Friday, April 20, 2012

Cleaning and Earth Day

So I became aware that "Earth Day" is this weekend when I got an advertisement from Amazon about cleaning products for Earth Day. Hmmm... that seems quite ironic... a company all about consumption advertising for Earth Day.

Anyhoo, after an article in Real Simple about the "best" cleaning products, I thought I ought to share my cleaning philosophy and methods.

"Cleaning philosophy?" you ask. Yes, everyone has basic reasons why they do things the way they do them.  They just aren't always able to articulate them.

There are two words which encapsulate my cleaning philosophy:

CHEAP  If it costs too much, I won't buy it.

SIMPLE  If its too complicated, I won't do it.

With that in mind... here's my basic supplies... baking soda, vinegar and dish soap.  And Simple Green.

What could more "Earth Day" than this! (not buying some fancy "organic" cleaner shouldn't count, but planting a tree might. I promise to water my garden.)

Baking soda -- this is the most awesome of gentle abrasives. I use it with some face soap for a face scrub, I mix it with some dish soap for cleaning up greasy and grimy dishes. I've used it on the glass top stove, with some dish soap, and it didn't scratch and cleaned it far better than the special "for glass top stoves" cleaner. Great for scouring the bath tub of the grime that comes from the combination of dirt and soap.

Dish Soap -- perhaps the most awesome of degreasers you could ever find. when I was cleaning the hood on my stove, which hadn't been cleaned since we moved in over 2 years ago, not even Simple Green was getting it clean. But a bit of dish soap on the rag, and clean it came! So, anytime you need a bit of suds, dish soap is your answer.

Vinegar -- a bit of acid is a good thing. Good for cleaning off and sanitizing those counter tops. It deodorizes, and helps get detergent out of clothes. Apple Cider Vinegar is a good hair rinse and will leave hair nice and silky smooth.

Simple Green -- because I got a monster bottle 5 years ago and it still isn't gone. Good as a degreaser for counters.


I've written out cleaning tasks for each room, based on the flylady zone cleaning lists, and customized it to my current house. Then I grouped rooms into "zones", again based on flylady zone cleaning lists. I have 5 zones:

Zone 1: Kitchen & Dining Room
Zone 2: Living Room & guest bathroom
Zone 3: Guest Bedroom & Nursery
Zone 4: Master bedroom & bathroom
Zone 5: Front & back porches (& other possible miscellaneous locations that need attention)

Often, though, the kitchen becomes its own zone. I've been aiming to do 1 zone a week, but that is just a bit too much for me right now -- I'm too distractable to do that much focused work. I don't do all the tasks for each room each time I have that zone up, either, but those that show a need. So, for example, I might not wash the curtains int he dining room every time I have zone 1 on the weekly schedule. On the other hand, I try to vacuum the whole house at least once a week (preferably twice a week), sweep kitchen and dining daily, and mop once or twice a week. Dusting I'm happy to do once a month or so. 

Of course, there are also things that are done on a near constant basis -- like dishes and picking up, for, hopefully, obvious reasons. Laundry is done regularly (I do use plain old detergent here, I guess that is one more cleaning agent I use!) and I try not to let it build up.

Oh, yeah, I do keep bleach around for toilets and really-got-to-get-this-truly-santized kinds of moments.

I hope this gives you ideas for your own house. You don't need any fancy cleaner, nor something special for this that or the other. Keeping it to such simple items also keeps your budget down.  Aren't we all into saving a bit of money these days?

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