as a cleaner for these marks! (If I can find some...I'll give it a go and let you all know how it turns out.) Otherwise, I suppose regular paste toothpaste (not the gel type) might do as a cleaner for these marks as well.

Another tip - generally, dishes with a shinier finish will have a tendency to leave these scuff marks behind. If you want to avoid this problem, choose dinnerware with a matte finish - it helps prevent these marks.

Hope this helps everyone renew their old dishes!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

What I'll Remember Most About 2008...

When I think of 2008 I’m sure the memory that will pop into my head the most frequently is that it was the year that I signed my first book contract. And I’ll always remember that amazing evening when I got an email from an editor that said she was ‘very impressed’ with the content of my ebook, which she had recently purchased…and then she asked me if I was still shopping the book around to agents and editors. I sat looking at the monitor with a sense of shock, and then (if I’m to be completely honest) I realized that tears were streaming down my face. And then I kept telling the monitor, "They want my little book, they want my little book!" As you might have expected, my monitor didn't reply.

You see, my website and this blog came about because I've always wanted to get my ebook published as a real book. You know, the kind you can curl up with – even if the topic is house cleaning. Since, curling up with even a laptop just isn't the same...I wanted it to be the sort of book that people would connect with, care about, and use to make their house cleaning easier, and a lot less stressful. So, this editor’s email (now she’s MY editor!) was the end result of a lot of dreaming, a lot of hoping…and some stubbornness, I suppose.

The book will be available in bookstores in October, 2009 (Yay, I can finally say THIS YEAR) and is being published by F+W Publications. I haven’t talked a whole lot about this, because I like to focus on what is more important, and that’s the ideas in the book that can help people to create more comfortable and more livable living spaces. Nothing perfect, nothing unattainable.

But…all of this journey was and continues to be a dream come true. I have about one month until my final deadline, and much of the work on the book (and a couple of other writing projects) has kept me sufficiently busy so that I haven’t been blogging as much. But today I just wanted to share with you loyal readers what’s going on in my book world. Thanks for continuing to support me!